Sell Me in 20 Minutes: Hanayamata, Akame ga Kill, and Ao Haru Ride

Both the shows that aired today that I watched were absolutely fantastic. I get a feeling I’m going to really enjoy the next 3 months so long as I stay off the usual prematurely overreacting communities for that entire time period.

Hanayamata was beautiful and super cute in every way I could have hoped. It’s also packing the most dynamic/hyper character of the season (sans Barakamon’s Naru) thus far. It does seem like the first couple of weeks will be tied up in putting the core cast together in the club, and my main worry at this point is just that Hana turns down the wacky aspects of her personality at some point, but even then, dancing as good as there was in this episode would be reason enough to watch. Three more episodes for this one.

Akame ga Kill’s first episode was a bland presentation of story packed with cheap heat. I’m all for splatter fests featuring hateable villains, but there has to be a little bit of originality in how that hate is acquired. The script was just verbally shoving that “people are monsters” line down my throat the whole episode, the plot twist (rich people who abduct vagabonds off the streets for some sort of cruelty, ala Teiai Group or the villains in Rainbow Six) was a very commonplace one, and the dead friends we were supposed to feel for at the end had 5 lines of heavily-shoehorned-in dialogue. The level of action could have been a draw in spite of all that, but those scenes fell flat, spamming blood to try and make up for the lack of motion and mediocre storyboards. I’m not at all interested in where it goes from here.

Ao Haru Ride made it rain with a combination of tightly-compressed storytelling, plowing through the intro chapter in the first 5 minutes and working a pseudo-confession in early, and glorious watercolor backgrounds. Maaya Uchida nailing the lead role with a slightly-less-loopy Ichinose Hajime was definitely a heavy plus factor as well. I’ll be keeping up with this one until the end of the month, minimum.

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