Saturday, July 28, 2012

Kokoro Connect Four: Did you really have to go there?

Maybe it's a sign I need to stop blogging, because after praising Kokoro Connect to the heavens last week, this week's episode had me looking at the clock for when the madness would stop.  I guess you could say he has guts, but how his statement was involved in "solving" the "problem" of the week...seriously?

What bothered me about Kokoro Connect's fourth episode is hard to pin down, but I have a gut feeling after watching it, that it's taking a turn into emo-land that I really don't want to follow it along for the ride on.  Between episode three and four it seems bent on turning into "girls  have problems that Taishi easily fixes and they fall for him" OK, I guess, but kind of a lame story.  Honestly, at this point I'd much rather watch "three girls and two guys sing and sometimes play badminton", which is growing on me despite having no serious plot at all.

On an unrelated note, "Oda Nobuna no Yabou", which I had zero hope for, turned out to be surprisingly entertaining, and "Binbougami ga!" is giving me the Gintama-style humor fix that I didn't even realize I'd been missing since Gintama itself went off the air.  Any season with Chichiko in it really can't be called a bad one, and if Asuna ever gets any more screentime, I have hopes for Sword Art Online too.  Tari Tari may not have any Earth-shattering drama, but it's geniunely more fun for me to watch the more it goes on, which is a good sign too.  I think Wien bought his Japan guide book from Monty Python though.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kokoro Connect

I really didn't expect another series in 2012 to suck me in the way Ano Natsu de Matteru did - I'm a sucker for the rom-com/drama genre in general, and Ano Natsu did that exceedingly well.  I'm not saying Kokoro Connect tops it so far, in part because I think Ano Natsu had more geniunely funny moments (Kaitou's "MY GOD!" in Kanna's delusion about him and Ichika always cracks me up even thinking about it).  But Kokoro Connect is still off to a pretty amazing start.

To be honest, I didn't think the premise was all that promising - take three girls and two guys in high school, and have them randomly swap bodies for brief periods of time due to some unknown force.  It's a unique plot device I guess, but I was more than a little skeptical going in.  I'm happy to say though, that once you accept that premise, the body swaps actually do move the plot along and make things interesting.  Granted, in episode one Taishi does what you'd expect a guy in a girl's body to do and he gropes herself, but aside from that it really doesn't go the servicey route that it could have taken, and by episode three, we're well into drama instead.

If I've learned anything in watching anime from back in the day when Star Blazers was on Saturday mornings up to the present, it's that whether I like a series or not really depends on if I like the characters - if I don't like them, I just can't watch it.  If I do like the cast, then almost any genre I'll get sucked into, but especially if there's a rom-com side to it.  I think that's where Kokoro Connect excels - it has a genuinely likable cast.  The girls all have real-world problems, with Iori living with just her mom after her parents' divorce and feeling lonely, Yui having a traumatic event in her past, and Inaba...well, we don't know her whole backstory yet but I'm guessing something made her the way she is.  Giving your characters problems is a good way to suck in your audience to rooting for them, and it works on me every time.  Although it's true on the guys' side it doesn't seem like Aoki and Taishi really have any serious problems to speak of (unless you count Taishi volunteering for things too readily).  No Tomoya from Clannad here.

So I like the cast, which helps - and beyond that, the story is interesting, and the way the swapping moves things forward, I think, is done really well.  So far, at least, the swappage seems to be moving the cast closer together, although with at least one love triangle popping up, and Taishi turning into a flag-setting machine, it's very likely the conflict will be coming soon.  Technically, the animation quality is good, and the character designs are in the Kannagi/Sorawoto/K-ON school, which isn't my favorite (Denpa Onna, Oreimo, and others I think have better looking character designs) but they don't look bad, and unlike Natsuiro Kiseki or Cabbage Love they're not drawn by Curious George on acid so they look consistent.

So is this going to be my favorite anime for the summer?  It's possible - but a couple things scare me.  This is based on a light novel series that runs for *eight* volumes, so the odds of a clean one-cour resolution to any drama/love triangles are low.  Which brings me to Taishi - while I like his character so far, he's also being set up for Masaki Tenchi Syndrome if Inaban and Iori both end up liking him like it seems they do/will.  There's nothing worse in anime in my book than a wishy-washy guy who's incapable of choosing between girls who like him and just ends up hurting everyone in the process.  If Taishi becomes That Guy, Kokoro Connect's stock is likely to nosedive for me.

Through three episodes though, I'd say I've definitely fallen in love with Iori Kokoro Connect.  Here's hoping they keep this up for the rest of the season, and that we get a good resolution versus a completely open ending.

Monday, July 02, 2012

Akarin~! More Yuru Yuri!

Wow - the second season of Yuru Yuri starts off with the most hilarious ten minutes of anime I've seen in a long time.  Akarin in her dreams makes Io in Acchi Kocchi look like he has NOTHING in pimp skillz by comparison.  They could do an entire season on Akarin's fantasy world and I'd probably give myself an aneurysm laughing.

Akarin uses harem lead wink - it's highly effective. 

She even knows Fleming's Freaking Left-Hand Rule?  Seriously, Akarin?  I remembered I learned it in college, but since nothing I learned in college applies to my job, I had to look it up on Wikipedia.  I'm pretty sure they didn't teach that in middle school, although granted, Japanese kids learn Calculus IV in elementary school and international studies have shown American students are morons who can't find their own country on a map even with their iPhone's Location Services turned on.

Then in the second half, just when you thought Chinatsu was safe if she wasn't holding a crayon, her hair turns out to be a Living Horror that nothing can escape from.  I'm surprised the place they were staying even had that many table tennis balls.

Best answer for "why is the sky blue" ever.

I loved the first season of Yuru Yuri but was wary that the second season might not be able to keep up the comedy - clearly, I need to find better things to worry about, because this was even funnier than the first season.  Spring season was a bit of a letdown for me (although apparently I'm a sucker for idol/scifi since I got sucked into AKB0048, despite the CG abmoniations), so it's good to see summer off to an awesome start.