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Winter 2009 Roundup 2: Sorakake, Rideback, Munto, Hetalia Axis Powers

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A second look at a few shows–and one new, extremely bizarre first impression.

Sora Kake Girl 2-3

Because apparently that is the official title now. Awkward, to say the least–but, I digress.

This show became lots of fun to watch. It’s anime cheese at its purest. I guess I was expecting a much more traditional story at first, but it took me up to episode 3 to realize that the chaos is the point of the show. Like we viewers, Akiha is in a constant state of bewilderment at all the crazy plot twists and elements that keep popping up. It’s also clear that, unlike Dragonaut, this show doesn’t take itself seriously in the least, and that eventually softened my heart and made me laugh more than once.

This is the kind of show that really could only be an anime. Reading my track record, you’d think that my idea of a good anime is one that is one step away from live-action realism (exhibit A: Honey and Clover). But the zany slapstick humor, over-the-top voice acting, explosions and more explosions, the robots, the silly AI, floating sidekicks, the numerous anime references and parodies, the yuri overtones of episode 3…to tell the truth, the delirious energy and pace of this series is reminding me not of Dragonaut but of FLCL. At this point I would be greatly surprised if they decided to take the serious, melodramatic turn Mai Hime did; this seems like a totally different kind of property. And, admittedly, it’s a lot more spastic and crazy fun.

My favorite scene is with the Iron Maiden/costume change sarcophagus. An Egyptian-style tomb in the middle of a space colony that puts you in a fan-servicey suit, and has spikes sticking out only when Akiha goes in? It pretty much encapsulates just what kind of show this is.

Jean-Luc Godard once said that all you need for a movie is a girl and a gun. This one’s got it–and an AI and mecha and moeblobs and….


RideBack 2

The second episode, and probably the third episode, resemble if anything a sports anime–focused on the underdog taking on the master in competition and beating her against the odds. Much loving detail was poured into the well-choreographed, thrilling races. Few hints are added about the political implications of the rideback machine, and at this point it’s almost placed like an afterthought. In fact, I’m beginning to wonder if that whole GGP/polical milieu is unnecessary. You could just have the core story about a ballet dancer learning to ride a smart motorcycle and it would already be pretty interesting.

I laughed at the sheer inconsistency of the injury rate of these characters though. Rin somehow emerges from crashing in the water unscathed, while Kataoka’s wipeout lands her in the hospital. Talk about stacking the odds in favor of your protagonist. I also love how this pretty ballet dancer essentially joins a club full of geeks. Ahh, wish fulfillment.

Those looking for something more in the “spread legs form” are going to be disappointed, I’m afraid. And now there will be no more panty shots with Rin getting an actual riding suit. Tough luck, fanservice fans!


Munto 2

It’s not bad, really….it’s just kind of a dumb version of Noein thus far. Noein had the problem of being too smart for its own good; this one is too simple. Much of episode 2 consisted of Munto shouting at Yumemi, “Lend me your power!” and Yumemi either saying “I don’t believe you!” or “How?” before something gets in the way of Munto’s communication. We don’t fundamentally learn anything new about the worlds, except that the Akuto energy used to bind them together. It also doesn’t help in my eyes that Munto looks like he stepped out of DBZ.

Alongside the fantasy A-plot we get an odd B-plot about the kiddish Suzume and her soon-to-be-husband Kazuka. Yes, child marriage, justified by a forced, overly long exposition of his sad past and how Suzume basically saved him from self-loathing. It’s basically the thing that lots of lonely otaku dream about, and it’s totally unearned, because we knew nothing about Kazuka until this point except that he was strange. My guess though is that this plot is actually really important and will intersect with the major fantasy plot at some point, so I’m holding out some hope that the writers are at least that half-decent. Hmm, maybe it turns out Munto is Kazuka’s future self! (And the Noein circle will be complete.)

The weirdest moment is when Yumemi goes home and muses out loud to her mom about whether she can get married at her age, too. At first it seems that she’s asking so she can come up with plausible reasons to talk Kazuka and Suzume out of the marriage, but it actually seems like she kind of envies them. Maybe it’s because her mom gives her the proper Asian answer to what kids should be doing–studying. Nobody watches anime to hear that message reinforced, after all.

The OP and ED are still fine. I’m still intrigued enough to see whether it will develop further.


Hetalia Axis Powers

Koreans are getting worked up over this? They don’t even really get some of the national stereotypes right anyway. I can’t see Britain ever really objecting to anything the United States does–though France saying “screw you” to everyone….It went from funny to surreal once they started giving the potted allegorical history of Italy as first part of the Roman Empire, then part of the Holy Roman Empire. The fact that everyone is a young bishie is only funny for about three minutes.

You’d think with a name like “Axis Powers” it’d be talking about WWII, and honestly, that’s probably what got so many people worked up. I was half-prepared for a nationalist fest myself, but it turned out to be nothing of the sort. Not that that hasn’t stopped the TV broadcast anyway. To the people angry at this: it’s not worth it. This isn’t even all that entertaining.

For a comparable, and more amusing, example of national stereotyping, go see the hoax art exhibition the EU unwittingly sponsored outside their building in Brussels, in which Romania is a Dracula theme park, Bulgaria is a toilet, and France is always on strike. Now that’s national offense!

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