The heroine in this case is timid and lacks self-confidence, but she seems to be working hard to overcome this so I’m willing to give her a pass so long as she continues to show personal growth. And the show has some great visual imagery, plus miko magic which is always fun.
Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (Suisei no Garugantia) (Crunchyroll) is…interesting. The first half of the first episode looks like a fairly routine mecha battle in space. Then it suddenly gets downright Ghibli-esque. Sort of “Nausicaa on Waterworld“.
The animation is really good by TV standards–one of those shows that would almost be worth watching just for the visuals. So far it seems fairly light but it may turn dark and tragic later. It is written by Gen Urobuchi the screenwriter for Madoka Magica and Fate/Zero.
My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Yahari Ore no Seishun Rabu-Kome ha Machigatteiru) (Crunchyroll) is yet another anime with a name too long to type. Even more annoying, there are 2 popular abbreviations: “Hamachi” and “OreGairu”. I’m going to use “Hamachi” since a Google search indicates that it is more popular and it doesn’t sound like the abbreviation for 12 other series titles.
One thing this show has to offer is the spectacle of smart and witty people exchanging creative insults. This is pretty rare in anime. In Japan you usually insult someone by using the wrong honorific. The point is that it’s hard to be sure whether you have been insulted or whether the speaker is just ignorant of the proper forms. Or, if your making a cartoon and want to show something so over-the-top that nobody will take it seriously and be offended, you can show the hero getting kicked in the face.
The new season is sort of a question mark for me. I don’t see any obviously great shows but there are several that have had a promising start and could end up being pretty good. Or they could end up being big disappointments if they run out of ideas or flub the ending.
For about 5 minutes The Devil is a Part-Timer! (Hataraku Maou-sama!) (Funimation) looks like a fairly conventional dark shounen fighting fantasy. Then it gets wierdly hilarious. By the end of the third episode it seems to be getting more serious again, but that may just be a setup for more goofiness.
The screenplay was co-written by Hayao Miyazaki and the movie was directed by his son Gorou. The story is set in 1963 and perhaps deliberately the animation has an old-fashioned look, more like Totoro than Arrietty. (Of course that means it looks like late-1980s anime, not like early-1960s anime which would be very crude by comparison.)
The story, based on a 1980 shoujo manga, is a low-key high school romance and coming-of-age story. Umi Matsuzaki helps run her grandmother’s boarding house located on top of “Poppy Hill.” Every morning she goes to the flagpole in the garden and runs up naval signal flags spelling out a message to her father, the captain of a supply ship that went down during the Korean War.
At her school some of the boys are trying to save a decrepit building called “The Latin Quarter” which serves as their clubhouse. A boy named Shun Kazama catches her eye with a dangerous stunt and she is gradually drawn into the campaign. It seems hopeless since Japan in 1963 is focused on modernization rather than preserving the past. She has the insight that the only chance to convince the adults to preserve the building is to make it more presentable.
As I’ve said before, Akiyuki Shinbo is an enormously talented director but his work tends to leave me cold (with the major exception of Madoka Magica which is all-around amazing). I enjoyed Sasami-san@Ganbaranai (Anime Network) more than most of his shows but I still can’t really recommend it, particularly after watching the final episode which was not titled “Sasami Makes a New Frenemy” but might as well have been.
We have an interesting premise about ancient barbaric gods in a modern setting. The story is fascinating, often unsettling and sometimes quite funny. But ultimately the characters are not people I would like to get to know better and the story itself doesn’t make much sense. Sure you can look up the mythological references, but some random mythological references don’t make an incoherent story coherent.
Bottom line: interesting but not great.
I really wish I could recommend Maoyuu Maou Yuusha. Its heart is clearly in the right place with its innocent enthusiasm for Enlightenment values. It’s all about lifting the world out of the Dark Ages by promoting science, peaceful trade, religious tolerance and human rights. It’s too bad that it is so badly executed.
I’m not sure whether the main problem is with the original light novels or with the anime production. Part of what’s wrong is this: they seem to have crammed all 5 of the light novels into 12 episodes. Based on other more successful shows I think a one-cour series has time to do a good job of adapting 2 light novels or 1 light novel and 3 or 4 short stories.
As it is they have jammed so much action into the 12 episodes that there is no time for any character development or even an adequate explanation of what it going on. What we see seems less a proper story than a recap of the high points of the books.
Tamako Market (Anime Network) is as different as a TV show can be from Shin Sekai Yori without being bad. It is not dark, scary, disturbing or particularly thought-provoking. It is, however, as adorable as a basket full of puppies.
This clearly counts as a iyashikei (healing) anime. Most of these are pretty slow-moving. Tamako Market is faster-paced and funnier than most. Still it ultimately boils down to this: a shopkeeper’s daughter really loves her family’s mochi shop and the close-knit community where she grew up. End of story.
I think this illustrates the principle that what makes a show great is not the originality of its premise but how well it is executed. This is a top-grade show from a top studio. It is funny and charming and heart-warming. If you watch it, it will make you feel good. Enough said.
Wow. Bar none, Shin Sekai Yori (From The New World) (Crunchyroll) is the best science fiction TV show that I have ever seen, animated or otherwise. Yusuke Kishi, the author of the original novel, is a science fiction writer in the classic mold. He makes a single unlikely assumption and follows it to its logical conclusion.
I think this is great but its clearly not for everybody, certainly not for young children. It’s thought-provoking but tragic and disturbing. It definitely does not have a feel-good ending. At best the ending might be called “cautiously hopeful.”
I’ve heard this compared to The Hunger Games and there is at least a superficial similarity. Both involve a future dystopia in which children are menaced by authority figures and sacrificed by the government. But Shin Sekai Yori is a much more sophisticated story.
Way back during the Age of the Dinosaurs when I first decided to try writing an anime review I chose the original Geneon DVD release of the first season of Shakugan no Shana. These days, with streaming video typically available on the day of the original broadcast, I don’t watch too many anime DVDs. However I recently got hold of BD set for the second season of Shana and decided to write an old-fashioned review of it.