Anime Editorials Reviews

Winter Impressions Part II

dengarSlowly but surely I am getting around to previewing the rest of this season’s shows.  For this post I tried to preview some series that people seemed excited about in the comments to my first winter impressions post.  That entry is available here.

Gosick is set in St. Marguerite Academy, located in the made up European country of Saubure. It is 1924 and Kazuya Kujo has transferred to the Academy from Japan. His classmates nickname him the Dark Reaper and keep their distance. In order to make friends Koju heads to the library to read up on Saubure’s ghost stories. There he encounters the doll-like Victorique and is soon embroiled in a ghost story himself. By episode two a ghost story/murder mystery is in full swing. The development of this show was a complete surprise for me. Victorique looks moe and I expected that the show would center on moe themes. Instead I got a riveting, mystery science theater type show. Only time will tell if it stays that way or if it succumbs to moe. (3 out of 3)

Level E
In Level E, aliens live among us without our knowledge, a setting which is similar to the one used in Men in Black. One day a ship crash lands on earth and deposits an alien with long blond hair (think 1960s peace activist). He moves into (or rather breaks into) the apartment of an up and coming high school baseball player named Yukitaka Tsutsui. Proving that this series is secretly a romantic comedy, a bromance develops between the alien and Yukitaka. Soon the two interrupt their budding romance to deal with government investigators who have discovered the alien’s ship and are looking for its passenger. I enjoyed Level E, which surprised me because I normally do not like anime comedy. I liked how it was fast paced and how it went in a direction that caught me off guard. I am worried that it will slow down after this initial sprint, but if it keeps up its fast pace I think it has great potential. (3 out of 3)

So what happens when the Demon Lord is ready to wipe out all humans but has no time to do it himself? Easy, he sends his naked newborn son, Beelzebub, to Earth to destroy everyone instead. Tatsumi Oga receives the demon spawn and is given responsibility for raising him. Like any normal baby Beelzebub gets bored and hungry and looks to Tatsuki for satisfaction. When Oga does not take his responsibility to the baby seriously, Beelzebub is liable to act like Pikachu and electrocute everyone. Now its time for me to disappoint all the Beelzebub fans out there: I hated this show. My appetite for anime comedy is low to begin with. This show never amused me and I grew bored early on in the first episode. I also did not see why Beelzebub was naked throughout the show. It was distracting and did not add anything. Still, I also disliked Panty and Stocking, so if you liked that, maybe you will also like this show. (1 our of 3)

4 replies on “Winter Impressions Part II”

I hope you won’t mind if I hijack yet another blog post here to present my own reviews of this season’s anime. 😛 I’ve chosen my shows and I’m at the 5th or 6th ep in each of them, so I have a little more material to work with. While there are as many as six shows, none of them are really great watches, just more or less above average. The previous season was so far superior it’s not even funny. -.-‘ Watching such great shows like Shuffle, Ookami-san and Master Keaton, while waiting for new episodes each week, makes this season look even more pathetic in comparison.
Anyway, let’s get to the reviews.
Gosick is a very atmospheric show that I liked from the start. Victorica is probably the cutest character of the season. The protagonist is boring as hell, except when interacting with Victorica, and those rare occasions when he proves himself to have some balls. The story does not rely solely on Victorica’s cuteness – however, the chain of logic in her deductions is often really weak, especially after the first arc. Currently my second favourite, but the second arc was kinda weak, so ATM even 3.5/5 is a bit of a stretch.
Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a magical girl anime, but an unusual one. It’s not just Shinbou Akiyuki’s signature graphic randomness, the overall tone quite a bit darker than in the standard mahou shoujo story. People die, the dominant philosophy among the magical girls seems to be selfishness, the protagonist spends most of her time angsting and grieving… you get the idea. The best thing about this show IMO is Kajiura Yuki’s music, which combined with the dark graphic tones creates a powerful atmosphere. The plot shows a lot of promise, but as of ep 5 it hasn’t really convinced me – neither have the characters or the dialogue. Let’s face it, Madoka is no Bakemonogatari. I’m constantly on the verge of dropping this, but I do understand why some people – mainly those who enjoy the graphic randomness and dark plot twists – are so eager to dub this the best of the season. My score so far is 2.5, but I keep watching in recognition of its potential to rise to 3.5, even 4.
Kore wa Zombie desu ka started out rather mediocre, but ep 4 and 5 are really good, so this might yet end up my favourite of the season. The comedy is kind of hit-or-miss, and for me it’s about fifty-fifty. It’s often unpredictable, though, I give it that. Ep 4 finally shows a beautiful scene which is not interrupted by annoying comedy, and the plot starts moving, too. This show is actually quite well written, dialogue as well as the plot advancement. Characters are interesting, though IMO not exactly the strongest point of the anime. Battles are entertaining, comedic even when being serious, and they get better by the episode. 3.5/5, barely behind Gosick.
Infinite Stratos had 4 good episodes before it all of a sudden became a train wreck. It’s a story composed of nothing but clichés and stereotypes, but it used to have good storytelling that drew me in and made me feel home. Eps 5 and 6 feel like they were directed by a different person than the first 4 eps, the story no longer flows well, and suddenly all the clichés are starting to annoy me. The comedy is still quite good and the characters are still generally likeable, though the only one completely sensible seems to be the protagonist’s sister. There’s no plot worth mentioning, except for the second half of ep 4. It’s a generic harem comedy and it’ll stay that until the director finally decides to pop out the main plot, and along with it, serious battles. The battle animation is great, so there’s a possibility that an entertaining main plot and good battles will save this into something worth watching – but it better happen soon, because I’m two episodes away from dropping this. 2.5/5 – after the first 4 eps I’d have given 3.5.
Yumekui Merry is currently my favourite, with 6 solidly good eps. Pretty strong atmosphere, good dialogue and actually quite interesting story are three strong points of this show, but the strongest one might be the characters. The male lead doesn’t seem so special at first, but he gets better by the episode. He’s a far cry from such bland and embarrassing male leads like Kujou in Gosick. Merry was interesting from the start, but she gets cuter by the episode, now almost on par with Victorica. They seem to be saving in the animation, but the important scenes are animated well enough, and it doesn’t seem to be hurting the atmosphere. ATM this is the only show that gets 3.5 easily, though it needs to improve quite a bit to make me consider 4 at the end of the series.
Dragon Crisis is entertaining enough, but it has some serious weaknesses. The protagonist is another one of those bland and uninteresting types, and Rosa, while cute and voiced by Kugimiya Rie, is so childlike that she may get on some people’s nerves. The romance is completely idiotic, a bond of deep love grows over months, even years, not in two freaking days! This is the main reason why I think the 3rd ep is quite awful. Still, each episode has plenty of entertaining dialogue, action and and plot development, so DC is definitely more worthy of watching than IS in its current pathetic state. The second arc presents a couple of interesting new characters and some interesting themes, both ep 4 and 5 are clearly better than ep 3. I recommend checking out the first episode: if the story seems to be up your alley, I guarantee that all but the 3rd ep are worth watching – if not, don’t bother, it doesn’t get significantly better. 3/5

It’s a free country, so you can comment however you like (as long as its relevant and not spam).
I can only speak to what I’ve seen but it does not suprise me that Infinite Stratos went downhill, it was too formulaic from the get go. Dragon Crisis is more of a disappointment for me, it seemed like it had some initial promise.

I’m no longer watching Beelzebub, but I’ll say that if you DO like anime comedy and enjoy the premise of a thug forced to raise a baby who’s the infant king of demons, the show can be quite enjoyable. I dropped it because I’m not into the premise, and it’s formulaic.
As for Gosic, I’m afraid I’m getting tired of Victorique pulling clues out of the ether, though I like the character herself, a bored, sarcastic bundle of cuteness. The most recent story arc was a mess. The previous was one was better. Level E is the opposite; the main character bugs the hell out of me, but the rest of the show is too entertaining for me to drop it.

I agree that Victoria’s reasoning can be a stretch, she just can’t measure up to L.
As for Level E, I’m not annoyed by Prince yet but I’m worried I may be soon. Yukitaka does bug me at times, I’m almost more interested in his baseball career than anything else.

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