Spring Anime 2013 – First Episodes

Red Data Girl
Interesting:
Red Data Girl eps #1-3
I was able to check out the first 3 episodes of this thanks to the web previews. A shy, na├»ve girl named Izumiko Suzuhara lives at shrine deep in the forest, surrounded by servants who wait on and protect her. She also has a bad effect on any electronic equipment, and she zaps all the school computers during an IT session. Despite this, she manages to connect with her father in the USA in a manner that computers really shouldn’t. In her last year of middle school one of her more suspect companions assigns his hostile teenage son to protect her. On a trip to Tokyo the two try to contact Izumiko’s mother and some supernatural action kicks off. They learn that Izumiko is some sort of chosen vessel for the higher powers and grow closer in the meantime,and agree to move to a school in Tokyo. This doesn’t sit well with Wamiya, a boy in Izumiko’s class who seems attached to her. Wamiya makes his objection known in a very threatening manner. When Izumiko defies Wamiya, the results are totally different from what I was expecting.
The animation is quite good (it should look sharper when broadcast), but in the first episode I had a sense that this show was being assembled from the Usual Elements and the heroine was too wimpy. The action flows well in the second episode but the main characters still do not appear sufficiently likeable. However this show seems to be getting better with each episode, and the third episode ends with a dance scene that made me feel that I was watching something magical, in more senses than one! I’ll continue to watch this show.

Dansai Bunrio Crime Edge:(The Severing Crime edge):
Teenager Kiri has a barely repressed obsession with long hair, and when he hears a rumour about a long-haired ghost he just has to investigate. He discovers a long-haired recluse girl, Iwai, and is captivated. She wants a hair trim, but her hair is cursed and no pair of scissors will cut it. She is also guarded by a pair of odd girls, descendants of murderers, who carry their ancestors’ murder weapons, the ‘killing tools’ and they show Kiri the door.
Kiri, in the grip of his hair obsession, returns later, and is able to snip Iwai’s hair with the pair of surgical scissors whci he always carries with him. It turns out that Kiri inherited the scissors from his grandfather, who used them for some horrid murders, and the scissors are another cursed ‘killing tool’. By some convoluted logic, the pair dub the scissors a ‘crime edge’. Kiri and Iwai enjoy an orgy of fetishishm over Iwai’s long hair (the hair mostly remains uncut.)
I wasn’t sure what to make of this, but it’s quite entertaining, and it seems worth checking out the next episode or two.

Oreimo/ Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (My sister can’t be this cute) 2:
Second season of the popular series. Kirino has returned from America and is reconnecting with her friends. Kyosuke is disapointed to find that Kirino is brushing him off, as does Kuroneko who was showing him some affection a day or so earlier. Kirino drags Kyosuke on a monster shopping trip where she buys a vanload of anime and game goods. later she can be heard getting unhealthily involved with one of her purchases.
Viewers not familiar with the full run (12 Tv +3ONA episodes) of the first run are unlikely to be impressed by the first episode of S2. It assumes that viewers know who these characters are and what they were doing. It also seemed a bit lacking in the acute observation of otaku and other behaviour that characterised the first series, leaning more towards slapstick.

Aku no Hana (The Flowers of Evil):

Aku no Hana
School student Kasuga prides himself on reading quality foreign literature, unlike his friends who seem to read porn comics. He has a secret crush on pretty, clever, and sporty classmate Saeki. There is a strange incident in class as the teacher returns the results of a maths test. Saeki gets 98%, while a big-boned girl, Nakamura, gets zero, having returned a blank answer sheet. When the teacher tells her off, she calls him a piece of shit, to general shock. Going back to the school to retrieve his Baudelaire (The Flowers of Evil), Kasuga is tempted to steal Saeki’s sports kit. Guess who finds out, and blackmails him.
The animation looks strikingly different from the usual anime, and both backgrounds and figures appear to have been traced from live action (rotoscoped). Hence facial fatures and bodies appear (most unusually) in their natural proportions. The way the characters move, and chatter inconsequentially, is also very realistic. I did wonder why it had been made as an anime at all. The show seems to lack a sympathetic main character, but you should check out at least one episode for the animation style.

Suisei no Gargantia/ Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet:
Mecha pilot Ledo is despatched on a mission in a space war. When things go wrong, his force has to retreat through a space wormhole. Ledo makes a bad entry and is thrown randomly across space. He wakes in what looks like an unpressurised hangar with some primitives trying vainly to dismantle his mecha. Only later does it dawn on him that he is on the surface of a planet with breathable air and 1G gravity.
Animated by Production I.G. this is clearly a top-notch production: the space battle looks good, the scruffy setting of the second half is well-realised, the character designs look good, and the lead girl, Amy, looks decidedly cute (if you don’t mind her startling round blue eyes.) On the minus side, there was little characterisation in this busy first episode, and I remain lukewarm about comedy sci-fi. I’ll watch some more of this to see how it develops.

Yahari ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru (OreGairu)/ My Youth Romantic Comedy is Wrong as I Expected:
Gets the prize for the longest title of the season. High school sudent Hachiman Hikigiya, following some awkward experiences of talking with girls, has become disenchanted with this thing called ‘youth’. Unfortunately he lets his student advisor know his disaffected view of life, so as a curative she orders him to join the Public Service Club. The only other member is the beautiful and talented Yukino Yukinoshita, who however is sharp-tongued and has attitude problems of her own. Soon another girl, who is having trouble baking cookies for someone, joins the club.
Overall this isn’t that great a show. It’s main strength is in the dialogue, which is clearly meant to be clever, and at least it has the merit of being one of the few shows this season to be laugh-out-loud funny. I’ll continue to follow it to see how it develops.

Skingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan):
The remnants of mankind have lived for hundreds of years behind concentric rings of 50-metre high stone walls. Outside roam naked, mindless, human-eating giants, mostly referred to as “Them”. The young hero, Eren, is fiercely critical of mankind’s passive stance, saying that they are cowering behind the walls like livestock. He wants to join the Reconnaisssance Corps. Mankind is complacent, and Eren’s attitude is regarded as foolish or even heretical. Unfortunately for all, on the same day that the Reconnaissance Corps comes back in tatters, a huge red giant breaks the walls and the rest of the titans stream in, smashing and devouring. Eren’s mother is eaten alive before the eyes of Eren and his sister.
This is a very strong opener, and the characters and the premise are established in a masterful way. The backgrounds are well-drawn, and the buildup and climactic action are well handled. If horror-drama is your thing, this is definitely one to watch.

Mildly Interesting:
Arata Kangatari (Arata the Legend):
Two worlds: in our world the bullied and disillusioned Hinohara Arata wishes he was somewhere else. In the fantasy world of Awanokuni, Arata, a vigorous young man of the Hime clan, has to pose as a girl to solve a political problem. His clan has to produce a princess to replace the ruling princess, who has been on the throne for two reigns of 30 years each. It all falls apart when the 12-man Shinso guard revolt, kill the reigning princess, see through Arata’s disguise, and frame Atara for the murder.
At this point Arata wishes he were somewhere else … The two youths swap places. A bewildered Hinohara Arata is pursued by murderous Shinso, rescued by the Hino clan’s magic, and then cornered by the Shinso. Meanwhile the other Arata stands in the school grounds, contemplating violence. The show is adapted from a manga by Yuu Watase, who wrote Fushigi Yuugi.
This is fairly well-animated, and action packed in the fantasy part. However I was finding fault with it at various points. There is no language problem on switching worlds, a problem that two other new shows, Suisei no Gargantia and The Devil is a Part-Timer acknowledge and address. After the switch, both youths are wearing the brown school uniform. And the Shinso’s use of their power seemed inconsistent. Overall, I didn’t think this was very good, and if I watch the second episode it will be to see what impact fantasy-Arata has at the school.

Mushibugyo:
It’s Edo period Japan, and the city is beset by monstrous, man-eating insects. The Shogun, on requests from commoners, has established the Insect Magistrate’s Office to deal with that problem. Junbei Tsukishima is the son of a samurai who was summoned to work at that office. Since his father cannot travel, because of a self-inflicted injury, young hothead Junbei goes in his place. Junbei meets the busty Oharu, who is subsequently seized by a giant spider. He tries to rescue her, but an assortment of warriors from the Insect Magistrate’s Office have to intervene.
This contains most of the ingredients for a fun shounen action story: swordsmen, bomb-throwing female ninja, monks with giant paper fighters, swrms of monstrous spiders and a busty female. It’s quite lavishly designed, and one or two scenes are quite gory. The spiders look like they came from a Japanese horror anime. If this sounds like your sort of thing, check it out.

Hataraku Maou-sama:
The devil is expelled from an alternate world by a vengeful army of heroes. He flees to our world with his sidekick, where they find their magic does not work. The scenes of culture shock, with the devils speaking their alien language, are well-done. However I felt the pace dragging after the devil got a job in a burger restaurant, to the point that I got out of my chair to check how many minutes of the episode were left. I’m also not keen about the devils being shown as sympathetic characters. Another character from the alternate world arrives in the final scene.

Zettai Boei Leviatan:
Three magical girls live on a world which has been struck by a meterorite out of which nasty things have poured. The tiny fairy Sysop flies around trying to gather a defence team to protect life on the planet, but nobody seems very interested. The three girls are colour-coded red, green and yellow, and the blue one, Leviatan, has water magic and an impressive transformation sequence. Much of the action in the first episode has them fighting a gang of ruffians in the town.
It looks like a fairly low-budget production, and whether you will like it depends on whether you like moe cuteness and this sort of comedy. I rather liked the deadpan humour but I’m not sure I’d want to watch a whole series.

Aiura (short):
Another schoolgirl daily life anime. The backgrounds are pleasantly detailed. The opening scene, of a girl taking tea in a garden, strongly evokes young femininity, and the following scenes are nicely done. Nothing of great import happens, but this is a far better (and shorter) show than Yuyushiki, and if you’d like a four-minute dose of CUTE, you should check this one out.

Namichigiwa no Muromi-San:
Young Takeru likes fishing from the pier. One day he catches a mermaid, Muromi, and after he unhooks her she eats all his ringworm bait and keeps hanging around. She also tries to eat his lure, and gets mobbed by a flock of seagulls. There’s a question of whether she is going to grant him a favour for rescuing her from the seagulls, and how long he is going to put up with this annoying idiot.
This is a fast-paced slapstick comedy packed into a half-episode length. I did find it quite funny, especially the bit where she gets attacked by seagulls, but I probably wouldn’t want to watch a lot of it.

Uninteresting:
Space Battleship Yamato 2199:
A recent remake of the classic series, already released on BD, and now transferring to TV as part of the Spring season. Much as in the classic story, mysterious aliens are attacking the solar system, Earth has been gravely damaged by planet bombs, the human race is in danger of extinction, and a mysterious data package has been delivered from a far civilisation. The WW2 battleship Yamato, resurrected as a spaceship, is about to launch.
I found a lot of this rather unconvincing – the spaceships and their battle tactics owe more to 1913 than 2013, two space cadets are allowed to visit an admiral in hospital and challenge him, the same two cadets ‘borrow’ an advanced fighter without permission. And it would obviously be easier to build a new spaceship from scratch than to convert an old rusted marine wreck into one.
I’ve never entirely understood why the ‘Yamato’ became a symbol of Japanese national pride. Sure, the Yamato and her sister ship were fine-looking ships and impressive pieces of marine engineering, but they achieved little before being sunk, and another two carriers would have given far more bangs per yen.
Could be that this means that I’m not the target audience for a remake of a science-fantasy classic – or that it isn’t very good.

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince:
Mankind has reached space, but is being attacked by nasty aliens known as the Wulgaru. The humans decide to evacuate their space base at Undina, but to give enough time for the evacuation, they throw five useless space cadets into the battle, equipping them with state of the art robot suits. The five do better against the aliens than might be expected…
There is little attempt at characterisation, and a lot of noisy and flashy battle. I had the impression that it wasn’t meant to make a lot of sense. If one was not in a critical mood it might be quite entertaining, but one has to ask, when we already have sundry Gundam series, why do we need ‘Majestic Prince’?

Devil Survivor 2 the Animation:
This isn’t an anime sequel – it’s based on a game called Devil Survivor 2. The three principal characters sign up for a web service called Nicaea which tells them when a friend is about to die. It warns them that they are about to die in a subway accident, which duly happens, but they summon demons and escape. The city above has become a demon-infested wreck.
Far too much happens too quickly, and next day I struggled to remember what this show had been about. The characterisation is minimal, the girl character being no more than a generic ineffectual girl. I expect that I’ll drop this.

Karneval:
A lot of flashy supernatural action involving a bishie boy being seduced by a spider-woman, his rescuer, a kidnapping on a train, explosions, and a couple of agents from a mysterious organisation called ‘Circus’. Do I care what happens next week? Not much.

Photokano:
The main character, Kazuya, is given an expensive digital camera by his father as a hand-me-down. Camera in hand, Kazuya finds that he is able to interact well with various pretty girls, and soon attracts the attention of the Photography Club president. It turns out that the Photography Club members are lechers solely interested in taking fan-service photos of the female students. The rival, all-girl Photo Club, which takes scenery pictures and official school photos, also tries to recruit Kazuya, but he decides to join the boys.
The animation features many still fan-service shots of various girls. I found this all rather dispiriting. Is a fan-service picture gallery the best Japanese TV animation can manage?

Date A Live:
In a world with a slightly alternate history, Japan is subject to frequent ‘spacequakes’ which cause localised destruction, and are the result of ‘spirits’ arriving on Earth. One solution to the arrival of the spirits is to kill them, and another is to try a softer approach and date them. And the commander of an intruding warship turns out to be the schoolboy hero’s younger sister.
In common with some other reviewers I found this show utterly lame, and I won’t watch any more of it.

Yuyushiki:
Three junior high school girls do daily life type things. The animation and backgrounds are nothing special, two of the girls are very dim and irritating, and some of the voices are irritatingly squeaky. It’s thoroughly tedious. Avoid.

Valvrave the Liberator:
Geeky schoolboy hero finds robot battle suit and defeats enemies. Sounds familiar? Dire attempt by Sunrise to do a Gundam clone.