Spring 2010 anime

Another mixed bag but there may be some worth following:

mizuki in maid costume

Kaichou wa Maid-sama! Ayuzawa Mizuki is the school student president, and because of family circumstances (her father deserted the family), she works part-time at a “maid cafe” in another district.  The school enrolment is 80% boys, and Mizuki enforces the rules with a firm hand, which doesn’t make her any more popular with the boys, whom she seems to dislike anyway. One day she is discovered at work by the school’s most eligible boy, Takumi Usui, much to her dismay.  However, instead of exposing or blackmailing her, he just hangs around, staring at her, and even helps her out with a couple of problems.  Looks like this will be a pleasing shoujo romantic comedy. Despite the maid thing, there’s no overt fan-service.


Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kitan In Meiji-era Japan, while disguised as a boy, Yukimura Chizuru goes to look for her father, who has gone to work on Kyoto and then stopped writing to her. She is chased by some toughs, and then witnesses a fight between them and some supernatural monsters.  She finds that she has been captured by the Shinsengumi. (At this point non-Japanese viewers, or readers,  should do some Googling to get themselves up to speed with who the Shinsengumi were.  While their portrayal in this anime is liable not to be accurate, they were a real Japanese sword-wielding militia formed in the turmoil of the Meiji restoration forced by the arrival of powerful foreign forces.  They were involved in some factional fighting.) Some of the Shinsemgumi seem slow to catch on to Chizuru being a girl, despite her overtly feminine face and mannerisms, for the subtitles in the  Aoi-Anime sub refer to her indiscriminately as “he” , “boy” or “she”.  It turns out that the Shinsengimi are also interested in her father’s mysterious disappearance, and instead of rubbing her out as an inconvenient witness, they decide to keep her as a permanent guest, still dressed as a boy.

So far, this anime has a strong and consistent period feel, and some nice character designs.  I found the first episode rather confusing – to untutored Western eyes, Chizuru at first glance is obviously a girl. (Non-Japanese viewers may be slow to realise that what Chizuru is wearing is supposed to be typical boy’s clothing of the period).  I’m still not sure who the supernatural fanged guys were or who was fighting who, except that the ones chasing Chizuru apparently died.

Angel Beats! The lead character Otonashi is dumped (like the viewer) straight into a world where a girl, Yuri, wielding a large gun, exhorts him to pick a weapon and attack an silver-haired girl below. Otonashi refuses, and approaches the girl “Angel”, but it seems he says the wrong thing, for she sprouts a blade and fatally stabs him. After at least one painful re-incarnation, Otonashi learns that the girl/warrior  “Angel”   is controlling a world consisting essentially of one school, and passing on those in it to be re-incarnated – not necessarily as people. Allegedly.  Otonashi is persuaded to join Yuri’s armed group, which is resisting being re-incarnated.  In a bizarre second half of ep#1,  an all-girl band plays in the school hall while Yuri’s gang hold off  Angel with machine-gun fire, and the dinner tickets they staged this battle to capture swirl through the air like autumn leaves.

Arakawa Under the Bridge The protagonist Ichinomiya Kou is the heir to a vast and powerful corporation.  A real high-achiever, Kou lives his life by the philosophy of never owing anything to anyone.  Unfortunately while crossing a bridge one day he is hassled by punks, and ends up falling into the river and being rescued by a mysterious girl, Arakawa, who claims to be an alien. It’s not hard to guess what happens next. She refuses Kou’s extravagant offers and in return for saving his life merely asks that he stay around and love her.  Which puts her in control of his life.  While living like a down-and-out under the bridge, Kou is introduced to another wierdo, who is wearing a kappa suit.  While this might have potential as an oddball comedy, after 22 minutes it’s already becoming irritating.

Ichiban Ushiro no Daimayou The hero, Akuto Sai, happily arrives as magical academy where his ultimate ambition is to be a high priest.  Unfortunately, at the medical screening, a cigar-smoking talking bird divines that his future career will be… Demon Lord.  A hundred years previously, a Demon Lord raised an army and messed everything up, so this news rapidly gets around the school. Everything Akuto says or does thereafter is mis-interpreted by the students as evidence of demon lord-ship. There are some good touches in this episode: the gag about the health check being performed by a chain-smoking bird, the very prickly relationship between Akuto and Hattori, a sword-wielding girl in a very short skirt, the trains on magical tracks, and Hattori’s friendship ceremony using her sheathed sword. There is also a fair amount of crud, like the fanservice, the fact that everyone in the series is an idiot, and the arrival of a clutch of a whole bunch of violent magical girls in the closing minutes, and the suspicion that this will become another tiresome harem comedy.  So which way will it go?