Spring 2010 Anime Season–First Impressions

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So far I see one show that looks really interesting and a few more that are innovative enough that they may be worth a look.

Angel Beats is far and away the most interesting of the new shows. I’ve already written two posts about it so I won’t bother to add more here.

Kaichou wa Maid-sama is a new twist on some old tropes. It’s a shoujo anime featuring a tsundere maid. Both tsundere and maids are overused in shounen anime and manga, but they are pretty rare in shoujo stories. Presumably girls don’t like to think of themselves as tsundere, and they certainly don’t fantasize about being maids.

The shoujo approach is working out rather well. The heroine, a tyrannical student council president who is forced by poverty to work part-time in a maid café, is sympathetic and fairly smart. Her nemesis is a good-looking boy who is too cool for words and seems to enjoy teasing her. The outcome is inevitable.

This season has the required quota of shounen ecchi series. B Gata H Kei is the least obnoxious. No doubt you have seen many times the story of a horny teenage boy who schemes to become a super-stud and blunders through many comic misadventures before settling down with a nice girl-next-door type. This is basically the same, except the awkward virgin is a girl who boasts to her best friend that she will have 100 sex partners before she finishes high school. The trouble is that whenever she is alone with a boy she tends to panic and do something stupid.

With a rather appealing mixture of arrogance and timidity she decides to start with a plain, shy boy who looks like an easy mark. She only plans to use him for practice before moving on to the good-looking but more intimidating alpha males. So far she’s only managed to briefly hold hands with her target. No doubt by the time she is able to get him into bed she will have decided that he is the one she really loves.

This is pretty amusing so far, but I wonder if there is really enough material here for a 13-episode series. It seems more like the plot of a 100-minute movie.

Arakawa Under the Bridge is the latest quirky anime from Akiyuki Shinbo and SHAFT. It’s a fish-out-of-water story about a rich boy who decides to live under a bridge with a bunch of crazy homeless people. It’s sort of funny but also sort of annoying since the hero seems clearly crazier than the homeless people. (Of course he’d have to be.)

There are strong hints that the homeless people are not human at all, but are really traditional Japanese spirits whom the hero perceives as people wearing masks. I don’t think this is going to turn into a high fantasy story though. It’s more like a slice-of-life story in which all the characters are more or less nuts.