Hello there, fellow denizens of the intertubes, and welcome to the first Project Haruhi-housed installment of Aquagaze’s Anime Weekend! This column started of as a personal weekly blog of mine published on Japanator, where I’d talk about that week’s currently airing anime. Gradually, the blogs became bigger and more ambitious, quickly developing from mere summaries and moving into the inexplicable territory of ‘A bunch of random stuff related to currently airing anime’: videos, parodies, songs, original write-ups, short fan-fics, etc. In its one year of existence, AAW has seen it all, and I am glad I have been given the opportunity to shamelessly copypasta whatever my mind farts out onto here.
The spring season started off last week and despite the rather odd schedule, I’ve seen a lot of great stuff already. No wonder I can’t wait until we get to see the shows that have yet to air.
Anyways, A Channel has been scrapped of the list for today already – if you want my first impressions on that, go straight here – and that leaves us with the charming slice-of-life of Hanasaku Iroha, the mind-screwy sci-fi of Steins;Gate and the colorful comedy of Nichijou. More after the break!
The show which most easily has grabbed me by the collar is Hanasaku Iroha, with its perfect blend of light-hearted comedy and drama, jaw-dropping scenery and adorable protagonist. In fact, Ohana is such a beautiful protagonist, I couldn’t help but infiltrate in the inn, sneak into her room and take a peek at her diary to see what her thoughts on all of this are. D-don’t think anything weird or something… It’s all for the sake of anime blogging! And science. You monster.
Speaking of which, you now are totally right if you make fun of me for trying to explain just what the hell is going on in Steins;Gate. Rintaro Okabe (voiced by Mamoru Miyano, who somehow managed to learn how to be subtle) is an amateur ‘mad scientist’ who claims ‘the Agency’ is after him and his inventions. Cosplay costume designer and Oopa collector Shiina Mayuri (voiced by the angelic hive mind that goes by the earthly name of Kana Hanazawa), is his childhood friend and potential love interest who accomapies him to a seminar on time travel.
Itasu Hashida (voiced by Tomokazu Seki) is their friend, a programmer otaku who likes to invent things such as a cell-phone controlled microwave. Seminar attendant Makise Kurisu (voiced by noble nobody Asami Imai) is dead.
When Okabe discovers the body of the woman who claimed to have seen him before, he sends a text message to Hashida, yet as soon as he presses the ‘send’ button, everyone in the city disappears, except for Mayuri and him. A strange satellite has crashed into the university where the seminar was held.
Later that day, Rintaro Okabe is a man who claims to have attended a seminar that never happened. Shiina Mayuri is an Oopa collector who lost a very rare Metal Oopa. Itasu Hashida is a programmer otaku who tells Okabe that he received the text he claims to have sent when Kurisu got killed last week, instead of a few hours ago. Makise Kurisu is still alive.
While the plot was mostly ‘absorb as much information as you can and for the love of science, don’t ask any questions’. The witty writing and loveable cast made well up for it. Mayuri brings some cute relief to the generally ‘serious’ story, but Okabe stand out most of all, constantly walking the thin line between pimping badass and overacting clown.
The only gripe I have up to now is the excessive use of the grey filter. Either Steins;Gate’s version of Akihabara is suffering from serious smog – so serious it goes inside buildings- or some idiot animator at White Fox, known for the very colorful Katanagatari, thought this was a good idea to cover up the virtually nonexistent backgrounds. Hanasaku Iroha, this is not, but at least the plot is more than interesting enough to keep me watching.
This week on Nichijou: High-speed chase scenes! Parkour! Explosions! Heavy weaponry! Video game consoles from the 1980’s! Malay! Yaoi! Lucha Libre masks! Roll cakes! Sharks! NES passwords! Crayons! Head pastries! Rock paper scissors! Dirty pictures! Squirrel heads! Epic Ribbons! Milky moustaches! Giggling Keima! Tsunderes! Useless teachers! Spiral energy! Chakra gates! Mohawks! And more!
Nichijou’s second episode followed nicely in the footsteps of the first one, focusing a lot of its comedy into the frequently changing artwork and direction. It sure was nice to see some video game consoles of yore such as the Virtual Boy showing up, but some jokes felt enormously stretched, such as the chase scene for the notebook. Nichijou is definitely at its best when it does short absurd jokes, such as the one with the reaper last week, or the rope-skipping slapstick.
Of all the shows of the spring season, not a single one has left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Like they always say, the best is yet to come. I’m curious whether any of the upcoming shows I want to watch will be able to top Hanasaku Iroha, but even if that is not the case, Shaft still owes us 2 awe-inspiring episodes of Puella Magi Madoka Magica.
I’m all out of anime, but it’s not time to wrap up just yet. Since the maginificent Jon won’t let me publish this here without adding his own blurb, I guess I’ll hand him the proverbial mic for a few words about a personal favourite of his: Battle Girls.
“Magnificent,” eh? My dear Joris, flattery will get you everywhere.
Battle Girls is my guilty pleasure show of the season, and I’ve put a lot of effort into singing it’s praises. With the near-universal negative reception it’s received from the rest of the critical community, I don’t think people are giving it a fair chance. It may not be the best show out there, but it does tell a solid and enjoyable story with strong female characters and plenty of cleavage. What more can you ask for?
The second episode starts off with Hideyoshi coming to the brutal realization that she is indeed trapped in a genderswapped version of Sengoku-era Japan. She manages to quickly adapt, and soon proves her worth to Nobunaga by raising a group of downtrodden villager’s spirits with her cheerful personality. Mitsuhide takes exception to this, however, and tries to embarrass Hideyoshi in a martial contest of skill. Naturally, Hideyoshi clumsily botches things like archery and knife-throwing, only to demonstrate proficiency at fighting with a polearm gained by watching kung-fu shows on television. Impressed, Nobunaga makes Hideyoshi a retainer and orders Mitsuhide to train her in the art of war.
Aside from a few instances of awkwardly-worded dialogue, this episode was solid. It’s nice to see Hideyoshi playing to her strengths, even if she does still indulge in quite a bit of slapstick. She demonstrates her usefulness very effectively, and even displays a moderate degree of genre savviness. In my opinion, her down-to-earth approach to life and willingness to get her hands dirty really helps to round out her character and make her an likable protagonist. However, like I said earlier, your mileage may vary.
Everything else in this episode was similarly well-executed, aside from the one or two bits of awkward dialogue I mentioned earlier. With the killer combination of a solid story and Oda Nobunaga’s massive boobs, Battle Girls is shaping up to be a definite winner.