Initial Thoughts on Kami Nomi II, Ano Hana, C, and Hidan no Aria

Now that is a sexy punch!


Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II
(Ep. 1)
If you’re familiar with the first season, then be prepared for more of the exact same.  Just like in the previous, this one opens up with yet another conquest on the list: Kasuga Kasunoki, heir to a Martial Arts school and head/sole-member of Majima Academy’s karate club.  Similar to Sakaki of Azumaga Daioh, Kasunoki is a respected girl, whose athletic prowess and tough appearance woo her female peers and intimidate male students.  Again, like Sakaki, and like Shiina of Angel Beats!, she has an extreme weakness for cute things.  Instead of giving in to her temptations, she pushes them further away to the point of publicly ridiculing them.  Is there some sort of name for this archetype? Because I see them fairly frequently in anime these days.  I wouldn’t straight up call them tsundere (tough exterior, puni-puni interior), except to say that they’re about 90% tsun.

As with the previous girls of season 1, protagonist Katsuragi Keima must win Kasunoki’s heart to extract the demon soul that inhabits her body, thus allowing the demon Elsie to capture and return it to hell where it belongs.  From reading other peoples’ thoughts on how this season will progress, mostly based on the original manga, I hope to see definite movement away from the 2-3 episode arcs that encompassed each girl’s story line and filled all of the first season.  The opening credits to this sequel shows the future introduction of another demon to rival Elsie, and manga readers attest to further development in the mystery of the demon souls’ escapes and subsequent possessions of young girls.

Interest level: 65%, despite liking more of the girls in the latter part of season 1 more than at the start, that show failed at keeping up my interest towards the end.  With the first episode of the second season following in the same footsteps, I’m worried about how this sequel will move on from its predecessor and give us something fresh.  With only 12 episodes, I also wonder about the show’s capability to produce new attention grabbers that can find closure within the relatively short season.  There are also a lot of gripes about this anime, including its portrayal of real girls, as if they’re just as shallow as galge characters.  I suggest reading up on Riyoga‘s defense against many of the main complaints.

You would cry, too, if you knew you were dead.

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai (Ep. 1)
Super long titles are in fashion these days, it seems.  Shortened to AnoHana, this show presents us with the art style of Index and a plot that expects to wrench our hearts.  It looks like this and HanaIroha will be my two emotional anime of the season, with AnoHana lying it on a lot thicker, though setting it all up in a more realistic setting.

The most basic premise of this show is a circle of people who were once childhood friends, but who have become estranged over time due in large part to the death of one of their circle at a very young age.  We focus mainly on Yadomi Jinta, once the group leader, and now a recluse haunted by the death of his friend…literally.  What he claims as the manifestation of his stress walks and talks as a high school version of herself, following “Jintan.”  As no one else can see her, Jinta’s occasional mutterings and actions put off those around him and further encourage his shut-in lifestyle.  Hallucination “Menma” wants nothing more or less than to have her wish granted, a wish yet unnamed, but that requires the reunion of the once-friends.  As demonstrated by Jinta’s encounters with each of them, the reunion looks to be impossible.  They have all grown too far apart and become different people, perhaps Jinta most of all.

Interest level: 85%,I’m surprised at how much I really was pulled into this show.  Although I love HanaIroha so far, I feel that this show does a better job of presenting relatable circumstances and feelings.  Separation is something everyone has to encounter growing up, and what’s interesting is how each person reacts to this estrangement.  The one drawback to this, though, is that I could feel the director trying to tug at my heart strings.  Actively knowing what the show was so desperate for me to feel made me actually want to not give in, to instead distance myself from the sadness.

The graphics improve drastically whenever this dude on the right shows up

[C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control (Ep. 1)
And finally, the spring 2011 show so many people have been waiting for, the one we all shorten to calling “C.”  This episode delivered on most of its promises, yet fell somewhat short on consistent animation quality.  Despite the fluctuating graphics, C’s first episode grabbed my attention with vigor, and overall looks to be one of the best shows, if not the best show, of this season.  Intriguing plot: check.  Fascinating characters: check.  Titillating setting: check.  (Adjective noun: check.) Encourages deeper thinking: check.

Enter a world where reality and fantasy collide, resulting in either monetary gain or complete self destruction.  The Financial District (let’s call it “FD”) reminds me a bit of the overlying cyber world in Dennou Coil and the online life available in Summer Wars.  As its name implies, the FD offers a user unlimited amounts of money in exchange for his or her future.  I’m slightly reminded of the Faustian exchange of soul for magic in the previous season’s Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, because that’s essentially what is asked for when the representation of the FD asks for the protagonist’s “future.”  Due to his desperation and need for money, Yoga Kimimaro encounters Masakaki, a colorful and bizarre man who offers Kimimaro the deal many would kill for.  The audience knows the risks of taking the deal, as seen by example in the opening of the episode where a man takes the offer with wild abandon and is then teleported into the FD.  There, he is made to battle with a veteran Entrepreneur.  What follows are some excellently executed action sequences, where the users’ assets take corporeal form and duke it out; the newcomer is quickly defeated/bankrupted, and upon return to the “real” world, commits suicide.  Unfortunately for Kimimaro, he is not aware of these dangers.

Interest level: 90%, The premise is thoroughly unique and I’ve always loved the idea of overlapping worlds.  Seeing finances take the forms of fantastical creatures and devices is also pretty cool.  I’m curious to see how successful Kimimaro will be in the Financial District, since his assets are admittedly low.  Wouldn’t a battle against anyone remotely well-off and practiced at handling finances sum up immediate doom for him?

What Louise/Shana would be like if she had a gun.

Hidan no Aria (Ep. 1)
Welcome to the Kugimiya Rie-tsundere show! We now introduce another addition to the collection of short, flat-chested, abundantly-haired, and moody female leads: Kanzaki H. Aria!  Combine the professional violence of Shana with the annoying yelling of Louise, and you have a perfect recipe for Aria.  While she brings absolutely nothing new to the realm of memorable characters,  fans of voice actress Kugimiya Rie will be overjoyed at more of what they love.

The setting somewhat interests me, with the main characters attending a school that condones, even demands, that its students carry weapons on their persons.  Tokyo Butei High School trains young men and women to become combat machines who take action for the right amount of money, a.k.a. mercenaries.  Protagonist Tooyama Kinji lives a solitary life in his own apartment, and tries to avoid all notice and unnecessary human contact outside of school.  Despite his hermit-like ways, he still attracts the affection of his childhood friend, Shirayuki Hotogi (This inexplicable appeal still makes no sense to me; why do anime shows persist in creating brainless, bouncy girls who fall for guys who treat them like crap? It might make a little sense to me if the guy showed an ounce of kindness to garner such loyalty, but I have yet to see anything from Kinji.  Granted, this is just the first episode).  After some awkward sexual tension between the two,  Kinji finally makes his way to school, and because of his procrastination, ends up having to bike to school after missing the bus.  He finds himself the target of a copycat “Butei Killer,” who is known to attack students of his school.

The rest of the show becomes an overdrawn chase scene, with Kinji fleeing on his bomb-ridden bike from a scooter-propelled Uzi.  He is saved by Aria, who parachutes from above to shoot the Uzi off course and grabs Kinji off of the soon-to-explode bike.  Flung into a nearby school shed by the force of their fall, the two are then set upon by more Uzi-scooters.  Here is where Kinji’s special condition reveals itself; if too much sexual stimulation occurs, Kinji goes into “Hysteria” mode, where he must protect any female within his vicinity at all costs.  He suddenly turns James Bond, walking into the range of fire with no worry, smoothly dodging the smattering of shots aimed at his head, and shooting back at the Uzis so that each of his bullets goes right up into each of the guns’ barrels.  For some silly reason, Kinji finds his Hysteria-self embarrassing, particularly the part where he uses pet names for the defended girl.

Interest level: 55%, Having seen a good number of Kugimiya’s tsundere roles, I’m not too impressed with the creation of Aria.  She’s yet another cookie-cutter character served with little thought to creativity.  I’m hoping Aria’s character doesn’t go too far into Louise territory–there’s nothing I hate more than a whiny, screaming, contradictory girl who can’t shut up and ‘fess up to her own flaws.  The one thing going for this show that interests me is the setting, the school for mercenaries.  I’d like to see more of the politics and probable corruption behind this idea.

Note: Hmmm…it seems each of the descriptions in these kind of entries get progressively longer.  The length has nothing to do with how much I liked or disliked the show.  I think it’s more me warming up to throwing my words down.

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4 thoughts on “Initial Thoughts on Kami Nomi II, Ano Hana, C, and Hidan no Aria

  1. Kami nomi is for me one of the better shows of the season. I was literally fangarsming throught episode 1. One thing that should help someone to like this show is being a visual novel/gal game player. Like you said, many of the captures are usual stereotypes from those kind of games with some small twist to it (kasuga for instance, different from the other examples you mentioned, actually trying to get ride of it; Mio from season one acted like an ojousama but was actually poor; etc), and many things Keima says and does are related with galge context. So having that experience, can definally make the series more interest and funny (specially on Keima’s antics).

    I think that Kami nomi is one of the few manga adaptations that surpasses its source in every way (at least for the part it covered). The anime goes at a slow pace regarding how much it covers from the source, taking their time to improve the arcs. The slow pace can also work against it though. The manga stays on the “capture/save a girl -> short intermission ->repeat” formula for a long time, only breaking it much later. Reading the manga, many of the capture arcs pass quickly. But for an anime only viewer, it may take too long because of the slow pace. For you to have an idea, let me give you some numbers:

    The first season covered ch 1-17, about 2 volumes of the manga (and while many parts were expanded, there wasn’t any episode that was a complete anime original). Based on the characters showing on the OP and ED, season 2 should cover chs 18-42, around 2,5 manga volumes (first half of volume 5). The intermissions starts getting bigger (and different from a capture arc, it focus on developing already presented characters ) around start of volume 6. On volume 7 we get more info about something bigger happening behind the scenes, which gives a direction to the story. It still will be following the formula, but with a development on going on the side that slowly grows and later (end of volume 12/ start of 13) take over the focus of the story and break the previous format. So it would only hint something bigger on a third season, and the story would change focus and break the format by a 5th/6th season (and considering how little the first season sold, it may not even get a third one).

    Unfortunately, there is still a long time before the story gets more interesting (and may never get there in anime format). And although it takes its swet time, the story gets more and more eventful. At least around half of the captures will later have a good amount of scenes, and a few will even get main roles in the story. for the beggining of the story, it may be more enjoyable to see every capture arc for the beginning of the story as separated entities.

    Sorry for the wall of text… hopefully it helps to understand more how this series goes.

    By the way, I have yet to watch the other 3 shows, so I should comment on them in around 1-2 days.

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    1. Oh man, you really did have a lot to say about Kami nomi II! I guess I lack the whole galge experience for being able to truly enjoy this show and all its nuances; I also don’t read many..if any… visual novels. I can only assume connections based on what I’ve heard elsewhere and from what I’ve seen on other galge-based anime shows (CLANNAD, Kanon, etc.). Actually being able to see Keima play some of his games helps a lot, though, which is why I valued the very last episode of the first season, despite it not wrapping up the story.

      Thanks for all the information about the manga–I had no idea of the timeline transition from manga to anime! Now I’m very curious how the pacing of this second season will be, and at what point they’ll deviate from the regular “capture/save girl” plot line.

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    1. I actually only watched the 1st episode, and am just waiting until all the episodes are out before I seriously start watching it. I have a feeling this is an anime I’ll want to watch in larger batches.

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