Three of this spring's series (Hayate no Gotoku, Seto no Hanayome, and Nagasarete Airantou) are based on manga I really liked, but the specter of horrors past (I'm going to Hell, or at least to Heck, for beating on it all the time but Yoakena inevitably comes to mind...) made me a little hesitant. Before the season started, my sleep was disturbed by visions from the B9F of Hell itself. What if Suzu looks like Feena-hime on a bad cross-eyed day? What if Hayate starts cutting up cabbages that look like bowling balls? What if San just stares at the screen and goes 'muuu' for 24 minutes, 30 seconds? So far, though, I'm glad to say these anime adaptations have lived up to the manga, and in some respects are even better.
So, as usual, here are some incoherent thoughts on what I've seen so far:
- Nagasarete Airantou: Suzu is moe enough in the manga, but add Horie Yui's talents and we're talking about a firestorm of moe that could burn away the Earth's atmosphere itself, forcing humanity's last hope to make an emergency run to Iscandar. The story, basically a guy stranded on island of all girls, sounds like the idiot child of Gilligan's Island and Girls Bravo, but the manga manages to be consistently hilarious and so far the anime has lived up to its potential. The OP and ED are sung by Horie Yui, and they're insanely addictive--I've had them on repeat play on iTunes for long enough I'm surprised the neighbors aren't throwing rocks through my window. The animation quality isn't Kyoani's Kanon or anything, but for this type of series I think it's fine. Character designs are simple, but cute, and the colors are bright and vibrant, like you'd expect set on a tropical paradise. I remember reading the manga and thinking 'this is so made to be an anime series'--it's been a long, long wait but it's looking like it'll be worth it.
- Seto no Hanayome: Only seen the raw of this so far, but this is another manga I liked and was glad to see turned into an anime series--it looks like the anime's captured the feel of the manga with lots of SD moments and yakuza bent on ending the hero's life as messily as possible. It reminds me a little of Happy Lesson, with the lead running for his life 99% of the time from mortal peril--definitely looking forward to seeing this subbed, although it followed the manga closely enough it was easy enough to tell what was going on in the raw. I was a little worried about Halko as San, since while her Komugi-chan voice was fine in that series I didn't think it would work for San--but she seems to have changed it up enough that it works in this role pretty well. Apparently the same crew that brought us Magikano is involved, and you can definitely see their influence (a good thing in my book, since I liked Magikano). Insane comedy + romance = I'm definitely watching it.
- Hayate no Gotoku: I'm deeply shamed for not mentioning this in my last post, since the first two volumes of the manga are pretty funny, and the first episode of the anime lived up to the hype. Rie Kugimiya is brilliant as Nagi, who could well end up being one of my favorite anime characters. The censoring of any scenes with blood in them could get annoying (since although he's resilient as hell, a lot of the manga has Hayate getting bloodied in various encounters) but they're at least joking about the broadcast code. The first episode seemed just a little less funny than the manga somehow, not sure if it was less SD or watering down his parents gambling addiction, but I have high hopes for the rest of the series. Can't wait for nursing robot 8 to make his debut, which has to be coming soon...
- Hitohira: Hitohira's a slice of life show that has character designs reminiscent of Asatte no Hokou, about a girl named Mugi who has a strong voice but is generally too timid to use it, especially when she gets nervous. The first episode was mainly introducing the good-sized cast and setting the stage for Mugi to get sucked into the drama research society. So far, so good--I hope they don't go yuri with Mugi x Nono (which probably puts me in the minority) but there's the potential for some good character development and a little romance here. The only complaint I have so far is the setting--WTF is up with Brooklyn meets Hatsunejima? Did the director just take a trip to NYC and thought he could re-use his vacation pictures as backdrops?
- Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann: It's by Gainax, and has mecha in it--that makes me think the ending will be terrible and I won't want to watch it, since I've found generally mecha = emo whining plus very un-aerodynamic robots built to look like people for no good reason, and frankly I'd rather watch "Joanie Loves Chachi." But so far this has caught my interest anyway--the world it's set in is interesting, the style reminds me of Gunbuster 2 a lot (or I'm told FLCL), and there's a good mix of action and fanservice so far. Not sure if anything will happen between Simon and
- Nanoha StrikerS: I'll admit it--I'm not a raving Nanoha fan. Maybe I'm just being too American/prudish but the henshin sequences are a little disturbing, and although it's aimed at a very different crowd, the fact mahou shoujo are involved makes me compare Nanoha to Cardcaptor Sakura, and in my book CCS always wins that smackdown. The character designs are just average for me (and I realize there's probably nothing more subjective than if you like the designs or not), Raging Heart really needs to go to juku to study up on English, and the techno-magic more often than not makes me roll my eyes. I liked magic better when it was--well, magic, not something you load into cartridges and shoot like a bazooka. Having said all that, StrikerS isn't bad so far--the new cast members are interesting, with Subaru's backstory making her instantly likeable and Tiana having enough tsundere-ness to make her my favorite of the new cast. The action sequences were well done too, although damn, that's one big area in need of some urban renewal. Really my only complaint so far is where's Yuuno? I'm probably the only otaku on Earth that's rooting for Nanoha x Yuuno and not Nanoha x Fate, but did his ferret ass get eaten by an owl or something? Or is he off somewhere drawing Nanoha yuri doujinshi? Seeing this really makes me wish CCS got a 'seven years later' series...but now I'm just whining.
I'm sure there will be more to add to this list once more subs are out--I'm really looking forward to sola, and I have Idolmaster and Kami-chama Karin sitting on my laptop waiting for me to watch them (I got a little sidetracked by DVDs of Tsukuyomi and PPD arriving this weekend). Kyoani's Lucky Star I'd also been looking forward to, although my record with 4-koma-to-anime is hit-or-miss, and the sages of the anime blogosphere seem to be universally kicking it in the balls, so that may get the 'give it a couple eps, then drop/delete' treatment, we'll see. Kono Aozora no Something Something Else I did try to watch raw, but the character designs and the characters themselves didn't do much for me--if it's subbed I'll give it another shot but the early reviews aren't very good so it could end up being another miss. Overall, though, this is looking like another great season to be an anime fan.