Friday, June 09, 2006

The Week in Review...

It's not you, it's Junichi.

Catching up on a few of the series I'm watching now:

Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuutsu

There's been a lot of discussion lately about Haruhi, and its popularity seems to have generated a backlash--but even if the rest of the world turned on it, this is still my favorite show this season. I won't say Haruhi is God, but the animation quality continues to impress me, the storyline is compelling, and I really like the cast of characters.

Haruhi herself is one of my favorite tsundere characters ever--she has a seemingly boundless disdain for everyone and everything, but every once in a while she shows a brief glimmer of dere-dere, like right after she fell off the cliff with Kyon. The Yuki-Ryoko fight scene was just awesome, even though they missed an obvious opportunity for Yuki fanservice. Mikuru is probably my least favorite character since she comes across as kind of a doormat, but even I have to admit grown-up Mikuru is moe. Kyon's sarcasm hasn't gotten old for me yet, and even though he's an alarmingly close talker at times, Koizumi is entertaining to watch. It's refreshing to watch a series that's original enough that I can't draw parallels to from anything else I've seen.

On the downside, I think this would be even better if they aired the episodes in the right order--since I spoiled myself by reading the fan translation of the first novel, the anime jumping around didn't affect my understanding of what was happening, but if I hadn't done that I'm sure I'd be wondering what the hell was going on. I was relieved to read in Matthew's Anime Blog that on the R2 DVDs at least (and hopefully the R1s assuming it gets licensed) the episodes appear in their proper order (Haruhi's order) instead of the order they aired them. Which raises the question of why they would show it out of order on air to begin with, and that I'm not sure of. I can see the end of volume one of the novels as a good "ending" point, but the original story for episode Kyon 9 / Haruhi 14 wasn't a bad note to end on either. Maybe it's a plot to get otaku to go buy the novel to find out what's going on, and it that's the case it seems to have worked like a charm. I'll genuinely be sad when this is over, I can only hope for a second season and/or the novels coming out in English.

Sukuran Second Term

School Rumble is one of those series, like Pani Poni Dash and Shinobuden, that can get me to laugh out loud no matter how many times I see it. If I have any complaint with the second season it's this: did Sukuran really need even more characters? After the first season, I thought there was no way more factions could spring up, but now the relationship chart's getting even more complicated. They're going to have to start pulling new characters in from neighboring high schools soon. I don't hate the new characters, but they feel kind of like unwanted guests at times--I have to admit I don't really care what happens to Takayama, I'd rather see the stars from the first season hog the spotlight. But that's a minor complaint and the second season has still been a lot of fun to watch--the school play was classic Sukuran, and the basketball episodes weren't bad either. I still have zero clue who will end up with Harima.

Soul Link

When did they start hiring eleven-year olds to draw anime? Seriously, for a show featuring bishoujo, nothing ruins it like fugly animation. I'm pretty sure *I* could have done better on some of those shots in episodes 7 and 8, which is pretty bad since I can't draw a straight line. Having said that, the animation seems to be recovering from that low point, and while Soul Link's not something that makes me check AnimeSuki 50x a day to see if the next ep is out, it does have at least one thing that makes it unique.

What surprised me the most about Soul Link so far is that although it's a harem series, almost all the girls have crushes on different guys. Nao likes Shuuhei (worships is probably more accurate), Sayaka likes Ryouta, Yuu likes Shin, Aya seems to like the head terrorist guy, and Aki likes...probably her brother. Normally a harem series relationship chart is a bunch of arrows pointed at the male lead, but Soul Link's wouldn't look like that at all. The downside to there being so many relationships in such a short series is there's almost no time to develop them. I don't have a good feel for WHY there's anything between Ryouta and Sayaka, and even Nao and Shuuhei's relationship feels underdeveloped. It's too bad, because I think it's not a bad idea, and it comes across as more realistic than a world like Hatsunejima in Da Capo, where every last girl on the island wants to be impregnated by Junichi. Failed magician, my ass.

The story so far leaves a lot to explain, and I'm skeptical they'll come up with something that makes sense in the last three episodes. I am curious how messed up the Earth is for BUGS to be dying out of all things. The day cockroaches become an endangered species it's time to emigrate to another planet, or call Haruhi to do some serious planet-wide renewal. The characters in Soul Link are OK, but definitely not Haruhi or Kotori-class memorable. Although Cellaria is so over-the-top evil she's inadvertently funny. I keep expecting her to get a coughing fit from too much diabolical laughter.

If this was longer I probably would've dropped it by now, but since it's a short series I'll keep watching just to see how it ends. I keep thinking about Bungie's game Oni, where humanity can only survive on a seriously polluted Earth by sort-of transforming into a new, carcinogen-resistant species.

Utawarerumono

Somehow I thought the war to overthrow the emperor would take until...oh, episode 26, but nope, it's all over by the end of episode seven. I feel bad for Eruruu, getting the "she's like a sister to me" line from Hakuoro. I really thought she was the front-runner for the win, but Hakuoro doesn't show any interest in his harem at all so far. Maybe he's too busy being emperor to stop and smell the roses, but it's a crime that Eruruu isn't getting more attention. Sadly, with another war going on I don't see her getting any quality time soon.

Kamisama Kazoku

This is really good so far, through ep 2--the premise, a god who has to live like ordinary people in order to be a better god himself someday, is interesting, and it's hard not to root for Tenko since I'm almost as big a sucker for osanajimi characters as for tsundere ones. It helps that Samatarou, the male lead, is voiced by the same seiyuu who did Chitose in Happy Lesson--his situation, where his family sort of views him as their toy, reminds me of Chitose a lot, and he does his role very, very well. Tenko's seiyuu voices Tenma in School Rumble, and I think she nails the role pretty well too. The character designs are a little different than I'm used to, their noses seem to not exist at all at times, but as I get used to them I like them. I pity Samatarou just based on the apron scene--I can't even imagine the therapy one would need coming home from school and finding BOTH parents with the hadaka apron action going. I'm hoping they actually resolve the love triangle at the end and don't just leave the series open-ended, but if the manga or novels it's based on is still running that's probably too much to hope for. Based on the ED, there should be some "bad guys" showing up eventually, hopefully they can pull off some drama well.

Comic Party Revolution

Hard to believe ADV picked this up, I guess they have some money left for licenses after all. I'll probably buy the DVDs since it was fun to watch--watching the first four OVA episodes of Revolution convinced me to buy the original Comic Party DVDs after all. If you didn't like the original Comic Party, you might still like Revolution--Revolution really gives the whole cast their time to shine, instead of just focusing on Kazuki-Mitsuki-Yuu-Taishi, and personally I liked the character designs in Revolution much better than the original.

Mostly Off-Topic

I started writing an anime-themed novel of sorts--I'm aware my writing skills aren't all that great, but I really enjoy writing anyway, much like you can enjoy playing basketball even if you're not exactly NBA material. It'll probably be quite a while before it's finished though, since I'm trying to make it somewhat original and at least close to novel-length. I couldn't resist making the main character somewhat like Kotori--I blame that on re-watching D.C.S.S. Seeing Kotori's screentime drop off during that series makes me want to send the Higurashi girls to pay the screenwriters a visit, but I guess some Kotori is still better than nothing.

If you want to see an example of just how bad my writing skillz are, I did put a different story up at fanfiction.net a few months back--if you're particularly bored here's the link. You'll see it's safe to say I have to keep my day job.

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