Winter 2012 – First Week Impressions (Part 3)

The final first week impressions post reviews Another, Ano Natsu de Matteru, and Daily Lives of High School Boys.

This will be it for my first impressions for this Winter.  I don’t have any plans for watching any of the other anime that will air this season including Inu x Boku SS, Papa no Iu Koto o Kikinasai! and Black Rock Shooter (I’ll watch the first episode but the OVA put me to sleep).  So this is kinda the end of all the new shows of the season for me.  All I need to do is figure out which ones from the Undecided category will make it and which ones will end up being dropped due to time constraints.  First, let’s see where these three anime placed.

Watching:

Another – I know Another is classified as a horror anime but the first episode never generated any fear and succumbed to generic horror tropes like creepy dolls, dark overcast skies, a community with a secret, and haunting music.  To be honest, if this is as ‘horror’ as the anime gets, I’d be content with it since horror is my least favorite genre and I’ve struggled to enjoy horror anime.  In fact, I’d prefer it to stay this way as a drama with dark or pseudo-horror elements rather than becoming something closer to a modern horror story or anything.  Okay, putting that aside, let’s get into the real reasons why I’m keeping this anime.  The artwork is breathtaking and unrvialed, especially the shots of the scenery and the environment.  The amount of detail in the artwork, from individual and distinct structures to the palate of appropriate colors to the intensity of light to even potentially overlooked or meaningless aspects like spots of rust on the rooftop or the scratches on the walls of the elevator car, is what makes this anime astonishing to watch.  The artwork here is truly unrivaled among anime and that alone is enough of a reason for me to watch it this season regardless of the characters or story (which I’ll get to in a bit).  Another does lack in the animation department but it hasn’t caused the anime to suffer in anyway and actually plays a part in creating the creepy atmosphere the anime wants to create.  And when there is animation, it’s often realistic and natural.  I loved how the girls waiting in line for the long jump turned their heads to watch their friend run, jump, and faceplant in the sand.  The soundtrack got my attention for being both fitting and beautiful and it complements the style of art in this anime.  Rural Japan as a setting has and always will be a plus for me and the depiction of the town from what we’ve seen gives it a unique vibe with the community under the influence of something or someone.  Kouichi and Misaki are fine characters so far but the rest of the cast doesn’t jump out at me and I doubt they ever will despite their roles in the story.  The story is decent so far but like I said earlier, it doesn’t feel like a horror story despite saying it is.  Even though I enjoy the story for not being a horror story, it is a negative for not being a horror story like I expected.  Not sure how I’ll like this anime after 12 episodes, especially when the characters start to change and the story expands, but if the art remains as comprehensive and gorgeous as it was in this episode, then I’ll be happy with Another.

Daily Lives of High School Boys – Daily Lives of High School Boys knows how to effectively use parody comedy, something many anime attempt but few reach this level.  How High School Boys outperforms most comedies is that it not only pokes fun at whatever it wants but it has the writing and characters to execute it.  The anime is able to carefully construct its humor and has flawless timing and delivery to maximize laughs.  Furthermore, the material derives from current and popular anime and otaku culture which is a plus for me since I understand most of the humor (likewise, someone new to this culture would see it as a negative but I’m not reviewing this from some other perspective, so point not taken).  Similarly, the characters are all well-rounded and play multiple roles rather than being pigeon-holed as the straight-man, the wacko, or anything like that.  They do have personalities that remain constant from scene to scene but they’re not always playing the same roles which is something I can’t help but rejoice in.  The content throughout the first episode was impressive but, to me, the humor was hit-or-miss which left me unaffected at the end of a few skits (the ghost stories skit was meh and delinquent/army-of-guys skit actually left me bored).  Still, I was entertained throughout and guffawed during the first two skits so it was hit more than miss.  No problems with the art and animation.  They aren’t much but they’re enough to successfully present the humor and aren’t a negative in any plausible way.  The setting isn’t my favorite but it works, so I’m neutral about that.  Comedies don’t need much besides the content, writing, and characters and High School Boys has demonstrated it can triumph in each area.  No brainer for me to keep this one.

Undecided:

Nothing this week but you can move Mouretsu Pirates into the Watching category and, since I decided not to write about Kill Me Baby and Daily Lives of High School Boys weekly (because writing about comedies like that every week would be a waste of time), I’m planning on picking up one or two more from this category.  The shows that remain are Rinne no Lagrange, Symphogears, and Brave10.

Dropped:

Ano Natsu de Matteru – Where do I begin?  Guess I’ll start with the positives.  Rural Japan has always fascinated me and, despite the setting mainly taking place in and around the school, I can’t find any complaints with the city, the scenery, and the general backdrop of the story.  The production values from art to animation to music to voice acting to storyboarding are all fine to excellent leading the anime to be one of the best looking and sounding of the season.  And I appreciate the idea of a film club since that was my interesting in high school, too.  But that’s it.  Everything else about this anime is an aspect that troubles me in some way which is why I am eliminating it from my viewing list.  The characters are what bother me the most.  The main issue with them is that they’re not characters but mere clichéd personalities.  Every line and action is strictly determined by their personality regardless of current mood or situation.  It’s a problem when every character comes across as bland and uninteresting and all their actions, at least until you can identify their stereotype, are predictable in nature.  Not good.  The story, from what I can gather after this first episode, indicates this anime will be about a tight-knit group of friends as they grow-up in high school with a love-triangle taking the focus and alien/sci-fi undertones.  I don’t ever recall enjoying any anime with that similar of a premise and the fact that any amount of creativity in the story has been removed from the final product, I know I won’t enjoy this anime.  The sexual tension and fanservice were segregated throughout the episode which made the sexual tension feel arbitrary and the fanservice unjustified.  And whatever attempt at comedy the anime showed could be summed up as banal (where those fantasies and misinterpretations supposed to be funny or just painful?).  Maybe the worst part of it all is the anime takes itself seriously, too.  Ano Natsu just happens to be another one of those anime with a wonderful budget, a talented staff, but all the wrong ideas and no one to tell them otherwise.

I’m hoping to get a Weekly Anime review up by this Sunday but I’ll need to figure out what I’m watching and writing about this season.  But that post will contain all the anime I’m planning to watch this season plus the two comedies I plan to not write about.  Should be fun to see how each anime performs in their second week and which ones make the final cut.

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  1. #1 by ThatOneGuy on January 10, 2012 - 8:44 PM

    I’de just like to point out that XXXHolic, Madoka, Baccano, are all also classified under the horror category. Likelyhood is that many of the psychologically oriented shows are too, like Future Diary (i’de consider it along the line of horror).

    • #2 by Zammael on January 10, 2012 - 9:03 PM

      I’ve not seen XXXholic, but to classify Madoka, Baccano & Mirai Nikki as horror is interesting. Madoka certainly does have an horror element (intrusion of evil personage or event, of a supernatural nature) but it’s probably too multi-layered, too deconstructive of a specific genre to truly belong to horror. Mirai Nikki & Baccano, OTOH, certainly had horrific elements (supernatural creatures or serial killers), yet MN also has thriller elements, and is closer to a battle royale. Baccano had that plot about immortality, but it wasn’t the chief driving story of the show, cuz its mobster characters and setting (prohibition era) puts it closer to brit caper of the early 00′s of Guy Ritchie’s films.

      • #3 by avvesione on January 10, 2012 - 10:24 PM

        I’d agree with Madoka and xxxHOLiC being in the horror genre but they weren’t the primary tag for each show unlike Another. Actually xxxHOLiC, I feel, is more supernatural, fantasy, and psychological, but you could always classify those under horror, too. I never think of xxxHOLiC as a horror but I guess technically it would be one. Madoka is the best horror of that group but it was magical girl first horror second. Baccano felt more like an adventure/fantasy to me rather than anything horror. Mirai Nikki, I’d say, is a thriller but it definitely borrows from the horror genre (and I say that because I never feel fear in the anime, only high tension).

        I guess the point I’m trying to make here is that I don’t seek out shows that are horror first but I don’t mind shows that have horror or creepy elements in it. The four anime you mentioned are all anime I love or really like (including 2 of my top 5 anime) and the more I look at my list the more I see of horror-type things I like. But of all my 9s and 10s the only horror-first anime I see is Shiki.

        Hmmm… both of you are going to make me think for a while on this subject now…

  2. #4 by Parth Srivastav on January 11, 2012 - 5:47 AM

    to be honest i have tried shows classified under horror and i found nothing horror about them except for higurashi no naku koro ni( this had some real good scenes) and i think that this is as horror as anime gets. i still fail to see madoka as horror anime i found it to be a very good drama but nothing horror as such.

    • #5 by avvesione on January 11, 2012 - 6:38 PM

      After getting the comments from ThatOneGuy and Zammael, I’ve been looking more and more into Another to see what it’s like and from what I’ve seen and theorized, it looks like it will be a classical horror type novel that I enjoy more than modern horror. If you watch the OP, I feel it has a bunch of foreshadowing of the deaths in the series and I believe we’ve already had one death (Izumi) when Misaki took the doll to the morgue. Again, these are just theories but if I’m right, then I regret missing those points and thinking it’s just horror tropes and a good drama.

      Edit: Actually wrote about this for my weekly anime review which, unfortunately, goes up on Sunday.

  3. #6 by tsurugiarashix on January 11, 2012 - 7:03 PM

    Everything I seen thus far (expect for a few of the shows you list as inconclusive) keep much was what I expecting. Another definitely has a transient and fleeting feeling to it in all aspects – environment, motifs, symbols, and even the theme music itself. Although, have to admit, ALI PROJECT could not have been a better choice. I am not really counting Another has horror, but paints a nicely, disturbing picture juxtaposed with the artwork/animation. Well, for the first episode at least. (speaking way too much =_=)

    • #7 by avvesione on January 11, 2012 - 10:10 PM

      Yeah, I think Another has been one of the best of the season and I’m having a wonderful time thinking about it and analyzing it so much. I’m expecting Another to get more horror-ish in the next episode but to what magnitude, I’m not sure. Guess we’ll be finding out soon!

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