Initial Thoughts: Chihayafuru, Tamayura, Horizon, Kimi to Boku., Ben-to

We’ve got a mixed bag here, with a few jumping wholeheartedly into my watch list, and the other two standing back with dumb expressions on their faces.  For the sake of trimming down my number of shows for this season, as well as preserving what little dignity I have left for quality, I may very likely drop the one about which I’m currently hesitating.  I’ve still got three more shows (Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam, UN-GO, and Guilty Crown) to try out before my fall initial impressions can be finished!

Chihayafuru
Watching
Sweet Tooth, if you’re reading this, I believe this may be an anime you’ll want to watch this season.  The game of choice: karuta.  In this case, the Japanese card game involves short poems known as “tanka.”  I picked up the show not only because I thought the promotional art pretty and because of the hinted romance, but also because I like anime that feature games, like Hikaru no Go and Shion no Ou.  The first episode of this new season did not disappoint in the slightest, and I have high hopes that it may even surpass my enjoyment of the other two.  Our female protagonist is lovely, at least until she opens her mouth and alienates all the students around her, though I’m still as enchanted.  Her seemingly single-minded love for the game has her posting notices for the creation of a karuta club.  There doesn’t look to be a lot of love amongst other high school students for the game, and I wonder if that’s because it’s considered somewhat childish, or if it’s just a reflection of the decline in young people’s interest in traditional arts.

A good percentage of the episode features some back story, as we meet the person who introduced Chihaya to karuta.  The interactions between Chihaya and her classmates felt very realistic, since grade school Chihaya is easy to like due to her high energy and friendliness.  She’s quick to befriend the ostracized transfer student, and he gives her a wonderful gift in return.  The storytelling run smoothly and I’m pleased with the quality of art.  My only concern is about the direction this show will take; I’m sensing a good amount of drama stirring beneath the surface, what with Chihaya’s two probable suitors in-the-making.  I’m reminded of Hanasaku Iroha, which also pleased me at the start with its art and possible plot of substance.  Instead, it quickly changed into more of a slice-of-life–not necessarily a bad thing, but not what I was set up for and then anticipated.  I would very much like for Chihayafuru to tell a more in-depth story, but still provide me with some exciting karuta matches🙂

Tamayura ~hitotose~
Watching
I recall hearing some predictions that this show would be ARIA in disguise, complete with its impossibly sweet females, healing hobbies, and nostalgic scenery.  As a lover of ARIA, I would have to say that this prediction proves true…as of now.  The many photographs by Fu and her father tug at the sentimental strings of your heart.  Anime photos though they may be, I still was able to appreciate each shot’s framing and lighting, in particular the image of young Fu and Chihiro leaning against each other on the couch next to a couple of pillows mirroring the girls’ positions.  The characters follow suit, and are so sweet that you might find them a bit, or maybe a lot, candy-cotton sticky.  Such kind and thoughtful people certainly do exist in real life–I have a cousin like that–but I have a hard time believing that Fu has conveniently surrounded herself with like-minded people.  And while I often have an evil desire to prod my cousin until she gives in and reacts badly for once, I almost never have that desire with characters in ARIA, nor did I feel that way in the first episode of Tamayura.  I wonder why that is…  Her friend, Chihiro, is also the embodiment of the best friend you could ever ask for, so I already feel attached to her after only one episode.  I love that this anime starts with a good-bye.

Unlike in ARIA, Tamayura opens up with the somber knowledge of Fu’s father’s death, with Chihiro tip-toeing around Fu in fear of reminding her of her loss.  Although Fu seems to move on in this episode, picking up her father’s camera and pulling away from the grieving period, that sterner beginning has already ingrained itself in my impressions of this anime.  I’m hoping that Tamayura goes back to those emotions now and again and doesn’t just overlook them.  I’m looking for clouds with substance, ones across which I can leisurely walk🙂

Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon
Dropped
This show is pure idiocy.  What I see here is a shameless and degrading fan service fantasy disguising itself as some sort of complicated post-war/trauma sci-fi world where the inhabitants intentionally re-enact history.  Who are they kidding here? I don’t know what possessed me to give this show another chance by sitting through the moronic second episode, but I did, and my opinion of the show and its characters has only soured further.  There is nothing, absolutely nothing (ok, except for the shiny graphics) that I find redeeming about Horizon.  The tone tries to jump between sexually comedic and politically intriguing, but fails at both.  How in the world is a guy who forcibly grabs a female’s chest amusing, at all? How is the school anything but a joke when its teachers allow zero attention paid to the subjects at hand? Sunrise, you disappoint me, even more so than with how you disappointed me with Sacred Seven.  At least your characters in that show were mildly likeable.  Horizon is off the list, leaving much needed room for shows actually worth their time taken on television.

Kimi to Boku.
On-hold
Also two episodes in on this show, I’m still undecided.  There’s nothing as of yet that distinguishes the characters of this show, sex-wise, from any another s’life anime–worse, these characters and their actions are even more bland that the stereotypical school show.  I really wish that wasn’t the case, since I had a lot of hope for Kimi to Boku., a show that looked to be the Sora no Woto for males.  The graphics are there, with their softer tones and lines, as well as with the cat-life inserts.  Visually, I like what I see.  Once the actors step on the stage and the dialogue begins, however, I start zoning out and wondering how much longer the episode will last.  The quartet of friends are impossibly nice to one another and spend time together doing absolutely nothing except talking, eating, and brushing hair.  What group of straight, non-Thespian, male friends have you ever seen do this in high school? I certainly can think of none, and bet that you can’t, either.  Not only are their activities with each other abnormal, but their conversations themselves are no where interesting enough to warrant  the time forced listening to them.  They reminisce about their childhoods, again something about which I never heard any male friends discuss, and talk about mundane, day-to-day aspects of life.

The second episode was only a tad more mildly interesting, since we do get a bit of bullying of our main lead.  However, that quickly became tiring after the culprit’s second prank.  I know I would have definitely not put up with such out-of-place behavior and demanded some sort of explanation much earlier.  At the moment, Kimi to Boku. stands right on the precipice of my drop-list, and will have to work hard to win my interest back with the third episode.

Ben-to
Watching
I read a review for the first episode before actually watching it for myself, and I’m kind of glad that I did.  The reviewer completely smeared this show, complaining about video quality, characters, plot, and fan service.  I was pretty horrified since I had this show at the top of my anticipations for this season.  With extremely low expectations, I delved into what I thought would be a terrible, terrible work, and came away satisfied that I had not given in to ignoring what may be one of the most fun series for the fall.  The aforementioned reviewer was not completely incorrect when he/she argued against the characters and fan service, since we do have generic set ups for both.  The Ice Witch looks to be your standard kuudere, we have a megane girl with a fujoshi-like love for physical fights, and bland boy A stands to become the unnatural love interest of every female character.  He also has a blatant fetish for thigh-high stockings, as we’re confronted with large screenshots of various female thighs several times throughout the episode.

But, hey! Ben-to‘s premise is too awesome to go ignore, and the mixture of comedy and action was deeply satisfying.  Much like the unnatural appeal of the very scary looking sticky natto rice bowl bento with its juicy cheese topping, I can not stop myself from wanting to see what happens, if Saito will ever fight his way through to the bento and whether or not he’ll join this mysterious club fronted by the Ice Witch.  If you want to stay alive here, give in to the madness that is Ben-to.

16 thoughts on “Initial Thoughts: Chihayafuru, Tamayura, Horizon, Kimi to Boku., Ben-to

  1. i’ve read a couple of reviews and it seems that many people like Chihayafuru.. though i didn’t really find the game Karuta interesting, i would still like to watch this anime.. as similar to what you have mentioned, i also see romance in this anime && i just can’t let that pass, as well as the really great graphics&art.. most importantly, i just don’t want to pass another show with Miyano, Mamoru.. xD

    as for Tamayura, i’ve watched the OVA back then && i did liked it… but then, i’m still thinking twice about watching it right now, i actually plan to marathon this once it’s done..

    with Horizon, we ended up having the same view. though i haven’t really watched the 2nd episode, i find the 1st one ridiculous… i don’t know about watching the 2nd episode but i’m already thinking of dropping this as well…

    now with Kimi to Boku which from what i’ve read didn’t really please a lot of people, i practically ended up being one of the few people that found this anime good… i don’t know how&why but i practically find this amusing more than K-ON! & A Channel which have similar genres.

    as for Ben-To who never caught my interest during the preview, after reading a really interesting review, i decided to watch it anyway && i wasn’t disappointed at all.. though i find the idea of fighting for half-priced bento kind of ridiculous, i still find this anime amusing😀

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    • Wow, you’re the first person I’ve heard decide to marathon Tamayura ~hitotose~. Is there any particular reason why you want to do that? If it continues to be like ARIA, I see it more as an anime to savor and enjoy slowly.

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      • i’m still thinking about it… but then, looking back at how the OVA went, i guess it really won’t be a good idea to marathon it.. but then, there’re so many good shows to watch this season i’ll just have a hard time keeping up with everything that’s why i’m deciding which shows to place on-hold to marathon once the season ends…

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  2. I felt the same way about Ben-To – I’d read negative reviews and so was delighted by the first episode. The show doesn’t take itself seriously, and with its outrageous setup, it could be a lot of fun.

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  3. I mostly agree with you on all of these shows. In particular I am impressed with Chihayafuru. I actually knew what Karuta was, so I thought the premise was interesting (how can you turn THAT into a whole series?), and the characters and artwork have exceeded my expectations.

    As to Ben-To, I’m not ready to write it off based on one episode, as the premise is amusing, but I’m not confident that I’ll be watching it for more than the third episode. I bailed on Horizon after that first episode, and I’m glad I did, because at some point you just need to drop bad shows.

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    • Yes, sometimes I have such an incredibly hard time dropping shows that I’ve only seen one episode of, since I always feel obligated to finish what I start. I still feel a bit off about dropping Horizon since the world itself is interesting and I wish the characters/story would be just as interesting.

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  4. Chihayafuru is one of those shows that just by watching the first episode I felt it was pretty enjoyable. Can’t really put in words why though. Have god expectations for the rest of it. And despite what the students said in the show, I felt Chihaya to be very interesting and adorable, even after opening her mouth.

    Bento was interesting and fun. Usually I tend to find silly shows more dumb than funny, but for Bento it was the latter. I’m also curious about some of the characters that appear on the OP but have yet to appear on the show. Will be watching it.

    I watched all the 4 OVAs of Tamayura and didn’t like it much. Even so I gave episode 1 a try. Getting the story from the start end up with a better result for me, and it was a likeable episode. Should keep watching, but unsure how I will feel about it some episodes later.

    Horizon looked to be very interesting to me when I first heard about it. But the first episode was full of nonsense and silliness, but different from Bento it felt dumb for the most of it. The only part I really found to be funny was the main character. I tend to find pervert characters like him funny (like the main of Seitokai no Ichizon). Although I tend to dislike characters that lacks the skills in shows where battles/competitions are a focus (someone weak on a battle story, someone bad at a sport on a series that focus on said sport), so I hope his uselessness isn’t actually true. I was hoping the show would shape up from episode 2 onwards and first ep was just an odd one, but from your comments it doesn’t seems so. Chances are big I will see this to the end even though I will prob not like it, because Horizon’s universe interests me a lot. Hopefully it will get more serious later on.

    I went as far as 3/4 of the first episode of Kimi no Boku, taking almost 40m to do so as it was so boring I would often pause. I don’t like to drop after only watching that little of it, but with lot of other more interesting shows to watch, this one just didn’t feel worth the effort.

    “I’ve still got three more shows (Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam, UN-GO, and Guilty Crown) to try out before my fall initial impressions can be finished!”
    Does this means you aren’t going to follow Bakuman S2 weekly? Cause so far the first two episodes, especially the second one were really great. Couldn’t hope for a better start for this new season. If you’re going to wait in this one, you may be missing another wonderful episode a week!

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    • D: Somehow I totally missed writing up my thoughts on Bakuman 2. I have been watching it, but thought that I had already blogged my initial thoughts on it in one of my first two entries; obviously, I have not. I really enjoyed the first season, and am excited to see the tension build in this second season. The drama is already a bit more intense, what with Miho’s struggles in succeeding as VA. I’m also feeling stressed out by the editor change. So far, so good.

      Since I’ve dropped Horizon, but still feel bad about dropping it since I like the world, you’ll have to keep me up to date on your thoughts about the show and how it progresses through the season. If you discuss your weekly impressions on the MAL thread, I’ll hopefully see them there.

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  5. Ben-To is impressing me so far, and is the only one on this list I’m currently watching. I delved in expecting Ikkitousen + Food and what I got was surprisingly tame but fun and comedic. The only character I’m not really digging is Ume, she’s the typical sadistic lesbian obsessive tsundere annoyance. I like the way they do the fan service too, it’s different from the usual. Since I watched the OVA of Tamayura I need to watch that really soon, that’s a definite watch. Chihayafuru does sound interesting, so perhaps I’ll pick that up too. As for Horizon, I might give it an ep or two just to see what it’s about, but despite character designs that I’d normally fall for, I don’t have a lot of interest in it right now. Hopefully Tamayura fills the void that Usagi Drop left.

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    • I haven’t seen Ikkitousen, but I’m glad you still like it despite it being more tame than you expected. I, too, kind of dislike Ume at the moment for the same reasons you name.

      As for Tamayura, the feeling is definitely different from Usagi Drop, but they are similar in their heart-oriented atmosphere.

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