Ready for part two of my odyssey into fall season’s novelties? Let’s dive in!
To Aru Majutsu no Index
I wasn’t going to watch To Aru Majutsu no Index at first, but after omisyth recommended it, I figured why the hell not? I’m already waist-deep in new shows, one more can’t hurt.
TAMNI (there, that’s a lot easier to remember) follows the adventures of an unlucky Teenage Male Lead who’s been cursed with misfortune his whole life, but who theorizes that it was caused by his right hand, which has the power to stop any and all esper powers or magic it comes in contact with. So of course the moment he meets the spunky Index (yes that’s her name) he has to get said right hand on her magical clothing and… well, the result should be obvious by now.
I love the idea of a city where science has debunked “magic” and has institutionalized those special abilities. People are classified from Esper 0 — normal humans — to Esper 5 — humans with incredibly powerful psionic powers and other special abilities. Mr. TML is, of course, the trump card that will set off the story, an Esper 0 who somehow renders even the Esper 5’s completely useless, but this isn’t an uber-serious GARR fest like Hokuto No Ken, largely thanks to cute Index and her certitude that magic does exist.
Will I watch? Yes, I venture I shall. Excellent dance-dance OP, Index is a likable lil’ sidekick with a twinkle of wisdom in her eye, and Mr. TML isn’t getting on my nerves — although he’s still not the most interesting down-on-his-luck teenager of the season (the honor still belongs to Toradora!‘s Ryuuji).
Not having played the video game from which it was inspired, I was sorely disappointed to find out that the show whose description included terms such as “gore”, “science-fiction” and “psychology” was, yet again, going to feature a teenage male lead who goes to high school and blah blah blah FOR THE LOVE OF HARUHI LIFE DOES NOT ALWAYS REVOLVE AROUND FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLDS. Last season it was Birdy, this season it’s CHAOS;HEAD. Sigh.
The twist this time is that our protagonist is an inveterate otaku who lives — get this — in a freight container with Internet access on a rooftop. I watched the raw instead of the sub so I’m not quite sure how his parents can afford that type of housing but I’m sure it’s brilliantly explained. He first receives a link to pictures of a murder, then, in a chronologically fucked up way, witnesses the actual murder in a dark alley when coming home from school… only to have the murderer (a hot pink-haired girl, who else) sit next to him at school the next day.
Okay, so that was the gore. The psychology? Well, Mr. Otaku is a closet pervert who likes to picture the girls he meets in less than appropriate clothing and who is cheered on by an imaginary friend, who’s an anime character herself from shows he likes, and guuuuuuh my brain is melting trying to dissect all the layers.
From the description I was expecting a dark, brooding show about murder and the nature of reality, and instead I got… magical girls with swords? Egads. May or may not watch depending on how the better shows pan out.
Tales of the Abyss
It’s a testament to Tales of the Abyss‘s roots as a console RPG that it holds on to the genre’s oldest clichés and inserts a random monster encounter in its first episode. Despite Tear’s statement picture above, however, it is she who saves Luke, the swaggering protagonist… who of course embodies pretty much every video game protagonist stereotype ever by possessing all of the following characteristics:
- Hidden superpowers
- Spiky hair
- A sword
Tales of the Abyss has some wonderfully appealing characters: despite her typecasting as “female heroine with a mysterious past who’ll fall for the hero before the end” Tear looks and fights awesome, and I get the feeling she has a little more backbone than a floormat, for once among female heroines. I can’t say I’ll watch it every week religiously but it might be worth a shot.
This is basically Code Geass in space, except there is no C.C., Karen, or Geass. So what’s left? An evil overbearing empire, a young upstart who leads the rebellion, and space battles that look like a light show from an 80s rock concert. The OP and ED aren’t half-bad though.
I’m not sure Tytania is my cup of tea. The old-school look and feel are lost on me, being a 21st-century anime blogger reared on the succulent milk of wispy, elfish characters and colorful meccha. By comparison Tytania‘s ships seem to have sprouted from the creative imagination of a 1950s pulp science-fiction writer (although the way they came out of hyperspace, as if birthed, blew my mind). Will I watch? Eh, maybe for a couple episodes, but so far it’s a C+. I’ve already found my serious anime of the season, and it is…
This show can kick your show’s ass. With its balls.
I’m not sure why the last show I sample is inevitably the most amazing one; I’m just glad that, again, I’ve found an anime that does not care how other shows do business. Last season it was Someday’s Dreamers and now it’s Kurozuka.
The first anime that comes to mind when searching for a comparison is Ninja Scroll. On the surface both feature lone wolves with ninja abilities who fall into adventures after meeting alluring women. But Kurozuka is a lot darker than Ninja Scroll, for one, and it’s also a lot more understated. It draws you in as you search for meanings between its lines. It unveils its characters slowly, with care, divulging their secrets the way a lover would feed you grapes, dropping them one by one on your tongue.
Curses. I’m three paragraphs in and haven’t even mentioned the story yet. Ready? Kurozuka is about a man who cannot die and his life throughout the centuries. In this first episode, which chronicles the origins of his condition, he is a Japanese nobleman who is escaping from subhuman pursuers. Best moment? Kurozuka uses the tip of an arrow that’s part of a volley fired seemingly from every direction to propel himself upwards and avoid danger. Incredibly rude to the established laws of physics? Certainly. Balls-out fucking awesome? You betcha!
I love an ambitious show. And this one mixes action, drama, and a chokingly dark atmosphere even better than Shikabane Hime: Aka. If you have a spot left on your watching list try this one for size.
Well, that’s it for the moment. I’ll be back tomorrow with a finalized list of my blogging choices, some of which may come as a surprise after what I’ve written here. See you then!