The Final 9 Fall 2010 Anime Impressions – From Arakawa Under the Bridge to Yosuga no Sora

Making a list of the new fall anime that I still have to write impressions for, I discovered that nine more needed covered – or slightly more than half – and I’d already taken the ones easy to talk about. I was on pace for the last impression posts written to be series review posts; clearly, something needed done, something drastic.

Like combining all 9 shows into one post and just write the most pertinent items for each show. 🙂 Madness I know.

Arakawa Under the Bridge 2


Rating for episodes 1 to 412/12 Perfect

Anticipation Level: 5/5 Very High

The Shaft/Shinbou series following of a community of “interesting” people living under a bridge is back this season and I was equal parts excited and fearful at this prospect. I loved the first season and didn’t want a poorly done second season to drag the first season down but I really wanted to see the lovable cast of characters again and there were a few story threads that were not resolved that I’d like to see resolved. Imagine my relief when the second season picked right back up and immediately started to address the very story threads that I wanted see featured. Can we add mind reader to the list of Shinbou’s abilities? Maybe, but either way, the result has been I’ve been enjoying this season even more than the first season. Highly recommended.

Hakuouki Hekketsuroku


Rating for episodes 1 to 45/12 C+

Anticipation Level: 1.5/5 Below Average to Low

Frankly, I was surprised that I finished the first season, Hakuouki: Shinsengumi Kitan, since it was never a really good show. I might have received it better if I didn’t have to rely on what I learned from Rurouni Kenshin about the history of Japan in the 1860’s to explain the story and the characters to me. So maybe it wasn’t entirely the show’s fault for being less than stellar. I decided to give the second season a chance because I actually kinda knew the characters now and there was always the chance that the story of the show would finally start making sense and it was, at least, different from everything else I was watching. And Hakuouki Hekketsuroku has been slightly better in it’s second season. Now it looks like the constraining factor is having Studio Deen doing it; once again proving that Studio Deen is the best third-rate anime company out there. Recommended only to those anime fans that absolutely love historical anime; reverse harem fans will be disappointed to find that the guys here have a tendency to die.

Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls


Rating for episodes 1 to 47/12 B

Anticipation Level: 1.5/5 Below Average to Low

Samurai Girls takes place in one of the most interesting settings of all new anime this season – an alternative history Japan where the Shogunate never fell and also did not lose WW2 because the Shogunate had the help of “Master Samurai,” people of extraordinary talent and battle prowess. Samurai Girls also has one of this season’s most interesting artistic styles.  It’s a shame that this setting and style is going to be, apparently, wasted on a boring fan service romantic comedy. Our hero is your typical generic young high school/college aged boy who has a female friend from childhood that’s clingy towards him, to us it’s obvious she wants to be his girlfriend, and gets thrown into a situation where a multitude of woman will fall for him. Seen it done many times already and done much better. Check out this season’s Sora No Otoshimono for just one better example. Even the fan service element is incredibly weak in comparison to other shows airing right now; seeing it included makes the show feel awkward and should just be removed. In it’s favor, Samurai Girls, does feature the vocal work of both Rie Kugimiya (who I’ve been really missing lately) and Yuu Kobayashi. It’s hard to recommend this to anyone other than Kugimiya and Kobayashi fans; if the story was a little better or if there was more fighting than I’d recommend it to people looking for that but right now it’s just not there.

Kuragehime


Rating for episodes 1 to 311.5/12 Near Perfect

Anticipation Level: 4.5/5 High

The best way I can praise Kuragehime, aka Jellyfish Princess, is to say that it’s so good that I’m not angry at Brain’s Base (the animators) for doing it when they could be doing a third season of either Natsume Yuujinchou or Spice and Wolf or a second season of Baccano. It’s that good. The most striking thing about the anime is it’s storytelling; it’s so effortlessly perfect that it’s nearly invisible to the viewer without scrutiny. No “hey, it’s time for an info-dump,” or “hey, it’s time to the character’s back-story,” or “hey, don’t question this completely illogical turn-of-events, we need to get the plot moving,” or “hey, just accept these 1D cliché characters, there’s no time to flesh them out,” or “hey, don’t complain, these 2D characters are better than those cliché characters.” It doesn’t matter the show is about a group of adult female nerds and a flashy male cross-dresser, by almost everyone possible marker, Kuragehime is one of the best anime of the season and a definite must-watch for anyone who likens themselves an anime fan. I especially recommend it to those pessimists out there that believe anime is just becoming a vehicle to peddle moe junk.

Shinrei Tantei Yakumo


Rating for episodes 1 to 57/12 B

Anticipation Level: 2/5 Below Average

I was set to really like this; I normally can’t get enough of anime that feature the supernatural, which is why I was able to enjoy Occult Academy as much as I was able to do, but Shinrei Tantei Yakumo left me cold. Five episodes in and I’m still waiting for Yakumo, the physic detective, to get an interesting supernatural case. I’ve been having trouble staying awake through the episodes and when I do, the show leaves no impression on me later. At least with Occult Academy, it was interesting and entertaining, even if it didn’t quite make sense. It’s hard to really dislike a show that leaves no impression which means I probably, really, should drop the score lower (to better reflect it’s quality) and drop it all-together (since I’m not even going to remember watching it later). Why couldn’t they just make Ghost Hunt 2?

Star Driver


Rating for episodes 1 to 59/12 A-

Anticipation Level: 3/5 Average to Medium

Star Driver appears to be what happens when the people at Bones decide to create a new anime series at 4 AM after spending a long day animating other shows and then going out for a night of drinking and using other recreational drugs. It’s entertaining, well-drawn, exciting, unique and nearly incomprehensible. It might make sense at some later point but right now I don’t let it bother me since it doesn’t look like it’ll go the route of X’amd: Lost Memories, the last Bones original show. A measure of how odd this show is having the 20-something aged school nurse being into high school boys to the point of her having a book full of pictures of male students that she likes and having posters of young men on her wall at school and it didn’t even bother me. Recommended for those looking for something different with the jury still out on the merits of the plot/story.

The World God Only Knows


Rating for episodes 1 to 58/12 B+

Anticipation Level: 2.5/5 Average

The story to TWGOK – obsessive visual novel playing H.S. boy tasked with getting “real girls” to fall in love with him – was never going to a great, compelling story but Manglobe, the animators in charge of adapting into an anime, are doing really good with squeezing every bit of entertainment out of the source material. If the entire series was as good as episode 4, it could have been one of the top shows and top comedies of the season but the episodes that focus on the girls that need “captured” by the main character just aren’t as interesting. Worth a look but don’t expect too much.

To Aru Majutsu no Index II

Almost 30 episodes in and Index finally used the fact that she knows 100K+ "prohibited" books.

Rating for episodes 1 to 46/12 B-

Anticipation Level: 2/5 Below Average

I have a hard time believing Index and Railgun come from the same person; they exist on two completely opposite planes of existence. It makes sense then that I have completely different reactions to the two series. Railgun is a great series and Index is not. The same problems that plagued the first Index appear again in Index 2; the characters are needlessly verbose with nothing interesting to say, stuff happens completely randomly or in a coincidentally nice way that leads to lazy storytelling and the characters aren’t likable (even Misaka is a pain here which is weird because she’s awesome in Railgun). I really should just drop this now but the opening suggests that all the characters from Railgun will make an appearance and I want to see them again.

Yosuga no Sora

the skits at the end are pretty funny

Rating for episodes 1 to 59/12 A-

Anticipation Level: 2/5 Below Average

Initially I didn’t like how Amagami SS was going the route of independent 4 episode arcs to cover each different path in the anime adaptation of the visual novel. It seemed like a cop-out but I’ve found in practice that it works nicely because the animators don’t have to make it look like the male main character can hang out with a half-dozen different girls at the same time. A side-effect of this novel structure is that it’s difficult to get tired of the show because the time investment for 4 episodes is much less than 26 or even 13 episodes. If I don’t like a particular match, I only to wait a couple of episodes and the focus will shift to a different match. Watching Amagami SS prepared me for the similarly constructed Yosuga no Sora. The pair also share scenes of rather explicit fan-service which I should mention to potential viewers. I’ve been on the fence about these scenes, they don’t add to my enjoyment of either series so they could clipped out but, at the same time, I like that they don’t censor it as a way to drive DVD sales. Neither of these shows, I realize, are especially great shows but the novel structure employed help ensure that I keep watching, at least for now. (This set-up also put my mind at ease about the brother-sister undertone the first episode had of Yosuga no Sora since if they do go that route, I can just elect to not watch those couple of episodes.)

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13 thoughts on “The Final 9 Fall 2010 Anime Impressions – From Arakawa Under the Bridge to Yosuga no Sora”

  1. “Our hero is your typical generic young high school/college aged boy who has a female friend from childhood thatfs clingy towards him, to us itfs obvious she wants to be his girlfriend, and gets thrown into a situation where a multitude of woman will fall for him.”

    In Eien no Aselia, the hero is your typical high school aged boy who has a female friend from childhood that conforms to tsundere and tsukomu standards The hero is overly anxious in protecting his sister and primarily due to that is thrown into a situation where a multitude of women fall for him.

    Oh, but then we get to the interesting part. The childhood friend becomes a chief antagonist that the hero tries to save, from herself that is. In seeking to get back his sister, the hero ends up leading an all female military unit (sort of like Sakura Wars) into an all out war, vowing never to lose any of them due to casualties or losing his sister in the process or losing the war. The girls end up falling for the hero in the sense that they cement their loyalty to him. They trust him not to throw away their lives or the lives of their comrades and friends.

    In the process of getting on the job taichou training, the hero learns to wield responsibility along with power. The End.

    Actually, that wasn’t the end. It just felt like an ending at the time. There was a second ending after the first one. And then an epilogue ending after the second ending. It works because they give great villains to fight against. Defeat one villain and another one crops up, perfectly consistent with the plot events of the previous arc. The magic of having a single author that can create an integrated story, rather than people just piecing together whatever the production schedule lists.

    Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls: The art looks like those water scroll paintings in China and Japan. Romance of the Three Kingdoms, PC game, in 2001 made great use of those type of graphics. Really brought out the Eastern exoticness in the Strategy/Tactics RPG.

    history of Japan in the 1860fs to explain the story and the characters to me.

    Funny. Do it yourself plot and setting work! You could make it out of wholecloth if you wanted.

    I’ve gotten through some of the Manga of Birdy Decode. The author did an earlier version but the second version was what the anime used and it was a full blown serialization and upgrade of the original 4 chapter manga. I got past Two Hearts in One, the first volume. The anime changed some things like who was at what place and when, when the beginning plot played out. In the original material, a critical aspect they changed, was that Birdy was initially just going to ignore things and try to get Senkawa out of her. Her attitude was hostile. His attitude was hostile. That was the original interaction. The anime took away the hostility in the beginning and thus made Birdy a more sympathetic character. I think the original work was more consistent with Birdy’s background in police tactics and terrorism. Her personality is very driven and people who get in the way, are considered obstacles. Her character is more fearsome, intimidating, cold/calculating, when fighting the initial villains. For example, the first people she goes after, she acts like they can’t hurt her. And having taken direct blasts from such aliens without suffering a scratch, that’s pretty well proven. In the anime, you have her dodging and looking like she is worried for a second there. That makes her seem more vulnerable and thus more sympathetic.

    I really think the anime director wanted to make her seem more sympathetic to the audience. When in fact, her original personality is a driven personality that seeks to catch criminals and terrorists using whatever means are necessary. Precisely because of what happened in her back history. And Christina Revi, is the central villain heading the operation from which Gomez, Geiger, and Bostul operates. For those that have seen Decode 2, they might remember Revi’s monologue.

    The manga plot also makes a lot more sense. The whole marionette business was based off of Revi’s SOP. Revi started off in terrorism using suicide bombs inside human robots. This was after 9/11, so the idea wasn’t particularly new but it was also a dangerous threat precisely because it wasn’t new.

    Senkawa’s parents didn’t move away. A lot of funny romantic comedy bathroom scenes. An actual explanation of how teleport gates work. Birdy actually morphs her eyes, that look like tiger/leopard eyes, while in Senkawa’s body, gaining control and using it to crush threats with. The double body switch also fools a lot of villains, since they think Birdy is somewhere else. There’s a lot more stuff that feels like crime, Yakuza, and police work. Less romantic comedy. More hard boiled police stuff. One time a police officer is putting the pressure on Senkawa because they suspect he knows something about all the crazy stuff happening in town, and Birdy tells him not to fall for the police bluff tactic. A good example of team synergy, as well as emphasizing Birdy’s status as a federal investigator. Investigators, actually, you know, investigate like the police do.

    The power scale is also more clearly defined. There’s an actual progression here. The first villains are weak and can only run from Birdy. Other villains may have special immunities but is still easily countered with the right tactics. Gomez is a boss so he uses puppets for most of his work and is actually more concerned about his illegal projects than about chasing or fighting Birdy. So it sets it up so that when they do fight, it will be about actually stopping the villainous plans.

    The criminals actually behave like criminals. And Birdy/Federation actually behaves like a police force.

    I often contemplate why companies switch the plot up the way they do. On the one hand, I don’t see in the credits at anime news any mention of the manga author, so I assume he wasn’t actually consulting on the project. On the other hand, he may not hold the license to his own work, so if a top level company was managing licenses, they might actually stipulate that you couldn’t follow the manga exactly for fear that people will stop buying the manga.

    I can’t fully understand Japanese interviews or browse Japanese websites, so I can’t get any direct comment on this matter. I’m sure in those thousands of DVD after production videos that somebody would have mentioned this matter in more detail.

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  2. If I donft like a particular match, I only to wait a couple of episodes and the focus will shift to a different match.

    heh, perhaps you now can more relate to why VNs have so many different endings and characters.

    Although this doesn’t even include the reverse gender VNs. The ones that have like 1-2 girls and 5-10 guys. Since the anime market seems to be atypically male in gender preference, many shoujo themed works haven’t been translated directly to anime. At least, not yet. though I think there are some great stories there that are untold. For example, the teenage male angst and immaturity is not designed to attract males or females. It’s all the girls that are around him that we are supposed to look at. On the other hand, if you have 5-10 boys competing for the attentions of 2 girls, you will get “high quality” so to speak, in terms of the competition. Which means there’s an actual higher chance of finding mature male figures in such environments.

    Initially I didnft like how Amagami SS was going the route of independent 4 episode arcs to cover each different path in the anime adaptation of the visual novel.

    It’s the solution I prefer, but only due to time, production, and storyboard limitations. Any other solution tends to be… hard on the animating studio. Changing the work of another so that it still feels consistent and true requires a lot of work. Time=money. There are only a few people who can carry on the legacy of a writer’s universe and characters. Those few people are going to need to work and work takes time. Instead of spending money on that route, why not just take the original material as is rather than trying to change it and maybe end up breaking something, is the thinking that is better overall.

    Some studios like Key and its animation studio partner, have past experiences to go on. Not so with new adaptations.

    ike the male main character can hang out with a half-dozen different girls at the same time.

    And you don’t have to see Kyou or Ryou or Tomoyo make the sad face at the tennis game.

    The pair also share scenes of rather explicit fan-service which I should mention to potential viewers.

    Those must have been from the H scenes in the VN.

    (This set-up also put my mind at ease about the brother-sister undertone the first episode had of Yosuga no Sora since if they do go that route, I can just elect to not watch those couple of episodes.)

    The brother-sister forbidden relationship is often one of those “cultural shock” things that Westerners get when they first experience it in Japanese media. Cause it is rather glaringly popular in eroge and hentai markets. None of it makes it to the mainstream, with the exception of some muted references like “siscon” in the slang or in thematic circumstances where eroge is mentioned.

    In such situations, I basically just create two compartments. I put all the brother-sisterly affection feelings in Compartment 1. I close Compartment 1. I open Compartment 2, where I place all the romantic and sexual feelings between brother-sister. I then close Compartment 2. When I think about Compartment 1, C2 is never open. And when I open C2, C1 is never open.

    nifty, eh?

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  3. Remember when Arakawa Under Bridge mentioned the ‘Forbidden relationship” at the last episode?

    That was hilarious. Cause I knew exactly what they were talking about. Too heavy indeed.

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  4. Railgun **didn’t** come from the author of Index. A couple of the characters were in Index (Mikoto, Kuroko) but Railgun is a spinoff and the original author of the light novels was only slightly involved with it.

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  5. The fact that you can watch Kuragehime and not be distraught knowing it might be holding back a third season of Natsume Yuujinchou makes me extremely interested in this show. In all honesty, after Natsume’s Book of Friends ceased airing I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted just one or two more episodes. I felt like a junky coming down hard off a high. Baccano! helped … but only a little.

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  6. @Mr. Walker: I think it’s that good but I still wouldn’t mind if someone figured out a quick way to clone Brain’s Base a couple times so they could work on multiple projects at once 🙂

    @Steven Den Beste: Thanks for the heads-up; I hate when I assume something wrong and never take the 10 seconds to see if my assumption is correct. And that explains how completely different they are 🙂

    @ymarsakar: “And you don’t have to see Kyou or Ryou or Tomoyo make the sad face at the tennis game.” – This was one of my favorite parts to the first season of Clannad because I never expected them to shoot down all three at the same time. 🙂

    “When I think about Compartment 1, C2 is never open. And when I open C2, C1 is never open.” – That’s definitely is a nifty way of thinking and one I think I’ll remember.

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  7. Cloning you say? A capital proposition. I’m a genetics major so perhaps I should get on top of that. Although the silly ban on human cloning could prove a rather formidable blockade.

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  8. Rather than cloning, it would be more accurate to say copying one’s consciousness into a machine. Then you could just duplicate the talents and experiences of a singular genius individual and have him make alter egos backed up by AI processing power. And then you clone a body and then download the copied personality in, if you needed an Avatar.

    Essentially, that is similar to how general staffs function. How does a single leader manage and lead a group hundreds of thousands in number, given the fact that no single person could be aware of even a fraction of the total activities of such a group? S1-S6 became alter egos, forming the staff, that’s how.

    I seem to recall that Napoleon was the last major general that did things the old way. Leading soldiers directly and micromanaging issues himself, personally.

    It’d be nice to have alter egos. You could make them and then send them to do the stuff you didn’t like, then when they come back all you need to do is to digest their summarized reports.

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  9. Btw, steel, you posted before about living a slice of life anime in real life. Just be sure you don’t accidentally live a romantic comedy situation where one of your sisters finds anime episodes concerning a Forbidden Relationship and then asks you about it or starts making jokes about it.

    That would be breaking the 4th wall. Or maybe it’s the 5th wall given we’re one dimension higher. Too ironic for this dimension, nonetheless.

    Sono mei, dare da mei.

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  10. I watched the first episode of Railgun. Different director and some of the same script writers/series composers.

    I think the critical difference is demographics. Majutsu index has a male protagonist and a lot of anime producers want to take the no risk path of the male protagonist=harem=shounen demographic target. The thing is, Majutsu Index is only partially about the harem jokes and love triangles or quadrangles going on. To put it more succinctly, when anime producers are targeting a young audience, they normally will screw up the power and plot dynamics of the source. For Naruto and Bleach, the long (infinite) seasons means they can do it verbatim, without trying to change it. But Majutsu no Index is huge, as a light novel source. They had to cut it down to make it fit. And they cut out the pieces that didn’t fit.

    Railgun really brought out Academy city and its sci fi setting in one episode. Majutsu Index did not. I still didn’t know what the setting was like, even after 24 episodes of Index. Because it wasn’t about the world, the atmosphere, or the mood. It was about making the shonen population project themselves unto the male protagonist. You don’t see a lot of the “characters” in Majutsu no Index because a lot of the stuff is going under the hood, with mental narratives that never made it through the cut into the anime. For example, the entire fight sequence with the Imoutos concerning the battle on the bridge between Misaka and the protagonist wasn’t supposed to be a shonen action sequence. It was solely positioned to outline the determination of both characters and what they are or are not willing to fight for. But this can’t be adequately communicated if you leave out both person’s observations of the other in their heads. Externally, it’s just a fight. Internally, that is what is different.

    This is the same issue with Chrome Shelled Regios I objected to. They strip down a very complicated story (and atmospheric setting) and focused solely or mostly on the romantic, harem, or comedy parts. Which exists, but are only to break up the monotony between major plot points. Switching being “honemono” (the real truth) and “misemono” (the replacement white lie) is hard in an anime. Zombie desu ka does it well, but it’s an exception, rather than the rule.

    The first few episodes of Index were top notch. Afterwards, hard to say what was going on. When possible to tell the story without referring to the internal dialogue, things went well. But when it came to more complicated scenarios, things were either incomplete or totally misleading. Some of it was just for atmosphere and the mood, such as mental superpowers and how it relates to Academy City’s internal politics. (The miracle doctor, for example, that uses a psychic ability to heal and re-attach limbs, but was never mentioned or described in any particular accuracy. Like he didn’t matter, even though he poped up after each battle.)

    A lot of the plot turns with the villains and what not, simply do not make sense without the adequate prep work. But that prep work was rejected in favor of putting all the Index jokes in existence in. If the demographic was Seinen (older males), you wouldn’t have such an imbalance. It would be balanced more towards the realistic, hard knocks part of life, which is woven into the fabric of Index’s plot along key points.

    Kazuma Kamachi is listed as the original source of both Index I/II and Railgun.

    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/people.php?id=71650

    It would seem SDB is talking about Railgun the manga vs Index the light novels. In that sense, you’re not talking about adaption of two sources by different authors. You’re talking about adapting, first and foremost, a light novel vs a manga. Big difference entirely right there. A manga tends to have short dialogue that has to describe things well and succinctly, while showing visuals that make people aware. Thus most of an anime company’s job is done. The manga is the storyboard and series composition, by itself. They don’t really get a choice of “what to pick” out of the dialogue. Whatever they cut, won’t be much or vital. Usually. This results in a lot more coherent end production than somebody trying to pick pieces out of a light novel to put together, having no knowledge of the setting of the novel or what made it charming to begin with.

    The two huge hurdles anime companies still have to face, being risk averse as they are, are light novel adaptations and visual novel adaptations. I’m not sure which gets a worse adaptation output. Visual novels, eroge or nakige, are demographically the same as harem/shounen, so this tends to transfer well. But, the amount of plot details and character complexity, doesn’t transfer easily. The same is a problem in light novels, except light novels usually have very strange settings that are very unique and special. Trying to cut it down and paste it into a harem romantic comedy, creates a huge distortion in the plot consistency and character development. After 13 episodes, it becomes noticeable. After 24 episodes, it becomes obvious. Baccano is one example of a LN adaptation done right. Key is also an exception in the visual novel department. Utawarerumono is an example of a giri giri. A barely successful run, that still had huge plot inconsistencies due to the altercation of original plot timelines. People saw it too, that’s why they couldn’t figure some stuff out at the end. The important stuff, that is.

    I believe the difference noticed is mostly between the directors, the artistic design, and the production target goal between Railgun and Index. Producing anime to target harem shonen demographics is different from targeting elsewhere. Plus the differences between material types.

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  11. Btw, those wind turbines better be running on magic because they generate zero power even though they take up huge space.

    A nuclear generator would get more bang for the acre.

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  12. Watching some more episodes of Railgun, I can see why the author is credited with both. A lot of the stuff in Railgun is just the same plot material from Index. Except told through Misaka’s viewpoint.

    And better, due to the better artistic expression.

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