Friday, April 26, 2013

2013 Spring Season Anime Pre-Reviews

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Just thought I'd post some mini-reviews for all the anime that I am watching right now. Let's see how this goes.

  • Suisei no Gargantia/Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
    Episodes so far: 3

    Summary: It's the future (as usual). Humanity lives in space and Earth is a distant memory drifted into legend that supposedly people left due to ice age or something. The main character is a hardcore veteran mecha pilot who doesn't really care much about what he's fighting for anymore among a whole space army fighting some strange overpowered flower aliens. His army gets owned, he goes all superhero and tried to fight off the entire enemy line alone to cover the retreat of the rest of his army (one has to wonder if he brought out his badass side like that while the army was still helping if they might have won), and he barely misses making it back in time to escape through the wormhole, getting thrown by tidal forces to the far reaches of space.

    He awakes from suspended animation some time later after his mech was salvaged by some primitive humans using such primitive tools as power drills. He doesn't understand the crazy language they're using at all. He escapes from his mech, takes one of the primitives hostage, and runs around until going outside and realizing he's not on a space ship but a sea ship, and that he's actually on, wait for it, Earth. Queue crazy adventures of the out of place guy with extremely super advanced technology who could probably take over the world by himself trying to get along with and politic around with the locals.

    Thoughts: The first half of episode one probably would succeed in driving everyone who isn't hardcore space mecha fans away with how meaningless and monotonous everything is. But it turns out this was an intentional gamble, and the main character's dealings with the local Earth dwellers are actually really well done once you get past that half-episode. It's basically your typical fish out of water story, except in this case the fish could swallow the world outside the water whole, and understandably basically everyone is terrified of him. There is a lot of scary realism in the thought processes of most of the characters. It's hard to see where this will ultimately go, but it looks like it'll be worth the ride to find out.

    Why I decided to watch it: I honestly don't remember anymore.
  • Haiyore! Nyarlko-san W/Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos W
    Episodes so far: 3

    Summary: The common sense-bending monsters from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos come to Earth in human form. Because anime and video games are apparently considered the best entertainment in the entire universe. And the main character is apparently really popular with girls in space and the subject of tons of fanfiction even though he doesn't know it. Thus, Nyarlothep, the Crawling Chaos, shows up to guard him and destroy common sense in general.

    Thoughts: This show is built on insanity, made by insanity, and basically requires some level of insanity to fully enjoy it. It's entirely made out of parody and reference humor, so if that is your thing, and you don't want common sense in your shows, then this is for you (although foreknowledge of everything Kamen Rider is helpful). If you want more substance to your anime, well, probably not so much. All the craziness level aside, there are actual plot arcs to this show that seem to make sense, but don't expect them to turn out any way anyone could possibly ever imagine. It's like they decided to let a genius writer on LSD decide the plot twists.

    Why I decided to watch it: I watched the first season and enjoyed the massive amounts of Kamen Rider references.
  • Red Data Girl
    Episodes so far: 4

    Summary: A super shy, super pathetic girl who grew up in a mountain shrine has this problem where every technological thing she ever touches breaks (but apparently that's not really important?). She's so indecisive that it took all her willpower to try and change herself by cutting her bangs a tiny bit shorter. Because of that, the people at the shrine decide it's time for... something and call in this kid who used to bully her to protect her. Apparently she's some kind of spirit vessel and he's a monk who's supposed to protect her with esoteric Buddhist chants or something. And then they go to a high school in Tokyo for people who are into mystic stuff. I have no idea if something more important is supposed to happen.

    Thoughts: I think this show's main goal is to make me hate every single main character in it. I mean, there have been plenty of anime with super-annoying female leads, but I usually don't hate all the rest of the cast, major or minor, as well. Not to mention the premise is kinda... meh, and some villain types seem to be villain types just because they feel like being assholes (and their way of being villains is mainly acting like jerks, apparently). And there's nothing really here that I haven't seen done elsewhere before, and better. Regardless, some aspect of it still seems to be entertaining somehow, but I can't seem to put my finger on it.

    Why I decided to watch it: I needed to fill the shoujo slot for the season.
  • Devil Survivor 2 The Animation
    Episodes so far: 4

    Summary: Mild-mannered MC meets up with his best friend who tells him about this new underground website that's all the rage that, after registering for it, it will send pictures of your friends' faces from right after they die, but before they actually die. And there's this creepy stuff surrounding it and some evil bunny girl running the site. But it's all just a rumor, right? Well, this is anime, so, of course, wrong. They almost immediately get pictures of each other lying dead beneath the rubble of the subway platform they are standing in right at that moment. There's a big earthquake and a train crash and some Final Destination stuff, then the app on their phones ask if they want to live or die. Upon picking "live," it force downloads a "demon summoning" app. They miraculously survive, meet up with someone else, then demons start coming out of dead people's cell phones and attacking. But luckily they can use their nifty new app to summon demons controlled by their own will and protect themselves. Their are some mysterious Guys In Uniform Who Know Things with the most obvious cover ever who apparently can summon demons with their phones, too, because they apparently invented the science of putting ancient ritual stuff into digital form, but mysteriously MC and company have software completely different from theirs, more powerful and less stable, to where they have to apply their own willpower to keep it under control, and they can actually use points earned in battle to buy new, more powerful demons, and stuff. And the MC apparently turns out to be the Super Special Awesome Chosen One Ultra Demon Summoner of Doom, who can summon demons on the level of mythological gods from the start, plus he has a hero complex suddenly. Oh, and it's apparently the end of the world and demons are invading Earth and killing all humans and stuff, and everyone on Earth only has 7 days left to live.

    Thoughts: Reading the summary should already be more than enough to let you know whether you're going to like this one or not. For Persona 4 veterans, the "demons" here that the good guys summon are exact clones of the Personas, right down to their character models and everything, except they're called demons now instead of Personas, and they get summoned from phones instead of from "the sea of your soul" (Atlus has reused the same... characters I guess you could say in basically all the jRPGs they've ever made, with a few but significant changes each time). That having been said, thus far they haven't used any of the same ones in this anime as the ones they decided to show in the Persona 4 anime (of course, it's only a matter of time until you have crossovers when there are only so many high-level ones to choose from). The MC is pretty cool (although way overpowered), but everyone else so far I could really care less about. The transformation between the urban Utopian modern world of the beginning of the first world and the mid-Armageddon world is done very well, and all the extras being obsessed with trying to use their phones constantly is a nice, realistic touch. It's filled with death and destruction, which will either make you want to watch it more or push you away depending on who you are (to me it mainly works to accentuate the impending doom of Armageddon in this world and make things feel more real and urgent). The action is pretty slick, too.

  • Why I decided to watch it: The premise mainly, but being based on an Atlus game helped. Those guys are masters when it comes to storytelling.
  • Hataraku Maou-sama/The Devil is a Part-Timer
    Episodes so far: 4

    Summary: It's a world that could be the setting of your typical jRPG where people speak some strange language that somehow isn't Japanese (a language that isn't Japanese? is that possible? oh yeah, it's not Earth, because everyone only speaks Japanese everywhere on Earth). The Dark Lord Satan's 4 demonic generals came close to conquering the world (which is kinda small), but the Hero Emilia, half human and half angel, appeared and turned back the tide. The Dark Lord's forces were pushed back all the way to his final dungeon, I mean castle, where he was injured. Forced to concede he had met his match, one of his generals made a portal for both of them to escape the world, and Satan vowed to one day return and conquer the world before they went through.

    And they end up in modern day Tokyo. And they're magically humans now and can't really use magic (because no one really believes in that stuff in this world, right?). They struggle to learn the language (actually, Satan is a super genius, so it takes practically no time for him) then have to get IDs made for themselves (luckily, he's a master manipulator), a bank account, and a place to live (luckily, the real estate agency found an apartment where the landlord specifically requested that "shady types" be the ones rent the rooms). Satan takes the name of Sadao, and his general takes the task of trying to find a way to restore their magic so they can return to their original world (and cook and clean) while Sadao lives like a college dropout and eats junk food and reads magazines all day. But they need money for food and rent and stuff, so he ends up getting a job at the local McDonald's. Naturally, he must be the best at everything he does, so he naturally becomes like the best McDonald's cashier ever and wants to get the regional best sales and stuff, naturally because McDonald's has a policy that even part-time workers can possibly work their way up in the company, so he can gradually gain influence and take over the world! Oh, and the Hero apparently followed him to Earth, lost her powers as well, and is working at a call center for now. And her attempts at slaying Sadao are misconstrued as a lovers' quarrel by the police, naturally.

    Thoughts: Another one where the summary alone will probably tell you whether you will like this one or not (we're on a roll here), but this one's a comedy. What else can I say about this one? The characters are well-conceived, the humor is actually funny and fresh (it doesn't take the same course comedy anime usually tend to take), and, well, it actually seems to have a PLOT of some sort. And the sheer attention to detail... Oh, and, naming aside, the Satan in this is most definitely not supposed to be THAT Satan (pretty obvious when watching). He's supposed to be Generic Classic jRPG Final Boss Z, pretty much (note those are usually called Maou-something or just Maou to begin with, a premise which last season's Maoyuu already squeezed in a slightly different way).

    Why I decided to watch it: I can kinda identify in some small way, I guess? I don't know.
  • Photokano
    Episodes so far: 3

    Summary: Some guy who thinks he's a loser even though he's already close friends with like every hot girl in school (I swear, the modern anime protagonist and their self-confidence issues) gets a digital camera from his dad and decided to pick up photography as his hobby. It serves as a conversation starter at school, he takes pictures of things, and he makes more friends. The rival Photography Club and Photo Club take interest in him and both try to get him to join. The Photography Club is run by open perverts who believe "art" has to be borderline erotic to be artistic, and the Photo Club is entirely made up of girls and takes mostly scenery shots. And they fight over him because he's apparently good at something.

    Thoughts: This is said to be the "spiritual successor to Amagami," but so far I'm not seeing that at all, and I think that only is being said because it's based on a Visual Novel from the same people. Either way, the characters are just as hit-or-miss and the general mood is similar, and it's still a romantic comedy. Now, here's the sticky point. This unexpectedly became the most controversial anime of the season (somehow), because a bunch of wannabe feminists decided the taking pictures premise was sexist and wrong. Now, they may have a point, but that's still stupid. This is one of the least sexist anime this season (relatively speaking), but naturally people in general, especially the stupid ones, like to focus on really the wrong things as priorities and completely ignore the much bigger things right next to them. Besides, the main character is [mostly] an upstanding guy. So, basically, if you think this sounds good and are NOT easily offended (or at least are smart enough to know how dumb it is to be offended by this yet not by Harem Anime 2342), this just might be for you. Otherwise, save yourself the time.

    Why I decided to watch it: The "spiritual successor to Amagami" line.
  • Valvrave the Liberator
    Episodes so far: 3

    Summary: It's year 71 of the True Calendar, which naturally means the future in a Sunrise anime. The Earth (and space) has been divided into 3 factions. Dorssia, made up of former Soviet Union states and the Middle East, and ASUS, made up of North and South America and Western Europe and Africa, are having like World War 2.5 or something, while JIOR, made up of Asian nations (China, Japan, etc.) is neutral (because Asians are always such nice, peaceful guys in the anime world order), and everyone speaks Japanese, because obviously Japanese is the superior language so in the future every nation will decide to make it the national language. Your average modern anime protagonist, in other words a total wimp with zero self-confidence who goes all angsty over minor things, has a relatively normal life at space school on a JIOR-owned space city, where everyone is ridiculously obsessed with social media. He has practically no one following him on Space Twitter, and, worse still, he can't seem to express his feelings to his childhood friend the tomboyish girl who isn't even that hot anyway. Some fake transfer students from Dorssia show up and knife the welcoming committee. They happen across the protagonist on the way to their objective immediately after confirming that they should avoid contact with civilians, and Space Chuck Norris[/MacGyver] among them gets pissed at him for being an indecisive wimp with zero self-confidence who makes excuses for himself on how it's okay to be like that, becomes my avatar in the show, and beats him up a little. Anyway, they break into the obligatory secret weapons lab that's making a super awesome humanoid mech (named Valvrave, if you couldn't have guessed) that is naturally beneath the school, because hey, where would you put one of those? They attack the lab in unison with their tie fighters attacking from outside, in space. Among them, Space Chuck Norris kills all the scientist dudes by himself (which everyone else complains about because they wanted to kill people too), but one managed to survive long enough to send the mech to the surface.

    Meanwhile, protagonist is just about to confess his feelings to tomboy girl at the shrine which was just built yet somehow already has a legend that if you do that there it'll work out, when *twist*. Naturally, protagonist climbs into the mech despite the protests of his friends who have common sense, and *twist*. An obvious as heck pop-up message with a picture of a C.C. wannabe on it comes up right in his face that it takes him like 5 minutes to notice somehow, and asks him, "Do you resign as a human?" He decides to grow some balls for a change (even thought I would've thought that was why he climbed in to begin with, but what do I know?), and as a result that means he picks "yes," and then conveniently skips some TOS, because everyone skips those. So he gets some sort of Geass thing, then he turns his wimp switch off for a moment and owns the tie fighter dudes. Naturally, this battle was being streamed on Space YouTube, so now he's the hero of the whole world and has like a million friend requests on Space Facebook. Cut to duet of T.M.Revolution and Nana Mizuki.

    With that out of the way, protagonist gets out and meets Space Chuck Norris again, but this time he's more emo, because that's naturally a prerequisite for being a mech pilot. And then *huge twist*. But the joke's on Space Chuck Norris, because *mega twist*. Then both protagonist's sort of friends and the other Dorssian dudes show up, but it's okay because *holy crap twist*. Then the protagonist and some random sorta-mysterious-ish girl who seems like she's one of protagonist's friends but the plot can't seem to decide if she is decide to tie up Space Chuck Norris while he's asleep and take him with them in the mech to fight more Dorssian dudes, which is only the dumbest idea ever because as if some rope could hold Space Chuck Norris. But it's okay because *twist?*. Then some good guy(?) army dudes take custody of Space Chuck Norris but seem okay with some high school student piloting a mech and don't question it at all for some reason. But then they find out this guy tied to the chair is Space Chuck Norris and mega panic, because, I mean, they should be afraid, he's freaking Space Chuck Norris[/MacGyver]. Of course, one of them is kinda like, "So what if it's Space Chuck Norris? What can he do while he's unarmed and tied to a chair while we're all pointing guns at him?" Yeah, right, you're not convincing anyone, dude. So then Space Chuck Norris takes out an entire ASUS space squadron on foot, which, seriously, makes perfect sense, don't even question it, he's Space Chuck Norris (the in-universe characters say more or less the same thing). But he decides to talk to protagonist again and *twist*.

    Thoughts: If all of that sounded incredibly stupid, that's because all of that is. What may or may not save it, therefore, is what is contained within the *twist*s. Also, the opening theme is a duet of T.M.Revolution and Nana Mizuki, which is a major good sign. This is made by Sunrise, the creators of Gundam, Code Geass, and, well, Gundam. And it definitely shows. Like 95% of the first episode is exactly the same as pretty much every Gundam first episode (especially SEED [heck, the opening narration is even done by the voice of SEED's main villain]). And the animation (and budget) is as expected of Sunrise. In the end, unless you're some hopeless Gundam mech anime fanatic, in which case you're probably already watching this anyway, whether or not you like this anime will basically be decided by the plot twist after the credits at the end of the first episode. So, in other words, at first glance the plot is mainly just Gundam that they decided for some reason to not call Gundam this time (I would guess so they don't have to make 50 episodes of it), but after that framework it seems like they got M. Night Shyamalan drunk and had him spit out a bunch of crazy plot twists. From the look of the credits, the majority of the cast hasn't really been properly introduced yet, but so far I hate the main character (as usual, they market main characters these days exclusively to angsty teenagers with no self-confidence in the audience after all) and don't particularly like most the rest of the characters that have been introduced either. Heck, I actually find the bad guys so far more interesting than the good guys, even though they are all flip-floppety and can't seem to decide what kind of characters they want to be. The guy obviously being set up as the main character's rival, you know, Space Chuck Norris, is actually the only character interesting to me at all at this point. So the cast obviously isn't what's keeping me watching this. All that aside, I am enjoying this show so far overall. So, my recommendation would be to watch the first episode, all the way through the scene after the credits, and, if that scene after the credits makes you want to keep watching, do so, if it doesn't, go ahead and stop. It all comes down to your reaction to that scene. By the way, I saw someone describe this as "It’s like a mixture of Code Geass + WWII + GUNDAM SEED + Power Rangers." Which is not important but I decided to paste that anyway. Oh, and did I mention that the opening theme is a duet of T.M.Revolution and Nana Mizuki? If that doesn't mean anything to you, I have to wonder why you're even reading this.

    Why I decided to watch it: The opening theme is T.M.Revolution, and as a rule of thumb anime with a theme by T.M.Revolution are always good. what I would say, but I actually didn't find out he did the opening until after deciding to watch it. I actually decided to watch it because every single review I read spoiled the end of episode 1 plot twist (why do they do that? honestly) and I was intrigued enough to check it out from that.

Crap, I'm exhausted already from writing all those and I'm barely more than half done. Oh well, I guess I'll do the rest later.

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