Sunday, April 03, 2011

Hanasaku Predictions

After the first episode of Hanasaku, I think it's already safe to make some predictions about the plot. Some of these are close to 100% certainties, given the type of show I think it's going to be, but some are longer shots - anyway, I'll record them here for posterity's sake, in descending order of probability.

- Ohana ends up befriending Nako (the girl who seems uncomfortable around her so far), and they become best friends. Likelihood: 99.9%

- Ohana ends up befriending Michi (who did nothing this episode but tell her to die - Yuu would smack her for sure), and they become best friends. Likelihood: 99%

- At the end of the series, Ohana looks back and says something about how her new life at the inn changed her and she was able to become a better person, yadda, yadda, yadda. Likelihood: 98%

- Ohana manages to get Grandma and Mom to reconcile. Likelihood: 95%

- Ohana ends up getting together with Tooru. OK, I know Ko-chan did the kokuhaku thing already and should be in the lead, but I like Tooru's chances better. Why? Let's face it, Ko-chan did have the balls to confess, but he's also the kind of guy who's texting on his phone while walking with the girl he has a crush on, so he's still kind of a tool. I also like Tooru's odds over Kouichi for a simple reason - Kouichi may be good at getting the corn, but can you picture someone describing him as a badass? Girls talk about liking "nice guys" but let's face it - there's a reason romance novels don't have accountants on the cover. Girls like badasses, and Tooru looks like he could be badass if push came to shove. Also, he just seems to disregard Ohana completely so far and their first meeting wasn't so great. As we all know from shoujo manga, bad first encounters always end up leading to rabu-rabu later. Likelihood: 50%

Then there are several things that *could* happen, although I don't think they will. The most noteworthy ones are:

- Ohana ends up managing the inn. It's probably about even money this will happen, but I don't like it. Somehow I see this more as a growing experience for Ohana than a permanent destination, so I don't think it'll come to pass. But it's certainly possible, and you could say predictable - she even asks Maleficent about it directly. Likelihood: 50%

- Ohana ends up with Kouichi. Ko-chan's the frontrunner by far since he confessed and no one else seems to like Ohana, but I still think he'll lose, and lose hard. Either Tooru gets her, or Ohana grows from her experience at the inn into someone who thinks she deserves better than him. Regardless, I don't see a good chance for Kouichi here - odds are he's sucking corn out of a can by himself at the end. Likelihood: 20%

- Ohana turns out to not really be her mom's daughter. I don't think it's likely, but she jokes about it in the first episode, right? Why put that joke in there, which isn't really funny, unless you think it'll be ironic later? Likelihood: still only 5% or so

- Grandma casts an evil curse on Ohana, that she'll prick her finger on a spinning wheel and fall into eternal slumber by her 17th birthday. Seriously, Grandma is a dead ringer for Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty. I'm expecting Disney to sue the character designer any second, and Grandma will be redrawn as a big pink teddy bear from episode 4 on. Likelihood: less than 1%

- Michi's hostility to Ohana turns into passion, and they end up having steamy yuri trysts together in the hot springs, while lilies blossom around them. OK, it's not very likely, but that won't stop doujinshi authors and it won't stop me either. Likelihood: less than 1%

- The biggest competitor of their inn turns out to be Hinata Ryokan, and Keitaro and Naru make frequent cameos. You realize Naru would be what, 29 years old now, if we count from when the anime aired? Damn, that's as old as Miz Mishtal. Tempus fugit, as the Latinians say. Likelihood: less than one-millionth of 1%

For me, so far Hanasaku has done everything right, but the one thing that still worries me is, is it going to turn into a soap opera? Well, at least it doesn't have people falling into comas for two years after a car accident, at least not so far, so my hope is no. Drama is good, but there's a fine line between drama and soap opera in my mind, and I'm hoping Hanasaku stays on the good side. Looking forward to next week's episode and seeing if I get any of these predictions right by fall.

Hanasaku - Not All Grandmas Give Out Candy

Hanasaku is one of the series I was looking forward the most this season, and so far it doesn't disappoint - good animation quality, an interesting cast of characters, some drama, and even a love confession in just the first episode.  It may be a two cour series, but it's off to a fast start already - makes me wonder how they're possibly going to keep up the pace (although maybe they just won't and are off to a racing start - Futakoi Alternative Syndrome, although not nearly as insane).

The main character, Ohana, ends up shipped off to Hinata-sou to live with a grandmother she's never met, thanks to her mother being...well, a little too carefree is probably a charitable way to put it (I know, the inn's not called Hinata-sou, but that's all I could think of when Ohana first sees it - was half expecting Keitarou to come flying out of a third-story window).  Unfortunately for her, her grandmother is Cruella de Ville, and puts her to work instead of doting on her, and the only other girls her age that work there are one that hates her and one that seems really uncomfortable around her.  Of course, you can see Ohana winning them over and being best friends with them coming from space, but even if they do go that tried-and-true path, Ohana's a likeable main character and the story has a lot of potential.

Is it going to be truly epic, like Toradora?  I don't know, but it has potential to go there.  I'm a sucker for good characters, good character designs, and good atmosphere, and this has all three so far.  It could bog down in soap opera-drama down the road, or have the pace slow to glacial levels since there's supposedly a full 24-26 episodes to work with, but I'm keeping my hopes up.

Nichijou - First Impression

I haven't watched the Nichijou OVA, so the first episode was my introduction to the series - I went into it with very low expectations, given the consensus in the blogosphere seemed to be that the OVA was about as exciting as watching paint dry.  However, probably helped by low expectations, to my surprise I didn't look at the clock once while watching the first episode - it was actually pretty fast-paced and entertaining for me.

Nichijou is not Lucky Star, although you could say the animation is kind of similar, and it's not Azumanga Daioh either - I guess the best way to describe it is if all of Azumanga was as weird as the scenes with Chiyo-chan's dad in them, although unfortunately Nichijou is minus Wakamoto Norio.

What Nichijou does have is the scion of a farming family riding to school on a goat, a little girl genius professor (I keep thinking of Becky when I see her...), a robot girl with a wind-up key on her back (where the key only exists to make her big toe shoot off at high speed when it's wound), salmon falling from the sky...and that's only a small fraction of the total weirdness to be found in this episode.  It's like someone wrote a slice-of-life series after taking more opium than Coleridge did to write Kubla Khan.  (See, I can do pretentious literary references too - sure it was in the 80s, but I did pay attention in AP English and shit.)

In short, if you're hoping anime blogs will tell you if Nichijou is good or not, you're probably screwed, because I get the feeling this is the kind of series half the world will like and the other half will hate and think is stupid, without even introducing the polarizing effect of Kyoani into the picture.  If you like your comedy very, very random, then this might be right up your alley.  If you hate things that are weird for no discernible reason, then you should probably avoid it like the plague. 

But in the end, I give Kyonai credit so far - they took a series I was expected to hate and kept me watching from beginning to end.  I doubt this will be anywhere close to my favorite of the spring season, especially given all the competition, but it's kept me entertained so far.