Mike’s Winter 2008 Birthday Roundup: the Threes

Yes, dear readers–that’s your duty too!

Yes, dear readers–that’s your duty too!

Because I don’t have time to write full entries tonight and because as of this posting, it’s also my birthday. Whee! Let’s celebrate with some brief thoughts on Rosario + Vampire, Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Persona: Trinity Soul, Clannad 15, and Spice and Wolf thus far.

The essence of all harem anime in one screencap.

The essence of all harem anime in one screencap.

Rosario + Vampire 1-3

This ain’t my territory, normally. Ray’s already smacked this one down. And this is definitely no, no good by any objective measure. Except, as jpmeyer has noticed–somehow, it stumbles into watchability by at least not being terribly ugly (well, at least Moka isn’t terribly ugly, especially her badass form; Kurumu on the other hand…), and in the midst of panty shot after panty shot there emerges enough self-mocking humor to alert us that the creators think this is ridiculous, too. (All they would have needed was a panty shot counter and it would have been an effective full fledged satire.) It’s not nearly as lifeless and limp as They are My Noble Masters, for one. Still, Gonzo’s track record is mixed on the whole and like Dragonaut this looks like it’s going to fall on the “best left forgotten” side of their ledger. Give us another NHK, please.

Again, the essence of an anime distilled in one screencap

Again, the essence of an anime distilled in one screencap

Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei 1-3

More of the same. Except with multiple simultaneous audio tracks/translations/storylines! SHAFT/Shinbo seems to be in a contest to produce the informationally densest anime ever made; no longer content with background blackboard messages, now entire storylines, like in episode 2, are told in a separate “subtitle” track and an entire subtextual dialogue heard in episode 3. It’s all within the spirt of the show, of course, and it has definitely gotten some of the humor it had almost lost in season 1 back. Rewatching S1’s episodes 1-4, though, reminded me on what a high note it had begun, and likely will not quite reach again because for some reason character introductions really seem to emphasize the show’s strengths. (And, it turns out, was highly faithful to the manga. Reading some of the manga really helped me make sense of the show’s structure, by the way.)

Mr. Freud is no doubt smiling right now

Mr. Freud is no doubt smiling right now

Persona: Trinity Soul 1-2

So, no: the title doesn’t imply anything theological after all. I didn’t really expect it to. So far it’s a fairly run-of-the-mill supernatural action series, with hints here and there for further character development–except I get the feeling that especially in episode 1, there are lots of incidental setting and character details I’m supposed to recognize from the game. Which I haven’t played. And what’s with this drug-addiction-cum-out-of-body-experience thing going around in school? If it’s that easy to detach souls from bodies, that sure must be a real easy pickins’ for those hungry demon soul eaters out there. In some ways, this is so far like a poor man’s Darker than Black.

I suppose it’s a sign of progress when not only girls get an arc?

I suppose it’s a sign of progress when not only girls get an arc?

Clannad 15

So I am informed that Sunohara gets his own arc. It makes sense since the angst for him starts real, real fast, and in a pretty unearned way to boot. It also makes sense because, for the first time, we learn that he has an imouto and she shows up at the end and clearly, she is going to have a crush on Tomoya and be another harem member…and here we go with the sob story again for why Nagisa gives up (temporarily, I assume) on the theater club. At least Sunohara recognizes it as such, but only because he has his own sob story to tell. They’d better develop his character well enough to justify it.

Do Japanese gods have a thing for apples or what?

Do Japanese gods have a thing for apples or what?

Spice and Wolf 2-3

Listen, as clever as Horo undeniably is at haggling and business sense, I’m not sure we watch anime to see the medieval equivalent of insider trading. The pacing continues to be just-slightly-above sluggish and only Horo stands out as a fascinating, multi-layered character with a mischievousness that goes beyond the “tsundere” type we see in most typical anime now. I still love the OP theme song–it’s my favorite opening of the season so far, in fact. But please…we are going to see monsters, or at least wolves, somewhere down the line, right? Or maybe swords? Castle sieges? Theological disputes and warfare (this is the Middle Ages, right)? I don’t even require the fantasy McGuffin quest plot. Just…something more than economics!

Well, that’s it so far. I’ll try to make more time this week to talk more about Shigofumi‘s new, controversial arc, as well as the latest developments in the clean soap opera that is Kimikiss Pure Rouge. Rental Magica continues to be a comfort food show that I can’t think of a single word to blog about.

Author: gendomike

Michael lives in the Los Angeles area, and has been into anime since he saw Neon Genesis Evangelion in 1999. Some of his favorite shows include Full Metal Alchemist, Honey and Clover, and Welcome to the NHK!. Since 2003 he has gone to at least one anime convention every year. A public radio junkie, which naturally led to podcasting, he now holds a seminary degree and is looking to become Dr. Rev. Otaku Bible Man any day now. Michael can be reached at mike.huang@animediet.net. You can also find his Twitter account at @gendomike.

8 thoughts on “Mike’s Winter 2008 Birthday Roundup: the Threes

  1. The essence of all harem anime, School Days excepted, at least. Rosario + Vampire isn’t quite self-aware enough for my tastes, but I’m finding it vaguely amusing thought-fodder. The OP hurts my ears, though.

    Economics is not especially interesting, but I suspect that Diet of Worms and Wolf wouldn’t win many admirers either.

  2. I actually didn’t read that Persona title post until I stumbled upon it today from this post. Yeah, it is kinda disappointing (and highly expected) that there isn’t nothing more behind that title in terms of possible Christian Theology. Although, Trinitarianism isn’t my cup of tea for theological exploration in comparison with Theological anthropology. Maybe now I’ll save up some money to go back to my alma mater and pick up my masters.

    And yeah, Happy Birthday!

  3. I…don’t know, the whole economic deal and the interplay between horo and craft seems incredibly refreshing to me. Plus, we’ve only got like three episodes in.

    Happy Birthday!

  4. Many belated happy returns of the day. Hope you had a great one.

    I can’t think of anything much to say about Rental Magica here, so I’m taking it as a relaxant. It’s quite effective. Wish you could hurry up with those kimikiss thoughts, too, since your absence in the merry discussion has been felt. (:

    There’s also this extremely deserving alternate view about R+V that might just change your POV about it. I know it did mine.

  5. to each his own, but I found KimiAru more watcheable and fun than R+V xD

    and, I’m also looking forward to seeing your thoughts on KimiKiss! ^-^

    belated happy birthday! =D

  6. Thanks for the birthday wishes, everyone! I got an iPhone for my birthday, and if you are also an iPhone/iPod Touch user with the latest firmware, try surfing to this website and making a front panel Web Clip. Notice the icon. 🙂

    @IKnight: hey, the Diet of Worms had Luther’s famous “Here I stand” speech! It showed up in the most recent Luther movie. That’s plenty interesting enough for me. 🙂 And the Council of Nicea featured people tearing papers from each other’s hands and stomping on them, and bishops beating each other up, literally…theology can be an exciting business!

    @koneko-chan: well, hope springs eternal, I suppose, along with faith and love. 😉 One of these days I will turn in a full blown theological analysis of Haibane Renmei. If you ever get your master’s again we can trade Greek and Latin buzzwords!

    @smashingtofu: the way the subject is presented is a bit dry so far. Economics need not be boring in the right hands: see Oliver Stone’s Wall Street. Still, I’m going to keep up the show, as it’s one of the few original shows this season.

    @Owen: I’ve actually started reading the R+V manga, and I find the character designs a lot cuter, especially for Moka. The story actually isn’t all that different so far (I’ve only read a few chapters, pretty much up to the point the anime’s at), though there’s less panty flashing. If it does in fact get serious that’s mildly intriguing, but lots of comedy anime try to get serious and more often than not it doesn’t really work.

    @usagijen: well, to each his or her own, I guess. I found the comic timing in KimiAru just…off. Maybe I was comparing it too much to the golden first few episodes of Hayate, which the show directly references. And yes, look forward to the Kimikiss article–it’s coming next.

  7. I actually really like R V. I’m not sure what it is about it, but it makes me laugh. Part of it is, I believe, a sort of self aware parody of what it is (especially the pining.. “Moka…” “Tsukune…” “Moka…” “Tsukune…”). I’m not going to lie and say there aren’t parts where I don’t roll my eyes (lots of panties, Moka’s boobs growing when she transforms), but all in all I have a lot of fun watching it.

    Also, I really like the character designs, with a few exceptions. And you’re crazy, the Succubus is hot. =P

  8. EH!!!!???? Mike thinks Kurumu (Succubus) is ugly? I can’t count how many succubus dreams I had where I woke up all tense, but damn, if I dream of Kurumu I’d be in heaven with one only one part of me being tense…Ahem.

    I love panty shots. I love cute panty shots. Short skirts rule! XD

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