はじめまして。私はゼロです。 I’m Zero, nice to meet you. I’ve been a fan of anime for more than twenty years now, from the days of trading third generation VHS tapes to downloading new episodes in 720p an hour after they air in Japan. I’m watching more shows than I can keep track of, all while going back to school to major in Japanese. I’ll be covering some of this week’s episodes, old classics, imported figures, as well as other things that come from the land of the rising sun.
Hajimemashou. Let’s get started.
Before jumping into the current Summer 2013 season of anime, I’m going to spend the first two weeks going over the shows I watched this past season and giving a brief summary of each. I’ll try and stay pretty spoiler free for these season-summaries, but there might be a few very minor ones here and there.
Aiura is your typical slice-of-life “cute girls doing cute things” show, but each episode is only two minutes long (excluding opening and closing themes, which are a minute each). Ayuko looks like she’s in elementary school, but is just starting high school. She befriends Kanaka (an outspoken overly enthusiastic girl) and Saki (whose imposingly tall and a bit tomboyish). The supporting cast is great, especially their teacher who gave them a one-question pop quiz, “Write down the teacher’s full name.”
It is a bit disappointing how short this show is, and annoying how abrupt each episode ends. The opening theme makes up for it though: crabby crabby crabby crabby! Given the length of each episode, and the style of show, there’s not really a lot to talk about. I really wish this was a half-hour show rather than a couple minutes, and would encourage any one to watch it.
DATE A LIVE
Spirits (read: overly powerful girls from another dimension) are crossing over into our world, and each time it causes a spacequake that kills thousands of people. Japan’s AST (Anti-spirit Team) is charged with eliminating them once they appear, but has never succeed due to the Spirits’ immense power. Enter Ratatoskr. Lead by Kotori Itsuka, a fourteen year old girl with red twin tails, Ratatoskr is out to protect the world from these spirits. This secret organization, with enough resources to make a transforming town in secret, recruits Kotori’s brother Shido, who is the only one who can seal away the spirtis’ power… by making them fall in love with him. With members knowledgeable in all fields of love, ranging from “five marriages and five divorces” to “the man with a hundred waifus”, they advise Shido on what to do as if they were playing a real life dating sim with Shido as the main character.
I really liked the designs of the Spirits. The first spirit, Tohka, is an armor-clad girl with heavy angelic themes. Yushino is the second Spirit to show, and is a childish girl with an alter-ego puppet (not unlike Batman’s Scarface). The third Spirit is Kurumi, a gothic lolita that can control time by shooting herself in the head (yes, that is as neat as it sounds). The fourth Spirit is a fire-based Spirit, and a surprise to nobody.
On top of the Spirits, Tobiichi is an elite member of the AST, and has fallen for Shido. Even though DATE A LIVE is a typical harem anime in many regards, it definitely has a lot more action and a somewhat interesting story. Although harem anime have never really bothered me, I think I’d enjoy this a bit more if it wasn’t. I really like a lot of the character designs, and Yoshino is a fantastically fun character.
Hataraku Maou-sama! (The Devil is a Part-Timer!)
Satan and his loyal general Alsiel have crossed over into our own world from Ente Isla. Taking on human forms and the names Sadao Maou and Shirou Ashiya, Satan now is trying to conquer Earth by working his way up to shift manager at McDona- sorry, MgRonald’s while Alsiel plays homemaker. Don’t worry though, the half-angel hero Emi Yusa (a play off the word “yuusha”, or hero) has also come to Earth… to work at a customer service phone center. Just as Satan and the hero start to get along with each other in their new human lives, Lucifer comes over to try and defeat a weakened Sadao. He ultimately fails, takes on the name Urushihara, and is now freeloading in Sadao’s apartment as the resident “computer guy”. Things are relatively peaceful for Sadao and crew, until The Church from Ente Isla comes to eradicate for his evil deeds, and eliminate Emi for not-killing Sadao already.
Although I thought this show was pretty decent, many people liked it a lot more than I did. The concept of the devil working at a fast food place as a means to take over the world is delightful, but I wish this would have stuck to that more than with the Ente Isla stuff. I also can’t help but compare it to “Maoyuu Maou Yuusha”, a show from last season also about a devil and hero who fall in love. Although the two shows have very little in common, the maou/yuusha (devil/hero) theme is similar, but Maoyuu did it much better.
Haiyore! Nyarlko-san W
This is the second season of Nyarlko, a show without much of an overarching plot, but so delightfully weird that I can’t help but love it. The premise is kind of brilliant: Lovecraftian creatures have taken the form of moe anime girls and are living on Earth. Earth is, after all, the entertainment center of the universe. The Nyarlathotep Nyarlko (“the creeping chaos always smiling beside you”) has, for no real reason at all, fallen smitten for the human Mahiro and will protect him no matter what. This is an anime though, and thus it simply can’t stop there: Cthuko, another female alien and Nyarlko’s childhood friend, is in love with Nyarlko and always trying to convince Nyarlko to choose her over Mahiro. Then there’s Hasta, yet another alien in love with Mahiro, but constantly rejected by Mahiro on the basis that Hasta is a boy.
This show feels a lot like a harem anime, but in reality there’s only two girls after the main character, and one of those two “girls” is a boy. It actually reminds me a lot of Urusei Yatsura, which is still one of my favorite shows of all time. It’s zany adventures with cute alien girls. The Lovecraft tie-ins are pretty much in name-only, which is a bit disappointing, but it’s still quite a lot of fun.
Shingeki no Kyojin
Humanity is living in a walled-off city, where going outside is illegal. Despite living in constant fear of being attacked, people live rather simple, peaceful lives. Until giant titans break down the walls and send the city into a panic. Eren Jaeger watches as one titan eats his mom alive, before managing to escape with his foster sister Mikasa. The two enlist in the military, with Eren vowing to kill all the titans, and Mikasa joining to protect him.
And that’s really all I can say about this show. Unlike the other I watched this season, this one is pretty dark. There’s no moe, the females aren’t in here to just look cute (Mikasa is here to kickass). This is a great show, and has been filled with surprises. I think even if you’re not into anime (why are you reading this?) you’d enjoy it. My only complaint would be the animation quality isn’t that great, and they use a lot of still frames. It’s very easy for me to overlook though, given how much I’m enjoying the story. When I was at AnimeExpo in July, this was hands down the most popular show among attendees.
Once again, “cute girls doing cute things”. If you’ve seen Lucky Star, you have a good idea what to expect here. Yukari, Yui, and Yukuzo are in their first year of high school. Yui plays the straight man to Yukari and (especially) Yui’s tomfoolery. That’s where most of the humor lies, or with things like how they jokingly refer to their teacher as okaasan (mom) and it catches on to the rest of the class. There’s slight hints of shoujo-ai (girl love), but nothing pervy or explicit by any means. As with all slice-of-life shows, there’s no real overarching plot, so not a lot to cover or talk about. It isn’t a show to wow you or any sort of “must see”, but I still thoroughly enjoyed watching it.
Next week I’ll finish off my Spring 2013 list, and then start up with what I’m currently watching. Until then, ja ne.