Before the season began, I had an itching for a space anime, a samurai anime, and a fanservice anime. Given the overabundance of fanservice anime currently being produced by studios, I figured it’d be easy to pick one out of the bunch but they’ve all been appalling and generic. For the space and samurai anime, I found only one that fit each type, Mouretsu Pirates for space and Brave10 for samurai. We’ll see if they did enough to convince me to keep them for this year or if I should go back and watch an older anime that I know will satisfy me.
Not any of these four yet but two of these might move up next week.
Senki Zesshou Symphogear – Initially expecting a cheesy anime about schoolgirls transforming into idols that utilize their gifted voices to battle aliens akin to a magical girl anime, Symphogear surprised me by showing it’s all that and more. It must’ve looked down on my expectations, laughed, and preceded to leap far beyond my predetermined limits. Symphogear does have all those elements I originally planned to see but I expected less substance in the alien invasion and a steady angle on friendship and music throughout the series. But the alien invasion carried weight to it when it wrecked the stadium and actually killed people. Yeah, nowhere was I expecting to see blood or death in this anime but it had it. Hell, had it in the first 30 seconds, too, which really set the mood outside what I anticipated. The art won’t get any complaints from me but the animation felt a little substandard in areas or perhaps I’m just spoiled more anime with larger wallets. The fight was animated effectively and was fun to watch, especially with the singing slant to it, but it did lack tension for a majority of the fight (the idols are kinda overpowered). Music in the anime, something I expected to take center stage (haha pun), didn’t really take the lead (haha no) but had some of the better tracks this season. Probably the biggest strength of Symphogear is its directing. Scenes are executed in appropriate manner, pacing never was a problem, the episode progressed in a logical order, and the anime used the elements of surprise to its full advantage. Whoever was behind this episode deserves a gold star. Not sure what to think of the characters, the plot, or the direction the anime is taking yet but it’s going down a path I never envisioned when I first heard about this anime. I’ll want to see another episode before deciding on it for good but it’s getting a strong consideration after that first episode and I wouldn’t be surprised to if I watch the entire anime this season.
Mouretsu Pirates – This one feels like a throwback to those mid-90s space-themed adventure anime. You know the ones aboard a massive space ship sailing through the sea of stars and making sure action and adventure aren’t far behind or ever forgotten? The ones with seemingly limitless freedoms and detailed exploration in a rich and unpredictable setting? Yeah, that’s what I thought about for most of the episode when watching Mouretsu Pirates and that’s what I wanted from this anime. Granted the first episode had zero of those aspects but they sure did hint it every chance they had during the first episode. The whole scene where the pirates visit the home of former pirate wife and unknowingly-will-become-pirate-captain daughter gave off that vibe when the current pirates reminisced about their jobs as legal pirates (or Privateers if we want to get technical). Not sure when they’ll get to those scenes I mentioned earlier but you know the anime will get there eventually. But the direction the anime is taking now is somewhat obscure with the whole class of school girls and maid café taking up a healthy chunk of the episode. Not sure I want these to play prominent roles in the anime, especially the whole maid café scene. And the whole episode felt like a set-up for the second one where the action and adventure will start, so until I see to what degree the action, adventure, space, and pirating is like, I can’t make a decision. Other notables on the first episode were the crisp and pleasant art style of the characters giving them a look I favor over most anime now-a-days. The space setting is obviously a huge plus but the European-esque planet Marika lives on is an added bonus and I wouldn’t complain if they frequently revisited this planet. Marika appears to be a decent main character and doesn’t seem to be bound by any charactertic gimmicks or quirks, so her growth will be fun to watch. Not really any big negatives in this first episode but I am a bit disappointed there weren’t any pirate hats in this episode besides a flashback and an image-based internet search. I am expecting the next episode to be buried treasure (or at least a barrel of rum) and convince me to keep this series.
Brave10 – Not quite the samurai anime I was expecting but close enough to satisfy this craving I have. But if it weren’t for this yearning for a samurai anime, I probably would have put this in the dropped category after this one episode. The story is a big downer to me, the characters are nothing more than samurai stereotypes plus an incredibly needy genki girl, and the setting feels like an afterthought given how the anime felt like it could’ve been taken out of any era in any country instead of feudal Japan. Most of the battles were just special moves that decimated featureless ninja soldiers and the bizarre inclusion of comedy at the end disturbed the serious mood the whole episode was going on giving me mixed signals on whether this anime is serious or not. But after all that, I’m willing to give the anime another episode. The skirmish between Saizo and Sasuke had rousing animation and was directed better than any other aspect of the episode which gives me hope that the duels in this anime will all be worth watching (despite their overwhelming superpowers). The story might turn out to be decent but seemed incredibly cliché all throughout the first episode but it did progress between start and finish. And while I ragged on the characters earlier, I will say Isanami is cute (but incredibly annoying and clingy) and Yukimura is a tired stereotype of a lethargic commander that I always seem to love. His apathetic attitude toward Isanami after she detailed her heartbreaking story of escape and survival made me laugh in an unintentional manner and his general lazy but still helpful nature made him an easy favorite. Not sure what I will think about the other 6 or 7 heroes the anime will add in, though. One thing I don’t like about the other heroes is that, like other samurai anime, they just reuse the names of famous Japanese samurai from the Sengoku period. And they are used a lot. But that’s just nitpicking at this point when most haven’t even been hinted at in the anime. It’s going to get another episode to see what it can do but don’t be surprised if gets dropped due to time constraints this season.
Area no Kishi – This one got dropped before the season began and I didn’t plan on writing about it but I did scan through the first episode to see if there was anything worth mentioning. Besides the anime being excessively condensed with so many shounen tropes that it approaches a level hazardous to one’s health, I did like Jun Fukuyama as the lead’s older brother. Otherwise, way too shounen for me to handle.
And that’s it for now. One more of these will be turned out when Another, and Ano Natsu debut next week and I might add in some Daily Lives of High School Boys, too, if I’m up to it (planned on dropping it after those promotional videos). Also, Nisemonogatari will be getting episodic posts which is already in the draft phase right now and being tuned up before publishing. Should be out tonight.