This week, I’m covering more shows than I normally would. After all, it’s the start of a new season, so why not try as many of these forgettable shows as we can? Needless to say, I probably won’t keep up with something like Hanayamata for the rest of the season unless you guys are just that interesting in seeing what I have to say about it.
Bakumatsu Rock Ep. 1
As I watched the episode, I kept waiting for something wild to happen, but I don’t know, everything just felt kind of by-the-numbers. Sure, there aren’t very many anime series about Bakumatsu era rockers, but still, this is no Uta no Prince-sama. I just found the first episode incredibly tame. We’re in some alternate universe where only Heaven’s Songs are condoned. But y’see, our main character Ryoma is a rocker, and rockers are free spirits by nature. As such, he’s going to rock your world with his rebellious, passionate music. You’d think a show like this would be a little cheesy or a little campy, though. Sadly, nothing really made me laugh. It was just one boring sequence of events until the big performance at the end of the episode. For a second, it was kind of funny when the power of rock made them all go shirtless, but that’s about it. Yeah, yeah, I know the main appeal here are the hunky bishes, so hey, take everything I’m saying with a grain of salt. Since I’m not into hunky bishes, the only way the show will appeal to me is if it turns up the craziness. Well, I didn’t get enough of it in the first episode.
Barakamon Ep. 1
So I guess our hero tried to keep it real, but it didn’t work out so well for him. As a result, his father has sent him to some quaint island in the boonies to unwind. Well, that’s not quite fair. Kyushu’s not the boonies. Still, he now has to shit in a pit toilet, so that’s not very cool. If you ask me, nothing about his new home seems all that relaxing, especially when he opens a closet to find a little girl hidden in it. Still, it’s a commonly held belief that going out into the country will bring peace to the mind or something. Personally, I’m a city guy. I like the hustle and bustle of a metropolis’s downtown. Still, I’ve heard theories about how humans aren’t supposed to live in cities. Some guy even studied the effects overpopulation would have on rats. This is just one of the many things he observed:
Among the males the behavior disturbances ranged from sexual deviation to cannibalism and from frenetic overactivity to a pathological withdrawal from which individuals would emerge to eat, drink and move about only when other members of the community were asleep.
Boy, the bolded part sounds familiar. But what am I saying? Those were rats, and we’re humans. Plus, all Seishu did was punch an old man out. Sure, he’s a little high-strung, but we have no idea if that’s due to him living in a city or not. I just went off on a tangent, because the topic interests me and this anime doesn’t. Whoops. It’s just that I’ve seen enough of this type of show before. Gee, a man gets in touch with himself by befriending or caring for a little girl? Gah. But look at what a free spirit she is! She teaches him how to create an air bubble with his shirt in order to stay afloat in the water. How quirky! Then afterwards, he can learn the value of the communal spirit from his neighbors! You can’t get that in the big city! Anyway, these boring slice-of-life shows are not for me.
DRAMAtical Murder Ep. 1
I have no idea what I just watched. Our hero Aoba lives on an island, but it seems no one can leave the island without permission? Why? Most of the young men on the island seem to be divided up into the various gangs. Again, why? Everyone appears to have these talking animals. Are they robots or what? But when these talking animals go into their online mode, they take on a humanoid appearance? Well, Ren, Aoba’s talking Pomeranian, sure did. Anyway, young men are getting caught up in some sort of cyber game. It’s called Rhyme, and when you play it, you enter a virtual battlefield in order to do battle. But like most virtual games in fiction, if you take damage in Rhyme, you also get injured in real life. Apparently, that’s not supposed to be the case, but something weird is going on! But yeah, the anime tried to cram a ton of information into a single episode, and the result is that I have no idea what I just watched. Plus, the mystery itself isn’t very compelling so far. If we had opened with an actual murder, then maybe my interest would be piqued. But at the moment, my impression of the anime is pretty meh. It’s colorful, at least.
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun Ep. 1
Between this and Ao Haru Ride, I actually enjoyed this “romance” more. I don’t know, I like its light-hearted energy. At times, the corny jokes even made me smile. Had this been a more serious story, Chiyo’s inability to confess her feelings would get old quick. Hell, it’d probably get old by the end of the first episode. Seriously, how many times are we going to use the autograph joke? And of course, there are things about the premise that I don’t buy. For example, Umetaro is really tall and manly. Yes, that’s probably why Chiyo has a crush on him, but when he speaks, he sounds like a man in his fucking 30s. Not only that, like Chiyo, he’s never been in a relationship before. Nevertheless, he’s this well-respected shoujo mangaka whose works really speak to young girls across Japan? Well, like I’ve said, if this had been a serious romance, we’d have a problem. But I’m not viewing Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun as a shoujo romance. For me so far, it’s a harmless, occasionally brainless comedy that’ll help me kill some time on Sunday nights. That’s more than I can say for a lot of shows.
Glasslip Ep. 1
I think I must have tried watching this episode four times on four different occasions before I finally got through it. And y’know what? I still found myself pausing it every now and then to read something on the internet. Anyway, Glasslip is a P.A. Works anime, so it has a familiar air about it but not in a good way. For one, I can’t shake the feeling that I’ve seen this heroine before. She just has the courtesy to go by a different name each and every single time I see her. Still, none of what I’ve said so far really gets to the biggest problem, which is that outside of the conversation between Touka and Kakeru midway through the episode, everything else was a complete and utter bore. Speaking of Kakeru, the first episode tries too hard to make him seem mysterious with all the cryptic remarks and those tortured stares he gives Touka. Yeesh. Anyway…
Yeah, yeah, aside from the new kid, they’re all close friends, so of course, they’re going to be all buddy buddy with each other in the first episode. Still, the only slightest hint of tension to be found between these friends is the potential love triangle involving Touka, Yuki, and Yanagi. Y’see, Yanagi’s jealous of Touka, because Yuki seems to have feelings for the latter. Have I mentioned that Yanagi and Yuki are step-siblings? Oh boy! But I digress. Back to my original point, every single scene lulled me to sleep except for when Kakeru talked to Touka about, uh, chickens. Yes, somehow, a conversation about chickens is the highlight of the episode. That’s just not right, man. I don’t want Angstfest 2000, but give me a little something to chew on. One short conversation and maybe a love triangle isn’t enough to carry a 24-minute episode
Anyway, this is only a one-cour series (I think), and Kakeru will supposedly to flip these friends’ lives upside-down. He better get started, ’cause we’ve already wasted an entire episode on chickens. Just look at them all stare at each other, though. Shit’s about to get real! Well, one can only hope.
Hanayamata Ep. 1
Oh, I don’t know about that. So from what I can tell, which isn’t much because I found this episode incredibly boring, Naru is one of the most pathetic anime characters in recent history. She considers herself extremely average, which in itself should be a blessing. After all, she could be a whole lot worse than average. Even so, the girl is as meek as they come. You feel like every single thing about her is as weak and flimsy as tissue paper. Man, that’s fun to watch. Despite this, American transfer student Hana N. Fountainstand — yes, her last name is Fountainstand — stalks our heroine throughout most of the episode, hoping to recruit the girl into the exciting world of yosakoi dancing. I looked up a few Youtube clips of yosakoi. What I found seemed kind of fun.
This anime isn’t fun, though. It feels like Madhouse’s take on a certain anime series, except the main twist here is that it’s all about traditional Japanese dancing. We even have one of the girls attempt to start a rock band, but I’m sure her best laid plans will ultimately fall by the wayside. This way, she can join Naru and the unlikeliest American transfer student ever in yosakoi. Yay! And oh yeah, the other twist is dealing with the main character’s insufferable lack of self-confidence: “Some people are empty, like me.” Talk about dramatic. Yo, take it to anime Lifetime. I’ve got no time for this. Anyway, this anime says nothing to me — not that I expected the first episode to change my mind, of course — so I say good riddance. Nice animation, though.
Re:_Hamatora Ep. 1
What a silly title for a sequel. I only watched the first season intermittently. There were, unfortunately, one too many self-contained episodes for my liking. Now, certain shows can pull this off, but even that’s debatable, because even a show like Cowboy Bebop can’t avoid that same criticism. Still, if you have strong characters that the audience can identify with, and a rich, detailed universe to put around them, you’re off to a solid start. At best, however, the first season of Hamatora was a poor man’s X-Men. Can the sequel hope to be any better? Well, when we last left off, Art showed up at the last minute even though everyone thought he was dead, killed Moral, then turned his gun onto Nice. The anime then faded to black as we heard a shot ring out. Oh dear, did the main character of the series just get himself killed? Of course not. Not only is he the main character of the series, if Art isn’t dead, then why would Nice be dead? For most of Re:_Hamatora‘s first episode, however, the anime would like you to pretend as though he is dead. Just play along with us. It won’t hurt! We’ll just waste an entire episode on the characters trying to move on from Nice’s death only for him to show up at the last minute! Excellent writing. I mean, c’mon, nobody out there believes that the main character would die in such a shitty, anti-climactic way, so why waste everybody’s time going through the motions?
From what I can tell, the storytelling in the second season is no different from the first season. The narrative is just too unfocused. It’s all over the place as we bounce from one goofball character to the next. This week, there’s some drama surrounding a Minimum Holder who claims he has a Light Speed Minimum. Obviously, he doesn’t, because that would violate the laws of physics. Rather, he can bend light to alter his appearance. As a result, he’s really an ugly guy posing as a super hot, attractive male idol, and this–… Ah, I’m boring myself just talking about such an insignificant character. Of course, I would be talking about Nice’s sudden resurrection instead, but, uh… y’see, he literally comes back out of nowhere. There isn’t even a build-up to it. It’s just like, “Yo, Torander-kun was Nice all along.” So how did he survive Art’s shot to the head? Did the attack even hospitalize him? Why even pretend to be dead? Is Nice trying to make Art believe that he had succeeded? These are all questions that could have made for a compelling first episode to the new season — clean, new slate and all that jazz — but as before, Hamatora can’t help but focus its attention on self-contained stories that just aren’t that interesting in practice. So again, all of the actual plot development only ever happens at the end of any given episode. That’s just not satisfying storytelling in my eyes.
For what it’s worth, the animation seems to be a step up from the first season, but I’m not surprised. A different studio is handling the adaptation this time around. Still, I had hoped this change would have also improved the story, but it seems there’s only so much lipstick you can put on a pig.