Quick Spring 2007 First Impression Roundup

Here’s some thoughts about new shows that I couldn’t think of an entire post to write about. :) What do you all think and what else looks promising to you this season? (Some of these are shows Ray and I talk about in the upcoming podcast, which will be released tomorrow.)

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Lucky Star

Given the ads and the OP that have been plastered everywhere on the anime blogosphere (this site included!), this show was not quite what I was expecting. I’m not sure it works so well on me, either, though a rewatch with a different fansubber helped some. The show really demonstrates its 4-koma roots in that the humor is almost entirely verbal rather than visual–consisting of long discourses on the proper way to eat different kinds of food, for instance. I wonder if something is lost in translation somehow, like puns and wordplay. It certainly validates some of the comparisons I’ve seen of this show to Seinfeld. Seinfeld‘s humor was of a very culturally specific kind (New York, upper middle class, Jewish) that doesn’t really carry over very well overseas. The same is largely true of The Simpsons, with its loads of American pop culture references. The truth is that I just didn’t find the first episode all that amusing or engaging.

I have to say that the blue haired girl played by Hirano Aya, Tsukasa–with her otaku knowledge of anime, games, and karaoke–is consistently funny in ways the other characters are not. The “fan mail” section near the end was also amusing.

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El Cazador de la Bruja

The latest actioner from Bee Train starts slower than both Noir and Madlax, with an emphasis more on character relationships–which is just fine by me, so long as the characters become interesting (as they did in Noir). The vibe is eerily similar in many respects to the beginning of Cowboy Bebop–the Mexican setting, the visit to the Indian fortune teller, the sudden violence near the end (though not nearly as bloody or spectacular). The main gunslinger girl (heh) in this show, Nadi, is also remarkably restrained in the way she uses her weapons–mainly to disarm rather than to kill. How different from the trigger happy anti-heroine of last year’s action masterpiece, Black Lagoon!

The music by Yuki Kajiura, as expected, is excellent–from the theme song onwards. I’m going to keep an eye on this one.

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Sola

This looks like another one of those “ambitious dating sim” shows–ie, shows that are based on dating sim computer games that try hard to transcend the inherent limitations and cliches of their genre. (Think Air or Kimi Ga Nozumo Eien.) To tell the truth given the peaceful, evocative theme song and pretty music, I was expecting a totally different sort of show, but with the introduction of numerous girls with various hair colors I knew I was going to be in harem/eroge land. You’ve got the stock characters–the best friend, the sister, the mysterious girl who shows up out of nowhere…who may have a secret. (A common feature of these ambitious dating sim shows.)

At least the protagonist has some confidence, though his hobby is, in my opinion, rather contrived–taking pictures of the sky. I might watch a few more episodes to see if it gets more interesting.

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Nagasarete Airantou

This is a more traditional kind of harem comedy, about a boy named Ikuto who gets stranded on an island full of nubile time-warped girls who all want to date and/or marry him. It’s fairly clear who the main relationship will be with, though (Suzu, played by Horie Yui) and the predictability of it all means that there will probably be few surprises. Still, it was competently animated and gave a few reliable laughs. Especially with the nosebleeds.

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Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann

Finally, Gainax’s new production is one of those intentional throwbacks (like the new Rodriguez/Tarantino feature, Grindhouse) that combines the wacky, spastic animation of FLCL and the cheeky spirit of spoof mecha shows like Gekiganger-3. The plot isn’t particularly original so far, though the mecha and monster design is straight out of the FLCL playbook and is fun to watch. (The way the main mecha first appears is delightful.) The rumbling I heard from the producers that this will be a “coming of age” story leads me to believe that the writers are going to attempt something more serious and epic in the future. I don’t know whether that will work, to be honest, though Gainax has done it before and done it well. We’ll see.

Anyways, that’s it for this week’s summary roundup. I’ll be writing full articles on the next episode of Hayate no Gotoku, Romeo X Juliet, and Darker Than Black. Stay tuned for the podcast–which is all about the new season, plus a few amusing extras–tomorrow!

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