Summer 2012 Anime – first looks

muv-luv #1 classroom
I’ve now seen most of the new anime released in the first week. I wasn’t wholly won over by any of them, but several are not without merit.

Tari Tari: (Crunchyroll) I quite liked this, but then I have a weakness for any sort of slice-of-life drama. A girl resigns from school choir in a strop because they won’t let her perform (she messed up at last year’s concert.) Apart from the brown-haired one, the student characters seem too similar. I was amused by the girl nagging her father – did she take after her absent mother, one wonders? I was also amused by Crunchy’s subtitle tagging the pregnant teacher as “Miss” 🙂 Rating 4/5

Aracana Famiglia: (Crunchyroll) Arcana Famiglia is an organization with mysterious powers that has long protected a small Mediterranean island from pirates, foreign countries, and other threats. Felicita, a rather bad-ass girl, objects to the boss’s plan to marry her to the next head of the Famiglia. You don’t have to be very bright to realise that Famiglia is a reference to the Sicilian Mafia. This has lots of fantastical fighting in it. Frankly not my cup of tea, but it might be yours. Rating 2/5

Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita: (Crunchyroll) Several centuries in the future, mankind has shrunk to a few villages, being replaced by six-inch high humanoids resembling fairies or elves. The main character, a girl, is an envoy between the humans and the elves. One’s first impression is of tooth-rotting tweeness, but it turns out that the anime has a strong satirical spine. The humans are a useless lot who want our heroine to do everything for them, and in one scene the village meeting takes all evening to decide on a course of action that was proposed at the beginning. And the fairies have a junk-food factory that will put you off your lunch. Episode #2 confirms that this series is batshit crazy. Worth checking out. Rating 4/5

Chitose Get You!! : (Crunchyroll) Eleven-year old schoolgirl has a crush on a young man ten years older. It does not contain any explicit naughtiness but there seems something unwholesome about the concept. Runs for 4 minutes.

Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse: (aka Total Eclipse, Crunchyroll) Based on part of the Muv-Luv game universe, with an alternative near-present world. Aliens invade Earth and the humans fight back with weapons including mecha piloted by schoolgirls. Includes rivalry between two girls from different families. Bad news: I found the temptation to pick holes in the scenario irresistible: Wasn’t the whole point of the Meiji Restoration that a traditionalist Japan was unable to resist external pressures? If aliens invaded would we have any inhibition about nuking them in space, air, land or sea? Good news: A game backed anime featuring girls piloting mecha can’t fail? Rating 2/5

Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi: (aka Uta Koi, Crunchyroll). A series of comically-told period romance stories. The source is the same classic poetry anthology used in the poetry game played in ‘Chihayafuru’. It’s quite well done, with plenty of human interest, but I found the character designs rather off-putting – they’re anachronistic and not very Japanese – typical anime character designs rather than authentic period. One also notes the mores of the period – apparently the reaction to an important princess’ affair was more ‘tut tut’ than the furious and deadly reaction that would ensue in more uptight societies. Rating 4/5

Yuri Yuri 2: (Crunchyroll). Mildly ecchi goings-on with four middle school girls. Very trivial stuff. Same formula at the first season. I didn’t watch the first season either. Rating 1/5

Binbougami ga!: Sakura Ichiko is a beautiful, big-breasted, and self-centred girl whose blissful life comes from having too much good fortune – gained by sapping energy from other people. Enter the Binbougami (Poverty God) Binbada Momiji who tries to force her to use her energy to do good and restore the balance. A supernatural struggle between the two commences. A slightly novel concept, and quite amusing. Rating: 3/5

Natsuyuki Rendezvous: (Crunchyroll) Hazuki, a depressed young man, takes a part time job at a flower shop, because he has a crush on Rokka, the widow who owns the store. However he discovers a rival in the form of the ghost of Rokka’s husband. A promising comedy-drama featuring, for once, a cast of adult characters. Rating: 3.5/5

Moyashimon Returns: Sequel to a 2007 comic series featuring biochemistry. The hero is able to see microbes. The original was a great series, particularly for those not averse to learning something about fermentation and brewing etc, but the sequel, which carries on where the original left off, is a poor introduction. Rating 3/5

Koi tou Senkyou to Chocolate: The members of the Food Research Club at Takafuji Private Academy don’t do much except hang out and eat snacks. The leading candidate for student council president wants to abolish clubs like that. A fairly trivial scenario, bolstered by elements such as a spy/assasination sub-plot, a gay club-member, and a teacher who swigs draught beer fro the clubroom’s on-tap supply. It’s a mess. rating 2/5

Joshiraku: Absurdist comedy, apparently about five young women engaged in presenting rakugo. “Rakugo (落語?, literally “fallen words”) is a Japanese verbal entertainment. The lone storyteller (落語家 rakugoka?) sits on the stage, called the Kōza (高座?). Using only a paper fan (扇子, “sensu”) and a small cloth (手拭, “tenugui”) as props, and without standing up from the seiza sitting position, the rakugo artist depicts a long and complicated comical story.” (Wikipedia). Despite subtitles, I was left with the feeling that some things just don’t translate. Rating 2/5

Kono Naka ni Hitori Imoutou ga Iru: A rich youth inherits his father’s fortune and business on condition that he attends a certain school and finds a future wife from among the young ladies there. It becomes clear that one of the girls intent on snaring him is his long-lost half-sister, but he doesn’t know which student is her. Lewd and un-original, rating 2/5

Dakura boku wa H ga dekinai: Sex-obsessed youth finds a damsel in distress getting soaked in the rain and takes her home. She stabs him in the chest, revealing herself as a supernatural being sent to gather souls. It turns out that she needs his sex energy to maintain her on Earth while she carries out her main mission. Contains overt sexual elements, not suitable for juveniles. Not very good, rating 2/5

Campione!: (Crunchyroll) Japanese youth tries to return a stone tablet to an address on a Mediterranean island, but meets a female magical knight and gets mixed up in the return to earth of troublesome ancient gods. A sexy witch instructs him to keep the tablet, and he soon mixes it with the warring gods. The first episode has well-paced action and some tolerably interesting characters. Rating 3/5

Hagure Yuusha ga Estetica: Maverick underwear-stealing hero Akatsuki has come back to the real world from a world of sword and magic where he defeated the demon king. He has smuggled the demon king’s daughter back with him.
An organization called Babel looks after people who have gone to other worlds and returned. Now it has to decide what to do with Akatsuki and other returners, who have gained special powers in those other worlds.
A most unusual opening, but it looks set to have a lot of the usual confrontations between adversaries with supernatural powers. Contains mild nudity and other naughtiness. Rating 3/5

Tanken Driland: Princess in RPG- type fantasy world decides that she’d rather run away and be a Hunter of lost treasure and artefacts. Looks like trivial stuff. rating 2/5

Sword Art Online: (Crunchyroll) Gaming nut Kirito gets the latest immersive RPG “Sword Art Online” and hooks it up, but soon discovers once inside the game that there is no “Exit” button. Worse, a sinister figure tells all players that the only way out is to complete all 100 levels, that failure means real-world death, and that back in the real world any attempt to pull off the game helmet will fatally zap the player’s brain. A strong scenario, but not a very plausible one (even if it got past Health and Safety, the bomb squad should be able to hack the helmets in under 24 hours). Rating 3/5

Kokoro Connect: (Crunchyroll) Five school students discover that some of their number have had a weird out-of-body experience as their souls swap bodies. Believability is an issue but the characterisation is okay. It’s also quite funny. Rating 3/5

Oda Nobuna no Yabou: (Crunchyroll) A high school boy is suddenly transported in time to a version of the Japanese Warring States period in which all the great lords are pretty young girls. Our hero begins to serve “Oda Nobuna” as the substitute for a vassal of hers who has died. Snore. This is the third series of recent months to use this idea. On the positive side, it appears that they are incorporating real historical names and some real history; for instance the name and nickname adopted by the boy belong to the most important post- Nobunaga warlord of all. It’s quite amusing, and if you look up the names it could serve as a history primer. [Or you could watch Hyouge Mono instead. ] rating 3/5

Hakuouki: Reimei-roku: (Crunchyroll) Third in the series of bishounen TV anime about the shinsengumi warriors, who actually existed around the time of the Meiji Restoration. This one goes back to the origins. There are no female characters so far. Expect angst and swordplay. Rating 3/5

Rinne no Lagrange: Flower Declaration of Your Heart Season 2: More of the engaging but slightly daft girl/robot series. First impression is that it’s maybe not quite as good as the first series, with the OP and ED changed for the sake of being different and a reset of the alien antics. Rating 3.5

So there you have it; several game-based series, several smutty series intent on titillating Japanese youths, and a few others of some merit.

You’ll note that much of the season so far is available on Crunchyroll in SD/480p/720p/1080p.