Ashita no Anime

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Anime of the Week 12/11 – 12/17

Anime of the Week – Shakugan no Shana III
It took a while, but Shana is really starting to get its pace balanced with action and story. Anyone who was worried of a repeat of Shana II can rest assured that things have definitely improved.
December 12 Working 2 Ep. 11 I’m reminded of a Jeff Foxworthy moment; a lost item is always in the last place you thought to look for it.
December 13 Mirai Nikki Ep. 10 This episode didn’t move the plot along much, but it did reveal a lot about the main characters’ inner personalities.
December 14 The iDOLM@STER Ep. 16 This episode was all about Hibiki and considering that she’s my least favorite character, I didn’t like this episode.
Shana III Ep. 9 This is what I’ve been waiting for. Finally, the series is starting to get into a good pace and it’s not even half over.
Shana III Ep. 10 A climax is coming, but for now I’m enjoying the action. I feel some information overload with all the various objectives.
December 16 Mashiro-iro Ep. 4 Some major headway is made between the hero and heroine. But Inui’s sudden personality shift doesn’t have any context.
Guilty Crown Ep. 10 So Shu has decided to pull a Shinji and run away from his problems, only to find his problems are chasing him.
December 17 Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 11 Since Kodaka’s flashbacks started, I’ve been anticipating a climax that finally happened with one episode left.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Anime of the Week 12/4 – 12/10

Anime of the Week – Guilty Crown
I’m glad to see Shu finally taking some initiative instead of being lead around by the nose by Gai. Unfortunately, he’s in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation that’s certain to give him nightmares no matter which decision he makes.
December 5 Fate/Zero Ep. 10 I have a sneaky feeling that Rin was given her own episode for no other reason than she’s a popular character…
December 6 Mirai Nikki Ep. 9 Amano needs to stop being so accommodating. He’s in a survival game and already had a hand in several people’s deaths.
December 7 Working 2 Ep. 10 I’m not sure how to characterize Inami. It’s like she’s bipolar. One minute she’s violent and the next she’s lovestruck.
December 8 C3 Ep. 10 The concept of turning two curses against each other to create a complimentary balance appeals to my more poetic sensibilities.
Infinite Stratos OVA Really what was I expecting? The series wasn’t fond of closure, so why should the OVA be any different?
December 9 Squid Girl 2 Ep. 6 Mini Ika Musume always puts a big, stupid smile on my face. This series does a good job telling stories silently.
Guilty Crown Ep. 9 The ability to see true thoughts would be cool, but sad if your loved ones weren’t really who you thought they were.
Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 10 A lackluster episode. I’ve seen much better versions of the private beach house theme in countless other anime.
Persona 4 Ep. 10 I’m curious about the large amount of time that was skipped at the end of the episode. Is it time for more side stories?

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Dantalian no Shoka (review)

Final impression – a pleasant diversion (7/10)

Summer 2011 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Dantalian’s Bookshelf) (alternate title – The Mystic Archives of Dantalian)

In 1920s Europe, Heward “Huey” Disward is given a large mansion and library as inheritance by his late grandfather.  He is also given a key to which he does not know the lock it opens.  Living in the mansion is the library’s keeper, the lolita-fashion-wearing Dalian.  She explains that as the library’s new owner, it is now Huey’s duty to track down books that have gone missing from his grandfather’s library.  These books are dangerous items that hold forbidden knowledge that can easily be twisted towards nefarious ends.  In order to fulfill his new role, Huey makes a contract with Dalian, giving him access to the library of cursed books she holds locked in her heart.  Thus begins his mission to tie up the loose ends of his grandfather’s book obsession (and help a bunch of people along the way).

In my experience at least, Gainax just doesn’t seem to do very much middle ground. They’re either filling my recycling bin with the likes of Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt or gracing my all-time-best list with gems like Gurren Lagann.  So I’m pleased to say they’re finally starting to fill in the middle of their spectrum with titles like Dantalian no Shoka.  I’m also happy that it’s weighted towards the good, rather than the bad, because when it comes to Gainax, you just never now what you’re going to get until you start watching.  The concept of using works of literature as tools to move the world in fantastical ways, while a little dull at times, is nonetheless fascinating.  Through this, we get treated to quite a few wonderful views of pride, love, generosity and humility among other traits of the human condition.  Additionally, the banter between Dalian and Huey never gets old and is an example of well-orchestrated comic relief in an otherwise serious setting.  But while Dantalian no Shoka is certainly a fresh idea, it is hindered slightly by the all too common problem of having an annoyingly nebulous conclusion.

Last Week’s Tweets 11/27 – 12/3

Anime of the Week – C3 Cube x Cursed x Curious
C3 is definitely this season’s most underappreciated anime. I expected to watch a lot of good anime this season and I found myself disappointed with several series I had high hopes for. Cube is a surprise hit and it seems to be going largely unnoticed, which is really sad.
November 27 Shana III Ep. 8 Current events feel like the run down to the final battle. But with 16 episodes left, it’s far from over. What’s going on?
Fate/Zero Ep. 9 While this episode was important for character building, there was absolutely no plot development to forward the story.
Guilty Crown Ep. 7 Why is Shu back at school? This makes no sense. Didn’t the GHQ learn last episode that he’s a member of Funeral Parlor?
Working 2 Ep. 9 Sato’s life must be frustrating. Yachio’s life is too narrow. Takanashi is easily influenced. Yamada is a two-faced fraud.
C3 Ep. 8 Even when this anime has ecchi moments, it’s still brilliant and well composed. Yukari Tamura is in her element as Fear Kubrick.
Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 8 That was a very different spin on the obligatory swimsuit episode. It’s nice to see a break from stereotypes.
Last Exile 2 Ep. 3 I guess the plot is progressing…? I see the character’s motivations, but their methods are haphazard at best.
Last Exile 2 Ep. 4 It’s all just too random. I can’t follow the plot without reading someone else’s summary. Fam is such a scatterbrain.
November 28 Persona 4 Ep. 8 The comedic twists continue to please, even if they aren’t very surprising for people who have played the game.
Mirai Nikki Ep. 8 Is this anime one big parable about how nice guys finish last? Amano needs to be more careful to avoid these situations.
November 29 iDOLM@STER Ep. 15 It seems that the key to improving daytime Japanese TV is to substitute all of the regular hosts for anime characters.
C3 Ep. 9 This was the setup episode for what is this series’ final arc. Not all the new villian’s motives are clear, but it’s still fun.
Ben-to Ep. 3 For being an anime about fighting over boxed meals at supermarkets, the metaphors are surprisingly deep and significant.
November 30 Ben-to Ep. 4 This anime’s ecchi colors were shining brightly this episode. Fortunately, it didn’t detract from the usual high-tempo pace.
December 1 Ben-to Ep. 5 Superficially, the plot of this anime could fit into many settings. The fact that this war involves box lunches makes it fun.
Mashiro-iro Ep. 3 Most of this episode was the ordinary fare of tsundere-ness, but the twist at the end put a huge smile on my face.
December 2 Ben-to Ep. 6 For an episode that was supposed to be about an epic rivalry and a grand battle, there was very little tension or energy.
Guilty Crown Ep. 8 And… the obligatory swimsuit episode. At least it didn’t take too much time. Sadly, this episode was a dead end.
Ben-to Ep. 7 Two swimsuit episodes in a row, but across different anime. The ridiculousness of this show compliments its ecchi and hilarity.
Persona 4 Ep. 9 I’d known Rie Kugimiya was the voice of Rise when the P4 game was released in Japan, but it’s cool to hear her for real.
December 3 Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 9 Kodaka is one of the coolest and most composed male characters in a harem-esque anime I have seen in a long time.
K-On! (Movie) Set somewhere between the final episodes of the second season, it watches as if it was a missing segment from the TV series.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Last Week’s Tweets 11/20 – 11/26

Anime of the Week – Squid Girl 2
Squid Girl can be a pretty hit and miss anime. But when it’s good, it’s pure awesome sauce.
November 20 Higurashi Kira Ep. 2 If you told me to imagine a situation where Higurashi was given a “magic girl makeover,” this is would be it.
Fate/Zero. Ep. 8 This anime’s pace is unusual. It watches elegantly, balanced with emotion and action, but I’m seeing a lack of progress.
November 21 Mirai Nikki Ep. 7 I wonder if the R-rated scenes in this anime will be uncensored when it gets released on DVD.
Shana III Ep. 7 The events of this anime are transpiring in an orderly, logical but somewhat plodding pace that could have been done better.
Working 2 Ep. 8 Soma is good at padding time onto episodes with his pointless delays teasing people. There’s a limit to that kind of gag.
November 23 Persona 4 Ep. 7 The impact of a lot of this anime’s surprises is lessened when you already know the outcome from playing the video game.
Mashiro-iro Ep. 2 Only two episodes in and the familiar awkwardness of the lead male of an h-game is already well established.
Squid Girl 2 Ep. 4 As an English teacher in Japan, the first part of this episode was relevant to my interests. The English was good, too.
Last Exile 2 Ep. 2 I feel like there was a massive disconnect between episode 1 and 2. As if there was a big chunk of story simply omitted.
November 24 Squid Girl 2 Ep. 5 What a shift… a great episode followed by a forgettable one. Hopefully episode 6 can get things back on pace.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

Last Week’s Tweets 11/13 – 11/19

Anime of the Week – Working!! 2
It’s nice to slow down and appreciate the little things that make life worth living. The silly relationships between the characters of Working!! 2 make this anime a joy to watch.
November 14 Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 4 Despite this episode being nothing but a long string of moe stereotypes, I was smiling the whole time.
Working 2 Ep. 4 Ah, the confusion and misunderstandings. The whole episode is a tribute to the adage, “assuming makes an ass of you and me.”
Working 2 Ep. 5 There’s two ways to react when you see other people loafing around. You can either reprimand them or join them.
Fate/Zero Ep. 6 Some more story building. An interesting episode that makes me wonder… Just who is the most ruthless character?
Fate/Zero Ep. 7 My favorite servant’s existence is on the line. I was hoping for a longer run. Then the ending is a cruel cliffhanger.
Shana III Ep. 6 Some shoddy history building leading up to what I presume is going to be some good action in episode 7. I can’t wait.
Guilty Crown Ep. 5 I like the music and art style of this anime, but the more I watch, I’m less convinced the story is going anywhere.
November 15 Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 5 I wonder how many more times in this short series we’re going to see everyone get together and play video games.
Working 2 Ep. 6 Some people are really bad at reading the atmosphere in social situations. I can sympathize with Takanashi’s troubles.
Mirai Nikki Ep. 6 Using a future diary to endear yourself to your future mother-in-law must be every lovestruck/stalker girl’s dream.
Persona 4 Ep. 3 I’m seeing some small side tracks from the story as it was told in the video game, so I’m getting more optimistic.
November 16 Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 6 The rivalry of Yozora and Sena is weird but also indescribably fun. Sadly, the rest of the plot feels transparent.
Persona 4 Ep. 4 The action and the drama are much better composed as the series continues. I wonder if this pace can continue…
Persona 4 Ep. 5 I was wondering how the game’s side-story arcana characters were going to fit into the series. It’s feeling rushed again.
Working 2 Ep. 7 I’m not sure what to take away from this weird episode besides the fact that Yamada’s older brother is Sakai Yuji.
November 18 Persona 4 Ep. 6 With only six episodes left, there’s no way this series is going to end without feeling badly crunched. Sequel? OVA? Movie?
Guilty Crown Ep. 6 This anime is very pretty, but the plot is getting murkier with each episode and character motives are just inconsistent.
C3 Ep. 7 The way this anime cleverly flits from ecchi to elegant and humorous to serious is simply wonderful. Such clever composition.
Boku wa Tomodachi Ep. 7 Has this anime’s formula already run out? It’s still interesting and funny, but it’s now lacking freshness.

*You could have read these tweets in real time as I updated my status by following me on Twitter.

The iDOLM@STER (ongoing)

Impression – not bad at all

Summer 2011 to autumn 2011 (25 episodes) (more info)

To be honest, the only reason I gave The iDOLM@STER a snowball’s chance in hell is because I play the Japanese trading card game Weiss Schwarz, and The iDOLM@STER is a very popular title (it’s also quite strong for those who don’t know anything about the game).  So I wanted to learn more about the source material for this set of cards.  Overall, I’ve been intriuged.  The iDOLM@STER started out painfully slow, but it’s started to work its way into my heart and on a couple occasions I caught myself cheering for the girls.  When I first started watching, I had mistakenly thought the series was only 13 episodes and I was wondering how they were going to cover all the girls without feeling a nasty time crunch come episode 12.  Even with 25 episodes it’s a bit of a squeeze, but I’m seeing the method to the madness.  The writers have chosen not to focus on particular girls as facets while the story progresses, but rather on the whole gem that is all the girls working together as a cohesive unit.  Ocassionally one girl will be the target for a particular side sequence, but it’s always about highlighting the teamwork the girls share to accomplish their dreams together and that’s surprisingly powerful given this anime’s premise and source material.  There’s nothing earthshattering about The iDOLM@STER, but it’s fun and that counts for a lot.

Mirai Nikki Ep. 1

Initial impression – subtly beckoning

Autumn 2011 to winter 2012 (26 episodes) (title literal translation – Future Diary) (more info)

What would you do if you were given a diary that tells the future?  Well, if Yukiteru is anything to go by, you’d use it as a cheat sheet to get all the answers correct on your tests.  But other people would surely use their future diaries for more nefarious ends.  These characters include a killer who uses the info to track down his victims and Yukiteru’s female stalker Yuno, who uses hers to keep tabs on his daily life.  But underlying all the shenanigans the character’s future diaries allow them to do they’ve just been entered into a game by Deus Ex Machina, the god of time.   This game pits the players against each other in a survivor-style, winner-takes-all contest with the reward being nothing less than Deus’s throne.  Given the diverse cast that’s been hinted at, there are definitely going to be many different paths intertwined in an attempt to achieve the prize.  It’s really compelling and keeps you invested in the events, especially when Yukiteru becomes god’s chosen favorite after cheating his foretold death.  How will he end up using this incredibly versatile power?  Will it corrupt him or can he turn it into a tool to help people?  And how will Yuno play into the proceedings when the winner must off all the other competitors to become the heir to the god of time?  Mirai Nikki presents itself terrifically in the first episode with good pacing that keeps you on the edge of your seat and leaves you wanting more.

Last Exile – Fam, the Silver Wing Ep. 1

Initial impression – a revival done right

Autumn 2011 to winter 2012 (21 episodes) (Japanese title – Last Exile – Ginyoku no Fam) (more info)

I remember Last Exile as one of my first forays into the steampunk genre.  I really like the concept of these romanticized, alternate-history / alternate-technology settings.  It’s always interesting to see how people might cope in a world that’s drastically different from our own.  However, I do remember thinking the plot of the original Last Exile was unnecessarily convoluted and messy for what it was trying to accomplish.  Also, the tone of the characters was either way too serious or way too ordinary.  Seeing that Last Exile – Fam has abandoned the old cast (with the lone curiosity of Dio) but kept the old setting makes me hopeful that Fam might actually be better than the original.  And early indications are backing up that hope.  Characters are much more motivated, focused and driven and there’s a more lighthearted tone than the first season.  These big changes are great, add a lot of energy and I can’t wait to see how the story unfolds from here.

Mashiro-iro Symphony Ep. 1

Initial impression – a quiet little drama

Autumn 2011 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – Pure White Symphony) (more info)

Mashiro-iro Symphony is this season’s h-game turned anime and early indications are good.  The art style mirrors Akane Iro ni Somaru Saka (the two anime have the same character designer) while the writing style goes with an Ai Yori Aoshi atmosphere that glows with a kind of innocent sincerity.  The setting then takes inspiration from the premise for Kaichou wa Maid-sama except with a gender role reversal; having young men integrating into an all-girls school—rather than the other way around.  It’s not a bad flavor and I’m interested in seeing how it develops.  The plot doesn’t seem to be rushing anything, which is either a sign of future stagnation or good pacing—only time will tell how that turns out.  Another point Mashiro has going in its favor is how it introduces the lead heroine without being too in-your-face about it.  If Mashiro continues with this trend in future episodes, I see potential for a decent series.

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