Spring 2012 Anime Season Digest – Half Point
The spring 2012 anime season is choked full of series. Some are good, some are bad and some are just ugly. Now that we got to the half point it’s time to see which are the keepers and which are the stinkers. Before I get to the coverage do note that the following summaries are my personal opinion. So please don’t get too upset if I insult your favorite series (you are more than welcome to write a comment defending it).
Right, now that we got that out of the way let’s get started!
Acchi Kocchi (Place to Place)
I already wrote a short review about this series a while back, and it’s still a solid entertaining little thing. I like the slow pace and the little funny surprises they throw in once in a while. It’s no Lucky Star, but is cute and soothing enough for me to enjoy.
Status: Still watching.
Nazo no Kanojo X (Mysterious Girlfriend X)
Another series I wrote about and is enjoying immensely. Nazo no Kanojo X is a parody on love and depicts it in an unprecedented way. I don’t remember seeing such a refreshing and innovative romantic anime since the days of ToraDora. Moreover this series is very solid. Every episode expands the plot in a meaningful way. This one’s a keeper. Even if it gets worse I can’t see myself stopping to watch it before it ends.
Status: Still watching.
Sakamichi no Apollon (Kids on the Slope)
I wrote a short review about this one as well. I like the art style and the Kyushu dialect very much. The five first episodes of this series are not focused and as a result it was hard to understand where the series will be going. By the end of episode six though it is clear that this is a tale of friendship and romance shown from the point of view of kids in the sixties. It has its ups and downs but it remains tasteful and addictive. Just remember that despite all the musical notes you see in the opening theme music actually plays a very little part in this series (or at least in its first half).
Status: Still watching.
Furuya has always been in love with zombies. He watches zombie movies, collect zombie figures and even dream of dating a zombie girl. One day his cat Barb dies from a car accident. Saddened by his cat’s demise Furuya tries concocting a potion to resurrect Barb as a zombie. He finds a helping hand in Rea – a high school student just like him that comes from a distinguished family. Rea has been harassed by her father over the years and cannot go on living. After she and Furuya concoct a potion from a poisonous plant she decides to drink a part of it and die. However it turns out the potion she and Furuya created was a success. Both she and Barb turn into zombies and Furuya is the one responsible for taking care of them from now on.
Sankarea doesn’t deserve to be in the “good” section of this anime digest, but isn’t bad either so I posted it here. You might notice that I grouped Rea and Barb together in the final sentence. I did this not because they are both zombies but because Furuya treats both of them as animals. Even after Rea turns into a zombie and Furuya promises to take care of her he just leaves her at home and ignores her. The series tries hard to portray Rea as a human trapped in the body of a zombie, and her personality is charming enough, but for Furuya she is more like a pet. He feeds her, gives her clothes and on episode 6 takes her on a walk. During the day he doesn’t worry much about her and focuses on studying or hanging out. This is hardly the way two humans should interact and if you were hoping for a more romantic story you might be disappointed. Furuya’s cousin Ranko is the closest you will find to a love interest, but yet again Furuya just doesn’t care for Ranko. Ranko herself is crazy in love for him for not real reason. Episode 7 shows how the two met and it does a crappy job at explaining why she loves him (hint: he did nothing to deserve this).
So why is Sankarea in the “good” section? First, because although it is not very elaborate it does everything in good taste. The characters look nice, the plot advances in a reasonable pace and there are funny moments. In a nutshell you don’t feel like you are wasting time when watching it. Second, there is a morbid element to Rea as a zombie. Despite Rea being a zombie the effects of the potion are not eternal. As the episodes go by the threat of Rea’s body dying out for real becomes imminent. There is a certain sense of urgency about her state. I just hope Furuya doesn’t ignore this urgency like he ignores everything else around him.
Status: Still watching for now.
Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan
On a calm small island a boy named Rick works in a bakery alongside three beautiful girls called Airy, Amil, and Neris. Rick has in fact drifted to this island from somewhere else and unfortunately suffers from amnesia. Shining Hearts is the story of how Rick and the girls bake lots of bread for everyone on the little island.
When this season started I marked Shining Hearts as a favorite. The plot summary (which hinted at action at some point) seemed okay and I worked two years in a bakery (as the baker) and always enjoy series about baking. However, something is definitely wrong with Shining Hearts. To say it bluntly – nothing ever happens. I find it hard to believe that it follows the game it is based upon, unless that game was some crazy bread delivery mini game. Rick and girls go to deliver bread to the elves in the forest, to a lonely little girl, to an ice cream making tsundere little girl and even to the royal palace. A mechanical doll and another girl who drifts into the island alongside some mysterious glowing stone hint at a more interesting plot lying underneath all these layers of dough and sugar, but as of episode 6 nothing has really happened. If this series is only 12 episodes long it might end before any story begins to unfold. It might be the ultimate troll anime – the one that stays a teaser until the very end. It does have a really nice opening theme though.
If you haven’t started watching this already don’t bother. K-ON! is heavy on plot compared to Shining Hearts.
Status: Still watching for now.
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia
Kanoe Yuuko is a ghost of a girl who died at school many years ago. She doesn’t remember how she died and cannot move on to the next world. The members of the paranormal investigation club, some of which can see and communicate with her, gather rumors about her in an attempt to help discover what caused her untimely demise.
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia doesn’t have an elaborate plot or an outstanding cast of characters to rely on. This leaves the series completely at the mercy of its execution. Sadly the series manages to be repetitive and dull even on its first episode. It’s boring, uninspiring and after five or so years of seeing such series I can’t delude myself to thinking it will get any better with time. Dusk Maiden of Amnesia is your run-of-the-mill fanservice series. Watch it if you have a lot of time to waste and nothing more significant to do.
Status: Dropped after one uninspiring episode.
Natsuiro Kiseki (Summer-colored Miracle)
In the past four young girls made a promise that they will become idols together. As time pass by one of them grows apart from the group and tells the rest she is about to leave the town. The other girls are shocked and one of them swears not to talk to her again. And this is the “grand premise” of Natsuiro Kiseki. After watching the first boring episode I don’t remember the names of the girls, even though only these four girls are ever shown, and nothing interesting happens. Natsuiro Kiseki doesn’t have any hook. It’s the lackluster tale of four regular girls (and with no moe elements at that). There is this miracle that happens near the end of the episode but it just seems tasteless. No, let me rephrase this sentence: Summer-colored Miracle happens to be tasteless to no end. Next please.
Status: Bad anime is bad. I didn’t drop this series. It dropped from my list all by itself after a single episode.
A series about girls who have the personality and IQ of guns! And since these girls are objects (guns) no one will object if we show their body from every angle possible! Really? Upotte! is based on a bad idea and it is done so tasteless you wonder who supervised such a thing. This is a moe ecchi series of the worst kind. No plot, no characters, lots of nudity and an objective attitude towards all women. I felt disgusted watching the first episode. Watching the toilet flush is less disgusting. Moving on.
Status: Incinerated after 1 episode.
Jonah is a misfortunate child whose family was killed because of war. He despises weapon dealers and sees them as the harbringers of war and death. To carry out his revenge agains the dealers he joins a weapon dealer named Koko in the hopes that being with her will help him make contact (and kill) other dealers.
Jormungand was full of plot holes even before the first episode aired. Jonah blames the weapon dealers for war? Sure, they supply weapons and incite war, but Jonah is a kid so he probably doesn’t understand weapon dealers only deal weapons to those who order them. His decision of joining a weapon dealer isn’t such a brilliant idea in itself. But I was willing to forget all of that and give the series a change. In my heart I hoped it turns out to be a Black Lagoon clone. It sure isn’t. The character designs are ugly, there is an annoying grain effect on the screen at all times and the plot is indeed a parody on war and weapon dealers. I hardly believe jokes on these things will make anyone laught these days. But the worst part for me was the lack of understanding of basic warfare the committee behind this series shows. As someone who inlisted at the age of 18 and spent half a year in the military I know how weapons work. The people who created this shows don’t know even the basic of the basics. Recoil deoesn’t exist in the world of Jormungand so a small and fragile kid can easily use a rifle. In the opening theme one of Koko’s emoployees is shown shooting a rifle, afterwhich the bullet shells leave the rifle chamber and flies forward stright in the direction of the barrel. So yes, this series isn’t exactly accurate. The plot is also plain and I found the action dull. I’d rather watch Black Lagoon, or even Full Metal Panic, again instead of this. Those series did a much better job when it came to weapons and combat research.
Status: Dropped after 2 episodes.
Hyouka (Ice Cream)
Houtarou likes living on the easy side and is satisfied with being part of the “go home early club”. But when his sister requests that he helps support the unpopular classic literature club he obliges, although not very willingly. He thus begins to rebuild the club with help from his friend Fukube Satoshi and the club’s new president Chitanda Eru.
Hyouka is a detective anime based on a light novel. These are quite rare so I decided to give it a try despite it being produced by Kyoto Animation. I’ve had my doubts about this particular animation studio in the past but now I know for sure – Kyoto Animation doesn’t undersatand the meaning of the English word animation. Hyouka is all about talking. From the moment the episode started until it ended I was swallowed by an endless stream of chatter. practically 90% of the time the only thing animated is the characters mouths, which you will see shown from many angles. How interesting! The series focuses only on talks, and when there is an intermission between conversations Houtarou “graces” us with his narrative skills, providing us with even more talking. Hooray! The need to include an big amount of narrative phrases is a known issue with light novel adaptations, but there are ways to get around it or deal with it gracefully (see The Twelve Kingdoms for example). The problem is that Kyoto Animation never bothers. They are used to “talk heavy anime” (The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi, Bakemonogatari) and don’t realize this formula needs to be shaken from time to time. The amount of animation in the first episode was laughable. I felt like I was watching a presentation. Plus, Eri – the female character – is stupid as a shoe and Houtarou doesn’t even want to be part of the club. Oh, well, I guess the character designs are nice and the opening theme is quite good. If you liked The Melancholy of Suzumia Haruhi you might want to watch this. I can’t really recommend it though. The first episode, with it’s boring wall of text, was tiresome enough to convince me to stop watching it.
Status: Dropped after 1 very tiresome episode.
Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna
(Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine)
A new Lupin anime? Nice! Completely in HD with all the modern bells and whistles? Awesome!
This was what I thought when Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna was announced. But after I watched the first episode I was a bit appalled. The show screams nudity. From it’s disgusting opening theme that keeps shoving boobs and butts up your face to the never ending cycle of Fujiko being undressed all the time. The undressing part is basically a joke since Fujiko simply cannot keep her clothes on and doesn’t care much about being seen naked. I would have overlooked the nudity if this was an otaku fan service series, but it obviously isn’t one.
If the show had a solid plot I would have forgiven it for being so brazen, but this series is essentially a pack of OVAs – each episode has a new plot and occurs in a new location (usually a different country) with the appearance of Mine Fujiko in it as the only connecting thread. The episodes themselves aren’t very interesting or inventive either. Moreover, Fujiko is not even an able theif- she sucks at her job (no pun intended) and relies solely on her body to achieve her goals. And even that isn’t enough as she usually fails. What are we to learn from all of this? That a female-thief’s only advantage over man is her voluptuous body? That a woman’s place is in bed?
Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna has a stale plot and is degrading towards women. That alone would have me put it in the bad category. But the series’ exceeding use of nudity and its OVA-like nature pushed it to the ugly category.
Status: Dropped after 4 episodes.
This wraps up the spring 2012 anime season half point digest. Be sure to leave any comments you have on these series (or on my opinion on these series) bellow and we’ll see you again when the season reaches its end.