Initial Thoughts on Denpa Onna, Deadman Wonderland, and Ao no Exorcist

The graphics shift back and forth from generic to spacey awesome


Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
(Ep. 1)
Cookies for if you recognize what’s going on in the post banner.  I didn’t know much about Denpa Onna when going into this show, but I did have a bit of the magical girl + regular dude idea stirring around in the back of my mind.  And what else would be expected, given the title and advertising visuals? This expectation isn’t too far off the mark, as we have our generic (I seem to be using this word a lot this season) high school male with little to set him apart from a monotone crowd of people.  Midway through his high school life, he finds himself sent off to live with his aunt in the city, who supposedly lives alone.  Excited for the city life and hopefully high attendance of females in his class, he is a little more than perturbed at the introduction of Touwa Erio, who makes her appearance in his new home wrapped up like a sushi roll in a futon.  We don’t even get to see her face until the very end of the episode.  Her supposed mother, Makoto’s aunt, makes no mention of her and when asked, instructs him to act like she’s not there.  Neglected child, much? Despite this odd inattention to Erio, Touwa Meme is a pretty cool aunt who seems that hip, younger relative who’ll let you do pretty much whatever you want as long as it doesn’t interfere with her way of life.

Upon further conversation with the wrapped-up girl, we discover that Erio is a self-proclaimed alien, who speaks with a little girl voice of supernatural phenomena and of her mission on Earth.  Her quirky appearance and way of speech drives the majority of this episode, fueling both the comedy and the mystery of who she is.

Mmmm, yes. Nothing quite like pizza pickings to add to a moe moment.

This show is an odd mix for me.  There are times where I find the graphics fairly sub par and other times where I applaud the mixtures of light and dark.  Going in hand with the idea of extraterrestrials/outer space, we have moments where glitzy stars pattern themselves against the mostly dark background.  This usually happens whenever Touwa Erio is on screen and we either “ooh” and “awe” at the pretty visuals, or fall for director Shinbou’s tricks of having us gape at a prepubescent girl.  I admit to falling for it, and also for laughing at the ruined moment when Makoto picks off the pizza’s cheese strings sticking to her face.  Oh, and like many Shaft shows, we’re treated to a plethora of head tilts.

OP: Completely annoying.  Sounds like an whiny little girl wailing away without any sense of pitch.
ED: Again, childish, but childish in a sweet and nostalgic way.  Breathy voice+simple images with cartooney, floating space ships=pretty cool.

Interest: 75%, and to go with Avvesione‘s way of classifying some of the shows, this is basically a brain-off type of show that costumes itself as something that can become more.  Here’s to hoping!

Though short, this is the coolest action this season yet (and probably a popular screenshot)

Deadman Wonderland (Ep. 1)
This show punched me in the face.  It probably helped that this was the first show of this season’s line up for which I wore headphones.  It was a random choice to do so, and I am very glad that I did.

Deadman Wonderland opens up on an innocent day just like any other, with students in school, chatting to one another and reminiscing about fun days in the past that they’d like to re-live.  Protagonist Igarashi Ganta hears a low, humming noise (which sounds fantastic with my headphones–Denon AH-D2000) coming from outside at the start of class.  As everyone else starts to notice and turns to face the mysterious red figure floating in front of the 3rd-story windows, all chaos breaks loose.  The Red Man manipulates what appears to be blood and some other unidentifiable matter and obliterates the classroom.  Along with Ganta, all we see at first is the blackness of the room, the blinding whiteness coming through the windows, and blood splatters all along the edges in between.  A fake calm produced by shock breaks the moment Ganta looks around and sees his childhood friend Mimi–her severed head is clenched in the hand of the smiling Red Man.  As a parting gift, he shoves a red gem into Ganta’s chest and everything blacks out.

Wanna go for the weekend?

As soon as Ganta awakes, he is framed for the murder of all 29 of his classmates, sentenced to death, and sent to Deadman Wonderland, Japan’s only privately-owned prison that doubles as an amusement park for the public.  The irony chokes, since Ganta  discussed this park and a future class trip with his friends at the start of the episode.  The setting of Ganta’s future entertains with its circus appeal and horrific representation of the public’s hunger for bloodshed.  If any of you have seen the American film, Gamer, with actor Gerard Butler, you’ll see a bit of a similarity with the concept of prisoners used as public entertainment (not that great of a film, but was mindlessly fun for me).  The chance of survival runs very low, especially with the added precautions to insure Ganta’s early demise.

Ganta then meets mysterious girl Shiro (how original of a name…), who is enchanting in her ethereal appearance–albino white, with red-ringed patterns on her body suit–and has an odd, child-like way of speaking.  The song she sings at her introduction is eerie in its nursery rhyme tone blended with deadly lyrics that represent Ganta’s situation.  The two seem to have a connection unknown to both us and to Ganta, who has no memories of Shiro prior to their meeting in Deadman Wonderland.  When their lives are endangered, he instinctively harnesses powers from the red jewel at the start of the episode and obliterates the falling structure–powers that look exactly like those used by the Red Man that killed Ganta’s classmates.

OP: N/A on visuals since the version I have didn’t include the OP theme and I can’t seem to find one on YT at the moment :S  I did, however, listen to the audio.  It features JRock/metal and English lyrics which I pretty much just tuned out.
ED: They’re definitely trolling the viewers, with the poppy music, cheery lyrics, and many of the pictures showing days full of smiles.  The start of the song sounds pretty neat though, with its low, droning chords.  There are also some spoiler-ific pictures that I wish I hadn’t seen.

Interest level: 100%, As I mentioned earlier, this anime grabbed my attention right from the very start and held onto it until the end.  The pacing of the action and plot merge together flawlessly, making for a fascinating story with characters I genuinely care for.  So much happens in this first episode, that I had a hard time containing my synopsis of it here.  I hope the show will continue to deliver at this level throughout the season; if it does, this may become one of my favorite horror/action anime to date.

A nice change from the typical reddish fires of Hell

Ao no Exorcist (Ep. 1)
It seems like I’ve been watching a lot of Hell-related shows lately, including Jigoku Shoujo and Kuroshitsuji.  I would probably place this show between the named two, in terms of my interest and liking.  While Jigoku Shoujo grasped my mind with its questions on self-responsibility in the face of varying levels of unfairness in life, Kuroshitsuji instead smacked my funny bone while dosing me with splashes of blood.  Ao no Exorcist is a shounen anime that sets up its young, male protagonist in a mirrored world where the material (Assiah) is threatened by the demon’s dimension (Gehenna).  Okumura Rin looks like a typical shounen delinquent, complete with his sardonic expression and tousled hair.  And like any proper delinquent, he can’t seem to hold down a part-time job, has dropped out of school early, and fights on a regular basis.

Badass dad is badass

What caught my interest in this show was its setting, and near the end, its premise.  The episode opens up with an attempted exorcism, where a large number of priests attempt to quell what looks to be blue flames.  I’m assuming they fail since, one by one, each of them is consumed by the fires, and the episode cuts to Rin’s fight scene in the present time.  Instead of fighting over senselessness like I’d expect from some punk kid, we find out he punched the other party for a very good reason–they were shooting birds in the park for fun.  We also find out that he lives with his guardian “father,” brother, and other priests at a western-style church (Catholic?), one that specializes in exorcisms.  I’m reminded here slightly of Chrno Crusade, which features the exorcists of the Magdalene Order (primarily a nun and her reformed demon partner).  We’ve got even more of a similarity between the two here, since we discover near the end of the episode that Rin is in fact the human child of the pairing between a demon and a human woman, specifically the child of the demon of all demons–Satan.  We, including Rin, only get this news after he has to re-fight the party from the start of the episode, only this time, one of them is possessed by a demon.  In defense for his life, Rin triggers blue flames exactly like those shown at the start of the anime.  Immediately, the possessing demon pledges his allegiance to Rin, reveals his name as Astaroth, and offers to bring Rin to his true father.  Thankfully, Rin’s earthly father shows up and executes some very smooth and cool looking maneuvers to exorcise the demon from the possessed human.  He then reveals the truth about Rin’s parentage and the world(s) they live in.

OP: N/A (not aired until the 2nd episode, I hear)
ED: Boy band, J-pop fluffiness.  It totally killed the mood set from the shocker given at the end.  The visuals, too, seem mostly unrelated to the anime, since most of it is just the camera panning through several city streets.  Not until the end do we see the blue flames, this time swathing a sword I can only assume will take prominence later on in the season.

Interest level: 70%, I’m pretty interested in following this for now and seeing where it goes.  I tend to like dark-themed anime and do like the story and characters so far.  I’m kind of bummed that the anime is taking the westernized side of religion, since I hear the manga actually uses Buddhist terminology.  Correct me if I’m wrong, though.  Regardless, I would prefer more of the Eastern religion since I find it more fascinating.

Where are my subs for Shouwa Monogatari and Moshidora?😦
Also hope to watch and discuss Appleseed XIII!

16 thoughts on “Initial Thoughts on Denpa Onna, Deadman Wonderland, and Ao no Exorcist

  1. Just stumbled on your blog and thought I should give a go on your first impressions of this season. Oh boy you do watch a lot of Anime. I’m glad I haven’t seen the ones you’ve dropped instant. And your view on the OP/ED’s (The ones I follow) do match mines as well. It’s a good add on to Random Curiosity (http://randomc.net/) I read.

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    • Yes, I have definitely picked up momentum on my watching of anime lately >.<
      I'd be interested in knowing specifically which anime you are following at the moment. I've also never checked out Random Curiosity's blog before, so thanks for linking to that. I'll have to take a look!

      Like

      • You would be a nice asset to their blogging team. The current owner of the website has overworked himself since he took over the blog and has taken time off and delegated some shows to the other authors. He only recruits those who aren’t watching subs though, but I like your view on the new shows.
        The ones I’m watching now are: Bleach, Naruto, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, Nichijou, Steins Gate, Ano Hana,C The Money of Soul and Possibility Control & Deadman Wonderland. Going to watch already finished shows as well like: Full Metal Alchemist, Valkyrie Chronicles, Moyashimon, Baccano! & Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica. When I get the time to do so😛
        Are you using MAL?

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      • Why thank you for your kind words. I’ve noticed that quite a few blogs have been recruiting additional members, but I’m happy working on my own blog for now since I just started it this year.
        You have quite a large load yourself for anime watching. When you say “Valkyrie Chronicles,” do you instead mean “Valkyria Chronicles,” the anime adapted from the video game? If so, then I’ve watched all the ‘finished’ ones you named.🙂
        And yes, I do you use MAL. If you want to friend me there, it would be good to let me know what your user name is so I don’t deny the friend request (I don’t take random friend requests).

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  2. Ah, if you give Deadman Wonderland a 100% now, then I really suggest you to start reading the manga. The anime has left out 75% of the blood and changed the character’s placements and actions around quite a bit. The manga is almost 5x better.

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    • Well, it’s not so much that I gave the anime itself 100%, but that my interest level was up to 100%.🙂 But yes, I do plan on reading the manga sometime! Despite what’s been left out of the anime to this point, do you still enjoy it?

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  3. Ao No Exorcist is awesome! I agree with everything you said ^_^ it gets better in ep 2… and also.. I love Rin, he’s such a cute little kid. I never noticed how there’s so many peeps who doesn’t like the ED, it sounded nice to me, and the characters dancing is funny~ haha I sound like a hippie, I love everything about the episode xD

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    • Haha, yeah, I really enjoyed the 2nd episode a lot. Though, the mood left at the end definitely didn’t make me feel like laughing >.<
      I guess my major gripe about the ED song isn't so much the quality, but its generic-ness. It sounds just like any other male, J-Pop music, with nothing to tell it apart from others like it.

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      • I know the ending song sounds like any other J or K-pop boy band but opening and ending songs often have little to do with the actual anime. It’s gets better and I bet you have heard this many times before but you should definitely read the manga, the series isn’t that far but it’s really good🙂

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      • Yeah, I wonder what’s up with that trend of having OP and ED themes that sounds so completely different form the actual show. Is it for some nice opposition, or is it just publicity of some popular band?
        I am loving Deadman Wonderland as of now (I’m assuming this is the anime to which you refer), but if I see the manga in the store I’ll make sure to give it a try!

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  4. Yeah sorry I’ve added you on MAL without any message attached on it not really been on that site long though. Just been moving from crunchyroll.
    I’ve finished Madoka this week and it was a pleasant surprise.
    Seems like Moshidora is broadcasting every working day now till the end.

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    • Yep, yep. Moshidora will be airing everyday for 10 days straight, for a total of 10 episodes, each 26-minutes long. I’m enjoying it quite a bit, though I know several people find it a little too slow for their tastes. I also am forgiving some of its poor animation quality due to the rate at which the episodes come out.
      MAL friend request accepted.

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  5. I was on the fence about watching Ao no Exorcist (mostly because of time issues), but hearing that it’s a bit reminiscent of Chrno Crusade makes me want to pick this up.

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    • The resemblance is very slight for now, since it definitely follows more of the shounen archetype. The 3rd episode introduces a school-type setting (which I wasn’t expecting and am a bit wary about), which now sort of reminds me of Soul Eater–a show whose ideas I liked but found only mildly entertaining.
      As of now, I’m definitely still interested in this show since I find the pacing very noteworthy and the characters memorable. I hope you like it if you do try it out!

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  6. Deadman is finally getting interesting and Denpa Onna is just fun. I can’t believe you didn’t like the opening for Denpa Onna, it’s cute and charming in a crazy kind of way.

    The opening for Deadman is starting to grow on me. Honestly though, it shouldn’t have taken 5 episodes to get to what the show is actually about.

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    • You didn’t think Deadman Wonderland was interesting at the start? I thought the show did a good job of thrusting us into the story right from the get-go.

      As for Denpa Onna, yes, I have a ton of fun with that anime each week. The opening theme just sounds like horribly out-of-tune child wailing away into a mic. It’s not charming like the ending theme, where the slower pace and lilting song make me feel both nostalgic and like a little kid.

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