Summer 2010 Anime Season First Impressions

If you’re an anime fan who loves horror shows, you’re probably pretty happy right now. If you don’t like horror then…maybe not so much.

So far Occult Academy is my favorite of the new season: a spooky, tongue-in-cheek show somewhat reminiscent of The X-Files. It features a time-traveler who is a washed-up psychic teaming up with an angry girl who hates everything about the occult. If they can defeat an evil conspiracy they may find the key to preventing the scheduled destruction of the world.

There is nothing tongue-in-cheek about the stylish vampire thriller Shiki. These aren’t funny vampires or tormented romantic vampires. These are old-fashioned scary vampires. A good choice if you really want to be frightened.

Few shows have attracted as much attention as High School of the Dead. Given that it is from Madhouse, it is only natural that it has high-quality animation and a witty script. However most of the attention is due to the way it combines gory zombie-fighting with massive fan service.

Lots of people like fan service. That’s why they call it “fan service.” And there are plenty of people who like bloody zombie action. However I find the combination of the two distasteful enough that I don’t intend to watch any more of it, regardless of how well-made it is.

Also it seems likely that there won’t be a satisfactory ending. Probably there will be 12 or 13 episodes of girls fighting zombies, with blood splashing and skirts flipping, leading up to an ending that is totally inconclusive. The manga certainly hasn’t gone anywhere and the whole zombie premise doesn’t really lend itself to a satisfactory conclusion. The only logical ending is “eventually everyone gets eaten by the zombies” and anything else would probably feel like a cheat.

I suppose I should mention Kuroshitsuji II for completeness. It certainly fits in with the horror theme but I don’t intend to watch it, given that I never got past the first episode of the original series.

I’m not sure whether Nurarihyon no Mago counts as horror or not. The first episode seems like routine shounen wish-fulfillment. A seemingly normal human boy is actually part youkai, and is destined to become the leader of all the youkai clans. Lame comedy ensues when he tries to keep his human classmates from encountering his family’s youkai retainers. However subsequent episodes seem to be getting darker. It’s still possible that this might turn into something interesting.

Among the non-horror shows the pickings are pretty slim. Ookami-san and the Seven Companions is from J.C Staff, and thus combines high-quality animation, cute character designs and a somewhat twisted outlook. The premise seems trite: a high-school club that exists to help out other students, but demands a return favor from them Godfather-style. The gimmick is that most of the characters are based on characters from fairy tales.

Ryouko Ookami is a hot-tempered girl who punches out her opponents with boxing gloves with kitten faces. Her best friend Ringo Akai is a loli who wears a red cloak. Ookami has a stalker, a pathologically shy boy who carries a powerful slingshot.

Now “ookami” means “wolf” and “Akazukin-chan” is “Little Red Riding Hood,” so the outline of the original story is there, but in a very twisted form. The wolf and Red Riding Hood are not supposed to be friends and the hunter is supposed to want to kill the wolf, not make her his girlfriend. I can’t help thinking of the Tex Avery cartoons of the 1940s which depicted Red Riding Hood as a nubile maiden pursued by a lustful male wolf. This show manages to twist everything around.

So far the fractured fairy tales have been rather uneven. The most consistently funny part is the narrator, whose droll remarks seem a constant source of annoyance to Ookami.

The premise of Mitsudomoe is pretty much identical to last winter’s Hanamaru Kindergarten: a young man starts his first job as a schoolteacher, is attracted to a pretty coworker, and is discomfited by some of his female students. However while Hanamaru featured adorable innocent kindergarteners, Mitsudomoe has nasty violent perverted sixth-graders. This is occasionally funny in a kind of gross sort of way, but all too often they take a gross joke and repeat it again and again until I want to scream.

Strike Witches 2 has…Oh forget it.

1 thought on “Summer 2010 Anime Season First Impressions

  1. Moses Jones

    This is a great list of anime. I’d like to get back into anime. I remember when this type of animation was more edgy. These horror shows seem interesting.

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