First Impressions Spring 2015

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So much anime, so little time. Let’s get on with this already.

Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?

In a world where goddesses have taken human form, and adventurers travel vast dungeons, battling monsters for fame and fortune, we meet Bell who is only a novice adventurer. Yet he hopes to one day be a great adventurer and maybe impress the woman who once saved him from a monster attack. There’s more than a couple of girls with their eye on Bell though. Let the harem nonsense begin!

I think this anime has some potential. I like Bell and his desire to be stronger and better himself. He’s a good guy, a touch oblivious, but that’s par for the course with harem shows. The world is interesting, even if a touch familiar when compared with other fantasy shows. I hope it can distinguish itself a bit more, outside of the gods and goddesses walking around. They animation is pretty good too. My only real concern is that I can see this anime easily being overcome by fanservice and harem stuff. I hope it does manage to find a balance between that stuff, while also giving attention to its characters and action. A part of me doubts it will though, still, I live to be surprised.

Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma

Soma has worked in the kitchen since he could hold a knife, and longs to surpass his father as a chef. One day though, Soma’s father closes down the family restaurant so that he can travel the world. Soma finds himself enrolled in an elite culinary school, where the best of the best are trained. Only the top 1% survive the full three years here, and those that do are hailed as cooking gods. Can Soma cut it?

I never knew that cooking could be so dramatic. Now I’m not a chef, nor do I have any real interest in being one, yet still this anime has me hooked. It’s exciting, it’s funny, and it’s mouth-wateringly gorgeous. I only really have two complaints so far. Number one is that Soma is just a little too much the genius child at the minute. He’s too good and I understand that they need to set up his potential, but I hope that he starts to stumble in later episodes. If he just wins at everything this’ll just get boring. The other complaint I have is the fanservice (or should it be called foodservice in this show?) After three episodes it’s verging on softcore porn at times, and I really really really hope they tone it over the next couple of episodes.

Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works

Yay! Fate/stay night is back! The battle for the Holy Grail continues. With Saber now Caster’s captive, Shirou and Rin are put in a dire situation. As the 5th Holy Grail War draws to a close the battles will intensify and masters will fall. But in the end, who will claim that mystical wish-granting artefact?

Unlimited Blade Works is still as gorgeous and epic as ever. It did stumble in its first episode back as the break robbed it of its dramatic punch. The anime is quickly gathering back its steam though. I like how the Rin and Shirou relationship is developing at a natural pace. I also appreciate a bit more back story for some of the supporting cast. My only complaint is that I don’t like how Saber has become a damsel in distress for the moment. I especially don’t like that dress she’s been forced into, or the pose she had to stand in back in episode one. Saber is one of my favourite characters, and it’s so demeaning to have her reduced to fanservice like that. Hopefully she’ll be freed soon enough and get back into action.

Plastic Memories

In the future personal robots, Giftia, have been developed with souls of their own. Unfortunately these Giftia only last for a few years before they have to be shut down. Tsukasa has just started a job in the department that retrieves Giftia for their shut down. It’s not a pleasant job, breaking up the owners from beloved partners. Matters are made worse when Tsukasa is partnered with a female Giftia who is incredibly clumsy and who’s only talent appears to be making tea.

Honestly I don’t think this is that original an anime, or premise. The characters, for now at least, are mostly just your typical stereotype with only slight variations. That doesn’t mean they’re bad or anything, I do like them, I just hope there’s a bit more to them as we go further down the line. Where is anime really shines is when it comes to its emotions. This is an anime designed to make you cry (and laugh a little too). I have no doubt that the ending is going to break my heart, we’ll just have to see if the journey to get there is any good.

Sound! Euphonium

Kumiko has just started her first year of high school, and her friends manage to convince to join the school’s brass band club. The only real problem is the band kind of sucks. Whether it’s lazy students, or a lack of direction from their hands-off teacher, things don’t bode well for the club. Yet I’m sure trials shall be overcome, and friendships forged (that’s how all these anime turn out in the end right?)

I’m not a music buff, but I do love a big band so I was willing to give this anime a shot. After the first two episodes though, I was going to pass off this anime as something nice, but also very typical. I don’t watch many anime about school clubs or bands, but that’s mostly because I’ve seen most of the plots before in other shows. Episode 3 made me change my mind a bit, or to be more accurate, the ending did. You feel the frustration and the pain of the character as she plays, and the scream afterwards felt very true. Honestly I wasn’t that into the character up until that point, but after that scene I think she might be my favourite now. If the show can get more moments like that, and get me caught up in the character’s emotions, then I think this could be a very good show. Also so far it’s been pretty informative about the different instruments and how to go about playing them, so that’s a bonus.

Wish Upon the Pleiades

What’s the story? Um…well…err… there’s some magical girls. They ride broom sticks that make the noise of a car engine when revving up. Honestly, that’s all I’ve got.

Mysteries are all well and good in a series, but I could do with a little context here to ground me. At the moment this show is just a bunch of random bits floating around that I have no idea how they piece together, or what they’ll eventually make. There’s talk of different realities and possible potential. The girls are meant to go around collecting engine fragments, but we have yet to see the ship they belong to, or learn why any of this is happening. There’s also a confusing back story between two of the girl who both think it was the other one to leave them, which makes no sense. Don’t get me wrong this isn’t a horrible show. It’s bright and colourful and perfectly fine in its own way, but with so many other shows demanding my attention I might just let this one slip away. I just don’t have the time to sit through it and untangle this mess of a plot.

ETOTAMA

Takeru moves into his new place to find a hole in the floor that leads to the world of Gods and spirits (just roll with it this gets weirder, trust me). Out of said hole pops Nya-tan, a girl representing the cat clan. Nya-tan is determined to become a part of the Chinese zodiac, seeing as how the cat didn’t manage get in 2000 years ago. In order to achieve her goal though she must battle the 12 zodiacs, including the mysterious, and lethal, Chu-tan (Rat) who appears to have a very personal hatred for Nya-tan and the cat clan, though no one knows why. Insanity ensues.

Honestly this is how I like my anime comedies, fast, wild and completely off their nut. The comedy is perfectly paced, knowing just when to let you rest, and just when to hit you with an onslaught of jokes. It also manages to weave in a hint of drama, which I appreciate. The fights are cute and colourful, but that in no way lessens the impact of the action. The fight in episode 3 is particularly brutal. I enjoyed episode 3, but I can see some people being put off by it. For the latter half of the episode all of the comedy evaporates and things take a very dark turn. I was expecting something like this to happen, but not until the last couple of episodes. For me though it works for the story, it raises the stakes and furthers the mystery, even if the ending is a touch too sad for my tastes. On a last note, can we have an ambulance for the poor fourth wall? This series keeps smashing it to pieces.

Punch Line

What’s the story? Which one do you mean? The magical adventures of a young super-heroine who’s chief weapon is a giant straw? The slice-of-life comedy featuring four girls and a bear? Ghost boy’s pervy panty peepshow? That’s without even mentioning the terrorist organisation and its missing leader, the asteroid headed directly for Earth, the ghost cat and whatever’s possessed our lead guy’s body. Weird doesn’t cover it.

Honestly this show is a mess. I like the individual characters, though the comedy can be hit or miss (I found the joke about Strange Juice’s transformation sequence, and the difference between what’s in her head and reality, to be hilarious. However the joke about a couple of the girls mishearing a conversation and thinking one of the other’s to be pregnant was tired and boring). At the minute there are too many plots, and just too much craziness, which is stopping me from investing in anything. There is a hint of this all being part of a bigger puzzle, but right now the pieces are too scattered and the picture too big for me to work it out.

Also, the fanservice in this series is horrendous. It makes Kill la Kill look like a prude (so anyone who knows that anime should know how bad this series is).

Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday.

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