Anime of Tomorrow
Tag Archives: Itou Shizuka
Autumn 2012 (12 episodes) (more info)
Jormungand returns with all the attitude, charisma and scheming that made the first half great! And I’m excited to see some new developments already proceeding nicely. It’s a little too early to tell, but it seems to me that the first half of this series was about getting the characters well introduced and the story established in a slightly episodic method reminiscent of Cowboy Bebop. And now that we understand what’s going on, it would seem that things have gotten serious as already a lot of the pieces from the first season have come together to form a bigger web of black market deals, bitter grievances and complicated political wrangling that sees Koko as the pivotal key to the success of any number of ambitions—not least of all Koko’s own goals, which she’s still keeping close to her chest.
Beyond that, this episode of Perfect Order ensures that the hard-nosed atmosphere with well-timed comic relief has not suffered during the three month break between seasons and we’re in for an awesome conclusion to an insightful and action-packed wild ride.
Autumn 2012 (?? episodes) (synonym – Hayate the Combat Butler) (more info)
Hayate no Gotoku has always intrigued me. It’s bursting with references to other anime almost to the degree that you have to be an extreme anime connoisseur like me to understand all the humor that’s going on. It’s also just got a weird premise. Hayate from a poor family gets strapped with his parents’ debt when they flee the country to avoid loan sharks, leaving Hayate to fend for himself. Through a series of misunderstandings, he ends up the personal butler of a rich girl named Nagi Sanzenin.
Nagi is a paradox of character traits. She’s an otaku who usually does nothing but watch anime, play video games and skip school when she can get away with it, but she’s also a genius prodigy who has skipped several grades and is currently enrolled in high school. Her only sources of motivation are the constant nagging of Hayate and her maid, Maria, to coax her into going to school, or she’ll be inspired to try something she saw in an anime and an adventure will ensue.
When I explain the premise in such dry terms, even I think this doesn’t sound like a very good idea. But this is a case where a very off the wall compilation has been saved by good writing and terrific voice acting. Rie Kugimiya always shines her brightest when she plays tsundere characters and Nagi is as tsundere as they get. Hayate also has a great actor in Ryoko Shiraishi and her coy, almost motherly tones coming through the male lead creates a funny role reversal. The cast also has a lot of other good names in the lineup including Shizuka Itou, who plays the role of student council president and Hayate’s confidant, Hinagiku.
Even as this series indulges in tropes that feel somewhat dry and overused, considering that I’ve relished every other previous iteration of Hayate no Gotoku, I’m in no doubt that Can’t Take My Eyes Off You is also going to be loads of fun.
When I watched the first episode of Jormungand, I had the impression that this anime was going to be like a darker version of Full Metal Panic without mecha and I was spot on. Combining a varied and likeable cast of mercenaries with a charismatic female lead that you would willingly die for, one boy soldier who is coming out of the shell of his rocky past along with some intense, well-orchestrated action sequences, you have a recipe for something really cool. Whether it’s making you laugh with some cleverly-written dark humor, leaving you hanging on Koko’s every saucy comment or holding your breath waiting to see if the gang is going to be able to come out of their current predicament, this series is pretty darned awesome.
Unfortunately, I’m balancing this enthusiasm with the fact that Jormungand is currently in that nebulous zone of still waiting to finish—but what I’ve seen so far has impressed me. Other recent anime in this category include the disappointing Fate/Zero which wrapped up last season and Rinne no Lagrange, which has resumed this summer to my delight.
So far this current fad in story pacing that’s been making us wait three months to see the conclusion to series that we already know from the outset that they are going to run longer than one season has been giving me a bit of a headache. I suppose it’s better than waiting years for a sequel, but I still can’t help but feel it exudes a lack of ambition, confidence and preparation. At the risk of sounding greedy, impatient and spoiled—even if a season-long break gives the creators more time to make sure they get things right, it hardly seems to matter when glittering diamonds like Madoka Magica are getting rushed to the airwaves just under the wire. Here’s hoping the creators of Jormungand genuinely took the time to make it perfect and the second half turns out even better than the first.
Initial impression – risky, clever and auspicious
Spring 2012 (12 episodes) (more info)
I really like the sharp attitude of Jormungand. It makes me think of a grittier version of Full Metal Panic. There are even a lot of superficial similarities that can be drawn between the characters of both series—especially child soldiers Jonah and Sousuke. Also, the incongruent premise of an arms dealer who claims to be working for world peace is so intriguing that I could get hooked on this series by that trait in and of itself.
But this anime also has a smirkingly dark sense of humor that fits perfectly with the steely realism that permeates everything else. I suppose it would be most appropriate to call this a model of exemplarily well-timed comic relief. It’s nice to see that while Jormungand may have an air of serious intensity it’s fully capable of having some good-natured fun that is complementary rather than at odds with the main story. It has some smartly constructed action sequences with the correct sense of occasion, timing, setting and strategy, all supported by well-written political wrangling that always keeps Koko teetering on the edge of disaster.
The voice actress Shizuka Itou (which fans of Amagami SS will recognize as Haruka Morishima) was the perfect choice to depict Koko’s fun and quirky personality as she revels in the thrill of constantly cheating death. The beginning of Jormungand has me pumped and I can’t wait to see more of how Koko plans to accomplish her goals.
But what do you think? There are a lot of characters in this series that are breaking the stereotypes associated with this military-ish setting. Is it capable of adding up to more than the sum of its parts like Full Metal Panic was able to? Or is antihero Koko just too much to handle?