First Impressions (and my early october roundup)


The first impressions I've co-written at is out! Thanks to fellow writers Himitsu, Chikage_Shampoo, eisenmeteor and AJtheFourth from Altair & Vega. Disclaimer: Most of my contributions are rehashed opinions I've written on this blog, and probably aren't too useful for well-informed readers of the blogosphere. Still, go check it out.

Guilty Crown
Episodes: 2
Guilty Crown certainly does not live up to the potential of the mass of talent assembled for its production, but let's not talk about expectations and disappoints for a bit. After all, the higher the expectation, the greater the disappointment, right? Guilty Crown boasts extremely good animation quality and is probably the prettiest show to look at this season, right up there with Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam. The rest of the show aren't terrible impressive. The story so far follows a completely formulaic direction that gets our main character (a run-of-the-mill male protagonist wuss, no less) right into the action with a seemingly supernatural power he attained through pure luck, given to him by his favourite idol who he met by chance, who ALSO coincidentally happens to be his childhood friend, AND soon joins his class as a transfer student, WHILE remains to be a wanted terrorist. And no, I did not try to make the show sound less than it is. The potential of the show gives me hope that this is really just their lazy approach to bounce right past the introduction segment of the story though. The show had barely an ounce of originality to speak of, but at least it's pretty to look at while we're at it.

Outlook: Pretty negative so far (but yes, there's still a good chance it can be great...)

Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon
Episode: 3
I must admit that I barely grasped what's going on in the show, but I believe that is the same for most people as well. The show tries to combine way too many elements into the story, and while this has created a very rich environment that has worked well for series like MSLN, it only resulted in a lot of confusion for Horizon. The show hasn't been very efficient in "feeding" the audience about the important elements and events that took place, but has already played out a lot of concepts that are reliant on that information. I can't blame them too much, since the novel has been known as "impossible to adapt". Thankfully there has been little progress in the actual plot so far and they had mostly relied on comedy and inane action sequences to sell the story.

Outlook: Slightly Positive

Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing
Episodes: 2
The Last Exile Sequel would be my most anticipated show this season, and I'm really happy to see how it turned out. To be honest, this is a pretty lousy season, and the only other series that I'm actually satisfied with is Tamayura... so, thank god, I guess Gonzo really did it after all. In case you didn't know, Gonzo went bankrupt (or nearly did) because it has been producing crap for many years now and the latest series that I actually cared about is actually the original Last Exile, which was created in 2003. A new version of Last Exile would a good opportunity to bounce back to what they once were, and it's a huge gamble, judging from the fortune they've dropped onto this, despite their financial situation. Luckily, from what I've seen so far, it should really pay off.

The artistic direction and story approach seems to have adopted a much more moé concept that is quite different from the original, but I think it has worked well enough. The cel-shaded animation isn't quite as impressive as that of Guilty Crown, but the addition of the awesome CG ships that draws out the majesty of the battles puts their animation quality on par, if not higher. I like the original Last Exile for distinct sense of adventure and the sequel has brought that feeling of excitement back to me again. I'm not sure how well the story will work with three tiny girls as the mainstay of the show (as well as the fanservice intentions), but only time will tell. All I can say is that I really like what I've seen so far.

Outlook: Very Positive

Shakugan no Shana Final
Episodes: 3
I can't remember much of the first two seasons, other than the distinct personality of Shana that has actually spawned a character archetype known as "Shana Clone". The lack of a lasting impression is often synonymous to the lack of selling points, and perhaps that's what the story really is; boring. The third season continued directly off the cliffhanger ending of the previous season, but unfortunately, it's about the romance aspect of the story, which I have very little reason to care about, since I never really liked the characters. The really bad part is that the story took a totally unexpected and different direction to the story the writers seemed to have pull out of nowhere. With a little bit of research, it seems that the audience requires at least some knowledge of the story from the novels to make sense of what's going on. And that is a really bad move, since a good percentage of the audience like me cared too little to even bother with the novel. The story up to now can be only described as mildly interesting since there had been very little progress, after all, they had dedicated the whole of the latest episode to flashbacks. I'm really watching this just to finish up the SnS storyline, and up till now I cared very little about how it'll turn out.

Outlook: Neutral

Episodes: 3
Ben-to is exactly what you'll expect from the synopsis; people getting violent and engage in shounen-style fights for half-priced bentos, which is basically microwavable meals in a plastic tray. I was really skeptical about the series, but I'm quite surprised by the relatively high level of production quality, or rather, how they managed to get the budget. I was hoping that the bento fights would be secondary to a much deeper or interesting story element but no, this is all that is to it. How much you would enjoy this series really depends on how much you appreciate niche genres like this. I'll check out the new character introduced in the next episode and see what she would bring, but I'm unlikely to continue this any further.

Outlook: Neutral (Subjective)

Episodes: 3
You know, it's nice to see one of my favourite anime series return with a huge budget to blow on the animation quality, and if you put the two seasons together now, you'll see what a huge difference they've made. The female members of the cast has also received a huge moé boost, most evident with Poplar, which received nothing short of shameless pandering and... Unfortunately, that took a hit on the comedy of the show, which I feel is the main seller of the series. It's painfully obvious if you've read the manga like me. The extended scenes of Inami blushing and Poplar generally "being cute" has took a hit on the comedic timing of the jokes. I can't really say if the show should have gone either way; I still love the humor and fun of the Wagnaria crew, but personally I would have preferred them to stick to the style of the first season.

Outlook: Positive

Boku Ha Tomodachi Ga Sukunai
Episodes: 3
So after 3+1 episodes, 5 chapters of the manga, 4 blog posts and lots of complaining, I think I finally got: Haganai is an unusual take on the harem genre, whereby the harem would be filled with unpleasant people. As you would expect from the title, this means that all members of the harem, male lead included, are social outcasts in one way or another. This presents a good excuse for the girls to focus all their attention on the guy, which is likely to happen after all the girls enters the club. So far the only really unique thing about the show is the constant bickering between Yozora and Sena, although it stems from the fact that Yozora is simply a really nasty person. Other than that, the show doesn't really sets itself apart from other series of the same genre. We have a normal tsukkomi male lead (Kodaka) that is really forcibly made a social outcast, because the interactions with normal classmates really portrays him as a different person he usually is on screen. We have Sena being attracted to Kodaka for the dumbest of reasons, and Yozora had just entered the unrealized childhood friend setup. Still, it isn't all that bad, because it actually has a lot of originality compared to your standard eroge/VN adaptations. The popularity of the novel or manga has earned the production a substantial amount of budget, which resulted in one of the best production values we have seen this season, and that's saying a lot coming out of a HAREM ADAPTATION. I'd rather opt for mindless moé from the rest of the supporting characters since I didn't really like any of the main members of the club yet, but we'll see where the show would take us from here.

Outlook: Slightly Positive, but its popularity disagrees with me.

Tamayura ~Hitotose~
Episodes: 3
This might be a good example of how hard it is to write a good slice-of-life (SoL) series. Director and creator Satou Junichi is no stranger to the genre, after all, he also directed one of the best SoL series out there, ARIA. Tamayura referenced and retained a lot of characteristics of ARIA, but as a writer I feel that he lacks the distinguished charm of the characters portrayed by Kozue Amano. Mizunashi Akari and Alicia Florence quickly become top favourite characters in the anime fandom, but so far I find it hard to really like anyone in Tamayura. Another obvious difference is the clear lack of good comedy or good moé which is almost essential to spice things up a little. Anyway, as with a lot of SoL series like this, it's really about whether you "get it" or you don't, and as a SoL fan I've managed to stay as the former. The concept of capturing the best moments in life through the viewfinder has a lot of potential, and perhaps the series just need an incredible episode to sell really well. Tamayura turns out to be a lot like Sketchbook instead, so if you like that, you'll enjoy Tamayura.

Outlook: Fairly Positive (for a SoL fan)

Mashiro-Iro Symphony
Episodes: 3
Manglobe's attempt to make a VN adaptation was unexpected. This is the studio that made Samurai Champloo, remember. Was I suppose to expect great things from this anime, or do I just have to realize how far the studio has fallen? Anyway, Mashiro-Iro is your standard VN adaptation you'll expect to see every season, and up till episode three there totally NOTHING that is special to the series, nor did it bring anything new to the genre. And the fact that the story is written by the same guy who wrote Akane-iro really gives me no reason to like this whatsoever. I do have a few complains though. The animation quality suffered a huge dip after the first episode, which was nothing impressive to begin with. The main female lead, Airi, ends up sounding a lot like a whining Shana/Louise, which is irritating. The anime has also been surprisingly tame with the moé and fan-service, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing myself, because there is already very little appeal left in it. In any case, I don't see myself following this any longer. It's a shame that my favourite band Marble made the ED for this show though.

Outlook: Boring

Morita-san wa Mukuchi 2
Episodes: 4
With only 3 minutes per episode, the entire first season is just a little more than a single normal episode. Hence the show never really left an impression, but its simplicity and light-hearted comedy makes it really easy to digest. The show revolves around Morita-san who has a bit of a social complex and has never uttered a single word for 17 episodes, but at least they got Hanazawa Kana to voice her inner thoughts. Overall, the show is quick entertainment, and is surprisingly easy to like because I don't really have to commit time to catch this.

Outlook: Positive

PS: I've also picked back up Ika-Musume... because there's hardly anything worth watching this season.