Spring 2012 Reviews

Well, the Spring 2012 anime season is in full swing.  Since I proclaim to be an otaku of sorts, I figured I should actually put my hobby to work in an area other than art and write up some reviews.  I have quite a history with anime which I delved into a little in a previous post, but I wouldn’t say I’m some authority on the topic or anything like that.  I just wanted to give a bit of background to the opinions I may have.

I generally watch at least one episode of nearly every show per season although I’ve kinda fell off on doing that in previous seasons thanks to having such a huge backlog.  Though I have my personal preferences, I like checking out everything that’s out there.  I’ll try to be just and rate shows taking its genre into context.  The info I’m providing for these are a mash-up of info from neregate, ANN, and MAL.  I wont be doing any reviews of series that are continuations from previous seasons.  So, in no particular order… (UPDATE 4/22. Added Hyouka review)

Title:  Upotte!! (ANN / MAL)
Studio:  Xebec
Genre:  Action, Comedy, Seinen
Rating:  PG-13
Synopsis:  A transfer teacher encounters a girl at a shooting range and finds her marksmanship skills to be professional.  The girl tells the new teacher that she is an assault rifle, not a student.  Her name is FNC and is an assault rifle of Seishou Academy.  The new teacher attends school the next day to find students, including FNC, practicing shooting assault rifles and realizes that he has come to an unbelievable school.  The title comes from a reverse spelling of the word “gun(s)” in Japanese.

Review: I gotta say, the first thing that came to mind was Softenni.  FNC reminded me so much of Asuna with a little bit of Kotone for the teacher crush aspect.  I also think there was something about the proportions used for the characters that I found to be similar in some ways… probably the hips.  I guess this would be on the lighter side of ecchi with their uniforms, some bath scenes and a (shadowed/blocked) pantsu flash, but it doesn’t go as extreme as other shows on that angle.  There’s a lot of gun-related sexual innuendos with FNC as she fantasizes about the new teacher (“I’m about to shoot” and “My hammer’s going to fire”) .

The setting isn’t unique in that there’s four main female leads in a school along with a teacher that one of the characters is flustered over.  The military theme and “assault rifle” aspect of it I suppose is the unique factor about it.  The girls are supposedly personifications of the guns that they’re named after (FNC, M16A4, L85A1, SG550) and perhaps a little of the countries those guns represent as well.  ANN draws similarities to the OS-tan manga series which I’m only familiar with by images.

I personally wont be following and if I’d have to give it a rating now it would probably be 6/10.  I suppose it was entertaining watching FNC shoot up the teacher, but it doesn’t have me interested.
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Title:  Medaka Box (ANN / MAL)
Studio:  Gainax
Genre:  Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Martial Arts, Romance, School, Shounen
Rating:  PG-13
Synopsis: Medaka Kurokami, the strongest girl in Hanokiwa Academy, leads the school’s student council.  The student body can submit pleas for help, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, into the suggestion box that Medaka installed.  Together with council members Zenkichi, Akune, and Kikaijima, she takes on the challenges in the school that include supernatural powers and near-constant battles.

Review:  Hearing Toyosaki Aki in the role of Medaka is a bit strange considering she usually does more cutesy voices like Yui or from K-ON! or Su from Shugo Chara! for example.  I would have more readily associated the role with someone like Hikasa Yoko (Shino from Seitokai Yakuindomo), but at the same time it gives me more respect for Aki in how she versatile her voice is.  I wouldn’t have known it was her without looking, honestly.

Medaka is apparently some ridiculously talented person in several areas, somewhat like Misaki from Maid-sama.  However unlike Misaki, she’s apparently well developed and she flaunts it shamelessly with her unique school uniform.  There’s plenty of fan-service to go around with the camera angles used, “physics” (to put it vaguely, but I’m pretty sure you know what I mean), and her outfits (school uniform and her kendo garb in this episode).  She’s close to the other MC, who is her childhood friend.  This aspect feeds the ecchi like how in one scene, she isn’t ashamed to be in just her underwear in front of him (although why she would undress in the student council room with him in it is beyond me).

The Medaka (suggestion) Box angle I suppose you could tie into something like SKET Dance, or Ookami-san, though this isn’t as heavy in comedy or fighting respectively.  The thing that usually draws me to this genre (ecchi) is the development of the romance between the MCs, but in this, I’m not sure if I’m that interested in seeing it.  The different requests in the Medaka Box could potentially draw some interesting scenarios, but I’m pretty sure the outcomes will all be predictable in how Medaka will pretty much resolve everything without much effort, with Zenkichi supporting her from a different approach.  There’ll probably be an episode where she gets in over her head and Zenkichi will save her.  There’s probably some rivalry for Medaka’s affection with that other blonde character in the OP (Akune).  Like I said, predictable.

I’ll give it a 6/10.  I’m sure it’ll have viewership for various reasons, but I don’t see it as anything new or interesting.
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Title: Accel World (ANN / MAL)
Studio:  Sunrise
Genre: Action, Romance, School, Sci-Fi, Shounen
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: The “future teen” story revolves around a bullied middle school boy named Haruyuki.  One autumn day in 2046, he has an encounter with Kuroyukihime, the prettiest girl in his school, that changes his life.  Through a mysterious piece of software from Kuroyukihime, Haruyuki learns of the existence of the virtual “Accel World.”  In that moment, the lowest of the “school caste” becomes “Burst Linker,” a knight defending a princess.

Review: The thing I have to say right off the bat is that the setting is definitely interesting.  Yes, a school setting isn’t uncommon, but rather it’s the technology of the world that caught my attention.  I like how everyone is hooked up wirelessly to some global network and interfaces with a UI that they could only see.  The concept is pretty cool but I guess you can say it’s scary at the same time considering it would involve bionics of some sort and additionally those social cameras monitoring you wherever you go (like Minority Report or something).  Anime blogger 8thSin, TL for UTW on this show, does a pretty good analysis of the world of “Accel World” as well as some of the dialog and I think is worth the read.

The design of the MC is relatively unique.  Though there’s plenty of short main characters, you don’t typically see someone of his stature (porky) in the main role.  The show has some good shounen elements in how “Brain Burst” is essentially a virtual fighting program and how winning in it fuels Burst Linker’s acceleration capabilities.  The ability to “accelerate,” or increase your thought process by a thousandfold, carries with it a lot of power as people can use acceleration for various benefits.  Also, another draw for the genre is that the main character who was formerly bullied and looked down upon is now a part of a world with a new found purpose and a potential that has been unlocked.  Things are still pretty vague with regards to the reason behind Kuroyukihime choosing him and about her avatar and situation in that world… and I want to see this story unfold.

I’m giving it a 8/10 at this point.  Tack this one on my watch list.
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Title: Saint Seiya Omega (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Toei Animation
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Shounen
Rating: None
Synopsis: The god of war and guardian of his namesake planet, Mars, was once sealed away by Seiya, but time has passed and his revival is at hand. Meanwhile, Saori Kido (Athena) is raising the boy Kouga, whose life Seiya saved, and he’s been training every day to become a Saint in order to prepare for the coming crisis… Unaware of his destiny, when Kouga awakens to the power of his Cosmo hidden inside him, the curtain will rise upon the legend of a new Saint.

Review:  Even though I guess this is technically a sequel and I said I wouldn’t be doing any reviews on those, I felt that this was an exception since the last show was 25 years ago.  I wasn’t fortunate enough to have the opportunity to see the original series airing as a child, but I believe that some of my friends who grew up in the P.I. as well as my older brothers actually watched it.  I believe the OP is worthy of mentioning since it’s a throwback to the OP of the previous series, “Pegasus Fantasy.”  Since I’m unfamiliar with the original series, I’ll just approach it as new.

I was immediately familiar with the art style within the first few seconds of the show, having watched HeartCatch Precure! with my daughter not too long ago.  Without getting too sidetracked, I felt that HeartCatch was a solid series for what it was.  Anyway, I guess I would relate this to being an animated version of your typical superhero genre shows in Japan, like Super Sentai or whatever.  Maybe you could say it’s more like Precure for boys.  Kouga, the new Pegasus, has all the elements of your typical MC in a shounen series.  I’m guessing we’ll have the opportunity to see him discover new powers and grow in potential as he trains, meet and team up with new Saints, and fight and defeat stronger and stronger enemies.  That’s about as straightforward as you can get in describing these types of shows.  The episode basically starts with Kouga training, we catch a glimpse of his hidden powers, big evil bad guy makes a return, and then Kouga unlocks his power, or Cosmo, and becomes a Saint.

I kind of wonder about their target audience for this series.  It appears the air time is 6:30AM on Sundays and with this art style I believe they’re aiming a broader audience, including kids.  A series like this is definitely marketable to children, given how many different Saints there are.  They will probably be able to make a considerable amount of money as I could imagine the toy product lines that they could pitch, although I guess it would more be around action figures than it would be around accessories.  I don’t think they have utility belts or bracelets or weapons as far as I know, but I could be wrong since I don’t know much about Omega’s predecessor.

I wonder what fans of the original series think about Omega.  As for me, I believe it’s interesting enough.  Definitely watchable, but I don’t know if I’ll be following  it.  Probably will just marathon it later when I get the chance.  I’m pretty open to accept Seiya in its new form and taking that into consideration I’ll give it an initial rating of 7/10.  So, “Have you ever felt your Cosmo?”
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Title: Nazo no Kanojo X / Mysterious Girlfriend X (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Hoods Entertainment
Genre: Mystery, Ecchi, Romance, School, Seinen
Rating: R – 17+
Synopsis: Akira is a normal high school boy, but he nevertheless impulsively licks some drool left by the mysterious transfer student Mikoto. The next day he falls asleep with an inexplicable fever. After five days Mikoto suddenly comes to visit, and makes him consume her drool. The fever instantly vanishes, and Mikoto explains that he’s suffering from “love sickness.” She can transmit emotions through her drool, and the two of them are now bound together.

Review: The premise of the show revolving around drool definitely had me laughing at first.  However, after having watched the first episode, I was actually quite surprised as I found myself entertained.  I almost want to say that this is kinda like a mix of old school romance with bits and pieces that you would find in present day stuff.  The art style as well as the OP/ED definitely makes it feel like a throwback, but certain aspects like pantsu shots and just that whole drool angle are definitely something I’d think of as more modern concepts in the genre.

Urabe Mikoto is definitely a quirky character in how she just sleeps at her desk during breaks and even randomly oubursts in laughter for no reason.  She also has some strange habit of carrying scissors in her pantsu, accompanied with an uncanny ability to fire off precision cuts with them in the blink of an eye.  The main oddity is how she can transfer and detect emotions through passage or consumption of drool.  Akira is pretty much your typical MC in this kind of series, new to romance and curious.  I do like that both of the mains are relatively pure and innocent and I did feel a draw in wanting to see their relationship blossom together.  When he saw her face for the first time and realized how pretty she was, and also being curious enough to taste the drool on her desk is also another aspect of the MC that kinda takes the viewer into the mindset of young love and romance.  Also that whole scene at the end of the episode when he asked her out with that “approach” and her reaction and response when they confirmed each other’s purity also gave off that same feeling.

I’m giving it an initial 7.5/10 and I’ll be watching.  I honestly think the whole pantsu/scissors thing isn’t necessary, but the romance between the two characters is what drew me in.  Also want to give credit to Yoshitani Ayako, the seiyuu for Urabe in this show.  This is apparently her breakout role and I believe her voice is a perfect fit for the character.  If I’m reading this right, she also performs the OP and ED for the show.  I’ll definitely be looking forward to more of her performances in the future and wishing her the best of luck.  On a side note, if you watch the show, check out Akira’s room decor.
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Title: Sankarea (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Studio DEEN
Genre: Comedy, Ecchi, Horror, Romance, Shounen, Supernatural
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: Furuya’s not interested in the living, he’s got zombies on the brain! When Furuya’s cat dies, he decides he’s going to try and bring it back to life. In the process, he stumbles across a girl whose failed attempted suicide has turned her into a real zombie! What’s Furuya going to do now that the thing he loves the most is right in front of his eyes?

Review: The echoing scream “iya” with a camera pan seems to be such a typical and overused scene.  Along with the opening giving me flashbacks to Hanasaku Iroha, I wasn’t sure what to expect in this show.  Chihiro’s fetish with zombies (zombie romance?) and his reactions while watching those movies are pretty hilarious.  There’s some pretty good lines like “I have no interest in living women.  It has to be a zombie” or something like that.  I think Sanka Rea has a beautiful character design (and I’m interested in sketching her up somewhere down the line) but I hate how she kinda throws herself on him in desperation when he overheard her cries down the well.  I also don’t really like the way she’s “pure” and gullible, as Chihiro puts it.  I guess she has her moe archetypes to fill with all the blushing and such.  Rea has a pretty sad upbringing from what I could gather, so another factor for that appeal.  I think the camera pans to her chest are odd in that his character doesn’t seem to be perv or anything.  It’s like the studio put it there for the viewer rather than it being from his point of view.  I guess that’s why the categorize it ecchi though.  The interactions he has with his cousin Ranko felt like it was out of the rom/com playbook with what would normally be the MC’s childhood friend.

I’ll give an initial 6.5/10 but I know it needs to be expanded more.  I’m okay with the zombie/occult theme and I’m curious to see more, but I’m not really too anxious.  The OP/ED makes me believe it’ll be a deep and/or complex romance, but I can’t really say right now at this point.
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Title: Tasogare Otome x Amnesia / Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Silver Link
Genre: Mystery, Horror, Romance, School, Shounen, Supernatural
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: At the Private Seikyō Academy, there is a legend that all students have heard. Sixty years ago, there was a girl who for some reason, was left behind in the old, abandoned school building to die. Teiichi Niiya one day meets a beautiful, mysterious girl named Yūko Kanoe at the old school building and gets a surprise—she’s the ghost of the girl who died 60 years ago, but does not remember her past or how she died. Teiichi becomes determined to help her remember, and together, they seek the truth behind the gruesome legend.

Review: After watching the first 8 minutes….TWICE…, I had some flashbacks to endless 8.  Let’s just hope that the rest of the episodes don’t do this.  The description made it sound like the show was going to be something mature, but to me the first episode gave off a comedy vibe with Okonogi’s obliviousness and Yuko’s playful flirting with Niiya.  It didn’t really leave a good first impression as I was expecting more of the mystery/horror elements as was hinted in the PV, but I suppose it’ll be one of those that you’ll have to be patient with and watch it unfold as the mystery behind Yuko’s past gets revealed.  Yuko shows clear discomfort on a few scenes when some of Okonogi’s deductions might actually have some relevance and be correct.  I kinda wonder how Kanoe and Niiya are the only ones that can see her and what brought them to that club in the first place.

I’ll start it with a 6/10, but I expect this value to change as the story unfolds.  I’m hoping the show gets out of this comedy angle and goes more towards something like what the “Choir Jail” OP gives off.  From the discussions I hear about the manga, I believe the rating will improve, and I’m willing to watch a few more before I pass final judgement on it.  Yuko’s long flowing purple hair and reddish eyes do have some kind of an allure to it for me.  Another character I wouldn’t mind doing a drawing of.
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Title: Tsuritama (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Aniplex
Genre: Sci-Fi, Shounen
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: Yuki Sanada is a high school boy who cannot communicate with people well and doesn’t have a single friend.  He lives on Enoshima island with his French grandmother. One day, he meets a boy named Haru. Haru calls himself an alien who visited the Earth for fishing.  Another high school boy, Natsuki, and a mysterious Indian, Akira, join the two and the island becomes the center of the event which determines the fate of the world.

Review: The art style of the show is very crisp and colorful with lots of unique patterns, as seen in the introduction, the driving sequence in the OP and the coloration they use for the sky and ocean.  The backgrounds look like they were modeled after real images as well which almost reminds me of Mahou Tsukai ni Taisetsu na Koto, but quite as far on the realism scale.  It looks like the seiyuu for Yuki is Osaka Ryouta, another newcomer.  He seems to fit the role pretty well and almost reminds me of someone like Abe Atsushi (Mashiro in Bakuman, Touma in Index).  It’s interesting how they portray the sensation of drowning for Yuki when he starts to panic.  I’m curious what’s up with the “alien” Haru, and about his watergun and its affect on the people he hits.  I’m also wondering how they’ll supposedly save the world.  It almost makes me think of stuff like Denpa Onna or Arakawa in terms of the strange factor.  I was almost expecting to hear Etsuko doing the opening or ending of the show.

It seems it’ll be a fairly fun and light-hearted ride with this show.  I’m curious to see the rest.  I’ll give an initial 7.5/10 to start it off.
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Title: Ozuma (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Gonzo
Genre: Sci-Fi
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: In the far future, the elevated irradiation from the sun has destroyed the environment of the earth and the birthrate of humans has drastically decreased. The government controls society with an army of cloned soldiers called “Ideal Children (IC)”. Sam Coin is a trader in a desert. One day, he saves a beautiful woman Maya, who has been chased by Theseus, a corps of IC. He shelters her in his trade ship, but the destroyers of Theseus surround Sam and Maya.

Review:  As I’m watching, the setting makes me think of something like Dune, especially after the first sighting of the Ozma, thought I don’t know if it really resembles a sandworm since it was pretty vague.  That and they do call it a “sand whale” so we’ll see later.  The character designs remind me of your old space dramas.  That military commander’s Gundam-esque mask along with the captain of the pirates who looks like your average space pirate.  The art is crisp and the music and voices seem okay (except for the chef, LOL).  For the world being a wasteland, everyone seems to be doing pretty well.  The people of Port Oase seemed happy and the market looked like food or supplies wasn’t too much of an issue.

The first episode does enough to introduce their world and give brief character introductions, but the story has yet to be touched on.  There are several questions that have yet to be answered.  Who’s Maya exactly and why is she running from them?  Is there some sort of conflict between the military and the Natur?  I wonder what’s the significance of the Ozma, seeing how Sam supposedly wanted to try and catch it.

Another show that just gives you a glimpse.  It seems like it’d be interesting enough for the genre and I’ll probably check it out since there’s only 6 episodes in this series.  I’ll just give it a 6.5/10 for now but like I said, this is probably another that will change upon seeing more of it.
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Title: Uchuu Kyoudai / Space Brothers (ANN / MAL)
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Genre: Sci-Fi, Space, Slice of Life, Seinen
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: When they were young, the brothers Mutta and Hibito promised each other they would become astronauts. Now, in 2025, Hibito has followed his dream to become the first Japanese on the moon, but Mutta has just been fired from his job. His brother reminds him of their childhood promise, and Mutta decides once again to aim for space.

Review:  I like the way they introduced the brothers on the backdrop of some relatively major sporting events.  I also like the setup how the younger brother obtained success by becoming an astronaut while the older who was supposed to “stay ahead” of his little brother was the one who ended up left behind as he lost his job at an auto company and is back at home with his parents thanks to the Zidane headbutt on his boss (I lol’d @ that, btw).  Just as Mutta is about in the dumps with tons of rejections at other companies, Hibito reminds him of their childhood promise to become astronauts. His resume gets sent in to the JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) by his mother, and his application gets accepted.

The felt that the OP/ED was a great fit for the show.  The art is good and I think that Hirata Hiroaki (Kaburagi in Tiger & Bunny) is great as the voice for Mutta.  I’ll admit when I saw the title “Space Brothers,” I wasn’t expecting such a treat.  Definitely something catered towards my tastes as it’s touches more adult issues like career and such.  I’m looking forward to seeing the rest of this.  8/10.
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Title: Shirokuma Cafe / Polar Bear Cafe (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Genre: Comedy
Rating: G
Synopsis: Shirokuma Cafe revolves around a Canadian white bear that quits his boring job and starts a cafeteria near a zoo. He loves telling tall tales and always brags about himself. According to him, he was picked up by a human couple who owns a diner while he was drifting around on an iceberg.  Though he has lost all contact with his Canadian family, he has discovered a new home in serving the diners’ clientele, thanks to the kind couple. His café is an embodiment of his personality. The place is always packed with many regulars, animals and humans, who are drawn by his charismatic magnetism.

Review:  This is a very light watch, indeed.  Seeing animals and humans interacting is a bit strange.  Especially since the animals actually look on the realistic side instead of cartoony.  The three main characters, Panda, Penguin, and Polar Bear all have particular quirks about their character.  Polar Bear likes to act out puns with the orders that people request.  Penguin I guess is like the tsukkomi to the Polar Bear’s boke when he does his puns. Lastly, Panda who’s pretty much good at lazing around and eating.  Several other animal customers are personified as well.   I’ll admit, I was laughing at quite a few moments like Panda on the job hunt and “working” at the zoo and also Polar Bear’s job interviews (lol @ the anteater).

Entertaining and clean fun.  7/10.  The OP is also pretty catchy.
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Title: Sengoku Collection (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Brains Base
Genre: Samurai
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: In a timeline different from our own, the generals of the Warring States period, vie for power. But they’re the same generals we know in name only: their appearance, personality, and gender are all different. One day, first Oda Nobunaga and then all the others are transported to our world. Everything is new to them – bicycles, cell phones, automatic doors. Each episode focuses on one general and how she learns to adapt to the modern world.

Review:  This isn’t the first time that they’ve made the characters of this era into girls (Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox) although this version looks to be a lot more cutesy than the previous.  One thing they kept consistent between the two series is Oda having a large chest, I guess.  “Sweet Little Devil” Oda Nobunaga comes crashing down into our world from some parallel universe.  She doesn’t seem to be bothered by her new surroundings too much and acts more like some rich, spoiled princess than how I would have imagined her to be portrayed.  It looks like the male character was just there for that ep, so I guess there wont be any romance element, but they still gave ecchi like fan-service regardless, courtesy of some bath scene and her outfit.  The background art has an interesting look, like some matte or canvas of sorts.

5.5/10.  I grew tired of her responses and reactions and I’m not really looking forward to see the rest of the generals portrayed.
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Title: Jormungand (ANN / MAL)
Studio: White Fox
Genre: Action, Adventure, Seinen
Rating: R – 17+
Synopsis: The series follows Koko Hekmatyar, a young arms dealer who sells weapons under HCLI, an international shipping corporation that secretly deals in the arms trade. As one of the company’s unofficial weapon dealers, she secretly sells weapons in many countries while avoiding the local authorities and law enforcements as most of her work is actually illegal under international law. Traveling with her is her team of bodyguards who are mostly composed of ex-military veterans. Her latest addition to her crew is Jonah, a seemingly emotionless child soldier who is skilled in combat yet ironically hates arms dealers. Jonah joins Koko as he wishes to find the arms dealer responsible for his family’s death. What follows is Koko and her crews escapades around the world.

Review:  The title is based off of the World Serpent of Norse mythology, which I think is an interesting association to make.  Koko is quite an odd character for someone who’s an arms dealer.  Young in age, wise in her business, but quite eccentric in her mannerisms.  Her proclamation that she sells weapons for world peace reminded me of Stark in Iron Man  That and the fact that she is a somewhat amiable character.  Like seeing her sleepwalk into Valmet, stumble into the hallway clueless when trying to find the bathroom, and rolling around on the table in frustration.  Jonah’s introduction had me thinking of his hypocrisy since he’s against weapons and yet uses them to get back at the very thing he hates.  I guess someone his age and with his background would be messed up in the head though.

The episode was quite an action ride through her world with the car chase gun fights.  I also liked the confrontation between Koko and the other arms dealer where they were basically battling it out on another front as they were making moves over the phone right in front of each other.  I’m interested to see how she exactly rose to such a status and position.  I would also like to learn more about her bodyguards regarding their personalities, specialties, and their reasons for joining Koko.

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Title: Zetman (ANN / MAL)
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Genre: Action, Drama, Horror, Romance, Sci-Fi, Supernatural, Seinen
Rating: R – 17+
Synopsis: There are two forces in the world: the Zet, who are entrusted with the survival of humanity, and the Alphas, who have chosen an extreme form of justice. In a certain city, Jin lives under a bridge with an old man, struggling to pay off debts. He carries the destiny of humanity’s survival. Kouga lives on a hill and stands to inherit vast wealth. In his admiration for heroes, he seeks out the meaning of justice. They don’t know it now, but they are destined to one day meet.

Review:  It’s quite interesting how oblivious they make Jin to the world and even his own emotions.  He didn’t even understand tears or death or the use of violence in context or anything like that.  I guess he was living in that much seclusion with Gramps, who I assume is the scientist who took him from the lab.  This kinda reminds me of Guyver or something along those lines.  It has all the ingredients for a good action series given that there’s other “Players” out there who are seemingly the cause of the serial killings that have been going on.  I also like how Jin looks in Zetman form.  I’m looking forward to seeing his antics as an adult and how the battles go between the other players.

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Title: Sakamichi no Apollon / Kids on the Slope (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Tezuka Productions
Genre: Drama, Historical, Romance, School, Slice of Life, Josei
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: The beginning of summer, 1966.

Because of his father’s job situation, freshman high school student Kaoru Nishimi moves by himself from Yokosuka to Kyushu to live with relatives. Until then, Kaoru was an honor roll student who tended to keep to himself, but meeting notorious bad boy Sentaro Kawabuchi starts to change him. Through his devil-may-care classmate, Kaoru learns the attractions of jazz and finds the first person he can call a “friend”. He also discovers how much fun it is to play music with a pal.

Other characters include Sentaro’s kind childhood chum, Ritsuko, who is the daughter of a record shop owner; the mysterious upperclassman, Yurika; and Brother Jun, the much-admired leader among their peers. Set against the backdrop of a seaside town with a scent of American culture, this series is a drama about young people coming into their own, crossing each other’s paths, and finding friendship, love, and music!

Review:  Awesome.  I’m glad I decided to check out what the rest of the season had to offer because this would’ve went under my radar had I not screened what was out there.  I think it’ll be fun to see those two complete opposites get along through music, and it’ll be interesting to see how Sentaro changes Kaoru, and vice versa.  There were some bromance moments like when Sentaro held Kaoru’s hand outside the roof, and when he acted as a hair dryer after they got soaked in the rain.  I don’t think it’ll be anything to the degree of being something like No.6 though.  I’m looking forward to the development of romance between Ritsuko and Kaoru as well.  Ritsuko is just adorable and seeing how they get along with each other just makes me want to ship them harder.

The animation is really well done.  Sentaro’s fight scene on the roof with the seniors and the drum solo were both fluid.  I always appreciate anime that step it up with the details like that, like on the music scenes with stuff like K-ON, Haruhi, and Angel Beats.  The soundtrack is appropriate to its setting and jazz theme.  This show got another huge plus due to the fact that Yoko Kanno (Macross F/Plus, Cowboy Bebop, etc) is on board for the music.

8.5/10 out the gates.  Another I’ll definitely be watching.
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Title: Ginga e Kickoff!! (ANN / MAL)
Studio: TYO Animations
Genre: Shounen, Sports
Rating: PG
Synopsis: The story follows a boy who was in a soccer team, but it was disbanded due to not enough players. However, after the boy meets a female professional soccer player, he aims to bring his soccer team back.

Review:  I rarely watch sports anime because I feel since its catered to people into the sport.  I’m not sure if I’d be able to truly give it a good review because of that.  I decided to give it a shot anyway to be sure to cover everything this season.  I’ll give a little more background since the synopsis is lame.  Shou is part of the Predators, a team that’s disbanding due to a lack of players.  They were a team of former glory, making it all the way to championships, but most have left due to various reasons.  Shou tries desperately to hold the team together by recruiting people to join.  He’s a very enthusiastic and energetic boy with a lot of persistence.  Even though he’s not that great at soccer, he apparently has some sort of ability of observation.  He stumbles across Erika and plays some soccer with her and her dog.  Seeemingly outskilled, he still manages to steal the ball from the dog, which earns him respect from Erika as she comes out to join the team.  By chance, they encounter a pro soccer player practicing at the park and just when they think they’re seriously outmatched, Shou manages to steal the ball from her and score.  This fires up both their hopes for soccer and they vow to pursue their dreams.

It looks like it has the potential for a good shounen sports series so far and I can see lots of development as they try to find a coach, gather players, and improve their skills.  7/10

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Title: Acchi Kocchi / Place to Place (ANN / MAL)
Studio: AIC
Genre: Comedy, Romance, School, Seinen
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: The serious-minded Tsumiki and the pure-hearted Io feel they never want to be parted, and yet they haven’t fallen in love yet. More than friends but not lovers, they develop an awkward quasi-romance.

Review:  The intro and OP gave me this Nichijou feeling and it seems that this show kinda follows suit, but it’s definitely not the level of craziness that Nichijou or Lucky Star was.  That’s quite the ahoge that both Tsumiki and Io have.  For a show of this genre, the flow between skits was fine, and as for the comedy I see it as acceptable.  Tsumiki is a pretty adorable character and her reactions to Io are cute.  I think the characters are likable enough.  There isn’t really much else to say.  If you like those kind of shows, you’ll probably like this one too.  I like how the characters look like nendroids during the ED.

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Title: Natsuiro Kiseki / A Summer-Colored Miracle (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Sunrise
Genre: Slice of Life
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: Natsumi, Saki, Yuka, and Ringo are best friends. They’ve grown up in an old agricultural town, experiencing everything together, both happy and sad. But one summer, they are visited by a miracle.

Review:  Four seems to be your common number when it comes to these kinds of shows.  The four seiyuu chosen for the main roles are actually the members of the group Sphere which consists of some pretty reputable names if you haven’t heard of them.  They also perform the OP and ED for the show.  Two friends out of the group of four (Saki and Natsumi) start drifting apart because one is moving away and feels responsible for not being able to fulfill a promise that she made to her friend.  The other two try to pull them together by bringing them all back to this rock that is said to have the power to grant wishes if four close friends touch it and wish for the same thing.  They visited the rock before during their childhood when they wished to become idols and ended up winning some singing competition back in fourth grade.  By chance, during an argument between Saki and Natsumi, they end up looking at the sky and wishing to be able to fly.  They end up finding themselves floating high in the sky together.

As with most in the slice of life genre, the pacing is slow and steady.  It’s basically a story of friendship.  Natsumi and Saki used to argue a lot during their childhood as well and both are being stubborn in their latest argument, being adamant about their proclamation of not being friends anymore.  I suppose one of the lines in the show rings true to their friendship.  While discussing the fictional group “Four Season,” one of them mentions how you used to be able to see them on any channel you flipped to on TV.  Yuka responds that you could almost get sick of them because of that.  I suppose that’s what’s happening with those two in particular.  Additionally, just as Four Season has been fading away from their fame, their friendship is fading as well.

Even though it’s not J.C. Staff, for some reason the art reminds me of Index/Railgun.  Particularly Yuka, who resembles Saten and Maika.  The animation is clean and the backgrounds look pleasant.  I almost expected Toyosaki Aki to play Yuka after seeing how their characters act, but I guess it’s another role where she’s breaking off from her norm.

The show is okay I guess.  Nothing new or unique.  6.5/10
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Title: Hiiro no Kakera / Scarlet Fragment (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Studio DEEN
Genre: Action, Romance, Shoujo, Supernatural
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: Tamaki Kasuga has supposedly gone to live with her grandmother after her parents are transferred overseas. But the real reason for her arrival is that she must continue the role, handed down from her ancestor Princess Tamayori, to seal the sword Onikirimaru. Five young men serve as her guardians against the mysterious Logos.

Review:  Welp, it sure is a shoujo show.  Kinda reminds me of something like Hakuouki or Fruits Basket or whatever other shoujo show with your typical female lead surrounded by a bunch of bishies.  You have your supernatural setting where Tamaki basically finds that she is to be the next Princess Tamayori right out of the blue.  Tamayori princesses are supposed to protect the Onikirimaru, which is the power to destroy the world or something like that.  I was kind of wondering if all the conflicts would be against those “drowned gods” or whatever the term was, but they give a little preview of the adversaries at the end of the 1st ep.  The ED also gives a little taste of how the combat is going to be.  I wonder what sort of abilities the Tamayori princesses have, or if it’ll mainly be the Shugogo household doing the fighting.

6.5/10.  The supernatural elements and the setting seem interesting enough.  They got Sugita Tomokazu as Takuma and that’s already a plus from me.  The hot pot scene near the end made me think of that Gintama sketch and I thought they were gonna throw down to get the meat, LOL.
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Title: Haiyore! Nyaruko-san (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Xebec
Genre: Comedy, Parody, Sci-Fi
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: The story of Haiyore! Nyaruko-san centers around Nyaruko, a formless Cthulhu deity of chaos (Nyarlathotep) who can take on the shape of a seemingly ordinary silver-haired girl. Mahiro Yasaka is a normal high school boy who is chased by aliens one night, until Nyaruko saves him.

Review:  I remember seeing a few of these Haiyoru! Nyaruani shorts a long time ago, but didn’t really remember what it was about other than the Cthulhu thing.  I don’t think this is a sequel, per se, but rather a full anime based on the manga instead of just shorts.  Nyaruko, or Nyarlathotep, the Crawling Chaos from the Cthulhu Mythos, appears to be an alien and has come to defend Earth.  More accurately, she came to protect Mahiro from space slave traders and because she likes him.  She apparently can take form of a girl but can supposedly look like the form she was described to look like by Lovecraft as well.

It is a pretty off the wall comedy though I can’t really say it’s great.  She often falls victim to Mahiro’s fork attack.  I suppose I laughed at the Pokemon parody a little.  Also that whole scene regarding her form: “If you’d like, I could take that form, but you’d lose your sanity.” /dice roll /minus sanity points.  Other than that, I don’t know.. just seems crazy.

6/10.  Maybe I’m just not up enough to catch all those Lovecraft references or something.
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Title: Kuroko no Basket / Kuroko’s Basketball (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Production I.G., Bandai Visual, Lantis, NAS
Genre: School, Shounen, Sports
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: Tetsuya Kuroko is a former member from the legendary middle school basketball team known as “The Generation of Miracles”. Upon meeting Taiga Kagami he decides upon becoming his shadow to help him become Japan’s greatest basketball player.

Review:  The newly established Seirin Private High School has only been around for a year but their basketball team was able to make it to the finals in that year.  The team is looking for recruits for the new school year.  Two applicants in particular have arrived to join the team.  One is the physically gifted Kagami hailing from America, who’s raw talent is through the roof per Coach Aida’s analysis.  The other is Kuroko who was a member of the famed “Generation of Miracles” who’s analysis actually turned out low.  What Kuroko actually excels at is passing and misdirection.  With this ability he feeds his fellow players with the shot opportunities.  He was the sixth phantom member of the famed Teiko Middle School Basketball Club.  To put it in the words of Kuroko, “I’m a shadow, but the stronger the light, the darker the shadow, and the more it accentuates the brightness of the light.”  He makes a pact with Kagami to be the shadow to his light.

That’s an interesting approach to take for a character.  I honestly expected to see Kuroko flash some weird abilities in his 1v1 vs Kagami, but I was completely wrong.  I think that concept will make for an interesting watch.  In other aspects, the animation is good as I usually expect from I.G. and the soundtrack is fitting.

It has all the makings of a strong sports shounen series.  8/10.
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Title: Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan / Bread of Happiness (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Production I.G.
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Romance
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: One day, a mysterious girl named Kaguya was washed ashore the island of Wyndaria after a great storm. She encounters Rick, a swordsman who wound up working at the island’s bakery. Apparently, Kaguya is suffering from having lost her memories and emotions. In addition, the usually peaceful Wyndaria is now swarming with pirates who came seeking for the special spirit stone that is worn around Kaguya’s neck. Knowing the situation, Rick and his co-workers, Nellis, Amyl, and Aerie decided to bring back peace to island and help Kaguya regain her lost memories and emotions.

Review:  So, we got a harem revolving around bread, I guess?  Rick runs a bakery with Nellis, Amyl, and Aerie.  The pacing on the show is really slow as the first half pretty much just revolves around the hustle and bustle of their shop as they sell to customers, interact with the townsfolk, and gather ingredients and such.  The second half is pretty much just them dealing with a injured silf (some cutesy forest animal) and their exchanges with a few elves they meet in the forest while they’re gathering some sugar grass.  There’s some foreshadowing about the red moon being a sign for a coming storm and some unknown girl speaking at the end of the episode.  The animation quality is good, as to be expected from I.G.  Nothing else really to be said.

Meh.  Nothing is happening, but I guess the pawns are still being put into place.  I felt like I was playing Atelier, without the monsters.  6/10.  Of course when more of the story reveals itself, I imagine that the score will change.  The question is, will it be for the better or for worse?
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Title: Hyouka /: (You Can’t Escape) (ANN / MAL)
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Genre: Mystery
Rating: PG-13
Synopsis: The story follows a boy named Hōtarō who joins the club of classical literature by order of his sister, although he prefers not to get involved in anything. The club will gradually nearer to the truth after some incident involving a boy’s uncle and the same happened 33 years ago. He eventually dragged seeing solve the mystery by another girl.

Review: Totally missed this one due to a lack of a sub release until now.  The quality of the animation is great, as expected from KyoAni.  The backgrounds are well detailed as seen in something as simple as the lighting and shadows seen across the campus.  I was impressed with the textures in the scene where Satoshi is telling the story of the piano club member haunting the music room.  Also the scene where Hotaro was getting tangled up in Eru’s hair and the kana coming off all the club recruitment flyers was impressive.  The seiyuu cast is high tier, with Sakaguchi Daisuke (Sunohara from Clannad, Shinpachi from Gintama), Nakamura Yuuichi (Okazaki from Clannad, Alto from Macross F), and Satou Satomi (Ritsu from K-On).

It’s a fairly complex and intelligent anime with a lot of dialog.  I’m kinda wondering what the whole deal was with the vision Hotaro saw when he held Eru’s hand.  Does that have something to do with Hotaro having some sort of ability, or is it more about Eru having an effect on him?  I’m not too sure.

7.5/10 so far.  Has potential, and I’ll admit I’m interested.. but I have to see more of it to be sure.
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Welp, that burned me out quite a bit.  I almost feel as burned out as I got after fansubbing.  Watching all those shows and doing my analysis took more time than I expected.  Time to take a break from anime again LOL.  Jokes aside, I hope this was helpful to someone.  I put asteriks next to my top 5 personal picks for the season.  For continuing series, of course you could count Fate/Zero in that list.

Until then, laters.