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Friday, January 10, 2014

Winter 2014 Anime First Impressions Part 2:

As expected, the winter season has remained underwhelming.  However, the season isn't a total loss.  There are actually three new shows so far that were genuinely fun to watch.  Three doesn't sound like much, but I'll take anything at this point.

Mikakunin de Shinkoukei is a story full of sweetness, light, warmth, love, and laughter.  Just the way I like them.  It's like Non Non Biyori, except in the city, and with a male romantic interest this time around.  It's mainly about the girls being cute amongst each other, including one underaged girl compared to the others just like Non Non Biyori has, but after that it has some fun twists.  Arranged marriage is always a subject I'm interested in, because I feel like if the romantic partners would just put some effort into it, arranged marriages would work just fine.  The statistics also bear this message out, showing that arranged marriage couples are no less happy or less well off than romantic marriage couples are.  In this story a marriage has been arranged between childhood friends, but one of them suffered from amnesia and has forgotten all about it.  The other one clearly likes our heroine, but the path of the amnesiac heroine falling back into love with her old childhood flame seems like a long and hard one.  The core of a romance is that first tender warming of one heart for the other over time, so this is pretty much a textbook good way to tell a story.  I have high hopes for this show, but if the jokes become repetitive it will dwindle in quality quickly.  It's one thing for a comedy to be good on the first episode, it's quite another to still be good on the 12th or 24th ep.  Can Mikakunin really keep up with Kitakubu or Yuru Yuri by keeping jokes fresh and lively from beginning to end?  Only time will tell.

Furthermore, as expected, Sakura Trick is God's gift to man.  I don't really have to explain the value in a show where girls make out with each other from the opening onwards.  The idea kind of sells itself to half the world's population just fine without any additional praise.  Even so, even To Love ru requires a plot to keep the story interesting.  To Love ru slowly is building towards many different threads, the conversion of Yami to a good girl, Rito sorting out his feelings for all the various girls in his life, and all the girls in his life figuring out why they like Rito and just how far they'll go for him.  Sakura Trick will have to do the same for it to surpass the likes of Queen's Blade or High School DxD.  Right now, the ecchi is one leg of Sakura Trick's tripod of glory, the comedy is the second leg, and the character development of the main actors from friends to lovers is a third.  If they don't preserve all three legs of the tripod in future eps, but just try to lean on one continuously, the whole thing will fall apart.  The comedy will get stale, the ecchi will become overplayed, or the characters will cease being interesting because there's nothing left to show about them.

Frankly, story telling is really hard.  Sakura Trick had a great first episode, but it takes so much for that promising beginning to be delivered upon and executed correctly until the very end.  Kotoura-san had a promising beginning, and look what happened to it.  Suisei no Gargantia had a promising beginning too, and it became the biggest disappointment of 2013.  I'd be amazed if Sakura Trick actually stayed at the quality it began with, like Yuru Yuri has managed for two seasons.  But if it does, it's most likely the standout series of the season.

Lastly, Wake Up, Girls! had a strong start.  Idol shows have to be extremely outstanding to not be false advertising -- you have to feel like the songs and dances really are at professional level or you can't really imagine the characters being real idols.  They also have to have magnetic personalities, great looks, and so on.   Idols have to actually be idols or it all falls apart.  To be frank, none of these idols are as idol-like as Segawa Onpu is from Ojamajo Doremi.  They're no match for the girls from Love Live or AKB0048.  But they are about on level with the girls from Lovely Idol.  They're fun to watch and cute, and that's good enough for now.  In a winter season of complete crap, Wake Up, Girls starts to look pretty attractive.

In other news, the latest novel of Sword Art Online, Alicization Dividing, is finally available in English.

 In other news, Sailor Moon has been delayed again, this time to July.  However, there are hints that it will be a full and faithful adaption of the manga this time, which if true would be the best news since sliced bread.  Sailor Moon's manga is totally different from the anime and it's a real waste to leave the anime the way it is when the manga has so many dedicated fans.  Now if only they'd do this with Ranma 1/2. . .

I'm not interested in saying why the bad shows are bad this season, they're all so horrible they're beneath mention.  In a few days we'll see if any additional shows are worth looking into this season.  If not, oh well.  Three new good shows is already better than projected.

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