Wed 2 May 2012
Hello readers, and thank you for tuning into the Discovery ex Machina channel. It’s that time of the season again, week 4. The week where every anime got to have its debut. Where every anime has gotten a chance to strut its stuff and convince me that they are worth watching. Yes, it’s Shark Week! I picked up lots of anime this season, quickly proving to be one of the most bountiful on record. I don’t have time to watch them all, so everyone’s favorite marine predators are on the loose. Which anime will survive this season’s treacherous waters? Which anime will be a hungry shark’s next bloody meal? Let’s find out!
I actually don’t know why I picked up Natsuiro Kiseki. When I started, 3 episodes have already aired, but for some reason I decided to check it out. It was probably because I haven’t picked up a nice, light drama this season. I went in not expecting much — the premise seemed strikingly bland, and I was expecting a whole lot of dumb fanservice and shallow characters.
I could not have been more wrong. While the premise and the plot aren’t exactly something to write home about, the directing has been spectacular. I was surprised to find Mizushima Seiji (Fullmetal Alchemist, Gundam 00, Un-Go) directing this, but it looks like he’s totally comfortable in this genre. There’s not much to the premise (wow a rock grants mysterious wishes), but the show is so committed to it that I can buy in. The cast is quite compelling — each girl has their own distinct personality and their characters are believable beyond their archetypal tropes. Finally, the voice acting and character design are great. The show bills itself for starring the members of the seiyuu group Sphere, consisting of Kotobuki Minako, Tomatsu Haruka, Toyosaki Aki, and Takagaki Ayahi. I find myself not only appreciating the talent of the voice acting, but also the synergy. Arguments Saki and Natsumi get into feel real, and fleshed out. Throw in some of the best character design this season, and you get one of my favorite shows this season. Natsuiro Kiseki easily survives Shark Week, swimming safe to shore before the lifeguard even blows his whistle.
The polar opposite of Natsuiro Kiseki, Upotte!! is an anime whose premise I was very interested in. Moe anthropomorphism of assault rifles? Seems interesting enough, maybe it’ll be the next Strike Witches. It’s not the highest bar you could set, but this is Studio Xebec we’re talking about. The first three episodes were aggressively mediocre. I get that the girls are supposed to be assault rifles, but that doesn’t mean they can have an inanimate object’s personality. Insert-sensei is also about as compelling as a slice of bread. Heading into Shark Week (episode 4 for Upotte!!), this show was bleeding in the water.
I didn’t even get to halfway though the episode. FNC explaining how the each character’s idiosyncrasies are a personification of the assault rifle they represent and giving us lectures on the finer details of automatic firearms does not constitute as exposition. While the previous three episodes managed to barely escape the DROPSHARK with fun Counterstrike-esque action sequences or ripping on the British, Upotte!! has finally grated away my last iota of patience. Dropped, with prejudice.
Oh, Badass Space Pirates. I remember the fun times we had together. You were a bright spot in the boring kiddie pool that was last season, but now it’s the open ocean in shark-infested waters. For some reason Space Pirates has lost all its appeal for me. The show is still fine, but that’s not a high bar to aspire to. It’s an anime that’s space, pirates, and girls — what’s not to love? But the conspicuous lack of badass and the curious direction the show is taking the last few episodes leave me a little puzzled.
I like this show, or rather I want to like it, but it’s been lying there out in the sun for a while now. A shark might as well come along and put it out of its misery. Because I got so far, I might finish it up at a later date. But as for this season, this anime is dropped.
Saki: Achiga-hen Episode of Side-A
Saki A headed into this week bleeding in the water, just waiting for a large, hungry great white shark to come along and put it out of its misery. The first two episodes were not only gratingly inferior to its prequel, but also boring as hell. Saki was fun to watch because it had ridiculous eyelightning mahjong. Not only did the first two episodes not have any tile action, it teased us about it by featuring the Ryuumonbuchi team. Additionally, does this school’s mahjong team have to look this boring? Where’s the pink/brown/green hair? Where’s the unique character designs that made Saki memorable? Where are the badass personalities? I am being totally ripped off!
Episode 3 not only finally contained some decent mahjong action, but it also firmly established itself as being a sequel to the original series, told from an alternate point of view. I actually find that approach quite compelling, especially since they feature the original Kiyosumi team heavily. I honestly have no clue right now who win Nationals. We are already attached to Kiyosumi, so seeing them as potential antagonists could be cool. Saki draws its strength from not only depicting the main protagonists, but also getting us to like their opponents. It’s good to see Achiga-hen do that as well. I also like the lack of Dragonball Z pacing — the anime almost feels rushed to get to the good part. It survives this shark attack, just barely. I’ll keep up with this show for the rest of the season.
Kore wa Zombie Desuka? of the Dead
I enjoyed the first few episodes of Kore wa Zombie Desuka? of the Dead, so I really didn’t expect it to be a victim of a shark attack. It stayed close to shore and in clear water, but you never know when sharks can strike. I watched the first season, and I was quite put off by the crappy “plot” the show introduced when it decided to get “serious”. While this season seems like all fun and games, I’m not going to risk the inevitable happening. Plot is the cancer that kills perfectly good anime like this. Also, I picked up Sankarea and I can only handle one zombie anime per season. Dropped.