Initial Impressions: The IDOLM@STER, Baka to Test 2, Itsuka Tenma, Nekogami Yaoyorozu

The IDOLM@STER: On hold
Though I’ve never played the XBOX360 game, this episode gave me a taste of what it would seemingly be like.  In a unique narrative style, we follow twelve idols-in-training, viewing them through the eyes of the interviewer and his camera.  His questions are not audible to us, but appear as text across the screen–questions to which the girls answer while looking straight at the camera.  I was initially put off by the point of view, but slowly grew to enjoy it; however, with the revelation of the cameraman as the new, incoming producer, I don’t know if the 1st-person view will be used again.  The IDOLM@STER has the feel of a harem, with its colorful assortment of young, female idols and fresh-out-training, male producer.  The only difference in this case is that instead of the girl being chosen as the accompaniment to the male lead, the male must help the female lead find the spotlight.

The graphics remind me of K-ON! and Sora no Woto, the latter having also been produced by A-1 Pictures, and for the most part, the girls look their ages.  We do have the token boob girl, but instead of the typical shy girl and/or lech, we get a lazy bone who spends a good majority of the episode sleeping.  The quality of animation and art is good.  My only hesitation stems from the forced moe characteristics of all the girls, but that should be a given since these are girls who are willing to become whatever the public wants.

OP: “Ready!!” by 765PRO ALLSTARS–The particular version of the episode I had didn’t include the OP theme, but I believe the video I used in my Summer 2011 Preview was the OP.  If so, it does a good job of featuring each of the girls in turn, which shows since that video was the whole reason why I decided to try this anime out.  The music is cute and pop-y, representing the voices of the twelve idols.
ED: “The world is all one!!” by 765PRO ALLSTARS–Sung by the same group as in the OP, the images instead focus on their daily routines and group work and interactions.

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni!: Currently watching
STOP.  If you haven’t seen the first season, then I highly recommend that you not proceed any further into the second season without first watching its prequel.  This opening episode was obviously organized to work as a transition between both seasons, introducing each of the characters and their strange quirks in turn.  I was surprised to see that Baka to Test 2 opened with a beach episode, which usually don’t appear in a series until midway through the season as a transition or as a filler.  Though the show was just as silly and random as I remember the prequel being, due to its beach set-up, the jokes were more predictable.  Although I had fun meeting all the characters once again, I was disappointed by the decision to use an ocean setting as the opening episode of this sequel.  I had thought Silver Link a bit more original than that.  Nevertheless, for those of you who enjoyed the first season, this second one follows in the same vein of humor and will hopefully improve on their creativity in the following episodes.

The animation and art are top notch as usual, playfully integrating bright colors and textured backdrops.  I’ve always found the style reminiscent of Shaft works like Hidamari Sketch.

OP: “Kimi + Nazo + Watashi de JUMP!! (君+謎+私でJUMP!!)” by Larval Stage Planning–Though very similar in art style to the anime, the OP also features some vector-style cut outs and shapes.  The music is uplifting, but forgettable.
ED: “Eureka Baby (エウレカベイビー)” by Natsuko Aso–The start of the ED music definitely stands out since it really doesn’t fit in with the rest of the episode, with a big-band brass sound and images painted onto a cloth canvas.  The music slows and fades into disharmony, working well as an aid to the following comical situation.  I highly doubt the same music will be used again in the following episodes since this one served its purpose in the comedic skit.

Itsuka Tenma no Kuro-Usagi: On hold
Although I’ve only seen one episode each of both Itsuka Tenma and Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?, the two felt very similar setting and character-wise.  I dropped Zombie after that first viewing, but Itsuka Tenma‘s protagonist was slightly more interesting and encouraged me to give the show a couple more episodes before deciding on its final status.  Kurogane Taito is a seemingly regular high school student with a close female friend, but he is haunted by dreams that feature a beautiful little girl and a dark promise.  This regular school life overlaps with fantasy, as his dreams show a magical contract of sorts binding him and the girl called “Himea.”  In an attempt to save a fellow student’s life–who incidentally has magical powers of her own–Taito loses his life in a traffic accident, only to be resurrected by zombie-like powers.  He can neither be killed or injured, as his body miraculously heals itself almost instantly.  The source of his power is revealed as as result from his bond with Himea, who is not a dream, but a suppressed memory.

I’m a war with myself on whether are not to drop this show, since there are plenty of things wrong with it warranting the drop.  Pointless fan service abounds with almost every single girl showing off her panties, to Himea’s transformation from a six-year-old to fifteen-year-old body, and to the snake-like tentacle that attacks Mirai.  The female to male ratio also indicates that this show will most likely second as a harem.  Despite his seeming immortality, Taito bores me like many bland male leads, and all the other characters fit into perfectly designed niches.  Nothing new can be found plot or character-wise.  The two aspects of this show that caught my attention were the art and music, both of which excelled.  Though the girls wear too-short skirts designed for panty-viewing, their hair styles are gorgeous.  Himea’s hair reaches down to her feet, where it is tied off at the end.  It features a pink to blue gradient, lending her a uniqueness not often seen in most female character hair designs.  The following girls each in turn also present various color gradients that are pleasing to the eye.  The music, too, is thoughtfully paired to specific scenes for maximum auditory and visual pleasure.

OP:”Once” by Hitomi Harada–I’m not exactly sure what part of the episode was the OP theme, since there was no clear OP sequence.  There were credits and a simple piano melody playing during Taito’s and Himea’s bonding scene at the very start.  The piano then turned into an orchestral theme, though lasted only a short moment before the episode start.
ED: “Empty Cicada (空蝉)” by Shikata Akiko–This ED theme is simply gorgeous.  It opens up with a harmonized chorus, then adds in a breathy, light vocal melody.  I’m curious what the ending image sequence will be like in the following episodes, since this first one uses Kurogane Taito’s flood of childhood memories as a transition into the latter part of the episode, which works very well.

Nekogami Yaoyorozu: On hold
One thing’s for sure: Nekogami is leagues better than YuruYuri, which has a bit of the same cute-sy feel to it.  The setting is slightly more original and interesting, and the characters, again, don’t feel so cookie-cutter as the schoolgirls.  Nekogami, or “Cat God,” focuses on Mayu, the successor to the role of the Cat god.  Due to her gambling and lazy ways, she’s cast out of her home to the human world to scratch it out until she is called back.  She is also stripped of many of her powers, leaving only the trivial abilities.  Sharing a home with Yuzu, whose background still remains unknown, she seems to still live her lifestyle much the same way as before her banishment, despite her now four years on Earth.  This first episode introduces a few other deities, including the gods of Prosperity and Scarcity.

The art style in this anime is fairly simple, but well animated all throughout.  Despite its seeming simplicity, I find the softer features more suitable to the characters, who often act like misbehaving children.  It also supports the whole adorable feel of this show.  The characters are fairly flat, but the humor comes at a steady and natural pace.  Like YuruYuri, Nekogami also features a few characters with yuri inclinations, but somehow it works better in this situation, since the affections stem from childhood friendships and a promise made between parents.  I’m willing to give this show a few more episodes before deciding its status, so as to allow it to earn its place in this season’s “cute” slot.

OP: “Kami-sama to Issho (神サマといっしょ)” by Haruka Tomatsu and Yui Horie–The singing and graphics are predictably playful, featuring comical chibi and everyday scenes of the gods interacting with each other and with humans.  The singing pretty much just sounds like a couple of regular girls singing together, without any voice editing.
ED: “Oh My God♥” by Haruka Tomatsu–The ED theme definitely has a more serious sound to it, and also shows the gods doing what they do best.  I do prefer this song more to the OP, with its more structured and matured feel.

9 thoughts on “Initial Impressions: The IDOLM@STER, Baka to Test 2, Itsuka Tenma, Nekogami Yaoyorozu

  1. I think everyone who liked the first season of BakaTest is already excited after that first episode, seeing no drop off in quality or comedy. But I find it interesting to read your reviews on the other three shows, the ones you list as “on hold”. Just from reading the reviews alone, I would’ve guessed you’re watching Nekogami (due to what seems to be a beaming review) and have already dropped Kuro-Usagi (since everything was negatives until the end). Guess we’ll find out how each of those shows do in the next week or so (with what already looks like an already busy season for you).

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    • Well, despite me leaning one way or another with the on-hold shows, they’re still on that list because there were at least one or two things that opposed my overall feelings of the shows. I feel that three episodes is usually good enough to push me over the edge into keeping or dropping. I’ve made the mistake in the past of dropping an anime after hating the first episode, only to come back to it later and realize that the show really becomes worthwhile past that first impression. The same goes with the ones I like a lot at the start…shows like Deadman Wonderland. I loved it at first, but then grew to dread each coming episode.

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  2. Ho, just thought I’d drop by to see what you’d have to say about Itsuten, Idolmaster and whatever the title of the last one was. No need to read about BakaTest, since that’s a must-watch anyway. ( ̄ー ̄)
    As for Itsuten, yes, the beginning is quite non-original, and then Kagami Takaya’s writing ability kicks in a bit later. And then there’s the problem being Zexcs handling this adaption, and after Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu hardly selling any BDs at all, I guess they felt the need to add fanservice that was never there in the first place.
    Like, Taito commenting that he could see Mirai’s panties, that was a line that Zexcs made up on their own. It wasn’t even implied in the light novel.
    And I can probably keep on ranting about how Zexcs fails, but I think I’ll refrain. At least they didn’t fail with Himea’s lovely hair. And they didn’t actually butcher the first episode as much as I’d thought after seeing the PVs.
    Oh and yeah, as you might’ve figured out, there was no OP in the first episode. And if you didn’t look it up yourself, Itsuten’s OP can be found on YouTube. Like here, if hyperlinking works today.

    As for The IDOLM@STER, I haven’t actually played the original game either, but I’m almost certain that it’s way better. And then there’s the fact that the one character that I thought I’d like just happened to be voiced by Kugimiya Rie. That was… disappointing.
    Verdict: Not watching. ( ゚∀゚)アハハ八八ノヽノヽノヽノ \ / \/ \

    And Nekogami somethingsomething, good thing I stopped by here, because it seems like it’s just what I thought it’d be.
    Verdict: Not watching. ( ¬‿¬)

    On another, completely different and rather unrelated note, the name “Marina.” I love it. Mainly because it happens to be the name of my favorite seiyuu. Oh well.
    Oh, look at me, ranting away like there’s no tomorrow.

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    • I hardly ever look into the backgrounds of various producers, animators, or voice actors, so those factors usually don’t affect my feelings about an anime. Sometimes I think that’s actually for the best, since it frees me from being held back by preconceptions. Though, at times I think I should be more aware, like when I wade into a show that absolutely fries my brain with its stupidity.
      Thanks for the link to the OP of Itsuka, by the way. The link worked🙂
      And my online name is actually a twist on my real life last name, which sounds very similar. I’ve also always lived by the ocean, so I have a strong liking for water. Since I picked this name long before I got into anime, I was later surprised to find out that it was actually a pretty common Japanese name.
      Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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      • Oh, actually, seems like they switched the song in that video with the other song on the upcoming single.
        Meaning that wasn’t actually the OP. ( ¬‿¬)
        Oh well, it can’t be helped.

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  3. […] “I’m a war with myself on whether are not to drop this show, since there are plenty of things wrong with it warranting the drop. Pointless fan service abounds…The female to male ratio also indicates that this show will most likely second as a harem. Despite his seeming immortality, Taito bores me like many bland male leads, and all the other characters fit into perfectly designed niches. Nothing new can be found plot or character-wise.” – Marina Sauce […]

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