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Winter 2013 First Impressions

Hello friends. It’s time again for our first impressions of the new season of anime. Today I will be giving my impressions, because the other O-New writers are either busy not watching anime, or not writing for O-New. I hope I can meet your expectations myself.

You may have noticed that it is past time for a season preview. I’m sorry to say that I couldn’t be bothered with this. You see, for professional programmers the holidays are a wonderful time when users are away from their computers. This means that our days are filled with joyful productivity as we field no troubleshooting calls, nor receive any new bug reports. This also means that deployments and upgrades abound. On top of this, we eventually head home and spend time with people who call themselves our “families.”

As December 25 approached I deeply regretted not writing the 12 Days posts in advance. And as I pushed Publish on that final post I knew a hiatus was in order.

So it was.

And this is fine because Mushy was finally back from his testing-induced absence. Much to the chagrin of our RSS subscribers, I assume. I know that I was a little overwhelmed to see 20 unread posts on O-New appear in a two day span. No matter. We all have our quirks and Mushy’s obsession with date manipulation is quite tame in the grand scheme of things.

I bother to mention that not just to give me the opportunity to rib the editor-in-chief. It’s important because I did give thought to posting these impressions individually. After all, if a post a day is O-New’s goal wouldn’t it make sense to split these up? Ultimately laziness won because posting these individually would probably require at least a few screenshots. Compile the list and there’s more than enough content to justify its own entry.

Let’s get down to business. First, I’d like to apologize for changing the format a bit from last time. I’m not going to give a scannable ruling like we did before. Instead I’ll tell you this: Nearly every show that I checked out this season was good enough for at least a 3 episode test. That makes scanning much less practical. Next item on our agenda is that I’ve listed the shows in the order that I’ve viewed them. It’s very close to release order, but not quite.

With so many shows of note this season I considered this not merely entertainment, nor merely a task. It was a journey. A hard slog through streaming and torrent sites that will likely end with a queue of around five or six shows. For your convenience I have compiled a summary of this journey, complete with narration (in italics), show title, (in bold) and impressions.

I began my journey into this season with a 3 minute Flash anime.

Boku no Imouto wa Osaka Okan
Remember the show Perfect Strangers? Probably not. If you do, I want you to imagine if every episode was of Balki doing nothing but bitching that Cousin Larry wasn’t calling things by the names used on Mypos. Condense that to three minutes and you have this show. It’s short, so I’ll keep watching it whenever I’m board.

This season’s cocktail hour continued with moe mountain climbing.

Yama no Susume
I thought this was rather charming for a short. The main character actually remembers her childhood friend and vaguely remembers the “promise” she made to go mountain climbing. Remembering childhood friends makes her better than most anime characters. I liked this well enough to invest a few minutes in it on a weekly basis.

Then there was more bite-sized entertainment. Truly, this is the season of the short.

This show condensed season one of Bakuman into three minutes and cut out the crappy romance and sexism. Despite all that, it sucks.

At this point I had grown tired of these short programs. It doesn’t help that this one is a stinker.

Ai Mai Mi
The ED of this show has Atari-quality renditions of NES-era games. It’s the best animation in the entire show. This is terrible.

Finally! I’m about to watch a full-length show! Not only that but a show I had planned to watch when it was announced months ago.

Cuticle Tantei Inaba
This show looks like it could be interesting. It’s got a werewolf who can track down criminals using just a hair. The bad guy is an anthropomorphic goat. It could be a mystery series that uses these odd characters to setup jokes. Instead it’s about as funny as a Jeff Dunham show, with lame jokes lazily thrown at you from every which way. I had planned to watch this but the first episode was enough to turn me away.

Dejected, I moved on to Spice & Wolf 102: Macroeconomics & Breast Physics.

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha
Breast physics meets political science and macroeconomics. Everyone focuses on the macroeconomic aspect of this series, but when you’re looking at a cost/benefit analysis of war holistically then you’re in the realm of political science. I wasn’t too thrilled with the interpretations of economic or political theory in the first episode, but at least they’re somewhat intelligible. I liked the characters, except that Hero is a complete pushover. It took Demon Queen an F cup and a couple minutes to derail a man so purpose driven that he soloed through the last of her defenses. Oh well, I’ve witnessed worse happen in shows that turn out to be pretty great, so I’ll keep watching.

Okay, that wasn’t so bad. Now I have a full-length, somewhat interesting show to watch. How about some junk food to go with it?

Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru
This one wasn’t on my radar, but Crunchy picked it up and I tend to give every new [non-sequel] show on Crunchy a try. I’m glad I did. It’s a harem romance comedy based on a light novel, so expectations are appropriately low. So far it’s surprised me in two ways: 1) I like the setup and 2) the lead actually cares about his childhood friend. What are the odds that we’d have two shows where the childhood friend isn’t completely forgotten in the same season? The episode actually closes with concern for the childhood friend’s feelings. This is uncharted territory in harem anime. As for the setup, it’s interesting thus far. The lead is kinda trapped in this situation. I’d tell you more, but if you don’t know I’d hate to spoil it. I hope this continues to throw interesting elements into the harem framework, because I’ll be watching.

I love it when a show executes well within a framework. Like a glutton, I sought more junk.

THE UNLIMITED – Hyoubu Kyousuke
Each season has a show that is reasonably entertaining, has terrible artistic choices, and at some point in the season turns into a hot mess that causes half of the begrudging viewership to give up. That’s this show. I always watch those and this is no different.

Some low hanging fruit, but fruit none the less. This is about the time I realized how busy my viewing schedule would be. Yet I have more shows to check out.

I’m not quite sure what to make of this one. This is the type of shoujo show where the men are absolutely fawning all over the lead from the very start. As is typical, they all patronize constantly her throughout the show. This is excused because she’s got amnesia. Creative. Speaking of creativity, the art in this show is… different. I’m not sure how anyone is supposed to fall for one of those bishonen when their eyes are composed of odd geometric pastels.

I added this to my queue because by this point I was committed to watch everything I didn’t hate.

Love Live! School Idol Project
I watched this because Scamp said it was wasn’t bad. Then at the end of the show the girl who was falling on her ass while practicing dancing on gravel suddenly bursts into an impeccably choreographed dancing and singing sequence with her two begrudging friends. Three things struck me about this sequence: 1) I know it’s the first show’s ED, but it flowed straight from the episode so it should have some continuity. Her friends, of whom at least one had never thought of being an idol before, are suddenly perfectly in sync with her. 2) She dances IN TRAFFIC. This girl could keep from faceplanting in gravel but she deftly plays chicken while dancing. 3) This sequence is blatant CG, and it seems to me that the most time was spent on getting the skirt movements correct. That doesn’t bode well. BUT… the rest of the show was alright so I’ll watch at least three episodes.

I’m still baffled by that show. More baffling is the cross section of people who liked it. Given what I saw I can’t figure out how it appeals to them.

Tamako Market
K-On meets Nichijou. YES.

That one hit all the right buttons. I know it may sound plebeian but KyoAni seems to nail it for me every time. Makes me regret skipping Hyouka.

So wonderfully Shaft. Yet, so terribly incest filled. I was excited about the artwork, and thought it was interesting how the brothers face was never shown. They just kept laying on the siscon thing. Then… then they laid on the brocon. She’s a tsundere brocon and he’s a full-on siscon. I’m not sure if I can take that for an entire season. Still, it’s Shaft, so I’ll keep watching for now.

Looking back at this I’m really unsure I can stomach much more of it. I liked the execution but I think I’ve forced myself to watch enough incestuous anime. More on that in a bit.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT
I don’t know why I like Meat so much, but I do. Maybe its the way the show crafts her as being so fabulous – rich, beautiful, popular, booksmart – yet such a dimwit loser. The characters are slightly different so far this season. Yozora seems more interested in picking on Meat for Meat’s sake, rather than this being an act of jealousy. Meat is now completely infatuated with Yozora. Kodaka used to attempt to interject when things got out of hand, but now he’s too much of a wuss. I’m fine with the Yozora x Meat shipping, but the new Kodaka sucks.

This rounds out the section I was pretty sure about. Two shows from studios I trust and a second season of a show I enjoyed. Nothing too brilliant, especially from the latter two, but I knew going in that I’d watch at least the first few episodes of these. Time for something new.

I hated pretty much everyone in this show. I didn’t care much for the first half of the episode. Yet, when the show took a lighthearted turn I thought it was pretty good. The writers seem to have a good feel for mixing drama with humor, with shifts in mood and tone coming at appropriate times. I also liked the cheap animation and slightly derpy character designs that make me nostalgic for anime from a decade or so ago. Guess I’ll see where this is going.

Looking back on Kotoura-San I feel a little better about the show. Certainly it’s worth a few episodes. Now it’s time for some Classy shows.

Mondai-Ji-tachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru sou Desu yo?
Problem Children has a bunny girl and two lolis. I thought it would be Classier than it turned out to be. Instead it might be interesting. I won’t get my hopes up.

So that show didn’t sate my thirst for Class. I moved on to one I knew would be the Classiest of the season.

Senran Kagura
Meh. It’s pretty bad when you’re left thinking just how much better Hyakka Ryouran: Samurai Girls was than this show. One thing I found interesting here is that normally the large breasted action anime have a distinctive look for character design. Here the characters look par for the course, but the faces are straight from a generic moeblob show. Thus, I have nicknamed the show Moeblob Ninja Tits. Likely the Classy show of the season.

Finally some class this season. I could see the ending! Just one more new show to check out.

Vividred Operation
I’m not sure which way to interpret this show. See, it’s basically a third season of Strike Witches. The main difference that I can see so far is that there are more girls wearing pants and skirts in this show. However, the girls who don’t wear pants seem to not wear pants for no reason whatsoever. At least in Strike Witches you could ostensibly tell yourself that the pants would get in the way of wearing magical airplane motors on their legs and growing fuzzy animal tails. In this show you have to assume that these girls just innocently like the feeling of fresh air on their prepubescent thighs. I’m going to test my endurance by watching another episode.

Finally done!

I have so many shows in my queue it will soon be impossible for me to keep up.  While writing this post I actually watched the second or third episode of a couple of the shorts and already dropped them. Still, if I were to watch all of these shows plus the three that I am continuing from last season, my weekly queue would be 17 shows deep. Something’s got to give.

This is another huge season that is marred by mediocrity. I’ve heard a lot of grumbling that there’s nothing good this season. While I think that’s quite untrue, I will grant those of such an opinion some leeway. I think that everyone who likes anime will find something worth watching this season, even if few will find a favorite.

We shall see. I will try to follow up after a few weeks with further impressions and watch statuses. Until then, I wish you the best of luck finding a show to love this season.

10 responses

  1. Yeah, the season seems mostly “blah”, with a little “meh” to spice things up. But it’s not a dessert. Tamako Market looks to be the lone possible juggernaut from this season. I’ve chosen to run with OreShura and Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, which makes me nervous because both could turn into terribly boring, or pretty bad anime. I don’t think there are high chances that we have a new Spice & Wolf or Toradora! on our hands.

    2013/01/23 at 00:29

  2. redball

    Ideally we’ll end up with an Oreshure and a Maoyuu on our hands. Certainly that’s the case for Maoyuu, but Oreshura has a lot of work to separate itself enough to become memorable. The big problem I see for Maoyuu is that it’s not making me care at all about the characters. Spice & Wolf had some parts that dragged on, but the characters would pull it through that. My fear is that Maoyuu won’t be tolerable if it hits a slow spot like that, especially if the Maid isn’t around.

    2013/01/23 at 05:27

  3. I like how each season there are new and original shows.I also like how people who write about the seasons tend to be original,funny and interesting.Good job there Redball!Yet another quality post of yours,which I was able to deeply enjoy.Look forward too seen and reading more posts by you.

    2013/01/25 at 01:48

  4. redball

    Thanks. I look forward to more comments by you, Flare.

    2013/01/25 at 14:43

  5. Mr. Mister Manly Mann

    Ohhh you skipped Hyouka? You should get on that; it was pretty fun. I didn’t even realize that Hyouka was KyoAni. Considering it seems I have really liked just about everything I have seen KyoAni do (and Nichijou was the best thing ever) I should probably watch K-on and others sometime in the near future. :)

    2013/01/26 at 00:29

  6. redball

    Hyouka didn’t catch my attention much in the previews. I decided to skip it, which was reinforced by complaints I heard about it after a few episodes. Then people started raving about the show, but I was already too far behind so I decided to wait and watch it after it finishes. I’ll probably get to it this summer.

    I don’t want to be a KyoAni fanboy, but it doesn’t seem that I have a choice.

    2013/01/26 at 03:29

  7. Mr. Mister Manly Mann Manning

    I can kind of agree on the “don’t want to be like a fanboy” aspect, but if they make quality stuff, they make quality stuff. I’ve just been noticing a trend where I keep finding out that some of my favourite shows of the season will often tend to include a KyoAni in there. :)

    And of course, Nichijou was perhaps one of the best things I have ever seen.

    2013/01/26 at 22:32

  8. I loved the first season, and it’s great to see that they decided to bring Yozora, Sena, and the rest of the cast back for more. There also seems to be new characters like Sister Kate and some of the side characters are getting more screen time. The animation seems to have improved from last season and I hope it stays that way.

    2013/01/30 at 22:12

  9. Pingback: C’est la vie « O-New

  10. redball

    The budget is definitely there for Haganai. I think the humor has been hit or miss this season, though I guess you could make that argument about the last one. I think that they’re setting up the love triangle much better as of the latest episode [3]. I hope they run with that because I’d like to see the show go somewhere, even if it’s not very far.

    2013/01/31 at 05:57