Summer 2013 Anime Season: First Impressions (Part II)

Danganronpa - 02  Fate:kaleid liner Prisma Illya - 02  Gatchaman Crowds - 02  Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou - 03  Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi - 03  Servant X Service - 02  Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui - 01

Here we have Part II of my first impressions of the Summer 2013 anime season…. I’ll be looking at the second half of the thirteen series I’ve been sampling, with the final 7 anime explored in this post. There are plenty of comedies that are proving to be quite funny, as well as some unexpected gems, a handful of mediocre shows that could go either way, and a few sad disappointments.

Danganronpa

Danganronpa - 03Danganronpa - 04

Danganronpa is yet another game/visual novel anime adaptation about a bunch of students that are trapped in a life-or-death murder game full of lies and deceptions…. Who will live to “graduate”, and who will die trying? There are murders, detective work, and trials to be done!

Unfortunately, after three episodes, this anime has failed to capture me in any real way. I really don’t care who will live and die, since there’s nothing interesting about any of the characters. But, this anime is clearly not about emotional impact, since all the characters are basically cardboard parodies with “super duper” abilities. The series seems mostly concerned about the murders and trials themselves, which would be fine except that this approach is simply not enough to keep me watching. Mysteries are fun, but they can be cold and boring to watch when they lack a human element.

Also, for a murder game anime, I was expecting the deaths to at least be gruesome and brutal etc., but to me they come off as predictable and so far uninventive. I suppose the anime is following the game, and I guess it’s no surprise the first mystery is a simple one (the “LEON/11037” code was easy to see). I can only assume the murders will be more complicated going forward, but without a cast of characters I can sympathize with, it’s unlikely I will take the time to continue with this anime.

First impressions: That bear is annoying, and these characters are like stiff cardboard.
Verdict: This is probably yet another “just go play the game instead” anime.

Fate/Kaleid Liner Prisma Illya

Fate:kaleid liner Prisma Illya - 01Fate:kaleid liner Prisma Illya - 04

Being a fan of the whole Fate/ series, it was a given that I would watch an alternate reality anime featuring magical girl Illya and the entire Fate/ cast! So far, it’s been mostly fun if only because it’s somehow exciting every time I see a character I recognize from the original series.

As for the story itself, it’s been pretty generic so far, with some comedic moments involving Illya and the sassy magical wand, Ruby. There’s nothing terribly groundbreaking going on, and it’s a pretty normal, predictable show right now, but I do like how the show makes fun of the stereotypical magical girl genre, with characters often pointing out how cliched or ridiculous something is.

I am enjoying the series just enough to keep on going, though I haven’t been terribly impressed with the amount of pure exposition that has taken up large swathes of the anime so far. Hopefully once the story actually gets going it will be more interesting. I’ll be giving it at least one more episode.

First impressions: Oh! I recognize that character from the Fate/ series!!
Verdict: Typical and predictable, with tons of exposition. I can only hope the story picks up soon.

Gatchaman Crowds

Gatchaman Crowds - 01Gatchaman Crowds - 03

I am thoroughly enjoying this series! It’s basically just a ton of fun, with Hajime as our peppy but smart main character who always looks like she’s having a blast, is impervious to social status, and basically just does whatever she feels like, however she likes no matter what she’s “ordered” to do. I really like how Hajime is always undercutting her senpai, Sugane, and her little alien commander, Paiman, with her quick observations and non-stop movements and talking.

There’s a lot of energy in this show, with plenty of colourful fights, transformations, and quippy banter between Hajime and everyone else. It’s also not a show to take too seriously, poking a lot of fun at itself, whether it’s Hajime analyzing the reasons behind Sugane getting a sword to fight with as the manifestation as his soul, or panda look-alike Paiman secretly loving pandas. In addition, I’m finding the implications and usage of the crowd sourcing app, GALAX, very interesting.

Since Hajime is really a wildcard, with her presence alone really setting the tone and energy of the anime, I have really no idea where this series will go…. She’s so unpredictable that she makes the story hard to predict as well – which means this show should be plenty of fun!

First impressions: Tons of energy and a lot of fun!
Verdict: Hajime!!!

Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou

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Not great, but not terrible… So far relatively mediocre. I really liked the first episode with the mysterious and dark note that it ended on, with Akari unwittingly killing her cousin… But then pretty much nothing happened in the following two episodes, and I am finding it difficult to detect any firm direction that the plot is going in. WIth this slow pacing, it really feels like the storyline has stalled, just 3 episodes in. I have no idea where the anime is going, or where it wants to go, which can be both good and bad… And, as much as I love surprises, a little hint of the general storyline would be nice.

Characters wise, only Akari has really been given any real screen time, with the other members of her team having only been briefly shown. Luna got a little bit of development recently, but none of it is quite enough to get me interested in the characters or story. I like the over the top loli character designs, though it would be nice to see more of their powers and personalities, but so far any development seems superficial and standard. Akari doesn’t interest me in any particular way, and since hardly any other characters have been really shown, I’m barely interested in them either.

I will probably give this series at least one more episode, because I still feel like the anime is still just setting the basic premise up.

First impressions: Cute but kinda boring.
Verdict: Can the tarot predict whether this anime will actually be interesting or not?

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi

Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi - 04Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi - 02

If I was to describe this series, it would be something like slice-of-life meets post-apocalyptic world. I’m reminded of Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou and Kino’s Journey, with the story following around the main character as she travels around the world, learning about the people that inhabit it. I’m liking the premise, but I’m just not sure if this anime will be able to pull it off successfully.

Looks wise, Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi has some really lovely backgrounds, but there’s just something about the character designs that’s throwing me off…. maybe it’s just the fact that the character designs are pretty typical and normal compared to the beautiful backgrounds.

As for characters, I am far more interested in the world itself than any particular character, because while I do feel for them, I am also a bit removed from their situations. It’s not perfect, but the anime is doing a nice job in portraying the world and its conflicts, as it explores wishes, life, death, and what it means to be human. It’s cliche at times, and I don’t think the pacing has been that great so far, but since episode 3 gave a clear end to an arc, I think it’s only fair to to watch at least the next episode since it will be important in establishing the new tone and direction of the anime.

I’m looking forward to learning more about the world as Ai travels beyond her village, that tiny slice of “Heaven” where she grew up. I’ll be giving this anime another episode or two before I decide whether it’s worth it or not to complete.

First impressions: Should I be worried that I am more interested in the beautifully animated backgrounds and the premise of the world than any of the characters?
Verdict: I anticipate many tears shed. Well, probably.

Servant x Service

Servant X Service - 01Servant X Service - 03

By the same author who gave us the hilarious slice-of-life comedy, Working!!, I had high hopes for Servant X Service… Unfortunately, this anime is just not doing it for me. I don’t find it terribly funny, and I have almost no interest in the main characters. The entire show feels flat, and there’s really not nearly enough tension or hilarious antics to keep me watching.

I have a feeling that my disinterest partially stems from the fact that there really aren’t that many characters (only 5 constant characters that actually work at the ward office!) to keep the comedy going. In addition, they’re all mostly competent at their jobs, and none of them really have any overwhelming character flaws or traits that define their character and interactions so much that their work is interfered. For instance, the whole “Lucy’s crazy name” was swept out of the way in the first episode; Saya is only somewhat shy; Chihaya likes to cosplay but isn’t so obsessed that she fails at her job; Hasebe likes collecting phone numbers of girls but it never gets him in trouble; and Ichimiya is useless as a supervisor but his job is never under threat.

The result of these less than interesting characters is more bad boob jokes than I can stand. In the end, I really wanted to like this, but I’m afraid that with all the other better shows this season, I won’t be continuing on with Servant x Service.

First impressions: A few laughs, but the comedy just isn’t clicking.
Verdict: About as exciting as I imagine being a civil servant in a ward office would be.

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui!

Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui - 03Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete mo Omaera ga Warui - 05

Sometimes, you’re your own worse enemy… and in the case of Kuroki of Watashi ga Motenai no wa Dou Kangaete me Omaera ga Warui! and her attempts to become popular, this is exactly the case. Whether it’s extreme duck face or her inability to hold a normal conversation with others, Kuroki is both a sympathetic and unsympathetic character because as much as you feel bad for the situations she puts herself into, her wounds are largely self inflicted. The people around her are seldom, if ever, actually mean to her, and there’s really no evidence that she’s being bullied, made fun of, or ridiculed, as she often imagines.

Certainly, the strengths of Kuroki as a character makes this anime really click, being pathetic, sad, and shy one moment, and then completely vindictive and aggressive the next as she blames everyone, except herself, for her inability to make friends. This leads to plenty of cringe worthy moments, but it’s happily not a total chore to make it through an episode. Instead, it has a nice balance of comedy and poignant moments, and Kuroki’s negativity is easy to relate to, which gives it an edge of realism.

First impressions: A nice blend of duck face, delusions of grandeur, and day dreams of revenge.
Verdict: Do your best (or worst?), Kuroki!

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