Friday, January 08, 2010

Omamori Himari - Call Me Nushi

I can't say this is anything stellar, but it's exactly what you'd expect - boy gets harem, fanservice ensues, there's some fight-of-the-week as mystery bishoujo defends boy from monsters. Some will find this as more proof that anime is doomed because If It Has Panties It Must Suck, and some will be moderately entertained. I'll fall in the entertained category, if only because Himari says "nushi" and speaks in archaic Japanese.

Maybe it's just Spice and Wolf's influence (and Himari has the same voice actress as Horo the Wise), but when girls use "nushi" for "you" it gives them Skull of Mondain-level powers somehow (there's an obscure 80s gaming reference for you, although Google knows all as usual). Not sure why I think this is cool because I can't speak Japanese worth a damn, much less the Japanese of the Heian period, but it works. The male lead somehow forgot most of his childhood (another tragic case of Aizawa Syndrome) so I expect some drama towards the end as he remembers his past with Himari, and I'm sure we'll see the new enemy at the end of the episode joining his harem in a week or two tops.

Not expecting much from this, but I'll still give it a couple episodes - the plot seems monumentally generic but I'm easily entertained, so I'll keep watching for the nushis and Himari-Rinko cat-fighting if nothing else.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Looking Back at 2009

I know, everyone else did "best of" countdowns about a month ago, but my posting rate in 2009 was a little on the glacial side. So even though it's late, here's a stab at my favorites of 2009, and a late Happy New Year to all of my fellow anime fans!


Winter

Favorite: Toradora

I can't say enough good about Toradora - it has an awesome cast, a great story, comedy, drama, everything. I started re-watching it over the holidays and was just as impressed on second viewing. I remember the first couple episodes not thinking it was anything amazing, but the more you get to know the characters, and especially once Ami-chan shows up, the better it gets.

Runner-up: Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo (Leopard alone makes this worth watching for me)
Spring

Favorite: K-ON!

K-ON seems to attract a lot of extreme opinions, where you either love it or think it's the anime equivalent of the Antichrist, but I guess that's a feature of opinion on the Internet in general now that I think about it. I wouldn't call K-ON! as good as Toradora, but I liked the cast and it had plenty of moments that put a smile on my face, so it gets the win.

Runners-up: Hatsukoi Limited (mainly for Enomoto, she's a walking tsundere stereotype but her and Kappa-face's interactions made me laugh regardless), Hayate no Gotoku 2nd season (I'd be happy if this was on the air forever, especially with the H-I-N-A-Hinagiku ED)

Summer

Favorite: Sora no Manimani

Mihoshi is so genki it's amazing she doesn't just burst into flames, but her and Saku are a fun couple to watch, Hime's reactions to just about everything make me laugh, and the supporting cast isn't bad either. Plus, I now recognize the Winter Triangle when I see it, and it's not that often anime is, well, educational.

Runners-up: Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou (mainly because of Yumiko and the Three Stooges-like washpans hitting people), Taishou Yakyuu Musume (cool setting, although I worry about what the cast is going to face when they're in their 30s), Hayate no Gotoku 2nd season (again), and Bakemonogatari (beware of staplers)


Fall

Favorite: To Aru Kagaku no Railgun

I loved the manga, so this was an easy win for me - although my favorite characters are Saten and Uiharu. Looking forward to the second cour because it'll finally take us beyond where I read in the manga so I won't know exactly what's going to happen.

Runners-up: Nyankoi (not a big nekomimi fan, but Kaede is undeniably cute), Sora no Otoshimono (flock of flying pantsu has to be one of the more epic anime moments of the year)

Looking back, 2009 was a great year for anime - it's amazing looking back on the start of the decade, when I was still watching anime on VHS (and getting VHS fansubs through the mail), and then look at where we are today, where I can watch new anime subtitled less than a day after it airs (just an hour after on Crunchyroll). Here's hoping 2010 will bring us more great anime, and that it'll be a great year for all of us anime fans in general.

Sora no Woto - First Impressions

After watching the trailer for Sora no Woto it vaulted to the top of the anime I was anticipating the most for winter - and through the first episode, it doesn't disappoint. The animation quality is good, the cast seems interesting, and while, no, it's not for fans of a lot of action, I think it's got a lot of potential. I think a lot of people saw girls with musical instruments plus K-On-like character designs (although I always think of them as Kannagi-like since that's the series I saw this style in first) and assumed we have a K-On clone on our hands, but I think this is going to be pretty significantly different, especially with the potential for drama.
The story starts with Kanata, who at first glance is your genki main character type, heading to her new post since she just joined the army - it's six months after an armistice that ended a war and the country she's in is at peace, with the draft over but Kanata volunteering for the army anyway. She seemed to have a traumatic event in her past where she met someone from the army, and that might have motivated her to join. From there, she gets to the fortress where she's posted, meeting her squadmate Rio on the way and getting to experience a little of life in the town as she comes across a festival.

The thing that struck me the most watching this was the setting and the atmosphere - the backgrounds are amazingly detailed and really capture the feel of an old European town well. It's pretty enough it could be an advertisement for a travel agency trying to get you to go to Europe (although what's missing is in real life there'd probably be a McDonald's off the square - I remember even finding one in the historic part of Florence). The backstory with the winged demon, and Kanata then seeing its massive skeleton under the lake, makes me think there's going to be some fantasy element in the plot too, and if the girls repeat the legend from the past there's certainly some potential for drama too.

The characters are interesting too, which is usually what makes or breaks a series like this for me - Kanata and Rio both seem to have suffered losses in their past, probably from the war, and I'm sure as the series goes on we'll see more flashbacks of their past. Other than Kanata and Rio the rest of the platoon didn't get much screentime, but I'm sure they'll play more of a role as we go. Unlike K-On's cast, I think the odds are these characters will have a few inner demons to work through, between that and the legend there's definitely a lot of potential for drama (which I think ends any comparison with K-On right there, although I loved K-On it's definitely not much in the drama department, unless you could Ritsu's pointless fight with Mio that took half an episode).


Overall with a great setting, some comedy, and quality animation, I'm already looking forward to next week. A-1 Pictures also did Kannagi, and I like what they did with it - with Sora no Woto I think they have even more potential to make this season's winner.

Mikotoism seems as impressed as I am with the first episode (although I actually liked K-On too), although Moe Sucks...not so much. I guess the contrast just goes to show you have to see things for yourself, since pick any series you can name and you can find two completely opposite reviews of it in the Blogosphere...