NEW AND GRANDIOSE ANIME SEASON! Ready your snacks and your seat cushions, dear readers. I’ve already sampled a handful of the new season’s offerings. If you’re partial to panty shots, read on to see which series will scratch your ecchi itch!
I already covered Sekirei in my last post, but I couldn’t resist sharing such an awesome picture, or a couple of observations that struck me when I watched it again.
- The opening sequence rips off Elfen Lied, at the very least thematically, and sometimes damn near shot for shot.
- The opening theme displays future allies / opponents and their powers. Aside from the aforementioned bouncelicious Ice Girl, there’s a guy who slings fire, the sword-wielding chick we glimpsed in the opening sequence, a girl with glasses who can type 250 words a minute, another girl who throws petals or some shit, an underage girl who fights by making plants grow from a pot she’s holding, and another who… uhm… is dressed in cloth ribbons and whips her costume around. Oh noes, please don’t use your slightly itchy fabric attack on me, surely I shall perish.
- The landlord is awesome, even though we’ll never see him again, I bet. I love when minor secondary/tertiary characters are done so well they take over the show whenever they appear; Attenborough in Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann belonged in that catergory. (If you were waiting for yet another reason to watch TTGL, there ya go. Do it. Now!)
Hidamari Sketch x 365
Never heard of it, but this is apparently the second season of this comic strip-turned-manga-turned-anime, which is cleaaaaaaarly aimed at girls the same way Sekirei is aimed at the young male demographic. Hidamari‘s protagonists are four teenage girls who all live in the same apartment building across the street from their famous high school. Three of them are artists (the young one, the spunky one, and the moe one) while the fourth (the one with glasses) is a novelist. Whew, what awe-inspiring characterization so far.
Since this episode chronicled their meeting, the second season either reset whatever “continuity” the first season had or will fill in the blanks about the storyline. I did say “continuity” because, like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, the first season’s episodes aired in non-chronological order. But that’s not the only link between the two shows: Yuko Goto voiced the adorable (and incredibly funny) Mikuru-chan in Haruhi, and in Hidamari she reprises the moe girl part as Hiro, the mother hen of the apartment building. In any other show this would be enough to earn my loyalty but so far, I’m underwhelmed.
I’m positive Hidamari strives to emulate Azumanga Daioh, another comic strip adapted to anime, considering its focus on the daily lives of its ultra-cute leading girls and the “short skits” format – and I can tell without having even seen Azumanga Daioh. To be clear, I do not mind that format at all, but the animation’s so-so and features 2D CG that, for me, broke the flow of the episode more than it helped it. Plus my tolerance for cuteness overload is low, unless it is extremely well-done and the characters are sympathetic – which, so far, Hidamari’s girls have failed to be for me. I dunno. Maybe it’s the lesbian undertones between the moe girl and the one with glasses. Part of me wants to give it a shot so I can declare myself open-minded. The other part just wants to move on, and it’s winning.
Oh, how I wish its title didn’t describe Strike Witches so literally.
In an alternate timeline, mysterious portals appeared over England circa 1939 and out poured a race of alien mechanical planes who began to wage war against humanity. The combined armies of the world did what any self-respecting military mind would do: they invented a motorized magical broom and began gathering young nubile witches to fight back.
Yeah. Right on.
Animation is by Gonzo, and it’s surprisingly crisp and attractive, despite the annoying bloom effect in outdoor scenes. But you know what? The animation has better be good, because the only thing more annoying than a panty shot love fest is a badly drawn panty shot love fest. And in a world where pants have been outlawed for all females under the age of twenty-five, holy shit, is there ever a lot of panty shots! Calling it a distraction would be an understatement; it’s a shameless underwear assault on your senses.
Yet I found myself liking the heroine, Miyafuji, quite a bit more than I expected: she’s an avowed pacifist and refuses to enlist in the army after being approached by Major Sakamoto, the Strike Witches’ fearless eyepatched leader. For once the main character didn’t trip all over herself to join whatever para-military group decided to elect her potential rookie of the year. Don’t think it will last, though, but so far she’s likable enough that I will (gasp) probably watch a few episodes, if only to see if the knickers cornucopia abates. Christ, there’s another sentence I never thought I’d have to write.
This is the latest TV series out of the Slayers universe. I’d never even heard of it before, but Wikipedia informs me that it originated as a series of 50 light novels, and eventually gave birth to “several manga titles, four televised anime series, two three-episode original video animations (OVAs), and five movies. It also spanned three console role-playing games for the Sony PlayStation, as well as one for the Nintendo Super Famicom (known internationally as the Super Nintendo Entertainment System).” From what I could gather, the show follows the adventure of the flat-chested sorceress Lina Inverse and her buddies: Gourry the clumsy but SUPA-STRONG swordsman, Amelia the androgynous magical princess, and Zel the mysterious withdrawn golem or some shit.
It’s supposed to be a Dungeons and Dragons “parody” but the first episode was terrible and bored me to tears. The animation and character design are both awesome but only if you’re a time-traveler from 1985; the music’s standard fantasy pomp; the jokes are telegraphed from a mile away; and the characters are about as deep and fascinating as a puddle of cat vomit. How the Slayers universe managed to attract such a fanbase is beyond my understanding. Will not watch again.
Where to start? Antique Bakery follows the lives of four men who have opened and work at a cake shop together. Some of them are openly gay – such as the pâtissier, Yusuke, who suffers from the gay version of the kavorka – while others seem merely effeminate, and if you can smell drama on the air, oh boy, you’re right on.
I actually didn’t get a whole lot from this first episode because I had to resort to watching an unsubbed raw and my Japanese is far from stellar. I do know that the owner of the shop, Kei, was kidnapped as a child and that his abducter tortured him by making him eat delicious cake. Uh-huh. Oh the humanity. Then there’s Eiji, who loves boxing but can’t continue because of some injury, and whose coach breaks the news to him over – you guessed it – a moist, scrumptious slice of cake.
Hokay, so. It’s a gay drama full of mancake. I get it, I get it, you don’t have to shove it down my throat by repeatedly zooming in on slices of crème cake topped by strawberries drawn to resemble the tip of a certain male organ. Moving on… It’s hard for me to judge characterization and dialogue when they took place in a language I can barely understand, so I’ll reserve judgement in those areas. The music was average, but the opening and ending credits are brilliantly animated: the former in a miniature cake shop with cardboard cutouts of the characters, the latter with every character imagined as puzzles whose pieces are falling apart. Beautiful metaphors. The CG usage was heavy throughout, but it didn’t bother me as much as it did in Hidamari, since it blends in a lot better.
Will I watch? If I can find a decent sub that doesn’t skip every 15 seconds, possibly, but the series hasn’t yet shown us what it wants to achieve. So I am curious. And damn hungry for some more cake. Hold the strawberries, though.
I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but if I were held at gunpoint and forced to pick a favorite from the above, I would settle on Strike Witches. It does compare favorably to Sekirei by omitting the typical loser male lead. It’s a hell of a lot more original than Hidamari. And next to Slayers Revolution, it positively looks like Shakespeare.
As for Antique Bakery, it has potential to become an interesting drama, and it reminded me strongly of Bartender, but the mancake aspect doesn’t appeal to me at all. I am forced to derive from this state of affairs the First Rule of Anime by Korasoff: panty shots trump mancake, whatever the context.
Today’s Karen is: WTF