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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.

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

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

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?

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?

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.

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