suntzuanime

A thoughtful response to current anime.

What Happened To Winter 2013?

I didn’t blog it.  Stuff came up, I’m sorry.  I’m going to be targeting a Thursday/Sunday update schedule this next season, hopefully that will keep the updates flowing.  I figured I could at least provide a retrospective of the stuff I watched though.

Amnesia, Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT, Mondaji-Tachi ga Isekai Kara Kurusou Desu Yo Dropped after one episode.  See https://suntzuanime.wordpress.com/2013/01/14/threshing-winter-2013/ for reasons.

Tamako Market: 

Anime does not need wacky talking animals.

Anime does not need wacky talking animals.

Dropped after one episode. Everybody was talking about how great Tamako Market was, but I don’t see it.  From watching the first episode it looked like the sort of technically slick but ultimately soulless anime I expected from the Kyoto Animation team responsible for K-On.   I did not expect a wacky sassy obese talking bird (pictured above), but he did not exactly do a good job selling me on the show.

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai: Dropped after two episodes.  See https://suntzuanime.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/sasami-sanganbaranai-2-sasami-r-u-even-trying/ for reasons.

Maoyuu:

Not blogging the winter anime season!

Not blogging the winter anime season!

Dropped after four episodes.  I was a little dubious of their economic model from the start – it sounded like the Broken Window Fallacy, where breaking a window (or in this case waging a never-ending war against the demons) is supposed to make everyone rich because they can sell a new window to the guy whose window got broken (or in this case, swords and armor to the army fighting against the demons).  In actuality, it would work better to not break the window and use the resources you would have spent replacing it on something of positive value to society, like growing potatoes (growing potatoes).  So it was already lagging behind Spice and Wolf in terms of economics.  But the romance turned out to be a little dubious as well!  The problem was that there was no tension to the love story.  The hero and the demon king were basically stuck with each other as part of their conspiracy to save the world, and they had better things to do than get romantic with each other anyway, because there was a world that needed saving.  In Spice and Wolf, the male and female leads were two little people whose problems didn’t amount to a hill of beans, and so the romance loomed relatively larger in the narrative.  And Holo was a capricious wolf-spirit,  so we could at least pretend she might give up on Lawrence.  At the start of Maoyuu the hero and the demon king were bound together by a contract, and so the romance was over before it began. “Will they/won’t they” doesn’t work for a married couple.

Kotoura-san:

Is she surprised, or belching?

Is she surprised, or belching?

Dropped after eight episodes.  Kotoura-san was the show I was most excited for after the first episode, but it utterly failed to live up to its promise.  I was hoping for a show that would explore the hypocrisy of society and the horrible things that happen people who don’t believe the lies that everyone tells each other every day.  I hoped it would explore what happens in a romantic relationship when one side is disadvantaged by the other’s ability to see their private thoughts.  I even sort of hoped it would address the question of whether or not people like Kotoura are even a good thing for society, or whether the sea of bullshit we all float in is serving as social fertilizer by allowing people with different views to get along with each other.  Kotoura-san didn’t do any of that.  Kotoura-san was just a weak romantic comedy that sometimes veered gracelessly into melodrama, and Kotoura’s mind-reading  power was little more than a gimmick.  The effects of her mind-reading on her relationship with Manabe were mostly just a convenient excuse for her to beat him up for having ecchi thoughts whenever the writers felt they needed a “joke”.  I held out hope for a while and satisfied myself with the fun facial expressions (pictured above) but eventually I gave up.

Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru:

I dunno, is your hair pink?

You’d look more beautiful in brighter color.

You should hang out with Kotoura.

You should hang out with Kotoura.

I didn’t think much of OreShura at the start of the season.  I didn’t like the washed-out pastel artstyle, and the premise of the male lead being blackmailed with his old chuunibyou delusions bugged me too. Those things continued to bother me throughout the season, but I finished it anyway.  This show filled the “guilty pleasure harem nonsense” slot for me this season, the slot that had previously been filled by the charming sister-screwing show Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankei Nai Yo Ne, and before that by the charming sister-screwing show Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imoto ga Iru.  OreShura was less charming than either, and less incestuous (though the dude’s hot aunt did briefly flirt with him). It was generally speaking a much higher quality show, though.  The writing was sometimes quick and witty, and the characters had some depth to them (except the harem protagonist, naturally).  I actually have trouble choosing who I feel should win the harem, because the show made each of them appealing in their own way.  The childhood friend tries the hardest, but the manipulative bitch is the most sympathetic, but the chuunibyou girl is the most charmingly earnest, but the pink-haired chick has the pinkest hair.  I was impressed that they could pull off that level of balancing act, and in general it was a surprisingly good show on the merits.  Of course the “surprisingly good” there is “surprisingly good for harem nonsense”, so caveat emptor.

GJ-bu:

This should have been the disclaimer at the start of each episode.

This should have been the disclaimer at the start of each episode.

I love it! I think it's cute!

I love it! I think it’s cute!

GJ-bu doesn’t have a gimmick to it.  It’s a comedy about four girls and a guy making up the Good Job club, and the way they spend their time together after school. That puts a lot of pressure on the characters to be interesting to watch, and the characters are up to the pressure.  At the start, I was mostly interested in Megumi, the sweet pink-haired girl who loves to brew tea, because while the characters all seemed stereotypical to me, that’s a stereotype I enjoy.  But as the show continued, it showed me more sides to the characters, and I grew to appreciate them each for their own individual personalities.  It’s a pretty amazing trick they pulled, actually.  This isn’t some drama with long-running storylines, the characters were fleshed out entirely through the medium of comedic bits.  They even managed to give the straight man/harem lead, Kyolo, some personality beyond “hapless target for the whims of the girls”, which you could see in the “OreMan” character he pulled out as a party trick.  That showed he was playing along with the girls because he liked them and enjoyed that particular dynamic, not because he was a hopeless spineless doormat.  Unfortunately, while the five main characters were very well-characterized for this sort of comedy, that didn’t really extend to the cast of secondary characters.  The “imouto sub-harem” was full of one-dimensional characters, and the new underclassman girl introduced midway through did not really manage even a single dimension.  Still, the main cast was great, the jokes were mostly pretty funny, and I enjoyed this show more than I thought I would.  The best new show of the season.

Minami-ke Tadaima:

Moe~

Moe~

Moe~

Moe~

The first season of Minami-ke, by Daume, is one of my all-time favorite anime.  The next two seasons, by asread, came nowhere close to living up to its greatness.  This season, by Feel, continued that unfortunate tradition. Feel went wrong in a different way than asread did, though.  The problem with asread was that they strayed too far from what made the original season so amazing, they started doing things like mixing in fanservice and adding uninteresting characters like Fuyuki.  The problem with Feel’s take on it is that they stuck too tightly to ground that had already been trodden.  Many of the jokes felt tired and unimaginative, and a few were virtually identical repeats – for example, the joke where Chiaki gets turned into a teru teru bozu, or the joke where Kana runs around trying to kiss Chiaki and she doesn’t want to be kissed.  The vegetable song wasn’t quite a full rehash of the earlier Curry Fairy song (one of the only good bits of asread’s seasons), but it was still too close for comfort.  I don’t know if the source material has run out and Feel had a hard time coming up with their own jokes, or if the repetition is in the original, but either way, it marred the experience.  I did enjoy the new content, some of it quite a lot.  In places it captures the spirit of the original well.  But there are too many places where it captures a lot more than just the spirit for me to be happy about it.  And even if the original work has run dry of content for them to adapt, that doesn’t excuse the opening theme, which was a blatant ripoff of the original’s, right down to the “M-I-N-A-M-I-K-E Let’s Go!”.

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