Friday, May 25, 2012

Natsuiro Kiseki 8

Really, Sunrise?  You're putting your name on this shizzle?

Natsuiro Kiseki really has a decent story and characters, but For the Love of God, the animation quality is horrifying.  I'm going to have nightmares about this tonight, I'm sure if it.

Having moved a lot as a kid, I can relate to Saki's feelings, but I still can't get past how bad the visuals are.  It's like Sunrise decided to cut their losses about episode three and slash the budget to whatever spare change they could find on the floor in that Lawson they're always putting in the background.

Wasn't there a magic rock that could grant wishes in this series?  Shouldn't any real middle schooler have used it to wish for a billion yen, or to be famous, or maybe to not have Saki move away by now?  And what's up with Saki's father wanting to live on an island?  It's not like Shimoda isn't kind of in the middle of nowhere already, but you want somewhere even more remote?

Animation aside, it really wasn't a bad episode, as our four heroines go on a trip together and Saki's impending departure starts to level up the drama.  Watching this may make my eyes bleed, but I'm still going because they have me hooked enough to find out what happens to Saki, and if the magic rock actually ends up serving any real purpose.

UPDATE: One more note on Saki - as a father myself, I can not imagine making my daughter move like that.  If I got offered twice the money to move to another city, but my daughter was happy in the middle of junior high with good friends like Saki is, I'd turn the offer down without thinking.  As a parent, I think if you strive to be even a halfway good parent at all, you learn quickly to put your kids' happiness first - Clannad made a good point about this the way Nagisa's parents effectively sacrificed their dreams for her, but they don't regret it at all and would make the same choice 1,000 out of 1,000 times.  So it's hard not to be annoyed with Saki's father.  There are some careers where it's unavoidable (my father was military, which is a good example) but for Saki's dad it sounds more like he's jumping from his current job to his dream island job solely thinking of himself.

Note to Saki-papa: Wait until your daughter's out of high school - it's only four more years, then you can live in an island, in Antarctica, wherever the f*** you want.  They'll still have job openings on islands in 2016.

Monday, May 07, 2012

First Impressions - Hyouka (through episode 3)

As a Kyoani series, a lot of people had Hyouka's air date circled on their calendars well before the season started - Kyoani seems to be one of the more polarizing studios out there, with the "cute/moe is shallow crap and good anime is serious" side generally hating them, and the "cute/moe is awesome and serious anime is pretentious crap" camp loving everything they do.

For me, it's not quite that clear-cut - I've loved some of Kyoani's work (first season of Haruhi, Fumoffu, Clannad, Kanon), thought some was good, but not perfect (Nichijou, K-On), and some just didn't do anything for me (Air except for Kannabi no Mikoto's screentime, the second season of Haruhi, Munto TV).  I had a bad feeling Hyouka would fall in the latter category, since generally I'm not a big fan of mystery series - Detective Conan, for example, while I like the cast, the mystery parts are impossibly elaobrate to the point they're just unrealistic.

Through three episodes though, I'm thinking Hyouka is going to surprise me and end up as my favorite for the season - a lot could go wrong, but right now it's probably the series I look forward to the most each week.  I'm definitely liking the cast, and the story, visuals, atmosphere, backgrounds, music - everything just seems spot on.  It's probably still on the first light novel's material, so things could still go downhill later if the source material is weaker down the road, but so far it really does seem like everything's firing on all cylinders.

You could argue that it's slow paced, but things actually do happen in each episode, so it's not a slice-of-life or "cute girls doing cute things" series like K-On.  There are actual mysteries, and while so far they're mostly garden-variety school life ones, the story behind Eru's uncle and what he told her when she was little promises to have a more serious nature.  Fortunately, the mysteries don't involve impossible mental gymnastics, they're all realistic so far at least.  If Hyouka has a weakness, it might be that (so far at least) the cast is very tiny, and over two cours the same four being featured might get old (K-On's main four grated on me after a while), but I'm hoping we will get to see some character development too as this goes on.

As surprised as I was to see Kyoani passing on Little Busters, maybe ultimately Hyouka was a better call for them - it'll be a fun ride watching this.  (I do have to admit I'm looking forward to Little Busters too, I don't think JC Staff will necessarily ruin it either).

Friday, May 04, 2012

Natusiro Kiseki 5

Sunrise, for the Love of Haruhi, hire some animators who actually know how to draw.

I guess on the plus side Yuka didn't have six fingers like that one point in episode three.  I love the cast, love the characters, the story has ups and downs but is good overall...but the drop-off in animation quality in episodes three and five was just horrifying to watch.  I've seen worse, and I still have nightmares about cabbages and lunar princesses deformed by the twisted hands of inept, drooling animators, but I think the good/bad switch they've got going here where some episodes look great and some are craptastic is a pretty deadly combination too.

I also don't think I'll ever understand how being outside without an umbrella in the rain, regardless of ambient temperature, will give anyone a 100% chance of getting a cold in anime.  At least when I was in Japan last, when it rained, only water fell from the sky, not a solution of H1N1 influenza.  If it went down like that, I'd carry an umbrella everywhere no matter what the forecast said, just in case.

On the plus side, a good character development/friendship episode, if you can get past the visual side of things.  Although most of the episode is about Yuka and Rin, it really sets up how painful it'll be for all four of them when Saki ultimately moves away.

I wonder why they just don't wish for Saki's father to get a promotion that lets him stay in town though...the wishing rock is...well, a little underutilized.  In real life, four teenage girls would have wished to be rich and dating Justin Bieber by halfway through episode one.