(Originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 1/28/11)
Anime Quick-Hit Reviews:
Winter 2010 Season Part 4
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:
Seikon no Qwaser
Series Details: 24-episode television series that aired weekly beginning on January 9, 2010.
What It’s About: Big-boobed airhead and her friend are outcasts at a religious high school, befriended by strange silver-haired transfer student that gets superpowers from fresh breast milk.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: I have already lambasted the OVA that followed this series, so I knew what this show was all about from the start. They try to introduce some sort of dark and brooding, serious storyline about the persecuted boy and all that, but it’s all just an excuse to make a show for people who have a lactation fetish. Nobody is watching this for the plot, it’s all about the boobies.
The Verdict: – Worthless fetish crapola.
Series Details: Twelve-episode television series that aired weekly beginning on January 10, 2010.
What It’s About: Tsuchida is a real rarity: a male kindergarten teacher. What’s more, it’s his first day as a teacher, and he finds himself in charge of an unruly bunch of students, including Anzu (who has a very vocal crush on the teacher), the shy Koume, and the serious bookworm Hiiragi.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: It’s all cute and adorable humor, little kids doing the innocent, silly things that little kids do all the time. There’s the disturbing element of litle Anzu declaring she’s the teacher’s boyfriend and wants to marry him (pedos beware!), but it’s fairly clear the kid doesn’t understand what she’s really saying rather than anything serious. Having watched this *after* checking out Mitsudomoe first (which is essentially the same premise with sixth graders), I’m relieved that it doesn’t immediately go for the lowest common denominator humor.
The Verdict: – Slight thumbs-up. Could be cute and funny, could turn out boring.
Nodame Cantabile Finale
Series Details: Twelve-episode television series that aired weekly beginning on January 14, 2010, a second (and final) sequel.
What It’s About: Nodame is beginning her third and final year at the Conservatoire de Paris. She is continuing her studies on the piano, but is frustrated because she is forbidden from entering contests. Meanwhile, her aloof conductor boyfriend’s career continues to bloom, putting new strains on their relationship.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: I can understand why people like this show. On the base level, it’s a simple relationship story between a mismatched pair, a popular theme in romance manga and anime. But this is the first episode of the THIRD series, effectively the 38th episode in a continuing story that has well-established characters and setting. Sure, I could go back and check out the earlier series (after all, jumping into the middle of a show like this is a way for me to test the waters to see if if I want to do exactly that), but I quickly learned I do not like the characters of either Nodame or Chiaki. At all.
The Verdict: – Thumbs down, uninteresting characters.
Fate Stay/Night: Unlimited Blade Works
Series Details: Feature-length movie that debuted on the silver screen on January 23, 2010.
What It’s About: Based upon one of the “paths” in an erotic video game, Shiro is a “Master” that controls powerful “Servants” in a battle for the future of the world in the Holy Grail War. It’s a constant reshuffling of alliances as various factions face off against each other over and over again.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Clearly intended for people who already know what Fate Stay/Night is all about, and definitely not for the neophyte viewer like me, because I was pretty thoroughly confused from beginning to end. It all felt like a bad Japanese version of “Highlander” to me, and for a show that is based on an “eroge” game, there’s close to zero sexually-titillating content. Lots and lots of blood, though.
Movie Final Grade: C- (Rather than a thumbs-up/down, for movies I give a full letter grade). Just lots of fighting, never really understanding why, never understanding their motivations or goals. Would I grade it higher if I had previously been exposed to the Fate Stay/Night story? Maybe, but I doubt it – this movie’s quite a mess regardless whether you understand it or not. Visually, it is quite nice, but it takes more than pretty pictures to carry a two-hour movie.
Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha: First Movie
Series Details: Feature-length movie that appeared on the silver screen on January 23, 2010
What It’s About: Based on the long-running magical girl anime series, Nanoha is a middle-school girl who befriends an extraterrestrial being (in the form of a ferret), and becomes a magical girl to assist in collecting the 21 magical jewel seeds that have fallen to Earth. But another magical girl, Fate, is also after the jewels for her own reasons, and immediately decides Nanoha is her bitter enemy, even though Nanoha tries to understand and befriend her.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Oh boy, magical girl anime! Oh boy, transforming underage girls! Oh boy, and it’s two hours long! Since I’m not a twelve-year-old squealing little girl, I’m not exactly the target audience for this movie. But putting all that aside…the movie is not that bad. Production values are quite decent, the storyline is clear and well developed, and there’s an interesting twist about Fate’s origins that really turns things around in the end.
Movie Final Grade: B- (Rather than a thumbs-up/down, for movies I give a full letter grade). Even though I an totally uninterested in the genre, I found the movie quite watchable.
Darker Than Black: Gaiden
Series Details: Four-part original video animation series to explain what happened between the first and second television series, debuted on January 27, 2010.
What It’s About: Following the end of the first series, Contractor Hei and the emotionless doll Yin are on the run. Hiding away on a quiet tropical island resort, they soon learn that there really is nowhere to hide.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Boy oh boy, I really, really, REALLY wish that this four-part OVA series, which takes place *before* the “Gemini of the Meteor” story arc, was not shown *after* the “Gemini of the Meteor”. It really does help a great deal in clearing up some of the confusing story elements on the animated sequel. The most fascinating development of the OVA itself is Yin, who is showing actual initiative and interest, rather than the placid, unmoving, empty shell she’s always been before. Just the barest hint of humanity.
The Verdict: – Thumbs up.
Already received a thumbs-up: Hipira the Little Vampire, Kowarekake no Orgel, Katanagatari, Sora no Woto, Ookami Kakushi, Dance in the Vampire Bund, Durarara
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, Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu, Kaitou Reinya
Coming Up Next in Part Five: The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, Heartcatch Precure, Sleeping with Hinako, Quiz Academy 2, Lupin III: The Last Job, Gundam UC Unicorn