After at least seeing one episode each from a good majority of the winter season shows, I’ve finally narrowed down which ones I would like to follow. Anime that I tried and did not make it include Sasami-san@Ganbarani, Cuticle Detective Inaba, Amnesia, Yama no Susume, Mangirl!, and Vividred Operation. I’m also still waiting on the premier of Savanna Game, for which I have some hope. There were a surprising number of dark horses this time around, so I may have a bit of trouble keeping up with them all from week to week! But because of the unexpected number of anime I’ll be watching, I’m looking forward to updating more often. So as usual, take a look at what I’ve decided upon and let me know what you think and whether there are other shows you’d like me to consider! Bon appétit!
Boku no Imouto wa Osaka Okan
There are plenty of these mini episodes airing this season, and I’m not sure if that’s a recent development or if shorter-length anime have always been around and I’ve just never noticed. Kyousuke’s little sister from Osaka, Namika, has started living with his family and the five minutes are filled with jokes and tidbits about Osaka, ranging from differences in language and phrasing, food, and habits. Normally, little sister anime are a red flag for me, but I decided to stick with this show since I am curious about how Osakan culture differs from general Japanese culture. Another oddity to this show is its flash art style. I’m not sure yet whether or not I like its use here, other than to emphasize the quick shot atmosphere.
Surprise ingredient(s): If there’s one thing I like about the art style, it’s Namika’s character design. Her blue-haired pigtails, cat eyes and mouth, and colorful sweater make for an adorable look. Unfortunately, her bangs are held back by an accessory that looks like a ridiculously large paper clip. If I were to really own a hair clip of that size and pushed it into my bangs, I promise you that it would not lay flat like it seems to on Namika, but the top end would stick out like an antenna.
Boku no Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT
“Haganai” is such an odd choice for me with its sometimes brilliant, sometimes toxic combination of humor, mean-spiritedness, and fan service. There are plenty of times where I genuinely can’t stop laughing, but also moments where I just sit there cringing from the vicious trolling and in-your-face screenshots of various body parts, both male and female. You can’t rest easy with this show; it constantly has you on the edge of your chair teetering between hot and cold. And that’s probably its main charm for me, that ability to constantly entertain. I actually couldn’t remember if the first season was quite at this level, but other viewers reassure me that it was.
Something odd about this series that I just realized watching this opening episode of the second series is that I don’t very much like most of the cast. Yet I’m compelled to watch them clash against one another and try to figure out how to fit in as high school students. Again, that impulse may just be another indicator of the quality of writing for this show, that it’s able to sustain my interest despite its unlikable characters. I would very much like to see some softening in Yozora’s character. There are times where I like her, like when she’s having a one-on-one with Kodaka. Some of her more mild pranks on Sena do make me laugh. But she also has an incredible mean streak whose source I just can’t place. While I can understand the urge to tease someone as gullible and receptive as Sena, outright bullying is unacceptable. Kodaka, in turn, needs to step up and fulfill exactly what he claimed he would do to Sena’s father: protect Sena. I’m not talking about the chivalrous white knight sort of hero, but the “I’m a friend to both of you so play nice” type of guy. Rebuke Yozora when she goes over the line, and inform Sena when she’s being exploited.
Secret ingredient(s): As usual, I hope for more screen time of the mad scientist, Rika! I prefer her more when she’s in pervert mode rather than when she teams up with Yozora to bully Sena.
My most anticipated series finally aired and I’m more than ready for more karuta and hopeful romantic progress! As much as I loved the first season, I was extremely disappointed in not getting to see Chihaya through to her dream to be Queen, nor see Taichi finally progress to Class A. In hindsight, however, the slower progress worked better for the overall quality and cohesion of the series. But now that the second season, a 2-cour, has begun, and the high school karuta is fully formed and capable, I’m looking forward to an action-packed show. It still makes me laugh how this softly drawn and colored anime can induce me to such cheering fervor, but the karuta games truly are nail-biting.
Greedy Chihaya insures that this show will have plenty of material to cover. There’s the high school Nationals, the individual Queen and King tournament, and the high school Karuta Club to consider. Refusing to prioritize any of them over the other means she and the other team members will have to give 110% if they’re to succeed at all. This opening arc seems like it’ll focus on the club and the start of a new semester. That means new students and possibly new club members. Unfortunately, it appears that a good majority of those interested in joining are only curious about good looking Taichi and Chihaya instead of about the game. And there’s certainly two candidates that I’m betting will make it into the main cast before the next couple of episodes are up.
Surprise ingredient(s): Newcomer Sumire has her sights dead on Taichi. The scene where she appraises her competition in Chihaya and Kana is simply hilarious:
“She’s definitely an enemy. Pretty, clueless, and dumb. She’s every girl’s enemy!” (referencing Chihaya, Commie fansubs)
“Small figure and huge boobs! Enemy!” (referencing Kana)
I had no plans of picking up this show at the start of the season, but after Akira’s positive comments about it on Twitter, I felt obligated to try it. And wow, did it surprise me! From the vague blurb about it on the anime chart, I had expected it to be fluffy from the start, and fairly generic. I knew that it had a bit of a fantastical element since the main character has ESP, but again, I expected more of a positive, comical inclusion of that ability. Instead, her ability to read others’ thoughts brings her nothing but pain, first from her friends, then her teacher, and sadly finally from her parents. I’ve never been the victim of bullying, nor was there much of it in the sheltered schools where I grew up, but I am aware of children’s ability for cruelty (Ender’s Game, anyone?). What starts as Kotoura’s innocent wins at rock-paper-scissors escalates into her spouting out the thoughts of her friends and family, even their deepest secrets. While I can understand her maybe replying to their thoughts on accident, some of the instances felt forced. Even in late elementary school, I think I had the tact to not tell my friend’s crush that she liked him. The confusion of those around her turns to anger, then eventually to hate. I found it incredibly sad that even her teachers felt nothing but relief when she had to transfer. But the most heartbreaking moment of all came when her once seemingly perfect home life fell apart and her parents abandoned her to the care of her grandfather. Of all people, it’s family that should be the ones to stand by your side when the world seems to be against you.
There’s a gorgeous moment where the original, dark filter cracks across the screen, then shatters into the brighter colors I had expected at the start. Kotoura’s eyes, which had turned dull in response to all the negative emotions around her, snapped into focus. It took just one person to make her realize that not everyone is the same, and that she doesn’t have to punish herself for the comfort of others. I can only hope Manabe can also help her realize her own worth.
Surprise ingredient(s): I found it kind of priceless how Kotoura would impulsively reply to the thoughts of those speaking to her out of obligation. Of course I would be annoyed if I knew that my classmates were pretending interest in me, but I think the natural reaction is to force politeness in turn. Her lack of care in response quickly pushes them away, but also cuts off any chance of finding possible friendship despite first impressions.
Love Live! School Idol Project
I feel like I’m really stepping out on a line with this show since it isn’t what usually attracts me, but I’ve got a past with The iDOLM@STER anime and the convincing reactions from fellow bloggers backing my decision. But stick with this show, I will, because I’m honestly interested in seeing whether Honoka’s ridiculous idea is actually insane enough to help the school and prevent it from closing. It seems strange to me that a school would even allow something like an idol program since it opens up a whole new area of student privilege and more than possible reasons for the involved students to miss school. There are already cliques enough in high school, even middle school, but to actually have one condoned by the school seems rather doubtful to me. I’m on the side of the student council of barring the club from being formed, but given the spoilers in the OP, they’re obviously going to have a change of mind.
These misgivings of mine will hopefully make an appearance in the show as trials for the girls to overcome, as drama for them to pass through to truly blossom as idols. Part of me also wants them succeed. I do have a weakness for makeovers and constantly envision what I or other women around me would look like with completely new wardrobes and attention to hair and makeup. If there’s any time for the girls to revel in their youth and energy, it’s now.
Surprise ingredient(s): I think it was Scamp who commented on how musicals make everything better. And I’m inclined to agree. One of my favorite episodes in Kurenai was where they all burst into song and dance. To this day, I can’t help but sing along to Buffy’s “Once More, With Feeling” (I would have loved it if Firefly included one). How the end of the episode melded into the ED fit this idea perfectly.
Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
After reading the blah excerpt about the show, I really did not expect much from this anime. But, like I am wont to do, I gave it a try and was pleasantly surprised with its art and war economy background. Forgive the unforgivable, but it’s a bit of Sword Art Online mixed with Spice and Wolf. The fantastical setting of human versus demon sounds like the inspiration for many a video game and manga, but the interesting spin of beneficial war economics saves the opening episode from mediocrity. I just wish there had been less boobs and boring male and more creative touches like the memory lamp. That object worked beautifully both for visual and for presenting backstory. When considered hand-in-hand with the darkly patterned backgrounds, I get a vibe very similar to the one from Dantalian no Shoka. If only the detail had wormed its way into the characters’ personalities, particularly Yuusha’s.
Yuusha’s lack of memorable characteristics forces Maou to completely carry the burden of catching the audience’s appeal. While her initial impression through personality alone–curious and bubbly–was a good one, I was also turned off by how often her boobs were shoved in my face. That type of humor just seems odd in consideration of the otherwise tasteful background art. I don’t know if the show plans on switching out her clothes into something more travel conscious, but I for one would appreciate a change to both her wardrobe and to Yuusha’s entire bland disposition.
Surprise ingredient(s): While the sexual humor fell mostly flat for me, I did laugh a good bit at the big reveal about Maou’s devil horns. Like Yuusha, my jaw dropped the moment she pulled off her horn headband like I weary king taking of his weighty crown.
Probably one of the most anticipated sequels of the season, and perhaps the several past seasons, Minami-ke enters the scene at a perfect time. The lack of my type of humor from the winter had started to wear on me, and I was really missing Nichijou and Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou (Shirokuma Cafe is still running, but doesn’t always hit the funny spot). I have been a fan of this anime franchise from the first season, and so of course have some worries due to the many changes the show has undergone through each new addition. The original is hailed by most, including myself, to be the best, while the immediate sequel is pinned for its abrupt change in art style and humor. The third season took a step back towards the roots, but didn’t completely succeed in overshadowing the first. And now that the fourth is here, it looks like what originally made everyone love the Minami sisters is back to party.
Despite its slice-of-life school set up, there’s just something comical about the characters and gags in Minami-ke. Attribute it to timing, dialogue, or whatever else, but all I know is that I am very excited about the coming weeks. Now truth be told, I did find a surprising number of the jokes were more miss than hit, and I’m not sure if that’s due to a change in humor or if that’s just how Minami-ke has always been for me.
Surprise ingredient(s): The segment where Kana realizes that while she may not have the emotional pull to get what she wants but that she can use others who do, like Chiaki or Miyuki-chan. It cracked me up that Kana knew she lacked sincerity and had absolutely no qualms about twisting someone else’s needs for her own.
Mondaijitachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru Sou Desu yo
I tend to scan through the episodes that I download before sitting down to really watch them so I can check for quality and subs. And I admit, when I first skipped through Mondaijitachi I was a bit concerned after seeing the bunny gir, “Black Rabbit”. I had forgotten the blurb about this show but figured it wouldn’t hurt to give it a try; however, seeing her I assumed that, 1. this would be a fanservice-y, wish fulfillment type of fantasy, and 2. she was nothing but a mascot-type character. They are both correct to a certain degree, but after really watching the episode, I have a bit of faith that the anime may have some of what I was looking for from Sword Art Online. Getting yanked into a fantastical world isn’t anything new, but the premise that this world is particularly for those from several worlds gifted with extraordinary powers to use for games and gambling sounds entertaining.
The art style is nothing special, and follows a bright color scheme fitting with the positive and imaginative world. I do wish more thought had been put into our characters’ designs, since they are generic and could be found in numerous other shows. They personalities, too, are fairly stereotypical: a princess-type character, a shy/quiet girl, and an overly strong boy with a chip on his shoulder. I’d like to see them show more to themselves than what I’ve seen so far.
Surprise ingredient(s): At first, Black Rabbit was everything I was worried she would be: flighty, squishy, and easy to bully. But her later transformation into hyper speed bunny was actually pretty cool. If only she had the salty background of the hares from Brian Jacques’ books…
Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru
With the exception of AnoHana, lately whenever I see a long title, I figure I should steer clear of it. There have been a whole slew of little sister and harem genre shows with longwinded titles coming out these past few years. And at first glance, this particular anime isn’t all that different from the crowd. Yes, there is a little sister figure, and yes, there’s another love interest ensuring a small harem for our unremarkable protagonist. But there are a few key differences that have snagged my interest:
- The main character is so far neither dim-witted nor perverted. His studies consume his time, as does a goal of acceptance into a public university for medical students.
- He has a firm resolution against any sort of high school romance.
- The “it” girl who has received 58 confessions in 60 days holds zero interest for the attentions of her peers; her classroom declaration of love for Kidou is nothing but a ploy to make herself unavailable.
- Her dirt on Kidou is both hilarious and believable. I know I would probably get a bit violent if one of my old diaries was uncovered and passed around.
It is refreshing to have a male whose mind doesn’t jump immediately to the female physical assets. The moment when he realizes that his much hoped for peace for studying has been shattered by a simple seating arrangement has just the right amount of comedy. Unfortunately, even with the unique details of the characters the direction of this show seems predictable. I think it inevitable that one of the two will fall in love with the other. If that is the way that the story goes, I can only hope that the development is also cleverly crafted.
Surprise ingredient(s): Again, I’m pleased that Kidou is not a passive character. He immediately confronts Natsukawa for her suspicious actions, both in the classroom then later on the walk home. I think many other males in other anime would have accepted her confession without question, thinking themselves the luckiest guys in the world.
Saki: Achiga-hen–Episode of Side-A Specials
While this “series’ season” may be a very, very short one, as its purpose is to only wrap up where the previous could not, I’m still looking forward to these three episodes bringing closure to the long journey that has been Saki. And if there isn’t closure, I sure as hell will not be following this anime once again for subsequent seasons. I’ve got a lot of built-up frustration over the circles the main part of Achiga-hen has made us jump, from a completely new cast, to horrible pacing jumping too quickly into the Nationals, and overly drawn out matches. I understand that the over-the-top mahjong moves and character backgrounds are almost all of what makes Saki what it is, but Achiga-hen crossed the line long ago for keeping its audience’s attention and ultimately failed to satisfy. Whether or not these last three episodes can finish what was started will soon be seen. There’s something sad about me wading through Achiga’s matches just in hopes of seeing more of the Kiyosumi team.
Surprise ingredient(s): It was a great relief to finally witness a member from the Achiga team actually play competently. Yuu’s adaptability to her opponents’ skills and calm demeanor during matches actually make her interesting to watch; heck, I even cheer for her! Plus, I do love her character design. I have a weakness for cute winter gear like mittens and scarves!
In what might otherwise be a typical slice-of-life moe-fest, a talking bird has made the opening episode a positive and memorable one. That one fantastical insert did a fabulous job of introducing the various characters. I am concerned that once the novelty of the bird wears off, though, that there will be less discussion from others about this show. I, for one, would still watch Tamako Market even if Mochimazzui (the bird) wasn’t present, since the shopping district setting, particularly the mochi store, still interest me. But since he’s in it, I can’t help but vaguely see this show as Ikoku Meiro no Croisee crossed with Ano Natsu de Matteru. We have an absurdly sweet and innocent girl in a shopping district beset upon by a strange creature from another land. This alien talking bird arrives with a mission, but is sidetracked by Tamako’s family and their heavenly mochi.
The color palette and art style of Tamako Market are superb, and K-ON!‘s character designer Horiguchi Yukiko fits in perfectly with Tamako’s personality and the absurd premise of the bird.
Secret ingredient(s): I became ridiculously excited at the end of the episode when Tamako implied that future episodes would be introducing different types of mochi. Watch out! After I move my kitchen may just become a mochi restaurant!
Also, new banner for the Winter 2013 season! ^_^
Continuing from fall season:
- Bakuman 3
- Hunter x Hunter
- Polar Bear Cafe
- Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
- Space Brothers
- Zetsuen no Tempest
- Shin Sekai Yori