Friday marked a prominent day for this anime season, releasing over half a dozen new shows, including the one I was anticipating the most, Usagi Drop. I held some form of interest and anticipation in all of them and tested all the new shows (that includes Mayo Chiki, which I simply scanned through just to validate my earlier doubts) to see which ones were sensible and which should be promptly dismissed. But a few shows didn’t fall into either of the two categories and will give me something to consider when they air again next week.
Up first are the obvious winners, which should not be surprising considering my tastes.
No. 6 (Brain On) – This anime has the hallmarks of being one of the top anime this season. Without any serious or obvious flaws, No. 6 comes across as a solid and interesting anime revolving around the intelligent and innocent Shion and the mysterious and menacing Nezumi. Both characters have already revealed multiple layers of themselves over the course of the episode, which is promising considering this is the first episode and character development is usually rather shallow at this point. But better than that were the character interactions. Sure, Shion and Nezumi’s relationship accelerated rather quickly but it was interesting and enjoyable. The birthday party, too, was a pleasant treat, too, with that scene feeling both realistic and important. Another point that, well, blew me away, was the setting. The typhoon (yes, punch me now) added a satisfying level of tension and symbolism behind Shion and Nezumi’s initial meeting. The futuristic time-period, an era when mankind is reduced to a seemingly microscopic region of the earth to inhabit, and the city offer an enchanting backdrop to the story. The art and animation are polished products that make this anime a visual delicacy. The one reservation I have with this story is that it didn’t captivate me like I had hoped. But that’s being petty since only a few anime are able to pull that off each season. Presently, it ranks third for this season, just barely, behind another anime…
Mawaru Penguindrum (Brain Off) – With boundless creativity, exaggerated flamboyancy, and an unquestionably talented staff, Mawaru Penguindrum comes across, effortlessly, as the most entertaining, as well as clever, anime of the season. The entire episode was stimulating, especially that abrupt sugar-rush near the end, and the vivid, colorful art style and brilliant animation aid in the anime’s unparalleled energy and excitement. And the first episode showcased how diverse this anime can be; the first half showed that this anime is capable of serious themes while the second highlighted the entertainment and glamor the series will probably use primarily. I figure we’ll be seeing these serious themes be used for the central plot but have everything covered in that enthusiastic and comical layer that helped make the anime as amazing as it is. I’m not sure what the story is about entirely but if it’s anything like this first episode, then there’s no doubt this anime will be highly enjoyable. The characters are unblemished and thorough, but I wonder if there will be more than the three siblings living together and their three mascot penguins. And while I was smiling throughout the entire episode, it turns out Penguindrum is not the bizarre comedy anime I originally expected. It’s not a fault it didn’t turn out that way but I’ll need to search around to find something to satisfy that void for the summer.
Kamisama Dolls (Brain Off) – After finishing the first episode of Kamisama Dolls, I began to try to decide whether to continue watching this anime or not. I weighed all my thoughts on the anime and came to a simple conclusion: “I don’t know.” That’s also one of the reasons I delayed my thoughts on the show for a few days. Kamisama Dolls elicited no real strong opinions in me throughout the entire episode. I never felt that I liked it and I never felt that I hated it, either. It was entirely neutral from start to finish. The animation and art would get passible grades, just barely, and the characters seem fine to fairly standard. The story was the most interesting aspect for me but the presentation in the first episode hindered that aspect since I felt the presentation, introducing the main villain and the young girl-sidekick were rather tame and ordinary. I can see myself following this anime for until its finale or dropping it here and now, but Kamisama Dolls did enough, just enough, to warrant myself watching another episode and then, after seeing where the story goes, deciding on whether it is worth watching or not.
Idolmaster (Brain Off) – The first episode of Idolmaster seemed like the perfect way to start the anime to non-fans of the games (like me) by introducing each girl to the audience and providing a quick one-two to their personality and preferences. But, because of this format, I honestly am lost at what to expect for the next 24 episodes. The focus of the episode was to introduce us to each girl and have the cameraman ask a few questions in order to open up each of the characters. But all the characters felt very stereotypical, like their personality was type-casted from the second the voice actress began speaking. Each girl, unfortunately, has only one personality trait that determined their reactions to every external stimulus (except Makoto) and I can’t help but think the anime will stay that way until the very end. So the characters, except Makoto, are a negative to me, even if half of them are somewhat likable. The art and animation were better than estimated, the style is very appropriate for the anime and there were some quality dance sequences, and the unique structure to the first episode leads me to believe there are some imaginative forces behind this anime. So there are some positives here, too. The story gets a pass right now since this first episode is detached from the rest of the series due to its format in getting the non-fans up to speed with all the characters. So, I’ll keep Idolmaster around for another week to see what the story is like and let that be the deciding factor whether I keep this anime or not.
None. But we’ll see what next week has to offer for the last two.
And with that, it seems like there are three anime at the top this season for me, at least right now, with Usagi Drop leading the way, Penguindrum breathing down its neck, and No. 6 no less than a step behind. After that, things become somewhat jumbled. There is no real point in trying to sort out that mess, especially since it’s only been one episode for every anime, but the summer season appears to have been strengthened incredibly quickly by all the shows that appeared that one day.