Between the three bloggers on this site, it looks like we’ve covered pretty much every major show except Shana 2 (none of us have seen season 1). This is my opinion on shows we’ve already covered: Blue Drop, Dragonaut, ef-a tale of memories, Gundam 00, Genshiken 2, and Mokke. You can read Ray’s articles in the links provided.
Blue Drop 1 (Ray’s Review of 1 and 2)
Now that’s more like it. If there was ever a show that was calculated to make me swallow yuri, it would be this one. 🙂 It’s the only show this whole season that to me as any degree of genuine aesthetic beauty–beautiful music, beautiful imagery, emotional nuance (with one slight misstep in an unnecessary slapstick scene near the end in the cafeteria). It is slow, though, slow on the edge of boring, but given my tastes for European art film, I didn’t find it unbearable in the least. Mari is already an interesting character, though Senkouji, the alien girl, is still a rather blank personality so far (despite her sudden KILL ALL HUMANS activation program or something). The flowers were also a bit much, I think, a bit too shoujo-y for even my taste, and certainly all the hint we need that sometime soon there will be wink-wink-nudge-nudge-saynomore going on. Lovers always start by fighting. But I found the birds around Senkouji in the start to be rather beautiful. Gonzo did a good job animating that scene.
I am keeping a close eye on this one. I need some seriousness in my diet too, you know.
Dragonaut ~The Resonance~ 1-2 (Ray’s Review of 1 and 2)
Another surprise of the season. The reviews emphasized the generous, uh, endowments of some of the female characters, which led me to think this was some fan service heavy comedy. The boobs are there. But the show is surprisingly…decent. The atmosphere of the show at this stage is strikingly similar to that Evangelion–a mix of mild fan service, angsty teenagers, and multiple character introductions. And do I mean multiple: this has a huge cast, sporting some of the most outlandish and UGLEEEEEIST hairstyles I’ve seen in anime in a while. When the story focuses on the main plot–Jin and Kazuki and the fallout from the “accident” and the strains on their friendship–it’s very good. When the monster shows up and a detective and all this other stuff I haven’t figured out yet…not so good. This show is clearly ambitious, wanting to be all things to all people. There’s fan service, humor, dragons, fights, bishies, and an obvious yaoi pairing right off the bat. I’m already thinking Code Geass.
I am likely to follow this one as well on my own. These were the kinds of shows that got me into anime to begin with.
ef–A Tale of Memories 1 (Ray’s review of 1 and 2)
Was an intriguing trailer, wonderful music by Tenmon, and the involvement of Shaft make it a good show? Well, I was more confused than intrigued much of the time. The music is indeed wonderful, but it looks more and more like an instance of an unworthy soundtrack. There’s some needless artiness that I, as an art film fan and a lover of superficially similar tricks in Evangelion, found offputting because it seemed random and purposeless. I still think this is an attempt to dignify the game adaptation genre, and well, since it’s not a Key work, I have fewer predictions as to where this is headed. Ray and others tell me that episode 2 is an improvement, however, and I need to watch it before I render any more informed judgments. But so far the characters don’t really captivate me and the Rei clone is a bit emotionally much.
Balls 00 (Ray’s review of 1 and 2)
Any show that has a character named Allelujah Haptism and Gundams named κυριος (kyrios, “lord”) and δυναμις (dynamis, “power”) is going to get watched by seminarian me. Even if it’s only to laugh very hard at how they mangle religious references. At least the Greek names actually make some sense in the context! I’ll give them that much credit. I can see giant robots being called Lord and Power. And the creators indeed have balls, to start the entire first scene with some good ol’ theodicy. (Might the fact that this is directed by the guy who directed Fullmetal Alchemist have something to do with it? The first mini-arc of that show is also about the existence of God.) I also love the idea of a bunch of guerillas calling themselves Celestial Being with uberpowerful giant robots killing people so they can eliminate war and that the Tamils and the Sinhalas are still fighting in Ceylon (note to fansubbers at GundamSNet: that is the proper Anglicized spelling of Ceylon/Sri Lanka. Get your dynamis right too so people can see that it’s the Greek root word for ‘dynamite’ and ‘dynamic’!). Like in 1984, the world is divided into three large superpowers. I notice too that the plot is not like other Gundam shows, like the original, at least not yet. That’s a point in its favor. It looks like they will be tackling religion, ethics, and politics all at once though and all while giving us kickass battles about STUFF THAT BLOWS UP. And people literally calling themselves God. Woohoo for pretentiousness!
Likeliehood of me following it: high. I just want to see Allelujah Haptism star in a battle scene with Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus.
Genshiken S2 1 (Ray’s review)
I think the problem with this episode, which many found boring, is that it was very, well, transitional. Apparently they expected us to have seen the OAVs or something since the new characters weren’t even introduced properly here; it was taken for granted we knew who Oguie was, for instance. The whole episode was about logistics, essentially, telling off a commercial bastard who wanted to milk the club. (Jeremy can tell some stories about people who have tried similar things at Anime Souffle.) In fact, it’s possible that the show will shift from otaku humor and realism to perhaps something of a document of the doujinshi creative process. As a writer, I find that interesting, though I wonder if anyone else will. The characters otherwise all seem the same, except Sasahara seems a bit more assertive and outgoing, as the head of a club probably should be. (I wonder how much Jeremy identifies with him…)
Verdict: intrigued more than entertained. I want some more forced Saki cosplay and hilarious Kujibiki Unbalance footage, please.
Mokke 1 (Ray’s review of 1 and 2)
I had listed this in my preview as one of the shows I was anticipating. I was disappointed. My hunch that this was probably pitched to a younger audience was more or less correct. I do like the way the supernatural and “realistic” elements are fused together, but the delicate, beautiful, and melancholy fusion that Mushi-shi perfected is not there at all. The two sisters in the show are, for one, plain at best as far as character design goes, and they are less interesting as characters than the sisters in Minami-ke. Searching for a flower is not the most compelling kind of conflict or plotline to me. It is very hard to do a quiet show without being boring, I realize; Blue Drop also came close to being boring but just managed to create some tension and conflict before it did. I simply didn’t find this show all that memorable.
In the end, it probably will be a two sisters’ story more than a ghost story, and should it do well there, it might be quite worthwhile. We’ll see.
I will be doing more of these roundup posts as the weeks go on in the ongoing season. Stay tuned.