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Amnesia - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 22:39
The Heroine wakes up on August 4th, with no memories of who she is or where she's been - but there's a mysterious spirit floating nearby her, giving her advice on what to do when young men Toma and Shin come to see her, concerned for her health after her collapse. But, as she continues to find herself unable to remember... well, anything, the spirit - named Orion - does his best to try and help...

"The Heroine", because she never gets named on-screen. Amnesia is one of those rare shows that I couldn't manage to complete the first episode of - I got about two-thirds through before a lethal case of "I really don't care about these characters or this story or anything that I'm watching" kicked in. The series is based on an 'otome' game - a dating sim aimed at a female audience - and you can't half tell, between the female lead with zero personality (protect what you want onto her), and the bevvy of bishounen that surround her. With her memories gone - an unfortunate side-effect of meeting alien spirit Orion, it seems - she now has to somehow 'reconnect' herself with those around her in the hopes that that will prompt her memories to return. Or something like that.

THE GOOD: Visually striking, particularly in how the eyes of a lot of the characters are drawn. THE EYES.

THE BAD: Everything else. Seriously.

Meh. I've limited tolerance for this sort of thing when it's the more traditional harem of females - a little eye-candy to ease the pain. When it's a harem of guys, there's really nothing here for me - although that's as much a side effect of me being waaaay out of the target audience as anything else. Dropped.

Amnesia is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Wednesday, 09 January 2013 22:37
The stage is the close of the Edo period, an age when, not unlike our own time, both natural and man-made disasters left chaos in their wake. Manjiro makes a living helping the people of the troubled capital city, but behind the scenes, he also works in secret to take back precious belongings stolen from the people by unjust political powers and conspiratorial menaces. The people call him "Get-backer Roman."

I'll get the obvious out of the way - with Monkey Punch character designs and a thieving theme, you could not unfairly describe this as Lupin the Third Lite. And the description of Roman as a 'get-backer' (now there's a series that I'd rather not remember) doesn't exactly win any points, either.

But then you get Doctor Han, who's working (solo? ..sorry) on creating zombies, sidekick Koharu who has an ATTITUDE that it's hard not to love, and Roman himself - who rides a very fine line between being annoying and entertaining without ever quite falling onto the wrong side of it.

THE GOOD: Sense of fun, decent characters, and a certain wackiness to a lot of what it does. It's all rather infectious.

THE BAD: The "Lupin Lite" tag isn't entirely undeserved. Clichéd.

Just before I started this ep, I was looking at my streaming list for the season and thinking something would have to give. Two minutes into this episode, I was pretty certain this would be headed for the drop list. It won itself a chance over the rest of the episode, though, to to earn itself a get-out-of-jail free card.

Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman is streamed by Crunchyroll (North America).

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Love Live! School Idol Project - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 23:24
Otonokizaka Academy is due to close due to lack of applicants, much to the shock of second year student Honoka Kosaka, who loves the school. As she and her classmates Umi Sonoda and Kotori Minami try to think of a way to make the school more attractive to prospective students, Honoka is surprised that her younger sister Yukiho wants to go to a different school, UTX, instead of Otonokizaka. As Honoka decides to investigate UTX, she finds it attracts a lot of students due a school idol group known as A-Rise - which gives Honoka an idea...

Right. On the one hand, I'm not really an idol fan - you'll not find me buying 300 copies of AKB48's latest or gushing over the latest all-girl J-Pop act. I also don't get the appeal of IdolM@ster. On the other hand, I've been taking a certain guilty pleasure from AKB0048 (Kawamori! Madness! What's not to like!!), and I understand the idea of loving your school enough to not want to see it fail (it pains me to see what's become of my old high school since I left it, although I don't think an idol group would have been much help there...). So there was a certain appeal to Love Live! from the start. Add in that some people who I really wouldn't have expected to go for an idol show have said "Hey! This is actually quite good!", and... yeah. Anticipation levels were high.

And, I have to say, this episode easily beat them. Production values are sky-high - the episode looks beautiful - and the lead trio are a blast to watch, from Honoka's general exuberance and enthusiasm, Umi's little flights of fancy once she gets the idea of being an idol into her head. There's also a subtle sense of humour that underpins the whole thing, and a form of fanservice in the way that the series goes out of its way to tease plenty while not actually showing anything.

THE GOOD: I could write a lengthy list. I wouldn't go so far as to say it's all good, but it's taking a pretty good shot at getting there.

THE BAD: There's a little voice inside me that keeps pointing out that being an idol - a job that's based on rather fleeting popularity backed by equally fleeting youthful looks - isn't really a valid career path. In other words: it's a bloody stupid idea for saving the school, really, but then this isn't reality and I should just chill.

I liked it. A lot. If Love Live! can keep this up for the rest of its run, I'll be happily along for the ride.

Love Live! School Idol Project is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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THE UNLIMITED Hyobu Kyousuke - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 23:22
The leader of the criminal esper organisation PANDRA is imprisoned in the jail built especially to contain espers, Deadlock. Which is exactly how he planned things to go. There, he meets a man with unusually coloured eyes who catches his interest, Andy Hinomiya an esper who hates other espers, and who's resigned to his apparent fate of a life sentence in Deadlock. Hyobu, though, isn't planning on hanging around for long...

UNLIMITED has two things going against it for me, really: first, it's a spin-off of a series I haven't seen (Zettai Karen Children), and second, this episode has one of those "look at this monster I just created BECAUSE storylines. See also Guyver and Zetman. It's a type of story I really have very little time for, because I can never see the logic of what the villains are trying to achieve. Go figure.

Hyobu doesn't help himself either. Esper powers always have potential, but equally can be used as deus ex machina in every episode. Guess how they get used here - he's crazily overpowered when he unlocks himself, and that's just no fun outside of the realms of magical girl shows. Sure, there are some possibilities around Andy - revealed to be an undercover agent at the end of the episode - and one or two other hooks, but unfortunately my interest was already gone by that stage.

THE GOOD: Nope. I got nuthin'.

THE BAD: The clichéd ideas are strong with this one.

Onto the droplist with this one, unless someone can persuade me that better is yet to come.

THE UNLIMITED Hyobu Kyousuke is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Senyu - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Tuesday, 08 January 2013 23:21
Long ago, there lived an evil being who reigned over the world through fear, called Satan Rchimedes. He invaded the human world with his many demon underlings, spreading madness and chaos everywhere. One thousand years ago, this menace was sealed by the hero Creation, and peace returned to the world. But now he's back, and so the chosen descendant of Creation must repeat their forebear's heroic deeds - if anyone can find him amongst the 75 candidates. Enter her #45, Alba, and his Royal Soldier mentor Ros...

I think this season takes the biscuit for most short shows in a season. At 4:30, Senyu is probably the longest of them - which gives it a decent shot at taking its one gag for the episode (Ros casting aspersions about Alba's romantic feelings for the slime he just killed - "Slime-tan is mai waifu!") and running it well and truly into the ground. A chance it couldn't possibly pass up.

Alba is pretty much clueless as a hero - plucked from obscuring in case he's the one of the 75 destine for greatness - while Ros clearly isn't taking his role as mentor very seriously. Add in that the world of the series clearly plays as a gameworld (with Ros levelling himself up by bullying Alba - nice guy, he is), and there's plenty of opportunity for humour. The problem is that, for this episode at least, it just didn't tweak my funny bone in any appreciable way.

THE GOOD: Setting has plenty of potential, and Ros is the sort of evil-for-the-fun-of-it character that usually works for me.

THE BAD: The whole is somehow less than the sum of its parts - it's just not working as well as it could / should.

Meh. It's a short, so there's no issue with giving it a few more episodes to find itself, but this is filed with Ai Mai Mi under "on shaky ground".

Senyu is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Ishida & Asakura - First Thoughts
Written by maehara   
Sunday, 06 January 2013 22:15
The friendship of high school boys can be a unique and oftentimes surreal existence for outsiders looking in. Of course, the friendship between our protagonists Ishida and Asakura, are no different. Join these two crazy characters as they get into all sorts of hilarious antics this winter season!

When big-racked Kinoshita-sensei asks her class what they're planning to do in the future, Ishida announces he wants to open a florists with Asakura - who in turn wants to become a teacher at an all-girls school. Something to do with big racks. Meanwhile, big-racked classmate Satou has marriage on her mind...

Yeah, big racks feature quite heavily in this - and to be fair the character designs of the female characters are easy enough on they eye. Huge racks - of which there are many - notwithstanding. The male characters, though, clearly fell out of the ugly tree, hitting every branch on the way down. Unlucky, dudes. With only 90 seconds of each episode devoted to 'story', you'd think it would be too short and sharp to wear thin - but, for this episode at least, it did.

THE GOOD: Sorry, drawing a blank.

THE BAD: Humour with a one-track mind, with that track going entirely in the wrong direction.

Daily Live of High School Boys it isn't, although it's arguably in the same category. Just couldn't warm to this one, and have no urge to 'learn' to like it. Dropped...

Ishida & Asakura is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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