Anime Quick-Hit Reviews: Winter 2010 Season Part 5

(Originally published and formatted for Livejournal on 1/29/11)

Anime Quick-Hit Reviews:
Winter 2010 Season Part 5

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:

The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya

Series Details: Feature-length movie that appeared on the big screen in Japan on February 6, 2010, and released on DVD in December.
What It’s About: On a cold December morning, Kyon wakes up to find the world has changed: it is as if the events of the past three years never happened, and Haruhi Suzumiya never formed the SOS Brigade. He desperately runs around trying to understand what is happening and how he can change the world back to the way it was before. Or, perhaps it’s better off this way…
My Thoughts the movie: Amazing. Dark and brooding and moody, you can feel Kyon’s world crumbling before his eyes, wondering whether everything he’s experienced over the past year was just a dream. But this isn’t really a movie about Haruhi (who only appears for maybe a quarter of the time), or even the protagonist Kyon. Nope, it’s all about Yuki. Don’t want to give anything away, but she’s really the quietly-driving force behind the movie, her silent desperation and vanishingly-shy presence is more powerful than the brash Haruhi. The brief moment when Yuki grabs Kyon’s sleeve to wordlessly say “Don’t go” is probably the single most memorable moment in the entire 2010 year of anime.
Movie Final Grade: A- (Rather than a thumbs-up/down, for movies I give a full letter grade) Best feature-length movie of the year, with two problems. First: It’s LONG at over 160 minutes, and secondly you want to beat Kyon over the head as he runs around like a chicken with its head cut off unable to grasp what is happening (really, now, after all you’ve done and seen so far, and *this* flabbergasts you?). Also, this movie is DEFINITELY for someone very familiar with the series, since it directly references events that occur over the past two television season. (For someone who hasn’t watched the television series to try to make sense of this movie would be like trying to make sense of Back to the Future II without watching the original movie first.)

Heartcatch Precure

Series Details: Twelve-episode television series that aired weekly beginning on February 7, 2010.
What It’s About: Tsubomi is an incredibly shy girl who just moved into town. In her dreams she imagines magical beings fighting, one group trying to save a flowering tree, the other to destroy it. When the sprites in her dream become reality, they plead with her to become a “Pretty Cure” warrior to fight the evil spirits. At first she is reluctant, but when her new friend’s heart is stolen away, she vows to become a Pretty Cure and save her.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Magical girl anime, with highly stylized artwork style, bright pink and pastel blue colors, cutesy flowers and fashion, transforming into a powerful magical warrior with special fighting attacks and the whole nine yards. Pretty standard stuff as far as the genre goes, really.
The Verdict: – Thumbs down, unless you’re a ten-year-old girl, in which case squeal away.

Isshoni Sleeping: Sleeping with Hinako

Series Details: DVD with 40 minutes of animation, released on February 11, 2010. This is a sequel to “Isshoni Training” (similar concept with exercising), and to be followed in 2011 by “Isshoni Bathing”.
What It’s About: Have trouble sleeping? Then join Hinako as she sleeps through the night. You can choose different settings on the DVD for different lengths of time (up to 8 hours) of various looping sequences of Hinako sleeping in bed, viewed from different angles, sometimes interrupted by waking sequences where she sings lullabies or gets a midnight snack.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Anime girl sleeping. That’s about it. No story, no plot or anything silly like that, just endless minutes of a girl sleeping on a bed. I even put it on 4x-fast-forward, and it was still endless minutes of the same thing. One part of me says this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. But another part of me is banging my head because I didn’t think of such a ridiculous idea *first*. Sure, sleeping fetish anime geeks is a pretty narrowly-targeted audience, but as far as I know, no one has ever done anything like this before. Instant niche market monopoly!
The Verdict: – Brilliant marketing ploy to a very niche market; but for 99% of people out there: Most. Boring. Show. Ever.

Quiz Academy 2

Series Details: 30-minute Original Video Animation released on DVD on February 11, 2010, sequel to the original special from 2008.
What It’s About: The magical school academy floating in the sky has fallen to Earth on a island filled with evil monsters. As long as the students stay put, they’ll be safe…but of course they wander off into the jungle.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: Stupid, silly, ridiculous, pointless. And that’s all I got to say about that.
The Verdict: – Thumbs-down.

Lupin III: The Last Job

Series Details: Feature-length movie that appeared on the television in Japan on February 12, 2010.
What It’s About: While trying to steal away a priceless treasure while it is being transported through Germany, Inspector Zenigata is killed! Now Lupin is on the trail for both the mysterious iconic treasure, and Morgana and his ninja clan that is also interested in the treasure and responsible for Zenigata’s death. With the help of Goemon and Jigen plus a strange dark-haired girl, he travels all over the world to solve the mystery of the unusual object.
My Thoughts on the movie: Hey, it’s Lupin, what more do you expect? He’s been a staple in the world of Japanese manga and anime culture since before I was even born (that’s 40 years, folks!); Lupin’s a comfortable fixture and you know what to expect whenever you see him. Over-the-top comedic chase sequences? Check. Silly chauvinistic dialogue? Check. Rubber-faced ridiculous expressions? Check. Death of a main character? Che….whoa, that’s different. But don’t worry, it all works out in the end. After all, it’s Lupin! it’s all in good fun like the Roger Moore James Bond films.
Movie Final Grade: B (Rather than a thumbs-up/down, for movies I give a full letter grade). Decent and zany, anyone who is a fan of Lupin should enjoy this, and people who don’t know about him will probably enjoy the non-stop action as well (unlike many other movies, you don’t need to be steeped in the characters already to understand what’s going on). As for the title “Last Job”, does anyone seriously believe this is the “last” we’ll see of Lupin? Yeah, right.

Gundam UC: Unicorn

Series Details: Six-part hour-long Original Video Animation series started on February 20, 2010.
What It’s About: Three years after the second Neo Zeon War, Banagher Links is a student on a space colony, when he spies a girl falling through space outside. After saving her, she tells him her name is “Audrey Burne” and she’s on a very important mission. With Banagher’s help, they reach the mansion of the leader of the powerful Vist Foundation, where she pleads with Cardias Vist for him not to turn over a special object known as “Laplace’s Box” to the remnants of the Neo Zeon faction. But at that moment, the colony is attacked, and Banagher’s future changes forever.
My Thoughts on Episode 1: As crappy as I thought of the previously-reviewed Gundam 00 Movie, this one gets just about everything *right*. The artwork and the animation are truly top-notch, the story is character-driven and interesting, the setting is the hard sci-fi universe of the “Universal Century”. Of course there’s still Gundams involved (so that’s a minus), but that is fairly limited in this episode as it focuses instead on playing up the mystery of the ingenue “Audrey” and the reluctant hero Banagher. Only major drawback? Six months between episodes.
The Verdict: – Enthusiastic 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, Hanamaru Kindergarten, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha First Movie, Darker than Black: Gaiden
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, Seikon no Qwaser, Nodame Cantabile: Finale, Fate Stay/Night: Unlimited Blade Works

Coming Up Next in Part Last: Yondemasuyo Azazel-san, Mudazumo Naki Kaikaku: Legend of Koizumi, Working, Time of Eve, Doraemon Movie 2010: Nobita and the Great Mermaid War, Shin Koihime Live, and Pre-Cure All-Stars DX2

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