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Mushibugyo - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Monday, 08 April 2013 20:49
Tsukishima Jinbei is a warrior who's determined to follow in his father's footsteps and win every battle he gets involved in. After leaving his homeland in the Tsugara Domain to join the Mushibugyo - a group of brave men who risk their lives to protect the peace in Edo - he's tasked with helping them to exterminate the giant bugs that run rampant in the city...

They may talk about rampaging giant insects, but for the first 5 or 10 minutes of this episode you'd be forgiven for thinking it was all about potential love interest Oharu's impressive rack. There's certainly a fair amount of Gainaxing going on, and Jinbei's enjoying every minute of it. Eventually, though, Hungry Giant Spider turns its attention to Oharu, and Jinbei swings into action. After spending some time explaining his backstory to the first person who'll listen to him. (Uh, hullo?? Rampaging Hungry Giant Spider is waiting for your attention...)

Yes, it's this season's entry in the olde-fashioned shounen action genre. I'll be upfront and honest here and admit that that's not a genre I have a hell of a lot of interest in, unless it goes out of its way to do something different - and Mushibugyo, on evidence so far, doesn't. Ready supply of enemies? Check. Varied group of allies with backstories to explore? Check (and resident cutie Hibachi gets the focus next week). Lead male who must prove himself to be the best at his niche vocation of choice? Check. Personal interest in any of this? ::crickets chirping::

THE GOOD: Gory and visceral in places - the bugs are not pleasant to encounter. Some nice character designs, and decent production values overall.

THE BAD: Generically generic, and of no interest outside its niche. Of which I'm not a part.

That'll be another one-and-done, then. I'll admit I'm maybe being unfair, but I'm getting to the stage in my fandom where I don't see the point in continuing with stuff that just doesn't grab me. Next...

Mushibugyo is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Sunday, 07 April 2013 21:51
Ensign Ledo is a Machine Caliber pilot in the Galactic Alliance of Humankind, fighting a seemingly endless war against the Hideauze, humanity's greates enemy, in the far reaches of the galaxy. But after an accident during a major offensive, he and his robot, Chamber, end up on a mysterious planet filled with a seemingly primitive tribe of humans...

I will not mention The Name that's associated with this one, but suffice to say their reputation makes this one of the more anticipated shows of the season, and I have to say that of the Spring shows I've seen so far, this is head & shoulders above the rest. The opening half is a truly epic space battle (with humanity getting its arse collectively handed to it), while the second moves the focus to a location that is literally far more down to Earth - primitive to Ledo, because his branch of humanity doesn't live on surface worlds anymore.

There are lots of aspects of this that may or may not have been inspired elsewhere. Sticking out particularly, the Galactic Alliance of Humankind seems to draw heavily on the Abh (Crest of the Stars), with some elements of the Starship Troopers movie in there (with Ledo's military service earning him citizenship and the limited right to visit Avalon, humanity's 'homeworld' - a giant station with hundreds of millions of residents). Some weapons seem to be out of Lexx, and the 'modern human cast away' aspect has some echoes of Jyu-Oh-Sei. But that's just the start of ideas that I've seen in other science fiction works. What Gargantia is doing, though, is weaving all those ideas together into a very interesting world, and that's a lot of the appeal right there.

Add in the beautiful presentation - it really is gorgeous to watch - and they mystery of how they're going to tie the war against the Hideauze into Ledo's castaway status (I assume that's were the series is going to go), and I'll admit to giving an involuntary groan when the closing credits ran - I really didn't want this one to end, and next Sunday seems a long way away.

THE GOOD: First show in a while to really grab me by the throat and not let go. Compelling viewing throughout.

THE BAD: Not entirely clear where it's going from here. I think I know, but it could very easily throw me for a loop in the next few episodes. We'll see.

Roll on the next episode, as I genuinely can't way. Best show of the season so far.

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos W (Haiyore! Nyaruko-san! W) - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Sunday, 07 April 2013 20:50
Nyaruko's preparing a report to send back to the office on the progress she's making on Earth - but between her own liberties taken with the truth, and Kuuko's post-production editing, the chances of it being even remotely reliable are remote. Meanwhile, word is that there's a new illegal alien on the planet - but Nyaruko's putting too much effort into getting Mahiro to make her pregnant to notice the alerts she's been getting from HQ...

The first few minutes of this season opener go to great lengths to point out that nothing has really changed since we last saw Nyaruko and the gang - there’s even a little fake-out where they use the original season’s opening theme for a moment. All of this is good - it’s like slipping back into the company of an old friend. This doesn’t exactly please Nyaruko, mind you - in her mind, the gap between season should be filled by the heroine getting pregnant and having a kid, and Mahiro has completely failed to meet his obligations in that regard.

If there’s a story to this episode - and it’s tenuous, at best - it’s the arrival on the scene of illegal alien Tsuruko. On the surface, she’s a clumsy, shy & cute girl who has a crush on Mahiro (thanks to the interstellar distribution of the BL manga based on his alleged exploits) but so far is failing to get close enough to him to express her feelings. She sure looks harmless, but the occasional warnings that make it to Nyaruko’s phone tell a different story.

Away from that, though, we have the usual irreverent poking of fun at other people’s properties - I spotted multiple digs at Oreshura and AKB48, and I wasn’t even looking very hard.

THE GOOD: The return of a familiar friend - there’s been very little tinkering done with the show’s formula, and while the OP hints that there are a few new character introductions to be worked through, it’s been done in fairly subtle fashion so far.

THE BAD: Leaving the formula unchanged means the old hit-and-miss qualities are still here, waiting to drop little nuggets of disappointment along the way.

But that’s nothing I can’t live with - while Nyarko-san misses the mark as often as it hits with its targets of fun, when it hits it usually damn good, and that makes the inconsistency just about worth it. Welcome back, Nyaruko-san...

Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos W is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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The Severing Crime Edge - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Sunday, 07 April 2013 10:09
Urban legend has it that in the old mansion atop the hill, there's a ghost with really long hair. Hardly the stuff to inspire fear, but when young man Haimura Kiri - who suffers from a Grade A hair fetish - passes by, he finds the ghost in question. Except she's not a ghost - her name is Mushanokouji Iwai, and her hair is unusual in that it's impossible to cut...

The important thing to note is that her hair is impossible to cut because of a curse. So what if you used something equally cursed to cut it? Enter a pair of scissors that Kiri owns, previously used by his family's resident serial killer to disembowel his victims - an example of "Killing Goods" (a concept the series seems to be playing heavily on already) if ever there was one. Sure enough, they do the job - and earn the name 'The Severing Crime Edge' as a result. You can watch the show to get the story behind that bit.

On the surface, a happy ending? But beneath the surface, darker forces are at - mostly in the form of the Byouinzaka girls, representatives of a shadowy (and no doubt evil) organisation who have been 'caring' for Iwai (read: subjecting her to endless mental abuse) since her parents disappeared from the scene. Suspicious circumstances were involved. So will Kiri be their next victim, or will be prove to be Iwai's hairdressing saviour..?

I wasn't sure what to expect from this one when I watched it, although the overnight hype on Twitter was good. To me, it seems like a cross between Mysterious Girlfriend X (creepy fetish focus) and Mirai Nikki (general craziness of concept and potential for either Iwai or Kiri to go batshit crazy on us), with a dash of crime-solving for good measure (finding out exactly what lies in both Iwai's and Kiri's pasts) that I suspect will play a large part in how the show plays out.

THE GOOD: Very atmospheric, set-up is clearly directing us towards something very dark and moody, and the Byouinzaka girls seem to be distilled evil. I like that in a series.

THE BAD: Hair fetish is overplayed, but then we'll probably become desensitised to that as quickly as we did to MGX's spit-swapping. Curse of being an anime fan, that.

Definitely a curious start, and easily wins the 'best atmosphere' award from the shows I've seen so far. It's what they do from here, now that they've established the relationship between Kiri and Iwai, that'll make the series, though. The series does seem to be on the right track, though.

The Severing Crime Edge is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Muromi-san - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Saturday, 06 April 2013 23:05
Takkun's minding his own business fishing when ge hooks a rather unusual prize - a mermaid, by the name of Muromi-san. Rather than being shocked and startled by catching something that's not supposed to exist, though, Takkun finds that having a mermaid take an interest in you can be rathe annoying, as Muromi just won't leave him alone...

Not quite a short, but not quite full-length either, Muromi-san clocks in at 12 minutes - and a fairly entertaining 12 minutes, at that. Muromi's not the smartest person you'll ever meet, but her conversations with Takkun betray a certain childish outlook on life that's quite endearing - even if her attitude sucks. This episode concentrates on them just sitting and chatting, with a few interruptions - fish can't come onto land without birds and cats taking a certain interest, after all - but that works well as an introduction.

Going by the OP sequence, Muromi has a few friends we'll be introduced in the not-to-distant future, which should broaden the scope and help to keep things fresh. We'll have to wait and see how that plays out, though.

THE GOOD: Simple fun that doesn't tax the brain. Episodes are short enough that the idea doesn't get a chance to wear itself out.

THE BAD: Character designs have a vaguely Slayers feel to them that's a bit out-dated.

I like it, so far - just the sort of craziness that appeals to me in a comedy, and the shorter episode length helps with that. One to keep an eye on.

Muromi-san is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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