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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.