Winter 2013 TV Anime Season

Once again, I am presenting an overview of the new anime season. So far, the pickings other than sequels seem rather slim.



Mayuu Maou Yuusha: There is a long-running war between the humans and the demons. The Hero (that’s his name!) leaves his small band of adventurers and, alone, approaches the castle of the Demon King, intent on violence. He finds the place undefended. The Demon King turns out to be a young Queen who tries to acquaint him with the facts of life (in more senses than one!) She points out that the war has become economically necessary to both sides, and that an abrupt ending would cause severe economic dislocation, and result in further suffering and conflict. She wants the hero to join with her in bringing about a managed run-down of the war. The Hero is reluctant, despite his fascination with the Queen’s big bouncy breasts.
The economic aspect is definitely interesting, and the show has the director and writer of the popular economics-based Spice and Wolf, as well as the two principal voice actors. On the other hand, this show seems to have been dumbed down for the benefit of adolescent males. The opening looks very like a parody of RPG-based fantasy anime, and the Hero has a virginal panic whenever the busty Queen tries to touch him.

Hakkenden: Tohou Hakken Ibun: Forget everything you vaguely remember about the original Hakkenden: this is a period supernatural monster drama involving the Church, and set in ‘Black Ships’ era Japan. Diverting.

Bakumatsu Gijiden Roman: Roman is a phantom thief who steals from the rich the things they have stolen from the poor. This is a period comedy drama, set at the end of the Edo period, in the mid-19th century. The principal character looks just like Lupin III; not surprising as he’s by the same designer: Monkey Punch. The first episode was quite a lot of fun.

Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru (Oreshura) My Girlfriend and Childhood Friend Fight Too Much: Wins the prize for the season’s longest title. Eita is a smart and high-scoring student who is determined to get into med. school. Ditched by his feckless parents, he wants nothing to do with school romance. His childhood friend Chiwa is clearly romantically interested in him. Enter transfer student Masuzu, a girl who is gorgeous and smart, but equally uninterested in romance, and tired of being pestered by love-struck male students. A girl who knows what she wants, she soon finds out about Eita’s fantasy delusions and uses his diary to blackmail Eita into being her pretend boyfriend.
Masuzu, gorgeous, clever, determined, and frankly not altogether nice, is an interesting character, and might prove a reason for watching this show, which promises to be an all-out harem comedy. The lively Chiwa is also engaging.[CR]

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai Next: Continuation of the popular harem comedy. I liked several of the characters in the first series. The series’ theme is the difficulty of making friends. The male lead is an unusually assertive character for this sort of show. First episode has Sena fooled into changing her hairstyle. Parts of the first three episodes seemed overly familiar, but I think this is because I read the same material in the ‘light novels’. Still fun.

Kotoura-san: Kotoura can read minds, but becomes lonely and rejected because people think she’s a nasty freak. At a new school she encounters a boy who likes her. The poor girl must be a bit dim, otherwise she’d sooner realise the disastrous consequences of blurting out other people’s secrets. Credibility problem, but strong theme.

Chihayafuru 2: Continuation of the enjoyable and well-made series about young players of karuta, the competitive card game based on classical Japanese poetry.
Still great.

Sasami-chan@Ganbaranai: Sasami-chan stays at home, slavishly tended by her older brother. She views the outside world only via a Brother Surveillance Tool on her computer. Meanwhile, three odd sisters seem to be romantically (or not) interested in Brother. Like Serial Experiments Lain on drugs. So weird it makes ‘Alice in Wonderland’ look normal.

Slightly interesting:

Tamako Market: Tamako’s family run a rice-ball shop. There’s also a supernatural talking bird that keeps sitting on her head. Cute comedy, even if it sounds like the output of an ideas-generating program 🙂

Vivid Red Operation: In a future Earth, energy problems have recently been solved by new technology and the world enjoys peace and plenty. An unknown enemy appears, targeting the power source. However, young Akane’s inventor grandfather, as well as inventing the power source, anticipated the invasion, and produced a counter-measure that only Akane can control. Credibility is zero and many elements are obviously borrowed from previous anime series, but Akane is an energetic and cute heroine (with cute hot-pants), and the animation, with its bright primary colours and crisp outlines, looks great. If it wasn’t for the obvious fan-service, I’d say that this show was ideal for kids rather than more sophisticated viewers.


but not necessarily bad, these mostly do no more than pander to popular tastes.
Yama no Susume: Short anime; school friendship antics. [CR]
Mangirl! No, it’s about young manga artists starting a magazine. Short anime.[CR]
Ai Mai Mi: mercifully short anime about school manga club. [CR]
Cuticle Tantei Inaba: Detective used to be a dog. Comedy.  [CR]
Da Capo III: Cute girls, fanservice.
AKB0048 Next Stage: Idol group spinoff.
Minami-ke Tadaima: Comedy with cute sisters, mild fanservice.
Senrun Kagura: Comedy with big-breasted ninja schoolgirls. Fanservice.
Love Live: Idol-singer themed school comedy. [CR]
Ishida to Asakura: Short anime. School comedy about male friendship. [CR]
Amnesia: Romance about a girl who loses her memory. Heroine is irritatingly helpless and passive. [CR]
The Unlimited: Violent esper action drama. Spinoff of ‘Zettai Karen Children.’ [CR]
Senyuu: Short anime. King sends descendants of a hero to fight demons. [CR]
GJ-Bu: The GJ (Good Job) school club has four members: three girls and one boy. The girls do cute and amusing things. About as interesting as watching paint dry.

[CR]= streamed on Crunchyroll.

Fall 2012 Anime – First Looks

tonari no kaibutsu-kun
tonari no kaibutsu-kun - Shizuku

Tonari no Kaibutsu-Kun: (My Little Monster) The introverted loner female lead finds herself unwillingly involved with a fellow school student whose impulsive and violent behaviour gets him banned from school. When she is obliged to take some class notes to his home, he decides that he is in love with her. I like this, and I’ll be following it. Both the principal characters are rather sociopathic in their different ways 🙂
By the way, it’s on Crunchyroll.

Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai: Yuuta Togashi has just started senior high school, determined to leave behind his hideously embarrassing middle school self, in which he acted out dark fantasy game/cosplay roles in public. He encounters Rikka Takanashi, a classmate who is now living with her older sister right about Yuuta’s apartment. She unluckily finds Yuuta chucking out his dark fantasy gear and, as she is still in the middle of a public fantasy game/cosplay obsession, immediately seizes on him as a kindred spirit.
I quite liked it, though I don’t rate it as highly as Tonari no Kaibutsu-Kun. The dark-side obsession reminds me of the hero’s cute little sister in Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, who was obsessed with the same sort of thing. Is this common with Japanese middle-schoolers, I wonder?

Kamisama Hajimemashita: Seventeen year old Nanami is evicted from her home when her deadbeat dad runs off after running up gambling debts. She rescues Mikage, an earth god, from a dog, and is pointed in the direction of a temple guarded by pale-haired bishii fox demon Tomoe. Tomoe is reluctant to take her in. It was quite fun, though I don’t rate it as highly as ‘Chuunibyou’ or ‘Kaibutsu-kun’ seen this week. Kamisama Hajimemashita did have an air of ‘seen this before’ i.e. homeless girl (tick) youkai (tick) pale-haired bishie supernatural being (tick). All the same, I’ll be watching it next week.

Zetsuen no Tempest: While the viewer gradually learns that magic is being used to unleash something unspeakably horrific, two high school friends, Mahiro Fuwa and Yoshino Takigawa are still caught up in an unsolved murder. Mahiro’s sister (and Yoshino’s secret love) Aki died a year before. This story has moody protagonists, action, gorgeous girls, mystery and magic. What else could one ask for? A must-watch. [on CR]

Suki-tte Ii na yo (Say you love me):
Tachibana Mei has spent her 16 years without making friends, or having a boyfriend. One day, a mild episode of harassment causes her to snap and drop-kick Yamato Kurosawa, the most popular boy in the school, who is standing next to the culprit. Evidently bored by girls who throw themselves at him, Kurosawa decides that Mei is ‘interesting’ and starts trying to befriend her. She repels these efforts. However Mei, who is quite a good-looking girl, has another admirer, a stalker. When the stalker follows Mei to a supermarket and loiters outside, the terrified girl phones Kurosawa and he rushes to her side. To discourage the stalker, Kurosawa kisses Mei.
This is one of the best-designed and animated TV anime I’ve seen, and it has a decent script. A must-see if you like school shoujo romance. Even if you don’t, check out an episode to see what it looks like.

Already it is looking like this season will have more new shows worth watching than the previous (summer) season.

Second League:

Code Breakers: Alpha high-school girl Sakurakouji Sakura is riding the bus one day, when she sees a cold-eyed bishii boy burning some people with a blue flame. I found this to be a strong supernatural drama mixed with lighter and more comical scenes, and looking quite promising till the scene near the end of the first episode, where Sakurakouji righteously takes on a gang of over a dozen large vicious adult thugs who are armed, don’t fear the police, and have already beaten up and killed people. Since she does not have any supernatural powers, this is just insane. The episode ends with a nasty twist in the tail.
I expect that I’ll watch the next episode to see if drama or implausibility wins out, and who asides from Ogami Rei is still alive at the end of #2.
Ixion Saga DT: The game geek hero finds himself in a fantasy world where the princess is a snarky 8 year old on her way to get married, and the royal maid is a cross-dressing man. It’s certainly a funny parody, and since it’s on Crunchyroll I’ll probably tune in again. But I suspect the novelty may wear off after a while.
Teekyuu: This comedy about a girls’ tennis club has very short episodes – about 2 mins IIRC. In the first episode two characters are on court with one of them demonstrating a startling lack of talent and enthusiasm. The character designs are nothing special. It’s quite amusing and ends before one has time to get bored.

Some New Anime you needn’t watch:

Shinsekai Yori: A serious sci-fi drama in which children with psi or telekinetic abilities are trained in special schools. To me it seemed rather lame, and more like a fantasy.
Btooom!: The hero, an unemployed young man who plays computer games all day, won’t look for work, and is rude to his mother, suddenly finds himself kidnapped and dropped into a real-life version of the Btooom game. The ‘bombs’ the characters use are just a species of hand grenade. They are unconvincingly variable in their lethal effect, and the viewer is far quicker than the hero to realise that some have timers.
It looks like each episode might highlight a different unloveable character.
Busou Shinki: The principal (sole?) novelty is that the fembots are only 150mm high. Otherwise we have a collection of familiar elements: High-schooler living alone (tick), female style robots (tick), violent aerial robot battle scenes (tick), transforming robots (tick), female characters in skimpy attire (tick), maid outfits (tick), vague sexual innuendo (tick), harem (tick). Added to that, there is no strong story yet, and the high-pitched voice acting is extremely irritating. Altogether, little incentive to continue watching.
Oni-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankenai yo ne!:
A sixteen-year old boy lives alone, till his long-absent sister of the same age arrives to live with him. Unfortunately she is obsessed with bro-con and is determined to have sex with him. So relentlessly and unfunnily awful that I stopped watching halfway through.
K: Two gangs with supernatural powers try to look cool and fight each other. I could not see any point to it at all, and only managed to watch half the episode.
To Love Ru Darkness: An unfortunate youth has three alien girls living with him, who subject him to sexual harassment. Far more tedious than it sounds. I switched off halfway through.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures: It is the nineteenth century. A rich man is badly injured in a coach crash. He regains consciousness while a vile old man is robbing him, and mistakenly thinks that the man has helped him, and gives the man his address. When the old man dies, his equally vile son calls on the rich man and is invited to live with him. He immediately tries to break the spirit of the rich boy, JoJo, and take his place, but ultimately fails as JoJo grows in strength and resolution.
At least this one has a proper story, but it’s so disagreeable and full of unpleasant characters that I don’t want to watch any more of it.

Medaka Box – Abnormal: This season of the uninspired show about a super-capable class president includes a class of students who are ‘Abnormal’- in other words they have supernatural powers. Medaka is thought to be a candidate for the ‘Abnormal’ group. Cue lots of fighting. Medaka Box crossed with Dragonball Z does not a good anime make.

Robotic Notes: The school robot club has just two members, plus a half-completed giant robot project. The hyper-enthusiastic girl member wants to get school funding to complete the robot in time for a national robot festival. Like we care.

Psycho-Pass: In the future, criminal tendencies can be detected in humans by remote sensors. Those who score too highly are arrested for re-education or terminated on the spot. A newly qualified police lieutenant is pushed straight into a field operation without any induction, and is shocked when on the basis of sensor readings, the central computer directs her to terminate the victim of a kidnap/sexual assault case as well as the perpetrator.
a) it’s an implausible set-up
b) if she feels like that, why join the Stasi cops in the first place?

Girls und Panzer: Feeble school comedy with uninteresting characters and poor character designs (+ tanks).

Summer 2012 Anime – wrap-up

In the end, Binbougami was the only show I stuck with and enjoyed right to the end. I dropped several okay but unexciting shows in favour of watching the televised 2012 Olympics. I finished all of Tari Tari and Kokoro Connect but it was barely worth the effort.
Space Brothers is still running, but it is so slow-paced that I’m tempted to keep up with it by watching every other episode – I don’t think I’d miss much plot.
Summary – the most disappointing season for some years.

John Carter (of Mars) Movie

The John Carter movie is now available as a BD or DVD, giving those of us who missed its brief appearance in the cinemas a second chance to see it. For those not in the know, this is an adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Martian science fantasy “A Princess of Mars”, written a century ago. Following an incompetent publicity campaign and dismissive reviews, the movie disappeared from the multiscreens in double-quick time. However since then, there has been a groundswell of opinion from fans that the movie is far better than mainstream movie critics said. So I awaited my BD with great interest.
It opens with some cool Martian air-ship action, then has an Earthside sequence of some length, before getting into the Martian action proper. Once Carter’s adventure on Mars starts, the movie is, IMHO, totally great, everything a fantasy adventure should be, with strange creatures, exotic landscapes and cities, weird machines, derring-do, and a gorgeous Martian princess. The technical work is very good, so that the Martian creatures and six-limbed Thargs look like they live and breathe, and the airships fly. If one has a quibble, it is that Carter’s leaps in 38% of earth gravity are rather exaggerated!
Viewers (and critics) should realise that this movie isn’t intended to be ironic, postmodern, or referential. And the original book was written at a time when we didn’t know that Mars was barren and airless.

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.

Spring 2012 TV Anime Season – watching

Ranko - sankarea
Ranko (Sankarea)
I’m still following a number of the shows from this season:
Kids on the Slope (Sakamochi no Apollon): This is the most eagerly awaited show of the week – a well-written human drama.
Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai): continues to be interesting, but not exactly fast-paced. The love interest between our hero and the female would-be astronaut continues.
Bodaceous Space Pirates (Moretsu Space Pirates): From previous season, and now nearing its end. Intermittently good; it’s at its best when doing the sci-fi stuff. I like (1) the Bentenmaru design (2) the noise the heroine makes when surprised.
Accel World: Sometimes ingenious, but I’m finding the gaming world and its rules rather contrived.
Polar Bear Cafe (Shirokuma Cafe): I’m still watching, as it continues to be witty. That Panda definitely needs a kick up the backside 🙂
Sankarea: This has definitely gone downhill from its promising start. Highlight of later episodes is glimpsing the buxom Ranko playing tennis in the opening credits 🙂
Mysterious Girlfriend X (Nazo no Kanojo X): This tale of unfulfilled teenage arousal and saliva-licking is my second most eagerly awaited show of the week. Not for everyone: I showed it to a friend and he muttered, “this is just so wrong!”
Lupin III: Mine Fujiko… I’ve dropped behind with this. A rich diet best savoured slowly. Not for juveniles.
Eureka Seven – Astral Ocean: Looks good, but I feel the plot is weak and incomprehensible. And it’s boring to have characters with invincible super-powers. I’ve dropped behind in viewing this.
Kuromajo-san ga Tooro: I’ve dropped behind, but it’s a charming 15-min mahou shoujo series.

Amazing Sci-Fi and Fantasy stories

On Kindle and Smashbooks: two other short stories:
Centaurus: A single short story about a miner trapped on a planet of the Alpha Centauri star system.
An Implementation of Magic: A single short story. If magic turned out to really work, the reality would probably prove to be extremely unpleasant and world-changing.
Currently these two titles are free on Smashbooks.

Please note that the Amazon e-book site features “look inside” so that you can sample the first pages of an e-book without effort or obligation.

There is also:
Lurch coverNigel Lurch: Anarchist by Jeff Bain
A British comic novel set in the late 1970’s/early 1980’s. Student Nigel Lurch has radical sympathies. He is impulsive, imaginative and not particularly well-behaved. Nigel’s association with radical anarchist student Dave Swivel is certain to get Nigel into trouble. Following a pub brawl, Nigel makes a hasty trip to London, where he gets involved with squatters and free festivals as well as Swivel’s schemes.
Length approx. 60,000 words.

Spring 2012 Anime Season

The Spring Anime 1012 season has started with a large number of new shows. To save time, I’ve listed them here in order of interest.

*Probable Hits:*

Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai): About two brothers who had childhood ambitions about becoming astronauts. The younger is in astronaut training; the elder has been sacked from his auto engineer post. It’s a comparative rarity to have adult principal characters. If you have ever been made redundant you’ll empathise with Elder Bro. Looks promising.

Accel World
Accel World
Accel World: A very clever virtual-reality based show in which the rather pathetic principal character is a master of virtual-reality games, but is crushed when an unknown player defeats him. The school’s alpha girl gives him some “acceleration” software to improve his act, and it soon proves its worth by enabling the two to eliminate the school bully, but there is a drawback. One wonders why the alpha girl is taking any interest in the pathetic porcine boy, but apart from that, it looks promising.

Kids on the Slope (Sakamochi no Apollon): A transfer student arrives at a small-town school. Contrary to expectations the class bully shares his interest in music (though jazz rather than classical), and the female class rep (whose father owns a record shop) is interested in both of them. Refreshingly different, looks promising.

*Worth Checking Out:*

Japanese Folklore (Furusato Saisei Nippon no Mukashi Banashi): 3 Japanese folktales per episode, simply narrated and amusingly animated. Should appeal to Japan buffs.

Gon: 3D animation about a small dinosaur with attitude. There doesn’t seem to be a fansub version, but he didn’t talk at all in the manga and he doesn’t say much in this. The animal animation is rather good.

Medaka Box: Alpha-girl school president starts a suggestion box, offering to solve all the students’ problems. She is supported by her (male) childhood friend, but being smart, energetic, good-looking, good at martial arts (and busty) is quite capable of sorting out anything. Could be fun. NSFW

Polar Bear Cafe (Shirokuma Cafe): Yes, it’s about a cafe run by a polar bear. In ep#1, the theme is looking for work, and the principal character is Panda, a lazy animal who just wants to lie around chewing bamboo all day. The dialog is sharp and the animal character design is detailed. Polar Bear’s language puns may appeal to Japanese language buffs. Not just for kids.

Sankarea: The principal male character is a boy obsessed with zombie lore who wants a zombie girlfriend. In the first episode he tries to revive his dead cat. He meets a gorgeous girl from the neighbouring all-girl school who apparently would quite like to be dead. Looks promising.

Mysterious Girlfriend X (Nazo no Kanojo X): The young hero falls for a weird schoolmate after licking her drool. By the end of the first episode they are an item (which makes a refreshing change from most anime). The drool is really icky. Not visually explicit but the dialogue mentions sex in the first 5 seconds. NSFW

Lupin III: Mine Fujiko… A new Lupin III TV series, focusing on Lupin’s rival thief and love interest, Fujiko. Lots of arty design and lots of female nudity. Entertaining. NSFW

*Mildly Interesting:*

Kuromajo-san ga Tooro: Don’t summon dark forces while you have a cold 🙂

Sengoku Collection: Scary warlord Oda Nobunaga played as a sexy-looking girl for no very convincing reason. NSFW

Summer-coloured Miracle (Natsuiro Kiseki): Straight character drama about four middle-school girls and their childhood wishes and promises. Wholesomely cute.

Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka: Of the Dead: Sequel, mainly for those who want more of the same.

Eureka Seven – Astral Ocean: Apparently this is a sequel. Lots going on: alternate world, invading aliens, mysterious gadget, smugglers… It’s by Bones, might be good.


Ozma: Despite it having Leiji Matsumoto in the staff, I soon wondered if they’d set out to make an idiotic anime. By the second episode I didn’t care.

Hiiro no Kakera: Shrine magic stuff.

Shiba Inuko-san: A dog.

Yurumates: Gag comedy?

Zetman: Horrible 🙂

Upotte! Not just girls with guns – the girls ARE guns. Full of innuendo that is inappropriate given the apparent ages of the girls. NSFW

Kuruko’s Basketball: (Kuruko no Basuke) Mainly for sports fans.

Otome x Amnesia: Fun with ghost girl.

Saki – episode of side A: Tries to do for mahjong what Chihayafuru did for kurata, but doesn’t impress.

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san! The crawling chaos Nyarlathotep (from HP Lovecraft) incarnated as a cute girl. You may find this hysterical, or you may just reflect that this irritating girl reminds you of “Sengoku Collection.” NSFW

Jormangand: You hate arms dealers, so you go to work for a teenage arms dealer and her paramilitary unit. Yeah right.

Tsuritama: One of four boys in a seaside town claims to be an alien. Irritating.

Acchi Kocchi: zzzz

Uninteresting/not seen:
Saint Seiya Omega:
Himitsu Kessha Taka no Tsume NEO:
Jewelpet Kira Deco:
Baka Tech; Bakugan:
Ginga e Kickoff:
Recorder to Randseru Re:
Zumono to Nupepe:
Arashi to Yoru Ni:
Queen’s Blade – Rebellion: NSFW
You and Me/Kimi to Boku #2: – Lads mucking about.
Naruto SD: – Super-deformed spin-off tries hard to be funny (not seen).

Winter 2012 Anime Endings

Nisemonogatari - Senjouhara
As the Winter 2012 Japanese anime season draws to a close, it’s time to write concluding notes about some series which I have been following.
Nisemonogatari: This was good, with some sharp dialogue and interesting artwork. There are some scenes which are very sexy without actually showing anything indecent. But I liked the previous series, Bakemonogatari, better.

Rinne no Lagrange: The final episode wraps everything up with the aid of a lot of magical-looking effects. It even manages a plug for the Kamagura sponsors’ conference facilities 🙂 Not the greatest, but it had nice art, good opening theme music, a likeable heroine, was cheerful and didn’t take itself too seriously.

Chihayafuru: The later episodes were not as intense as the openers, but it retains strong characters who are mutually supportive, and the intriguing technicalities of the game of karuta. It ‘ended’ with another school year starting, and all the main questions still unresolved.

Last Exile – Fam, the Silver Wing: Throughout the series, the designs and characterisation have been very good, but the action plotting has been a mess. Fleets rush about and commanders bark orders, but the outcomes are not followed up, and there is no clear sense of scale, or range, or timing. Characters wander about without escort, and one or two get asassinated, but not the villain, who has Super Powers. Favoured characters perform actions with implausible ease. In the final episode, the child-Empress is rescued with dubious ease by the irritating Fam, and the huge Grand Exile, which looks like it had the potential to out-fly and out-shoot anything else in the sky, goes down in bits. This series has attracted large numbers of teenage fans, who won’t concede that any criticism of the anime is admissible and can justify the weaknesses of the script at great length. Perhaps the producers should have let the fans write the action scripts; they couldn’t have made things much worse.

Another: in the final episode there is a larger than usual death count, and we learn the identity of the dead-but-walking person who caused all the trouble. It wasn’t bad, but I doubt if I’d want to watch a re-run of the series.

Ano Natsu de Matteru: This amiable alien-girlfriend series ended with most of the ends tied up. It was amusing, and several of the characters were mildly interesting. It wasn’t bad but again I doubt if I’d bother re-watching it.

Sky Crawlers movie

Pusher prop planeSky Crawlers 115 mins, dir. Mamoru Oshii, 2008.
This movie is about a group of fighter pilots engaged in an endless but limited war. It’s a great-looking movie with realistic-looking aircraft and superb flying and battle sequences. On the other hand, “Crawlers” describes the pace of this movie. The characters are un-involving and the whole thing is a bit of a yawn – I wonder how many teenagers managed to sit through the whole thing. Its message is that war is bad – yawn, knew that already.
The odd-looking plane in the picture has a “pusher” propeller. You might well wonder if planes like that are real – in fact while the anime one is invented, pusher-prop planes are a reality and some had production runs of over 1000.
The most interesting plane with pusher propellers was the American B-36 bomber. This plane wouldn’t be out of place in a steam-punk anime. In service from around 1948 to 1958, it was of monstrous size, one of the biggest planes ever built, and powered by six 28-cylinder piston engines of 3800 HP each. Later versions had four jet engines added for boost, to give it 10 engines – a record. Maximum range exceeded 6000 miles, maximum bomb load was 33,000 kg. It could cruise at 40,000 feet (50,000- 55,000 in some versions), and could stay in the air without refuelling for over 40 hours. Once built, it was adopted as a strategic nuclear bomber and reconnaissance aircraft, and could carry the first, very heavy H-bombs .