Anime and Manga — Reviews and Previews
And so we come to Part 3. The end, the finale, the piece de resistance! Also, the part with incest in it, so there’s that. We’re rounding out Fall 2012 with a large number of romantic comedies, and every single show is set in a high school. (For comparison’s sake, only three of the shows in the first two parts were set entirely in a high school. Way to be cliché, Part 3!)
If you missed them, Parts  and  are still available for your reading pleasure, and I explain the rhyme and reasoning behind my anime choices in the former. If you’re wondering why insert-anime-name-here isn’t on this or either of the previous lists, check out the very bottom of this post. I do my best to explain everything there.
Now, let’s begin the last day of this Fall introspective with:
OniAi / Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai Yo Ne!
Plot: Akito and Akiko Himenokoji are twins who have been living apart from one another for a long time. Finally, as a new school year approaches, they manage to find a place to live together, just the two of them! But things take a turn for the weird when Akiko begins expressing taboo desires for her brother, like the need to be held, kissed, and made love to by him. Akito wants no part of it – he just wants his old little sister back! But Akiko is an unrepentant “Brocon,” a girl in love with her brother, and neither hell nor high water (nor the arrival of three alluring rivals) is going to keep her from getting what she wants.
Review: As soon as I saw what this show’s name translates to (“As long as there’s love, it doesn’t matter if he’s my brother, right?”), I had PTSD flashbacks to My Sister is Among Them!, that show from last season whose premise left my skin crawling. And these two shows are actually very similar: girl wants to have sexy times with her biological brother, brother resists, other potential female lovers swarm all over him to complete the incestuous harem rom-com formula. (Why is there a formula for this!?) This show is prettier than My Sister is Among Them! and actually had a bit of charm before the harem bits turned up. I feel like I should point out here that I don’t hate on these shows specifically because they feature incest. Incest here is part of an entertainment fantasy. I can understand objectively how it can be someone’s kink, but these shows turn it into the butt of an (overplayed) joke. I probably would’ve liked it better as a straight hentai title. At least then I don’t have to pretend that I was watching it for the “characters” or the “plot.”
Verdict: Strike two for this season!
(I usually don’t comment on the pictures from these previews, but may I just say that Blondie’s right shin is clearly snapped clean in two, the girl in the pink dress is rocking a broken spine, and white-haired missy is working the boobs-and-butt pose like nobody’s business. I weep for the anatomy in this picture.)
Plot: Akiho Senomiya and Kaito Yashio have a problem: their robotics club is on the verge of being dismantled, and they haven’t yet had the chance to finish building their giant working version of the anime mech suit GUNVARREL. It’s been their dream – or, well, it’s been Akiho’s dream – to complete the robot and win the international championship for robot enthusiasts. The first step to ensuring the longevity of the club is to secure funding from the Vice Principal, but it’s going to require no small sum of money to get GUNVARREL up and running. Faced with Akiho’s perseverance (and Kaito’s patient apathy), the Vice Principal concedes to the club’s demands, but only under the condition that the club win Robo-One, the lesser robotics competition that Akiho’s sister won eight years ago. Can the robotics club secure the funding and find the extra members needed to finish GUNVARREL in time?
Review: Man, what an earnest show. I’m not sure that really sounds like praise, but I promise I mean it that way. Akiho is a really earnest character; her drive to keep her club running and get her robot completed is earnest; even Kaito’s complete apathy towards everything but the videogame Kill-Ballad is earnest in its own way. It’s that element of honesty that kept me entertained through what was otherwise a pretty basic first episode. There wasn’t really anything bombastic going on here, and compared to other shows this season it’s only good – not great – on the animation front. But so long as Robotics;Notes can hold onto that earnestness and really make us sympathize with the characters, it won’t need visual fireworks or a life and death conflict. Of course, it is still a school comedy at heart complete with what the opening promises with be the usual cast of three plucky girls and two nice guys, and I’m getting so very, very sick of seeing all of those elements strung together. Give me something good to hold onto, Robotics;Notes! I’m begging you!
Verdict: They used the word “madcap” in the episode! Instant approval! (Also, it’s a pretty good show. It falls somewhere in the middle of this season’s totem pole, but I still wouldn’t be averse to more.)
The Pet Girl of Sakurasou
Plot: Sorata Kanda is going insane: he attends a local art-centric high school, but he lives in the dorm known as Sakura Hall, which is the breeding ground (and quarantine space) of the school’s freaks, weirdoes, and eccentrics. From anime savants to high school playboys, from oversexed and husband-hunting teachers to tech geniuses who never leaves their rooms, Sorata is surrounded by people whose only purpose seems to be to drive him mad. But until Sorata can find homes for the seven or so cats he’s rescued off the streets, he’s stuck in Sakura Hall. But things take a turn for the even weirder when he’s sent to pick up a new resident: Mashiro Shiina, an art student with a beautiful talent for drawing, but who’s otherwise completely useless at life. Can Sorata survive the year while trying to keep Mashiro in line, and will she ever be able to pick out her own underwear?
Review: Man, this show really just didn’t hold my attention. It was cute enough, and I like that the color scheme of the whole thing is heavy on the pinks, purples, and dramatic lighting. But the animation is pretty sparse, and the plot is so barely there that I can’t help but feel like there really isn’t one – no overarching plan for the characters to follow. If it’s just going to be cute people doing cute (and eccentric) things, then I really haven’t got the patience for it. That having been said, it’s not shaping up to be a bad comedy, and it’s got some surprisingly subtle gags going for it (like the fact that Sorata doesn’t realize just how fitted he really is to live in Sakura Hall). The sexuality isn’t so over-the-top that I felt uncomfortable or rolled my eyes too much, but it’s still definitely there for those who love fanservice. So if that’s your cup of tea, go for it. If broad-strokes comedy is your thing, you’ll probably like The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, too. This is really a show that I feel will do wildly different things for different people.
Verdict: But for me, it just hit a sour note. No more Pet Girl of Sakurasou for me. Though, someone please let me know if Mashiro does ever manage to pick out her own underwear.
Girls Und Panzer
Plot: Miho Nishizumi has just transferred to a new school in a city far away from her family, all in an attempt to escape the dreaded sport of tankery – the driving and operating of tanks, which is considered a traditional feminine martial art. Miho’s family has a history of excelling at tankery, but a traumatic experience left Miho terrified. Luckily, she’s now attending a school that discontinued its tankery classes a long time ago, and she’s even managed to make two new friends. But Miho quickly discovers that the school is in fact rebooting its tankery program in time to compete in an international competition, and the student council desperately wants her to join based on the strength of her family history alone. Will peer pressure lead to Miho facing her fears from the inside of a tank?
Review: When I first saw the title of this show, I thought, “Holy shit, yes! Tanks!” Then I paid closer attention and saw the “girls” part and changed my inner monologue to, “Ah, crap – this is going to be moe, isn’t it?” And it is very moe – a moe monstrosity even. But this show snuck up on me so completely, I honestly can’t believe how much I enjoyed it. The opening tank’s-eye-view shot was spectacular, and even though the rest of the episode took place in the usual high school setting, you could tell that Miho’s struggle to resist tankery was genuine, that she had a good reason for her reluctance, and that her friends genuinely wanted to help her, despite their own individual desires. Masterful characterization. Now, the art style obviously isn’t something I particularly enjoy, and the 3D tanks sometimes clash with the traditional 2D animation, and most of the story is going to be “learning to be friends” and other moe standbys. But hey, this might be the dose of cute I’ll need after all the hard-boiled sci fi stories coming out this season.
Verdict: I liked Girls Und Panzer, just like I enjoyed Soranowoto. (Come to think of it, Soranowoto had tanks in it too. So if you ever want to make me like your moe girl anime, stick some tanks in it, apparently.) Onwards to episode two! Eventually!
Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai / Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions of Grandeur, I Want a Date!
Plot: Yuuta Togashi once believed he was the Master of the Dark Flames, a stupid childhood fantasy that he’s now desperately trying to bury. He just wants to attend a new high school (far away from any old acquaintances) and make new friends (who know nothing about his erstwhile alter ego), but things don’t quite work out the way he planned. Instead, he’s approached by Rikka Takanashi, a fellow student with an eye-patch who claims she’s been led to him by destiny. Rikka, it seems, is suffering from an adolescent delusion of her own, and she intends to drag Yuuta along for the ride. Can Yuuta stick to his guns and avoid slipping back into his embarrassing ways, or will his pity for Rikka trump everything?
Review: Can we all agree that this show also has stupid(ly long) title? Yes? Ok. You know, I don’t quite know how I feel about this show. On the one hand, it actually kind of won me over with its characters, and its message (or seeming message) to keep doing what we love even if other people think it’s weird is certainly a good one. But on the other hand, I’ve never been one of those people who enjoyed watching other people get embarrassed. That’s what most of this show is, Yuuta getting embarrassed, and I squirm right alongside him. That makes it difficult for me to say I like Chuu2, or that I’m going to keep watching it. I didn’t enjoy feeling uncomfortable for half an episode, even if I found Yuuta’s casual abuse of Rikka to be hilarious, or if I’m very interested in what arcs these characters are going to follow. I’ll say this: Chuu2 is a good show, and if you have a higher tolerance for embarrassment than I do, and especially if you enjoy comedies, please watch it.
Verdict: I will not be continuing with Chuu2, but I will be getting a play-by-play from a certain someone every couple of weeks. You know who you are (and should you choose to accept this mission)!
Fall 2012 Shows Not Included in the Madcap’s Previews (and Why)!
Busou Shinki – Have you wondered why I’ve been so inconclusive on how many shows I was watching this season? Why there seemed to be one extra that never showed up? That would be Busou Shinki’s fault, or rather Anime Network’s. They announced they would be simulcasting the show (alongside Chuu2), but never released a date. It’s still not up as of this posting. If it goes up within the next week, I’ll throw up a bonus post to cover it.
Kyousogiga, Battle Spirits: Sword Eyes, Litche de Hikari Club, Chiisana Oyaji, Chou Soku Henkei Gyrozetter, Wooser no Sono Higurashi, Monsuno, Haitai Nanafa, Little Busters!, Sukitte Ii Na Yo, Oshiri Kajiri Mushi, Teekyuu, Cross Fight B-Daman eS, Aikatsu!, Dangerous Jii-San Ja, Aoi Sekai No Chuusin De – None of these were legally simulcast, and thus were off limits. To be honest, of these, the only ones who really had any of my attention were Aoi Sekai no Chuusin De (for being a fantasy metaphor of the console wars), Sukitte Ii Na Yo (for being a romance), and Litche de Hikari Club (for sheer, unadulterated weirdness).
Hiiro Ni Kakera S2, Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb, Gintama S?, Hayate no Gotoku: I Can’t Take My Eyes Off You, Yu-Gi-Oh Zexal S2, Jormungand PERFECT ORDER, Medaka Box Abnormal, Initial D Fifth Stage, Seitokai no Ichizon S2, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: the Animation, To Love-Ru Darkness, Bakuman S3 – All sequels/crossovers/re-imaginings/releases of previously existing properties and thus not eligible by my own rules. Most of them were also not legally simulcast, making them doubly ineligible.
Well, guys, that’s it. That’s the Fall 2012 anime season in a (pretty large) nutshell. There’s a lot of shows I want to continue with this year, but K, My Little Monster, and Blast of Tempest sit atop the list. At the bottom we have Ixion Saga DT and OniAi, two little disappointments in an otherwise impressive season.
Which shows are your favorites this year around? Do you share my tastes, or are you forging your own path? Are you maybe even watching some of the shows not picked up by Funimation, Hulu, Crunchyroll, or the Anime Network? Let me know by posting in the comments!