Winter Season Anime ’12

[Honestly, I planned to start off with something ‘culture-ish’ like the Japanese New Year. Look where that got me. XD So, after much self-debate and alligator-wrestling, I decided to give my thoughts on the latest incarnations of what got me more interested in Japan-anime. Hope you enjoy it!]

As most of those freezing their butts off in temperate climates know, it’s winter in the Northern Hemisphere and also in Japan, which means the anime winter season is in full swing as well. There’s a broad variety of new shows for the coming 3 months and in this post I’ll be introducing those that have caught my attention long enough for me to give them a try. I’ll also be giving some of my opinions on these anime.

First on the firing range is-

The Daily Lives of High School Boys (3 Episodes watched)

This is how school plays should be done…LIKE A BOSS.

Girls,  ghost stories and plenty of guffaws. That roughly sums up what I’ve come to love about this show. A show that mainly focuses on the antics of 3 high-school boys, their friends and family. The comedy may lack taste in rare instances, but for those who don’t give a damn about stuffy and complex comedy, this is definitely a must-watch.

Divided into mostly unrelated segments in each episode, the plot of the show has been said by some to be a bit disconnected at times. But I think this is actually a strength of the show, since you don’t need much explanation to get any of the jokes they put out. Knowledge about Japanese culture is not needed to appreciate the humour in the show, unlike  Lucky Star, which sometimes requires knowledge of otaku culture.

The art may not win any awards, but so far, it isn’t a deal-breaker for me since I enjoyed the jokes too much to notice it. With a star like Tomokazu Sugita (Gintama-Gintoki/Haruhi-Kyon) voicing my favourite character Hidenori as well, this show is proving itself to be the comedy of the season in my books.

Status: Good. I think I’ll see this to the end, unless, fingers crossed, it degrades.

Another (2 Episodes Watched)

It’s wise to be careful, it may already have started……the winter anime season, I mean.

Another (no pun) show that’s been getting alot of attention recently. In the depressing town of Yomiyama, the kids of Yomiyama Middle School Class 3-3  are as weird and secretive as the title of the show.

Misaki Mei, a student who died under mysterious (it’s always mysterious in horror shows, isn’t it?) circumstances in 1972, is ‘befriended’ by a new student in 1998-Koichi Sakakibara from Tokyo. What ensues is what most of us should already expect-death, mystery, clueless/horror genre-clueless protaganists and er…more death.

I haven’t got to the part where things start going horribly wrong yet, but I expect this show to be a hit among the majority of the crowd thanks to it’s appealing character designs, stellar music by Ko Otani (Shadow of the Colossus!!!) and its quality so far. The genre it’s in might also convince some to give it a try out of curiosity.

Status: Good, I’m no Braveheart, but I have a weird fascination with the horror genre. 

Rinne no Lagrange (2 Episodes Watched)

One of two mecha shows that’re jostling for attention this winter (the other being Aquarion EVOL). Rinne no Lagrange tells the tale of a spirited girl (why are they always spirited?) who, with the help of an odd white-haired girl named Lan, manages to pilot a robot and save her town from some less-than totally evil villains. I’ve yet to watch the latest episode, so I can’t say much about the third protagonist who’s supposed to be introduced then-Muginami.

I can say this though, the mecha designs along with the pilot costumes are definitely groovy. The  overload of fan-service in the beginning might put off some people, but it doesn’t seem to rear its head too much for now so as to be an annoyance.  The music, especially during the tense moments, are a winner for me as well. I also find the story and plot to be ok so far, with just the right pacing and lack of details so that you want to find out more.  Coupled with the smooth animation and appropriate CGI use  so far, this looks like a strong series to be reckoned with this year.

When I said groovy, I meant groovy.

Status: Promising, I’ll most likely see this one to the end. Although, I heard that it’s going to be a long haul…*prays that this won’t lead to shounen anime longevity*

Inu x Boku SS (1 Episode Watched)

Honestly, this review isn’t going to be as rosy as the others. But before I say why, let’s get the synopsis out of the way first.

Ririchiyo Shirakiin, a half-demon schoolgirl who longs to communicate better with people, moves to the Ayakashi mansion (condominium) to get away from her cold family. There, she, as a resident, gets a servant by the name of Soushi Miketsukami. Besides her, the other occupants and their respective servants also have supernatural powers/forms due to their ancestors er…meddling around with non-human entities.

I can’t put my finger on any single reason, but this show didn’t really manage to catch my attention. The animation’s decent, but the story isn’t something that I fancy so far. Perhaps I just find lopsided and unequal relationships off-putting? Who knows? The art style switch in one scene at the start was  also jarring and ruined the atmosphere it had built up to that point. To it’s credit though, although undercurrents of fan-service were there, it complimented the plot and didn’t really stand out too much. Moreover, how they revealed the supernatural nature of the cast was also done well too. I seem to be fond of the zoned-out  Roromiya Karuta as well, who apparently has some skeletons in her closet…

Status: Not really interesting, but thanks to Yuuichi Nakamura (Tomoya-Clannad) voicing Soushi, I might give it another few more chances.

Aquarion EVOL (2 Episodes Watched)

One of two sequels I’ll be keeping an eye on, Aquarion EVOL revolves around Amata Sora (who has the ability to float when exited), Aquaria robots and their specially-chosen pilots. The Aquaria pilots are separated into two teams according to their gender (weird, but hold on, there’s even more). And what do they fight? The Abductors, of course, who abduct humans for as yet unknown purposes.

In a particularly difficult battle to defend the city, Amata steps in, pilots an Aquaria, ‘combines in a union’ with two other pilots in a very, very suggestive scene (which you can watch a part of in the op above-just look for the glowing nude people)  to form a legendary robot, Aquarion, and beats the living daylights out of the invading party.

Oddly enough, the weird scenes and quirky plot didn’t put me off as much as I thought it would . Maybe it’s because I got wind of the Union scenes from another aniblog, so I guess I was a bit prepared for them. What did put me off though, was the lack of explanation about the Aquaria, their pilot’s abilities, the setting and the timeline. The characters just ramble on without a narrator to be seen, unless you count the long-haired dude that kept spouting dramatic lines out of nowhere. Even then, I still didn’t have a clue what he was talking about…

Status: It might get better later on so I’ll just see how they go about this one for now. Rinne no Lagrange just leads by a hair in terms of plot pacing though.

Nisemonogatari (2 Episodes Watched)

A sequel to the popular Bakemonogatari and probably the last of the new anime I’ll be watching this season. This light novel adaption continues the tale of ex-vampire Araragi Koyomi and his new-found harem female friends. This time, however, the tale focuses more on his two sisters a.k.a. the Fire Sisters and the their attempts to stop a swindler from spreading cursed incantations  throughout their town.

As someone who watched the previous series, I can generally tell you what to expect: supernatural incidents, simple yet beautiful screenshots (even fitting for a modern art gallery) and slightly erotic characters. I wasn’t as impressed with the plot for the previous series as I thought I would be, no thanks to all the hype. The overall story has potential, but it feels a bit too slow and deep at times (some of the jokes regarding the Japanese language might just fall flat for you). But I found the fact that the creators didn’t put too much emphasis on Araragi’s vampire abilities to be quite a nice touch. An annoying aspect (for me) in the previous series-the ultra-fast static screenshots with text showing Araragi’s thoughts-is thankfully gone for now in this series.

Overall, if you were new to this, I’d say give the original series a try first before you continue with this one. Not only would you miss alot of references by watching this first, you would be missing a superbly animated and drawn series.

Status: Will be sticking to this for now. It may be deep, full of dialogue and hard to understand at times, it still has just enough good points to justify watching it.

Phew, that was a long post for a debut…Anyway, that just sums up the anime I’ve watched and my thoughts on them. If you have something to say about the series, my unbiased comments or just want to nitpick me on not picking up another awesome anime, shoot away down on the comments section. For now, sayonara!

Omake (Bonus): 長い(nagai) Long;lengthy / 動画(douga) Animation

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