Winter 2013 – First Week Impressions (Part 2)

sasami_san@ganbaranai-01-tsurugi-tama-yagami_sisters-action-flying-hug-sword-smile-fun-happyThis post reviews: Tamako Market, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, GJ-bu and Kotoura-san.

Watching:

Tamako Market

tamako_market-01-tamako-smile-cuteTamako Market is a pleasant, amusing and relaxing anime with a vibrant community living in a gorgeously animated world.  The stunning visual style has a definite emphasis on the setting too, with an array of colors and details in each background to place importance on place, specifically the indoor mall which Tamako frequents.  The characters that populate this world parallel this feature with a broad, diverse display of emotions which replace their rather simple design with humorous and expressive appearances.  The cast thus far show some promise, not in the individual people themselves but how they function and interact as a community.  Of particular is how the players of the market gathered together to celebrate Tamako’s birthday, showing a sense of community that is otherwise absent in most other anime.  Additionally, the conflict between the Kitashirakawa mochi shop and Ooji mochi shop hints at some rather comical history between the two families, too.  However, after that, Tamako Market begins to fall off.  It’s an anime with a dazzling style but not much in the way of substance.  Although I praise the community aspect and how it integrates minor character in with the main, all the characters seem rather plain and uninteresting, even Tamako and her family.  That’s a bit unnerving considering that they are the focus of this anime.  The talking bird, Dera Mochimazzi, certainly has some personality and spunk but seemed too out of place for this story, even with the fantasy/magic elements that were hinted to us.  Not a lot can be said about the plot thus far but it doesn’t seem to be anything special or original.  There’s plenty of time for that to change but it failed to make a positive impression.  However, the other aspects of the anime did which is more than enough for me to want to see more of Tamako Market.  Considering how much I enjoy the aesthetics of this anime, the community aspect of the market and the amusing comedy, this one is a keeper.  There is quite a bit of room to improve with the characters and the plot but that should improve as the anime progresses over the next few weeks.

tamako_market-01-dera_mochimazzi-talking_bird-fantasy-blush-romantic-crazy-wing-featherstamako_market-01-anko-mochi-imouto-loli-scarf-eating-cute-adorable

 

Sasami-san@Ganbaranai

sasami_san@ganbaranai-01-sasami-school_uniform-bedroom-glasses-computer-watercolor_effect-Another delicacy for our eyes, Sasami-san@Ganbaranai is a visual delight with its magnificent art style, keen cinematography and heavy accent on this watercolor effect to give Sasami’s bedroom a distinctive and exceptional look and feel.  What helps contrast this is how clear and detailed the other environments are, making the real world look like the real world and giving Sasami’s room a creamy, fuzzy, almost dream-like feel to it that’s both tender and comforting.  It’s brilliant in how the two settings are expressed so differently through these two remarkable art styles, creating this powerful schism between Sasasmi’s comfort-zone and the harsh reality beyond her bedroom doors.  While on the subject of the art, I must add that the character designs are outstanding and probably my favorite for this season.  The characters themselves, however, are a different story.  While everyone is some wonderful combination between cute and captivating, the personalities and interactions are somehow insufficient.  There isn’t much more to describe the two lead characters between your basic hikikomori and your basic perverted male.  The super-special fighting trio is only slightly better.  However, the five seem to have a bit to them that suggest they’ll improve soon.  The plot features some rather fascinating fantasy elements to it and shows some potential, but it felt a bit empty or rushed in this episode.  The first episode did manage to make me laugh a handful of times, so at least there is comedy to keep me going in case the plot turns out to be something mundane or lazy.  However, depending on how the story evolves, it has the potential to be something innovative which would be something both pleasant and surprising.  Overall, Sasami-san is a charming, delightful anime with a truly unparalleled art style that is both lovely and emotional.  The way the art represents both the setting and emotion is really quite noteworthy and a highlight of this anime.  Beyond that, there is some work that needs to be done with the characters and the story but the first episode showed plenty of promise for both to develop into something pleasant and rewarding.

sasami_san@ganbaranai-01-tsurugi-yagami_sister-smile-cute-leader-red_hair-red_eyes sasami_san@ganbaranai-01-kagami-robot-powers-glowing-quiet-serious

 

Kotoura-san

kotoura_san-01-haruka-psychic-empty_eyes-melodrama-dark-depressing-flashbackAlthough I originally decided to pass on this anime, I found myself watching the first episode of Kotoura-san after some surprisingly positive reviews and the request of a commenter.  Thanks to the voices and enthusiasm of these fans, I have found another anime to watch for this season.  The first half of the episode had me rather worried considering how hilariously forced the entire melodramatic section was.  It was ugly with how it tried to make everything dark and emotional when every character was just being stupid and insensitive.  Contrasting that it little Kotoura who went from an adorable, smiling psychic child to a complete emotional wreck over a matter of minutes.  Not saying that it isn’t reasonable considering everything she went through but that it was so woefully forced I figured that this anime would be nothing but lazily written stories about irrational characters that wanted us to feel sad because bad things were happening to cute girls.  Thankfully that only lasted for half an episode with the second half much more enjoyable and a sign of what to expect with future episodes.  The latter half of this episode featured Kotoura warming up to her very first friend, the dimwitted and perverted Yoshihisa.  The comedy was refreshing and amusing, the story was heartwarming and meaningful (thanks to the silly, ‘dark’ first half) and I found myself enjoying Kotoura’s character more after witnessing and understanding her hardships (again, thanks to the first part).  I’m not sure how much I’ll enjoy the comedy and romance going forward but the psychic aspects and conflicting personalities made for some innovative comedy that left me smiling.  The art and animation are charming and cute which is something that fits the now-lighthearted romcom that is Kotoura-san moving forward.  I appreciate some of the visual techniques employed in this episode too, like the darkness shattering that split the first and second halves and how Kotoura tried to breakaway Yoshihisa’s thought bubbles with her hands after reading his mind.  The anime will likely end up being hit-or-miss weekly considering that it is a romantic comedy but I believe I’ll find a way to enjoy it regardless of its ups and downs.  Thanks again for everyone who recommended this anime to me, either directly or indirectly.

kotoura_san-01-haruka-childhood-tears-crying-broken-emotional kotoura_san-01-haruka-psychic-laughing-comedy-entertainment-funny

 

Undecided:

GJ-bu

gj_bu-01-mao-tsundere-fume-loli-short-club_president-looking_upGJ-bu lands here due to a few positives, a number of negatives, and a bit of curiosity that might prove to be worthwhile or another waste of 24 minutes.  The anime is cute, charming and comical; I found myself enchanted by simple yet endearing art style.  While all the characters are attractive, there really isn’t a whole lot in the way of animation or motion in this episode, mainly because the whole show is character sitting around and talking to each other.  There isn’t anything wrong with that as it is but it just doesn’t do much in the way of catching our eyes and keeping us focused.  One way to avoid that issue is to have some engaging dialogue (definitely not this anime) or some hilarious comedy.  While I did find a few jokes to be amusing, most of the comedy was rather dry and clichéd, such as with Short Tsundere Loli getting mad over something stupid, Genius Ojou-sama being the best in the world at something (this anime: chess), Airhead Maid being… I guess pouring tea constantly, I didn’t get her joke, and the Catgirl being silent and animal-like.  However, it is quite interesting to see a character be more animal-like than the Catgirl but the main character is some sort of invertebrate considering how he lacks any backbone in addition to a missing personality or any positive traits.  My God is he banal and boring.  What compounds this issue even worse is that there’s some sorta romance/harem-ish thing going on between him and the four girls which was just absolutely painful in this first episode.  Not only did it feel unnatural and forced but it kept popping up time and time again throughout the episode.  What’s even weirder about it is that there’s no cohesion or comradery with the characters with each doing their own thing to start every skit.  It’s like they’re uncomfortable with each other but, at the same time, they all wanna bone the one male character.  And while all this is somewhere between terrible and regrettable, I found some entertainment and enjoyment from this episode that keeps me lingering for some more.  I know I probably won’t enjoy this anime going further but I figure the characters can’t get any worse and the comedy is certain to improve now that the introductions are finished.  GJ-bu will get another episode and, depending on how it performs, it’ll either be kept or dropped.

gj_bu-01-kirara-catgirl-cat_ears-panic-shock-surprise-hair_standing_up-meat-food gj_bu-01-megumi-tea_pot-serving-smile-pleasant-friendly

 

Dropped:

Nothing this week, though if you are curious, I did scan through Vividred Operation and Mondaijitachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru Sou Desu yo which helped reinforce my notion on skipping them.

 

And that concludes the First Week Impressions for Winter 2013.  All that remains are all the shorts which are airing this season but I tend to exclude them from this blog since there really isn’t too much to say or add regarding these shows that last between 2 to 5 minutes.  However, for those who are curious, I will be watching Puchimas!, Inferno Cop, Yama no Susume, Mangirl, Ai Mai Mi, Senyuu, and Boku no Imouto wa Osaka Okan this winter.  Each one is entertaining or cute or in some way fun to watch and only a couple of minutes, so I have no problem if they have a number of problems or aren’t very good.  None of them are really anything great but each produces some laughs, some smiles and are satisfying to watch.  Adding those in with the other shows I’ve picked up and with the other shows continuing from 2012 and it appears that Winter 2013 will be quite busy.  Looks to be quite entertaining, enjoyable and fun, too.

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  1. #1 by Zammael on January 14, 2013 - 10:23 AM

    I watched Tamako Market this morning and Sasami Unmotivated last night. These two shows couldn’t be more polar opposites, despite having spectacular production values in common.

    Tamako Market had by far the best opening episode of this craptacular season – precisely because it exceeds both the quirkiness of the parrot and the moe-infestation of the ever-popular K-ON. There was elements that isn’t limited to cute yet stereotyped girls or talking animals. It might contend with Chihayafuru as the best of winter 2013.

    OTOH, Sasami Unmotivated is probably the most egregious waste of talent with pointlessness – incoherent story, utterly retarded pacing, unremarkable, stereotyped characters gob-smacked with fetishes. I understand it’s a parody but it gotta be successful in its mockery of the tropes. A half-assed parody only regurgitates the very tropes it tries to critique. Shinbou is a visionary, much like Zack Snyder, but he can’t write original material worth shit.

    One has the potential to be the next Tsuritama; the other, a lesser version of Black Rock Shooter.

    • #2 by avvesione on January 15, 2013 - 10:33 AM

      Dunno, I found both to be eerily similar: two shows with wonderful, gorgeous visual styles and animation but lacking any meaning or purpose to drive each show. Both shows have the aesthetics and visual directing down and both are a pleasure to watch but the characters and stories for each seem shallow and empty. Fortunately it’s the story that improves as each anime goes on, so I’ll be keeping my eyes out for that as each series continues, but both have been disappointing in that regard, at least to me.

  2. #3 by Joojoobees on January 14, 2013 - 3:25 PM

    I tend to be a fan of the artistically ambitious production companies — KyoAni and SHAFT both qualify in very different ways, and yet neither Tamako Market, nor Sasami-san@ worked for me.

    I agree with you about Kotoura-san: the dark first half set up the second half nicely, so that what might still turn out to be a run-of-the-mill romantic comedy came across with maximum effect.

    I can’t believe I am looking forward to a second episode of Kotoura, and not Tamako or Sasami, but there you have it.

    • #4 by avvesione on January 15, 2013 - 10:38 AM

      I don’t blame you for wanting more Kotoura-san when compared to Tamako Market and Sasami-san since Kotoura-san has one thing the other two lack: characters and a story. Tamako Market and Sasami-san are both visual masterpieces but the content of each anime is virtually non-existant or just plain shallow or hollow. Kotoura-san actually is using its backstory to explain its character and her personality which is something that’s often thrown in randomly in most anime, so there’s some promise there. And though I was laughing during the dark, edgy first half, I appreciate that they did it to give her character a purpose and push the story forward. I was really surprised by it.

      So, even though you and I have quite a different taste and appreciation for anime, it seems we both agree that Kotoura-san did better than Tamako Market and Sasami-san for the first episode.

  3. #5 by Xiammes on January 14, 2013 - 5:09 PM

    Mondaijitachi was a pleasant surprise for me, surprised your going to skip it.

    • #6 by avvesione on January 15, 2013 - 10:40 AM

      Well, I did watch about 5-6 minutes worth but mainly from just skipping around. My biggest fault with the series is that there are no characters that I like in this anime. In fact, the main trio… I think I hate every single one of them. It’s partially their personalities (they’re all douches), partially their looks (no one appeals to me) and partially that they’re overpowered (no challenge) that it just reconfirmed my initial judgement, so I dropped it. It’s just not an anime for me.

      • #7 by Xiammes on January 15, 2013 - 2:56 PM

        Seems like a interesting world to me, the main trio are douches, its in the title of the show. I think it has some potential, even if the Main Character turns out to be another Gary Stu, at least he is more interesting then someone like Kirito, to me at least. Maybe its because the plot is almost a 100% match to Planescape: Torment.

        Calling them overpowered based on the first episode is a almost laughable considering our love for Needless.

        • #8 by avvesione on January 15, 2013 - 5:05 PM

          Dunno, characters are the most significant aspect of any anime for me, so if I don’t like any of the characters, it seriously cripples the show for me (I did like Kuro Usagi though). The world seemed rather plain and mundane to me, like another sterile fantasy world and the games aspect didn’t really excite me at all either.

          Also, in regards to Needless, I really didn’t like it until the 5th episode (or chapter 10 in the manga). The first four episodes/nine chapters were meh but I completely changed my opinion when Setsuna, Mio and Kuchinashi arrived. As for the overpowered part, I’m not too fond of Arclight or Riru, but there are many other aspects I am enjoying way to much right now.

  4. #9 by Xiammes on January 15, 2013 - 5:54 PM

    I agree, characters are the most significant part for me, the characters while assholes are mildly amusing so far.

    I probably used the wrong word when I said world, what I mean to say is that it seems to have a lot going on. Though I should probably wait for the 3rd episode, I don’t have a well formed opinion about it myself.

    • #10 by avvesione on January 16, 2013 - 8:08 PM

      Well, I hope you enjoy the series and keep with it. I’ll keep an eye out on it and see how it performs but I doubt I’ll ever pick it back up unless it turns out to be the greatest thing ever.

      • #11 by Xiammes on January 16, 2013 - 9:07 PM

        I’ll make you eat those words.

  5. #12 by medievalotaku on January 26, 2013 - 8:58 PM

    Well, Sasami-san@ganbaranai seems like another worthy show this season. How wrong I was to despair of anything good coming out of it! And I would like to saw that I seem to have accidentally unfollowed you, which accounts for the fact that I haven’t read these posts. But, you’re back on my list!

    • #13 by avvesione on January 28, 2013 - 4:45 AM

      Glad to hear it and I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying Sasami-san, too! It’s not as straightforward and simple as most anime but it’s an enjoyable experience with gorgeous visuals, which make it one of the better anime out this season, in my opinion. I kinda wonder what it’d be like without the brother, though…

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