Anime of Tomorrow
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Final impression – short-lived, repetitive fun (6/10)
Autumn 2011 (12 episodes) (alternate title – Bokuha Tomodachiga Sukunai) (title literal translation – I Don’t Have Many Friends)
Kodaka was never very good at making friends and being half-Japanese with dirty blonde hair didn’t help his popularity at school. Yozora was always a tomboy and couldn’t get along with the other girls. When she forces Kodaka to go along with a new club she’s made for the explicit purpose of making new friends, their circle grows in ways they didn’t anticipate. It turns out Sena, the most popular girl in school, wants to seek real friendship instead of the empty admiration of her posse. Then things get ridiculous when Yukimura joins in order to work on developing his masculinity. Then the easily excitable Rika enters the scene to be with a group where she can let loose her passionate personality. As this varied group of social rejects stumbles their way through discovering the norms of youth, their clashes of personality set off fireworks of camaraderie.
When I first started watching this anime I had high hopes this was going to be a satirical story about how socially awkward people have a hard time making friends. What I got was a harem anime with an underlying subplot about the reunion of two childhood friends. There’s nothing immediately wrong with that and I don’t feel mislead. But I think a better plot catch would have been to appeal to a fan base that can relate to other people who typically have difficulty making friends. And on that note I am a bit disappointed a chance for a more meaningful story was passed up. This is especially poignant when several entire episodes of this short series are devoted to the characters just playing video games together in their clubroom. Overall, it’s dispersed with some very memorable moments that give a smile and a chuckle, but all the rest just melts into background noise. The pacing is quite poor and never gets a chance to wow the viewer.
|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.
|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.
Initial impression – a theme that is close to the heart
Autumn 2011 (12 episodes) (title literal translation – I Don’t Have Many Friends) (more info)
Boku wa Tomodachi takes inspiration for its graceful art style from Denpa Onna and gets its spunky character personalities from Oreimo—not a bad foundation if you ask me. It gets better from there with some particularly deep character traits that remind me of the kind of person I was in high school—jaded, without friends, content with my solitude but at the same time longing for a true companion I could trust. Surely, there must be a way for people with those kinds of personalities to find friends. And that’s what Boku wa Tomodachi is about. A group of socially awkward young people brought together by their loosely shared trait of being socially awkward. Who would’ve guessed such a formula could work so well? The characters are nicely diverse with lifestyles from very different paths, which creates a setting that is ripe for enjoyable conflicts.
Final impression – often underrated 7/10
Winter 2011 (title literal translation – Is This a Zombie?)
Eucliwood Hellscythe, the quiet necromancer. Haruna, the genius magic girl. Seraphim, the vampire ninja. Ayumu, the high school zombie. Combine them together and there’s no end to the problems they can cause for each other. When Ayumu accidentally absorbs Haruna’s magic girl powers, it becomes her responsibility to instruct her new cross-dressing apprentice. And when Seraphim challenges Ayumu to a duel to the death, it’s more of a war of attrition when they realize that neither can kill the other. But underlying all of this is Eucliwood’s secret powers and troubled past. If her three friends can’t team up to protect her from the mistakes she has made, she might have to leave forever.
Kore wa Zombie desu ka? falls into that class of wild and strange anime that a lot of love and hate relationships develop around. While it’s understandable why many would want to steer clear of it, the cast of random oddities fits with the anime’s overall tone to create a nice cohesion that feels acceptable. I hear a lot of people complain about Ayumu’s cross-dressing. But is that really something to complain about when the rest of this anime is oftentimes just off-kilter, goofy and fun? Yes, occasionally Kore wa Zombie gets a little too serious for its own good given its cast of oddball archetypes, but overall it’s very entertaining.
Final impression – stretched 7/10
Spring 2011 (Alternate titles – Ano Hana – We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day)
Jinta, a high school dropout, is being visited by the ghost of his childhood friend, Menma. At first, all of Jinta and Menma’s childhood friends think he’s just still obsessing over losing her all those years ago. But little by little, they realize that Jinta’s loss was their loss, too. As they finally begin to come to grips with the reality of their traumatic childhood, the friendships they left behind several years ago are renewed. But through all of this camaraderie and healing, Menma remains invisible to everyone but Jinta. It’s not understood why he’s the only one who can see her, but it is clear that the reason she has returned is because she has some unfinished business that needs to be taken care of.
For me, Ano Hana just has a feeling of having way too much content that doesn’t move the plot forward. Admittedly, that feeling is probably unavoidable because it’s necessary to develop the characters and their backstories to make their actions and opinions understandable. But unavoidable or not, the fact remains that Ano Hana leaves the impression of being artificially lengthened, which is weird because it’s short to begin with. This feeling is especially strong as the anime concludes because everyone starts spilling all their pent up emotions in the space of only a few episodes. But again, this is another facet that feels naturally understandable and unavoidable, so I feel a little bad complaining about it. All things considered, while the ending is certainly heartwarming, it’s predictable and anticlimactic.