Anime Quick-Hit Reviews: Winter 2010 Season Part 2

(Originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 1/21/11)

Anime Quick-Hit Reviews:
Winter 2010 Season Part 2

What this is about: For the sake of completeness and to accurately claim that I have sampled almost every subtitled anime show for all of 2010, I am going backwards several months to check out all the shows from the Winter 2010 Season, which is defined as all shows that debuted between December 21st, 2009 and March 21st, 2010. Rather than post full-length reviews, these are just some “quick hits”, my impressions based on the first episodes only. So, without further ado:

Katanagatari

Series Details: Twelve 50-minute television episodes that aired approximately once per month starting on January 2, 2010.
What It’s About: Shichika is the seventh and last master of a swordless-style of fighting, and has spent his entire life on an isolated island with his sister. Until one day when master strategian Togame shows up and charges him with a quest to collect the twelve most powerful swords in all of Japan.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: The most striking aspect about this show is the art style, which is very appealing and imaginative. It’s also an excessively “wordy” show with tons of back-and-forth dialogue, but I’m okay with that because the characters are interesting and the interaction between Togame and Shichika is fun and playful (because they are both such odd ducks), it also helps that the show doesn’t take itself too seriously. Plot-wise, it’s pretty straightforward: twelve episodes, twelve swords to gather, twelve villains to fight; don’t expect any major revelations, just a fun popcorn show.
The Verdict: – Intriguing Thumbs-up.

Cobra the Animation

Series Details: Thirteen-part weekly television series that debuted on January 2, 2010.
What It’s About: Based on the seventies manga by Buichi Terasawa, Cobra is kicking back on Venus when he is involved in a car wreck with a woman named Secret, where she hands him the “Key of Shiva”, and asks him to take her and the key to another planet. Let the adventure begin!
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Cobra is a Man’s Man, strong and confident and capable, drunk and womanizing and very “un-PC”, cut from the same cloth as the Sean Connery James Bond…if James Bond had to fight space pirates with a psycho-gun melded to his arm, that is. It one respect it’s a refreshing change to return back to the macho-hero of yore after we’ve had some many whiny, wimpy, sniveling girly-boys in anime crammed down our throats for the better part of two decades (the Shinji Ikari effect). Buuuuut…that doesn’t make this show worth watching. Sorry. No Terasawa fan here.
The Verdict: – Thumbs down, no seventies nostalgia for me.

Harukanaru Toki no Naka de 3: Owari Naki Unmei

Series Details: Hour-long original video animation based on the long-running fantasy game, aired on January 3, 2010.
What It’s About: Nozomi has been summoned to a fantasy world where she has magical powers as a shrine maiden. Working with a clan of warriors, she works to seal away evil spirits brought forth by a rival clan. But it just so happens that her childhood best friend is now a leader of that rival clan. Oh noes!
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Ummmm, are you sure I haven’t wandered into Fushigi Yugi by mistake? Nope? Okay…perhaps I’ve ended up in The Twelve Kingdoms instead. What, not that either? Oh, well. Overall, it’s kind of a plain vanilla historical-fantasy series, only I’m jumping into the middle of a long-running series and have no idea who all the characters are or their motivations.
The Verdict: – Mild thumbs down, unexceptional.

Sora no Woto

Series Details: 12-part television series (plus two specials) debuted on January 4, 2010.
What It’s About: In a war-torn future, Kanata is assigned as the junior bugler in the small, out-of-the-way fortress town of Seize, where she joins an all-girl squad of teenage soldiers.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Derisively heckled as “K-On Joins the Army” (due to the similarity in character designs and the analogous characters), it turns out that’s a bit of an unfair comparison once you actually watch the show. I wasn’t expecting much, and was therefore pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t just another example of moe crap. There’s a hint of a dark streak in the backstory (the entire world is dying, only pockets of civilization remain, sort of “Nausicaa Lite”), and also clear undertones of reoccurring mythological elements as well. As long as you can get your mind past the silly concept of an all-underage-girls military unit.
The Verdict: – Thumbs up, with reservations.

Chu-Bra

Series Details: Twelve-part television series that debuted on January 4, 2010.
What It’s About: On the first day of middle school Hayama trips to reveal she’s wearing risque lingerie. Intrigued, her classmates follow her, and discover she’s an underwear fanatic and expert, and forms a club to extol the virtues of sexy underwear.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Really now, seriously? Middle school girls and underwear? Okay, okay, it doesn’t surprise me at all, I just have to shake my head at this sort of nonsense, a permanent embarrassment to the anime culture. (Also the whole “panty fetish” thing and how pervasive it is in Japanese culture really gets to me, since I don’t understand the fascination at all).
The Verdict: – Thumbs down! (It’s Shit Like This, Guys…)

Omamori Himari

Series Details: Twelve-part television series that debuted on January 6, 2010.
What It’s About: All Yuuto has left from his deceased parents is a good-luck charm. Since that fateful day, his childhood friend, Rinko, has taken care of him as if they were family. But on his sixteenth birthday, Yuuto learns that the charm has actually been protecting him from demons, but it has now suddenly stopped working. Lucky for him, a voluptuous cat-girl samurai arrives and vows to protect him from now on.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Hooray for harem anime…not. Just what we need, yet *another* loser teenage boy that ends up surrounded by a gaggle of curvy women who fight over him with predictably wacky results. Break out the hand lotion, folks, because the fanboys are going to be busy tonight!
The Verdict: – Thumbs down, more crappy harem fanservice pablum.

Already received a thumbs-up: Hipira the Little Vampire, Kowarekake no Orgel
Already received a thumbs-down: Bohemian Rhapsody featuring Leiji Matsumoto, Bungaku Shoujo: Kyou no Oyatsu – Hatsukoi, Ladies vs. Butlers, Yutori-chan

Coming Up Next in Part Three: Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, Ookami Kakushi, Hidamari Sketch X, Dance in the Vampire Bund, Durarara, Kaitou Reinya

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