1st Batter up! Initial Thoughts on Hanasaku Iroha, Nichijou, Dog Days, and Steins;Gate

Since this is my first try at discussing currently airing anime in groupings like this, I’ve decided to break them down into 3-4 separate groups, starting with this first one.  I’ve chosen my anime based mostly on visuals and brief synopses alone, and not on others’ comments.  I’d rather not get sucked into the good or bad hype before actually tasting the shows myself.

Definitely following:

Peek-a-boo! Short, fluffy hair at its finest

Hanasaku Iroha (Ep. 1)
What a breath of sweet excitement! Hanasaku Iroha follows Matsumae Ohana, a 16-year-old girl from the bustling city of Tokyo.  This first episode clearly showcases her honesty and matter-of-fact nature, blended with a nice spoonful of sweetness.  Due to the flightiness of her mother, who ends up announcing that she’ll be running away with her in-debt boyfriend and will be leaving Ohana with her grandmother, Ohana find herself leaving the city for the country.  Instead of finding a grandmother who likes giving out sweets to her favorite grandchildren, she butts heads with the firm-handed owner of a traditional-style Japanese inn.  The summer looks to be one of hard work and loneliness with the lack of friendly family and co-workers.

I went into this show with expectations of a typical shoujo-type plot and setting, which I do have to a degree.  The softer color palette, coupled with the protagonist’s dreaminess and gentle personality, make for a very visually appealing show.  I very much like that this isn’t the usual tale of showcasing a bunch of cute girls working at an inn and only that.  Instead, Hanasaku Iroha hints at the struggle Ohana will have to face gathering both her grandmother’s and her co-workers’ respect and hopefully eventual affection and acceptance.

Nichijou (Eps. 0-1)

While the title suggests a story of simple, everyday school life, the contents are more the opposite. The setting is a strange school where you may see the principal wrestle a deer or a robot’s arm hide a rollcake. However there are still normal stories, like making a card castle or taking a test you didn’t study for. (MAL)

Train-version of a 3-tier bunkbed

As you can see from this synopsis, it’s pretty tough to nail down a comprehensible summary of what this anime is all about.  And yes, the strangeness of this synopsis translates over to the 2 episodes I saw.  Episode 0 was a good teaser for what this show would be like, introducing who I assumed would be the main characters and giving us an overwhelming dose of ridiculousness.  Episode 1 followed through on the randomness, but did so in short skits that I found easy to transition from one to the next.  You’ll see everything you would never expect: random background scenes (students walking by with afros, mohawks, or no hair at all; a student riding to school on a goat), and bizarre cut scenes that are metaphors for what’s really going on.  Despite all the spontaneity, I find the silliness in the most mundane acts somewhat realistic.  When the raw tuna falls on Yukko’s head, I recall the odd coincidences of things happening to me that should never have happened in my life time.  I find the blatant humor in this show refreshing and look forward to seeing if Nichijou can continue bringing fresh material in the following episodes.

Tried, but unsure:

resist....temptation...to pull...tail...

Dog Days (Ep. 1)
This anime feels like a cross between Utawarerumono, Zero no Tsukaima and Chrome Shelled Regios.  We open up into a world of dog and cat people who, like many real dogs and cats, are enemies.  Their passion for warring against one another vaguely reminds me of Utawarerumono, but that’s about as far as that comparison goes.  Due to the cats’ current grip on victory, the dogs of the Republic of Biscotti (…how cute.) decide to pull out their ultimate trump card: a hero summons.  Sound familiar? However, unlike the incompetent male lead of Zero no Tsukaima, the summoned Izumi Shinku truly fits the mold of a hero.  He is physically competent, and doesn’t react like an idiot to his odd situation.  The princess of Biscotti also somewhat resembles Louise with her pink hair, but is thankfully leagues ahead in her capabilities as a leader.  No senseless yelling and physical abuse here! We later find out that these “wars” are more like battle tournaments, complete with commentators and ninja warrior-like obstacles, a bit like the tournament-style fights in Regios.

With the furry characters and tournament-wars, I have a hard time taking this anime seriously.  There are no deaths or major injuries; when someone is defeated, he or she transforms into a harmless full-animal-version of him or herself.  Is it too much for me to hope that something happens to overthrow these innocent wars? I’ll keep an eye on this for now, but may drop it if it turns out too generic (or even more so?).

Lack of sreenshot due to crappy webcast quality

Steins;Gate (Ep. 1)
My main hesitation towards this show is not from the preview itself, but from my final impressions of its predecessor, ChäoS;HEAd.  They both share a fondness for nonsensical titles.  They also both share paranoid protagonists who think some hidden organizations are out to get them.  And like Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate started off with a series of intriguing events that have yet to be explained.  I hope the similarities end there, because Chaos;Head utterly failed at keeping my attention a mere few episodes into the season.  Steins;Gate opens on Okabe Rintarou and Shiina Mayuri (voiced by the gifted Hanazawa Kana who returns to the breathy, candy voice of a girl who seems like a Kobato-replica with her happy-go-lucky attitude and hat/dress ensemble).  Looking through Okabe’s eyes, we attend a time-machine lecture, receive and send several text messages, confront a possible agent of the “Agency,” witness said agent’s murder, experience a spatial/temporal shift, and wonder at the sight of a satellite crashed into the top of a building.  We later find out from Okabe’s futuristic gadget research laboratory co-member (yeah, quite a mouthful) that the lecture Okabe seemingly attended was cancelled.  His received texts also show as sent a full week earlier than we saw earlier in the episode, yet Okabe now shows no history of the sent texts on his own phone at all.  The episode then closes on a sighting of Makise Kurisu, the “agent,” who is very much alive.   I hope you’re as confused as I am.

I’ll stick with this show due to my slightly piqued interest from this first episode.  I hope this anime succeeds at stimulating my imagination and intelligence, though I’m wary of this show turning into yet another psychological anime that attempts to bend our minds with its overly-hyped-up, out-of-the-world originality and ingeniousness.

Coming up batch-impressions:

  • Tiger and Bunny
  • Maria Holic Alive
  • A Channel
  • Sket Dance
  • The World God Only Knows 2
  • C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
  • Ano Hana
  • Aria the Scarlet Ammo
  • Deadman Wonderland
  • Moshidora
  • Appleseed XIII

If anyone picks up subs on Showa Monogatari, I would love a heads up!

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7 thoughts on “1st Batter up! Initial Thoughts on Hanasaku Iroha, Nichijou, Dog Days, and Steins;Gate

  1. “Nichijou” sounds the most appealing to me in this group. I’m looking forward to what you have to say about “Maria Holic Alive,” and “C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control” has such a silly name.

    I hope these previews help me find good shows. Don’t let me down! =p

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    1. Nichijou is a tough anime to recommend because it is so out there, and I know plenty of people who just don’t appreciate gag comedy. This is gags+cute girls, so I think it’s all win-win. I just obtained a the 1st ep of Maria Holic Alive, so that’ll be up sometime soon.

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  2. Great description you did for Iroha! The first episode has a great impact, so far it was the best 1st ep I’ve watched.

    I enjoyed both episode 0 and 1 of Nichijou, but I still wonder if it can keep being funny for 26 eps, as the shows is too much randomm even for a slice-of-life.

    I was also expecting Dog Days to be serious, but even so I had a lot of fun with episode 1. I think I can still enjoy it till the end even if stays like that, although I wouldn’t be surprised if by around the end an enemy will appear that won’t care about the war rules.

    Steins;Gate seems interesting, although is prob the show where things won’t be explained anytime soon. But I think it will be interesting enought to keep my interest till the end.

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    1. Hey, CP! Nice to see you here on my blog :) I really look forward to keeping up with Iroha and seeing where it’ll go. So far, it’s my #1 for this season.

      About Nichijou’s randomness–I’m pretty sure that’s the whole point of it, a sort-of anti-slice-of-life. Ep. 0 was pretty boring for me, but I really did enjoy the 1st official episode. Here’s to hoping the rest of the season can keep up the level of humor, and maybe even increase it!

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  3. I don’t think you need to worry about Steins;Gate. It and Chaos;Head are spiritual sequels only because the same staff worked on them. While I haven’t read the VNs myself, pretty much every single reader I’ve come across has told me that Steins;Gate is far better than Chaos;Head.

    Also, while Chaos;Head was fantasy with hints of science sprinkled in, Steins;Gate is pretty much full-blown science, apparently. Sounds good to me.

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