I finished this post while on the plane to Los Angeles for Anime Expo, and I’ve never before seen a plane so full of anime fans. Their energy was pretty infectious, and I felt more motivated than usual to write. Hopefully I’ll have another one of these while I’m out of town this weekend!
- 0 dango – average and forgettable.
- 1 dango – very good in its category.
- 2 dango – excellent show that is worth a try.
- 3 dango – exceptional show one must watch.
Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho
The first of three fantasy adventure series this season, and the second featuring witches, Zero no Syo used magic and those who wield it as the main catalyst to a country’s feuding. The group we follow is relatively small–at first a witch and the beastman mercenary she convinces to help her, then not too later a boy witch aiming for the mercenary’s head. With these three, we learn about a kingdom of humans, witches, and beastfallen who stand mostly at odds with one another. As serious as this all sounds, much of the show is lighthearted. The banter between Zero, the witch searching for her missing magic book, and Mercenary, the white tiger beastfallen, sounds something like a master and student, or a more experienced woman and unmarried young man. Their chemistry drives the show, and is the main reason why I enjoyed watching so much.
The clear goal of our group to find the book helps streamline the story, which paces well for a single cours of twelve episodes. We could have easily gone on a tangent about Mercernary or Holdem, another beastfallen our group includes near the end, but the show tells only what is necessary for the main plot line. In this way, we’re able to reach a peaceful solution at the end promoting negotiation between humans and witches. Unfortunately, beastfallen receive little resolution–this was another thread that could have gone on much longer than it did.
As much as I commend the series on finding common ground for its characters and remaining positive, I did find it too forgiving in a couple of areas. Holdem, a wolf beastfallen, first enters the scene as a villain who enslaves women for supposedly sexual purposes, claiming he is “saving” them as witches even though they are regular humans. Zero and Mercenary teach him a comical and painful lesson, but I see very little remorse from him for his actions. Later when he joins the group, it seems like we’re supposed to see him in a new light, as noble, even likable. I almost found myself falling for it. Then there’s the main antagonist, Thirteen. While, yes, he steps up for punishment and does what he can to right his wrongs, he, too, shows little sorrow for the chaos he has caused. He goes so far as to admit that he would do it all again if Zero lost affection for the world. We leave him with the hope that he will never have to keep that promise, but I just can’t sit right with him.
I doubt we will ever know what happens with everyone afterward–if Mercenary will ever become human again, if Albus will grow to become as revered and wise a witch as Sorena, if Thirteen will come to love the world and all its inhabitants–but that’s okay with me. There’s no hint of a continuation, and there’s no need for one.
Rating: 1 dango
Anonymous Noise ended in a very similar place to where it started, on the starting line of a race to fame, only this time on a larger scale. Instead of a side-stage festival showing, In No Hurry aims for the top of the music world where the stage is bigger, the crowd larger, and their reach endless. They aren’t satisfied resting on their popularity and small but significant successes. This forward-looking stance positively affects two of our main characters, Nino and Yuzu, while also negatively impacting Momo’s life.
But these future plans don’t come about until the end. Until then, this show revels in standard shoujo fare of romance triangles, growing up, and finding oneself. It may sound familiar for those of us so inclined to the genre, but it’s actually been a while since I’ve seen a story that so well follows the tropes, and in mostly a good way: “What’s old is new again.” As cliche as love triangles are, I admit to finding them exciting in possibility. I usually support the underdog, the “nice guy” who more than likely fails–not all the time, but often enough to make me agonize.
Nino as a protagonist is stubborn and focused. She’s tangled up in childhood memories long past what’s normal; I don’t recall at her age having any strong ties to events from 10 or so years prior. Most people can’t even remember exact details from elementary school. Yet there she is, pining after a young love that taught her to sing loud and proud. Nino actually annoyed me for a good few episodes with her persistent singing of “Twinkle twinkle, little star.” The amount she wails it aloud annoys more than the other melody she sings with a singular “la.” The show does make it apparent fairly early on, however, that as gifted as her pipes are, she is unschooled in the art. We see and hear her noticeably improve as she practices with In No Hurry, grow my stronger lungs and better controlling her tone and range.
Yuzu and Momo are both composers and musicians, tending respectively toward rock and pop. They also both write with Nino’s voice in mind, her sound, her smile. Their popularity with listeners speaks well of their skills and devotion to their art and love. I’m not usually a fan of pop rock like In No Hurry, but I am easily sucked into each performance with Nino’s wild singing and the band’s overall look of face masks and eye patches. Standard art and animation aside, the show still infuses their songs with an addictive energy.
Again typical to the genre, no real romantic resolution can be found here. We end up back at separation and denial, so there’s plenty of room for a sequel should the chance arise. If that does happen, I’ll be there cheering on In No Hurry and Yuzu’s character.
Rating: 1 dango
Granblue Fantasy The Animation
Granblue truly ended at episode twelve, with thirteen being a bonus episode re-imagining our crew with a female protagonist instead of Gran. I shouldn’t have been as surprised as I was, given how odd I thought it that the penultimate episode felt so complete as an ending. When episode thirteen, “another sky,” began, I was thrown off guard by the girl warrior discovering Lyria just like Gran did in the beginning. This bonus episode is the swimsuit episode we never received earlier in the season, which I could have gone without, but I’m sure plenty of you would appreciate! I will admit that Katalina looks pretty awesome in a bikini.
This game turned anime could have so easily gone the blah route, but was surprisingly entertaining and well written. Like Zero no Syo, Granblue is a straightforward fantasy adventure with a clear path in mind from the start. We have a magical girl with the ability to calm mythical beasts, and a boy who dreams of following his father as a sky adventurer. Obviously Lyria and Gran will pair up, roaming place to place and calming beasts as they go. Although the direction felt scripted, the story maintained a resilience that stayed boredom and convinced me to care about our characters. I imagined what it would be like to be part of their crew, and what role I would take, just like what any decent role playing game would do.
Rating: 0 dango