Drew: This episode had a fairly simple premise; the main character goes around trying to get his hands on a sky boat, once owned by his teacher but now in the hands of Benten. I want to say that up-front, because this was probably the least-comprehensible episode of anime I watched this month. They introduced a bunch of things from nowhere, like the seaside clocktower that Benten apparently owns. The worst part was the one conversation between Tengu that dropped a bunch of terminology with minimal context, one that I would have been totally lost for if I hadn’t encountered the term Kurama Tengu before. It’s still a visual feast, but the visuals are often a lot less tightly targeted than, say, a Tatami Galaxy. I’m starting to worry (admittedly just a little) that this might be a TV anime with movie problems rather than a TV anime with movie benefits.
Will: Once again, this show is really good. Cool looking combat, cute girls, and the jazz trend continues. I guess that’s just the battle soundtrack they’ve gone for, which I wholeheartedly support. It’s so awesome every time. I like these characters, and it’s pretty much what I expected, but better. I actually saw the drama this week, and I wasn’t surprised. The main character still has confidence issues, the rival is typical rival, noting out of the ordinary. Hell, even the way Sono talked to Yura was pretty typical, and in my opinion justified. I mean, the music and acting made it really dramatic, way more than it seems like it should be, but in that situation, I’d do the same in a way. I’ve done team competitions before, and I’ve frequently been the one to tell people, “Hey, this is a game, have fun, lose with a smile, or don’t compete.” Yura was really taking it too seriously and personally when she surrendered. It’s airsoft, at least try to take someone down with you. All that said, I still enjoy the hell out of this show.
Drew: I agree that the fundamental concept was pretty regular for interscholastic competitions of any kind, but I do think the show went a few hundred meters too far down melodramatic avenue to make its point. I don’t need it to be a huge issue, and by making that scene what it was, the show brought itself closer to the bad side of the gap between fun entertainment and serious drama. There’s a market for combining the two in a skilled way, but there sure as hell ain’t one for shoehorning one into the other. That aside, it was a fun tournament episode, and the matches shown in detail, both the win and the curbstomp, were good viewing. I hope we get a rematch in the future and it’s either light-hearted or a GaoGaiGar ripoff. So long as it’s not that kind of dramatic.
Sam: I think the issue with the drama is that it wants to be manly with its ideals, but the rest of the show is so uninterested with being like that that when it does try and get manly, it gets really stupid. The entire show to me right now feels like two different elements pulling desperately towards opposite ends of the quality spectrum, and while I still like it, I really want it to just drop the pretense and be fun. When its fun its fun, but it isn’t good when it is not fun.
Will: Y’know, I honestly don’t really feel one way or the other about the drama. It’s just there to create some tension and conflict in a show that doesn’t inherently have any. It’s exactly what I expected. Some episodes of K-ON! had things like this, and really, Hidamari Sketch is one of the few that ends up being really great without any real conflict or drama. I’m honestly only discussing the drama in C3-bu because episode to episode, there’s not much else to say. It’s cute girls doing cute things, with some jazzy airsoft action. Either you like it or you don’t. It’s a great show so far, there’s just not much to talk about. I guess my point is that the drama does not feel incongruous to me, it just feels like token drama, and nothing more.
Sam: I’m OK with token drama, but this drama is kind of dragging the rest of the series down. It stinks because the rest of the series is great, so I just hope that the drama improves or decreases its prominence.
Will: I think it’s just building towards some awesome character development. I mean, that’s why everyone fell in love with Gainax in the first place, characters really growing as the story goes on. Half the things they’re known for are coming-of-age stories. And I mean, It’s not like this is a completely different crew, not everyone left for Trigger.
Drew: Maybe not everybody left for Trigger, but a large portion of the senior staff did. The Director, Art Director, Sound Director, Animation Director, and Character Designer are all people whose history doing things for Gainax does not predate Dantalian. It’d be interesting to take a fuller look at the staff, but I personally think the comparison between new and old Gainax is very tenuous. Their strongest link is the brand name. People have, in the interim, tried to tell the same type of story at other studios, but few of them are as good as Anno or even Imaishi at said job. I look at their ability to insert a non-forced coming-of-age story into a show of this type with considerable skepticism. Time will tell, but I suspect it will be mostly moot as the show gets back to fun airsoft next week.
Drew: Uchoten Kazoku might seem to some to be a far-out series. For me, it’s attacking fairly familiar territory, just doing it using tanuki stuck in frog-shaped polymorphs instead of humans in mundane lifestyles. I think it’s less artsy fare with a message and more much closer to a character-driven slice-of-life drama that happens to involve smooth, fancy animation. And I’m loving it so far. It’s obviously still got places to go and things to develop, but I think it’s a 7/10 if the two episodes that came out so far were a stand-alone ova series, which is pretty good in my book.
Sam: So this might just be my favorite of the season so far, of what little I have watched. I went in expecting little, but the way that the airsoft battles are staged are everything that I have ever wanted in these kinds of things: interesting, varied, and awesome. So far I haven’t been liking the drama though. It brought up the idea that Yukochan is lonely and wants friends, but the way that it presents it makes me feel less like the group is destined friends and more like Yukochan is slightly emotionally damaged and C3-bu is just there at the right time. Still, when the airsoft battles start, everything just clicks.
Woop, it’s Thursday, the day of massive-impact airing!* We’ll have to wait a week for Silver Spoon, but there’s a six-shooter’s worth of ammo to chew on in the meantime.
Suisei No Gargantia is the new series from acclaimed writer Gen Urobochi. As a large fan of his previous work, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, I was immediately intrigued. So far I have watched 3 episodes, and all I can say is I hope to god this gets better.
Photo Kano is more on notice than it was last week. There is a very definite difference between capturing the beauty of the female form on film (at the very least, I’ve known a number of seriously legit cosplay photographers who are very above board) and shooting non-consensual gravure pics. I’m still fairly firm on the opinion that Photo Kano’s protagonist is aiming at the former, which is why I’m still watching it. Even so, given that there are two characters very much in the latter category prominently featured in the show, it really wouldn’t hurt for it to keep convincing me. Especially after that one exceptionally dumb slow-motion scene in the second half.
The two-week stretch of the season where every first episode comes out is almost over, so now it’s back to the equally enjoyable grind of talking about individual series in depth as they do their darndest to make an impact.
Photo Kano was a show I resolved to blog on the strength of one feature: its skillful utilization of photographic motifs to enhance a story about photography. After this episode, I’m even more convinced that rookie director Akitoshi Yokoyama knows exactly what he’s doing. This episode was all over the charts in terms of the events it featured, and he had a different camera trick for everything. And it’s worth nothing that, great as the camerawork in this episode was, it certainly wouldn’t have produced as much of an effect if the cast wasn’t growing increasingly charming.
I mentioned in our Spring Preview Betting Session that I was worried about both of these shows, as they had first-time directors handling big-budget tv productions, something that is usually a recipe for trouble. Yes, Shishiou Igarashi notwithstanding. Still, I went into both with an open mind, as I enjoy nothing more than a pleasant surprise.
The beginning of Spring 2013 is almost upon us, but first we got early looks at 2 shows that look to figure prominently in the discussion for most popular show of the season (albiet in different ways).