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.
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)
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:
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?).
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
- Appleseed XIII
If anyone picks up subs on Showa Monogatari, I would love a heads up!