A thoughtful response to current anime.

Threshing Winter 2013

From Wikipedia: “Threshing is the process of loosening the edible part of cereal grain (or other crop) from the scaly, inedible chaff that surrounds it. It is the step in grain preparation after harvesting and before winnowing, which separates the loosened chaff from the grain.” You can’t winnow the wheat from the chaff based on just one episode, or you risk missing out on shows like Tatami Galaxy and Shiki. But you can at least get some idea. Below are some ideas, sorted in increasing order of how much potential the show seems to have based on the first episode. (Translations of show titles are my own amateur efforts and may be wildly inaccurate.)

9: Amnesia

Because that would make things too easy.

Because that would make things too easy.

His eyes are pokeballs.

His eyes are pokeballs.

A girl has lost her memory due to magic and must try to recover it by interacting with the people she used to know. The girl has no agency. She doesn’t have enough information to make good decisions so she just wanders around hoping other people will tell her what to do.  Her dialogue consists of “thank you” and “sorry” repeated over and over again, and on those rare occasions when she does deviate from that script, it’s because of a magical fairy only she can see telling her what to say. She’s not a person, she’s a horrible sucking void of personality. I feel like I’ll never be able to call another spineless harem lead “bland” again, because even the worst spineless harem lead is a kaleidoscope of interesting facets compared to this girl. What the hell.  It was painful trying to make it through 23 minutes of this, I should have heeded my instincts and stayed away.

8. Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT (I Don’t Have Enough Friends NEXT)

Let's all be pals and nobody torment anybody ;_;

Let’s all be pals and nobody torment anybody ;_;

Geez, I've heard of dense harem protagonists, but this is ridiculous!

Geez, I’ve heard of dense harem protagonists, but this is ridiculous!

The second season of Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. I guess I’m just sick of people being horrible to each other and calling it comedy.  For the first season I kind of found it appealing that they made their friendless characters realistically unpleasant, but by now the charm has worn off.  I don’t want to go through another season of Yozora bullying Sena, Sena molesting Kobato, and Kodaka turning an uncaring eye to the whole business.  And now Yozora has short hair, which doesn’t look as good as her previous hairstyle. There’s gotta be something better I could be doing with my time.

7: Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru (My Girlfriend and Childhood Friend Are Fighting It Out):

Yeah, I've heard good things.

Yeah, I’ve heard good things.

I dunno, I've heard good things.

I dunno, I’ve heard good things.

A girl who is uninterested in romance blackmails a guy who is uninterested in romance into a sham romance to fool potential suitors. It’s a mildly interesting premise I guess, a sham romance is a nice literary device for exploring the extent to which all romance is a sham, and indeed, the extent to which the entirety of our modern society is a sham. But the jokes weren’t funny, and I’ve had my fill of people being blackmailed with their chuunibyou history in last season’s Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai.  And there’s something weird about the art style, like it’s really overexposed and washed out.  There’s too much white, not enough color in the art, and it’s hard to look at. It’s possible that this first episode was just setup and the show will start coming into its own once the girlfriend and the childhood friend actually start fighting it out, but meh.

6: Mondai-ji Tachi ga Isekai Kara Kurusou Desu Yo (It Seems Like Problem Children Come From An Alternate Universe)

What a charming protagonist.

What a charming protagonist.

If I don't get to become a magical girl I'm not interested.

If I don’t get to become a magical girl I’m not interested.

Three youths with strange powers are transported to a strange realm to participate in strange gambles. This is the sort of show that always looks vaguely interesting from the start, but as you continue watching it it becomes clear that there’s really nothing there. (See also: C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control.) There were some funny comic relief bits, and the ojou-sama character’s design sort of reminds me of an off-brand Tohsaka Rin, but I’m not sure that’s enough to overcome the generic tournament battle setting.  Maybe if the bunnygirl’s hair were pink all the time, instead of only when she transforms.  Maybe if the terms of the gambles were a little more locked down instead of just being “bet whatever you want”.  Maybe if they came out and told us what the bunnygirl’s big secret is, rather than just alluding to the possibility that she has one.  I just need some reason to have hope, and I didn’t find one in the first episode.

5: Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Sasami Isn’t Trying)

This is just a plain depiction of the days of the lives of the three Minami sisters.

This is just a plain depiction of the days of the lives of the three Minami sisters.

Don't taunt Chocolate-thulhu.

Don’t taunt Chocolate-thulhu.

A hikikomori high school girl is waited on hand and foot by her teacher older brother, and then for some reason the whole world turns into chocolate? I really have no idea what to make of this show.  It seemed like it was an interesting  if slow-paced comedy about a girl hikkikomori and her older brother who spoils her too much, with the usual Shaft wackiness thrown in (like the fact that the older brother always has an object hiding his face when he appears).  But then suddenly things shifted gears and there were three magical sisters battling a chocolate demon by firing titty missiles? That goes beyond the usual Shaft wackiness and into the realm of downright incomprehensibility.  I don’t like downright incomprehensibility in my anime. Maybe they’ll explain themselves in episode 2, and everything will be ok. If not, it won’t.

4: Maoyuu Maou Yuusha (Maoyuu Demon KingHero)

Who isn't, these days?

Who isn’t, these days?

If I don’t get to become a magical girl I’m not interested.

The hero goes to face the Demon King, only to discover that she is a woman and would rather propose a collaboration than fight. Lots of people talking about geopolitics in this episode, so that’s cool.  I’m not sure I understand their economic model, though.  How is the war helping the economy, isn’t the economic output that goes to sustaining the war basically just wasted? I know that back then people still basically thought of wealth as a function of land, but she was talking about how the war reduced unemployment, and boosted exports for the Central Kingdoms, and I can’t help but think that the Central Kingdoms would be doing even better if they weren’t giving away all their wealth to help support the fight against the demons. So I’m worried that the show might not get the economics right. But the other major theme, the idea of what it means to be a hero, seems on more solid ground.  Being a hero means doing what’s good for the world, not killing Demon Lords. Except… didn’t the Demon Lord provide an argument that the war was good for the world?  So why should he stop it?  Won’t everyone starve then or something?  I’m hoping things will be explained better in the coming episodes, because I do like the style here, but I’m worried that the substance is not as meaningful as it’s trying to pretend.

3: GJ-bu (Good Job Club)

If you outlaw kisses only outlaws will get kisses ;_;

If you outlaw kisses only outlaws will get kisses ;_;



People in an after-school club interact. Pretty much a textbook school club slice of life comedy. The basic framework is there, you’ve got a club that doesn’t do much of anything, with a guy and then some girls.  You’ve got your tiny fiesty tsundere, your sweet feminine girl with pink hair, your cool genius girl with a dry sense of humor, and then a wildcard, which in this case seems to be a half-feral girl who only wants to eat meat. They’ve executed on the framework with craftsmanship but not much inspiration.  But that’s ok!  It’s a good framework, so all you really need is cute artwork, good pacing, and decent jokes, and you’ll have something I’ll be happy to watch.  GJ-bu met all those standards in the first episode.

2: Minami-ke Tadaima (Minami Family Right Away)

Don't look so sad about the only reason society doesn't totally rip itself apart with warfare.

Don’t look so sad about the only reason society doesn’t totally rip itself apart with warfare.

Don't look so happy about ripping society apart with warfare!

Don’t look so happy about ripping society apart with warfare!

The fourth season of Minami-ke.  OK, I laughed a fair bit watching this.  Maybe not as good as the sublime awesomeness of the first season, but Chiaki still overthinks things in a childish way, Kana still pulls everyone around her into her crazy notions, and Haruka still takes responsibility for her younger sisters who are sometimes sort of a handful. The secondary characters were mostly absent from this episode, so it remains to be seen if they will do justice to my favorites Mako-chan and Housaka, but so far they’re doing better than seasons two and three at putting forth a charming picture of the everyday life of the Minami sisters.

1: Kotoura-san

Whoops, someone accidentally labeled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni as a comedy!

Whoops, someone accidentally labeled Higurashi no Naku Koro ni as a comedy!

Have you considered a life of lies and hypocrisy?

Have you considered a life of lies and hypocrisy?

A girl with the power to read minds upsets the people around her who would rather not have their thoughts made public. Well, this show sort of made me want to kill myself, but apart from that it was real good. The first half of the episode was relentlessly bleak. Kotoura’s ability to pierce the intricate web of hypocrisies we call society shattered her family, drove away all her friends, and eventually broke her down to the point where she shunned human contact because she was tired of hurting people with the truth and having them respond by hurting her in return. It has been said that in an age of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act, and what tends to happen to revolutionaries is that they are caught and hanged as traitors. So that was pretty horrible. Then in the second half she met someone who didn’t automatically take honesty as a slap in the face, and we actually got some funny jokes! As though this show were supposed to be a comedy or something! Anyway Kotoura makes me sad to watch, but it’s well-written and well-paced. The animation isn’t so great, but at least Kotoura has gradient hair.  And I have hope that now that the Tragic Backstory is out of the way there will be more jokes and less existential horror. At least this way it won’t sneak up on me out of nowhere like it did in Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai.

All in all, this looks pretty decent for a winter season.  Three good shows and a couple more that I can still hold out hope for.  Plus I’m still watching Shin Sekai Yori and Psycho-Pass from Fall, so that’s plenty to keep me busy and provide grist for the blog.


One response to “Threshing Winter 2013

  1. Pingback: What Happened To Winter 2013? | suntzuanime

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