In the tradition of summers past, the Fanservice Fairy has sprinkled her naughty, magical dust all over the goddamn summer shows again, making panties and cleavage blossom everywhere!
Seriously, leg fanservice? That’s… uhm… totally wrong. But lemme stare for a couple minutes to make sure. Oh, and more… after… jump…
Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi
Or, for the Westerner in you, Ookami-san and her Seven Companions. Yep, it’s a fairy tale reference, didn’t you notice Little Red Riding Hood in the picture above?
Not exactly the type of show with an incisive take on human psychology and the meaning of life. The heroine, Ookami-san, portrayed above, works for an agency at school that offers its services to students in exchange for various favors. Her job so far involves mostly beating up delinquents with her Neko-Neko Knuckles. The rest of the cast support her in various ways, including a mad scientist chick, whose every appearance makes me giggle in glee, and a guy who’s in love with Ookami-san but suffers from scopophobia (i.e. the fear of being seen).
So yes, if you’ve ever seen Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, this is the same brand of “out there” anime that delights in wacky characters, except with a little more restraint. And another Ginka. The fanservice has been dialed down since the first episode, too, which is most welcome as I felt dirty lusting after Ookami-san’s legs when she looks so much like an older version of Taiga from Toradora! (but with a ton more style).
I admit it: I’m a huge K-On dork. I don’t have a body pillow yet, but I’ve watched every episode thus far, and even have a favorite. I could tell you who, but then I’d have to kill you. By dropping her drum set on you.
I’ve been fortunate enough to enjoy K-on on my own, away from the blogosphere, which seems polarized between gooey adoration and venomous dislike, so that my appreciation of the show is an unadulterated and unabashedly personal experience. In short: can you possibly imagine yourself being entertained by the story of five high school girls trying to start their own band? That’s pretty much it. No explosions, a minimalistic over-arching storyline (Budokan?!?), and wacky weekly adventures. K-On won’t save the world, for sure, but it’s helped me stay sane, and the second season that’s been airing since spring is more of the same so far.
One of the bigger complaints about K-On is that it’s barely about music at all. Fortunately, the latest episode (#14) introduces a new ED theme, just to show you how much K-On can rock: do yourself a favor and check it out.
(I strongly advise starting with the first season if you’re titillated.)
Given my love of leggy heroines, as professed above, this one should be a shoe-in. (Ho ho ho.)
However, as I’ve discovered before with the dreadful CHAOS;HEAD, the Japanese and I have vastly different ideas of what “horror” should be. Occult Academy starts out on a decent note, with dire forebodings in the middle of the night, and holds this tone as Maya (legs picture above) arrives at the Occult Academy the next day, just in time for her father’s funeral. He was the school principal, and the vice-principal plays a tape he left behind, a message addressed to the students from beyond the grave, so to speak.
Except the bastard recorded a spell to raise his own corpse at the end of the tape.
This setup could have been marvelously scary except Occult Academy is unable to build an oppressive atmosphere. For one, the principal’s corpse looks way too cartoony – compare and contrast with HOTD‘s zombies for good measure. To add insult to injury, at the end of the episode, the ubiquitous Teenage Male Lead literally materializes out of thin air in front of Maya, naked as the day he was born.
Does the deus ex machina have to clank that loudly? Resourceful and aloof Maya could have made a compelling heroine on her own. No need to graft a burgeoning testosterone-laden one-dimensional tumor to the show’s cast just to prove a point.
I like Maya. I like the animation (cartoon zombies aside). I like that there might be more to the Occult Academy than what meets the eye. The rest makes me uneasy.
High School of the Dead
SUMIMASEN DESHITA. But I still want to talk about this show. Its second episode, more precisely.
Yep, HOTD is still going on strong, as I’d foretold, and the Fanservice Fairy has been (somewhat) held in check, making its presence quite bearable. Episode #2 focuses on Hirano (aka Chubby Nerd) and Takagi (Pink-Haired Bimbo). Despite my parenthetical labelling for easy reference, both of them come across as much more than stereotypes, just like Takashi (Teenage Male Lead) and Rei (Teenage Girl Lead). Gah, I’m doing it again!
Hirano is a bit closer to a caricature: a flabby, desperate loser who somehow tags along Takagi, doing nothing but slowing her down until they find themselves cornered in the workshop classroom. Then, his inner nerd takes over, and he fabricates… well, you have to see it. Let’s just say MacGyver would be proud. I’m sure it’s not his last time pulling someone else’s chestnuts out of the fire.
Takagi is fascinating. On the one hand, as she repeatedly claims, she’s a genius who’s able to intuitively navigate the subtleties of a post-Zombiegeddon high school, more than once saving Hirano’s love handles from becoming the pièce de résistance at the zombie buffet. She’s also the first to experiment with the zombies to try to discover their strengths and weaknesses. On the other hand, she turns out to be a condescending, prissy bitch who’s such a perfectionist she can’t stand second place (she throws a tantrum when Hirano looks at another girl!) and who has a mental breakdown after she has to resort to a drill to save her own life, in what is one of the goriest, juiciest, bestest scenes thus far, complete with grinding sound effect and gallons of gushing blood. Methinks her jealousy spells trouble down the road.
We’re also introduced to Saeko, from the kendo club, who’s naturally a no-nonsense, stick-wielding kind of gal, and the oldest among the students. You have to appreciate a woman who, with minimal prompting, is willing to crack a guy’s skull to save him from becoming a zombie.
Then there’s the Amazingly Busty Nurse, whose every movement is punctuated with bouncing noises and cooing I’d normally rather not put up with, but hey, for the sake of the rest of the compelling cast, I’ll try not to her gargantuan zombie-attracting udders smother my interest to death.
And then the rest…
New Sekirei: started watching first episode, fell asleep before the boobs showed up. Maybe I’ll give it a second look. Don’t hold your breath.
New Strike Witches: watched first episode. Same as first season. At this point, I’ll do anything for my Hartmann fix, so… buckle up. I hate myself.
The Tatami Galaxy: watched the first episode on YouTube a short while ago. Should probably continue, since it was fucked up in a funny way. The show technically just ended, but the timeline be damned!
Other shows not mentioned: they all suck. Trust me.