Like with Shirokuma Cafe, Sankarea wasn’t even close to being on my radar after my season preview. I’m just not feeling the whole anime zombie craze. I was good with Highschool of the Dead‘s rampant sexuality and gore, but dropped Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? after just one episode. Sankarea looks to be riding on their coattails with its generic pretty girl and cat-haired male lead. And yet, I read a few reviews, notably from The Cart Driver and Guardian Enzo, that tempted me to ignore the warning bells going off in my head.
I immediately noticed some gorgeous cinematography at the start with Rea’s little scene at the well; that, and the lighting, particularly in the bowling alley, have a very SHAFT-like effect (take a careful look at the staff involved and you’ll see why). Thankfully, the angled shots and lighting aren’t overdone in questionable taste like so many SHAFT shows, but lend just enough atmosphere to keep me interested. I also like that despite the otherwise archetypical female characters, our male protagonist has some sense of identity, even if it involves a fetish for zombies and possible necrophilia. I especially enjoyed his little chat with Rea at the end, where he teases her for reacting like a typical ojou-sama. His scolding of her gullibility is the same reaction I often have when encountering girls like her.
I think another reason why I’m holding onto this for now is my sheer curiosity for whether or not Furuya will be able to turn either Rea or Babu into a zombie. And if he can, I want to see what type of zombie it will be: a decayed one like those in the films, or if they’ll look just as they did while living.
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
Due to the sharp directing for the opening episode, Amnesia has jumped very high up my list of expectations. They can’t re-use the narrative style used here, so I’ll be interested to see what direction the show will take after this hilarious introduction to our characters and setting.
[spoiler] After the first couple of minutes into the episode, I had a feeling we would go through a rewind–the opportunity was just too good to miss for laughs at how ridiculously dense Momoe is. The humor increased ten-fold once the audience was able to see Yuuko the way Kirie and Teiichi could. Along with how unbelievable Momoe’s lack of attention to her surroundings is, I do find it odd that neither of the two who can see her have said nothing about the phenomenon to their paranormal-loving friend. Their attempts to cover up their interactions with Yuuko are barely there, and if not for Yuuko’s attempts to gain Momoe’s attention, I would assume that she had requested that they keep her a secret. [/spoiler]
Along with this clever set-up, the art direction surprised me with its unique angled shots, lighting (particularly in the service elevator scene), and attractive character designs. Amnesia’s characters remind me a bit of those in Haganai, with their emphasized and pearly lips. Talking about the character similarities between Haganai and Amnesia, even the personalities are somewhat alike. There’s an obvious comparability between Rika’s passion for robots and Momoe’s obsession with the paranormal. They’re both also cute in a hyperactive puppy kind of way. Though Yozora’s bullying streak looks to be absent from Kirie’s personality, it looks like Kirie, too, keeps a secret from her friends. The focus on her troubled face when Yuuko’s past came up felt like I was getting smacked over the head with a frying pan. I’m hoping that call for attention is nothing but a fake-out that will be re-directed with further illumination of Kirie’s role in the story.
I feel like the real test for this show will come in the next couple of episodes. I’m hoping Amnesia can deliver on the promise it made with this excellent start, and that whatever backstory they use to explain how the club was established maintains my interest in much the same as this short romp with our characters.
Inspired in title by Norse mythology, Jormungand features the controversial topic of arms trade. If you’ve seen Iron Man or Lord of War, you might have an inkling of an idea of the worldwide influence that those in the arms trade have. The history is long and diverse, leaving no country untouched. And yet, it wasn’t the guns that these opening episode focused on so much as the characters–one character, in particular. I’ll save you most of the comparisons I could make to the oft-mentioned Black Lagoon, and zero in on the aspect of both that I found most enjoyable. Amidst all the cold-blooded killing, there’s a semblance of a family amongst these arms dealers.
Our characters and setting circle around Koko Hekmatyar, an arms dealer who works for a weapons corporation all while accompanied by a diverse crew skilled in a variety of fighting styles. In much the same way that she seems to have captured the hearts of those who work for her, I found myself fascinated with her seemingly effortless ability to balance a carefree attitude with an iron grip on business matters. At one moment, she’s an annoying young woman who doesn’t care enough about her own safety, and at the next, her fearlessness looks justified in the face of her defeated adversaries. Her strange way of life is further highlighted by the company of her newly hired child soldier, “Jonah”. His deep hatred for weapons and everyone who handles them only emphasizes the oddity of his decision to work for a dealer, and a good reason why I’m watching this is because I want to know what it was about her that convinced him to protect her. In this, the show has succeeded in investing my interests in our characters and their motivations.
As for the mechanics of art style, voice acting, pacing, and narration, I don’t really have any complaints. The art is markedly different than most other shows that I’m watching, with its distinctly seinen look and feel–the characters mostly all have pronounced chins and noses, and the eyes have an odd dullness to them that reminds me of Steins;Gate. I don’t dislike it, but it’ll take some getting used to. The action also doesn’t look the smoothest, but I actually prefer its choppiness as a complement to the show’s rugged feel.