Hataraku Maou-sama! is a charming anime thanks to its genuine comedy and pleasant cast of characters. While the first episode focused primarily on setting up the story with Sadao meeting Emi in modern Tokyo, Maou-sama provided tremendous insight into its sense of humor and its presentation, working in a number of amusing jokes regularly throughout the episode. In addition to that, we also witnessed the transformation of Sadao and his underling, Ashiya, from world-conquering demons to underemployed foreigners. It really introduced the series well and gave us a baseline to go from, already showing us development in the characters that’s both meaningful and hilarious. The story will only progress from here and it will likely show Sadao and Emi compete with each other in this new realm but instead of awesome super-powers and magic, they’ll be competing as ordinary humans. The results are sure to be hilarious and I wouldn’t be surprised if some romance blossoms between these two fated rivals. Given that the physical setting is Tokyo, I’m not entirely impressed, but I do enjoy the fantasy undertones throughout and the fact that the characters are all from another world and one that’s modeled after an RPG video game. The art and animation were above-standard and pleasing to watch thought nothing noteworthy occurred in this episode. I’m already excited about the next episode of Maou-sama and I hope that every episode from here on out can reproduce the same level of quality and amount of comedy that made the first episode so enjoyable.
Nothing here which means the other three are…
Hey, did you know you’re watching an incredibly dry and derivative harem anime? Let me remind, again, you that I am childhood friends with the smartest, most popular and athletic girl at our school? And that I’m buddy-buddy with the busty tomboy on the Softball team? And like every girl at school because of my camera? Oh, and how could I forget that this is generic every-school in Japan? And that super wacky club I joined, the one with those crazy characters and that one otaku girl, why, everyone does that in Japan, right? Yeah, you can totally self-insert yourself into this miserable excuse of fan wank, especially if you’re one of those camera otaku who loves to take those slightly ecchi pictures of girls without their permission. Oh, what’s that? The girls in this anime want you to take their pictures and that they don’t mind if you’re spying on them from afar? Wonderful! It’s like this anime was written by the hopes and dreams of every lonely otaku with a camera who dreamed about taking upskirt of every girl in school. Yeah, that’s probably the only type of demographic that could possibly watch and appreciate this mess of an anime. And if the entirely unoriginal story, characters and setting weren’t enough of a reason, the art is clearly substandard and the animation nonexistent. Hell, even the fanservice in this anime is awkward with all those spine-breaking poses everyone is doing. Really, there is no reason to continue watching Photo Kano unless you’re the kinda guy who wishes they could photograph every girl in school in a variety of outfits doing supposedly sexy poses without getting arrested and thrown in jail. Yeah, that’s it.
Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru (Oregairu)
Pretty much take the Photo Kano review, place it here, remove “perverted camera otaku” and replace with “typical anti-social loser” and you’ve got my impressions of Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. It’s pretty much got the same set-up you see in every harem anime with guy meeting girls, guy being forced into new club, typical Japanese high school, and every other cliché that’s necessary for these type of anime so that the otaku that depend on them never have to face change in their lives. Like, even if there were an ounce of originality in this anime, would the audience that this is intended for throw up their arms and riot? I really wonder why there is no innovation or imagination in this genre that feels like the same anime on repeat. And is it supposed to be funny that the premise here is “this isn’t going to be a romcom” and then it goes head-first into stereotypical romcom jokes and relationship development? Newsflash, it isn’t. Not only that, but the characters are incredibly shallow and the dialogue throughout the episode was monotonous and predictable. Not only that, but it is incredibly boring for the entire first episode to be the main two to three characters conversing the whole time. The art is fine yet unimpressive, but the animation was completely absent since it was just people sitting and talking in an empty classroom for 20 minutes. I am stunned that I am saying this but somehow Photo Kano was better than Oregairu. However, unlike Photo Kano, I may revisit this anime since it has the right properties to be an effective sleep aid should I ever develop insomnia and need a way to quickly fall asleep each night.
Aku no Hana
Since the visuals are the most defining, most noteworthy and most conversed subject of Aku no Hana, let’s start there first. I must admit, I was skeptical about the animation style from the screenshots I saw but I am impressed with the level of animation and kinetics throughout the entire episode. The sheer amount of movement is remarkable, especially with all the insignificant and wasted motions, like shifting one’s eyes or acting goofy in public. I really enjoyed that aspect of this episode, especially since the animation was constant and consistent throughout. Even with a few scenes of recycled animation, I found this to be the single best aspect of this anime. However, the other aspect of the visuals, that of the art, is a disaster. I realize there is an exchange between art and animation and that the one must be sacrificed for the other, but the characters are just way too plain to look at. There is no detail in their appearance. It’s lackluster. It’s boring. I realize that there was a compromise to accommodate for the level of the animation, but this is unpleasant. What it did was pass a certain threshold of art quality for me, placing it somewhere below the baseline of what I consider acceptable for an anime. If they wanted the story to be portrayed as realistic, why not just film it as a live-action TV show? In fact, if it were a live-action show, I think I’d definitely keep it. If it were a live-action show, I’d have no gripe about the low-quality art and I would be able to appreciate the artistic merit of the story more so. But no, the character art is too worrisome for me, something that I just can’t appreciate for an story of this caliber. I’m in love with the animation and kinetics in Aku no Hana but the art is just way too simple and dull. And when the anime transitions into dialogue-heavy scenes where the animation is nil, I know I won’t be happy with the appearance of this anime. I’m really conflicted on this issue, both simultaneously loving and hating different aspects of the concept at the same time. If only the art quality were better, then I might be talking about this anime in the Watching section instead.
Alright, as for the rest of the anime, I can’t say I’m terribly fascinated. The protagonist here is just another high school loser who’s horny for the most beautiful girl in school. I know the story will pick-up quickly now that Kasuga found Saeki’s gym clothes in the classroom, but I was never thrilled with the idea of a romance/drama where blackmail is the dominant concept. It may or may not be interesting but it doesn’t seem like the kinda story I enjoy or appreciate. And given the way the first episode was directed, I really have to wonder how slow and meaningless the rest of the anime will be. This first episode felt unnecessary given how little development occurred, and you really have to question the message the producers were trying to send with this first episode. I know that they’re trying to be artsy and emblematic but this was just bad.