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.

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.

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 .

Winter 2012 Anime -2nd week

Robot above city
Aquarion Evol: It’s 12,000 years after a previous round of warfare, and the ‘Aquaria’ robots are manned by pairs of boys, or pairs of girls, against the threat of invasion. The boys and girls are forbidden to meet. An attack from another dimension, plus a character who is able to fly, scramble things up, with the boys and girls pairing up and the Aquaria linking with a spacecraft to make one giant robot.
The animation is impressive, with complex backgrounds, and elaborate robots flying busily about, but the spiritual hocus-pocus and suggestive ‘couplings’ are adolescent and not my cup of tea. Definitely of the ‘magical super-robot’ genre. 2/5

Brave 10: In 17th century Japan, pretty priestess Isanami flees a massacre at her temple. She asks ronin Saizo Kikagure to help her, but he is reluctant to do more than fight off an attacker who assaults the pair of them. She seeks the help of lord Sanada Yukimura, but he also is unwilling to help till he sees the power of the jewel that Isanami wears.
Despite the dark events, the overall tone is humorous, with some sexy scenes. There will clearly be a lot of battling between super-powered ninja, but while this could be entertaining, my expectations are not high. For one thing, Isanami looks like she escaped from some entirely different anime series. 3/5

Inu x Boku SS: Ririchiyo, a daughter of the powerful Shirakiin family, is moving into the security-conscious Maison de Ayakashi apartment complex. Her motive is that she wants to be alone while she comes to terms with her character: awkward and lacking in self-confidence after being bullied at school, she has a tendency to be aloof and unpleasant with people rather than let them get close to her. However, on moving in, she finds that somebody has appointed for her a personal Secret Service bodyguard, the overly attentive and over-helpful Soushi, an attractive young man with mis-matched eyes, who declares that he wants to be her dog, and offers to die when she tries to dismiss him. Eventually, she tells him that since he’s going to ignore what she says, he can do as he pleases. This could be a mistake…
An ordinary burglar breaks into the complex, and it at this point that we discover that both Ririchiyo and the bodyguards are more than they seemed…
This is the most psychologically interesting of all the new season anime so far, as Ririchiyo’s character is clearly laid out – she is a self-aware tsundere who doesn’t want to be one. Some of us will identify with her difficulties in dealing with others. There is also a slightly stock romantic situation, and some other baubles thrown in to increase the appeal to fans: sexy views of Ririchiyo, and there’s a comic lesbian guard character. There’s considerable potential here, but it remains to be seen how well the series will exploit it. 4/5

Thermae Romae: An ancient Roman is at the public baths when he slips down a time-hole to a more recent Japanese public baths. He doesn’t quite realise what has happened to him, and thinks he has surfaced in the slave baths, but he likes what he sees, and also the refreshments. When he regains consciousness in Rome, his companions tell him he almost drowned. However, he opens a new baths, with pictures and advertisements, and bottled drinks, with great success. This is an amusing sketch, but the heart sinks at the thought of watching a whole season of it. 2/5

Winter 2012 Anime – first looks

Sea scene from air
Rin-ne no Lagrange

I have viewed first episodes of most of the new TV anime in the 2012 Winter season.
New Prince of Tennis: A distinctly shounen sports anime. In the first episode, 50 junior high school players are invited to an elite tennis academy, and have to prove themselves against older players. Full of fantastic tennis feats and tough-guy posturing, this isn’t bad but it’s not really my kind of thing. 3/5
Amagami SS+ A school anime, and sequel to the Amagami SS series and game. I didn’t see the earlier show, but this looks intriguing. Tsukasa Ayatsuji is a smart and pushy young miss who will clearly go far in adult life. She is standing for President of the student body and means to win. Her boyfriend is the wimpy Juinichi. A new character, Noriko Kurosawa, is a rival for President. Both girls nominate Juinichi for vice-president without telling him. After a straw poll is rigged, Ayatsuji steps up her campaign, but Kurosawa invites Juinichi to a meeting (he spinelessly agrees) and snogs him in an effort to de-rail Ayatsuji’s campaign. Clearly school elections are serious business 🙂 4/5
Kill Me Baby: An anime adaption of 4-panel gag manga revolving around an airheaded, but otherwise ordinary high school girl, who befriends an assassin classmate. Not all that funny, and each episode is made up of unrelated short gags, which doesn’t work too well. 2/5
Recorder and Randsell: An anime about two school students, one of whom is of elementary school age and but looks like an adult man, the other being a senior high school girl but looking like a little kid. In the first episode the guy is arrested as a suspected child molester after over-enthusiastically greeting one of his little classmates. The purpose of this anime seem to be to set up child-molesting jokes like this. Not very funny and rather slimy. 1/5
Highschool DXD: The hero, Issei Hyoudou, is a dim-witted, lecherous second-year high school student. A cute girl chats him up, but on his first date ever, she transforms into a devil and kills him. Issei is revived and reincarnated as a devil, and from that day onwards, he serves as an underling of red-haired Riasu, a high-level devil who is also the prettiest girl in the school. This is rather dire, and its main excuse for existing is to provide views of lots of underwear and semi-nudity. 1/5
Senki Zesshou Symphogear: An original anime (i.e. not an adaptation). Another show in which pop music is used to battle against alien invaders. Two girls in a top vocal unit named Zweiwing fight to save humanity against an alien threat known as “Noise.” The show starts with a cemetery scene and then jumps to a concert interrupted by an alien attack. The singers transform and mount a counter-attack. One has to say that this anime looks good, and the alien attack, which turns people to dust, looks suitably scary. However it’s hard to suspend one’s disbelief about an idea that wasn’t too convincing when first used in “Macross”. The action is also so busy that one is left unsure which of the principal characters is supposed to be dead. 2/5
Area no Kishi (The Knight in the Area): A soccer anime, focusing on the high school hero’s relationship with his aloof big brother, who is an international youth soccer star. A football-playing girl from their past joins the school. Our hero has been acting as club manager, but Big Bro leans heavily on him to play again. This isn’t bad, and could be interesting even if you aren’t into soccer. But ‘Cross Game’ it’s not. 3/5
Bodaceous Space Pirates: Before seeing this, I took a very negative view of it: there’s nothing funny about ‘pirates’ when one’s fellow-countrymen are hijacked by Somali thugs, and I hate that lazy branding of sticking on a tricorn hat, a skull and crossbones and a 18th century jacket to associate with 18th-century piracy that wasn’t very romantic in the first place.  On the other hand, in the first episode we see our perky heroine expertly landing a space-ship belonging to the ‘yacht club’, waitressing at the family cafe, learning that her absent dad was a licenced space privateer, and evading some Men in Black who mean her no good. All good harmless fun. 3.5/5
Nisemonogatari: The sequel to “Bakemonogatari’. In the first episode, the hero Koyomi has been tied up and is beng tormented by his girlfriend for no evident reason. In other scenes, he verbally spars with one of his sisters, and hassles that irritating elementary schoolgirl. This episode has the same clever, spiky dialogue and odd or mildly pervy scenes as the previous series, but so far one feels that it’s merely re-introducing the characters.  3.5/5
Zero no Tsukaima F: This is a particularly boring swords-and sorcery by numbers show. It’s the Fourth such series, so unless you saw and liked the previous ones, you should avoid this at all costs. 1/5
Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki:An ultra- short episode about a spherically fat cat that insinuates itself into a family and proves very adept at detecting food, knocking things over and generally being annoying. Not particularly funny. 2/5
Rinne no Lagrange- Flower Declaration: Perky heroine Madoka rescues somebody from drowning while still on her way from school, and manages to lose her school uniform in the process. During the day we establish that she’s popular and an ace athlete as well. A mysterious girl in a rather brief semi-uniform turns up and returns Madoka’s clothes, before asking her if she has ever piloted a robot. The mysterious secret base just happens to be nearby, Madoka is shown a shiny robot which just happens to respond to her touch, an alien attack just happens to hit this very area a few minutes later, Madoka of course agrees to get in the robot and pilot it, and and of course she instinctively knows how to operate the thing and defeat her opponent.  This anime looks and sounds great, and the sea-side scenes are beautiful. Madoka is an appealing heroine. On the other hand the scenario of schoolgirl robot pilot fights to save the world is a clunker; it’s been done many times before, and generally with greater finesse than this. 3/5
Ano Natsu de Matteru: A school romantic comedy in which the normal hero, Kirishima Kaito, fools about with his movie camera, and is persuaded by his friends that he should make some sort of film. His eye is caught by mysterious red-head Ichika, who later turns out to be an alien. Ichika insinuates herself into Kaito’s house, and while semi-wrapped in a towel is caught giving Kaito some alien first-aid when Kaito’s older sister and the girl who has a crush on him turn up. Awkward! It’s all quite pleasant but the first half of the episode was a bit dull. 3/5
Another: A creepy drama about a school where a girl called Misaki died 26 years ago, and the students acted as though she was still alive. Student Koichi Sakakibara transfers to the same classroom, and encounters a girl with an eye-patch called Misaki Mei whom other people maybe can’t see. It’s quite well done and the atmosphere, animation and music all seem to be of a piece. 4/5
Daily Lives of High School Boys: Exactly as the title says, three bored and sex-obsessed high school boys hang out together and mess around while bemoaning their lack of success with girls. The first episode has four or so self-contained comedy sketches. Often, while they try to be rational, stupidity is multiplied by three. They role-play talking to a girl, and when they visit one boy and find some of his sister’s clothes, they dare each other to try them on, but only one falls for it, with embarrassing results. When one of them reads a book by the river bank, a literary-minded girl turns up, but their encounter is a failure. While the show is not visually interesting, the comedy-sketch format works well. 3/5
Listen to me girls, I’m your father: First-year university student Segawa Yuuta has just met a busty girl who is interested in him, when he rather reluctantly obeys a summons from his married sister to look after her three daughters for a few days. The older two daughters are children from the husband’s previous marriage. At this point the show starts to look a bit slimy as there is  fan-service involving Yuuta and his young (but actually un-related by blood) nieces. One’s anxiety is not dispelled by the news that the same production people also did the steamy incestuous Yosuga no Sora. It’s only a mild spoiler to disclose that Yuuta will find himself looking after the girls permanently. 2/5

Junkers Come Here – movie

Girl and dog in room
Hiromi and Junkers
Junkers Come Here, 100 mins, 1994, dir. Junichi Sato, prod. Bandai.
Eleven-year-old Hiromi is a Japanese schoolgirl from a well-to-do Japanese family. She lives in an upmarket home, complete with housekeeper and a live-in tutor. Her parents, a director of commercials and a top executive, work long hours and are often absent. Hiromi’s most constant companion is a cute schnauzer dog called Junkers, whom she thinks can talk to her. Her parents’ marriage is breaking down because they rarely see each other. Both of them think that Hiromi, a smart and precocious child, will cope with this well, but only Junkers and the tutor can see how lonely and upset Hiromi is.
This much overlooked movie is some distance in style from the usual anime comedy. It gently explores the effect of parental absence from the child’s point of view. The tutor finds himself acting as a substitute Dad, while also being an object of love interest for the maid. It’s attractively animated and the script is good, the direction giving it more of a live-action feel than is common in anime. It achieves the rare feat of being funny, while also dealing seriously with serious matters. The animation is attractive and the character designs are Oriental, which makes a refreshing change from the big-eyes so prevalent in anime. Far more than just another anime for anime fans, this is a movie that any parents should watch with their kids. The visuals too are as good as anything from the Studio Ghibli stable. Highly recommended.