Spring 2011 anime- first looks

Robots
Fireball Charming

This post will be updated as new shows arrive.
Dog days: Junior high school gymnastics jock is whisked away to fantasy land where Dog People are battling Cat People in some kind of battle tournament. The Dog Republic is governed by a hereditary nobility :-(. Unoriginal, and not my kind of thing.
Hanasaku Iroha (Personal Growth ABC): 16 year old Ohana, abandoned by her feckless mother, goes to live with her grandmother, who runs a hot-spring hotel. The welcome isn’t as warm as she expected. This has a strong script, adequate art, and interesting characters. Promising. Ep. #2 excellent. [Streamed on Crunchyroll]
Nichijou (My Ordinary Life): Farcial gag comedy with schoolgirls. Amusing but frequently baffling; maybe it’s funnier in Japanese. Ep.#2 equally strange. [Streamed on Crunchyroll]
Steins; gate: Mysterious events occur around a time-travel theory seminar. A group of misfits meddle. A murdered woman. Intriguing time-travel sci-fi. [Streamed on Crunchyroll –not UK]
Oretachi wa Tsubasa wa nai (Without Wings – Under the Innocent Sky): Adapted from an ero-game. Lots of fanservice and sexy talk, multiple story threads. I didn’t care for the scene where an under-age girl shows her sexy undies and talks dirty. [Streamed on Crunchyroll]
Fireball Charming: 2-minute episode set on mecha planet. Great mecha animation, otherwise trivial.
Sengoku Otome – Momoiro Paradox (Battle Girls -Time Paradox): An average schoolgirl is transported to the Japanese Warring States period while praying for exam success at a shrine. However all the famous warlords, e.g. Oda Nobunaga, are women. One has a sinking feeling about this even before the opening credits are finished; it’s the usual magical rubbish with busty babes in skimpy armour. And why does Oda have only one attendant? The cute-but-dim heroine is the only good thing in it. Ep. #2: totally lame. [Streamed on Crunchyroll]
Tiger and Bunny: American-style superheroes work in a heavily sponsored reality TV show, where they get points for their success in catching villains. Hero “Tiger” isn’t doing well. Why watch? Don’t ask me. [Streamed on ANN, including UK]
Tono to Issho Gantai no Yabo: 3 minute episodes set in the Sengoku historical period. Slightly anachronistic and very funny. [Streamed on Crunchyroll]
SKET Dance: Transfer student encounters a strange club whose oddball members are dedicated to offering help and encouragement to other students. Ep #1 failed to arouse my enthusiasm. [Streamed on Crunchyroll]
Toriko: Shounen fantasy adventure about Toriko, who hunts down exotic ingredients for gourmet restaurants. Set on a fantasy world. (The first episode is a 50-minute Toriko x One Piece special. One Piece fans should enjoy it.) In Ep.#2, Toriko meets the timid chef Komatsu, hunts down the monstrous 8-legged Galala Crocodile, and eats it. If totally over the top manly fantasy adventure is your thing, you’ll like this.
Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi – World’s Greatest First Love: Funny and interesting story set in world of shoujo manga publishing. I liked it despite the few seconds of icky guy-guy kissing. Not for gay-haters, I think. #2nd episode lame, dropped. [Streamed on Crunchyroll]
A-Channel: Tiny Tooru is a bit too fond of her school friend, the dangerously scatty Ran, who since entering high school has acquired two female friends and several male acquaintances. Much comedy action ensues. I doubt if I’ll be watching much more of this, having taken a strong dislike to the near-psychotic Tooru.
Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera: Enma, nephew of the prince of Hell, and his associates, ice-wielding Princess Yukiko and the kappa Kappaeru, and Enma’s talking hat Chapeau, are sorting out the human world’s demons. Harumi, a schoolgirl, gets mixed up in their activities. All good fun, with slick modern designs, a little fan-service, and plenty of humour. {The original 1973 Go Nagai anime is pretty good too – though it looks its age it has more demon-battling action and less messing about in ep.#1}
30-sai no Hoken Taiiku (A Thirty-Year Old’s Health and Physical Education): Japan is said to have many 30 year-old virgins – this is a (censored) guide for them on how to date and have sex with women. Ep. #1 was so dire that watching 25 mins of it was like hard work. Don’t go there.
Happy Kappi: harmless stuff for kids.
Sofuteni: Soft tennis, played with a larger soft ball, is a popular game in Asia. This is another school comedy, with a group of cute girls doing cute things. It’s enlivened by fan-service, which includes some of the girls’ lurid imaginings. Not so bad, but not original enough to make it a must-see.
Hen Zemi (Strange Seminar): Nanako is a normal university student who happens to enroll in an Abnormal Physiology seminar. The lecturer and the other students are sexual deviants who persistently harass and embarrass Nanako. This show reveals the Japanese taste for body function humour. It’s ecchi, rude, abusive, and disgusting, but also rather smart and funny.
Showa Monogatari (Post-war Story): A story about daily life in the early 1960’s and supposedly aimed at older folks who remember those times. No fansub yet, which makes it hard to review, but it’s a reminder of what interested folks at that time.
Hyouge Mono: Historical drama. The story is set during Japan’s Warring States era and centers on Furuta Sasuke, a vassal of the great warlord Oda Nobunaga. He is obsessed with tea ceremony and material elegance, rather than with war. The art is interesting, and it’s clearly meant to be funny. I’ll continue to watch this. [There’s an online translated manga available. The anime follows the manga closely.]
Astarotte no Omocha (Astarotte’s Toy): Astarotte is a 10 year old succubus princess, and has to acquire a male harem, so that she can, er, suck their male essence. The animation style suggests that it’s for 10 year olds, and the first episode treads a fine line between moe cuteness and kiddy porn. However the late-night broadcast time implied that it’s really intended for adult pervs, not kids. Crunchyroll managed to “lose” my negative comment on this show! [Streamed on Crunchyroll].
Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san: About a private detective who has control of a demon used for dirty work. The demon, Azazel, is an unscary-looking sex fiend. The detective’s temporary worker, Sakuma is introduced to the demon. Contains some raunchy adult humour, and a bit repetitive, but at 12 minutes at least it’s short.
Gyakkyō Burai Kaiji: Hakairoku-hen (Kaiji 2): sequel to harsh adult gambling comedy drama. Lowlife Kaiji, deep in debt to the Yakuza because of gambling, is kidnapped and put to work in a forced labour mine. Might not be everybody’s taste, but well-done.
Maria-holic Alive: Sequel to “Maria Holic”, in which lesbian Kanako was persecuted by her pretty boarding school room-mate who was really a boy in drag. In the first episode of the new series, Kanako is induced to undergo some fantastical trials in a supposedly disused wing of the school. Looks like the same stuff as before. Slickly done, but I’m not over keen on this comedy of bullying. [Licenced by Sentai – to be streamed in US & Canada]
Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi (Bridge to the Stars): Kazuma’s younger brother has to move to the country for his health, and Kazuma accompanies him. Kazuma meets several girls, in variously embarrassing circumstances. A pretty if anodyne harem comedy, with mild fan-service. [Streamed on Crunchyroll]
The World God Only Knows 2: Like last year, the game master hero, aided by little demon Elsie is sending bad souls back to Hell by winning the hearts of real girls. No development from last year, but that could still mean it’s very good. [Streamed on Crunchyroll]
Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (That day we saw a flower whose name we do not yet know): The hero is being bothered by a very annoying younger girl. Gradually we discover that nobody else can see her, and that he’s a recluse alienated from his former friends. There’s a situation he needs to fix. Tolerably well-scripted but gloomy scenario.
Hidan no Aria (a.k.a. Aria of the Scarlet Ammo): Harem comedy with guns, set around a high school for young bounty hunters. Average stuff.
C – The Money of Soul and Possibility Control: Japan has been bailed ouit from a financial crisis, but citizens are struggling to survive. A student is offered a large sum of money, simply on the condition that he pay it back. He is then introduced to the mysterious Financial District. Bizarre supernatural comedy-thriller. I’ll definitely be watching the next episode. Streamed on Funimation (not UK), ANN’s Anime on Demand (UK)
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko (radio wave woman and laidback man): High school boy goes to live with his single aunt, only to discover that he has a cousin who claims to be an alien and goes around wrapped in a futon. Totally bizarre. I’ll definitely be watching the next episode.
Deadman Wonderland: A 14 year old high school boy sees his class massacred by a red figure with supernatural powers. Subsequently he is accused of the crime, and despite his protests convicted on the evidence of a taped confession in which he boasts of the crime. He is sent to a private prison/theme park called “Deadman Wonderland”. A strange girl in a white bodysuit jumps down from the roof to talk to him. Around mid-episode the hero says “This can’t be happening..” which prompted this viewer to think “You’re right, it can’t”. I wasn’t impressed by this horror/conspiracy show.
Ao no Exorcist (Blue Exorcist): Orphan in care of exorcism- performing religious order discovers that he can “see things” and that he possesses a strange power. Fairly well-scripted and looks promising. Steamed on Crunchyroll (not UK).
Moshidora (Drucker in the Dugout): Full Japanese title is: Moshi Kōkō Yakyū no Joshi Manager ga Drucker no Management o Yondara (“What If the Female Manager of a High School Baseball Team Had Read Drucker’s ‘Management’?”). It’s about a high school girl who is “manager” of the school baseball team, and who while looking for a baseball manager’s book, picks up Peter Drucker’s business management classic, and tries to use it to help her manage the team and aim for the Koshien. The ideas are interesting, the characters and the play less so. Will watch some more episodes. [This show was originally scheduled for March, but is now being shown daily in April/May]

UK Anime release schedule courtesy of http://www.uk-anime.net.