A first look at some of Crunchyroll’s simulcasts for this season: Kore wa Zombie desu ka?, Dragon Crisis, and Gosick. Which one is promising, grating, or boring? Find out…
Kore wa Zombie desu ka? (watch here on Crunchyroll)
The thought of moe mixed with zombies sounds about as likely as, oh, a Jane Austen/zombie crossover fic, and about as unappealing to boot—unless some truly brilliant comedians were in charge. What we get in Kore wa Zombie desu ka? is not exactly brilliant, but it’s surprisingly amusing and engaging, mostly by ignoring the weight of zombie mythology built up by George Romero and his followers (and to which Highschool of the Dead was a faithful heir).
Ayumu Aikawa is not anything like a Romero zombie. His zombieness primarily exists to make him the show’s punching bag and all-purpose pain absorber for the female characters, Eucliwood and Haruna. The chainsaw Haruna carries is applied to Megalos demons, not to him. Most people think he is still alive. This proves a useful excuse for a lot of broad, physical comedy, up to and including severed body parts, crossplay, and censored nudity. The consistently tongue-in-cheek tone helps make all of it work. In particular, Haruna’s presence seems to give a lot of attention to what appears to be a takedown of the magical girl genre overall, something which we are already seeing in one of the season’s most notable series, Madoka Magica. This one seems to be more a parody rather than a darkening, and it befits the show’s tone, in which magical girl wands are replaced with chainsaws and powers are granted indiscriminate of gender. That was a real hoot.
The disbelief suggested by the show’s title (“Are You Really a Zombie?”) could perhaps be matched with a surprise that a show which, honestly, held little potential for my interest proved to be pretty entertaining. A strong “easy to watch” series for the season.
Dragon Crisis (watch here)
I’m afraid Rie Kugimiya, as wonderful as she is as the Tsundere Queen in her usual roles, is not really up to the demands of being a Chii (Chobits). When this talented seiyuu, who showed such emotional range in Toradora, starts calling out the name of that fine series’ protagonist—Ryuji—the little flutter of hope that this might even be some kind of continuation or sequel is instantly brought down by the fact that for most of this first episode, that is her only line of dialogue. Shouted, mostly, and as grating as nails on a chalkboard. Like Chii, in this beginning state, she is little more than an animal, a fire-breathing pet for this less interesting Ryuji and his busty, Misato-like cousin. Chii was quieter about it, though.
What’s a shame is that there is definitely some kind of world-building involved in the story’s universe: the artifacts and archeology societies, etc. What ends up happening is another variant on the standard harem situation, in which the hapless protagonist finds himself in standard embarrassing situations with standard nudity and standard action asides. Chobits eventually redeemed itself by developing Chi as a character (slowly), and revealing a lot of hints about the reason for her creation and who was behind it; Dragon Crisis so far does not show much of the wit that Chobits had even from episode 1. I’ll give it another episode or two at most.
Gosick (watch here)
There seem to be two ways to use the goth loli motif or look in anime. One is to take the grand, artsy Gothic route complete with Yuki Kajiura soundtrack and portentous voiceovers (Petit Cossette), and the other is to take a more comedic way and emphasize the moe doll-likeness of little girls in Victorian dresses (Moon Phase, Rozen Maiden in its beginning parts at least, this show). Being a pretentious person, I have always preferred the former, but didn’t hate Rozen Maiden‘s first season, and so I wanted to give this show a chance.
Alas, Gosick already seems boring from the get-go. The series is framed ostensibly as a set of mysteries, with our goth loli heroine Victorique as a pipe-smoking moe Sherlock Holmes and hapless male protagonist Kazuya as a (thus far useless) Watson. There is also a pompadoured inspector, Grevil, whose hairstyle seems to mainly exist as a quirk and serves no other purpose. For a mystery there is a startling lack of tension, suspense, and…well, mysteriousness. Much of it comes from the rushed and emotionally detached storytelling; the writers seem more interested in showing Victorique rolling around the floor when she’s bored (moeeeee!) and in showing off the considerable Bones animation chops. Telling, rather than showing, the backstory of the mystery loses the sense of immediacy that this genre needs; most likely it’s all intended as setup for what appears to be a ghost story on the cruise ship, but the expositional nature of this first episode makes an awkward introduction.
Apparently there is a rich world that the light novels mine and uncover, and apparently this adaptation was highly anticipated in some circles. It’s hard to tell in early stages like now just how much of that will ultimately make it, and whether things will pick up enough to make it worth continuing. This first episode did not grab me and it’s going to have to prove itself over the next couple of episodes.