suntzuanime

A thoughtful response to current anime.

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Threshing Spring 2016

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 shows seem to have based on their first episodes. (Show title translations taken from myanimelist.net, even in cases where I disagree with their translation).

13: Kiznaiver

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Just guessing, but I would assume it was for no good reason.

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Actually, when you put it that way, it sounds like a pretty good reason after all.

A group of high school students are kidnapped and surgically altered to share each other’s pain. I’m sure the writers of this show have some big ideas that they want to express, like maybe they’re trying to do an allegory for socialism, or an indictment of modern atomized society, or whatever. But the first episode, at least, seems uninterested in actually exploring any of these ideas. The first half of the episode was an extremely half-hearted school life story where nothing important happened and even the characters couldn’t bring themselves to care. “Oh, yes, I’m being bullied, ho hum, I’m used to it” says the protagonist, and if he isn’t worried about it, why should we be? The second half of the episode was exposition, but the writers were too in love with the bigness of their ideas to come straight out and say what their show was about. So they ended up with less of an infodump and more of a vaguenessdump, managing to have the spooky conspirator character talk and talk for several minutes just to explain “you guys share each other’s pain, for reasons”. In between those two halves there was a brief disco hospital scene that still has me confused; it was possibly a metaphor, or a sign the viewpoint character was drugged, but maybe that’s just how hospitals work in this setting. The setting has only vaguely been described to me, so I can’t really contradict anything that would happen, and as a result I feel uninvested in the story. Although I’m sure having the defining feature of the protagonist be that he doesn’t give a shit about anything doesn’t help.

12: Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academia)

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That feel when you don’t have superpowers.

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Don’t mind if I do!

In a world where most people have superpowers, one kid doesn’t, but still wants to be a hero. It seems like the anime industry is getting into superhero stories, which is a pity, because if I wanted those I could just watch any of the fifty Marvel movies put out every year. Superhero stories are about action, and Hollywood has SFX budgets way higher than what this show was willing to shell out for animation. The art design in the show seems to favor “loud and splashy” to cover up its technical roughness, which kind of fits the genre, but it’s tiring to watch. It’s like having your eyes shouted at for thirty minutes. If it were an interesting story or interesting characters I could forgive some visual issues, but they seem uninterested in digging into the societal consequences of everyone having superpowers in favor of a stereotypical underdog shounen protagonist’s story, so. One Punch Man worked, but it worked because it was parodying the superhero genre; this anime is playing it straight and falling flat.

11: Anne Happy

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It’s nice when you and your friends can share common interests.

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They’ve all been so unlucky as to lose their eyes in some horrible accident.

Three high school girls are in a class designed to help cure their unluckiness.  Bland three-girl slice of life comedy. If this is the sort of thing you want to watch, there are literally hundreds of shows like it, many of which are going to have better animation or more well-developed characters. The characters seem to mostly have quirks instead of personalities; for example, the gloomy girl isn’t consistently gloomy, but rather her gloominess turns on and off like a faucet when the show wants to use her gloominess as a punchline. Literally the only distinguishing characteristic of the main girl is that she wants to bang an “under construction” sign. The cheerful girl is the only one that really has a personality, but it’s as a one-dimensional personality of “oh, I’m just cheerful all the time, hey, there’s a catastrophe? Tee hee, I didn’t even notice because I’m so cheerful”. With a little more subtlety it could have been an interesting contrast with her unluckiness, but it was too overdone and she just came off as annoying. Some of the comedy was  passable; the show spends a lot of time in super-deformed mode to save money on animation, and the funny faces help carry weak jokes. But a slice-of-life comedy can get by without much comedy. It can’t get by if I don’t care about the lives that are being sliced.

10: Kuma Miko (Girl Meets Bear)

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What a charming miko she is.

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To be fair, most bears don’t eat people, they just maul them when they feel threatened.

A shrine maiden in a rural village wants to go to school in the big city, but the shrine’s talking bear doesn’t want her to. There were a few worthwhile jokes in this show, mostly playing on the titular miko’s (girl’s? shrine maiden’s) unfamiliarity with city life, but they came at a slow pace. This show isn’t set up to have gag after gag in a rapid fire sequence, and that’s fine, you can make that work, but a more sedately-paced comedy needs to have characters that can keep me interested during the lulls, and this show doesn’t. I was hoping this show would be like Kokkuri-san, since they’re both set up with a supernatural guardian of a young girl, but the relationship between Machi and Natsu lacks the warmth that Ichimatsu and Kokkuri-san have. The first half of the episode was spent with the two of them grumbling and talking past each other about their conflicting desires re: the Big City, and the second half was a really awkward town history meeting that nobody wanted to be at. At no point did I get the sense that any of these characters cared about each other at all, or indeed anything. Machi cares about going to the Big City, but only inasmuch as she doesn’t care for rural life. Natsu seemed more interested in winning the argument than in actually having her stay. I guess the civil servant cousin dude cared about taking pictures of police cars? That was a really random and pointless segment.

9: Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress)

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Is there any other kind?

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In a world overrun by zombies, being a little cautious is just common sense.

A feudal world is overrun by zombies, humanity being confined to fortified cities connected by armored trains. I think the memory of being burned by Shingeki no Kyojin is still too fresh in my mind for me to be taken in by this show, which doesn’t even have SnK’s sick opening theme. I just don’t think the formula of “shitty human society under attack by terrifying monsters” works all that well. If you make the human society shitty enough, it’s like, why do I even care if it gets overrun by monsters? They deserved it for being racist against the zombie-bitten, when you think about it. It also makes the show kind of one-tone, if you’re fighting monsters-fighting monsters-fighting monsters and then you take a break and for a change of pace you fight classist prejudice it blurs together and becomes exhausting. You need some good times, or else you become numb to the bad times. I also worry the science doesn’t seem at all consistent in this show. They talk about how scary the zombies are because they have steel cages around their hearts to make them almost invincible, but then the female lead easily slices one’s head off to defeat it. If removing the head/destroying the brain works, why even bother targeting the heart? And the male lead saves himself from zombification by preventing the virus from entering his brain but A) why would the virus instantly disappear after like ten seconds instead of hiding out in his heart, B) if you cut off all blood to your brain you might not become a zombie but you at least become dead, and C) you can even see the disease pass over his tourniquet so how has it even done anything? It’s possible that there is a reasonable explanation for all this that they plan to drop on us, but they haven’t given me reason to trust them. The animation is mostly high quality, and for mindless action I’m sure it would be a fine show, but these problems would surely nag at me.

8: Re:Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-)

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Don’t you hate when you’re summoned to another dimension only to discover racism exists there too?

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– Me, on discovering that the episode was double-length

A NEET is pulled into a fantasy world and embroiled in some dangerous business, but luckily he gets to go back in time every time he dies. This show had the potential to be so much better if the writing weren’t light novel crap. The art style is colorful, the girls are cute, the time travel gimmick is nifty, and the fight scenes toward the end of the episode were well-animated. But it seemed like over half the lines of dialog were someone being snarky for no reason or talking about how awesome NEETs are and isn’t it cool to have no prospects in life. The characters are constantly cracking jokes that aren’t funny, just to prevent anything that happens in the show from having any emotional weight. The male lead gets disemboweled and watches his comrade die bloodily and then he goes right back to making microjests until it’s time for the next bloodbath. I don’t think Japanese generational pathologies work the same way as American ones, but this show makes me want to shake my fist and yell about Millennials.

7: Sansha Sanyou (Three Leaves, Three Colors)

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Next time, say “please touch me with your filthy hands”.

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That’s kind of a personal question, don’t you think?

Three girls are friends. This show is very attractively animated for a three-girl-slice-of-life show, and they spent a lot of the episode talking about food, which is the definite best slice-of-life topic, but… well, it seems stupid to complain about nothing happening in a three-girl-slice-of-life show, since the genre is defined by how little happens in it. Still, this show felt empty. Maybe there’s a sharp discontinuity between a show with very small-scale, low-stakes conflict and a show with no conflict in it at all. The one time it looked like there was going to be some action in the episode, when the pink-haired chick confronted the student council president, they suddenly cut away and resolved the whole thing off-camera. If the former-rich-girl doesn’t realize that she’s made bad food, and her friends are too friendly to call her out on it, that doesn’t count as conflict either. Either of those cases could have added a pinch of interest without overpowering the soothing slice-of-life flavor. If they had, this might have been a legitimately good episode.

6: Big Order

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How great can it have been if it couldn’t even manage one lousy world?

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Because the human heart, in its weakness, defects in the Prisoner’s Dilemma.

In a world where some people get superpowers based on their wishes, a high school boy wished for world domination, and now he’s being targeted by a secret organization. I like the protagonist of this show. He feels bad about almost destroying the world, which is enough to make him sympathetic, but he doesn’t feel bad enough about almost destroying the world to not keep on doing it, which makes him interesting. And he’s taunted by a magical floating pink-haired chick that only he can see, which is a solid aesthetic choice. I’m not sure the plot is going to be any good, though. Soldiers just appeared out of nowhere and started attacking him, despite apparently knowing that he’s a total badass and not having any actual plan for dealing with his total badassedness. And even if there is an explanation given later, he just seems like too much of a badass for there to be a real story. I’m willing to give a show a little leeway in making its protagonists overpowered if those protagonists are proactive and a little villainous (which describes Eiji by the end of the episode), but having complete dominance over your surroundings including all people and objects and laws of physics just seems like way too much. There are ways to threaten that, but they’re all things like “nuke him from orbit before he knows it’s coming” that don’t make for great TV.

5: Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge (Tanaka-kun is Always Listless)

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How inconsiderate, people are trying to sleep.

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Super ultra great delicious wonderful tired.

A high school boy is always tired. From a critical, artistic perspective, this show accomplishes exactly what it sets out to do. From an anime fan’s perspective, I’m not totally convinced I want shows to set out to make me yawn. I can appreciate how well-made the show is in the abstract, but is “I almost fell asleep while watching this” really a way to praise a show? The pacing of the show is precisely tuned to be just slow enough to lull you off to sleep but not slow enough that you get distracted and wake up to do something else. There were cute visual gags, like the screenwipe that has Outa carrying Tanaka slowly across the screen and it takes so long the next scene is half-over before it ends, but by that point the show had sapped me of too much energy for me to be able to laugh. Just writing this blurb is making my eyelids heavy. I guess this would be a good show to watch right before bed.

4: Joker Game

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Metal Gear?

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Never trust a weeaboo.

In the lead-up to WW2, a special group of spies is established within the Japanese Army. Shows set in pre-war Japan are always great because the aesthetics are familiar but the culture is interestingly alien. Imperialist Japan viewed through the eyes of Liberal Democratic Japan viewed through the eyes of Liberal Democratic USA is sufficiently indirect to give a voyeuristic thrill. The show does a great job of delivering on that theme and aesthetic, with people in suits smoking cigarettes talking in serious tones about dying honorably for their country. But the actual content, the promised spy story, seemed a little weak. The one trick they pulled in the first episode was cheating at cards, and the way they were cheating didn’t even make sense (info on your opponent’s hand is useful in poker, but it won’t help you get a 4-of-a-kind). They set up a tense situation at the American spy’s residence, but they’ve delayed the payoff and asked us to trust them, and I don’t know how much trust they’ve earned yet. They spent most of the episode with the straight-laced protagonist complaining about how much he hates spies, which, I am sorry to break it to him, but he is the protagonist of a spy story. I get that you want to have an ignorant sap around so that you can explain things to the audience by proxy, but ignorant saps make poor protagonists. They would have been better off making one of the spies the viewpoint character and having this army lieutenant be an annoying sidekick he had to put up with.

3: Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko jai Nai to Omotta? (And you thought there is never a girl online?)

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Finally, a relatable protagonist.

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Moe! A healer who lets the tank die is moe!

A high school boy goes to an off-line meetup for his MMO guild only to discover that his guildmates are girls from his school. This is a nice, light, fun harem comedy. I can already slot it in mentally among the dozens of other light harem comedies that have been enjoyable and forgettable. Whether the gimmick is that the girls are MMORPG players, or martial artists, or maybe secretly his sister, the structure is pretty much the same. The important thing is that the girls are cute, the jokes work, and the pacing is fast enough to keep from getting bored with the fluff, and in the first episode this show delivered on all those points. I look forward to enjoying and then forgetting about this show.

2: Sakamoto Desu Ga (Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto)

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All work and no play makes Sakamoto a dull boy.

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Sakamoto manages to be cool even while flipping you off.

A high school boy is extremely perfect and wonderful, inspiring envy in his classmates. I liked this show. I’m a little worried about how well it’ll be able to fill out a full season, as it seems to be relying on the single gag of “Sakamoto does everything stylishly and every attempt to show him up backfires”, but there’s room to put him into different situations and have bystanders react differently, at least. And there were some great visual gags in this episode, like Sakamoto playing Mary Poppins with an umbrella or fencing a bee with his compass. Even if the fundamental underlying joke is the same, a funny visual can spice it up and keep it from getting old. There isn’t much in the way of depth of character here (Sakamoto is too perfect to have any real character), but the laughs came along at a fast enough clip that the show didn’t suffer from the lack. Sakamoto kind of reminds me of Saitama from One Punch Man, so maybe they’ll branch out from their one joke just like that show did.

1: Mayoiga

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That… that sounds nice, actually.

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That, I am going to be honest, sounds less nice.

A varied group of misfits takes a trip to a mysterious hidden village where they’re promised the ability to start their lives over. This show points up the weaknesses of relying on first episodes to judge shows. They spent the entire episode en route to the mythic village where the main action is presumably going to take place. Presumably this show is going to turn out to be a horror, and they did have a bunch of creepy stuff in this episode, but it all turned out to be the wind, or a nightmare, or people just saying creepy things for no reason, and there was a lot of humor too. The cast of characters they assembled from the dregs of the internet really feels more suited to a comedy than a horror. I got sort of a Higurashi vibe from it, but Higurashi at least opened with a dismembered corpse so you knew where it stood. The worst this episode gave us was someone driving a little recklessly. The banter between the internet rejects was compelling, though, and the creepy stuff was nice and atmospheric even if nobody got chopped up and thrown in the river, so wherever we’re headed, I’m interested in riding along.

 

So all in all, the yield is three shows that definitely look good, and then three more shows that I’m going to give a little more time to impress me. Mediocre for a spring season, but not a disaster by any means.

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Bias in the Anime Music Tournament

The Anime Blog Anime Music Tournament to crown the best anime song of all time has been going on for a while over at http://animusictourney.wordpress.com/ and we’ve reached the Sweet Sixteen. (You should all check it out, and vote for the songs I like.) Over the course of the tournament, there has been grumbling in the comments to the effect of “people only voted for <song I didn’t like> over <song I like> because of nostalgia [or recency bias, or because they liked the show, or whatever]”.  Sometimes this made sense to me, such as when “Connect” beat “Grey Wednesday”, which I can only attribute to people voting for Madoka Magica over Penguindrum rather than on the merits of the songs themselves.  But it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking the songs you like lost because of bias while the songs you didn’t like lost because they just plain weren’t good songs.  So I decided to sit down with the data and get some hard numbers.

There were three possible sources of bias I decided to examine: voting for the more recent song, voting for the song that came from a better show, or voting for a song you were familiar with over one you weren’t familiar with.  Out of the 240 matches that have been completed in the Animusic Tourney so far:

*In 119 matches the newer song won, while in 119 matches the older song won. (In two matches there was no age difference.)
*In 135 matches the song whose show was rated higher on myanimelist.net won, while in 101 matches the lower-rated show’s song won. (In four matches they were rated the same.)
*In 132 matches the song whose show had more viewers on MAL won, while in 107 matches the song whose show had fewer viewers won. (In one match they had the same number. This was the “Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari” vs. “Staple Stable” matchup.)

So clearly there’s no question of this data showing any recency or nostalgia bias.  Forget no statistically significant difference, there’s no difference at all.  As far as the other two criteria are concerned it seems clear that people are to at least some extent voting for shows instead of songs.  We would only have a 3% chance of seeing results this extreme if the show’s rating were entirely unconnected to the song’s performance in the tournament.  The impact of familiarity is less clear. We would have a 12% chance of seeing results this extreme by pure chance, and to some extent familiarity is probably “piggybacking” off show quality, because people are more likely to watch a show if they hear it’s good.

Just because there is an effect doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s an evil bias at work.  There could legitimately be a connection between the quality of a show and the quality of the show’s music.  For example, one of the things that makes a show good is if it has good songs.  Would Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu have been as beloved without its incredible concert scene?  (The recent concert scene in White Album was unimpressive in part because its songs weren’t as amazing as “God Knows”.)  It’s nice at least to have some hard numbers to think about though.  And hopefully this will get people to stop whining about “recency bias” and “nostalgia bias”.

EDIT: Based on the comments I decided to test a few more hypotheses.  First, there was some indication that there could be a generation gap. I set the cutoff between the old and the new at 2006, since that was when HD anime started airing – it makes a pretty good break between “old” and “new” anime.  There were 53 cases of an “old” anime beating a “new” anime, and 60 cases of the reverse.  This suggests a possible bias toward the newer generation of anime, but a result like that could show up 57% of the time due to pure chance, so it’s hard to draw conclusions.

Second, there was a suggestion to look at only songs that were a certain distance apart in time, because a song from fall of 2005 beating a song from spring of 2006 doesn’t tell you much about nostalgia bias.  This makes sense to me.  Limiting the comparison to songs with at least 3 years difference has the newer song winning 85 matches compared to the older song winning 76 matches.  This is a bit in favor of the newer song, but again, the odds of such a result happening by pure chance are 42% so who knows.

Data is here if you want to play with it yourself. I corrected a couple errors but they don’t materially change the conclusions.

Fall Anime Season 2013 – The Fall of Anime

This isn’t much of a preview, since the season actually started a few days ago, but I was writing this up before I got distracted by videogames (EU4 is addictive) and schoolwork (if anyone asks I was doing schoolwork not playing twice as many videogames). So I figured, I might as well post it, I make few enough posts as it is. Here are my thoughts on the still-largely-upcoming fall anime season. The lineup is here, and I have done my best to translate any titles that are in Japanese. A lot of them seem to be in Italian, though, for some reason.

Coppelion:
A stylish girls-with-guns action show set in a future where the Tokyo Metropolitan Area has turned into The Zone from S.T.A.L.K.E.R., I guess. It kinda has an old school feel for the visuals, right down to the CGI on the spider robo-mecha thing with its glowing red laser-penis. Should be interesting to see what sort of commentary they try to make about the whole Fukushima thing, but the politics will likely end up some unpleasant combination of heavy-handed and simple-minded. Maybe it’s better if it’s just there as a setting for girls to have fun blowing things up in.  Blowing things up is fun.

Kyoukai no Kanata (Past the Border):
I remember when I used to get exceted for new Kyoto Animation shows, but now I just say “ugh, another overproduced boring school life story”. The female character designs are ripped straight from Hyouka, the male character designs are ripped straight from Free, and I bet if there’s a fat parrot character it will look a lot like the one from Tamako Market. The one possible saving grace for this show is the supernatural action elements. Kyoto Animation animates with consistently high production values, and while that’s sort of a waste for a show about a club for lazy people to eat cake in, it improves a hot-blooded battle sequence immensely. Maybe a few action scenes will be just what they need to free themselves from their moe addiction and recover the spirit they had when they were making Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid, the spirit that produced Haruhi and which thely lost when they made K-On.

Kyousougiga (TL Note: I Have No Earthly Idea What This Means):
Hard to tell on this one, but it looks like one of those psychedelically wacky shows like Kaiba that people keep recommending to me not realizing that I am a straight-laced upstanding citizen who does not use illegal consciousness-altering substances. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course, but we have different tastes, and that difference extends to our differing interest levels in an anime about chasing a rabbit through a mirror to a world where things are strange for no reason and nobody even remembers the poems he was parodying anymore.  Off with its head!

Nagi no Asu Kara (From the Day After The Lull):
Getting a real Suisei no Gargantia feel from this show. Not interested in another water-themed, conflict-light show about getting along, making friends, promoting intercultural understanding, and other shit like that. The female lead looks too sweet to be interesting, and the male lead looks too spineless to do anything about it other than blush and try to hide his feelings for her. And there’s not even a giant robot to make wisecracks.

Outbreak Company:
Probably pandering trash, but the premise of an otaku who ends up in a fantasy world is the sort of thing it should be possible to do well. The character designs look like, well, pandering trash, but they’re pretty well done for that sort of thing. And hey, Zero no Tsukaima was decent enough for a while before it turned bad, right? The key is going to be having jokes about the interaction between the main character’s otakudom and the realities of a fantasy kingdom. If the studio takes the easy way out they’ll just have the jokes be the bare fact that the main character is an otaku in a fantasy kingdom. Or worse, the joke will be that he’s an otaku and the fantasy kingdom will just be a pretty backdrop.

Kill la Kill:
Not much information, but everything I see I don’t like. It’s by the people who did Gurren Lagann, which I did not like nearly as much as the anime blogging community in general. The art style is ugly. Ugly in a stylish way, I guess, ugly in a way that will get the anime blogging community talking about how “artistic” it is, but still ugly. It’s about two schoolgirls who fight with swords and I guess one of them has a school uniform that is alive and talks to people? That doesn’t seem like a compelling plot to me. And the name of the show is “Kill la Kill”. I don’t actually know Italian but I suspect it’s ungrammatical. (Maybe they were going for “Killer Kill?”) I’m filing this one away as “hipster nonsense” and preparing to endure the scorn of my peers who rave about how it changed anime forever.

Golden Time:
A school romantic comedy being set in college is nice because it can be a little less naive than one set in high school. Amnesia as a plot device is kinda lame, evoking horrible daytime soap operas, but if it’s just used as the premise it evokes The Bourne Identity instead. And I am kinda taken with the golden-haired girl who blows rose-petals in the promo video. She seems like the kind of woman who could interestingly toy with a man’s heart. One of the other girls had pink hair, but it was an orangey peach-pink instead of real pink.  Close, but no cigar, there.

Strike the Blood:
The name is ridiculous. The premise could be cool if the girl in charge of maybe hunting down and killing the world’s most powerful vampire took an adversarial role towards him and was constantly having to bop him over the head with a paper fan when he started drinking some innocent civilian’s blood, but that’s not at all what the promos looked like. Instead, he’s going to be a dark tormented soul, and she’s going to be the only one who ~*understands*~ him, and look, I just gotta say, vampires are inhuman monsters that should be staked through the heart and left out in the sun to perish, ok? You don’t team up with them to do badass supernatural battles, you strike their blood until nothing remains but dust.  The Twilight series will be the ruin of humanity, I swear.

Yuusha ni Narenakatta Ore wa Shibushibu Shuushoku wo Ketsui Shimashita (I Didn’t Become A Hero, So As Much As I Hated It I Had To Get A Job):
I guess this is an anime based off a copycat light novel series that got published after Hataraku Maou-sama’s success? It seems like a similar premise, a hero and a demon lord working together at a low-status job, only in this case the hero is the guy and the demon lord the girl, and they live in a fantasy realm instead of being transported to ours. But really, Hataraku Maou-sama was a good show not because of the premise but because of the execution, and the execution here looks weak. The animation looks low-quality, the characters’ facial expressions seem excessively “wacky”, and they didn’t put any jokes in the promo clips which is a bad sign for an ostensible comedy. I’ll probably check it out anyway, but mostly so I can talk about how much better Hataraku Maou-sama was.

Log Horizon:
“Fantasy MMO world that suddenly becomes real life” is a lame setting. Like, if you want to set your anime in a fantasy world, why not just set it in a fantasy world? Why add needless indirection by making it an MMO? Do kids these days have such stunted imaginations that they can’t comprehend a world of magic and adventure except by reference to World of Warcraft? At least the show seems like it’s going to take a comedic approach. You pretty much would have to, with a premise this silly; if you took it seriously it would be a disaster. If this show ends up more Tower of Druaga than Sword Art Online, it might be worthwhile. Tower of Druaga never stooped to justifying its use of videogame tropes in the narrative, though, and that might have made all the difference.

White Album 2:
This is not the second season of the White Album anime, because that already happened. Rather, it’s an adaptation of the sequel to the game on which the first White Album anime was based. And it doesn’t seem like much of a sequel – from what I can tell, it’s a completely unrelated game by the same company that got labeled as a sequel to try to exploit the value of the brand. But hey, the brand has a lot of value in my book. The original White Album anime was engaging and moving and left me wanting more. This show doesn’t seem like it will be “more” in any real sense, but if it’s by the same people maybe that’s good enough. And there really aren’t enough anime adaptations of melodramatic porn games these days, so we gotta cherish the ones we get.

Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai (I Want To Be The Strongest In The World):
I couldn’t even stand to watch the promos. A show all about women with large breasts and skimpy outfits groping all over each other and squealing. Haven’t seen a show this not-technically-porn since Queen’s Blade.

Meganebu (Glasses Club):
I guess glasses fetish is a thing for girls too, huh. Come to think of it, I should have known that, it came up in Ouran High Host Club.  Have fun, ladies.

Walkure Romanze:
Chivalry is cool as heck! Yeah! Knights, and jousting, and if the knights happen to be chicks with pink hair and moderately-sized breasts, so much the better! I dunno that we can expect the Japanese to do any better a job accurately depicting chivalry than westerners tend to do depicting bushido, but the aesthetic is cool at least. The animation quality looked a little off, though, and I think this is an adaptation of a porny porn game, so I’ll try not to raise my hopes too high.  The armor mostly looks nice, but if there’s going to be a lot of jousting going on in this show, I don’t know that I can suspend my disbelief on the practicality of breastplates with the tits jutting out. It seems like that would be a huge liability vis-a-vis your ability to win tournaments. You are trying to avoid a solid hit that knocks you off your horse, in that context cleavage basically becomes a trap for a lance-point that funnels the entire force of the blow into your center of mass.  Exactly what you do not want.

Gingitsune (Silver Fox):
I’m wary of shows that involve too much Japanese mythology, because there are always so many cultural references I don’t get and I end up feeling lost. And apart from that it seems likely to be a slow-paced, barely animated slice of life anime for people who wish their imaginary friends were real and giant magical foxes. Bleh.

Unbreakable Machine Doll:
Robot girlfriends are cool as heck! And it seems like the protagonist here has earned the right to have one by building one, instead of just finding one laying around like in Chobits or receiving some as gifts like in Busou Shinki. The combat tournament elements are something of a concern; Busou Shinki got dragged down by its action sequences, and there was a really awful-looking CGI dragon in the promo videos. But they were playing up the romantic-comedy aspects most of the time in the promos, so I’m hoping the tournament is mostly just premise and we get lots of fun flirting between an unbreakable machine doll and an ambitious artificer.

Non Non Biyori (Non Non Nice Day Outside):
The promos for this are incredibly boring – two minutes worth of looking at drawings of countryside. I actually think they’re being ironic here, it sort of reminds me of the Lucky★Star promo that was just a closeup of Konata’s face staring at the viewer and making a buzzing noise, but it leaves me in a bind because it doesn’t really give me much basis to evaluate the show. Kyoto Animation could get away with it because they’d just done Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, but what has Silver Link done recently? Oh, I guess they did Watamote. Fair enough, then. From what I hear, the manga has jokes in it, so that’s probably a good sign?

Aoi Hagane no Arpeggio (Arpeggio of Blue Steel):
A very pretty show, lots of lovingly-detailed battleships firing lasers at each other, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into. Ever since the disappointment that was Tide-Line Blue, I’ve wanted to watch an actual good show about the crew of a super-powerful submarine changing the course of history. This could be that show! The one thing I’m worried about is the girl that’s the personification of the sub. The “mystical artifact that grants you your powers is also a girl you have to romance” plot element almost never goes well. The only show I can think of that was any good with it was Code Geass, and I think Code Geass was the worse for it.

Tokyo Ravens:
I like the character designs, but a supernatural combat anime is going to live or die on the basis of its fight scenes, and the ones in the promos were just appalling. The CGI looks really, really bad. Whatever happened to the good old days when, if you wanted to have your characters fight a monster, you would draw and animate a monster? The monster was bad, but it was nothing compared to the hyper-detailed Jeep model somebody put a lot of effort into. I’m sure the Jeep looks great in a vacuum, but the anime style is all about glossing over the fine details and using stylized representations to evoke recognition. Throwing a photographically-detailed car model in there is jarringly out-of-place. I promise not to laugh at how bad your drawing of a Jeep is, ok? I am on your side here, anything is better than these mountains of CGI.

BlazBlue Alter Memory:
I’m not sure it’s physically possible for a fighting game adaptation anime to be any good. People don’t usually play fighting games for the story, you know? I couldn’t get a good look at the promo video because it kept flashing obnoxiously, like a strobe light, and I decided I did not need much more reason than that to reject this show.

Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Love Come o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru (The Multiple Choice Questions In My Head Are Going All-Out To Interfere With My School Life Romantic Comedy):
Basically it’s “Would You Rather: The Anime”, I guess. A cheap premise, generic looking character designs, an adaptation of an interminably-titled trash light novel, or all of the above? I only need one choice: the choice not to watch this show.

Samurai Flamenco:
Not much promo material for this. It’s a Japanese superhero show that’s airing on Noitamina, so that’s something. Noitamina is no guarantee of quality, but in theory it means they’re at least trying. And it’ll be fun to see the American genre of superheros through a Japanese lens. Tiger and Bunny, even though it wasn’t all that good, was charming for this reason, and Samurai Flamenco will probably at least be charming as well.

Galilei Donna:
The descendants of Galileo Galilei, the famous astronomer, have magical powers. OK. The descendants of Galileo Galilei, despite living in Tuscany, all have Japanese names. Great. They are being pursued by an evil organization that wants to institute “Galileo Tezoro”, which Google Translate is not giving me any help in deciphering. You know what? Good luck with that.

Pupa:
I guess there is some uncertainty as to whether or not this is actually going to air, since the season is already started and there are still no details or real promos, but what the heck. If it were going to air it seems like the sort of thing that would be worth watching, oppressive psychological horror where the people you love become terrifying monsters.

So altogether, the only shows I’m really looking forward to this season are White Album 2, Unbreakable Machine Doll, and I guess Pupa if it airs.  This season looks pretty weak.  I also plan to check out Coppelion, Kyoukai no Kanata, Outbreak Company, Golden Time, Yuusha ni Narenakatta etc., Log Horizon, Walkure Romanze,  Non Non Biyori, Aoi Hagane no Arpeggio, and Samurai Flamenco.   That’s twelve shows in total, but I’ve had to lower my standards pretty far to get that many.  I’ll consider myself lucky if four of them turn out watchable.

Some of the shows on the list have subs out already, so I’m off to go watch them.  I plan to have a threshing post up in about a week and a half and we can see just how bad things are.

Happy International Day Against Homophobia!

[Eveyuu] Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko. 04 [Hi10P 1280x720 H264] [832AB226].mkv_snapshot_18.11_[2013.05.12_02.50.23]

Jinrui’s Protagonist Is The Best Watashi Since Tatami Galaxy

Ok, I’m not sure there have been any others. But just look!

 

 

 

 

She’s the best pink-haired female lead since Mirai Nikki.

Hyouka – Episode 1

Hyouka is Kyoto Animation’s new thing, I guess, now that K-On has had its six seasons and a movie.  As I recall, it was about a mystery investigation club?  We already have one of those this season, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, and it seems pretty OK.  But Kyoto Animation’s done some great stuff in the past, so it’s at least worth a shot.  Let’s hope episode 1 of Hyouka isn’t as bad as Sora wo Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai, because it doesn’t have the hilarious name to make up for it.

…thirty minutes pass…

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Jormungand – Episode 1

Jormungand is supposed to be a modern day action show, involving arms dealers, child soldiers, and that sort of thing.  These are some weighty issues, I hope that they don’t make this show too much of a downer.  I think Black Lagoon had a good balance between examining the world’s problems and showing unstoppable murder maids with automatic weapons.  Let’s see where episode 1 of Jormungand falls on that continuum.

…thirty minutes pass…

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Tasogare Otome x Amnesia – Episode 1

I don’t remember what Tasogare Otome X Amnesia was supposed to be about.  Maybe I’m suffering from the titular “X Amnesia”!  But it’s on my list, so let’s watch the first episode anyway.  If it helps “tasogare” means “twilight” and “otome” means “maiden”.

…thirty minutes pass…

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Acchi Kocchi – Episode 1

Acchi Kocchi did not have a very edifying description in the anime preview chart.  Its name means “here and there”, which doesn’t tell us much either.  The buzz I’ve seen from people who watched it before me has been pretty ambivalent.  The title reminds me of the ending theme “Kuroi Yokan” from Mawaru Penguindrum, but I can’t show you why because the copyfascists have taken down all the videos that had it in them.  I weep for the future of the internet.  Let’s hurry up and watch episode 1 of Acchi Kocchi before they shut us down too.

…thirty minutes pass…

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Sankarea – Episode 1

Sankarea is supposed to be a love story between a budding necromancer boy and a girl who wishes she were a zombie.  Sounds like an interesting premise, let’s see how it plays out in episode 1 of Sankarea.

…thirty minutes pass…

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