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Friday, September 6, 2013

Lost World Anime First Impressions: (Part Three)

Tegami Bachi:  This series reminds me a lot of Kamisama Inai Nichiyoubi.  You have an overly complicated, mysterious fantasy world.  You have a roaming male itinerant with a gun.  You've got an orphan child the roamer is protecting.  But what you don't have is a compelling story or characters.  Or in other words, when you drive everyone to the brink of just having to survive, you take away all their choices and they become mechanistic automatons.  Obviously an orphan will cry and rely on anyone who comes by.  Obviously a gunner will shoot dangerous bugs that attack him.  Obviously a poor person will work even a dangerous job for money.  So on and so forth.  Everything everyone does in the show is obvious, ie, not descriptive, ie, lacks any characterization because so far it applies to every last person on Earth who would do the exact same thing given the situation.  No matter how much action they squeeze into the first episode I found myself profoundly bored.  Fail.

Aishiteru ze Baby:  Can anyone say Usagi Drop?  A wonderful, darling, beautiful five year old girl has been abandoned by her mother, and her father is already dead.  The relatives debate who should take care of her now, and they ultimately decide that her cousin, a playboy high school boy who spends all his time making out with girls after school would be the best choice.  This will keep him out of trouble, and he obviously has nothing better to do than babysit, plus he's clearly good with girls, so the solution is rather ingenious.  I love the premise, as I always do when this sort of anime comes out, of how much a boy can change for the sake of someone who loves or needs him, and why no one should be judged before they have a family, on how good a family man they would actually be.  This 'no-good playboy' has a larger heart for this helpless girl than the Pacific Ocean, and quickly prioritizes her over the rest of his life, to the point of not even caring what other people say or do about him anymore.  Even when Yuzuyu makes life difficult for him, he doesn't get angry, but is quick to apologize when he lets her down.  What a wonderful guy.  Every guy would benefit from having a five year old girl move in and require parenting.  If only there were an infinite supply of abandoned orphan girls.  Maybe we can mass manufacture them in the future or something, but for now all we can do is mass-manufacture stories about them -- Usagi Drop, Papa no Iukoto wo Kikinasai, and now Aishiteruze Baby are all noble exemplars of this ideal.  For that matter, Daa Daa Daa is pretty similar too.  Any story where young people raise children before they're ready societally speaking is automatically going to be great.  Pass.

Gift ~ Eternal Rainbow ~:  This story looks a lot like Shuffle.  The story would be good, except the main character chooses the wrong girl and thus the whole thing stinks.  In this case, he should obviously go with Kirino, who has the unparalleled voice actress Ui Miyazaki playing her role, and also has a great hat which makes her stand out far above all the other romantic options.  The girl is utterly devoted to him, waking him up in the morning and cooking him breakfast, missing him whenever he's away, and believing he's ten times better than he actually is in all statistics.  There is no reason a boy would ever turn a girl like her down, much less physically abuse her like the main character does (And no, I don't care that it was just meant as 'a joke,' it was still really upsetting.)  But the whole show is set up for him to get with some lame pink haired floozy nobody cares about.  The main character, by dissing Kirino, has completely disqualified himself as a human being and should just be executed immediately.  I don't want to watch the rest of the story because I'll have to see him in every frame of it.  Plus who wants to see Kirino cry when that awful pink haired hussy thieving cat steals the protagonist away?  Not me.  To hell with that.  If anyone's genuinely interested in this show, they should just play the actual visual novel, where you can choose the Kirino route instead  (Be sure it's the PS2 version so you keep Ui Miyazaki as the voice actress).  Then all would be right with the world.  Fail.

Rizelmine:  This story has a similar problem -- a beautiful girl essentially falls from the sky into your lap, saying she's your arranged newlywed wife and loves you lots and lots, voiced by no other than Rie Kugimiya, perhaps the most beautiful voice in the universe.  And the worthless, awful, terrible, unbelievable guy turns his good fortune down and tells her he's into 'older women.'  Are you kidding me?  He turns RIE KUGIMIYA down?  No matter how much she tries to convince him to take her in, his only response is to physically abuse her (is this some trend in old anime, let's physically abuse all girls voiced by great voice actresses because it's funnier that way?), but when her tears threaten to blow up the house due to having some strange magical nature, he changes his mind and compromises by saying they can 'live together.'  This is just beyond stupid.  No one in their right mind would turn Rizel down.  Furthermore, if you are going to turn her down, you have to do it immediately, jerking her chain just to avoid temporary discomfort only sets you up for even worse pain later.  But I guess a guy who is fine with physically and verbally abusing Rizel also doesn't care about breaking her heart, so why do I even bother trying to lecture him.  Fail.

Toka Gettan:  Mysterious, random, and melodramatic.  This show has no direction, no relatable characters, and isn't even attempting to explain itself  to the audience.  Everyone seems insane, or is acting on hidden knowledge, or is having their memories manipulated, or God knows what.  I was just counting the seconds until it would finally end.  Stay away from this show like radioactive waste.  Fail.

Fight Ippatsu Juuden-chan:  Gross.  Totally inappropriate 'humor.'  Apparently physical abuse of innocent girls by the main male lead hero was the 'in thing' in the past.  Also, the constant insertion of ecchi scenes in places that don't belong within the narrative flow at all is distracting and stupid.  In the first place, a 'comedy' episode about someone attempting suicide is so distasteful I don't know where to begin.  I don't even want to write about this series anymore, the sooner this show is forgotten and erased from history the better.  Fail.

11 Eyes:  Incongruous.  This show is a lot like Madoka Magica, Higurashi, or Persona 4, except it's bad instead of good.  The dating sim aspect doesn't fit at all into the mystery aspect or the parallel dark horror aspect.  The last thing a show should be worried about is panty shots when people's lives are on the line.  Yes yes, I know High School of the Dead had plenty of that, but smashing zombies is a very straightforward proposition, you know just exactly what they are and how to beat them.  That makes it an action story, not a horror story.  Horror is when the menace is inexplicable and no solution exists.  When you're that terrified of dying, panties just isn't what you want to be thinking about right now.  But really, why is the show a horror story in the first place?  Couldn't it just have been another cheerful love story?  What does the horror add to the production?  To me it only gets in the way and detracts from it.  It's just so random!  The story's pieces don't fit together, like a bunch of jigsaw puzzles all thrown together into the same box.  Fail.

Asatte no Houkou:  Boring, annoying, and melodramatic.  Apparently this story is about how 'the grass is always greener on the other side.'   An old, washed up hag in her 20's wishes she were still young and innocent, and a 12 year old girl wishes people would treat her respectfully like an adult already, so they magically switch body sizes.  But before then, you just have all these long, drawn out, meaningless and uncomfortable meetings where people stare at each other and refuse to directly address each other's questions.  ::sighs::  One episode is enough, please, no more.  How many more failures before I find a good anime again?  This whole project is so dispiriting.  Fail.

H20 ~ Footprints in the Sand ~:  This story was almost good.  The girls were pretty, and the idea of a blind hero who, despite lacking any physical ability, can still stand up for what is right and shame those around him for acting so far beneath him, is a really good idea.  Unfortunately, by the end of the first episode the most interesting aspect of the story, the guy being blind, is already removed from the equation, as he's magically cured and can see like anyone else now.  Furthermore, it's hard to believe any girl would be bullied in such a manner as Kohinata was, at least now in the modern age being physically beaten by multiple school age male classmates while everyone else just looks aside is unthinkable.  If it were a girl on girl problem I could understand the boys not wanting to get involved, but if a group of boys attacks a girl, the idea that none of the other girls would call a teacher or the police or their parents or someone is absurd.  It's like there's some trigger in everyone's heads, where they go from normal nice people to pure demons when it comes to Kohinata.  I can't imagine why she's so mistreated by the whole community.  The fact that they ignore her being bullied sullies every other character in the story, not to mention their other annoying characteristics.  Plus the magical elements don't mesh well and shouldn't exist.  Magic as an answer to human drama is so deus ex machina and should never, ever be pulled by an author.  Plus the ecchi elements super don't fit into a show dealing with such serious topics as bullying, blindness and ostracism.  You're in a situation that makes you want to retch and suddenly they're giving fanservice side by side with it.  Are they crazy?

To sum things up, this was a good idea executed poorly, thus the result was a miss.  Fail.

Bokura ga Ita:  At last!  A good series!  The art style is charming.  The continuous use of internal monologue is sublime.  It feels like you're so close to the main heroine this way.  A story from the girl's point of view is refreshing in the first place.  I love how the girl keeps noticing that her heart isn't being rational and isn't doing what her mind wants, but there's simply nothing she can do about it.  No magic, no nonsense, no retarded people, no random ecchi insert shots, just a love story that could happen anywhere to anyone.  I love the voice actresses' subdued voice, it was very feminine how she says virtually everything with the hopes of not standing out or giving offense.  I do worry that the series doesn't have enough content to just go on and on for a whole 26 episodes (and apparently even then the anime doesn't go to the manga's conclusion), but that's a problem for another day.  As far as a first impression goes, this was a winner.  Pass.

Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru:   I'd call this show harmless fun, but it steers too far into fantasy.  The idea that you can flawlessly crossdress by just using makeup and breast pads is silly.  No matter how girly a boy looks, he still has distinct male features that make all crossdressing attempts hopeless.  Shoulders, waist-to-hip ratio, the different angles of the knees that make their strides different, 'that' part which also makes your strides and how you sit different (unless you want to be extremely uncomfortable), your overall hairiness, your sheer height and musculature, the shape of your jaw, your adam's apple, the deepness of your voice. . . Look, if guys could turn into girls just like that, don't you think we all would have long ago?

Then, after this 'flawless crossdressing' plan, the guy instantly gets dozens of girls clinging to him and cuddling up to him as their favorite new girl friend.  However, only in a guy's wildest dreams do girls actually act like this around each other.  Maria-sama ga Miteru is far more representative of a girls-only world.  Rather than wanting to get along with you, much less cuddle with you, everyone is trying to humiliate and destroy you.  Especially when you're around untrustworthy strangers, everyone is going to be more cool and reserved.  Being a guy myself, I can't say with 100% certainty how girls act when they're alone together, but I'm certain it's a far cry from what this show imagines.  Maybe they should have consulted some girls before writing this script just to get some tiny sense of realism into the story.  Fail.

Himawari:  Terrible art style.  Sometimes I wondered if this wasn't drawn in America.  Anyway, the story is about ninjas living in a high tech era where ninjas are totally unneeded.  Except this is a comedy so the whole thing is just a farce in the first place.  Except it isn't funny in any way, shape or form.  The characters are utterly lifeless and uninteresting as people.  There's not a single good thing you could say about this show.  Fail.

Hatsukoi Limited:  This is supposed to be some sort of love comedy.  Unfortunately, I don't feel any love or comedy from it.  The guy just falls for the girl's looks.  I guess that's forgivable, coming from a guy, but it's hardly estimable.  Meanwhile, the girl slowly learns of the guy's 'good nature,' despite his looks, and blah blah.  But I don't feel that he has a good nature.  Letting a girl get involved in his gang fights, if he had really cared for her, he never would have gotten her involved.  By suddenly confessing to her and spending all his time with her, that was why she was targeted by the rival gang in the first place.  If he had just ignored her then she never would've had to go through the kidnapping, which means he wouldn't be a 'hero' for rescuing her from it in the first place.  Until a guy escapes the darkness, he shouldn't associate with anyone who still lives in the light.  That's just common sense.  Whether you're mafia, a drug dealer, or a fistfighter, not involving innocent bystanders in all your crimes is just basic politeness.  Plus the girl seems way too fickle, falling for two different guys in the same episode.  Would just anyone do at this point?  Why, when she has such good friends and family to rely on, is she so ready to flip skirts for male attention?  Plus she's still in junior high and this guy is much older than her. . . If that were the only problem I could overlook it, but his awful looks, his clear stupidity, and his violent criminal history should all be warning signs that make the age issue all the more pressing.  Fail.

Avenger:  I hate gritty shows like this.  In a dystopian future, a world of ruin awaits, robot people are everywhere, but are just the subjects of sadistic abuse instead of a higher life form.  In addition, people are all rude, money grubbing, and materialistic.  This is a really stupid future.  It's not at all like the real future the world is going to have.  The world has become progressively nicer and more cultured, violence has been continuously on the wane.  So how did we arrive at this Mad Max future as shown in the anime?  Who knows, who cares.  I certainly don't want to enmesh myself with people worse than myself in order to find out.  I could just go to the local bar for that, who needs anime.  Fail.

Bamboo Blade:  I like Tama-chan and Kirino, but the supporting cast just isn't good enough.  I had high hopes for this story because it was about swordsmanship, but I guess simply having swords in a story isn't enough, without a solid cast it's all worthless.  The stupidity of having bullies going around hitting people in school with no reprisals is absurd.  They would be suspended instantly, and besides, Japanese people simply don't act like that.  They aren't inner-city ghetto schools.  Everyone in the country is well behaved and crime is like getting hit by a bolt of lightning.  I'm so tired of shows relying on 'thug/punk/gangster boys' as this omnipresent threat when in reality they don't even exist.  Look at how good Watamote is in contrast.  Even though everyone in the show is extremely nice and accommodating, Tomoko still has a hard time getting through life.  That's what Japan is really like.  There are no obvious, brutal, monstrous people going around raping and killing.  There's just subtle problems that can only be solved subtly, not with brawn but with brains and heart alone.

Furthermore, how the hell does a teacher end up broke when he has a steady, high-paying job and no dependents?  The only way that could happen is if he's spending like crazy on various vices, like gambling or drugs.  Plus it's not funny when a broke teacher treats his students like pawns to try and make money, it's just annoying.  Humor seems to be the hardest barrier for anime to cross.  Every time they try to be funny, they're just offensive instead.  And yet every week Kitakubu is hilarious.  What a difference skill makes.  Fail.

Binbou Shimai Monogatari:   I had tears in my eyes for most of this episode.  A fantastic story of two orphan sisters who only have each other anymore.  The older, though still a kid herself, takes care of the younger like a parent, and the younger is herself far more mature than anyone else her age, and tries her best to take care of her elder sister.  People rise to their best when put in truly difficult situations, and this is a perfect example of that Niezschian creed.  This is just a divine show.  In one episode, an extremely realistic story of how people who love each other at a level most of the world could never approach or even understand are still the ones most likely to hurt each other and get into fights.  The story of those people making up. . . the story of the little sister begging forgiveness the day after for fear her older sister will disappear too. . .  Wow.  Hopefully it stays this good, but really, how could it possible stay this good?  After delivering the perfect first episode, the only path left is downhill from here.  I would be fine with the rest of the show being 1/4 as good, even 1/10th as good would be better than everything else I've seen today.  Pass.

Black Cat:  I must be really lucky to get two good series in a row.  Black Cat is about a somewhat fantasy parallel world where assassins and bounty hunters run amok.  But what's cool is the main characters are assassins and bounty hunters of justice, they don't just kill anyone and everyone, they only kill bad people.  I love the speed, silence, and heartlessness of our main character, Chrono XIII.  He obviously does the job for the sake of the results, not for the pleasure of killing or the money or whatever.  Nor is he like that awful guy from Code Breaker who was so pleased with himself and constantly chatting his targets up.  He's a professional.  There was this scene where he was simply pouring milk into a saucer for his cat to eat and it sent a chill up my spine it looked so efficient and deadly.  He's so good looking too.  If any girl didn't instantly swoon for him I'd be worried about their sexual orientation.  But this is to be expected, a series by the same illustrator as To Love ru is going to have ridiculously good looking characters -- he may be the best manga artist alive after all.  I can't wait to see more of the girl who looks suspiciously like Yami.  I enjoyed everyone in the show so far and everything that's happened in it.  It doesn't seem to be a classic like Binbou Shimai, but just good solid thrills and entertainment.  It even reminded me a lot of Noir, with all the various skilled assassins running around, sometimes cooperating and sometimes conflicting.  A different type of story to be sure, but still a good type.  Pass.

Kurokami:  Now we're talking.  Three good series in a row.  Kurokami is a thriller/horror/mystery show that uses the mythology behind doppelgangers to great effect.  Most people don't realize this, and just treat doppelganger to mean 'clone' or 'lookalike.'  However, doppelgangers weren't such harmless beings, originally, they meant monsters that killed and replaced you soon after meeting.  They were a terrifying concept from the depths of our nightmares.  This story plays on that core concept while also giving us a set of heroes who fight against these doppelganger killers.   I was shivering with dread by the end of the episode, the murders are just so ruthless and random.  I'd love to join up with whatever team is trying to stop the doppelganger mayhem.  The sooner these poor girls stop getting killed the better, and it doesn't seem like anything but supernatural means can prevent a supernaturally fated death once it starts.  Even if you know in advance the danger you're in, you still can't prevent it.  Only our heroes can prevent it, by breaking the rules of the game entirely.  Or at least that's what I gather is happening from just the first episode.  I can't wait until I find out more next episode.  Pass.

Blue Drop Tenshi-tachi no Gikyoku:  What started as a boring and lifeless school drama about a girl not fitting in to a new school environment suddenly turned into the girl being choked to death by a total stranger upon their first meeting.  But then the choker thought better of it and stopped, so the story turned into a science fiction alien encounter or maybe just a giant mecha from under the sea or God knows what.  The point is the characters and the art weren't good enough for me to swallow these ridiculous plot twists that came one after another.  I also hate these genre-twisting shows that start as one genre but jump the rails and become an entirely different genre within just one episode.  If you were going to change so much, why not just start as the genre you intend to become?  Stop betraying our expectations and trolling us fans just for the fun of it.  Fail.

Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan:  The story is certainly original.  I've never seen the protagonist's brains splatter all over the screen in the first couple minutes.  Or an opening song quite that bloody while pretending to be cute before.  But once you're over the shock factor, the show really has nothing left.  Gory humor, toilet humor, erotic humor, but no actual intelligent humor that requires an ounce of thought.  That's why, even within the episode, the series gets less and less funny by the second.  The show has already shown everything it has in its arsenal, and it really isn't that much.  Fail.

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