Final Review: Demon Prince Enma OVA (10/10)

With the obvious exception of Ozamu Tezuka, no single person has created more classic anime characters than Go Nagai, the father of super robots (Mazinger Z) and perverted comedy (Harenchi Gakuen). So it makes sense that his characters get the reboot treatment a lot. Demon Prince Enma is the most ambitious interpretation of his work I’ve seen to date, taking characters from a comedy featuring demons with butts for heads, aging them 10 years, and thrusting them smack in the middle of a dark, shrimp and grits horror story.

Point of order before I begin, there is a certain flavor of story arc that only the best of creators can play. I call it the “dice in a cup” arc. It’s the term I use to describe what happens when characters in a scenario feel like dice spinning around in a heavily-shaken cup, slamming against each other and changing trajectories in way that feel at the same time natural and totally unpredictable. This is one of those things that’s very eye-testy; it’s very hard to quantify, but you know it when you see it. Demon Prince Enma has one such arc, a testimony to its general excellence.

Enma-1

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First Reactions: Muromi-san Episode 6

I got an email the other day (my first one, so thanks, anonymous reader Y!) asking why I’m blogging this show over Attack on Titan, which also airs on Saturday. There are two main reasons, which I want to¬†briefly¬†address that before moving into the meat of the episode.

First, good comedies are no less difficult to produce than good dramas. If you handed Astro Fighter Sunred, Panty and Stocking, or another comedy that relies on its particular sense of style (workplace-themed deadpan and rampant excess, respectively) to a replacement-level handler like Chiaki Kon or Yuu Kou, you’d almost certainly get something darn near forgettable. A comedy has to have real personality to work, which is something that’s not at all easy to do; just because they seem* to come along more often than dramas doesn’t mean a good laugh is worth any less than a good teardrop. Muromi-san specifically happens to be a *very* well-executed comedy, as it’s effectively mixing the high-energy of Angel Beats with the tongue-in-cheek sarcasm and subtly clever camera play of Joshiraku, and has a ceiling as a low-tier 10/10 on my ranking scale.

Second, while I like Titan quite a bit, it has a plot I’m very familiar with as a reader of the manga. It means that a) there’s less I can legitimately speculate on, b) I don’t want to spoil anything by accident, and c) I’d only be able to comment on the execution, which I find slow and less interesting than the wham-bam lightning rod pacing of the manga. It’s distinctly my third-favorite Saturday show at this point. Which is, if anything, a mark of how fun Saturdays this spring have been.

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Fun With Numbers: Studio Cred vs. Director Cred

This column is motivated by a discussion I had two months ago, about whether ARMS, a studio with Queen’s Blade and Hagure Yuusha no Estetica in its recent past, could really pull a good anime out of the Maoyu franchise, even with the writer/director team behind Spice and Wolf helming said show. It was a long, drawn-out debate, and it got me thinking: what names were really most important (in terms of both quality and sales) in predicting how an anime will do? For anime fans without enough time to watch every first episode in a season, it’s certainly an important question. I’ll be attempting to approach the answer to this question by remove my own biases from the equation as much as I can.

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