July 16th, 2012

Me on Gaia

First episode reviews, with anime club in mind

I watched a lot of first episodes of summer anime last weekend, so I can make informed recommendations when we pick 3 new series to watch on Thursday at the Google Anime Club in Mountain View, California. These are all available on Crunchyroll.

Ratings can and will change as I watch more than one episode.

I had already started a few series, so those first:

Tari Tari
I like the characters and the situation. High schoolers starting a music club is nothing new, but this is a little different. Very slice of life. We're already watching "Natsume Yuuchinjou", which is slice of life (and slice of death), so not going to recommend it. 7/10.

Kokoro Connect
The art looks the same as "K-ON!," and I heard it had at least one of the same people working on it, which makes sense. There's another "et cetera" club for high schoolers who weren't into any of the other clubs. Someone starts messing with them by switching their personalities around temporarily. We don't know the supernatural mechanics involved yet. I feel I don't know the characters well enough to totally follow the personality switches yet, but it's fun, and I will recommend it. 7/10.

Sword Art Online
Unlike .hack//sign, in this game, no one can log out until they beat the game. Losing or trying to remove the VR headgear = death, or at least that's what they've been told. I like the characters so far and the virtual world. It would make a good watch for the club. 7/10.

On to the ones I just started. Some I really wanted to go ahead and watch the second episode. I took that as a good sign.

Total Eclipse

Aliens have been invading Earth for a while and are winning. Teenage girls are learning to pilot mecha to fight them. This is an alternate history story, as the invasion started in the 60s. A lot of ground is covered in the first episode, but I can't bring myself to care about any of the characters, at least not yet. 6/10.

Ambition of Oda Nobuna

We're not really introduced to the time-travelling high school boy from modern-day Japan as he's already involved in messing up history. Or is he? A lot of the historical figures are gender bent from the ones he knows from video games and history class. We don't find out how or why he even went back in time, and I double-checked to make sure I was really on episode 1. I much preferred Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox, the last series I watched that had a modern day high school student travelling to a gender-bent past and meets a female Oda Nobunaga and pulling off some "magic" using a cell phone. 6/10.

Guy tries to deliver a stone tablet to Italy, winds up using it to fight gods. It could get boring or be a lot of fun, hard to say. I like the main character's attitude. 6/10

Humanity Has Declined
For a post-apocalyptic series, this one is very silly and WTF. Humans are dying out and are being replaced by fairies, or so they're being called. They're tiny and have supernatural powers... what else would we call them?

We've started a tradition where the 4th and final series of the night is called "dessert." It started when we had a lot of heavy drama and character death going on in the other three episodes, and happened to have "Usagi Drop" (super cute) at the end, which cheered us up at the end. It was replaced by "Hanamaru Kidnergarten" and then "Nichijou" (cute and random wtf gags). I think "Humanity Has Declined" could make a good dessert. 8/10

Natsuyuki Rendezvous
A guy falls in love with a woman who runs a flower shop and starts buying a potted plant at her shop every weekday. He takes a job there before realizing that she's a widow and that her dead husband hangs around all the time. Only the guy can see the dead husband. It's sweet and crazy and sincere. I cared about the characters already during the 2 minutes before the opening. 8/10

La Storia della Arcana Famiglia
Um, supernatural mafia policing an Italian island holds a contest to determine the next don? With the old don's daughter as the "prize." She's going to enter as well, to fight for her freedom. This could go either way. The characters are interesting enough. 7/10

Fujiwara no Teika originally picked the famous 100 poems, Ogura Hyakunin Isshu, to decorate screens for a residence. The same 100 poems are used today for the card game karuta, featured in "Chihayafuru." This is Fujiwara no Teika's story, with a lot of liberties taken. He was apparently quite a womanizer. Beautiful scenery, interesting characters, and an ending song with jpop/jrap. It shows promise. 7/10

These would not be appropriate to watch in our club, but I'll include them anyway.

PES: Peace Eco Smile
It's not appropriate because it's short form, only 3 minutes long. It looks interesting so far, though very little has happened. An alien from the Andromeda Galaxy arrives and saves a girl from falling into a river, on his way in. She kisses him. 7/10

So, I Can't Play H!
It's not appropriate because it's too ecchi. It's better than I thought it would be. The guy actually has some personality and morals. A shinigami borrows some power from a mortal. The power comes from what he holds dearest, and for him that's everything erotic. Looks like he won't be able to enjoy playing eroge (erotic games) while they're contracted, as all that is being drawn out of him as energy, but he might bet a longer lifespan out of it. I am surprised to give this: 7/10.

So, recommendations, in order:

Humanity Has Declined (for dessert)
Natsuyuki Rendezvous
Kokoro Connect
Sword Art Online

Yes, we're only picking three. :)