Thursday, July 18, 2013

Spring and Summer

Once again months have gone by, seasons have passed, and I haven't updated this blog at all - but since it's a slow day at work, it's a good enough time to post some random thoughts on the spring anime season that ended a few weeks back, and the nascent summer season.

I'll start by saying I really liked the spring season - and I'll admit, I didn't watch what was probably the most popular anime of the season, Attack on Titan, simply because blood and gore isn't really my cup of tea.  I watch anime for entertainment, and people getting eaten by odd-looking giants just isn't entertaining for me - but despite that, I didn't have a problem finding plenty to watch.



Hataraku Maou

Hataraku Maou was the series I probably looked forward to the most each week, just because of the cast alone - the banter between Maou and Emi, Ashiya's sense of duty and concern over their finances, Maou's plans for dominating Ente Isla morphing into plans to sell more fries than any other McDonald's - it's just a great cast of characters to watch, and they consistently made me laugh week in and week out.  Comedy's subjective so your mileage may vary, but when the series did shift from comedy to more serious mode, the fact I was attached to the characters made the drama that much more compelling.  And the plot is nothing if not original - the Dark Lord of another world getting stuck in Tokyo and working part-time at McDonald's.  I give the author a lot of credit for originality.

The character development I thought was well-done too, how at the beginning Maou goes from ordering his armies to conquer Ente Isla, without regard for human life, to later on choosing to save people's lives over returning to Ente Isla to conquer it.  Emi's a fascinating character too - having lost her family and everything important to her because of the war Maou started, she has every reason to hate him, but it's hard to reconcile her image of Maou as a monster to the man who works diligently at McDonald's and saves people instead of harming them.  It raises some interesting ethical questions later on, too - Maou started a war that killed thousands, but should he be absolved from all that now that he's seen the value of human life and is by any account a good citizen and a good person now?

It's not perfect - the comedy is good, but there were some fight scenes that were more dramatic that they tried to shoehorn comedy into to lighten the mood, and that seemed a little out of place.  And the "girl with small breasts is jealous of girl with big ones" has been done in anime a million times and I've got to think women watching this just roll their eyes at it.  But it's been a lot of fun to watch regardless - I'd be thrilled if we get a second season.

Gargantia

Gargantia had me seriously hooked from the first episode - I'm kind of a sucker for scifi, the action sequences were a little CG-heavy but still good, and the whole soldier trying to adapt to a peaceful society thing reminded me of Sagara Sousuke in Full Metal Panic.  Ledo and Amy were good lead characters, with Ledo's adjustment to Gargantia handled amazingly well - no instant fluency in the local language, he has to rely on incomplete translations at first, then full translations, then he's slowly able to learn the language and goes from halting, broken Japanese to fluent.  A scene later on where he's emotional and lapses into his native language I thought was well done too - that's exactly the kind of thing that would happen in real life (my wife worked for a manager who was originally from Russia, and she'd occasionally lapse into Russian even with people who didn't speak it).

When things switched from slice of life to serious it was a little less fun to watch - some developments were a little too convenient (the infodump episode about the Hideauze's true nature) but the plot twists were interesting, and the ending was pretty epic, Chamber goes down as one of the greatest anime bros of all time.  If I have a complaint, it'd be Ledo x Amy didn't get enough screen time together after he left Gargantia, but then again, the way the plot developed kind of warranted that.  I'm looking forward to the OVAs that will be coming out with the BD releases though, and I'm glad the Urobutcher didn't slaughter everyone this time.



Aiura

I loved Aiura - but the greatest crime of the anime world in 2013 so far is it was only three freaking minutes long!  Great character designs, a funny cast, good animation - and it's only three minutes a week.  It's like winning the lottery, but then you find out you get paid out over 3,000 years...in pennies.  Still, this was a lot of fun to watch, I've re-watched the whole thing once already, not that this takes very long.  Wishing for a second season, in particular at least a 12-minute episode one.

The Rest of Spring

Oreimo's second season was honestly a bit of a let-down for me - I liked the first season, but this season it seemed like they reset Kirino's personality once again to the way it was season one, episode one, and that got on my nerves a little.  Lovely Angle Ayase-tan was fun to watch though, but I think the rewatch value's pretty low.

Railgun S I should have loved, but after a couple episodes I have to admit I lost interest, mainly since I knew how the Sisters Arc would turn out already since I'd seen it before in Index.

Date a Live I lost interest halfway through the first episode, likewise with Hyakka Ryouran's new season, and Photo Kano.

Muromi-san was pretty funny, and I looked forward to my insane mermaid fix every week - compared to the Gold Standard of mermaid-oriented comedy, Seto no Hanayome, no Muromi-san couldn't compete, but it was still a lot of fun to watch.

Summer



The summer season's just started, but sadly, I can't say I'm as excited about it as I was about the spring season.  There are lots of series that are good, and enjoyable, but none that I'm counting the days to the next episode like I was in the spring.  Maybe that'll change as the season runs on though, who knows.

Blood Lad so far has been maybe the funniest for me - it has that "someone on crack thought this up" insanity to it that makes it more entertaining, also the cutest skeleton ever to appear in anime, I think.  But how it holds up over a full season I don't know - the manga's ongoing so I doubt poor Fuyumi will get any resolution either.

Kitakubu / The Going Home Club is funny, but the lazy animation and the whole thing being set in one room reminds me in a bad way of Seitokai Ichizon.  It seems like a long string of tsukkomis put together, which is funny, but I guess let's say also kind of a one-trick pony.

Love Lab I'm not sure I'll keep watching - it's OK, but it's not making me laugh out loud either, the second episode, for me anyway, fell kind of flat after the first.

Tamayura I loved the first season of, despite the fact the pacing can only be described as glacial, and I like what I've seen so far this season too - in two episodes, Fuu decides to form a photography club and it gets approved by the school and...that's it.  If nothing else, it's really easy to write an episode summary for this one.  But I still like the cast and even if nothing in particular happens, it's a good "healing" anime to relax with at the end of a long day.  This might be what I look forward to the most each week this season.

C3-bu has an insanely long real name, but it's been fun to watch so far - girls playing airsoft might not sound like much of a plot, but I can relate to Yura and there's potential for some good character development here too as she comes out of her shell a little.  I think the military theme gives this a Girls und Panzer vibe, although I don't know if C3-bu's cast can be as fun to watch as Panzer's was.

Silver Spoon I have high hopes for - the first episode was interesting, I'd always wondered what an ag school would be like and this gives what seems like a pretty realistic depiction.  I can't say I'm totally hooked, but I'm hoping it'll get more interesting as I get to know the cast better.

Kiniro Mosaic is...cute.  But I don't think that's quite going to be enough to keep me watching it, so far at least I don't think I like the characters as much as Tamayura's.

Watamote I probably should watch, but from what I've read it just sounds painful, like watching a car wreck - I might pick this up later on though.

That brings me to the end of a long-overdue post - although summer seems overall not quite as good as spring was to me, I'm still impressed as always by the variety of stories anime puts out there, and it makes me glad to be an anime fan.  Real life (my daughter's a big sister now since my son joined us in April) makes it unlikely I'll update this blog regularly, but to anyone reading this hope you're having a great summer!