Project Haruhi
12Jul/1110

Aquagaze’s Summer Anime Guide, Part Two

Why random Mawaru Penguidrum art? Do I hear anyone complaining? No. Good.

The Summer Guide turned out a bit long, so I had to split the thing up in two parts. Here's Part Two, where the fun really starts! We cover the two new noitaminA shows, Kami-sama No Memo-chou and Mawaru Penguindrum. As usual, since my opinion isn't worth all that much, I get four more people to nuance it a bit.

Are you ready guys? Put your guns on!

Kuroneko called. She wants her outfit back

Kami-sama no Memochou/God’s Memo Pad

J.C. Staff

Cast: Yui Ogura, Yoshitsugu Matsuoka, Ai Kayano (Menma in AhoHana)

Notable staff: Taku Iwasaki, composer of Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann (music), Mel Kishida, original character designer of Hanasaku Iroha and So-Ra-No-Wo-To (original character design)

Summary

NEET detective Alice solves mysteries with the help of her personal investigation team of fellow NEETs, including average everyman Narumi.

Story

From the vivid city landscapes to the mild-mannered protagonist who gets thrown into an underground ring full of weirdos, to the jazzy soundtrack, Durarara!! is never far away during the first half. From the moment Alice, the already infamous NEET detective, shows up, Kami-sama No Memo-chou brings more original material to the scene than most other J.C. Staff shows have ever done. The production company is rather well known for anime about mild-mannered spineless males meeting supposedly adorable females with special talents, and while KamiMemo fits this description to a T, it miraculously and quickly saves its own butt with clever dialogue, an engaging plot and dark subject matter.

Visuals

Pretty decent, as usual with J.C. Staff. Let’s just hope that the budget can keep up, as is not always the case with the studio. The lighting fits the darker mood of the show well, and character designs are fairly solid, yet somewhat forgettable. I won’t, however, forget the guts that this show had to feature two girls with long black hair and still make it possible to tell apart from each other.

Sound 

Taku Iwasaki’s soundtrack kicks all kinds of butt, with bumbling jazz bands, mumbling rap vocals and three buckets of indie cred. The debuts of Yui Ogura (Alice) and Yoshitsugu Matsukoa (Narumi) do not exactly cause a landslide within the world of voice acting, but they get the job done.

Mysteries

There was not much of a mystery going on this first episode, but taking a full hour in order to properly introduce the characters and what the show is all about was a smart move. Too bad not all episodes can be 60 minutes long.

Watch if: You miss Durarara!! or want to give Gosick a second chance, this time (hopefully) without the asspulls.

Don’t watch if: You think a NEET is an animal.

Obligatory.

Second opinion

Lifesong: J.C. Staff hit this one out of the park. Easily my favorite so far going into this new season. NEET detectives sounds like it should be contradictory just hearing the concept but it really worked for me in execution. Think Gosick in modern day Japan and you have the basic idea only with a debut mystery that was actually interesting. I am a little worried as I always am with J.C. Staff that this anime will take a turn for the contrived and convoluted but I loved this introduction and can't wait for the next episode.

Marlin Clock: The initial comparisons of Gosick with NEETs is not without warrant, but after this first episode I think Memo has a lot of potential in it. I think it can outclass Gosick and write a detective mystery narrative that is sorely absent in anime outside the legendary Detective Conan. It is funny to think how, since it seems they are actually hired for these jobs, they have no right to call themselves NEETs, but they certainly have the quirks stereotypical of the culture. My one complaint was, while the other NEETs seem believable, if exaggerated, Alice is far too extraordinary. I suppose that works as she’s supposed to be very mysterious, but the arrangements of her room are just very strange. I did like that they gave subtle hints about what the boyfriend knew in the scene in his house. It seems like they’re going for a lot of realism, seedy institutions like prostitution, people driven over the edge of reason by grief or the heavy expectations one can become subject to in our modern life. I can’t wait for more.

Knit sweaters. They are friggin' everywhere.

No.6

Bones

Cast: Yuuki Kaiji (Kou in Hanasaku Iroha), Yoshimasa Hosoya (Shichika in Katanagatari)

Notable Staff: Derp.

Summary

Shion is an honour student living in the utopian city No.6, in the nearby future. After celebrating his birthday with his girl friend Sayu, who aspires to fuse these two words together, Shion gets attacked in his house by fugitive Nezumi. The latter explains why he is on the run, and Shion vows to protect him, even if that means breaking the law himself.

Story

First and formost, this show is filled to the brim with ho yay. Let’s just forget about the beautifully developed characters, the interesting setting and the air of mystery, because no; Nezumi and Shion holding hands is the talk of the town whenever No.6 is mentioned. Really, people? This barely even classifies as ho yay, in my humble opinion. And even if Shion and Nezumi end up with each other, what’s the big deal? No one would complain if they were girls, and I’ve seen worse developed romances. So please, there’s a lot more to this show than just two kids holding hands.

Visuals

It’s Bones, so it’s pretty and beautifully animated. The city of No.6 consists mostly of greys and whites, yet the architecture is so marvellous that you wonder why we even need colour in the first place.

Sound

There was music; I just don’t know what it sounds like.

Sweaters

All over the place. Seriously. What is with all these knit sweaters? It’s 2013; why does everyone dress like it’s 1986?

This anime gets the 'Sena Akagi Seal of Approval'.

Second Opinion

Lifesong: Prettiest animation of the season. The entire episode was full of simple but beautifully animated scenes. The one scene where our protagonist is sitting in his classroom imagining the wind outside blowing all around him to a thunderstorm made me feel chilly just watching it. Maybe I should have been scared off when our main character gets a kiss from his childhood friend as his birthday gift and asks her "why?", only to later hold hands with an escaped convict in an incredibly homosexual fashion, but it all looked so wonderful! I am currently weighing my tolerance versus my love for amazing animation. At the moment the animation is winning out. That could change at any moment but as of episode one my expectations for No.6 are fairly high.

Dragonzigg: It's no secret that I am a massive whore for anything BONES produces, so I was really looking forward to this. As ever for the studio, half the appeal is in the art and design, which is fantastic and really makes the show stand out. The animation is clear, crisp and fantastically detailed, best seen in the great storm scene, which dominates this episode. The plot I'm less sure about, but it's intriguing to say the least. We're definitely in danger of falling into the 'seemingly perfect future dystopia' cliché trap here, but there's some interesting twists on the formula here. It's buoyed by a similarly interesting cast - protagonist Shion is an engaging if remarkably naive twist on the child hero, and while counterpart Nezumi settles a little more into a recognisable archetype, there's interesting hinting that he too is not all he appears, something which seems to be confirmed by the fantastically spoilery ED. If No. 6 manages to whip together a strong plot to go with the technical and aesthetic chops it could be a real force.

Marlin Clock: I really have no idea what to make of this show right now. It definitely has the homo vibes everyone was talking about. We’ll see what happens.

The Melancholy Of Rin The Nameless

Bunny Drop

Production I.G.

Cast: Ayu Matsuura, Hiroshi Tsuchida

Notable Staff: Herp derp.

Summary

When Daikichi, a 30-year old bachelor, attends the funeral of his grandfather, he meets a girl he has never seen before. The girl, apparently named Rin, turns out to be his late grandpa’s illegitimate child. As the girl has no one left to take care of her, Daikichi decides to take her in himself.

Story

Why are you still reading this? You mean you haven’t watched this yet?

Visuals

Beautiful watercolour art in vein of Horou Musuko and Aoi Hana. Some backgrounds could fit in a museum.

Sound

They got an actual kid to voice Rin. The OP sequence deserves some mention, with cute animation and a song by Puffy of all people.

Watch if: You love things that are good

Don’t watch if: You expect anime with kids in it to have blatant loli fanservice.

D'awww... Who doesn't want to adopt her?

Second Opinion

Lifesong: Honestly I wasn't sure what to expect going in with Bunny Drop. I've heard good things about the manga but still had doubts that this would make a good anime. After watching the first episode I can't really say that I've changed my mind yet. However, the first episode was cute and I did enjoy it. I am little worried about the pace though. I could easily see this becoming boring and dragging on without resolution. Hopefully some of my fears will be put aside in episode two as we settle into what this show is really about: a single man raising a little girl on his own.

Dragonzigg: I have to say, I loved loved LOVED this. It's been a while since a show has come along which has impressed me with it's first episode, but Bunny Drop does that and more. It's a production which oozes quality from every aspect - the wonderful art style, the terrific music and the finely measured and nuanced voice acting. It's a well crafted script as well - emotional but never to the point of outright sappiness, sometimes funny but laced with plenty of deeper meaning as well. Granted, this concept is going to be a difficult one to turn into a weekly episodic format, but on the strength of this first instalment I'm very eager for more.

Irothtin: For the supposedly most heart-warming show this season, we have a 30-year-old (who is thankfully named neither Hikaru nor Genji) taking care of a six-year-old. Some might say this gives off Yotsuba&!-ish vibes, but Bunny Drop is much more serious. Given her circumstances, you can't help but feel sorry for Rin - when Daikichi volunteers to take responsibility, it's only because you can't magically reach into the show and volunteer to do it yourself.

All in all, it was probably one of the best first episodes I've seen in a while. I assume that we'll see what raising a child might really be like, instead of amusing antics and such, though I imagine there will be some of that as well. I just wish they would have kept the pastel, watercolor-like animation for the entire show instead of for just the first five minutes.

Marlin Clock: I think the principal thing to take away from Bunny Drop was this: if it doesn’t concern you, should you concern yourself with it? It may be just because I hear it a lot, but the beginning of Bunny Dropreminds me a lot of the Good Samaritan. These people believe themselves good, but they know nothing of this girl. The family does not want to have to deal with taking care of her. She isn’t their problem. However, the main character sees more, that she is a girl who just lost her father and now has no one to turn to. If his family won’t do anything, he will. I haven’t heard much about this story, but just from this first episode I’m anticipating great things.

No comment.

Mawaru Penguindrum

Brain’s Base

Cast: Ryohei Kimura (Takizawa in Eden Of The East), Miho Arakawa

Notable Staff: Kunihiko Ikuhara, director, writer and creator of Revolutionary Girl Utena (director, script)

Summary: Any attempt to summarize this would be a crime. The plot of this first episode was so tight and surreal that you’d be better off just watching it. Mawaru Penguindrum is really something that you need to experience for yourself.

Visuals: An explosion of colours onto the screen, psychedelic and fun, with FABULOUS character designs, artistic quirks and the cutest penguins you’ll ever see. Mumble, eat your heart out.

Sound: A debuting Miho Arakawa does a great job on Himari and the soundtrack first the wacky mood of the show well.

Watch if: No, just watch it.

Don’t watch if: Are you deaf? Watch it!

Survival Strategy!

Second Opinion

Dragonzigg: I went into this showing knowing nothing about it, and therefore expecting a wacky, penguin themed comedy. A little research however would have revealed it's being directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara, who also directed the seminal and famously screwy Revolutionary Girl Utena. And boy, does it show. Conceptually, this thing is all over the place, swinging with wild abandon from slice-of-life to serious drama to crazed comedy and even branching out into some magical girl stuff. At the heart of it all there's a very touching relationship between the three siblings who make up the main cast, but then there's so much crazy poured on top the mood whiplashes violently throughout the whole episode, which is probably the point. I can't really say if it's good or bad yet to be honest, but it's certainly compelling viewing, and everybody should see it at least once. It helps that Brain's Base have given it such lush visuals, especially in the episode ending kaleidoscopic dream sequence which is just an utter joy to behold. We don't have enough true auteurs in anime, so this one is worth keeping an eye on.

Irothin: ??????????????????

Marlin Clock: I really wish I knew nothing about this show before watching it. The beginning, about a poor group of siblings who lose their sister to cancer when she had so much left to live for, was incredibly gripping, and the scene where she collapses and is brought to the hospital only to die in the operating room was very emotional. If the show had rather been about how the brothers go on with their lives after losing their beloved sister, I think it would be a fantastic premise. However, since a show from the man that made Utena can’t be without incredible strangeness, the sister is brought back to life by some sort of penguin spirit. Not to say this is a bad thing, but it just seems to take all the impact out of that scene to just have her so casually brought back to life. However, I did like the magic penguins and the Technicolor nightmare when she steals the brother’s soul or something was pretty. I’m definitely going to stick with it to see where it goes.

That wraps things up for this summer season guide. What shows will you be watching? Do you agree, or are we terribly wrong? Let us know in the comment section!

Also, with exams over and a new season started, Aquagaze’s Anime Weekend will return, only a bit different.

Look forward to it!

About Joris

Joris (aka Aquagaze) is a college student from the distant world of Europa. He likes indie music, JRPGs and anime. ‘The crazier, the better’ applies to all of his interests, including himself.

  • ::chases tails:: Arf! Arf!

  • Jon

    I’m gonna copypasta what Scamp wrote about No.6 here.

    “But, more importantly, even if they did become An Item, even if this show was yaoi, why does it mat­ter? The scene wasn’t played for fanservice. It’s not like Sekai Ichi where they linger on shots of them kissing for added squee value, crowbarring in the romance. The two boys’ relationship in No.6 is believable and worked well into the story. Are you so unsure of your masculinity, so steeped in pandering culture, that you can’t watch a relationship between two men without fleeing because they might have strong feelings for each other? Is male anime fandom so homophobic that we have to maintain constant vigilance in case you have to bail because two men looked at each other in the
    eyes for a bit longer than you are comfortable with? Why does it matter? If the show can still tell a good story using their relationship, why can’t we just appreciate that? Seriously men, get over yourselves.”

    And my response.

    “*slow clap*

    That last para­graph brought a tear to my eye. I was raging so hard when I saw the homo­phobic com­ments
    over on Ran­dom Curiosity.

    And you know what? Even if this show has expli­cit yaoi, I’ll still watch it. I’ve long argued that fanser­vice need not ruin a good story. Well, girls are entitled to fanser­vice just as much as us guys. Whether that’s Matt Smith tak­ing off his shirt for no good reason or two effem­in­ate anime boys fond­ling one another, I don’t care. I’ll
    watch it all the same.

    Sex exists. Homo­sexu­al­ity exists. Otaku need to stop behav­ing like knee­jerk grade school­ers who mock and cringe at
    the slight­est men­tion of sex, and instead treat these sub­jects in a sens­ible, mature fashion.”

    • I haven’t seen that show, yet, so I probably shouldn’t even comment, but I think anime series by and large has people trained that way with the gratuitous fanservice. Maybe it’s not so much of people thinking “oooh, blokes kissing blokes! Woo woo!” and more to do with how the show presents it? I know, still, “why make a fuss?”, but I think it still plays a factor when it all comes together.

      I remember a couple years back, a series that handled it wonderfully, I thought, was Sasameki Koto. A young girl who was interested in other girls. It wasn’t played off with fanservice and it took itself seriously enough to be straightforward, yet, lighthearted enough to be enjoyed. I’m kind of… surprised this hasn’t been set more as an example in this regard – for viewers and the people who write anime series. I think males in this generation are still going to have the masculinity pendulum hanging over their head. Even I get caught up in it. It’s something I will probably never shake off completely, try as I might. The next generation will handle it much better.

      I think I also mentioned this is a question and you mentioned it in the “deconstruction” of K-ON! doujin, but yeah, the sex does kind of get the shaft when there is a good story lingering about. Pretty Neighbor, a Yotsuba&! doujin, had a great gripe of the characters and laid the sex in casually and believable enough for fans to maybe buy into it.
      If I were a competent director I would LOVE to direct some of these doujin series because 1.) they would put TMA out of business and 2.) the stories are absolutely crazy fun and entertaining, maybe even original if not very creative, yet, not the same campy level of the typical “hello, ‘mam, I’m the pizza/pool/mail/accountant/milk/fire/police/grandpa/space/cowboy/etc.-man”.

      Sex sells, but sometimes it doesn’t, it seems. :/

  • Anonymous

    SEIZON SENYAAKKUUUUU.
    Seconded with a passion, PenguinDrum needs much more love. Even if that love goes against a man’s DNA, his fate, his survival strateg-

    . . .
    I’ve obviously lost the point here, but seriously. PENGUINDRUM. WATCH IT YOU CRAZIES!

    (Staff Credits: Herpaderp. :3)

    • Jon

      It’s like Utena, only not!

      Or is it?

  • Anonymous

    Okay, I’m going to just respond to how your thoughts made me feel? Yeah. Hey Ryan, start with part two then work backwards. Yesssssss.

    God’s Memo Pad –
    Ahhhhhh seeing as how I’ve never seen Durarara and Gosick, a lot of these references kind of leave me in the dark. I like the sound of an anime with a mystery though. Sounds like it will keep me involved. I don’t really care about Iwasaki …hahaha. The TTGL soundtrack was …uhh cool? Not the kind of thing worth listening to again and again, and some need context in order to be interesting. And the J.C. staff male thing? Well, seeing as how I can’t think of any other works besides Zero no Tsukaima, I can’t defend them there. I did think Saito, the male lead of ZnT, was a strong character though.

    No.6
    Ahhh …Seiyuu stars? I don’t really care about seiyuu too much. Also, what is “ho yay”?  The story really doesn’t sound too interesting, but I guess I’d watch it if future reviews prove it to be a “must watch” kind of romance…or whatever it is.

    Also there was no “Watch it if…” for this anime.

    Usagi Drop
    I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the manga before. So my eye was already on the series …but in staff “Herp Derp” …not quite sure I understand? Does that mean no one reputable worked on it? Aquagaze, I’m really disappointed in you here because the others gave me a better idea if I’d want to watch this or not. With that said, the concept sounds very interesting, especially the aspect of “Good Samaritan” that Marlin Clock mentioned… thats exactly what I was thinking when I heard about the story.

    Yeah, probably watching that.

    Penguindrum : 
    Uhh …alrighty? So it’s pretty crazy something-or-other. I don’t know, I kind of want to hear more opinions after the show has progressed to later stages. This kind of thing can lose its charm fast.

     

    • Jon

      No. 6, Usagi Drop and Penguindrum are all well worth your time. Trust me! *sparkle*

    • Anonymous

      Jon says “Hey, go watch No.6” and bam, I did. I hope you don’t mind if I lay down my feelings on it too.

      Now I’m tot too good at drawing thins from first episodes, but I gotta say that reeled me in, hook line and sinker. The dystopian backdrop and the mysteries set on the table intrigue me, wondering what exactly makes their world tick. The two boys, both are interesting to me for different reasosn. Shion, is interesting for perhaps more superficial reasons. He seems incredibly bizarre and almost unrealistically naive. I can still believe his character though. It comes off as a result of his condition in this “perfect world” as he rises to the “perfect class” , his first and foremost interest is learning about things, but social interactions are not his forte. Those reasons back his character up. The other guy, whose name I don’t remember, is just mysterious…. so i kinda wanna know more
      I am DEFINITELY staying to watch more.

      And, well I don’t think I would have noticed any homosexual tones had people not stated its existence heavily. Perhaps it is in the second episode where I will be hit by that revelation. Until then, those people who reacted in such a negative manner to light yaoi tones (which are really dependent on individual perspective) I say “Calm the fuck down”

    • Jon

      Ohoho, I told you so.

  • Eziovesper

    honestly, I start seeing mawaru penguin… whatever ’cause I was really bored, but actually, this anime worth my attetion, is one of the few animes that I watch in HD, it deserves the quality… If you you haven’t seen it, WTF are you waiting for?