As usual, these aren't reviews of entire series, but just my first impressions of their first episodes. This week: 2014 anime beginning with "C".
- Couldn't find: Calimero (Karimero) Japanese/Italian (series one 1974-1975, series two 1992-1993, series three 2014+)
- Couldn't find: Cho-Bakuretsu I-Jigen Menko Battle Gigant Shooter Tsukasa
- Couldn't find: Chou Zenmairobo: Patrasche
- Listed under "D": Detective Conan (Case Closed)
- Listed under "L": Laughing Under the Clouds (Donten ni Warau, Cloudy Laugh)
- Listed under "L": Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions (Chunibyo demo Koi ga Shitai!?)
- Captain Earth
- Captain Earth
- Season 1
- Episodes: 25 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: No, but I like this first episode.
- One-line summary: Mecha + interestingly unpredictable
If you're irredemably juvenile, like me, then the problem is the title. It's the word "Earth". Firstly, the vowel. Japanese speakers will almost always turn, for instance, "bird" into "bard", or "hurt" into "heart". Secondly, "th" also doesn't exist in Japanese and they'll say "s" instead.
This show is thus the adventures of Captain Arse. The words "Captain Earth
" are on-screen in English, but it's Captain Arse if you're listening to the Japanese actors' pronunciation. What's more, the show's technobabble includes orgone energy, as proposed in the 1930s by Wilhelm Reich in works like The Function of the Orgasm. (Even its pseudo-Greek name was chosen to share a root with orgasm.) The result here is dialogue like "arse engine impacter" and "orgone energy in the arse engine!"
That's unimportant, though. What you need to know is that this is a pleasingly unpredictable episode, which eventually turns into what's looking like another mecha show. Our hero is a boy who's clever, but uninterested in studying things that don't interest him. He's also good at video games. His late father was an astronaut, while years ago his best friend was a boy who didn't know what a father was. (Their flashback scenes together are charming and the best thing in the episode.)
All this is set in what at first appears to be modern Japan, in the real world. There's a mysterious sexy couple. There's a rainbow ring. There's space. I had no idea what I was watching for most of the episode, which was refreshing, although the "next episode" trailer has a mecha space battle. I'm not sure how the "passing magical girl" will fit in, but I don't imagine that's going to be literally true. I'd laugh if it was, though.
It's unpredictable. I enjoyed that, even if I don't expect the show to keep it up.
- Cardfight!! Vanguard: Legion Mate
- Season 4: Cardfight!! Vanguard: Legion Mate
- Season 5: Cardfight!! Vanguard G
- Episodes 164 "Missing Leader" + 197 "Chrono Shindou"
- 24 minutes
- Keep watching: I'd sooner eat broken glass
- One-line summary: Trading card games: the anime
I'm developing an allergy to shounen anime that exist to sell their audience game-playing merchandise (Cardfight!! Vanguard
, etc.). This is despite my high regard for Pokemon
. That's great. That show's about fighting monsters, which I can get behind. I'm also happy to watch people playing chess, bridge or Go, e.g. the rather good Hikaru no Go
, though, are about trading cards or small plastic toys. They drone on and on about how their rather tiresome-looking game is the best thing ever, underlining it by having small boys creaming their jeans. (Not literally.)
Not one but two Vanguard series launches were perpetrated in 2014. Of the two, I prefer Legion Mate, i.e. the season that I believe got skipped in the English dub. Everyone's forgotten about a hero who saved the world, so his best friend sets off to find him and get everyone hooked again on Cardfight!! Vanguard
. Sigh. I enjoyed the reality-editing, mind you. History appears to have been rewritten. A Cardfight Club that he founded no longer exists. Then, when the best friend goes recruiting allies by getting them to have a duel with him, the episode explains the game's rules in such detail that it actually gets interesting. It's like a lecture, with worked examples.
It's still silly, though, with its characters getting so passionate about this card game that it's as if they've caught religion. "That name, Vanguard, strikes a chord in my heart!" The ending theme is fun, though.
G, on the other hand, explains the rules in much less detail and doesn't really have any dramatic impetus. Why are they playing cards? Do I care? Nothing in it entertained me, while there was plenty I disliked.
Both episodes have a cool but antisocial and slightly thuggish boy discovering that Cardfight!! Vanguard
raises him to almost sexual excitement. They also share the same basic problem that I didn't believe in their premise. We're told that Cardfight!! Vanguard
is a real-world game played by hundreds of millions and we spend most of our time traipsing around school club rooms, nerd shops, etc. However when you play it, your astral body gets transported to the planet Cray and you fight with the monsters represented on your cards. I couldn't wrap my head around this. How does this work? Is it a card game whose outcome is determined by its rules, in which case the planet Cray doesn't actually mean anything? (That's the impression I got from Legion Mate. In reality, of course, there is a Cardfight!! Vanguard
trading card game and I suppose its rules are what we see here.)
Alternatively, victory might perhaps come from astral combat on the planet Cray, in which case it's not clear how the real-world card game fits in. That's the impression I got from G.
I imagine that if I kept watching this show, I'd get a better grip on how it worked and become fairer towards it. That's not happening, though. I watched two episodes and hated them. Enough.
- Celestial Method
- Sora no Method
- Season 1
- Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: I think I'd enjoy it
- One-line summary: Girls rediscover their friendship + a flying saucer
- I've since finished it and... it's nice.
It's gentle. I quite like it.
A girl (Nonoka Komiya) and her father are returning to a town they left seven years ago. She's humming. They pass a field of sunflowers. On arriving in their new house, in Nonoka's bedroom is a blue-haired girl who claims to have been waiting for her.
Oh, and there's a flying saucer floating above the town, about the size of the one in Independence Day. We also see Blue-Haired Girl with a fox (i.e. she might be magical) in an observatory with a gigantic telescope.
Not a lot happens in this episode, but it's nice. Nonoka slowly remembers about her life here seven years ago and reveals that she's extremely sensitive on the subject of her late mother. Blue-Haired Girl has a high-pitched voice. There are people who are cold ("why did you bother coming back?") and others who are warm-hearted. Nonoka unwittingly does a hurtful thing and tries to make amends. It's just nice people in a real world scenario, albeit with a huge thing floating overhead that so far hardly anyone's even mentioned.
It's the kind of series that's aiming at "low-key but charming". I'm sure it'll succeed at that.
- Chaika - The Coffin Princess
- Chaika - The Coffin Princess: Avenging Battle
- Hitsugi no Chaika
- Season one (12 episodes) + Season two (10 episodes)
- 24 minutes
- Keep watching: Yes
- One-line summary: Fantasy setting with a strange, cute girl carrying a coffin
- I've since finished it and... it's charming and hugely entertaining.
It's quirky, cool and full of interest in both the characters and the worldbuilding.
Firstly, Chaika. Yes, she does carry a coffin, even when trekking through the mountains. It's much bigger than she is. Now add in her earnest personality and broken speech patterns, throwing out bite-sized phrases with few verbs. I loved her on sight.
Next, we have the worldbuilding. Imagine a 19th century world, except powered by magic rather than technology. Call it fantasy steampunk. It has forests and monsters, e.g. evil unicorns. It has magicians who can telekinetically throw entire rooms at you. However it also has a Victorian aesthetic, vehicles, civilisation and so on. Chaika's coffin contains the parts for a gun so big that it takes a couple of minutes to assemble and needs a tripod, but instead of bullets it fires multi-purpose magical spells.
We have the eccentric saboteurs who get recruited by our heroine. We have political maneuvering among enemies. Most important, though, is Chaika herself, who's an adorable innocent abroad but also a dangerous wizard on a mission. She wants to steal something from a powerful man who's unwilling to give it up.
It's grabbed me. I'll be watching all of this.
- The Comic Artist and Assistants
- Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to
- Season 1
- Episodes: 12 x 13 minutes
- Keep watching: No
- One-line summary: Pervy manga artist and his long-suffering female art assistants
I don't really like it, but it made me laugh anyway.
Yuki Aito is the writer/artist of a fanservice manga. He lives to draw panty shots, boob groping, etc. He's also an immature virgin who takes his research seriously, so he'll frequently embarrass his female art assistants with inappropriate requests and/or his female editor by talking dirty (in her opinion) or shop (in his). This keeps threatening to become more tiresome than it actually is. I was feeling faintly antagonistic towards the episode, but then I realised I was laughing... and the credits rolled. These are only thirteen-minute episodes, which is unquestionably a good thing.
I feel I have a dazzlingly clear idea of what this show is doing, yet I have no idea whether I'd hate or enjoy the complete series, or even find myself doing both at once. Much will depend on the rest of the supporting cast. On the upside is the fact that Yuki is fond of and protective towards the lead character in his manga, despite the fanservice. Well, maybe it'll go on being funny.
- La Corda d'Oro -Blue Sky-
- Kiniro no Chord Blue Sky
- Season 3
- Episodes: 12 x 23 minutes
- Keep watching: No, but I'm sure it's solid
- One-line summary: Shoujo with violins
It's the third season of a shoujo anime based on a role-playing video game series about violinists. Kahoko Hino is a girl who's about to go to Seiso Academy and be surrounded by beautiful boys and brilliant musicians. (It's subtler than it might have been, though. Kahoko is a nice, sensible girl who's certainly not going to turn into an empty-headed flirt. Her worries are practical. I liked her.)
There's also going to be a national competition to find Japan's best high school for musicians. There's a motif of whether or not one wants to stretch oneself. "Is this all you can do? Is this all you want to be?"
I can't pretend I found this show inspiring, but it looks competent, sincere and quite well done.
- Cross Ange
- Kurosu Anju Tenshi to Ryu no Rondo
- Season 1
- Episodes: 25 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: Mildly tempted
- One-line summary: Mecha + dragons + fantasy apartheid + nudity
- I've since finished it and... it's better than I'd expected. A surprisingly solid show.
I'd heard of this show by reputation. It goes further than most with its fanservice, despite being quite a sophisticated show that's giving over relatively little of its running time to tits and arse. The title sequence sets the tone with head-to-foot nudity, not all of it female. There's an erect penis. The show later has cleavage windows, see-through nightdresses, a super-sleazy dressing gown and a naked medical examination that I think involves anal invasion.
That's not the main business of the episode, though.
Angelise Ikaruga "Ange" Misurugi is the show's protagonist. She's a 16-year-old princess in a land where humans have evolved magical powers (called Mana) and the rare powerless freaks are called Norms and have no human rights. Ange accepts this. She knows that Norm extermination is necessary. Even if it means tearing a baby from its mother, it's every citizen's duty to reject the subhuman creature and encourage the mother to have another baby, this time a normal one.
The world also has flying spiky robot mecha, which look like a cross between traditional mecha and speeder bikes. They fight dragons. You know, huge fire-breathing monsters.
Anyway, there's a surprise in store for Ange, which says some fairly staggering things about her pampered life to date. This hindsight adds subtext to an earlier scene. I also liked the contrast between the worlds of the rich and powerful (with Quidditch) and the harsh fate of the Norms. If you can take the fanservice, this is looking like an interesting series. I bet these mecha shows are often more unpredictable in their early episodes, before the genre formulae kick in, but even so I'm slightly intrigued by this one.