The Winter 2014 season has had a couple of preaired episodes at this point. It’s 2 or 3, by my count, depending on how you count adorable short Pupipo (shorts kind of exist in another dimension unless they’re Teekyu or Poyopoyo good, and this is solid not quite there). The main attractions to the undercard bout, though, are the hotly-anticipated-by-me Witchcraft Works and the no-expectations-going-in, might-not-have-watched-if-not-for-the-sparse-field-at-the-time Buddy Complex.
Witchcraft Works had the same CG problem that Tokyo Ravens had, integrating the horde of magic bunnies a little too closely with the human side of the cast. It also pulled a bit of a cold open, monologuing its way through the introduction. But I liked the way it set up the masculine female/feminine male dynamic between the lead couple, most notably in the scene where she tied his necktie up in a bow. And the CG will be easier to overlook if it isn’t a constant fixture of all battles in the show, which it hopefully will not be. I can see the relationship making this a very amusing gender-centric comedy if it runs in that direction, and think it deserves about 40 more minutes of time to make that pitch.
While it sort of puts me in a mild state of conflict with my rule #4 of anime fandom, I have a thing against modern mecha. I enjoy series like Nadesico, Mazinger Z (new or old), and Gaigaogar, which offer a combination of likeable casts with big, ambitious action plots. In contrast, it feels like newer mecha offer exaggerated stereotypes of the worst traits of those casts that take themselves far too seriously to be at all effective as parodies. Valvrave the Liberator is by far the worst, but Guilty Crown is pretty bad except for Okouchi Ichiro’s Dan Eagleman hail mary in episode 7. Aquarion Evol was better only because it counterbalanced a lot of that meta with a legitimately likable cast. It’s kind of hard for me to see the appeal. That’s one of the reasons Torkaizer seems so attractive to me right now; I want my mech parodies to be something I can sink my teeth into and like on a primal level, without getting ten levels of meta on things. That’s also the main appeal I see early on in Buddy Complex, which is appreciably straight-shooting. The main character is a nice, likeable guy with no immediate fatal flaw. The science fiction hasn’t descended into huge amounts of angst or terminological malaise early on. Instead, it offered up a first episode that was half-intro, half-action and was very honest about the larger workings of its plot, which seems to be a bit of a poor man’s Noein. I could very easily see myself liking this more than Shoji Kawamori’s imminent return vis-a-vis Nobunaga the Fool, and am going to give it a pair of episodes to get settled in.