Initial Impressions: Bunny Drop, Mawaru Penguindrum, NO.6, Blood-C

Bunny Drop: On-hold
I know many readers who see my “On-hold” status on this show and are probably slightly apalled at my poor taste due to the overwhelming hype that this show has gotten.  Not only is the anime broadcasting on the notorious, high-quality noitaminA, but it also features a unique art style and story set up.  The magic’s in the cards, it would seem.  Although I do applaud Bunny Drop for its nostalgic, sketch-like art, as well as for its less than appetizing portrayal of some humans’ lack of warmth, this first episode failed to “ring the bell of happiness.”  Never once in the 22 minutes did I feel particularly drawn to any one character, not even to Rin, who I figured would clench my affections immediately.  Yes, I felt terrible for her situation, and yes, I was horrified at the family’s reluctance to take her in; however, the personalities of every character, including Rin and Daikichi, were so bland that I would easily forget them if I were to meet them in reality.  Nevertheless, I will continue to try this show out before I make my final decision on keeping or kicking it.

Although I did not gravitate to any of the characters, I was fascinated at the interactions between them, between “close” family members and between those…not-so-close.  Even though Daikichi has the typical father, mother, and siblings, they lacked the family feel, that feeling of kinship and closeness.  His infrequent visits are mentioned, and through the course of the episode, it comes as no surprise why he would rather not spend time with them.  Instead, he is compelled to watch the little girl who everyone else is too embarrassed to acknowledge, a little girl who is rightfully his aunt.  She, too, watches him back, and mimics his motions from time to time when she thinks no one is looking.  I can only hope that through their relationship, the two grow into their characters.

OP: “Sweet Drops” by Puffy–I’m not sure why, but this song feels like a sing-a-long song I might have sung back in the day when I was a kid.  The crayon-like drawings only promote these young feelings of excitement for life and exploration of the unknown.  I really love the whole rotating world image, whose colors and playful shapes make me hopeful of what’s to come further into the season.
ED: “High HighHigh” by Kasarinchu–Similar in art to the OP, this ED looks a bit more like sponged water colors, though they’re just as vibrant and heartwarming.  The contrast from the muted tones in the main episode is startling, but refreshing–an invigoration that is mimicked in the soulful, yet spirited singing.

Mawaru Penguindrum: Currently watching
This was yet another show this season for which I had absolutely no information, or an inkling of what genre it might be.  There were some teaser clips out there, but each one of them was vague and completely different in style from the other.  Even after having seen the first episode, I’m still unsure as to what this show is about…but that’s okay! Penguindrum executed the unpredictable very well, not only delighting the senses with its use of bright colors and playful art style, but also with its plot elements.  The show is a visual treat; the Takakura home stands out from its neighboring homes with its clashing paint colors and bright home accessories.  It has a feeling of a kid’s playhouse, but a playhouse where an adult might actually live.  Although the brothers were annoying at the start, their interaction with their sister, Himari, was extremely interesting to see, as it was easy to tell that behind all of their jokes and grins was the horrible truth about Himari’s health.

This sounds like it might be a more serious drama, but the whimsical graphics are a hint of the upcoming shift in tension.  What began as a moving story about family ties suddenly turns into a fantastical comedy, including life after death, a mysterious shipment, and three super-intelligent penguins! I’ve always been a sucker for cute creatures that exhibit human-like understanding and behaviors, and these penguins look to be some fine additions to my list of favorites (which include Aria-shachou of ARIA and Ein of Cowboy Bebop).  There are three penguins for the three siblings, who also pair up gender-wise.  The penguins can run errands, chop vegetables, knit…the list goes on and on.  Their arrival also reminds me of Mr. Popper’s Penguins.  The biggest difference? No one else but the Takakura siblings can see them, and there is an indication of a price to be paid for the extension on Himari’s life.

OP: “Noruniru” by Etsuko Yakushimaru and the Metro Orchestra–The music and images of the opening are just as randomly wonderful as life-post-penguins, and also remind me of the online world in Summer Wars.  There are quite a few unknown characters featured whom I’m excited to meet in the upcoming episodes.  Can anyone tell me the significance of the Kiga apple?
ED: “Dear Future” by Coaltar of the Deepers–Sensual images of Himari and other female characters are the main treats for this ending theme, though the Alternative rock sound of the music is a bit of an odd pairing.

Side note: I used a screenshot from this episode as one of my blog banners, and will keep it until some more quality fan art comes out.  Feel free to send me image links of characters with foods or beverages that you think I might like to use!

NO.6: On-hold
I went into this show thinking it would be my sci-fi of the season, but I found myself too skeptical of the setting and its characters to fully enjoy my excursion.  The show places you in a seemingly idealistic world, where the citizens want for nothing and whose environment is dependent on futuristic technology.  We later discover that the current setting is one of six regional city-states built after the destructive wars that wrecked the majority of Earth’s habitats.  The inhabitants are predictably lax about their lifestyles, and think little of how their lives are maintained and what the world is like outside their havens.  Our protagonist, child-genius Shion, lives a life of comfort and privilege until a typhoon comes–bringing a stranger in its midst.  This stranger, a young man who calls himself “Nezumi,” is on the run from the authorities and hints of their darker intentions.  Shion’s curiosity and graciousness in hiding Nezumi, a declared fugitive, places Shion’s elite status at risk.  The two males’ interactions have a yaoi feel to them, with the small confines of Shion’s room forcing them physically closer together and our protagonist’s inquisitiveness relaxing Nezumi’s agitation.  We even get a bit of hand holding as the two fall asleep.

The art style of NO.6 leaves little to complain about, with its detailed city and nature backdrops and clean animation.  The design of the characters themselves are fine, but nothing particularly special as of yet, excepting the close-up of Nezumi’s eyes, which are piercing.  I do find it interesting that the males and females are relatively close in outline, with no attention given at all to distinguishing overt feminine traits like breasts.  Shion’s school friend, Safu, as well as his own mother, wear clothes with high necklines.  While this is a nice change from the slew of monster-boobed dolls rampaging through anime, the lack of femininity makes the yaoi tension even more evident.

OP: “Spell” by LAMA–I thought the song would be a typical J-Rock kind of song, but once the voices started, I was pleasantly surprised.  Instead of matured vocals, the singing sounds higher-pitched and almost childlike.  It’s hard to describe, but the voices aren’t annoyingly childish, but eccentric in an interestingly good way.  The visuals get a nice boost of originality with small sections of photo mosaics.
ED: “Rokutousei no Yoru (六等星の夜)” by Aimer–The slow, piano melody accompanies a low, but heart-felt vocals, which very much suit the nostalgic images of Shion and Nezumi.  There’s a definite sadness in the music, mingled with a bit of hope.

Blood-C: Currently watching
The Saya I know from Blood: The Last Vampire is very like the sword she wields, swift, sharp, and cold.  She holds no close ties to friends or family, and seems incapable of smiling.  Production I.G.’s Saya lacks all of these battle-earned traits for a huge chunk of the first episode, exhibiting true CLAMP magical girl syndrome with her guileless smile and bouncing skip.  We spend a strange amount of time just watching her as she walks to school, singing whimsically to no one but herself.  An equally awkward amount of time is spent following her on a regular school day, surrounded by friends.  The vast differences in character across adaptations makes this sweet Saya hard to accept.  She still has her family, friends, and joy for life.  Since I’ve never seen Blood+, I can’t tell if the change includes that series as well.  I’m sure that this utopian start will soon be shattered, and will later be used for fond remembrances during harder times.  The end battle is excellently executed, though cumbersomely attached to the rest of the fluffy episode with the sudden shift in her attitude.

The art is typical of CLAMP, with the impossibly long, slender limbs and flouncy female hairstyles.  Half the time, I confused Saya with the bubbly Himawari-chan of xxxHOLiC.  The long, awaited action sequence at the end of the episode was highly enjoyable, though I’m still not sure completely worth the cheesy start.  Regardless, the animation of Saya’s sword battle with the aged one succeeded in jolting my adrenaline, like many of Syaoran’s battles did in Tsubasa Chronicle.  I’m not completely sure yet if I’m staying with this show because of my love for xxxHOLiC or if because I’m genuinely interested in seeing how this Saya turns out.

OP: “Spiral” by DUSTZ–With a bit of an off-beat rock feel, the song suits the juxtaposed visuals of regular, school-life Saya and blood-spattered Saya.  I don’t particularly enjoy the male vocals, but the overall song is alright.
ED: “Junketsu Paradox (純潔パラドックス)” by Nana Mizuki–J-pop accompanies still images of Saya sitting in various backgrounds…forgettable.

10 thoughts on “Initial Impressions: Bunny Drop, Mawaru Penguindrum, NO.6, Blood-C

  1. You seem to have an aversion for mellow anime without much going on. I found Usagi Drop to be a fantastic example of what shows could do if they stripped away all the cuteness and action. I still like those aspects as much as the next person, but it’s nice to see what can be accomplished without it.

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    • Well, Bunny Drop definitely took away action, but I still found a good amount of cuteness in Rin. And I actually like mellow anime like ARIA, Kino no Tabi, etc. I have a hard time really pinning down what it was that disappointed me about Bunny Drop, except to say that my expectations were probably too high. But, it’s only the first episode, so there’s a lot of room for my mind to change on the show.

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  2. It’s kinda fun how this article is structured since these are my 4 top shows of the season in order from 1 to 4. I find it interesting that you mention the character’s personalities as a turn off (“the personalities of every character, including Rin and Daikichi, were so bland that I would easily forget them if I were to meet them in reality.”) when that’s a major plus for me. It’s nice seeing more realistic personalities in an anime, normal people who you might meet once and then forget thereafter, compared to carbon-copy reprints of popular anime characters and tired stereotypes. Not that I automatically hate those but I’m glad there’s some variety this season with Bunny Drop.

    And for Blood C, I kinda feel the same way you do in that I’m not sure if I’m watching Blood C because I loved xxxHOLiC or if I’m truly interested in Blood C itself. Guess it’ll take a few more episodes before we see what Blood C has to offer before we can distinguish our reasons for watching it.

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    • That is a coincidence about my organization and your order of preference! As for the personalities of the Bunny Drop characters, it’s not so much a turn off as just a lack of a…turn on. Does that make sense? I think real people are slightly more animated than the people in that first episode, but hey, maybe I just know really spirited people.

      I hope both you and me find Blood-C more distinguishable from xxxHOLiC as the season progresses. it would be a real shame to the sequel and to CLAMP if that were not so. Have you seen any other Blood adaptations?

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      • I have not seen any other Blood adaptations, so I have no clue what the series is supposed to be like or what CLAMP is trying to do with the series. Either way, i think what they’re doing is fine since I’ve always enjoyed CLAMP anime in some way or another and I figure Blood C will pick up around the 3rd or 4th episode and be a pretty good series in the end.

        And going back to Usagi Drop, I get what you’re saying that they’re not a turn off and not a turn on. Guess it was something I was looking forward to that the series capitalized on in the first episode. I hope you enjoy the second one when we get to see what the series is really about.

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  3. I think I’ll pick up the penguin show once my schedule opens up in the beginning of August. I still haven’t completely caught up with the shows I’m currently watching!

    Thanks. Your previews/reviews are fantastic for those of us that are unable to devote such large portions of our time seeking and filtering out good anime.

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    • I’m glad to be of some help to you! And that’s the whole point of my previews/reviews, to help me actually think about the things I watch, and to help others find anime that suit their tastes.

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