Winter 2012 – Week 2 Anime Review

This week: the sixth karuta club member in Chihayafuru, mixed signals from the setting in Rinne no Lagrange, and proper character development in Mouretsu Pirates.

I have decided on a line-up to watch and write about this season.  Not included in this list are the comedies Kill Me Baby and Daily Lives of High School Boys.  I’ve also been debating whether to keep Brave 10 and Senki Zessho Symphogear after their underwhelming second episodes and my personal time constraints during this season.  They’re both decent anime and if I can budget my time each week, then I’ll probably keep them but they’re the first to go if I start running into trouble in the next couple weeks.  For now, they’re on my watching list.
Another (Episode 1) – Every anime that I’ve analyzed the hell out of has been a series I loved.  That fact speaks volumes for what Another might end up being but it’s not that simple when it comes to this anime.  I’ve also had trouble getting into the ‘true’ horror genre which Another seems to identify itself in, so there is a contradictory here.  Another shows both elements I love and don’t care for in an anime.  I believe the mystery aspects of the anime are what appeal to me, such as trying to figure out what’s going on with this setting, rather than the poignant atmosphere and the nonsensical (at least at this moment) and often abrupt cuts to still of dolls as the current level of horror.  If the anime retains this mystery element throughout the series, then I should end up loving it like any other excessively analyzed anime but if the series dabbles too much in horror and such, then I fear my spark with this anime might go out.

Brave 10 (Episode 2) – Before the season began, I had a craving to watch a serious samurai anime with charming characters and an intriguing setting.  Brave 10 isn’t the match I had hoped for but it provides something in the entertainment department with its fights revolving around ninja superpowers, insane magic, and character specialization.  I always have a weakness for anime with fights like these where there are multiple skilled fighters and a brawl or battle in every episode, so I’m happy with the anime there.  Furthermore, the anime does satisfy some of what I was looking for with parts of its setting (which has been little more than forgotten backdrop) and a few of the characters (Yukimura and Isanami).  I do hope the anime improves in terms of setting and characters shortly but the entertainment in Brave 10 is enough for me to keep it as a weekly anime this season.

Chihayafuru (Episode 14) – You may think Chihaya only needed to recruit three new members for the karuta club but she actually successfully recruited four. Taeko Miyauchi, the teacher who became the karuta club advisor, is a member of the karuta club that I consider as the ‘sixth’ member.  Her role is often overlooked since she was the last to join the club, was previously critical of it and of Chihaya, and doesn’t even play the game, but she’s a member all the same in my eyes, especially since she was converted to karuta after seeing the students put their heart into practicing for the tournaments.  Her role has expanded since then and we see how much she cares for the students now, leading them to the national tournament and filming the matches among other duties.  Her leadership toward the students will likely come into play later since she has the reputation for being strict and direct, which will turn out to be an advantage for the players when the time comes.  Taeko might not be the most popular character in the anime for her role early on but since her transformation mid-season she has quietly become a pleasant character and one I hope more people appreciate as the second season continues.

Future Diary (Mirai Nikki) (Episode 14) – I can’t tell if Yuno being in her underwear the whole episode was there to represent her insanity or there mainly for fanservice.  Earlier in the series, the appearance of her psycho behavior was limited to scenes where her pallid eyes and twisted facial expressions would show her emotions.  Her voice has also been successful in expressing her madness, too.  And let’s not forget her murderous rampages either.  All three devices were effective in displaying her insanity earlier in the series, so now why the underwear in this episode?  Is it a new level to her craziness showing that’s she getting worse?  Is it because she’s believed her relationship has progressed with Yuki to the level where they’re intimate?  They both work and are probably some of the intended consequences of the scenes but I can’t help but think this was primarily for the fanservice.  At least that’s the way it seemed to me, even though the anime did not focus on her bra and panties at every opportunity.  And don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining about seeing Yuno in her underwear either, just it seemed to come across as more gratuitous than meaningful in my eyes.

Mouretsu Pirates (Bodacious Space Pirates) (Episode 2) – I typically dislike it when a protagonist, usually a cute high school girl, with no background in a specific field, this being space privateering, is thrust into a major role suddenly and expected to perform like a pro.  But what makes Marika so much more tolerable about this is that we see she has qualifications that will eventually lead to her sitting in the captain’s seat aboard a space pirate ship.  This episode showed her decisive nature during the electronic warfare segment and her philosophy on leadership which is choosing the best option available and believing in it.  I wasn’t expecting that either Chiaki but apparently Marika has that attribute and it’s essential in being a respected leader.  Additionally, we saw Ririka take Marika out to the boonies to fire giant lasers at the ruins and teach her a lesson about accountability and when to make a decision.  These, too, are required for a leader to be successful and I appreciate the Space Pirates for taking the time to develop Marika from an ordinary schoolgirl into the eventual captain of an intimidating pirate vessel.  Will make that transition smooth and enjoyable for someone like me who.

Persona 4 the Animation (Episode 14) – What drives Yuu to complete all these social links is truly a mystery.  In the video game, it’s obvious.  The player is attempting to max out these social links for later in the game when these Personas might be used in a dungeon or for getting 100% completion in the game.  But for Yuu, what are his motivations?  Why does he go out of his way to take care for all these people?  His enthusiasm and feelings are often hard to interpret sometimes so it’s tough to say.  I feel that this was left in for the fans of the video game to see the social links incorporated in some way (probably the only reason it’s in the anime) but I’m looking beyond that and at the character himself.  The best I can come up with is that Yuu is a loving person and cares for everyone around him.  There are others but they’re not as fitting or satisfying as this one, so I’m content to accept this as the answer on why Yuu is just such a great guy all the time.

Rinne no Lagrange (Episode 2) – The clear skies, clean water, and tropical setting create a relaxing almost calm backdrop to the intense mecha battles and battle for Earth’s future.  It’s like we’re getting two different messages here.  What could be a factor is that these first few battles, the ones introducing the cast and mecha to us, aren’t as intense as they might seem which is why the anime has been as sunny and cheerful as it has.  The only time we ever had any darkness was when Madoka was lost in the base and regretting her decision to pilot Vox under the water (light obviously indicating mood in these scenes).  But everything else has been bright including every mecha fight we’ve seen.  I do wonder if that’s what I’m supposed to read from the setting in this anime at this point or if these battles are supposed to be meaningful beyond introductions and easy opponents.  Should be interesting to see how the environment changes during the future battles but I must say I am damn impressed with the sky, oceans, and scenery in this anime and am really pleased with the views we’re getting from these cockpits.  And I say that as there is a layer of snow outside my windows.

Senki Zessho Symphogear (Episode 2) – I wonder how much we’ll eventually learn about the invading and murderous Noise and what their reason for global conquest is.  So far it seems there is no way of communicating with them but I expect the heroes to contact them in some way or another, through their singing probably, to learn why they’re here and what they’re up to.  Either that or one of the characters will learn about it while doing some research or something.  Still, whatever way we learn about it, I do want to know why the Noise are here and why they’re killing the people.  We’ll probably have to wait until the finale or near-finale of the anime before learning their purpose but it’s the aspect I’m looking forward to the most with this anime.

Thermae Romae (Episodes 1+2) – Never thought I’d be so thrilled or enthusiastic to watch an anime about naked men bathing but Thermae Romae is impressive in that it can pull that off and be wildly entertaining at the same time.  I particularly love Lucius’ view and critiques when he’s in Japan and how he takes these inspirations that he doesn’t fully understand back to ancient Rome and reinvents them in the best means possible for the benefit of the Roman people.  It really comes together to make it one of the most entertaining and enjoyable anime of the season.  Can’t wait to see what else Lucius learns and how he implements these technologies to the baths of Rome.

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  1. #1 by Marina on January 16, 2012 - 5:48 AM

    Yay! I’m glad to read a positive review of Thermae Romae :) I absolutely love the first two episodes, and am sad that there will only be one more. I was put off a bit by the graphics at the start, but got used to them and actually found them suitable to the humor later on. Lucius’ interactions with the “flat-faced servants” a.k.a. Japanese are hilarious, particularly when they try to interpret each others’ noises and hand motions.

    • #2 by avvesione on January 16, 2012 - 11:56 PM

      I think there are 4 more episodes since it’s continuing for 2 more weeks. It’ll end up with a total of 6 mini-episodes or 3 full length ones is what I’m understanding.

      But yeah, the humor was great and the content and pacing were wonderful in keeping the stories interesting and unique. I don’t mind the art style at all since I grew accustomed to it when watching Double J but I do wish it were animated in a more traditional style. Still, the crude artwork does kinda fit the humor and it does give the anime another level of uniqueness compared to everything else out this season.

  2. #3 by Zammael on January 16, 2012 - 2:09 PM

    Thumbs up to the following shows:
    Thermae Romae (only one more episode?!?)
    Mouretsu (good catch calling them Privateers)
    Lagrange (seems to improve on the generic opening, so I’ll give it another week)

    Thumbs down on:
    Kill Me Baby (I’ll stick with High School Boys for comedy)
    BRAVE10 (did the animation drop 2 levels or something?)

    As for Mirai Nikki #14, i don’t think the underwear was fan service (like last episode’s side quest to the public bath & the omake) cuz Yuno is sinking further into nutsville, and why would she retain some modicum of modesty while she’s changing her beloved’s bedpan? ;)

    • #4 by avvesione on January 17, 2012 - 12:13 AM

      I think Thermae Romae has 2 more weeks to go so we should get 2 more full length episodes (or 4 mini ones). Love Mouretsu so far and am happy its 26 episodes. Langrange surprised me with that second episode and I’m really digging the art, animation, soundtrack, mecha battles, and Madoka. Biggest surprise of the season for me.

      Kill Me Baby isn’t the best of comedies but it’s chibi art style charms me, it’s relaxed humor is appreciated, and its humor is safe and mild. I think of it as Ika Musume -2 which is what I like in a comedy. BRAVE10 did have a drop in animation in the second episode except for the fighting. And, really, who is watching BRAVE10 for anything else (besides all the girls watching it for those dreamy and dashing guys)? At long as the fights are good, I plan on keeping it.

      As for the underwear, I think the producers were wanted to add in some more fanservice and used that whole bit as an excuse to say “well, she’s just more crazy now. Look at her walk around in her panties! So crazy!” But that’s what I thought. Not like I’m complaining either, I hope she stays this ‘crazy’ for the rest of the anime =P

      • #5 by Zammael on January 18, 2012 - 4:36 PM

        Although I haven’t read the manga past chapter 26 I get the sense that Yuno hasn’t hit rock bottom yet. 8-F

        • #6 by avvesione on January 18, 2012 - 5:23 PM

          I do wonder what the next ‘Yuno level of insane’ will be after this one. Probably going to be something with her diary and how she’ll get Yuki back (at least that’s my hopes).

  3. #7 by feal87 on January 17, 2012 - 1:12 AM

    Madoka and Hibiki! how can I possibly choose between the two… I think I need to go for the harem end…:D

    • #8 by avvesione on January 17, 2012 - 2:00 AM

      I think some of the other girls you’ve mentioned on your blog might be a little jealous if they could read what you wrote here. Thank goodness they can’t.

      But yeah, I understand where you’re coming from. Madoka and Hibiki are both the best parts of their respective anime and are a major reason why I’m watching and enjoying both Lagrange and Symphogear. Glad both anime have such strong characters to carry their shows through hard times.

  4. #9 by Myst on January 17, 2012 - 6:13 AM

    Hmm.. maybe I should pick up Lagrange. I’ve heard lots of praise for Madoka, so it can’t hurt to give it a shot. Also, Mouretsu Pirates ftw!

    • #10 by avvesione on January 17, 2012 - 5:35 PM

      Give it a shot, it’s not that bad of an anime despite all the pub about it being a generic mecha anime with tons of fanservice (or by XEBEC’s standards, hardly any). Madoka is one of the main reasons why I’m enjoying it so much and I think most people who like the anime really like her character, too. She’s one of the strongest aspects of Lagrange. Just try it out and see how you like Lagrange and/or Madoka.

  5. #11 by tsurugiarashix on January 20, 2012 - 8:52 PM

    Brave10 and Mouretsu Pirates.are very nice for at the moment for me and Another is keeping up with my expectations so far. I have not started on Rinne no Lagrange seriously yet (since the preair near New Years), but will start watching it this weekend.

    • #12 by avvesione on January 21, 2012 - 12:23 AM

      Sounds great! Been keeping an eye on your blog and your twitter to see what you think about this season so far and haven’t see much. Hope you enjoy these shows as much as I am (or in some cases, more than I am).

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