Initial Impressions: Ikoku Meiro, Ro-Kyu-Bu!, Memochou, Double-J

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée: Currently watching
Everything about this show charms and warms your heart, and it has definitely taken its place among my top anime for this season, if not the very top spot.  I’ve always enjoyed period anime, and I have a special weakness for post-industrial French and English settings.  I really love the idea of a “Japanese in Paris” representing the West’s growing attraction to the mysteries of the East.  As a symbol and as a main character, Yune brings a burst of color to her surroundings, and her eagerness to please and wonderment at her new home make her all the more lovable.  Fulfilling her family tradition of serving as an attendant for an unstated period of time, Yune follows Oscar Claudel from Japan to France to satisfy her desire to work in Paris.  Upon her arrival, she meets Ocar’s grandson and succession to the family metalworking shop, Claude (Claude Claudel…hm).  His initial impression is not a good one, as he rudely makes it clear that she is unnecessary and unwanted in the shop.  But, as she so easily did to me as the viewer, she unintentionally wins her way into his respect with her guileless honesty and care.  The closing scenes are reminiscent of a new family in the making.

The art style and animation is smooth and beautiful in the details.  Exempting the already mentioned Japanese clothing and accessories that Yune wears, special attention is paid to the French clothing of both males and females, as well as to the metal signs that adorn the shops of the Galerie du Roy.

OP: “Sekai wa Odoru yo, Kimi to. (世界は踊るよ、君と。)” by Youmou to Ohana (羊毛とおはな)–The OP music is upbeat and makes you want to lift your feet and take a springy walk.  I really like the voice and think it suits the OP scenes featuring Paris and its people, as well as the main characters as they walk around on a typical day.  Immediately following the OP, we also get the episode number and title, spoken by a seemingly fluent French male speaker.  I love that the accent sounds authentic and that the episode titles are in French.  It helps pull the viewer into the world of Ikoku Meiro no Croisée.
ED: “Koko kara Hajimaru Monogatari (ここからはじまる物語)” by Nao Toyama–We have yet another winner here, with a slower paced and extremely sweetly sung song accompanying soft visuals of Yune in various adorable settings.  I especially like the image of her waking up in a bed surrounded by a storybook forest and an outside tea table set up.  Right at the end of the theme, she spots something outside of our view that excites her and runs toward it; with this, we get momentum for the following episode.  Again, right before the actual ED begins, the French narrator summarizes what occurred in the episode.

Ro-Kyu-Bu!: Dropped
Ro-Kyu-Bu! stinks of blatant loli moe, with the elementary school girls highly sexualized in multiple ridiculous situations.  The actual episode didn’t open up too bad, with a scene from the future showing the girls in a tense basketball game versus an all-boy team.  Cut to the present, and we first see the girls getting changed into maid outfits.  Yes.  Maid outfits.  They then greet Hasegawa Subaru, their new and reluctant coach from a suspended high school basketball team, in these maid outfits and proceed to call him “master” and “onii-chan.”  Gag me, please.  My brain immediately shut down and I gritted my teeth to finish out the rest of the episode.  For you loli fans out there, there’s also an extended shower scene with well placed soap bubbles and steam.  They also have a nice yuri-grab scene with censoring flowers.  Of course, the show isn’t limited to “prepubescent” girls; we also meet a female classmate of Subaru’s, as well as his cat-like older sister who seems to have no problem sitting inappropriately and showing off her panties to her brother.

The characters and their settings are nicely drawn and animated.  The girls themselves have the appropriate shiny hair and pink/shiny spots on various unrealistic parts of their bodies.  My main complaint about their designs are their uniforms and some of their overdeveloped chests.  Maybe I just haven’t seen enough school anime or something, but this is the first show that I’ve seen where the girls wear full out dresses instead of skirts and blouses.  To top it off, the dresses are pastel pink and have flouncy hems and black underskirts.  This essentially makes the girls look like Rozen Maiden dolls.  I also completely detest the way that Kashii Airi has a hugely overdeveloped chest.  I don’t know of anybody in elementary school who had a chest of any size; the earliest I remember a girl growing boobs was in early middle school.

OP: “SHOOT!” by RO-KYU-BU! (Kana Hanazawa, Rina Hidaka, Youko Hikasa, Yuka Higuchi, Yui Oguri)–The opening visuals made me automatically think of CLANNAD, which turned me off since I didn’t go into the show wanting a harem anime.  Don’t get me wrong, I like CLANNAD well enough, but that wasn’t what I expected from Ro-Kyu-Bu!.  Each of the girls gets a cute little introduction, complete with her name and future moe scenes in the background.  The song is pop-y and upbeat, and I don’t really have any complaints about it except that it isn’t really anything special.
ED: “Party Love ~ Okkiku Naritai~ (Party Love~おっきくなりたい~)” by RO-KYU-BU! (Kana Hanazawa, Rina Hidaka, Youko Hikasa, Yuka Higuchi, Yui Oguri)–As equally peppy and energetic as the OP, the music once again showcases the cute girls doing cute things…like leap-frogging over one another.

Kamisama no Memochou: Currently watching
I’m glad that this show has come about now, just as I finished up watching GOSICK.  I am quite fond of mystery plots, and wasn’t looking forward to completing GOSICK, but Memochou seems to be a wonderful addition to the genre.  Though I’ll miss the setting of 1920s France, this present time Japan–complete with its NEET cast members, high school prostitution rings, and yakuza–is equally as fascinating.  Victorique and Alice also share a common isolation and extensive webs of knowledge, though Alice’s appears to be one of her own making.  The ragtag bunch of members who undertake Alice’s inquiries also remind me greatly of the characters in Durarara!!, as they represent various communities within the city and work together to better their environment.  I’m not yet sure what their individual motivations are and why they are NEETs, but I’m sure that their backgrounds will get covered in later episodes.  I very much hope that this show will be at least 20-some episodes, as I have a hard time imagining all the characters getting adequate screen time in only 12.  The pacing of this opening episode felt well balanced between the center investigation and Narumi’s initiation into God’s Notebook (I’m not sure if this is the actual name of the self-proclaimed organization).

The art, once again, excels in Memochou, shifting between the drab colors of the uglier sides of the city, and the more saturated pastels of the school setting and Alice’s work/sleep area.  As of now, the animation felt smooth and I didn’t notice anything worrisome.  Occasional shots of scenery above and surrounding the city show gorgeous details in the sky and and trees, and I hope that the quality of background art maintains itself throughout the anime.

OP: “Kawaru Mirai (カワルミライ)” by Choucho–I always enjoy opening sequences that showcase each of the characters going about their regular days.  Alice is repeatedly shown as the connection between them all, with her images usually highly stylized with monocolor filters.  The closing shot of Alice in the OP shows her turning with a smile and a tear rolling down her face, the significance of which I hope actually has meaning later on in the season.  The music itself is enjoyable enough, though not really memorable.
ED: #1: “Colorado Bulldog” by Mr. Big (ep 1)–Huh, well this is certainly unique.  The sing-y spoken intro, followed by fast-paced rock induces head-bobbing.  I’m not exactly sure how well it suits the anime itself, except that it’s accompanied by an equally rhythmic slideshow of filtered city images and evokes a definite feeling of urban unrest.  According to ANN and MAL, the ED actually changes after this first episode, so I’m curious as to how the new ED will differ from this one.

Double-J: Dropped
With my preview of this show, I had no idea that the art style would be so different from what I expected, nor that the episodes themselves would only be four minutes each.  Neither of those factors, however, really affect my overall negative reaction to Double-J.  The girls in this anime are all members, or members-to-be, of a “Traditional Arts Preservation Club,” a club that essentially glorifies pretty much any mundane craft, like the carving of toothpick incisions. I have a feeling that this show is supposed to be comedy of sorts, but I have a hard time really feeling anything from scenes I view unremarkable in dialogue or action.  Someone with knowledge or understanding of this please cue me in to what I’m supposed to make of the humor!

The characters are the sole beings of color and animation, with the background being mostly black and white, as well as live stills of actual settings.  The animation is also quite minimal, with the girls usually just sliding into the screen and only moving their mouths for dialogue or blinking.

OP: “Wani to Shampoo” (ワニとシャンプー) by Momoiro Clover Z–Colorful, artsy,  bunch of girls singing, no thoughts really on this.
ED: N/A

10 thoughts on “Initial Impressions: Ikoku Meiro, Ro-Kyu-Bu!, Memochou, Double-J

  1. I haven’t seen any of the shows yet, but I’ll hopefully get around to watching them some time soon.

    Ikoku Meiro – Looks really good. Anything with nice animation set in France has to be awesome.

    Ro-Kyu-Bu! – Bleh. I don’t mind moe, but their heads are really awkwardly set on their necks, like they’re too big or something. From what you’ve said it sounds pretty terrible. Probably won’t watch it.

    Kamisama no Memochou – I was planning on passing this up, but as soon as you compared it to Durarara, I knew I had to give it a try. Sounds promising.

    Double-J – The art is kind of strange.:/ It seriously doesn’t look interesting at all.

    Oh, and I don’t know if you noticed, but happy 10,000 views! x3

    Like

    • Awww, thanks Nadja! And I didn’t notice! Thanks for pointing it out🙂
      Yeah, it’s like Ro-Kyu-Bu! is really pushing the loli factor, especially with the over-sized heads that you mention. *shudder*
      You’ll have to let me know what you think of Memochou if you ever try it out.

      Like

      • They’re pretty top heavy. Every time I see that pink-haired girl with the “cute” ponytail jutting out of her head, I think she’s going to fall face first onto the court.

        Of course! I’ll be back at 20,000 views.😉

        I will try Memochou out sometime soon. I need to stop watching so much shonen, and start watching all these new shows. xD

        Like

  2. I really enjoyed the first episode of Ikoku Meiro no Croisée. The setting is probably the best aspect and seems to be a major focus in the story, along with having two people from different worlds get to know each other, but I wonder what they’ll do for the next 11 episodes. And I never realized how bright and complex Yune’s kimonos are compared to the clothing on everyone else until you mentioned it. I wonder if they’ll change every episode or if any kimonos will be repeated.

    Like

    • I would love it if they took the time to change her kimonos every now and then throughout the season, though it’s more realistic if it doesn’t change every episode. I, too, wonder what else can be done in this anime since the conflict of her new French family was overcome pretty quickly within this first episode. I suppose that since she’s supposed to be a “shop girl” that she may actually bring in more business to the metalwork shop, and perhaps even to the entire gallery as well. To be honest, I’m not so concerned with plot here as with just getting to know Yune more :p

      Like

      • Looks like Yune wore 2 new kimonos in the second episode, which is great. I think that’s about 5 different kimonos she’s worn and, if you include the one from her mother, then there are 6 that she brought over. Glad that they spent so much time planning, designing, and then animating the different kimonos she’s worn. And of course, I might be wrong here, since I’ve never paid attention to differences in clothes in an anime before.

        Like

      • Oooh, I’m glad to hear there are more kimono for my viewing pleasure >.< I hope your new found attentions and appreciation for costume design in anime works to your advantage in the future and heightens your experience of the overall show.

        Like

  3. I started Ro-Kyu-Bu! earlier today and watched eps 1-6 and so far found it great. A pity you didn’t like it.

    One thing I especially like about it, is that different from many shows from the moe sport trend (not also sports but also sometimes a game or art) the girls do take the sport seriously (it may not seem as much in the first episode, but if you went further you would see how much each of then works hard) and how the sport isn’t exaggerated (while some of the characters are quite skilled for their age, you don’t see things like “super attacks” and the like, it’s more realistic). The working harder part is very important for me. When you see how much they worked hard for something, it makes their challenges more exciting, where one may find themselves seriously rooting for them, and there is great satisfaction in seeing their effort pay off.

    While the fanservice is also part of the story, it doesn’t take a main part on it. While this show does have it’s moments of background fanservice, like you said when they’re playing with those clothes, the story was so engaging sometimes that I would not notice it. But i guess opposite to you, I do like lolicon fanservice, so it isn’t a down point.

    I see what you mean about the grown, but I didn’t bother by it at all. From my experience, having girls very developed for their age and also girls very underdeveloped for their age is something very common in anime nowdays and don’t really bother me any bit. Btw that “cat-like older sister” is actually his aunt. He does call her nee-san probably because she prob feels more like that with both her personality and looks.

    From your post it does seems like the fansevice and situations does bother you a lot, but if you think you could watch it looking past those, then maybe this show may be worth a couple more of episodes before deciding on dropping it or not. There may be a jewel hidden there!

    Sorry if I tried defending it way too zealous, but I also was expecting only a fanservice show, which would be fine, but it surprised me with very interesting characters and story, which made me quite happy.

    I’m behind a lot on this season and catching up slowly. So far didn’t start Memochou nor Croisée, but should do it soon and like RKB watch all the released episodes in a row, so can’t comment about them right now. And Double J already commented elsewhere.

    Like

    • Well, I may try out a 2nd episode if my list of anime-to-watch dries up and/or I’m bored with what I’m watching at the time. I usually do give anime at least 3 episodes before dropping, but I was super turned off by the ridiculous maid outfits and shower scene. It all felt so awkward and out-of-place. And their heads…their over-large heads on spindly little bodies…. *shudder* :p
      You know what’s weird though, is that there are some shows that are FULL of fan service that don’t bother me at all. I either take the sexual images as humor, and laugh at how strangely shaped the boobs are, or I find the story interesting enough to overlook the fan service. Sadly, I felt like Ro-Kyu-Bu! would go neither way.

      I really encourage you to try out Memochou and Croisee, both of which are highly enjoyable. Yune is definitely one of my favorite females of 2011.

      Like

Please tell me what you think!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s