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OreShura - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Saturday, 05 January 2013 23:21
Eita Kidou wants to study, get good grades, and get into a promising school; love will have to wait. Much to the annoyance of his childhood friend, Chiwa. But the silver hair beauty who's just transferred into his class has other plans regarding that - she wants him. Badly. But her reasons for that are a little unusual...

Eita just wants to be able to study in peace, to achieve his dream of earning a medical school scholarship; Masuzu, it seems, also wants peace and quiet - to keep the rest of the boys in school off her case. In a way, Eita's her kindred spirit - and a 'fake' relationship between the pair of them should be just what they both need to get the peace they want. While Eita's not convinced about this plan, Masuzu's not against using a little blackmail to get her way - and so our story begins.

I have to say, I like Masuzu's style. Between the way she words her very public 'confession' to Eita, to the way she brandishes his diary and makes veiled threats about it leaking onto the internet, she has a mean streak that works for me. Eita and Chiwa I'm less interested in, as they're more simple characters - although there are hints that there's perhaps a little chuunibyou in Eita waiting to get out ("My true name in the Burning Fighting Fighter" - o rly? - and the small detail that his diary is decorated to look like a Death Note) that could lead to some fun if they're played the right way.

THE GOOD: Masuzu, who strikes just the right note between being appealing and downright evil. Leisurely pacing, and relaxing pastel-heavy visual style.

THE BAD: The OP song & animation sequence, which was sugary enough to almost put me off before the episode proper began.

I like it so far - not geared up to be one of the season highlights, I think, but there's enough here to have a decent amount of fun with. A keeper, for now at least.

Oreshura is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Cuticle Detective Inaba - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Saturday, 05 January 2013 22:21
One day, Inaba Hiroshi's former partner from back when he was a police dog, Inspector Ogino, shows up at Inaba Detective Agency. His request is for Inaba to help him catch the Italian mafia boss, Don Valentino, who's been running a major counterfeiting business. Inaba and his team attempt to infiltrate Valentino's hideout, but aren't expecting what they find there...

Right. Overnight reaction to this one on Twitter wasn't remotely good, so there was a certain sense of dread - and very low expectations - when I sat down to watch it. I can safely say that it beat expectation, but then that wouldn't have been hard. It's a frenetic comedy, with the emphasis on the physical and very fast pacing - definitely going to appeal to a niche audience, and the sort of show that generally isn't my thing. But I can't say I hated it, or that I didn't get an occasional giggle out of it - the idea of having a goat at the incompetent lead villain has some mileage to it, assassin Gabriella's sadistic streak is played in a way that tweaks my funny bone just right, and trap Yuuta's way of showing his/her displeasure at other people also appeals to me. Yes, I have a twisted sense of humour.

Passing reference to a missing brother I take as a warning sign that a visit to the Chasm of Mistaken Seriousness is in store somewhere along the way (I didn't come up with that phrase, but dammit I'm going to use it, as it describes perfectly my hatred of comedies that grow unnecessary plots). I'm hoping to be proven wrong on that one, but we'll see.

THE GOOD: Gabriella and Yuuta. A certain humorous level of cruelty.

THE BAD: The pacing of Teekyu in a full-length show, and excessive levels of character stupidity.

The biggest surprise for me is that I didn't drop it off the bat - it's done enough to earn the application of the three-episode rule. Let's see what it does with that chance...

Cuticle Detective Inaba is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Maoyu - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Friday, 04 January 2013 22:26
Fifteen years have passed since the start of the war between humans and demon. A small band of warriors have set out to defeat the Demon King, but when the Hero, all alone reaches his target, he gets more than he expected: for such a large castle, it's mysteriously empty, and when he reaches the centre of the complex - expecting to find the Demon King there - he stumbles instead upon a rather nice pair of breasts, belonging to an extremely attractive woman. Who claims to be the Demon King...

Well, this was a pleasant surprise. I was expecting standard fantasy fare with a large dose of fanservice, but instead I got an episode of the Demon King (Ami Hoshizumi) and the Hero (Jun Fukuyama) sitting around and discussing the economic impact of war - and how that had been used to create a situation where it was better for the Powers That Be on both sides to allow the war to continue, than to deal with the aftermath of it ending. Fascinating stuff. Those who know their VAs better than me will probably notice that the two leads have previously played Holo and Kraft in Spice and Wolf - which for me is downright aural paradise. On that front alone: more, please.

The subject matter isn't exactly lightweight, and depending on your politics and your views of the place of the military in the world you may well find yourself nodding in agreement at a lot of what the Demon King says & how she's decided to try and bring about a peace that neither side can corrupt. You could also say that she's notable for just how... human she is in many ways (and it cracks me up that her demonic horns are so clearly a cosplay hairband). There are some issues ("I'm lacking in the physical attributes that the majority of males like" - you really aren't, and this isn't really the subject matter to be drawing body image issues into anyway), but I found them easily overlooked after the sheer joy of listening to Ami & Jun / Holo & Kraft / Demon King & Hero discussing the state of a fantasy world.

THE GOOD: Very nice visuals, surprising depth in ambition, and Ami Hoshizumi's voice. ::melt::

THE BAD: Fanservice - and there isn't a lot of it - feels out-of-place, as do Demon King's comments on her physical attractiveness towards the end of the episode.

First full-length episode of the season, and it exceeded expectations by a long shot. If the rest of the series lives up to the opening episode, this should be a joy to watch.

Maoyu is streamed in North America and Ireland by Crunchyroll, and in the UK (when they get themselves sorted out - as of writing they haven't) by Anime on Demand.

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Ai Mai Mi - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Thursday, 03 January 2013 22:01
Three girls in the manga club, Ai, Mai, and Mii, battle with evil Earth invaders, face off against rivals in tournaments, and might not actually draw any manga.

Oh lookie, another short-form show. It's like Japan's manga creators have suddenly realised as one that, if they want to promote their works on TV, a 3-minute short will do the job just as well as a full 25-minute show. Their gain, our loss. One I got past thoughts of strawberry eggs and stopped humming this to myself, though, I could settle down and watch what has probably been the least enjoyable of this season's shorts so far.

It's a comedy, that much as clear, but when I went through the entire opening episode - twice - without so much a cracking a smirk (the second time was to make sure I hadn't missed something), the signs weren't good. The idea is fine - wannabe mangakas and aliens - but somehow it just didn't gel. Being animated on a showstring didn't help, either.

THE GOOD: Decent idea, if only it had been implemented. It's short, so therefore so is the tedium of watching.

THE BAD: Painfully unfunny. Which for something being pitched as a comedy is pretty much terminal.

It's short, so I'll give it a few more episodes to find its feet. But Ai Mai Mi's prospect aren't looking good.

Ai Mai Mi is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Mangirl! - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Wednesday, 02 January 2013 21:43
“We're going to launch a manga magazine! A team of girls with zero experience in manga editing are off and running toward their dream of creating the biggest manga magazine in Japan! They seem to do nothing but run into problems and failures... But still they're working hard every day!”

The first comment on Crunchyroll's page for ep 1 reads "Be honest, who thought this show was about a transvestite/hermaphrodite?". A damning indictment of what anime fans are conditioned to expect these days, if every I saw one. But no, Mangirl! is a portmanteau of "Manga" and "Girl" - because it's a bout a girl trying to set herself up in the manga business. Think Sekaiichi Hatsukoi, with the BL replaced by unbearable moe cuteness, and angst replaced by questionable hiring techniques.

Works for me. I liked the manga production side of Sekaiichi Hatsukoi, and while Mangirl tackles the subject with a lot more speed (it's another short-form show - three shows into the new season, and I haven't watched a full-length episode yet) and a large dose of frenetic humour. While still managing to impart the rather grim economics that come with setting up a new anthology mag. Who says anime can't be edumacational?

THE GOOD: Short, sharp fun, while still making a point, of sorts.

THE BAD: It's no Poyopoyo...

...but then I'll be saying that about everything. But Mangirl! is off to a great start.

Mangirl! is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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