I’m not blogging stuff seasonally anymore, but that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the 2-week airing period where every show is tasked to grab viewers with the most compelling start it can manage. I’ll be posting very brief summaries of how much the Spring 2014 intros pulled me into their respective shows as the season goes on.
I just got back from a screening of Tiger and Bunny: The Rising. I don’t have the articulation to review it in full, but there is a point I’d like to get off my chest. While it was generally about the caliber of an average episode of the series (the fight choreography was a little sloppy, and it never felt like the villains were particularly threatening) it shined for two key reasons. First of all, that cast, with all their quirks and human aspects, is still extremely likeable. Tiger and Kaede’s father-daughter tension, Rock Bison’s fruitless struggles with unpopularity, and newcomer Golden Lion’s best Gilgamesh impersonation all made for some prime-time viewing outside of the action bits.
Second of all, the significant portions of the movie where Fire Emblem was in a coma confronting his personal demons were heavy, complicated, and absolutely engrossing. The nightmares he was having, aside from being effectively creepy, also doubled as a way of delving into his (perhaps unsurprisingly) harsh past, doing so in a non-obnoxious yet very direct way. Too, his character had both the best dialogue and best one-liners in the movie (a brilliant translation pun and an ass-kicking mini-speech). As the only hero not to get an episode devoted to him in the TV series proper, he was due for some attention. The Rising isn’t the crown jewel of the franchise, but it did his character justice; I didn’t expect that to be my main takeaway, it just ended up that way.
If there’s one thing I love about anime, it’s the rich casts of characters it so often fields. If there’s a two and a three, it’s the late-90s late night boom era and the compelling narratives out there just waiting to be pieced together. Recently, the latter two aspects led me to Sentimental Journey, a 1998 adaptation of the Sentimental Graffiti dating sim franchise and the directorial debut of Big O helmsman Kazuyoshi Katayama. Said Katayama narrative would make the show part of a fun narrative either way, either as a “Kiddy Grade/Shingo Suzuki-esque nurturing talent” type or a “before they were known, they were still great” type. It still makes it more fun that the series ends up being the latter sneaky-great type, as solid an argument for the dating sim adaptations of that era as anything not named To Heart.
Back in the day, before I had the money to import anime, or eve to buy them at a discount, I had access to a VCR and a stack of 5 VHS tapes. I learned to program that VCR for the express purpose of recording Toonami, Adult Swim Anime, and the like on days when I couldn’t make it home. And if there was one show that was my number 1 at the time, it was battle/rivalry series s-CRY-ed.
Fueled almost entirely by banter between the leading duo. Kazuma and Ryuho were as memorable a pair of rivals as I can recall having watched to this day, and the script that was field-raised ham on a whole-wheat drama bun produced a memorable, unique-tasting fight series. And plenty of potable quotes, which is why I’m dedicating this entry to cemented legacy club member director Taniguchi Goro.
And to punching things while yelling loudly
Oh, and incoming spoilers for a 12 year-old show, if you’re averse to that kind of thing.
The first thing that struck me about Wizard Barristers was that the soundtrack wasn’t too great. The show opened with some great, serious action (and animation that, in terms of frames per second, is at least 90th percentile on the season), but the bgm had such a cartoony feel to it that it was hard to get invested in it at all.* Second of all, is it really best to open up a show nominally about lawyers with a death penalty case that gets closed within 5 minutes and after we hear no arguments? I mean, most first-world nations don’t have a death penalty, and those that do take a good deal of time to make sure due process has been carried out. From what I saw, the guy was tried once and burned to death on the spot. It doesn’t speak much in favor of the rule of law in this particular Wizard society, sucking a lot of momentum out of the world the delightfully tacky character designs were trying to build around. The subsequent introduction of the female lead felt like an earnest attempt to get past that, which I can respect, but from then on the episode just felt too straightforward to be engaging.* Too, the dialogue throughout the episode was off somehow. It felt like too many characters were speaking single lines and and the script contained very few real conversations, which made it hard to emphasize with the machinations of the investigation/pretrial process. Sunday’s too crowded with stuff that’s good now for something that might get better later, so this one’s a drop.
*This is one of those places where I feel like an expanded first episode would have helped. Law and Order paces out legal drama over 40 minutes, which really adds real tension to each case. Dangan Ronpa took roughly the same time interval for each case. Half of a 20 minute episode here didn’t feel like nearly enough time.
Somehow, this is already the last day of the season where we’re getting multiple new shows on the same day. I suppose there’s also a common thread that both had a certain degree of visual distinctness, coming as they did from strong directorial stock.
We’re approaching the end of the Winter slate, and we’ve finally hit on the biggest economic-side enigma of the season. Wake Up, Girls had an unusual setup that, nominally, required viewers to watch the movie before the first episode. It’s an interesting setup from a commercial perspective, to say the least. I talked in my post about the upcoming Tamako Love Story movie about how movie sales could be an effective way to tap a larger, less enthusiastic fanbase. Based on the fact that the show is targeting fans from a similar demographic to Love Live’s upcoming season 2, the argument is that it’d be better to get something than nothing. But to make that movie ticket and 50 minutes of time a required entry fee to the franchise seems less advisable. You might simply end up with a really small fanbase if you don’t let them test the waters for free; even if otaku audiences are more willing to burn money on things they might like, this is a season with two sequels to 10k+ shows in the mix for their attention. I didn’t watch the movie and skipped straight to episode 1, because I’m not spending 70 total minutes on an unknown quantity from a director I dislike, general principles or not, until and unless it becomes a known plus.
A lot of stuff came out Thursday, and I don’t have a ton of time, so I watched the first 4 minutes of everything and decided to forego Pupa, Strange+, Mahou Sensou, and Z/X Ignition for varying degrees of spot check failure. The other two new shows did impress, and will be joining my weekly slate alongside The Show That Deserves The Jormungand Soundtrack and Takahiro Omori Unchained.
Since Tuesday was mainly a day where I compiled LN sales charts, I’m lumping the one show of consequence that aired yesterday with Wednesday’s slate post.
If you just judged Monday’s slate by their pictures and plot summaries, the day was a bit less ambitious in terms of scope than anything out this weekend. But a lot of times it doesn’t take far-reaching ambition to make serviceable entertainment, just a staff that cares about their product.