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Zettai Bouei Leviatan - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Saturday, 06 April 2013 22:17
In the world of Aquafall (which isn't as watery as the name suggests), there's a young girl called Leviatan, who possesses magic powers but seems less fortunate on the personality front. While training one morning, she encounters talkative little fairy Syrop, who's decided that Leviatan is destined to help fight the invaders that a falling meteorite have brought to Aquafall. Leviatan, meanwhile, is not convinced...

A rare outing from GONZO, this one - and one that I'm already wishing they hadn't bothered with. This is one of those rare shows where even getting to the end of the first episode was a chore, with a bunch of personality-less characters (okay, there's supposed to be a reason for that in Leviatan's case, but that doesn't excuse the rest of the cast) and contrived situations combining to kill what little interest I had in the series in the first place. I mean, half of the episode is devoted to a bunch of (allegedly) big, hard men chasing around a fairy who dared to make them look bad. Come on.

THE GOOD: Magical girl elements. That's normally catnip for me, but THE BAD was more than enough to conteract the effect.

THE BAD: Intolerably dull. The episode's 'big conflict' is over minutae (as if picking on a fairy is REALLY MANLY). Barely registerable levels of personality in its characters.

That all adds up to the first 'one-and-done' of the season. Gone, and already forgotten.

Zettai Bouei Leviatan is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Oreimo (Season Two) - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Saturday, 06 April 2013 21:18
Brace yourselves, everyone, Kirino's back from the US. The prospect's enough to give Kyosuke nightmares - mostly of the time she turned from being a kawaii little sister into the sister from hell. Of course, things have moved on a bit from then, but her time in the US seems to have turned Kirino to the cold side again. Perhaps because he's the one who hauled her back from the US. So what can he do to get their relationship back on track..?

Took me all of about three minutes of this to remember just how hateful Kirino can be at times. Poor Kyousuke - and even Kuroneko seems to have gone cold-shoulder on him. Yup, the opening episode of this season seems to have fallen into the "let's undo all of the good progress that we made with our characters when you last saw them" trap, and that makes me a very unhappy bunny.

On the other hand, we do at least have Kuroneko and the rest of the gang, and the games club and other things introduced during the 'Kuroneko arc' haven't entirely been forgotten, so it's not all bad. But it does feel as though an at least partial reset button has been hit between seasons, and I dunno that I could be bothered sitting through too many episodes of getting things 'back on track'.

THE GOOD: Not a hell of a lot yet, although I'm expecting most of the show's good aspects to filter back in before too long. They'd better, at any rate...

THE BAD: Kirino bitchiness back to full force, and a general reset-ish feeling since last we last saw them.

Of the returning shows this season, Oreimo was probably the one I was least looking forward to, mostly on account of Kirino's return. So far, my reticence is being proved spot-on. There's enough I like about other aspects of the show, though, that I'll need to give it a few more episodes. Just to be sure.

Oreimo is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Samurai Bride - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Saturday, 06 April 2013 20:22
Welcome back to Great Japan, where six months have passed since the battle against Amakusa. Muneakira's been on the road since then, but he's finally returned to the Yagyu dojo - to find that the place seems to have been turned into a Moe Moe Maid Cafe. It was all Yukimura's idea. While Muneakira's been gone, Sen's brother Yoshihiko - he who caused their problems in the first place - has been taking the credit for saving the day, leaving the girls rather short of money. And to add to their problems, there's a group looking to challenge them for control of the dojo...

"Moe - the keyword to making money", explains Yukimura as she tries to justify turning the dojo into a maid cafe. It's taken a loan to do that, and with the collateral on the loan being, err, the dojo, they have to start making money soon. There's problem #1. Problem #2 comes in the form of the Dark Samurai - Musashi Miyamoto, Kojiro Sasaki, Mataemon Araki and Inshun Houzoin - who would very much like to face true-form Jyubei - who Muneakira seems to be incapable of summoning up at the moment. Uh-oh.

On the one hand, the maid cafe is a 'wtf?' development. On the other hand, half of this show's appeal is in the antics of the girls, and I can't deny there a certain base appeal to Sen-hime in maid gear. On that level, it works for me. And the eternal bickering between the gang, and relentless bullying of poor Kanetsugu, is all present and correct from last time around, too. This makes it easy to set expectations for the rest of the series - a lot of fun poking fun at the girls, and a little bit of serious story arc to eventually deal with towards the end.

THE GOOD: The good points of Samurai Girls are all still here, and the maid cafe concept at the very least doesn't ruin matters. Absurd, but fun.

THE BAD: Hard enough keeping track of all the characters without adding another four to get used to. Inksplotches back in full force.

The first season was a good, enjoyable guilty pleasure for me, and I'm expecting this season to be much the same. This episode tells me that the show isn't going to stray too far from its proven formula, and that's good enough for me for now.

Samurai Bride is streamed by Crunchyroll (North America only).

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Devil is a Part-Timer! - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Friday, 05 April 2013 21:40
Satan, the Overlord: symbol of cruelty and fear, and the lord of all demons that stalk in the shadows. He'd normally be inflicting that fear on his own world - but the rise of a Hero has put paid to that ambition, and with his forces on the verge of defeat, he beats a hasty retreat. To modern-day Tokyo, which wasn't actually part of the plan. Faced with having to live in an unfamiliar society, Satan uses his last dregs of magic power to get... er... a residence permit, bank account, apartment, and part-time job at MgRonald's. Well, a deposed evil overlord has to restart somewhere...

For the first few moments, it's almost like the demon war of Maoyu got spun off into its own series - and then we get the comical shift that sees the lord of all demons working part-time in a burger joint while he raises the money needed to conquer the world. It's doubly funny thanks to the way he completely throws himself into his job, too. Only a few dregs of magic left? Use them to fix the fryer! It's an emergency!

Satan, it has to be said, is as thick as two short plans, which probably explains why he gets on so well with ultra-cute co-worker Chiho. Fellow demon Alsiel, on the other hand, is clearly the brains of the outfit, and I suspect will end up sharing the common-sense role with Emilia - the Hero, also now trapped in Tokyo.

THE GOOD: One of the most curious show setups I've seen in a while, and poised to give us plenty of silliness. Particularly love the culture-shock aspect of two strangers coming to grips with the modern world.

THE BAD: Can't really point at anything at the moment. It's the sort of concept that can tend to be pretty hit-and-miss, depending what they're poking fun at each week, but we'll see how that goes.

A good start, then, and if they keep up this level of funny I'll be a happy bunny. Fingers crossed...

Demon is a Part-timer! is streamed by FUNimation.

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Devil Survivor 2: The Animation - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Thursday, 04 April 2013 22:16
Japan has suddenly fallen prey to hordes of demons, and behind the chaos is a group of mysterious invaders, called the Septentriones, who are flinging the entire nation into the depths of despair! Is this a test for the human race? As their new cruel reality continues to trifle with the people, thirteen individuals with unique characteristics form contracts with demons to become the Devil Summoners, giving them the power to fight the invaders...

Most impressive thing about this show: those cellphones seems to get a signal just about anywhere, unless the plot needs them not to. And who wouldn't want to be given multiple chances at life by a genki AI bunnygirl? And let's not forget that the mysterious Men in Black appear to be the Japanese equivalent of the Met Office.

Why yes, I did have trouble taking this too seriously - although it does appear to take itself deadly straight. But an invasion of demon that can only be countered by avatars summoned through a smartphone, by people in a situation that could be straight out of GANTZ? Not convinced, yet.

THE GOOD: Decent visuals, some creative opponents for the three 'heroes' to deal with. If you like fighting shows, this looks likely to be up your alley.

THE BAD: Too many aspects that are just too outlandish for me to buy in a series that seems to take itself seriously. And how many times can Daichi get himself killed in one episode!?

Not so bad that I'm ready to drop it yet, but Devil Survivor 2 has some work to do to really catch the attention.

Devil Survivor 2: The Animation is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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