So, what’s new? This roundup includes further or first looks at Xam’d: Lost Memories, Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu, Mission-E, and Zero no Tsukaima: Princess no Rondo.
Xam’d: Lost Memories (Bounen no Xamdou)
Bones’ latest project is interesting in the way it handles the war setting (it begins in media res, without explaining anything at all explicitly), in the intensity of its action and the shocking contemporaneity of the idea of a suicide bomber blowing up a school bus, and the way the main male character pretty much turns into a giant white chicken when he transforms into a Xam’d. As usual for Bones, the animation is fluid and gorgeous.
Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
Ray’s covering this one already, but it was actually an eloquent, moving writeup about the show and her own memories by usagijen that prompted me to go and check this one out. I saw the appeal, and can identify with the feeling of being excluded because of one’s hobbies, but it wasn’t as emotionally deep as I had hoped–partly because I felt the bullies so far to be terribly one-dimensional. You like anime = shunned outcast, plain and simple, which I think is a bit oversimplified. It took a while too for Haruka’s otakuness to really manifest itself in anything more than a frightened stare at someone holding an anime magazine or trying to hide that in her bag. Still, the ending of episode 3 is a pretty good portrayal of the longing that every outcast geek has felt at one time or another; Ray’s written quite well about that already, and I’ll add my voice to that chorus. (I also liked her admitting the truth about her otakuness at the end of episode 4 with such boldness and confidence, and in defense of the maligned Yuuta. That’s the kind of courage I want to aim for myself.)
Then again, my standard for this sort of thing is Genshiken and Welcome to the NHK!, and especially compared to the latter, most any other show is bound to fail. I’m probably being grossly unfair. However, given how quickly the romance is progressing (for a change), and hints of more otaku fan pandering to come, I’m still going to keep an eye out on this one. I’ve seen worse this season. And it’s always funny to see anime characters talking about anime. I do wish they wouldn’t do panty shots of the little sister character, though. The show was getting along quite well without much fan service up until then.
Once upon a time, there was a modest little sci-fi slice of life show called Code-E with an identity crisis. It wondered whether it would be a romance, an action piece, or a sci-fi exploration of the future. It looks like it has made its decision in this, its sequel–it wants to be the action show. Pity, really; while the action is animated well-enough, I’m not a big fan of the power suits that Chinami wears, and I miss the unassuming, quiet focus on quirky characters that Code-E had at its best. The fact that it skips many years into the future also gives it an excuse to really gloss over many plot threads left dangling at the end of Code-E, though I assume some will get answered eventually. (Like what happened to the German siblings?)
The only reason I’m watching this is because of my lingering affection for its predecessor, which while flawed was enjoyable. I also really, really miss the ED of the first series, which captured the mood of the show’s best moments so well. The new OP and ED befits what the show has become.
Zero no Tsukaima: Princess no Rondo
I think we are finally starting to see some incremental growth in these characters. Saito, for one, is at last beginning to realize the difference between his momentary lusts for big boobs and his genuine, heartfelt devotion to Louise. (Actually, he’s always realized that difference, but it’s becoming more and more evident in the show itself.) Louise has yet to learn that violence doesn’t solve every romantic problem, but at last she has the ability to say “thank you” to such a rival like Tiffania. I get the sinking feeling though that Tiffania is simply going to become another addition to the harem and an excuse for more predictable gags, even while a semi-serious plot is brewing underneath. It better not start trying to be “serious” like the second season tried halfway through, or I really will drop it this time.