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!
Kami-sama no Memochou/God’s Memo Pad
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)
NEET detective Alice solves mysteries with the help of her personal investigation team of fellow NEETs, including average everyman Narumi.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cast: Yuuki Kaiji (Kou in Hanasaku Iroha), Yoshimasa Hosoya (Shichika in Katanagatari)
Notable Staff: Derp.
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.
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.
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.
There was music; I just don’t know what it sounds like.
All over the place. Seriously. What is with all these knit sweaters? It’s 2013; why does everyone dress like it’s 1986?
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.
Cast: Ayu Matsuura, Hiroshi Tsuchida
Notable Staff: Herp derp.
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.
Why are you still reading this? You mean you haven’t watched this yet?
Beautiful watercolour art in vein of Horou Musuko and Aoi Hana. Some backgrounds could fit in a museum.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!