Sunday, January 06, 2008

Minami-ke Okawari: First Impression

Haruka-nee: No Mercy

So it's not subbed yet, but I was looking forward to this enough to watch the first episode raw. Trying to watch anime raw is something that always sounds like a good way to test my Japanese skills, but inevitably it just serves to remind me that no matter how many people you meet on vacation in Japan who say you're all jozu and shit because you can say 'koko...doko desu ka? Kyoto desu ka? Eeh? Hokkaido? maji?' I am still not ready for prime time. Watching this I'd catch a word or a fragment here or there, but to be honest they could have discussed particle physics, choco cornets, or anything in between and I'd have missed 95% of it. Having said that, based on what I've seen Okawari so far lives up to, and has the potential to exceed, the first season of Minami-ke, although I'll have to wait for the subs to say if the dialogue is as good as its predecessor.

Nintendo Power

The first episode goes right into the OP, and the OP is well animated, catchy, and while the new character designs take a little getting used to, the animation quality looked good to me, equal to or better than its predecessor. Okawari is being done by Asread, the same studio that did Shuffle, but it's not obvious--there aren't the talking heads that Shuffle had, and while there's an onsen scene with some fanservice, we're not talking anything like the Asa-senpai wardrobe malfunction at the beach.

There's already a better first episode summary than I could write up at Subculture Anime Blog, so I'll just restrict my rambling to a list of pluses and minuses:

(+) It's Minami-ke. It keeps the same spirit and sense of humor as the first series, and it's good to see the cast again, even thought it's not like there's been a long wait since the first season. Honestly, I was about to drop the first season after episode 3 or so, since I was suffering from a Kana overdose, but the longer I watched it the more the cast grew on me and it ended up as one of my fall favorites.
(+) Animation quality. It takes a little adjusting to, but I think I like the character designs and animation better than the first season.
(+) Haruka-nee + onsen = why the hell didn't the first season's studio think of this? It's not rocket science, people!
(+) Ahoge in Motion. Chiaki's ahoge actually moves now, like Tenma's hair in Sukuran. Brilliant.
(+) OP and ED. They'll be finding their way into iTunes as soon as I post this.
(+) Snow. Maybe because I watched volume 1 of Kanon and I live in a city more likely to fall into the ocean than see snowfall, but it was cool seeing snow in the second half of the episode.
(+) Haruka-banchou showing no mercy at ping-pong, even against Chiaki.
(+) Fujioka's face when he sees Kana.
(-) Eyecatches at the CM break. Somehow it doesn't seem right without someone saying "Minami-ke!"
(-) Asread fails at gradient hair. Badly. Chiaki's hair is kind of gradient hairing to brown towards the bottom which just...looks weird. They need to watch Manabi Straight over and over until they learn how to do gradient hair right, then give it to the whole cast and not just Chiaki. Night Wizard had gradient hair down well too, now that I think about it...watch and learn, Asread.

Yes, I am way too lazy to screencap a whole episode myself.

Overall, Okawari exceeded my expectations--I'm also looking forward to more H2O (preview Engrish notwithstanding it didn't "rock my soul" but it was a solid first episode), and to seeing True Tears once it's subbed, but right now Okawari has pole position for the winter season for me.

1 comment:

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