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!
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 🙂
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
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.
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.
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.