One of the trends in anime that I haven’t been a fan of is the shorter episode length anime series because I have yet to see one stand alone series that has really been all that good. Now, some of these types of series that functioned as cute DVD/BD extras like the Mini Sengoku Basara series or the Shana-tan series or supplementary side material to a larger series like KyoAni’s Chuu2 Lite series were excellent but that was because they worked with a full length series that viewers were already familiar with. I think the problem partially stems from the increased difficult of telling a story in such a brief window of time.
I would like to see my assertion disproved because I think there should always be an exception to the rule but I still haven’t found it and the stack of disappointment just keeps growing. Will this season finally feature a good stand alone shorter episode length anime or will my waiting continue?
Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san Z
12 minute episodes
The “Z” tells us that this is the sequel to the 2011 series about a young woman that begins working for a Detective Agency where the boss can summon demons and bind them to do his bidding which comes in handy when solving cases. The young woman, as a trainee summoner, gets into lots of trouble because binding demons is very technical work and any misstep allows them the freedom to do what they want. My two recollections of the first season was that I remember it being a moderately funny series and a frustrating series to watch and this assessment holds for the first episode of the second season. The funny part is pretty self-explanatory but I should probably explain the frustrating part. I find this series frustrating because it feels like it’s created using the standard 24 minute length to an episode then cut, Solomon style, right in half. I find myself just really getting into the episode then BLAM it’s done. When it’s the end of episode, it should feel like the end of an episode and not the middle of one. Even with this problem I’m going to continue watching, if only so that I can complain about how this should have been given full 24 minute episodes.
Rating for episode 1 – 7/12 B
3 minute episodes
If you told me that Sparrow’s Hotel was made by high-schoolers then I’d respond with praise because these hypothetical students did a very good job for their ages but I highly doubt that is who created this anime. Instead, I found the first anime of this season that I’m dropping because even 3 minutes a week is too much time to spend on a series that’s this amateurish and poorly produced. Sparrow’s Hotel is about a female desk clerk that is absurdly strong, has a big chest, and is apparently an assassin on the side. There might be more to this woman but I don’t think the creators feel she needs to be fleshed out beyond these three points. Nor did the creators feel the need to add actual funny humor to Sparrow’s Hotel.
Rating for episode 1 – 2/12 F (Dropped)
Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san
12 minute episodes
Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-san is about a boy who accidently catches a mermaid while fishing and this mermaid takes a liking to the boy and starts hanging out with him when comes to the pier to fish. Right off the bat I liked how, as opposed to the other 12 minute long anime this season that also happens to be a comedy, Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san Z, it actually felt like it fit into the time allotted. I also really liked the animation; without tracking down the artists to double-check my gut reaction, it felt akin to the type of animation that we saw in Studio Trigger’s Little Witch Academia. I also liked the animation style, the light and colorful palette really fits the series. The only real snag to this anime is the comedy was somewhat hit-or-miss. I only found about half the jokes funny with only a couple real zingers amongst the keepers. If this ratio can improve, and it might once the characters get a bit more developed, then this might turn out to be a real winner.
Rating for episode 1 – 8/12 B+
4 minute episodes
I knew nothing about this series before I watched it since I had initially skipped over it due to it’s short episode length. So, it was only after watching this episode that I found out why I should have been interested in Aiura in the first place – it’s director is Ryousuke Nakamura. He directed the Run, Melos! part for Aoi Bungaku, Mouryou no Hako (which I will get to someday, I swear), and the opening to Arakawa Under the Bridge x Bridge (remember, the really awesome Cosmos vs. Alien one). That last one probably helps explain the OP to Aiura because it felt like something Shaft might do. And it’s a good thing the OP was awesomely odd because it filled up the first minute of this 4 minute episode. Which brings me to one of the challenges these really short series have, there’s so little time for actual content. Here, with the OP plus closing credits taking there share of time, there’s slightly less then 2.5 minutes for actual content. I liked what I saw in those 2.5 minutes – quality animation, great watercolor animation style, the characters introduced are potentially interesting – but there’s only so much I can deduce and get about a character when I only know that she finds super spicy taiyuki too spicy to eat. Even if this turns out to be a good series (and it very well might), it’s going to have to work very hard for me not to have wished that it had the standard 24 minute episodes.
Rating for episode 1 – 8/12 B+