Monday, May 01, 2006

Saraba, Kage Kara Mamoru, Magikano, and Lamune

It's sad to see these series end, all of them I went into with low expectations, but they ended up being really fun to watch. Thoughts on the end (some spoilers, as usual):

Kage Kara Mamoru - The 'reset ending' has to be one of the worst tricks at the disposal of anime writers--it's not the first time it's been used, and I'm sure it won't be the last, but did they really have to make Yuuna lose her memory at the end? She slips on a banana and only forgets the last week? I guess for someone as insanely ditzy as Yuuna it's possible--and if I were nitpicking on what's realistic, I guess there are many more targets in KKM than Yuuna's memory lapse. Mamoru's reaction to Yuuna's confession was a little disappointing--it seemed pretty clear he liked her all series, whether she was exasperating at times or not, so it would have been nice to see something happen between them at the end. Mamoru almost confessing and then chickening out at the very end was just an extra kick in the balls, but it's a comedy after all so I can't fault it too much for not giving me DCSS-level closure. Although I think Yuuna getting married to Mamoru and throwing a boquet of bananas would have been a much better ending. Overall, the animation was pretty bad throughout, the character designs looked like something I could draw myself (and I can't draw a straight line), and the ending was pretty bad, but it was funny, and that's what really matters for this type of series. If this made it to DVD in the US, I'd probably even consider buying it, but I'm a sucker for comedies.

Magikano - Magikano was the comedy I liked the best last season, beating out Kage Kara Mamoru just by virtue of pure insanity. The characters for Magikano really made it awesome--Haruo's cluelessness, Maika's insane jealousy, Mamiya's scheming, the crazy Supernatural Science Club people--everything just really worked well together. Not many series could pull off the baka neko pantsu episode, but Magikano did. I won't say it's better than Sukuran or Haruhi, but Magikano made some of the best use of SD and sound effects I've seen in anime--the insane laugh in the background when Mamiya's plotting, Maika turning into the lizard monster from Hell when Mamiya's getting too close to Haruo, the SD faces the characters get on the reaction shots--it's all just really well done. Maybe I'm just a sucker for this kind of series, but I laughed my ass off watching this. At first the character designs didn't do much for me, they looked too much like Tenshi no Shippo or Izumo, but after a while I got used to them, and overall the animation was pretty good. While the ending did a COMPLETE reset, back to the beginning of episode 1, I guess after Kage Kara Mamoru's ending my expectations were low enough that I just shrugged it off. Although they really missed an opportunity for some extreme violence, I can't even imagine what Maika's reaction to Haruo and Mamiya getting married would be.

Lamune - I was expecting this to be your average harem show--namely, a bunch of bishoujo all have crushes on a somewhat useless-ass male lead who has too little spine to pick any one of them, preferring to string them all along. But it turned out to take a different, and I think more realistic, path, instead focusing on Nanami and Kenji's relationship, with lots of flashbacks to flesh out their history together. The other girls, while some do like Kenji, mainly support Nanami and Kenji and stay in the background, instead of trying to keep them apart or steal Kenji for themselves. It really came across more as a love story between Nanami and Kenji than anything else, which was kind of cool--not that the other girls didn't get any screentime, but Nanami was the focus the whole way through, and from the first episode it's never really in doubt they'll be together. There's no 'walk in on girl X changing', no 'fall down and accidentally grab girl Y's breasts', no 'girl A walks in on guy in compromising situation and misunderstands, being pissed at him for the next two episodes'--none of the harem series staples I was expecting to run into. Kenji isn't a total loser, either--he works on and rides motorcycles (not your typical otaku hobby), doesn't break into a rash when girls touch him, and seems socially competent. The ending was particularly well-done, you really see how much Kenji means to Nanami, and while the ending is somewhat predictable, it was still decent. My only complaint would be there was no kiss at the end, but that's a minor quibble--I'll just assume they got jiggy off-camera. Especially compared to KKM and Magikano, Lamune had a good solid ending. Although I hope the Ramune drink people paid something to make this, because they got more product placement than I've ever seen in anime before, even in the last scene they're drinking Ramune. Unfortunately I drank the last Ramune we had in the fridge before watching the last episode, but if I re-watch it I'll definitely get a six-pack at Mitsuwa first, just to add atmosphere. The little marble thing in Ramune is cool, I wish I'd had Ramune when I was a kid.


Skav said...

Interesting point about Lamune. Looks like many people dropped it, for it being "crap".
I had a strange love/hate relationship with the show. At the beginning of the ep I was pissed by the overall cheesiness, however by the end I had turned pretty fasicinated. This for almost every episode.
I totally agree with you, the show succeeded modestly in presenting a simple and refreshing love story, without all the annoying harem clichés.

suguru said...

Yeah, I actually did drop Lamune after the first episode, since I was watching a lot of other series at the time--then a couple months later I marathoned episodes 2-8 and was surprised it turned out to be much better than I expected.