Thanks to Funimation holding a bunch of shows (okay, really just BBB and Mikagura) hostage with no release date or time in sight, this post is missing both of those shows, as I’d hoped to include both of them here. Well, oh well. It is what it is, I guess. Anyways, this batch of anime was chock full of deadly cute stuff—ships, ship, more ship, moe, moe, more moe—familiar faces, and a couple of unfortunate duds. The dread of knowing I’m going to have to cut more than I want is already setting in…
Still to Watch: Ore Monogatari!!, Mikagura Gakuen, Pleiades, Punchline, Urawa no Usagi-chan, Ninja Slayer, Kyoukai no Rinne, Yamada-kun, Nisekoi:
HELP MORE CUTE: Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic, Yuki-chan
Good grief this first episode was an ordeal. I mean, I enjoy cute things. I also enjoy funny things. I also sometimes enjoy cute and funny things happening at the same time. It also sometimes happens that watching things that are cute and funny at the same time can be a bit…um…dangerous to my health. Kinmoza is one such thing. I don’t know what kind of life one has to lead to be able to conceptualize the kind of absurd cuteness and genial humor that marks Kinmoza as one of the best pure moe shows I’ve ever seen, but I imagine it must be a lovely one filled with flowers, orange juice on the porch, and an adorable puppy sleeping on your feet. It is very difficult to write about a show that has perfected its formula to the point Kinmoza has, where the base personalities of the characters feed into the snappy 4-koma comedic timing in a way that recursively feeds back into your enjoyment of the show until the end of the episode is just a gloriously incapacitating experience of laugh, joy, and cuteness. RIP; died of moe. Decision: this is literally the perfect show to watch on a Sunday. So keeping.
The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan: So, the Haruhi franchise is back, except now it’s centered around a slightly more articulate Nagato with slightly more moe designs for everyone—including Kyon. Divorced from its association with the main series (make sure to check out atelier emily’s post on that relationship), Yuki-chan is a sweet, warm-hearted waltz of charming personalities and typical high school slice-of-life situations. Actually, I can’t even tell if my impressions of the characters is unaffected by my prior attachment to the franchise. It may well turn out that entirely separating Yuki-chan from Haruhi is an impossible task. So maybe I shouldn’t try. Umm…let’s talk about other things. Like the visuals (great late fall aesthetic, great facial expressions)! And the music (perfect upbeat, unobtrusive, and charming slice-of-life accompaniment)! And uh…okay, right. Everything else comes back to the show’s relationship with the main series. The point is that, for Haruhi fans who aren’t total grumps about Yuki-chan (and maybe even those who are), Yuki-chan‘s premiere was thoroughly charming. Decision: keeping!
Just KyoAni Things: Sound! Euphonium
Oooo, could this be my favorite KyoAni show since Free! Eternal Summer? Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t seen a KyoAni show I disliked, but I also haven’t seen all that many that I really loved. Sound! Euphonium, at least on first glance, seems it might have the special charm necessary to really make me love a KyoAni show. Beyond the superficial prettiness of the entire anime’s presentation, Sound! Euphonium has a prettiness to the presentation of its story that compliments the way it looks. “Light drama” is the genre classification I’m seeing tossed at Sound! Euphonium most often, which really seems like a decent label for a show like this where everything seems to strike gently, even the tensions. Like a piano played with the hammers just barely hitting the strings, Sound! Euphonium chimes out a lovely tone. I’m loving it. Decision: no reason to drop the only Tuesday show of the season if it’s good!
AOTS Potential: Plastic Memories
Make no mistake, that was not a premiere that made me want to declare Plastic Memories AOTS. But it was a premiere that breathes of AOTS potential. While the comedy is solid (thanks to Dogakobo’s reliably funny faces) and the aesthetic a fascinatingly appropriate mix of technological coldness and human warmth, the real winner here for me was the sensitive and restrained way Plastic Memories went about handling its dramatic moments. One thing I remember distinctly from Yoshiyuki Fujiwara’s directing of Engaged to the Unidentified was the calm touch he applied to all of the dramatic scenes, imbuing them with a sense of warmth that carried the emotion beautifully without letting it overwhelm. That same sensibility was very much at work with Plastic Memories‘ premiere, making the parting bittersweet rather than sad and the aftermath reflectively melancholic rather than depressed. If Plastic Memories wants to walk that tenuous line between comedy and drama effectively, keeping the drama in line with the rest of the show is critical. This first episode proved Fujiwara can do that and do it well, which is excellent news for the future of Dogakobo’s first original project. Decision: keeping, because I’d be crazy to drop a show with this much thematic potential and directorial skill.
Marathon Material: The Heroic Legend of Arslan
This was a solid premiere, but not so captivating that I feel compelled to pick it up weekly. And, furthermore, as a shounen title likely to have battles and arcs stretching across multiple episodes, The Heroic Legend of Arslan really feels like a title better put on hold for now until at least a few episodes have stacked up or the entire run of the show is through. As for the premiere itself, the obvious headlines is that Arslan is moe as all get out and that the visuals (not-all-that intrusive CGI aside) were quite solid. The whole sunset color palate with its oranges, browns, reds, and yellows was quite lovely—and made Arslan’s white hair stand out all the more. There are also the seeds of some bigger thematic issues of religion and society being sown in this premiere, but (again) I think letting the show spin out for a while before moving on with it is the most advisable choice in a season still with many premieres to come. Decision: on hold for later marathon.
Joining the Deceased: Owari no Seraph, Re-Kan!
Owari no Seraph: I like to think I don’t have that many non-fanservice instant-dislike triggers, but somehow Owari no Seraph managed to hit like…all of them. From the annoyingly (and perhaps unrealistically) angsty 12 year-old Yu punching Mika over a simple act of self-preservation/working the system/helping out their family, to his tsun behavior over the family, to him diving straight into revenge mode, Yu just really didn’t work for me. But I think I could have gotten over that had Owari no Seraph not ended its premiere the way it did—with the senseless murder of a group of helpless orphans (mostly girls). There’s just something about the way it characterized the kids as one happy family and then murdered them (notice I’m ascribing the killing to the show, not the vampire—it’s intentional) that really causes me to react badly. It just feels crass and manipulative and altogether in horribly bad taste. And I don’t want to watch a show that thinks it’s okay to do that sort of thing. Decision: dropped.
Re-Kan!: In another season, if it were made with more care, I think Re-Kan!‘s fusion of moegirls, comedy, and the supernatural would have been a favorite of mine. As is, the poor sense of comedic timing and the glut of good moeblob fare elsewhere this season (and an already heavy Friday schedule) doomed Re-Kan! to the land of dropped shows before the end of the episode. There was nothing I really disliked about the show—in fact, I found the characters to be pleasant, the comedy to be enjoyable in theory, and the supernatural elements well-used. Unfortunately, Re-Kan! just lacks the structural glue and the energy to pull it all together. The laid back pace of the show actually reminded me a bit of Non Non Biyori, but Re-Kan! gives the sense that its measured pace isn’t by design, but by incompetence. Besides the character designs, the aesthetics of the show are nothing to speak of, and so the overall package is inoffensive, but bland. In this season, that’s sadly not good enough to get you through. Decision: dropped.
NOTE: As before, please limit your discussion in the comments to the shows that are mentioned in the post. There’s one more first impressions post to go & I’ll be turning you all loose for a free-for-all of impressions for anything that hasn’t been addressed yet. Look forward to it & I’m excited to hear what you think about this particular batch of shows!