Friday, May 27, 2011

Belated Reviews — Anime

Otome Youkai Zakuro

Japan, about 100 years ago; and the pace of modernization is causing disturbances amongst the spirit folk. So a Ministry of Spirit Affairs is set up, and a number young army officers assigned to liaise with representatives of the magical folk. Being a shoujo, this means that there is a pretty fox girl (or two) for each of the handsome young men, including the eponymous Zakuro for Agemaki, the male lead, and all the necessary flowers and sparkles to show where True Love is blossoming.

The series is best at the start -- introducing the characters, setting up the different romances, and nodding to the premise with a spirit-of-the-week to resolve, from the kami whose shrine has been demolished to make way for a station hotel, to the mysterious presence haunting Agemaki's family home. Alas, after the half-way point, it grows a LOLplot, involving Zakuro's mysterious past, and rather trips over itself -- the Serious Business being rather too much for the previously established light-hearted romance set-up.

Super Robot Wars OG — The Inspector

Coming in from the cold to what is actually the second season of this title, I just rolled with it, figuring out as I went along which of the many factions were supposed to be the good guys and which the villains -- because I didn't find this guide -- and just kicking back to watch the escalating battles, goofy robots, and Itano circus.

This is what anime ought to be more like -- not the endless highschool rom-com, or cute girls being cute for the otaku to perv over.

Letter Bee REVERSE

The first season ended on a cliff-hanger, where Lag's erstwhile mentor and role-model Gauche Suede appeared as one of the enemies of the whole Amberground system; and the second season carries on with the struggle between the Letter Bees, and the conspirators in REVERSE who are plotting to extinguish the artificial sun which lights this world (hinted to be Earth in some distant future).

Surprisingly, for the thwarting of such an existential threat, there is little by way of revelation (we never see the sunlit lands of Akatsuki, only the twilight regions; the various hints at deeper things going on, the very nature of the artificial sun are raised as hints, but never revisited), revolution (we return pretty much to the status quo ante after the whole secret war), or repercussion (after the threat is averted, all the elements that would disturb the status quo simply migrate to a backwater town, while Lag returns to his normal rounds as a delivery boy).

Definitely a case of better to travel hopefully that to arrive.

Level E

In what seems to be Japan's answer to Men in Black, we have a setting where Earth is a way-station for many alien races, all staying undercover, in an uneasy truce despite existing enmities. And then the Prince of the race in nominal charge of the planet comes to visit.

This would not be so bad, were it not for the fact that Prince Baka is a trickster with little restraint, while his minders are trying to keep any interstellar incident from being set off.

Thus kicks off the case of the long-term enemy race who are serious baseball fans, the random highschoolers who are turned into a sentai team (and their alien assassin teacher), the hive-queen who comes to Earth looking for a mate (and finds something other than she'd expected), the last of the twin-tailed mermaids, and finally Baka's betrothed and brother who are determined to see him wed. Baka sails through all this in total serenity, while his minders sink further into helpless rage.

Adapted from a 15 year old manga, it stuck out from all the other titles on offer for the first quarter.

Currently watching

Mobile Suit Gundam -- and that's it.

The only one of the current season's offerings I might have tried (Hyouge Mono) isn't on Crunchyroll, and even were I to go back into the grey world of fansubs, it's a title that has all the hallmarks of a series that will never get fully subbed for years.

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