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Photo Kano - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Friday, 12 April 2013 22:01
Kazuya Maeda is a second-year high school student who takes pictures of girls with his camera that he received from his dad. And of course, despite having pretty much zero personality, he just so happens to have plenty of girls on the scene who don't mind being the focus of his attention...

So. Photo Kano is a dating sim adaptation, brought to you by the same people who were behind Amagami SS. I did watch Amagami back in the day, and while some of the girls in that show were interesting enough to keep me, well, interested, they weren't so good as to haul me back for the second season. Just one of Amagami's characters has enough personality to beat the whole cast of Photo Kano, though, which gains the dubious honour of being the first show of the season to have put me to sleep. And it's not even that late.

THE GOOD: Like the character designs, and I can see a few of them making good appearances on pixiv in the not-too-distant future. And from there, to my Tumblr. Has more fanservice than Amagami, but not so much as to be tasteless or OTT...

THE BAD: ...which would at least have given it some charm. Is even an ounce of personality in your too-nice-to-be-true lead male too much to ask..?

Putting all other things aside, my ultimate 'droptest' is, "Did it keep me awake for 25 minutes?". Photo Kano failed, and onto the 'dropped' pile it goes.

Photo Kano is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU (Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru) - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Friday, 12 April 2013 21:05
So exactly what’s going to happen when Hachiman Hikigaya, an isolated high school student with no friends, no interest in making any and a belief that everyone else’s supposedly great high school experiences are either delusions or outright lies, is coerced by a well meaning faculty member into joining the one member "Services Club" run by Yukino Yukinoshita, who’s smart, attractive and generally considers everyone in her school to be her complete inferior..?

Oh look. Another anime with a club that doesn't do very much, and characters who on the surface seem to hate each other. First though: how original. Not. To be fair, though, it's not that Hikki and Yukino hate each other, it's just that they tend to prefer their own company, and have rather lost the knack of basic human interaction as a result. For Hikki, that has its roots in a disastrous attempt to confess to a girl; for Yukino, that's yet to be revealed. But they're both show to be prety smart kids with a fairly good handle on what makes people tick - even if they're no good at applying that knowledge to themselves.

Quickly added to the mix is Yui, the redhead who just wants to please everyone, and the first girl to get advice from the Service Club. Between the three of them there's some fun (I'm not really getting the romcom vibes yet, it has to be said), and almost *monogatari levels of talking between the characters. I could get used to that.

THE GOOD: Last season's "friendship club" shows almost made a thing out of making their characters as hateful as possible. This manages to not do that - yet - which I take as a big plus. Actually quite intelligent in places.

THE BAD: We really have been here before, and not that long ago, either. Kinda wishing the light novel well would hurry up and run dry, please.

"Not bad", is about as good as I'll go. Will keep an eye on it for a while and see where it goes, but not expecting it to really be anything outstanding.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU is streamed by Crunchyroll (North America only).

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Red Data Girl - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Thursday, 11 April 2013 21:15
One day Izumiko decides to cut her fringe as her first step toward self change. Despite her best efforts at fitting in at school, she's the center of bullying at her school - and to make matters worse, she has a particular spiritual power that her haircut seems to have amplified. When she inadvertently causes a powercut at her school, her family call in some 'reinforcements' to help her deal with her powers - but the boy called in for the job doesn't seem to like him much...

Having gone into this totally blind and unspoilt, I was expecting something about a girl chasing various endangered special (the 'Red Data Book' being the official list of endangered species). Uh, no, it seems to be a little more complex than that, with Izumiko herself being the endangered 'species', as it were. Which makes the people around her particularly protective of her. Add in the special abilities that being the Himegami bring her - seen in the episode with her effect on technology - and it's clear she's someone special. Even if no-one outside her immediate family circle is aware of that.

Plenty there to be getting on with, and to be honest I was kind of hoping for an infodump to explain exactly what her situation is - she's clearly due to get one herself, as there's more going on than what she's aware of herself. But the episode switches to the introduction of Miyuki, a generally unlikeable little bully who's been earmarked as her servant, much to his disgust. And that side of things I could probably have done without.

THE GOOD: PAWorks are on animation duty, so this naturally looks amazing - I could watch their works all day. There's plenty of potential with Izumiko's 'condition' that I'm expecting will be worked into the story soon.

THE BAD: Lots of nastiness about, between Izumiko being regularly bullied, and Miyuki having the shite beaten out of him by his father. Not so keen on that sort of scene. Distinct - but probably deliberate - lack of information on what Izumiko's condition is all about that I hope they address soon.

This is Kadokawa's 65th anniversary series, so you'd hope they've got something special lined up for it. At the moment, it's got amazing visuals and a large dose of curiosity in its favour - hopefully that gets built on quickly.

Red Data Girl is streamed by FUNimation (North America only).

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YUYUSHIKI - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Thursday, 11 April 2013 20:15
Yuzuko, Yui, and Yukari, three girls who've just started high school, are always together. After school, the three begin searching for a club togehter, and are roped into joining the "Data Processing Club" by the club's staff sponsor. With two computers and a whiteboard between them, the girls turn their attention to searching for random words on HooYa! and then discussing the results...

Another case of cute girls doing nothing - although the character designs could be considered a little 'off', which spoils the 'cute' part a little. This is going to be one of those shows where how much you get out of it will vary from week to week, depending on what subject the girls are 'researching' - this week it was astronomy & related climatic issues (the Maunder Minimum discussed in anime? I approve of this), which happens to be right up my alley, so it worked for me. Other subjects, maybe not so much.

It's not all the girls in their clubroom, either - there was a decent chunk of the episode devoted to giving them a decent introduction, but at the end of the day it was still mostly about nothing.

THE GOOD: Educational anime, arguably. Who'd've thunk it. The lead trio are a fun little grouping, too.

THE BAD: Dunno that I'm up for another anime about nothing, and I suspect a lot of each episode's appeal is going to depend on the Subject of the Week.

Will be keeping this on the radar for now, at least - the "cute girls doing nothing important" idea isn't exactly new (hi there, K-On!, Hidamari Sketch and several others), but done right it can still be entertaining, in a fluffy kind of way.

YUYUSHIKI is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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AIURA - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 21:51
They don't always see eye-to-eye, but that just makes these high school girls' daily lives more fun. "Their lives happen when nothing is happening" is the theme of this anime based on the lackadaisical four-panel manga. The story features high school girls, but there's not much romance, and comedy has its place. Don't expect too much extravagance...

Again, that's the 'official' blurb (tweaked to make it readable). AIURA clocks in at 3 minutes, but by the time you take off the OP & ED songs, there's only 1 minute left. And, for this week at least, it was a minute of pure adorableness, as we got Uehara's introduction by way of seeing her going to the shop to buy ice-cream. And that's pretty much all that happens. Short, simple, and to the point. And did I mention adorable?

THE GOOD: Adorable, with a dose of the warm fuzzies for good measure.

THE BAD: Too damned short. And the overuse of crabs and Steve Jobs in the OP confuses me greatly.

A definite keeper. I got more entertainment out of 1 minute here than I have from some full-length shows this season...

AIURA is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Sparrow's Hotel - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Wednesday, 10 April 2013 21:16
Because Sparrow's Hotel is located downtown, dangerous things like over-drinking and fights are commonplace, which causes trouble for manager Shiokawa Tamaki. Then Satou Sayuri approaches the front desk for a job interview, listing her special skills as "large breasts" and "assassination." She's hired on a trial basis as a special task force and guard, but... Massive strength! Massive breasts?! This gag anime illustrates the daily lives of the new front desk staff, Satou Sayuri; the level-headed manager who happens to look like a middle schooler, Shiokawa Tamaki; and the guests who visit the Sparrow's Hotel just to see them.

Official blurb there - 3 minute episodes don't really give much time for writing my own synopsis. The idea of Sparrow's Hotel is simple, really - poor Sayuri's a bit of a freakshow, and the series is all about her adventures. Which really doesn't work as well as it could or would. A large part of that I put down to the animation, which is really cheap & simplistic-looking. Admittedly, humour is one of the most subjective things there is, so you may get more mileage out of this than I did, but I wouldn't get hopes up.

THE GOOD: It's only 3 minutes long.

THE BAD: Cheap-looking, not particularly funny. Which is kind of a lethal error for something pitching itself as a gag anime.

One for the droplist, then. Moving quickly onwards...

Sparrow's Hotel is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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