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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Lost World Anime First Impressions: (Part One)

Having generated a list of anime I have yet to see but should at least try out from bygone days, it only makes sense to tell the world my first impressions on these series as well, as a guide for whether they should watch them or not.  My list was quite long, with over 100 series spanning a decade of time, so watching them all is out of the question.  The first episode is all the attention I can spare these series, and after I've checked them all I can see from there what I want to follow up on.

Once I've finished this list of anime, I've basically finished all possible good anime.  Things from the 80's and 90's like Burn Up W or whatever can't possibly compete with the modern day.  Only a few famous old series, that are well known and I've already taken into account long ago, like Evangelion, can still compete with just the average shows of 2013.  Which means that these series, which are also relatively modern, spanning from 2000-2009, are the only remaining place missing treasure could be found.  Once I've tried out all of these series, my 'best anime rankings' list, which will take into account all of these missing series for the first time, will for the first time be a complete list.  Before large numbers of good series could have completely escaped my notice, so my rankings were a very narrow view of the anime world as a whole.  After this project, any possibly good series I'll have at least some knowledge and expertise in, and therefore the series I do rank as the best among them all really will be the best, the product of the most knowledgeable sage of anime wisdom to ever walk the Earth.  After this project, no one will have to go searching for a single series to watch until they've finished everything on my list, because my list will be the exhaustive resource for anime fans everywhere.  In order to help produce this ultimate anime rankings list, these first impressions will help me zero in on the series worth pursuing and arrange my thoughts on how good the series truly were overall.  It might take a while and a lot of follow up posts, but the ultimate anime rankings post which lies at the end of this long road is well worth it.

To make matters simpler, for now my grades will only be pass/fail.  Pass means it's worth watching past the first episode, and fail means it isn't.  This is a very lenient grading system, and doesn't at all mean the series will turn out good or 'great,' it just means I haven't despaired of the series yet, and the series merits more inspection than a simple cursory glance.

So, without further ado, let's start talking about the Lost World series:

Hanaukyo Maid Tai le verite:  This story reminds me a lot of Mahoromatic.  It's another ecchi story about maids with good art and humor, so it's hard to ignore the comparison.  Obviously, Mahoromatic is better than this show, but the fact that the two are even comparable is a good sign.  As ludicrous as the premise of the story is, it executes well and leaves you looking forward to more.  Pass.

Tsuyokiss:  In Tsuyokiss, a pretty, red-headed, twin-tailed girl with a fiery attitude to match her hair seems to be our protagonist.  She has transferred to a new school and is determined to start a drama club in order to make the most of her high school life.  A lot of comedy, a lot of ecchi, and a little romance follows in an overall cheerful and uplifting tale.  It could be a pretty empty show overall, but for now its marshmallow flavor is sufficient.  Pass.

Tayutama:  In Tayutama, a good spirit has locked away a host of evil spirits, and when the seal is broken, the previous war breaks out again.  However, far from a serious fantasy show or the like, it's just an excuse to show off cute girls with animal body part accessories.  The romance is pretty dumb, as the hero agrees to marry a girl he only met a few seconds ago, thus depriving all romantic oxygen from the room for the rest of the series.  However, the art is good and the characters are likable.  It could be worse, so it'll do for now.  Pass.

Daa Daa Daa:  Through a series of ridiculous coincidences, a young girl, a young boy, and an even younger alien baby end up living alone together as a forced-out-of-the-blue new married couple with child living together arrangement.  The way all of this happens if both hilarious and charming, and the art style and voice acting is just gorgeous.  So far, this is the most promising series out of the Lost World I've seen.  My only worry is that the story might grow stale, given its enormous length, when I don't really see how much more content could possibly be embedded in the initial premise.  Pass.

Spiral:  A cool looking high school boy is suddenly thrown into a murder mystery and has to clear his name by finding the true suspect.  With his devilish looks and intellect he eventually unravels the puzzle, while making a nice girl friend to boot.  Is there nothing this stylish young boy can't do?  This is grade A fun, I just hope it continues at this classic murder mystery pace.  Pass.

Tokimeki Memorial:  A series that features pretty girls and terrible comedy, trying to pose as a light-hearted romance.  Instead it just annoys you with retarded things like talking, fighting chickens.  Fail.

Boys Be:  Apparently the boys in this show are nothing but bags of lust wrapped in indecision and inferiority.  The art is also terrible.  People who liked Aku no Hana would probably love this show, but for the rest of the world not so much.  Fail.

Rumbling Hearts:  A love triangle that gets out of hand when one of the girls falls into a coma.  If you want melodrama, indecision, and deus ex machinas, here's just the story for you.  It does have good points, though.  You can empathize with all the characters, and the art is good.  Having watched the whole series on this one, it's mediocre from start to finish.  Pass.

RahXephon:  I watched three episodes of this series because I had been told it was so famous and good.  It isn't.  The story begins by throwing the main character into a situation he has no control over and can make no reasonable decisions in, and it continues in this vein the entire series long.  Everything is so mysterious, strange, and random, his life is so constantly on the line, that he can only ever do what he must to stay alive each individual step of the way.  This doesn't make for characterization, even a baboon has a survival instinct and will 'fight or flight' given the circumstances.  When you put someone in such an extreme situation it bleeds all character out of them and makes them into a uniform 'everyman.'  Without characters or decisions, there is no story.  Without an understandable, cohesive plot with cause and effect, there is no story.  This story fails by all possible measures.  I don't know why people like it, it's clearly awful.  Fail.

Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch:  Sometimes a series is just trying to do too much.  Itsuga Tenma tried that, with a zombie, an alternate dimension, and all sorts of nonsense thrown into the very first episode.  This one does the same.  Our main character is not only a mermaid, but a princess, a mahou shoujo, an idol, and a school girl in a forbidden romance all at once.  The various parts don't mesh well together and the end result is a crazy mess.  When you add on the uninspired art, animation, and voice acting, it just doesn't make the cut.  Which is a shame because individually I like all these themes, it's just when they're all forced together that such a poor result occurs.  Fail.

Princess Tutu:  Combine the weird nonsense you would see in Utena and the stupid nonsense you would see in Dr. Slump and you get Princess Tutu.  Artistically bizarre, plot all over the place, with gags that aren't actually funny, characters that seem rather demented and freaky.  This is avant garde anime to be sure, but it's far too sophisticated for me, who just likes normal stories with normal art styles where people's legs aren't invisibly thin.  The constant use of beautiful ballet and classical music is a plus, but if I wanted to see that I'd just watch the Nutcracker, rather than viewing derivatives that throw in random nonsense on top of that solid foundation.  Fail.

Star Ocean EX:  This was always a safe bet to be a good anime.  Star Ocean is a great video game series, and a faithful anime adaption of one of its games was always a good idea.  Sporting the classic sci-fi/fantasy crossbreed elements, rousing musical score and cool character designs of the original video game, the anime executes a tried and true formula.  My only concern is its slow pacing and low budget, which really hurts the viewing experience.  Even so, a very solid series for those who don't want to bother to actually play the games but would rather just sit back and watch them.  Pass.

Lime-iro Senkitan:  A terrible series.  It's almost a parody of anime made to make the whole genre look bad.  Take the Russo-Japanese war, then add giant mecha, then have them be remotely piloted by ditzy school girls who keep tripping and showing their panties, and you have the worst idea ever.  Some plot elements were never meant to go together, and this is one of them.  Fail.

Divergence Eve:  Terrible series.  Over half the show is in CG, all of which is awful and looks horribly outdated compared to the modern day.  Even when it is animated, it looks awful due to everyone having mutant-oversized breasts and ridiculously clingy uniforms.  All the random science-speak is a waste of time because no one can understand it anyway, so it just gets in the way of the storytelling.  Ugh.  Fail.

Sugar Sugar Rune:  Shoujo stories are always so bad.  I don't know why.  I dislike the art style, the main characters are annoying, the idea that love is a battle and not a mutual give and take is distasteful, the idea that magic or violence can solve interpersonal problems is silly, and so on.  The story has a charm to it, I won't deny, but the negatives far outweigh the positives.  Fail.

Maria-sama ga Miteru:  Talk about shoujo stories!  This is the ultimate shoujo-fest.  In an all girls' school, seemingly devoid of even the concept of men, there are no dreams or ambitions, there is only status.  How far you are up the pecking order exactly equals the amount of times you are allowed to speak, whose orders you have to obey, and so on.  In this dizzying world where your status always hangs on a knife's edge, anything anyone does is first judged by whether it will gain face or lose face, and only secondarily is concerned with lowly points of fact like whether what you are saying or doing is true, just, right, fair, kind, etc.  I've often wondered what the point of boys existing at all is, given how rude and violent they are, but if this is the existence  that remains when we are taken out of the picture, I think boys need to stick around a bit longer.  These girls turn on each other like vipers.  It isn't clear whether any of them really like anyone else, or if they all just pretend to do so in order to gather more allies and thus more status in their bids for world domination.

So far there doesn't seem to a plot or anything, but the characters are actually quite distinct from one another even after just the first episode.  More than anything else, the pure beauty of the art shines through and suffuses every second of viewing.  It isn't just how beautiful the girls are, with every line of hair drawn in with ridiculous attention to detail, it's how they walk, the severe dark of their blouses, the leaves floating by, how they turn their heads, everything is just a picture worth framing.  It's a beauty very different from that featured in saimoe contests, more cold and awe-inspiring than passion inducing, but beauty nonetheless.  This is a very slow paced, aimless, and frustrating show.  But it has unique positives that can't be found elsewhere, so it's still worth watching for those alone.  I can understand why it's famed as a show everyone should have to watch.  Pass.

Kyoshiro to Towa no Sora:  Awful series.  Everything is mysterious and everything happens randomly.  The main character never has any decisions to make because everything that is happening isn't like it seems, so no conclusions can be drawn from anything you see or hear.  It's all just out-of-this-world nonsense throwing our protagonist against her will into a flow of activity that really has nothing to do with her.  It's like Devil Survivor 2 except with kissing instead of killing.  Anyway, it's terrible.  A prince literally rides in on a white horse and saves her.  Unbelievable.  Can writing actually get this bad?  Fail.

Myself;Yourself:  This is a real jewel.  Since it came out relatively recently, it's full of well-known voice talents, including Yukari Tamura, Mai Nakahara, Yukana, Norio Wakomoto, and Ami Koshimizu.  It also looks great and is wide screen.  Our main character had a lot of childhood friends when he was young, but moved away for five years.  Now that he's back he has to get to know everyone again as though they were strangers, which leads to some humorous and sweet scenes from the very beginning.  I like the whole cast so far and look forward to where this rather simplistic romance story goes.  This story has a fine pedigree, based off of a visual novel by the same people who did Memories Off and Ever17.  It makes me look forward to seeing Happy Lesson and Futakoi as well, since a lot of the same people worked on those series as well as this one.  I'll be reviewing them later down the line, but at least this one is properly impressive.  Pass.

Prism Ark:  A great show.  We're thrown immediately into a battle which lasts all episode, and presumably will continue many more episodes as well.  As a backdrop to the fight, however, is a series of flashbacks.  The first flashback shows us how our main lead, voiced by the divine Tetsuya Kakihara, met his beloved princess.  Presumably the next episodes will also be the same strategy, showing how he met each of the other girls while also continuing on the present-day battle.  It's a very fun formula combining action and romance into one giant swirl.  The ecchi content is just a bonus, and hardly unexpected since the source material was an eroge.  But what really surprised me is how good Fel's voice actress was.  I'll be looking forward to her flashback episode.  Pass.

Kashimashi ~ Girl Meets Girl ~:  Another story featuring great voice talents, Yukari Tamura and Yui Horie.  However, the art doesn't match up to the voice quality, and the plot is worst of all.  A guy falls in love with a lesbian but is turned down because he's a boy.  Luckily, a space alien accidentally crash lands on top of him, and, for some reason, is able to restore his life by turning him into a girl, but says it is impossible to turn him back into a boy again.  Why is their sex change technology only one way?  Is it because all space aliens only ever wanted to become girls?  Or is becoming a boy more technologically challenging than becoming a girl because we all have X chromosomes but only boys have Y chromosomes?  Who knows.  It just seems like a giant cop-out.  Now he can pursue the girl of his dreams while also having a dreamy body of his own to play with, what could go wrong?  I wish space aliens crash landed and solved everyone's problems in a single episode, then life would be a lot easier for all involved.  Fail.

Kono Aozora ni Yakusoku wo:  Everyone in this show seems slightly retarded.  Maybe it's due to the lead poisoning of the island by the heavy metal industry?  Maybe that's why the island is being ordered to evacuate by the end of the year.  Makes sense to me.  In any case, a show that's supposed to be full of comedy and tragedy is instead just a farce.  It's stupid.  The people in it are stupid.  The whole situation is dumb.  People don't actually act like that.  From beginning to end, the story was just plain wrong.  Fail.

Soukyuu no Fafner:   This show doesn't have any obvious faults, but it also desperately lacks any merits.  For a mecha story, it's clearly worse than Evangelion or Gundam.  The random mythological terms are just confusing and pointless.  The typical story of inscrutable space aliens attacking for no reason lacks any real tension or drama to a fight (what makes fights interesting is the clashing of viewpoints, if one side has no viewpoint there is no clash.)  I hate the idea that every weapon in the human arsenal is worthless except for one giant mech that can only be piloted by a random kid who grew up never training for the job at all -- I know I know Evangelion did this too but at least in Eva there were other pilots and other mechs, N2 mines could damage Angels and there were dummy plugs, it wasn't just Shinji on his own.  Basically, I have no idea why this show exists since it's just a clone of Eva but worse in every way.  Everyone should just go watch Evangelion and be done with it.  Fail.

Onegai My Melody:  Sometimes a story can be too childish.  The extreme stupidity, sappiness, vapidness, simplicity, and silliness of this show is overpowering to all souls above the age of 5.  Watching all the way through the first episode felt like torture.  Fail.

Angel Tales:  Originally I disliked this show.  Three girls magically appearing in your apartment one day promising to be your maids despite having nothing attractive about you is pretty lame wish-fulfillment.  However, the story has a twist that justifies it all -- this is all karma.  Despite his having no prospects, when he was a kid he was nice to a trio of pets, all of whom died at one time or another, and these girls are the reborn spirits of those dead pets who desire to repay all the kindness he showed them in their previous life.  So in fact he does deserve these girls' company and affection, which ordinarily he wouldn't have.  I'm not sure where the story can go from here, as I kind of doubt he wants to start a romance with a girl who still has the mind of an animal (they're all on the pretty retarded side if you ask me), but whatever.  I guess that's a reason to go on watching.  Pass.

DearS:  Bleh.  This series is stupid in so many ways.  The heroine is mentally retarded, she has the brain of a newborn infant.  Our hero isn't much better.  He has the brain of an adolescent male, who thinks of nothing but sex.  Meanwhile everyone around him is also retarded, like his teacher, friends, annoying nagging childhood friend, so forth and so on.  The whole story revolves around food, sex, and sleep.  Who is this geared for?  Other mentally disabled people?  Is this a show for the developmentally delayed?  And what's with this theme of unearned girls falling into the laps of every protagonist of every anime story?  Oh well, I shouldn't waste too many words on such obviously bad crap.  Fail.

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