Anime and Manga — Reviews and Previews
This is the point where I start to regret trying to cram watching so many shows into so few days, but I power through for you, lovely readers! It’s time for the second part of my Winter 2013 Anime Season Preview!
(If you have no idea what’s going on with this “Part 2” business, check out [Part 1] of my Winter 2013 Season Preview for the rules and regulations of this little affair! Part 3, meanwhile, will drop tomorrow, and Part 4 on Sunday.)
Onward and forward with:
The Unlimited – Hyobu Kyosuke
Plot: Hyobu Kyosuke is an unstoppable force of nature: possessed of godly supernatural powers, he fights to free fellow ESPers from unkind fates, using his criminal organization P.A.N.D.R.A. to achieve his goals. He allows himself to be captured and taken to a maximum security prison for ESPers in order to free a beloved friend, but he also stumbles across Andy Hinomiya, an inmate who seems kind-hearted, if weak. But when things go sour and Hyobu finds himself on the losing end of a fight with a medical monstrosity, Andy may prove more powerful than previously thought. Hyobu invites him to join P.A.N.D.R.A., but is this a decision he’ll come to regret?
Review: I’ve never seen Zettai Karen Children, the anime from which this one is a spin-off, and as expected I really have no idea what was going on. I get the gist, of course, but I feel like I was expected to care about or know a lot more than I did. But that’s my fault, not the show’s. The Unlimited’s greatest strength is going to be its bursts of action scenes – they’re fast-paced, occasionally brutal, and they’re a joy to watch. But neither characterization nor plot seem like they’re going to match that, at least from what I’ve seen in this first episode. The cast will be filled with the usual tough-guy and –gal types, and the plot will keep pace with that. But, that having been said, The Unlimited will almost certainly be good popcorn entertainment, if nothing else.
Verdict: It has made me want to watch Zettai Karen Children, so consider that a mark in its favor, but I may have to do so before continuing with The Unlimited in order to feel like I’m moving forward in this story with the right prerequisites.
Plot: The waitress of a small café has a very big problem: she’s just woken up after passing out at work, and she can’t remember anything. Not where she is, not any of the people around her, and not even her own name. All she knows is there’s a strangely dressed young boy talking to her that no one else can see or hear. Orion, as the boy calls himself, claims to be a spirit from another world, once who accidentally stripped the girl of her memories when he bumped into her spirit. Now, the nameless girl must face the challenge of rediscovering her identity, all without letting anyone figure out that something is amiss. Not an easy task when a bevy of handsome guys are all vying for your attention.
Review: Anime adaptations of romance visual novels may be another genre that I really just can’t get behind. As a rule, the protagonists are bland and unimpressive in order for the viewer to project themselves onto them, but I always find this approach more off-putting than welcoming. And then the idea of four or five romantic interests all chasing after the same girl (or boy) just seems exhausting. Amnesia has both of these problems, not to mention the dreaded specter of amnesia itself. I don’t understand why amnesia is such a go-to writing element in anime and videogames when it usually winds up being a lazy contrivance. Couple these facts with the frankly outlandish character designs and you’ve got a show that I’m backing away from slowly.
Verdict: Seriously, some of those guys would not be amiss in a visual kei concert or a Final Fantasy game, never a good thing when they’re supposed to be average, stylish, modern men. I’m going to pass on Amnesia.
Plot: Hidden away in secret rooms at the Hanzo boarding school, five girls are engaged in learning the ancient art of ninjutsu. They fight to protect themselves, they fight to protect one another, and they fight in order to prove their worth, but they’re also high school girls, with all the personality traits and flaws that entails. Can the five girls work together to accomplish the missions they’ve been given, or will youth and inexperience get the better of them in a world full of dangerous shinobi?
Review: Shows like Senran Kagura just make me tired. I’m tired of the over-sized breasts. I’m tired of the shoe-horned fanservice. I’m tired of cardboard characters and generic storylines only included to shore up poorly animated semi-porn. I’m tired of women who fondle other women’s breasts for no reason whatsoever. I’m tired of women allowing other women to fondle their breasts for no reason whatsoever. I’m tired of all this crap actively holding a show back, because there were hints and flashes of good, solid animation and action in this episode. But this show so clearly isn’t meant for me (and isn’t meant to include me, or make me feel welcome) that I have to walk away without looking back. As long as you can get past or actively enjoy fanservice shows of this type, Senran Kagura is one of the better ones I’ve seen lately, in that it at least has some legitimate action to go along with its titillation.
Verdict: As soon as I saw the character who fights with her shirt unbuttoned, I knew Senran Kagura wasn’t for me.
Love Live! School Idol Project
Plot: Honoka Kosaka has a problem – her school is shutting down due to a lack of prospective students, and all of Honoka’s fondest memories (not to mention the memories of her mother and grandmother) are tied into Otonokizaka Academy. Nothing, it seems, can save the school, not when it’s most impressive club is it’s abacus team. But upon investigating one of the schools that seems to be stealing away all of the local students, Honoka concocts a crazy scheme: become a school idol alongside her friends, and inspire people to return to Otonokizaka! So long as the student council and the school director don’t get in the way, Honoka’s plan may be just crazy enough to work!
Review: Look, I know in my heart of hearts that I shouldn’t like this show: it’s all cutesy rainbows, perseverance, and bubblegum feelings, not to mention half-baked pop music. It’s the opposite of all the things I usually go for in anime. But… But… I do like it! It’s so damn cute and earnest, like I could just squeeze all of the characters and only happiness and sprinkles would pop out. And for all that the music is just standard pop ditties, I enjoyed them immensely! Add to these things the fact that there are a few outstanding directorial touches going on in this first episode, and Love Live! completely caught me off my guard. I want to watch Honoka persevere even through her own naiveté! The animation itself is smooth and colorful, with particular emphasis paid to dance moves and lip-synching. I love those little attentions to detail –just another reason Love Live! won me over.
Verdict: Go get ‘em, girl, and I’ll be right there watching. Just as soon as I recover from the cuteness coma.
So, once again it’s the girly show that steals the spotlight. Maybe I should think about changing my name to the Armchair Romantic… Will there be some action-packed shows to save my reputation (and my moniker) in the final two batches of the Winter 2013 shows? Come back tomorrow and Sunday to find out!