New anime

Mushishi: Mushi are etherial life-forms, some sort of mystical proto-life force. The series is about a collector of mushi. In the first episode, he encounters a boy with ‘the left hand of god’: anything he draws with his left hand comes alive. Through his knowledge of Mushi, the man is able to help the boy reunite with his grandmother, and all is well in the forest once again.
The mushi are almost Kodama-like, and the visuals of the forest evoked visions of Princess Mononoke. Lushly animated and slow-paced, this series is like Tastics but with mushi instead of youkai.

Ginga Densetsu Weed: It’s about dogs. No human in sight, just dogs. A young pup rescues a new-found friend by using some weird shuriken-like attack, which tips off an old three-legged dog that he is the son of the Leader! They name him Weed ([insert stoner joke here]) and take off on their epic journey to the valley of the Leader!

Cluster Edge: Steam-punkish world, with lots of flying machines and what seems to be a civil war going on. A bumpkin travels on a train, and encounters a student of noble birth, but then he has to take off to save a pilot who is being pursued by the military!
Doesn’t make much sense from the first episode alone, but there is probably a plot somewhere. Looks gorgeous.

Capeta: a young boy (nicknamed Capeta) basically lives alone. His mother died and his father is always away for work as part of a road construction crew. Capeta does like cars a lot, and when his dad has a job on a kart-racing track, he manages to acquire an old frame and third-hand parts…
A sports anime, about karts, featuring a pre-teen boy. What’s more to say about it?

Animal Yokocho: When Ami-chan’s family moves into a new house, she meets three animals (who look like stuffed animals). They live in ‘Animal Alley’, a place where all sorts of animals live — and it is situated under a trapdoor in Ami-chan’s room! Lots of weird play on words, and the animals are constantly trying to play Ami-chan as a fool or doing stuff she doesn’t want them to do. A bit un-funny, this one.

New anime

I am woefully behind on writing up my thoughts on the new anime series that have appeared recently, so I’ll make this short to catch up.

To Heart 2: Bishoujo series, with a high school student being surrounded by slightly younger high school girls. Nothing wrong with that plot, but the females in question lack any sort of personality or distinguishing features, which makes it sleep-inducing or even irritating.

Aria – the Animation: slow-paced anime about a girl who trains to be a gondolier in New Venice, a city on terra-formed Mars! Character designs are attractive, the animation is really good. It promises to become a slow-paced coming-of-age story, which I always love.

Solty Rei: GONZO’s big-budget entry for this season. In the future, some cataclysmic event messed up the ionosphere (Gilgamesh, anyone?). The world has gone cyberpunkish, with advanced in cybernetics allowing people to replace their limbs with cybernetic replacements — which can come in handy when you’re a criminal! Bounty hunters apprehend these criminals, because apparently there is no government law enforcement anymore.
One of these bounty hunters fits all the stereotypes: he looks unkempt, wears long raincoats, smokes and drinks. One day, he is saved by a cyborg falling out of the sky (!) — since then, she follows him around.
Interesting world, and the plot promises to become quite interesting as well. Animation is pretty good.

Noein: Dimension-hopping mysterious people, weird monsters that they have to fight, and some girl wearing the ‘Dragon’s Torc’. Character designs aren’t that detailed, but the animation itself is pretty good. Makes good use of digital effects, too.
We got a distinct RahXephon-vibe from this one. I expect to be unable to make heads or tails from the plot for most of the series.

Ginban Kaleidoscope: Stuck-up Japanese figure skater who isn’t that good gets possessed by the spirit of a Canadian man. That’s all there is to it, really. Instead of comic, the antics of the female lead character are stupid, and we found it hard to fine her sympathetic.

Black Cat: An unstoppable hit-man (hit-boy? Because this is anime, the main character can’t be older than 15!), code-named ‘Black Cat’ takes out a corrupt politician before a police detective (or bounty hunter?) sent after him can make his arrest. The politician’s henchmen and the police detective are way out of their league against Black Cat, but apparently the detective isn’t ready to give up easily!
That’s really all there is to it. You can fill in the blanks yourself.

Shakugan no Shana: Highschool boy gets caught up in a fight between a mysterious sword-wielding girl and a pack of demonic puppets who eat the souls of humans! After the fight, he finds out that he is actually only a shell — his ‘real self’ doesn’t exist anymore!
Very interesting premise, though it takes a bit of time to get past the weirdness. Kick-ass fights with magic and what-not, and some pretty nice character designs to boot.

Sanada Juyushi: Presumably about a red-haired line-dancing ninja (because he is featured prominently in the opening animation), set during the time when Ieyasu Tokugawa warred with the other lords to unify the whole of Japan under his shogunate. We gets lots and lots and lots of info-dumping, with tactical deliberations between men with names that are supposed to ring a bell with us, about places that are undoubtedly of great historical significance to the Japanese but that completely failed to engage us. Really hard to get into.
But I did learn that Ieyasu Tokugawa bit his fingernails. Didn’t know that.

New anime

We’ve checked out a new bunch of anime series recently.

First off: Ichigo Mashimaro. The series details the ‘adventures’ of four elementary school girls (though in the first episode we only meet three) and the elder sister of one of them, a college student. There’s quite a bit of subtle humour in it, and the girls are all quite cute and/or genki.
There are no life-moving plots in this one (the first episode is about making a birthday present for the elder sister), but these ‘small’ stories often provide the best comedy.

Second: Play Ball. It’s a spinoff of an anime from ’83, which is why the character designs look absolutely ghastly. It’s about Takao who, during some epic baseball match, injured his finger — which means he never can pitch again. Every day, he watches the baseball club at his school practice, but when he comes home it is as if baseball doesn’t exist — his father quickly changes the channel if he’s watching a match when Takao comes in. The captain of the soccer club asks Takao to join, and he practices like mad to become a good soccer player.
It’s a sports anime, and it seems to be about baseball — so I guess this soccer stint won’t last too long. Designs are simplistic and fugly, and the animation isn’t that good either. If you are a die-hard fan of sports anime, then it might be interesting for you. All others do best to avoid it.

Third: Ojamajo Doremi Naisho. Probably the latest incarnation of a media property that has existed for quite some time — because there is no sort of introduction whatsoever, and the first episode jumps straight into the plot.
Aparently it’s about four elementary school girls who run a bakery/teahouse — while secretly being witches. They fly across the sky on their brooms, and they can make themselves appear ten years older through their magic. The first episode has them trail a cycling trip by a few boys from school — a trip where everything goes wrong, but luckily the witches are able to save the day!
It’s cute and energetic, but due to the lack of any sort of introduction or explanation, it’s hard to get into.

Fourth: School days. It’s an OVA that was produced to promote a dating sim with the same name.
Makoto is a shy boy, who always watches a certain girl on the train-ride to school. This turns out to be Kotonoha, who is in the class next door. A friend of Makoto, Sekai, teases him with his unrequited love, and offers her help in meeting Kotonoha. She sets up lunch dates with the three of them, and so Makoto gets to meet Kotonoha.
It’s based on a dating sim, so you can guess what happens. But this OVA is quite nicely done: the visuals are really good. There isn’t too much animation, but what there is, is also of good quality. Of course, this being a promo, there is no sort of resolution — but I would definately watch a full series based on this.

Fifth: Petopeto-san. A middle school outside the city teaches humans and ‘special race’ students equally. ‘Special race’ means that some boys and girls have special powers: for instance there’s a kappa (who, obviously, can swim very good).
A new transfer student is a ‘petopeto’: when she thinks something is cute/sad/adorable, it sticks to her. Only after a night’s sleep will it get unstuck. During a swimming lesson, she slips and falls into the swimming pool. Shingo tries to catch her, but he falls in after her — and their hands are stuck together. The teacher sends them home to take a nap, which they never get around to…
It’s cute and well-animated. And it’s interesting, I’m curious as to what the powers of the other ‘special race’-students are.

New anime

I have been slacking off with respect to the reviewing of new anime. Time to get crackin’ again!

We’ve seen Akahori Gedou Hour Rabuge, which is actually two series in one. First is ‘Love Pheromone’, about a duo of female comedians who are markedly unfunny. They want to become famous (in order to get all the young girls and boys!), but they need to have more people know them by name. In order to do that, they have obtained a license and a mecha from some sort of Galactic Police, and as Love Pheromone they stamp out crime (quite literally).
The second half is about five sisters whose parents were evil minions. Their father tells them to become ‘excellent evil’, and when the sisters unleash a tiny demon, they receive magical powers in order to become excellent evil. Of course, the sisters are much too kind and cute to become evil.
The first half is very loud and bouncy and ecchi, the seond half is not that interesting — and of course the two stories will come together sometime. But I won’t be around to see it.

There was Koi Koi 7. A boy is transferred to an all-girls school. Instantly, he becomes a pawn in a fight between the president of the school council and an assorted bunch of misfits. The misfits defend him when the president attacks him with a host of mecha!
When a series start off with a fight between two girls on a bicycle and several attack helicopters — and the bicycle girls win in various panty-exposing attacks, you know that it will be hard to take this series seriously. Which in itself isn’t that bad, but the whole thing just didn’t make an impression on us.

Pani Poni Dash is about an 11-year old girl who becomes a teacher on a middle school. Sound familiar? Well, this isn’t Negima by a long shot. The class is populated by a set of girls and what looks like a bunch of cardboard cutouts. Lots of shouting and energetic antics and chibi versions of the girls doing various things in the corner of the image. And it isn’t even funny.

Gun X Sword tells the story of Van, a wandered through a sort-of Wild West planet. In a town which is under siege from the gang of Lucky Roulette, he meets Windy. Van tries to stay out of the whole situation, but ends up fighting on the side of the civilians. Of course, Windy and Van end up travelling together — he to take revenge on someone, she to search her lost brother.
Great visuals, and quite evocative of Cowboy Bebop — only it has mecha, and no spaceships.

Okusama wa Mahou Shoujo is another series that focusses on a maried couple. This time, the wife is not a schoolgirl, but a magical girl. Ureshiko defends the peace in a small town ever since she was little, but now that she has grown up and married (her ‘costume’ has gotten to small for her at, eh, certain areas) she is set to be replaced by a younger girl.  But it doesn’t go all as she had planned.
Rather fanservice-heavy, and there are no hints at some deeper backstory that will be explored.

New anime

We’ve checked out some more new anime.

There was Amaenaide yo!. Ikko is an apprentice monk at a Buddhist temple. All the other apprentices are… girls. Ikko isn’t very good in chanting sutras or warding off evil spirits — until he sees a naked girl. Then he ‘awakens’ and a huge spiritual power is unleashed through his person, vanquishing any evil spirits lurking nearby.
When a series features nudity even before the opening credits started, you know what to expect from the rest. It’s a pretty lame excuse for nudity too.

There was Eien no Aseria. Yuto and his younger sister-in-law Kaori go to visit the graves of their parents (Rule #1 of anime: get rid of the parents or any other responsible adult) and end up in another world. Kaori is taken hostage by the king of the land, and he forces Yuto to wield a weird sword in a fight against another kingdom. The rules of both kingdoms use fairies/spirits/elfs (invariably female) to do their fighting for them, and much magic battle mayhem ensues.
It’s based on a game, and it shows. There is probably a plot involving the sword (it keeps mumbling ‘Accept me!’), but meanwhile we get lots of attractive elves hanging around him. And it’s not even that well animated.

There was SHUFFLE!. Ten years ago, the gates between the human world and those of the demons and gods were opened. Since then, demons and gods alike have come to live in the human world like ordinary citizens, though they have special powers and pointy ears. Rin lives with Kaede, his childhood friend, ever since the accident that killed his parents and Kaede’s mother (see Rule #1 above). There is some romantic tension between them, but that is downplayed by Rin.
Then, one day, two transfer students are introduced. They are the daughters of the king of gods and the king of demons, respectively. Rin has been selected as a marriage candidate for the both of them, and both kings are determined to have their daughter marry to him. As it turns out, they all have become neighbours…
It threatens to become a harem anime, but the demonic and divine give it an extra twist. Also, it is gorgeously animated.

There was The Ghiblies. It is about a ‘fictional’ animation studio named ‘Ghibli’, and the assorted characters that work there. This is what you get when animators make a parody of their colleagues, showing off how they can create character with minimal fuss. Fun and easy-going.
It’s not exactly a series, even though there are two ‘episodes’ out — the first episode was made in 2000 (it shows photos of the Spirited Away pre-production party), the second episode in 2002…

There was Full Metal Panic: The Second Raid. FMP is back in full swing: we get dropped right into the action as we witness the Urzu squad participating in a mission in some banana republic, evacuating refugees. Things get tense as the local army turns out to have some seriously advanced weaponry at their disposal. Sousuke goes off on his own to neutralise this threat, while his colleagues hold the fort…
The great thing about FMP is the ‘realistic’ military situations. We were right back into the feel of what modern warfare with mecha would be like. Even though the Mithril AS are more powerful than those of the local army, they are not all-powerful. The tactical considerations are very interesting indeed. And of course, Chidori is available at the end of the episode to serve Sousuke with a smack in the head for some school-related issue.

There was Tide Line Blue. Fourteen years ago, Earth was hit by a catastrophe, and most of the world population has perished. The survivors cling to the few remaining islands, slowly building up their lives, and even forming a new United Nations of sorts. Main character is Keel, a young boy who scams unsuspecting sailors out of their money. But then Gould, a naval officer who got tired of the bickering between the ‘nations’ of the new UN, attacks the island in an attempt to unify the whole world under his reign. And to top things off, Keels friend (girlfriend?) has to give birth in the middle of the attack!
An interesting series, to say the least. It has a distinct Kenran Butoh Sai-feel, which is promising.

Finally, there was Suzuka. Yamato starts living with his aunt who is the manager of an all-female apartment complex. He pays his way by doing various chores (mainly cleaning the bath). He meets Suzuka, the girl next door (literaly!) who is on the school’s jumping team. She is insecure about meeting the high expectations of those around her.
A sports anime with a twist. I’m sure the romance between Yamato and Suzuka will deepen, complicated by the various indiscrete female students living in the complex and Suzuka’s jumping carreer.

New anime

We’ve checked out another bunch of new anime.

There was The Snow Queen. Next to a charming village somewhere northern and mountainy, there is a forest. Sometimes, the villagers can hear a bell rining from within the forest. Rumour has it that there is a church in the middle of the forest — but since the forest is impenetrable, no-one has ever seen it. Gerda and Kay, two kids, venture into the forest to find it.
It has a very ‘Hansel and Gretel’-like story. Designs are not that great, and the ‘all-knowing narrator’ is pretty irritating. We’re going to watch a second episode before we reach a final verdict.

There was Kidou Shinsengumi Moeyo Ken TV. In Kyoto, monsters live alongside with humans — as long as they have a license. Unlicensed monsters are brought up by the ‘Kidou Shinsengumi’-corporation. Of course, the warriors of the corporation are all bueatiful females with hot tempers. One day, the son of the company director returns home from a long absence, and he has a run-in with some of them…
It wasn’t that interesting — it promises to become a ‘monster of the week’-show, alternated with rivalry between the company and the princess, sprinkled with some antics between the female warriors and the director’s son. Takahashi Rumiko’s designs are looking positively dated too.

There was Sasuga no Sarutobi, which is technically not new but is only now being fansubbed. The series is from ’82, and it shows. Computer-aided animation has helped a lot to make modern animation look so much more slick and dynamic, it seems.
Nikumaru (‘Meatball’) is being transferred to the Ninja Academy! Mako, his childhood friend and daughter of the principal, is absolutely delighted that he has returned — but to prove his worth, Nikumaru has to steal a scroll from the toughest teacher! Hilarity ensues as Nikumaru uses trickery and deceit to get what he wants.
It’s dated allright, but if you like some slapstick with your ninjas, then this might be for you.

New anime

The new season has started, and some new anime has been trickling in.

There was Okusama wa Joshikosei (“My wife is a highschool student”). Asami is a 17-year old highschool student. She is secretly married to her physics teacher, Kyosuke. They haven’t done the nasty yet — Asami’s father had Kyosuke sign a solemn pledge not to have sex with his daughter, but that doesn’t stop Asami from trying to get Kyosuke to “give her lots of love”.
It’s not funny or romantic, and it’s not overly ecchi. It bored and annoyed me.

There was Da Capo ~Second Season~. Two years have passed since the events in Da Capo, and Asakura is still single, though he has several girls following him around.
It seems like a repeat of Da Capo, only more boring. Just like I liked Ai Yori Aoshi but couldn’t get excited about Ai Yori Enishi, it seems that, while I liked Da Capo, I just can’t muster any enthusiasm for this new offering.

There was Kamichu! Yurie, a middle school student, turns into a kami. (Kami are the spirits or gods of the animistic Shinto religion.) She can see spirits, but she doesn’t know just what her powers as a goddess are. Her friends help her find out, which results in a typhoon!
Great characterisation, great animation. The spirits and Yurie are cute, and the premise is very interesting. One to watch.

We also saw “The Diary of Tortov Roddle“, which is technically not an anime. It’s a 16-minute animation, telling of the surreal travels of Tortov Roddle in the form of a series of short stories. I think that bakenius would certainly enjoy that one…

New anime

We’ve watched the first episode of Zettai Shonen. Ayumu is spending the summer at his father’s place (his parents are divorced), in some remote village in the mountains. The locals all are a bit… odd. And the summer is odd as well, or so various characters remark.
Ayumu is riding his new mountain bike through the mountain when he meets Wakkun. Wakkun is a small boy, who suddenly dissapears. And then it seems that the fireflies are, in fact, tiny spaceships…
This had a bit of a Twin Peaks-like feel about it: sleepy town that, upon closer inspection, has a lot of secrets hidden underneath the surface… The designs are pretty nice, and the whole washed-out color palette seems very appropriate as well. One to watch!

‘New’ anime

What with the move and all, I’m seriously behind on the first episode reviews of new anime series. I’ll be trying to catch up, so as not to dissapoint kees_s too much. 😉

We’ve seen Gokuji Seitokai. I think it can best be described as a cross between Maria-sama ga Miteru and Azumanga Daioh. Confused?
It’s the story of a girl who transfers to Miyagami Academy. She has a hand-puppet that ‘speaks’, that she has lots of discussions with — this is the main source of comedy in the first episode. The apartment building where she was to stay, has burned down, so she has no place to stay. The school is governed by the student council, who all live in the school apartments — and that is why one of her new classmates gets her elected as class president. After her handpuppet defeats an arsonist (!), she is given a secretarial position in the council.
My summary doesn’t do the episode justice — it is genuinely funny in a wacky way.

We’ve seen Haru wo Daiteita — pure and unadulterated yaoi. And because it’s an OVA, they get away with a lot more than would be possible if this had been a TV series. It’s not hentai though — we don’t get any closeups.
Two AV (‘Adult Video’, read: ‘pr0n’) actors are rivals for a part in a TV-series based on a series of books written by an exceedingly gay writer. At first, they are jealous of each other, but as their work together continues, they start to develop feelings for eachother.
Watch it if you’re into yaoi, this wasn’t really our thing.

We’ve seen Trinity Blood. ‘Lost technology’ (quite steampunkish), the Vatican and aliens that are, basically, vampires…
We meet Father Nightroad, who is on a mission, travelling via airship from London to the Vatican. He seems friendly but rather scatterbrained. A vampire attacks the ship and programs it to crash-land into the very hart of the Vatican, after brutally killing the ship’s crew (and some of the passengers). Word of this reaches the Vatican, where the pope (a really young boy) has to decide what to do with this ship — and he is councilled by a male and a female (!) cardinal, in rather outrageous costumes. Nightroad confronts the Vampire, and turns out to be an even more fearsome creature…
The character of Nightroad irritated me a bit (too goofy, until he turns himself ‘on’), but the series might turn out to be really entertaining, what with the mix of steampunk and catholicism twisted beyond recognition.

We’ve seen Speed Grapher. Saiga, a photoreporter, has a knack of getting very interesting scoops. His editor-in-chief asks him to investigate a rumour of a club where the wealthy can get anything they desire, when the price is right. Through various adventures, Saiga manages to infiltrate the club, but he isn’t prepared for what he encounters there. Add a sadistic ballet dancer who doubles as an assassin, and a sinister plot is starting to heat up…
Quite interesting, and this being a Gonzo title, it looks good to boot.