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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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Jormungand: Perfect Order
Written by maehara   
Friday, 05 April 2013 00:00
Koko's back for a second season of weapons-dealing fun, and armed this time with a plan to take over the world, she's seeming even more loco than ever...

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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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Majestic Prince - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Thursday, 04 April 2013 22:10
Mankind's having a hard time of it - at war against an alien race, things are not going their way, with the aliens able to outfight and outmaneuver humans at every turn. The solution, it's been decided, is a new breed of pilot - something not quite human, something born for battle. Enter Team Rabbits, a special unit of 5 young warriors who should fit that bill. In theory. In practice, in training they've become known as the Fail Five - which should tell you just how well that plan is working. But sometimes you have to work with what you've got, no matter how #fail it may be...

Five minutes into this one I was getting strong Nadesico vibes (comic feel to a lot of what was going on, unseen alien invaders and a Jupiter connection), with a little Linebarrels of Iron (character designs look very similar). A little bit of Vandread in there, too. All of this is good - I've been hankering for a decent mech series for a while, and while Star Driver fill that hole for a while, as FABULOUS as it was it wasn't quite what I've been looking for. Majestic Prince, though, seems to tick all the boxes, at least in terms of having all the elements here - it's what it does with them now that'll be important, and this opening episode is too busy scene-setting and showing just how badass Team Rabbits can be when they finally get the chance to show it to spend any time really world-building.

As opening episodes go, it's fairly by-the-numbers, and the gang turning out to be the best of the best (with a little help from new technology) isn't going to surprise anyone. But it's presented well, with the battle scenes being very easy on the eye - hopefully not blowing all the budget at once there - and the typical range of character types playing off each other fairly well.

THE GOOD: Looks the part, takes the battle side seriously while still being able to poke some fun at the characters along the way. It's a good combination.

THE BAD: Can't quite put my finger on why, but the episode did feel a little lifeless in places. May just have been my mood while watching, though.

A decent start, then - there's potential here, and hopefully the series can make use of it. Will certainly be watching for a while yet to see.

Majestic Prince is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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To Love-ru Darkness
Written by maehara   
Wednesday, 03 April 2013 00:00
If you've seen the previous installments in the To Love-ru series, you'll know that it likes to play on the risque side of things. The latest incarnation of the series, To Love-ru Darkness, in theory has an emphasis on the antics of everyone's favourite loli intergalactic assassin. In practice, though, it's more of an emphasis on certain aspects of the show's female cast...

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