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Short-Form Roundup: Teekyu / Poyopoyo / Wooser's Hand-to-Mouth Life / Encouragement of Climb / Mangirl / Senyu
Digital
Written by maehara   
Monday, 15 April 2013 21:44
Reviews for short-form anime tend to be, well, short. So rather than post a lot of one-paragraph reviews for the recent batch of short shows, here's the Winter roundup. With added Poyopoyo.

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Read more: Short-Form Roundup: Teekyu / Poyopoyo / Wooser's Hand-to-Mouth Life / Encouragement of Climb / Mangirl / Senyu
 
Attack on Titan - First Thoughts
Meanderings
Written by maehara   
Sunday, 14 April 2013 23:41
Many years ago, the last remnants of humanity were forced to retreat behind the towering walls of a fortified city to escape the massive, man-eating Titans that roamed the land outside. Only the heroic members of the Survey Corps dared to stray beyond the safety of the walls – but even those brave warriors seldom returned alive. Those within the city clung to the illusion of a peaceful existence until the day that dream was shattered, and the Titans turned their attention to the fortress...


Nothing quite like man-eating monsters rampaging through your settlement to put the fear of god into you, I suppose. Comparing the size of the Titan that breached the walls to the rest of his kin, my assumption here is that it was bred for the purpose of breaking in to the fortress - a can-opener, for a can that's been resilient for over 100 years, in which time humanity seems to have become rather complacent. Despite the failures of the Survey Corps.

Probably one of the most anticipated shows of the season, this one, mostly on the basis of its source manga. It's certainly had a budget thrown at it, as it looks impressive (albeit with lines on character drawings that look like they've taken a lead from Samurai Girls) and does a decent job of capturing the terror of being under attack by creatures you know you can't stop. I'm not entirely taken with leads Eren and Mikasa yet, though. Eren is obsessed with the idea of the Survey Corps, wanting to see the outside and stop being like cattle in a field; sister Mikasa is the sensible one of the pair and a genuine fighter, if the reaction of the local thugs to her appearance is anything to go by.

THE GOOD: Atmosphere, scale (appropriately enough) and presentation. You get the feeling that the Titans have cracked humanity's stronghold and that the future of the human race is at stake. And everyone in the series knows this.

THE BAD: Early days, I'll admit, but not feeling that the characters we're working with will be the ones to save the world. But that's were character development comes in, and I do love that.

I probably sound a little lukewarm on this one, and I am. That may be a little internal backlash to the hype around the show. No question of it heading for the drop pile, though, as I'm curious to see where it can go from here. For the humans in the series, the only way is up...

Attack on Titan is streamed by Crunchyroll and FUNimation (FUNi stream North America only, and only available to Elite Video Service subscribers).

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A Certain Scientific Railgun S - First Thoughts
Meanderings
Written by maehara   
Sunday, 14 April 2013 22:24
Another day in Academy City, and not for the first time Misaka's had to save Saten from the over-eager attentions of the local boys. No great change there, then. But while that's easy, dealing with fellow Level 5 esper Shokuhou is hard - they really don't get along, and it seems there's nothing Shokuhou would like better than to take Misaka down a few pegs. Meanwhile, AntiSkill get caught out when a radical they're supposed to be guarding escapes, taking one of the girls as a hostage...


A new season of Railgun is like welcoming an old friend - it’s been about 2 years since I saw the first season, which was a lot of fun to watch, and this episode at least easily lives up to the early hopes I had for the show’s return.

There’s a lot packed into this episode, too - starting with the traditional Misaka-zapping-the-hoodlums scene, we zip through quick introductions for most of the main characters to give us a chance to remember who they all are; a pointedly dark scene between Misaka and Shokuho that seems to set up that she’s going to be one of the major issues for the Railgun to deal with this season; and a hostage situation that lets both Misaka and Kuroko really show off what they’re capable of. And with no expense spared on the budget this week either, it all looks pretty damned amazing.

THE GOOD: It's Railgun. That should be enough for you right there. But it's also immense fun, and damned good looking to watch.

THE BAD: Some people will point to Touma's appearance as the 'bad' for this episode, but - perhaps because I've never bothered watching Index - he doesn't really bother me. Aside from that, pretty much perfect as opening episodes go.

I sat through the episode with a massively wide grin on my face. There’s nothing here that was much of a surprise, but it’s all in the presentation - there’s a good flow to events, little touches here and there that you almost barely notice but that make you smile when you see them. More, please.

A Certain Scientific Railgun S is streamed by FUNimation.

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The 'Hentai' Prince and the Stony Cat (Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko) - First Thoughts
Meanderings
Written by maehara   
Sunday, 14 April 2013 21:03
Yokodera is a bit of a pervert - the sort of guy you'd usually find trying to peek at the girls during their swim class, for example. On the other hand, he's also the rising star of the track club, heir-apparent to the club president. It's a job he'd rather not have - eats into your letching time, for a start - but Yokodera's also not the sort who can speak his mind when put on the spot. There's an statue near his home, though - a stony cat - where, rumour has it, if you leave it something you don't need, it'll grant you something that you do. Like a metaphorical pair of balls, perhaps. But when leaving his beloved ero hug-pillow Barbara at the statue's shrine, Yokodera encounters - and thoroughly frightens - a young girl, Tsukiko, who's leaving the cat a gift of her own...


Yokodera feels he needs the ability to speak his mind; Tsukiko feels she needs the ability to hide her emotions. The cat statue happily grants both their wishes, but in the tradition of “be careful what you wish for...”, they’re granted in ways that create more problems than they solve: Yokodera’s inner thoughts - like how appealing the flat chest of school idol Azuki can be - come bursting forth without control, while Tsukiko finds she’s gone from being unable to control her emotions to being unable to show any at all. Safe to say they both wish there was an ‘undo’ button on their wishes, and they join forces to see what they can do to make that happen.

No surprises for guessing that it’s a comedy, then. Being the shallow fool that I am, I was initially drawn to the series by the character designs (blame Kantoku and tartan pattern for that), but I have to admit that I found myself smiling along for most of the episode. Most of the fun comes from the character interactions - some of what Yokodera in particular comes off with after the cat works its magic is well into “things you should never say” territory, and the reactions of both him and the people around him are pretty much priceless - for now, at least. I’m sure that’ll wear off with time.

It doesn’t take a genius, though, to see that Yokodera and Tsukiko are completely missing the point of what’s happened to them - even when they sit down and talk through what’s happened to them and what they need to do next, they both seem to miss the obvious: what they need is each other. On such things many a romcom is based, though.

THE GOOD: Funny, well-presented, and with a decent idea at the heart of it. Also, Kantoku character designs.

THE BAD: Lack of originality, and a format that can easily get stuck in a very repetitive rut.

Not something I could honestly say was an essential piece of viewing, but I’ll admit to enjoying it - certainly didn’t regret spending the 25 minutes watching it, and I’m quite looking forward to seeing where it goes from here. As with all such shows, it could be very easy for it to get bogged down in doing that same thing week after week, but this is a decent start.

The 'Hentai' Prince and the Stony Cat is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Valvrave the Liberator - First Thoughts
Meanderings
Written by maehara   
Saturday, 13 April 2013 21:04
True Calendar (T.C.) 71 - a new age where, triggered by the completion of a Dyson Sphere around the Sun, 70% of the human population lives in space. Haruto Tokishima lived an ordinary life as a high school student in the division known as "Module 77" — until the Dorssian military invaded their module, looking for a weapon of immense power that was hidden away there. When one of Haruto's close friends is killed in the attack, he's driven by rage to find a way to fight back - which make it very convenient for the experimental mech Valvrave to be almost dropped into his lap. But taking control of Valvrave comes at a very high price...


It's a Sunrise mecha show. Where could you go wrong? (Well, apart from Gundam, which I've never been able to get into. But I'll admit I seem to be in a minority on that.) Boy finds himself caught in an invasion, boy's love interest is killed, boy finds giant mech and kicks arse by way of vengeance - probably been done over a hundred times before. The 'twist' this time around is the effect that this will have on Haruto - a effect hinted at when he first activates Valvrave, his modules top-secret mech. "Do you resign as a human being? YES/NO" - that's not an ominous system prompt at all, when tapping 'YES' is a pre-requisite.

The best thing about this, though, was being left genuinely surprised at a few points. The joys of remaining unspoilt for an episode. Sure, the basic idea isn't anything original, but there are a couple of twists in the detail that add an extra level of interest, that make the series something a little different.

THE GOOD: Serious mech action, with a few twists on the theme to keep it from being another Gundam.

THE BAD: THEY KILLED <spoiler>. You bastards. Although that would be pretty much it for downsides.

Didn't know what to expect from this one, but came away from it largely pretty pleased with how it turned out. This season's turning out to be heavy on the science fiction, which suits me just fine, and this is another entry in the 'hell yeah' pile.

Valvrave the Liberator is streamed by Crunchyroll.

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Date A Live - First Thoughts
Meanderings
Written by maehara   
Saturday, 13 April 2013 19:57
30 years ago, the Eurasian landmass was hit by a massive "spatial quake" - a hugely detructive rift in space-time that levelled the entire area and killed over 150 million people. Back to the present, and Shido Itsuka is an ordinary high school student living with his ultra-kawaii little sister Kotori in Tengu City, a city that's often hit by spatial quakes - albeit on a smaller scale. During one such quake at the start of the school year, Shido finds himself caught close to the epicenter - where he finds a warrior girl who's very much on the defensive...


There's a certain amount of "what the hell did I just watch!?" to this one. From a start with genki, ultra-adorable Kotori waking her brother up, we race through highschool life, alien attack, and Kotori becoming the supreme commander of the organisation that's fighting the aliens. Oh, and she's got a split personality that would give Yuniko (Accel World) a run for her money.

The 'spacequakes', you see, are really the side effect of the emergence into this world of Spirits. Kotori's plan so far has been to destroy them with overwhelming firepower - hence the all-cute-female AST squad, of which Shido's classmate Origami is a member - but having seen how Shido approaches the first Spirit he meets (they are attractive females), she hits on Plan B: get one to fall in love with Shido, in the hope that'll make them less keen to destroy the Earth. And this mission is delivered to Shido in what could be the best mission briefing ever.

THE GOOD: Completely insane and non-sensical, but so far at least that's in a good way. You have to admire what it's trying to pull off. Looks good, too, although that could be a first-episode budget blowout - we'll see.

THE BAD: Holding this level of insanity / silliness for a while is easy. Building a series on it is hard.

I think this is in that category that I really shouldn't like (fanservice / pandering / blahblahblah), but that I ending up enjoying anyway. This episode certainly keep me amused, and I'm curious to see how long they can keep up the silliness...

Date A Live is streamed by FUNimation (North America Only).

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