Anime Quick-Hit Reviews: Winter 2010 Season Part 3

(Originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 1/27/11)

Anime Quick-Hit Reviews:
Winter 2010 Season Part 3

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:

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu

Series Details: Thirteen-episode television series that aired weekly beginning on January 7, 2010.
What It’s About: High school is divided up into classes A through F, based upon academic performance, ranging from the best facilities to the crummiest, most run-down hellhole. But each class has the right to challenge the other in a fantasy-type battle of intellectual skills, and to the victor goes the spoils of the better classroom.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: “Idiots, Tests and Summoned Beasts” — Sure, during school my classes were divided up into honors, regular, and ‘remedial’ classes, but this takes it to the extreme, with Class F reduced to a ridiculous level of poverty. The concept of the classes engaging in mock battles with summoned beasts adds a silly collectible-card-game sort of element to the show, and it’s all *supposed* to be quite ridiculous and over-the-top nonsense. I can certainly see the incredible potential for wacky Japanese high-school humor, but it just didn’t quite click with me, and the characters were so stereotyped it wasn’t even funny.
The Verdict: – Thumbs down, but I may give it a second try.

Ookami Kakushi

Series Details: Twelve-episode television series that aired weekly beginning on January 7, 2010.
What It’s About: Hiroshi moves to a small, quiet town where he instantly becomes the center of attention at his high school, much to his surprise. Steeped in the mysterious local traditions of wolf spirits, the town is divided into new and old sections, and Hiroshi is pointedly warned to stay away from the old town. But unusual events involving missing students point to something that is not quite right with the town…
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Oh boy, it’s yet another outsider city boy moving to countryside village with it’s own unusual customs and history, so there’s nothing really new here. And frankly, just based on the first episode there’s not enough to really judge the series yet. So far, a handful of introductions and the unusual mystery of disappearing students who “move away” without anyone else so much as batting an eye. How everyone in the class suddenly latched on to the new kid in town with such a frenzy was actually really disturbing and so unusual, I’m wondering what that’s all about.
The Verdict: – Giving it a “pass” for now, we’ll see how it plays out on the next episode.

Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu

Series Details: Twelve-episode television series that aired weekly beginning on January 7, 2010, sequel to the original series.
What It’s About: It’s the next year at Yamabuki Art High School, and the four girls at the apartment complex across the street are expecting two new freshman students.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: I had already unfavorably reviewed the OVA special that followed up this series, so I already had a pretty good idea where this was going. Just the daily adventures of a bunch of high school students who belong to a school that focuses on artwork and creativity. The characters themselves are uninteresting, plus the jokes and their normal-life stories are boring and pointless. But the real sin of this show is the overly stylistic designs (the characters, the backgrounds, the camera angles and shots, color schemes, quick cuts) that are extremely distracting; I spent more time noticing the animation style than the story/plot (such as it is) itself. One thing’s for sure, the producers of this show have never heard of the word, ‘subtle’. When the actual format of any media (whether it be comics or shows or movies or whatever) is so overpowering that it detracts from the media itself, you know there’s something wrong.
The Verdict: – Awful.

Dance in the Vampire Bund

Series Details: Twelve-episode television series that aired weekly beginning on January 7, 2010.
What It’s About: During a hokey Japanese reality show to explore the question ‘Do vampires really exist?’, Mina Tepes (the princess of a powerful vampire clan) reveals herself and creates a special district off the coast of Japan as a haven for her kind.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: I originally avoided this show like the plague because of the over “loli” elements that were clearly on display. But this first episode pretty much avoids that completely (with the exception of the still-frame closing credits), instead introducing the series in a rather innovative way with a fake Japanese news/entertainment program. Interesting set-up so far. Like Ookami Kakushi, this is another show that I’m giving a pass for now, and wait to see how things play out on the next episode.
The Verdict: – Tentative thumbs up.

Durarara

Series Details: 24-episode television series that aired weekly beginning on January 7, 2010
What It’s About: Ryuugamine moves to the big city, and his first day he meets up with his childhood friend Masaomi who escorts him all around the busy streets of Ikebukuro, where he is introduced to all of the colorful characters around town. As a special treat, he also catches a glimpse of the legendary headless black rider who blows by on her motorcycle.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: I already knew this was going to be truly awesome after catching the preview trailer, and so far so good. The first episode is all about the introductions, because there’s a raft of characters to plow through; and there’s also that just-beyond-surreal element of the headless mystery rider that leaves me wondering what’s really going on.
The Verdict: – Pretty cool.

Kaitou Reinya

Series Details: Twelve-episode television series (each 3 minutes long) that aired weekly beginning on January 9, 2010
What It’s About: Reinya works as a store clerk by day, but as a phantom thief by night! With her mouse sidekick, she engages in all sorts of silly quests, all the time facing off against her arch-nemesis the bumbling detective and idiot policewoman.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: I was convinced this was just some low-grade flash animation from a website, but nope, the crappy animation style is intentional. As for the story, well, it’s Magic Kaitou for the “moe” set, dumbed down and shortened and silly-fied to three minutes long for the ADHD-riddled kiddy set. Really, what’s the point?
The Verdict: – Thumbs down.

Already received a thumbs-up: Hipira the Little Vampire, Kowarekake no Orgel, Katanagatari, Sora no Woto
Already received a thumbs-down: Bohemian Rhapsody featuring Leiji Matsumoto, Bungaku Shoujo: Kyou no Oyatsu – Hatsukoi, Ladies vs. Butlers, Yutori-chan, Cobra the Animation, Hanakanaru Toki no Naka de 3, Chu-Bra, Omamori Himari

Coming Up Next in Part Three: Seikon no Qwaser, Hanamaru Kindergarten, Nodame Cantabile Finale, Fate Stay/Night: Unlimited Blade Works, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha First Movie, and Darker than Black: Gaiden

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One Response to Anime Quick-Hit Reviews: Winter 2010 Season Part 3

  1. Pingback: Anime Review: Hidamari Sketch x SP Episode 1 | This Euphoria!

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