Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Anime, year to date

Viewing has been fairly thin this year (only 3 series picked up from Q1, and nothing appealing from Q2 even with the after-action reports coming in, to investigate), and yet I've still been falling behind. So to cover what I've actually completed so far this year:

Inferno Cop

Studio Trigger -- saving anime one frame at a time!

This low animation (everything is a static sprite, with a few exceptions like Inferno Cop's flames) short episode one cour series from the larger bunch of ex-Gainax staffers actually started at the end of last year.

It's an affectionate parody of the 1980s OVA (e.g. Angel Cop) through video games and on to an ending right out of Evangelion. And unlike the last Gainax parody anime, it eschews carrying the series on cute Japanese girls cursing like troopers in English.

And it's officially up on YouTube if you have a spare half-hour - as also is

Little Witch Academy

More traditional animation from Studio Trigger, a cute little tale of the underdog winning at a sort of Hogwarts for Girls.

Available on the Studio Trigger channel.

Natsume Yuujincho seasons 3 and 4

The later cours move from being humorous or bittersweet tales of youkai, and move more to Natsume's teen angst, torn between the friends he's been able to make in both school and those in the spirit world. The introduction of a continuing villain in the Mataba clan, exorcists who view the youkai as a natural resource to harvest doesn't help either.

Still. the series reaches some closure -- even if the manga continues -- by effectively wrapping up the defining event of his life, as he revisits his childhood home for the last time.

Vividred Operation

Strike Witches in hotpants meets Nanoha meets Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons in this tale of magical Science! girls vs alien invaders.

In a typical shot, Captain Black Kuro supervises the Mysterons Alone

This has everything -- alien invaders, magical girls, mascot animal, Captain Black Kuro on the alien side, the power of friendship, power ups via gattai, Graf Eisen, you name it...

It's let down a little at the end when everyone stands around looking gormless for some minutes while the final boss starts to drink up all the Science! energy that would power the Vivids, and we never get the ultimate VividSpectrum gattai, but still harmless, if forgettable, fun.

Puella Magi Madoka★Magica

Madoka is surprised at the downsides of the magical girl gig

This one not finished, but rather put on indefinite hold if not outright dropped after 8 episodes of 12.

Yes, a landmark series from a couple of years ago that made it over the barrier of otaku anime and found popularity in the wider population in Japan; which I picked up when the Manga UK DVDs came out last autumn.

Alas, some series weather complete spoilers (i.e. from picking up after the fact from reading unfiltered popular reaction) better than others -- and this, unlike, say, Gurren Lagann, to name one that I watched with similar levels of knowing what was going to happen, is one that doesn't.

The story really relies entirely on dropping major genre-busting twists every couple of episodes -- and not on the cast of wooden and generally unsympathetic characters; so when you already know the twists, there's not a lot left to carry it. I certainly never saw how come the Japanese fandom came up with so much MadoHomu with what they had had to go on by that point -- their yuri goggles must have been turned up to a level that would have burned them out on Nanoha episode 4 alone!

I wasn't even able to get any real vicarious unspoiled viewing from my wife's reactions, as this one (unlike, say, the Vivids) seemed to leave her quite cold. That was not helped by the choice between the icky-cutesy voiced US dub (much like the one that did its best to ruin A Cat in Paris) and the poorly timed (often a syllable late, always very tight within the duration of the dialog) subtitles that really need a level of speed-reading.

The proper ED, after they dropped the pretense that this was a typical mahou shoujo, wasn't bad.

Saki Achiga-hen

Oh yeah, and the last few episodes of the mahjong mayhem that covered in 13 episodes (plus three of backstory) what the main series did in twice that, so the set-up of the opposing teams and all the mahou-jong powers weren't anywhere near as developed. Harmless fluff, but light in weight even compared with the original.

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