Spring sped on by in a flurry, and the rains quickly passed over to summer before I was ready. My spring in particular was a tumultuous one: I helped my boyfriend choose and move into a new house, every weekend has been redecorating and settling in, and I spent the last couple of weeks of the season in Japan. If you’re still here, thanks for sticking around 🙂 Please let me know what you watched this spring, and how your thoughts compare to mine!
Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka?
GochiUsa was hands down my favorite show of the season, though it did find a close competitor with the classic sequel, Mushishi. If I had a slow or tiresome week, an episode from this show could always guarantee a pick-up, and the slice-of-life somehow found ways to present conventional material in refreshing ways. I really liked the setting, which was a mix between Japanese culture and European old-world landscaping.
It’s shows like this one that make me realize that I’m starting to get more and more demanding of my slice-of-life shows, particularly ones that involve students. While I still enjoy the school setting to a certain degree, I usually find them lacking something to make them stand out among the other anime. For GochiUsa, it was both the setting and marginalized school. We occasionally saw them in uniform and in classes, but the vast majority of scenes took place at Rabbit House or other places around town. I was reminded of ARIA and that show’s ability to acquaint me with a city that started to feel intimate and very real.
Special ingredients: Narrowing down what made this show so special is difficult, but I’d have to go with the girls, who are basically nice girls doing nice things. However, their individual quirks really suit each one of them. Cocoa has a little sister complex and will do almost anything to gain the love of Chino and her friends. Chino is resistant to overt attention, but takes pleasure in hard work in the cafe and sweets. Rize is an interesting blend of ojou-sama and military buff, carrying her model gun to work and drawing tank latte art for customers. Sharo looks like a princess but lives extremely modestly and works multiple jobs to pay her bills–coffee is like alcohol to her and her “drunk” personality is too adorable. Chiya-chan would be a model of the Japanese Nadesico, if it weren’t for her flamboyant way of naming menu items and mischievous ideas regarding her friends. And Tippy–the speaking rabbit’s true identity still confuses me, but I came to regarding him as the happiest of them all.
Of all disastrous ways to end a show as popular as this one, ending it right before the finish of the second day and not even letting us see the third day was probably the worst thing they could have done to their fans. This anime has been a favorite of KWoo’s and I due to the subject matter of road bicycling–a popular activity here in Seattle and one that KWoo himself participates in. I am relatively new on the sport, and wanted to get to know more about it, especially with main character Onoda.
With this first season running 2 1/2 seasons, we’ve seen Onoda and his peers improve significantly, even to the point of unrealistic results, but that doesn’t stop me from cheering them on. The first and second days’ events were fairly predictable; the set up and tension were the main contributors to my excitement. Of course Onoda would catch up to this group on the first day, and of course he would retrieve Tadokoro on the second. Those are just fundamental aspects of his character. I eagerly await the result of the second day and the events of the third day with the upcoming second season.
Secret ingredienst: I absolutely adored the inclusion of Love Hime and its influence on Onoda’s cycling and the attitudes of his club members. Listening to Tadokoro sing the theme song was probably the most I laughed the entire spring season. I also enjoyed watching the shorts at the end of each episode where Imaizumi gradually came around to the anime.
Soul Eater NOT!
I originally picked up this anime out of a sense of obligation from having watching its predecessor, Soul Eater! I didn’t actually like the original, but had watched that out of another sense of obligation to understand why the anime was so popular. Despite my lackluster reasons for watching NOT!, I began to eagerly watch the anime each week. Everything about it was completely different than the original, and it hit a lot of my favorite points: slice-of-life, supernatural school, dorm room residence, light comedy, underdog mentality. I even started to take joy in pointing out the crossovers between the two series.
The friendship of Tsugumi, Anya, and Meme was the gold of the show, and Anya quickly became my favorite character of the three. I hear her cuteness increases tenfold if you read the manga, but I loved it enough in animation form! There’s plenty of yuri material for not only these three, but between other characters in the show, and I’ll admit that despite laughing repeatedly at Meme’s antics, I really wanted Tsugumi to choose Anya as her partner. A part of me felt like the ending decision to temporarily be partner with both was a cop out on Tsugumi’s part. I hope there will be a sequel to further develop their skills and force her to partner up with only one of the girls. I would particularly like it to introduce a more complicated villain, instead of the one-dimensional witch we were given in this one.
Special ingredient: The moment that Tsugumi’s blade turns sharp brought intense gratification after the build up of slice-of-life episodes and indecision regarding partners. I wasn’t sure if it would ever happen given her personality, but finally seeing the edge, as well as her ability to adjust the weapon depending on the handler’s preferences was exciting.
Sidonia no Kishi
A latecomer to my spring watch list, I picked up Sidonia after seeing the many praises fellow Twitterers and bloggers were giving it. Once I recovered from the eye cancerous CG, I actually started to appreciate the visuals; the story and setting themselves also are worthy enough alone to guarantee a watch. There is also promise of a sequel, so I’m excited at the amount of discussion material Sidonia has brought its viewers.
There are many areas yet to be explained, as well as weaknesses in the setting, but the overall structure is sound and new. I still don’t quite understand the source of the Gauna, nor do I understand how the leaders of Sidonia have been able to survive as long as they have, particularly Kobayashi and Lala. Much of the science seems like magic to me: Kobayashi’s title as 28th generation Captain, the survival suits that Lala and the Immortals use, Sidonia’s asexual reproduction, and the main populace’s ability to photosynthesize instead of eat. I’m hoping much of this will be explained in the sequel, and that we’ll possibly encounter other ships like Sidonia. As of now, I feel like they are the only human survivors left, much like how Battlestar Galactica felt for a long time.
Special ingredients: Nagate’s passion and need for eating amused not only his fellow pilots, but also me. Photosynthesizing just seems too boring of an activity, despite the fact that couples seem to do this as an act of intimacy, to replace the physical eating of food. Lala’s dorm mother position and bear appearance helped lock in that necessary feeling of home whenever she would prepare a meal for Nagate.
Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to The Animation
This was a bit of a bizarre addition to my spring season, but I added it upon the request of KWoo. And surprisingly, I laughed much more than expected and was sad to see it end as soon as it did.
The gold of this show is its main character, Yuuki Aito, who is true to his desires and freely expresses his fetishes for panties and S/M. The assistants around him, who are all female, exhibit extraordinary patience for some of the ridiculous ideas he comes up with.
Special ingredient: Early on in this show Aito picks up a stray cat that eerily looks exactly like a mascot character he had recently drawn into his manga. Branya wears a headpiece that looks like a bra stretched over his two ears, as well as a fitted suit. He expresses almost human intelligence in his antics with Aito and his assistants.
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
As much as I enjoyed this show and the interactions between Nike and Livius, I found the best tension to be earlier in the show when Nike was forced to prove herself to the people of the Sun Kingdom. After that, conflicts were smoothed over fairly easily, like her encounter with Livius’ uncle, Bardwin, and her re-evaluation of her princess identity after meeting princess Luna, a childhood friend of Livius. Another tumultuous arc that I really appreciated was the final one featuring the Principality of Rain and Livius’ fight to prove his honor as Nike’s husband. The omen regarding the powers of rain that can both give and destroy made me hopeful for a possible sequel sometime in the future. As of now, I do not believe any promise has yet been made for another series.
Special ingredient: The blossoming love between our two main characters was gradual and believable to a certain extent, given Livius’ quick maturity and Nike’s young heart; however, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the more frequent kisses in the latter part of the season. Livius is still physically young, so the kisses that to me border a bit on passionate at times felt wrong in a way. I am excited to see how their relationship will have grown even more once he has hit puberty and filled out a bit in height and chest.
Another heartwarming romance this past spring, One Week Friends focused on defining friendship through the interactions of Hase Yuuki and Fujimiya Kaori. I was happy to see the show grow from what seemed was going to be a primary romance to one that brought in many more people to form a new circle of friends connected to one another through Kaori. Even Hajime’s late transfer into the school that revitalized the initial trauma that caused Kaori’s memory loss didn’t hamper her growth very much in the long scheme of things.
As wonderful as it was to see Kaori grow in confidence and gain more friends, a part of me was dissatisfied with the way the series ended without any real answer to her short-term memory loss as case specific as it is. It’s mentioned that she is gradually getting better, particularly in reference to Yuuki, but there’s no actual scientific explanation for the how, much less an idea of when it’ll fully recover. It’s as if her original desire to forget about all the pain that culminated from something she had full-heartedly had believed in overrode any physical science.
Special ingredient: Instead of the main duo, I preferred watching Shougo and Saki’s silly, cute encounters. They endeared themselves to me in a way that Yuuki and Kaori were never quite able to, and I hope to see the two of them always looking out for each other 🙂
Note: Many thanks to draggle for recommending Isshukan Friends after I had excluded it from my spring set menu!
Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin
The second series to air on noitaminA this spring, I remember there being a bit of argument at this year’s Sakura-Con regarding the validity of this show being on that channel. I held off on watching the show until Avvesione gave it some decent comments, and decently enjoyed it for what it offered. There’s no where near any closure at the end, however, so I’m curious to see if a sequel will be in the works sometime in the next year or so. There really is no explanation given for Nanana’s death, nor as to the origins of the buried treasures and who the ones who tend the puzzles are. For all that I can see, Nanana looks like Phi Brain, but with boobs.
Special ingredient: Nanana’s love for pudding admittedly earned my affection, particularly her strong distinction between different brands and flavors. I always approve of someone who knows his or her food!
Mushishi Zoku Shou
I was and still do hold a lot of love for the first season, which quickly found its place on my favorites and is considered by many to be a classic. This sequel began around the same time as this year’s Sakura-Con, and the hype I felt then remained through much of the season. However, as much as I hail this franchise and thought that this follow up held true to the atmosphere of the first, I was unable to score it quite as highly as its predecessor. I will likely revisit that decision when the special episode is released in August, and the second half of the series airs later this year. The current state feels unfinished, and I’m mildly surprised that there wasn’t more of a story arc to cap this first half.
Some of the most memorable scenes in this continuation were ones that featured a more active Ginko. I’m so accustomed to him taking a more passive stance, sitting back and watching events unfold on their own. “Floral Delusion” was probably the most action I’ve ever seen in Mushishi, with the mushishi physically leaping up and carrying a woman out of a burning home that he had instigated. Granted, this was probably also the most horrifying scene in the series, and I will never look at sakura the same way again.
Special ingredient:There are several aspects to Mushishi that are markers for the show’s style and tone. A common theme that spans across the first 5-6 episodes is loss: loss of hearing, loss of voice, loss of warmth, loss of family, loss of love, and so on. The mushi that are then featured enter into the voids that are created by these losses, usually doing more harm than good. While temporary comfort can be found, there is no arguing that mushi are not human, no matter how similar they may sometimes seem.
Another beautiful view of the anime is its use of the elements, like wind, water, and the seasons. The harmony between mushi and nature, while sometimes harmful to humans, maintains a balance that mushishi like Ginko know should be allowed to take its course and not meddled with. I felt particularly haunted by the woman in “Cloudless Rain,” who is unable to settle down in any place for too long. Her coming inevitably brings the rain, and remains constant until she leaves. While this is good for places suffering drought, too much water can kill both the environment and the people who live in it. Until the mushi in her body gradually subside, she cannot form close bonds with any place or person. I can only hope that her affliction will pass soon, or that she will someday find someone who is willing to form a home with her on the road.
Love Live! Season 2
The journey of μ’s is finally over, and I am relieved to say that the series wrapped up neatly in a way that I was afraid it would not. With all the love that there is for these girls and their group, I had a feeling that the anime might try to extend the publicity and keep μ’s alive with new members. Instead, the decision to disband after the graduation of its three seniors made their experience all the more meaningful and precious. High school idols are a different sort of idol than the professional sort, as their time is fleeting and their goals likely lie elsewhere. As transient as high school it is, I think it more suitable for groups to form anew when old members are lost and new students come in.
Despite the many new scenes focusing on characters who had not received as much spotlight in the the previous season, my favorites did not change. I do have a greater appreciation now for Rin, and loved her arc that taught her that it’s okay to show off her girly side. I still am a fan of Hanayo, Nozomi, and Maki, though only Nozomi received significant material in this sequel–she was also the only one of the three to feature some adorable different hair styles throughout the season. Seeing her leave the group and graduate easily pulled the most heartstrings.
Special ingredients: Apart from Nozomi’s gorgeously braided hair, there were additional fashion points in Love Live! that I enjoyed seeing on the girls–some of them I’ve even tried from time to time. One of my favorite outfits are the popular off-the-shoulder tops many of them wore, either from working out, for everyday, or even with some of their performing outfits. I really like how the looser tops look going off the shoulder and allowing a differently colored camisole strap to show underneath.
Rin’s transformation from pants to skirts also reminded me a lot of my recent trip to Japan, where many of the girls there sported her style of youthful, tomboyish haircuts and ultra-feminine clothing. I’m always a fan of the short shorts on top of sheer or colorful tights.
Black Bullet is an amalgamation of some intriguing concepts of bioterrorism, human mutations, biorobotic engineering, political unrest, and class disparity. Unfortunately, most of everything is disjointed, either over or under-explained, and of no emotional impact upon me as the viewer.The main villains of this world, the Gastrea, also infect with a virus that turns any who receive it into one of them.We don’t know where they come from or what their motivation is, and even by the end, there’s no knowing if they will ever be purged from the planet. Then there are the Cursed Children, little girls born with the virus with superhuman strength and healing capabilities. The only foreseeable reason why only girls are born like this is to satisfy viewers with loli preferences. As draggle points out in his review of the show, hatred pointed at them by the general populace doesn’t make sense given their place in the war.
Another major issue I had with the anime was its cast list, which comprised of too many inconsequential characters. This is most noticeable near the ending, where a new group pulled together by Rentarou includes another young man who is both Rentarou’s and Kisara’s senior in martial arts. His convenient sacrifice at the end saves Rentarou so that a happy reunion with Enju can be gained. Then there’s the classroom of Cursed Children who Rentarou and Kisara teach for an untold number of weeks that is suddenly obliterated; unfortunately for the anime, I saw that coming from the start with the way the little girls threw marriage proposals at the lead and with the types of assignments that he gave them that were obviously meant to make you feel warm and fuzzy. And finally that ending, where Kisara loses her head with her big brother–that came absolutely out of nowhere, as did her sudden level up in sword ability. While I did agree with her sense of justice and found Rentarou’s sudden misgivings naive, the change in her personality felt too out of place.
Special ingredient: The one saving grace of this show was Aihara Enju, who felt like the most real character in the show. While I couldn’t stand the way she constantly threw herself at Rentarou, I could certainly understand why she would attach to him the way that she did. I loved the addition of her anime show, that she wanted to share with other kids; it was the one spot of childhood she could enjoy with any bit of normalcy.
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
Kawaisou is a show that comes straight out of the books of similar-type anime that center on roommates in close confines, like Sakurasou, Hidamari Sketch, and Kuragehime. The characters are different, as are the residence names and overall stories, but they all share a similar structure of unique personalities brought together under one roof with a common notion of home. An added perk to Kawaisou are the age gaps between all the characters, with the youngest being our main character as a first year in high school, and the oldest being the grandmother who owns the complex. The differences in age create some of the most comical conversations and misunderstandings. Usa-kun seems to be the most normal of them all at the start, but as each episode passes, it becomes clear that his strangeness is his ability to juggle every one of his unique house mates, from masochistic Shirosaki to the perpetually drunk but sexy Mayumi. Most fascinating to him is second year high school student Ritsu, granddaughter of the landlady, a girl who almost literally cannot put down her books–not during meals and not walking through crosswalks.
While each episode is mostly standalone in a true s’life attitude, there is a slow growth in closeness between Usa and Ritsu, as aggravatingly slow as it is. Ritsu is an odd blend of knowledge and naivety, with her high reading level of some of the most obscure texts teaching her aspects of life that her everyday experiences have yet to instruct. Some of her verbal slip-ups are too adorable once she realizes the alternate meanings that can be mistaken for sexual innuendos. I also couldn’t help but feel a certain level of kinship with the excitement she displayed every time she was able to speak about a book to someone else, particularly with Usa. Growing up, I didn’t have too many friends who shared my reading preferences, so any match in reading lists had me splurging.
Special ingredient: The last couple of episodes that focused on Ritsu’s sudden friendship with a classmate was a great way to end the series, since it re-established the strength of the relationships of the people living in Kawaisou. Sayaka and Mayumi are spot on in the fact that people are never perfect matches; more often than not, many of the people you encounter will not be your type. But that doesn’t matter if both sides are willing to overlook the differences and accept one another regardless. If one side isn’t able to do that, than the other really shouldn’t feel obligated to continue the relationship. Those few flashes of realization when Ritsu thought of Usa while out with her new friend were very telling in how she actually felt about him. I’m cheering for you, Usa-kun!
Hitsuga no Chaika
This was a bit of a sleeper for me, since I didn’t really have much of an idea what this show would be like when I first tried it out. The first episode surprised with its decent action and stilted-speaking main character, and I decided to go along with the trio on their adventure to gather Emperor Gaz’s remains. Thankfully, the quest to locate and obtain each body piece was paced pretty well and I didn’t feel any sort of rush to an answer by the end of the series. A second season is already promised for the fall, which was well set up with the latest arc on Soara, the floating fortress. The addition of two more Chaika just further mystified Chaika Gaz’s background and purpose, but I agree with Toru and Akari in following her not for her purpose, but because I simply like her. Despite Layla’s assertion that our Chaika is probably made to be the helpless type you just can’t help but assist, I still appreciate her kindness and easy smile.
A part of me hopes that the second season will give purpose to Akari’s character, as her inclusion in this first part felt out-of-place. It’s like the creator threw her in there as a little sister / not actually sister figure to just worship Toru and give us some eye candy for her action scenes. She is fun to watch visually in action with her hammer, but I didn’t care for her personality much. What I do wish is for are more scenes with Frederica, the dragoon with a fierce appetite for food and fight, whose reasoning for following along with Chaika seems fish at best. Her scene at the very end as mini Frederica had me staring in horror, then bursting out laughing at the ridiculousness of the very Alien-esque image.
Special ingredient: Vivi’s transformation at the end after hearing of Alveric raises even more questions about the many Chaika and their seeming memory loss. Are all of them created in similar ways–were they each once someone else entirely? I am excited to see how Vivi will have changed and if her group will stick together with her.
- Baby Steps
- Diamond no Ace
- Hunter x Hunter (2011)
- Ping Pong
- Selector Infected WIXOSS (5 eps. watched)
I stalled watching this show around the same time that Yuzuki has her wish “come true” and becomes an LRIG. I’m not sure why I halted watching this–I think it was around the same time that I jetted off to Kyoto and lost access to anime for a couple of weeks. Regardless, I really do like this show a lot and would like to finish it sometime soon to see the result of Ruko’s battles, particularly with the mysterious model Iona.
- Kamigami no Asobi (9 eps. watched)
The first of my staple reverse harems for the season, I kept chugging along with this show mainly out of my interest in the twisted mythology of the various gods. I don’t know if I’ll ever finish it, but I hope that if I do, it shows an ending with no romance. Maybe it’s because they’re gods, or maybe it’s because this is the nature of reverse harems, but I was not attracted to a single one of the flat characters.
- Kiniro no Corda: Blue Sky (6 eps. watched)
I am a big fan of the original work, Primo Passo, so was curious how Blue Sky would follow up–whether it’d use the same format of fairy magic, or not. The works turned out to be very different in both story and feel, and I had a difficult time adjusting to Blue Sky’s approach. The lack of blatant magic in the form of the fairy and the enchanted violin made the musical performance in this series feel forced–I couldn’t help but compare the musical moods to the much more colorful ones portrayed in Nodame Cantabile. I haven’t completely decided to drop this series yet, but am in no hurry to finish it with so many great summer shows beginning.