Initial Impressions: Sankarea, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, Jormungand

Sankarea
Undecided

Like with Shirokuma CafeSankarea 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.

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Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
Watching

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.

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Jormungand
Watching

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.

16 thoughts on “Initial Impressions: Sankarea, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia, Jormungand

  1. I think I’ll leave Sankarea on hold for now.
    I’ll watch Amnesia episode one later today.
    Jormungand is obviously on my watchlist. I mean for Pete’s sake: AnoHana’s Menma growing up to become an unpredictable female Joker, arms dealing, a hot one-sided lesbian with an eyepatch and a Gunslinger Boy? Count me in!

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    • I’m curious what you’ll think of Amnesia. I hope you didn’t spoil yourself by reading what I said about it!

      Oh dear, and comparing Koko to Menma! My poor fantasies have been demolished!

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      • I didn’t read your analysis of Amnesia. I’ll check it out after episode 2.

        Well, Menma and Koko have the exact same color scheme, hairstyle and mannerisms (When Koko isn’t in Joker Mode of course) so one can easily mistake them for being the same person (Alternate Universe logic at work here. In the anime universe, all’s fair due to logic not existing at all. It is a well known fact my friend.

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    • Look it up😉 Some good stuff featuring Thor and the end of the world.

      And…
      NO! NO I will not watch Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?! *becomes a deadweight to your recommendation*

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  2. At least none of these jump out at me and really make me mad I can’t watch. I could use less torture. Don’t get me wrong I wager I might enjoy all three of them if I could watch.

    Side note I’m not liking the direction Afterstory is taking so it seems I’ll prefer the first part myself. I still have plenty of episodes to go so it may change, but I’m seriously doubting it. It’s pretty much removed most of the stuff I enjoyed.

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  3. It just feels like it’s a different genre. It’s more focused now, but feels like someone hit fast foward and it’s all happening to fast. It’s more serious and has lost that fine balance of melancholy and humor. Then again I just really dislike being sad.

    The the thing is I found myself getting sad when they were happy. Now that it’s trying to be sad again I’m not. So I’ll see if my thoughts change as it nears its end.

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    • I just saw the 2nd ep. and think that this show just might be a keeper. I love the overall feel of the show, and I can’t help but be curious about how Rea could ever turn into a zombie.

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  4. I’m not feeling it for Sankarea. I wasn’t interested in the idea to begin with, so it was pretty easy for me to drop after episode 1.

    Amnesia, however, surprised me on several counts, including what you said about sharp directing, including the art direction. I’m not sure how long I will keep it, but I will definitely watch episode 2 to see how things progress.

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    • It seems to be the general consensus among bloggers and forums, from what I’ve read, that the 2nd ep. will be the better hint of what this show will be like. Its first episode, however, will still probably remain one of my favorite of the season.

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  5. Good choice with Jormungand – I don’t think there’s a blogger out there who isn’t watching it.

    For me it was the other way around with Sankarea and Amnesia – I liked how Sankarea felt more like a romance with almost no comedy and after watching the second episode the story gains a lot of depth so I recommend you don’t drop it quite yet (as long as you don’t mind the story getting a little bit twisted).

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    • That’s a good point you raise about Sankarea. I didn’t really consider the comedy aspect about it, but you’re right that that’s because it’s not really there. The romance was even more endearing in the 2nd ep., particularly when Rea almost trips over the bowling ball and quickly goes to tuck her skirt in. I’m sticking it out!

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