I Can't Understand What My Husband Is SayingInari Konkon Koi IrohaIs the Order a RabbitJapanese
Anime 1st episodes 2014: I
Including: I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying - season one, If Her Flag Breaks, In Search of the Lost Future, Insufficient Direction, Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha (anime), Initial D: Final Stage, Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san, Invaders of the Rokujyoma!?, The Irregular at Magic High School, Is the Order a Rabbit?
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2014 >>
Keywords: I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying, Inari Konkon Koi Iroha, Is the Order a Rabbit, anime, SF, fantasy, harem
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 10 episodes
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 27 March 2015
These are the 2014 anime shows beginning with "i" and they took me ages. That's not because there are lots. There aren't. It's a perfectly unexceptional number. ("M", on the other hand, is going to be a monster.) It's just that almost everything I watched made me want to watch the entire show, which slowed me down.
As usual, these aren't reviews of entire series, but just my first impressions of their first episodes.
[REVIEWED UNDER "O" ] One Week Friends (Isshuukan Friends)
[REVIEWED UNDER "W" ] When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, aka. Inou Battle Within Everyday Life, or Inou-Battle in the Usually Daze
can't understand what my husband is saying
I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying
Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 4 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: short form comedy about having an otaku husband
I've since finished it and... it's very good.
Kaoru works in an office, but her husband, Hajime, is an otaku whose sole income is his blog. He likes anime, including porn. This doesn't seem to get in the way of conventional marital relationships, which is one of many things that speaks volumes for Kaoru's open-mindedness. She (rightly) regards him as an alien creature beyond her understanding, but she's not a comedy sitcom grump. (This is doubly surprising in a comedy made up of four-minute episodes.) She's happy about being married to him and she's doing her best to be a good wife. This show is a comedy about that.
Tomoko didn't regard Hajime as a true hardcore otaku, though. He can leave the house. He's managed to meet a woman. He earns some money. In short, the culture clash isn't unmanageable.
It made me laugh. Its gags about otaku are accurate, rather than just stereotypes. I liked Kaoru and Hajime's reactions to an anime film, for instance. (Kaoru enjoyed it. Hajime went into super-analysis critical dissection mode.) To be honest, this premise hadn't sounded appealing to me, but it's been done well. I'll be watching all of these.
Kanojo ga Flag o Oraretara
If Her Flag Breaks
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
Gaworare
Season 1
Episodes: 14 x 24 minutes (including an OVA)
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: good harem show with comedy divination
I've since finished it and... I enjoyed it quite a lot.
It's charging into harem territory. However it also has entertaining characters, lots of laughs and a cool idea that drives the comedy but can also take a dark turn if necessary. Souta Hatate can see flags. They appear above your head, telling Souta what currently rules you, e.g. anger, romance, death. Souta's seen quite a few of the latter, so understandably regards himself as cursed and goes out of his way to shoot down anyone making overtures of friendship or more. Every so often he'll also save someone's life.
Anyway, the episode's comedy comes from girls who are immune to Souta's superpowers.
Nanami talks in a stilted, old-fashioned way that's explained by her being from the royal family of a tiny European country. She's bossy, peremptory and slightly bullying, but she seems to regard Souta as a pet who needs kicking into shape. She's not even a friend, let alone a romantic prospect, but he's stuck with her anyway.
Akane has an indestructible friendship flag. She sprouts them like mushrooms. No matter what you say to her, she'll put a positive spin on it and just become even more friendly. This is hysterical.
I love it. It's another harem show, of course, but there are some really good harem shows out there and at least these girls aren't (yet) romantically fixated on Souta. I'm not convinced that the dramatic flag-replacement scene makes sense, mind you. You can save someone's life by kissing them? What had been going to kill them, then? Bad feelings? Also, the school uniforms are silly. However I'm intrigued by the game-inspired flag idea and I like the characters. I'm definitely watching all of this.
Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete
In Search of the Lost Future
Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete
Waremete
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: school friends + time-twisting
I've since finished it and... it's not for everyone, but I thought it was interesting.
The synopsis made me keen to watch this, but then lots of negative reviews gave me second thoughts. However when I eventually watched it, having completely forgotten about the time-travelling SF concept, I found myself liking the characters and wanting to keep watching because of them. That's decided, then.
Sou Akiyama is the only astronomy nerd in his school's astronomy club. His clubmates include a childhood friend (Kaori Sasaki) who lives with him and is practically his sister, a boy who can't stop spouting gratuitous English and a nice but violent girl who does karate kicks in a short skirt and beats up the entire judo club single-handedly. Apparently the boy's an American exchange student, whereas I'd just been assuming that he was just a twat. He's an inoffensive one, though.
Anyway, most of the episode is just about the characters. Sou decides that the club should build a planetarium, while everyone else is trying to trying to play cupid for Kaori and Sou even though one of them's putting herself second and suppressing her own feelings in doing so. Kaori surprised me by showing way more resolution than you'd expect of a character like this in episode one, but then the show undergoes a genre shift. Things get weird.
Not everyone has appreciated this. Some think it's dull. The episode is slow and quiet, apart from its last three minutes, while the character work is mostly understated. It's also unclear why the school's student council should be putting the astronomy club in charge of discipline, although that might have something to do with one of their members being a girl who'll beat up boys for fighting. Personally, though, I enjoyed it. I was getting into the relationships, I liked the gentle pace and of course I'm looking forward to seeing how the plot's going to unfold. Very happy to keep watching this.
Kantoku Fuyuki Todoki
Insufficient Direction
Kantoku Fuyuki Todoki
Season 1
3 minutes
Keep watching: yes, if I can find it
One-line summary: short form comedy about having an otaku husband
The synopsis sounded off-putting. It's based on a manga by Anno Hideaki's wife about their home life together. In fact, though, it's brilliant.
Who's Hideaki Anno? Answer: a massive otaku and the director of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Who's his wife? Answer: Moyoco Anno, a hugely successful manga-ka in her own right and a big name in Japan. She's an otaku too, although not quite at Hideaki's level. He's one of the Four Otaku Kings of Japan. You might now be thinking of I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying and indeed they are similar shows with similar dynamics. What would it be like to be the wife of an incurable anime/manga geek? Even many of the two show's gags could be swapped. I like both and it would be fair to call them complimentary shows... but they're also very different.
Firstly, this is real. Admittedly it starts with a proviso that "this is fiction" and its characters are "director" and "Rompers" rather than Hideaki and Moyoco. However it's still real. Hideaki has said that Moyoco has exaggerated a few things for comedy value, but it's openly a portrait of the two of them and meant to be read as such.
Secondly, it's more eccentric. This is what they're really like. We thus have laugh-out-loud lines like "I'm ten" and "I'll be wearing my Kamen Rider suit", or Moyoco's gags about their chosen profession. "Wedding ceremony: an event where the husband, cosplaying as a Kamen Rider, and the wife, cosplaying as a bride, hand out doujinshi to people toward whom they want to show gratitude. This is the standard wedding ceremony in the anime and manga industry."
I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying is a strong show too, but it's more generic. It stars an everyman otaku, married to an everywoman office lady. It has cheap gags and outrageous characters (e.g. Hajime's sister-brother), but its tone is less wacky than you'd expect and its characterisation more nuanced. This show, on the other hand, is more specific. Hideaki Anno isn't some random otaku, but the second best known anime director of all time, only beaten by (his good friend) Hayao Miyazaki. Moyoco's a big deal in the industry, too. As for this account, it's more flippant, freeform and personal. It's diary-like, being in the first person. Strongly recommended, especially if you have any interest in Anno. (I need to start taking an interest in his wife's work too.)
"This was the start of my long road to otaku-wife-hood."
Inari Kon Kon Koi Iroha
Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha
InaKon
Season 1
Episodes: 11 x 24 minutes (including an OVA)
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: Well-meaning, nervous schoolgirl gets magical powers from a god.
I've since finished it and... I liked it so much that I bought the manga too.
Inari is a clumsy girl with a crush on her classmate, Koji Tanbabashi, but she's so lacking in self-confidence that she can barely talk to him even when he's been ordered to look after her by a teacher. She's also the kind of girl who'll make herself late from school to help a dog, even though in doing so she ends up falling in a river. Anyway, at school, she watches Koji from afar... and then eventually she sees him with another girl, who's prettier than Inari and seems capable of doing and saying what Inari couldn't.
This is traumatic. Fortunately the gods are listening. They offer Inari a wish... and I found her response, frankly, appalling. The girl has issues. There's no malice in it and it's easy to understand Inari's feelings, but even so that's just not a healthy thing to want. Anyway, this proves to be a mistake, as anyone could have seen at a glance. The gods response is to fix the situation by giving Inari unlimited magical control over what they've given her.
These are not bright gods. They also play computer games when they think no one's looking.
I really enjoyed this episode. Inari's sweet. She wants to help people and tries really hard to rectify her mistakes. It's a gentle, feelgood show in which everyone's basically nice and well-meaning, but it's not marshmallow. It has hard edges underneath. I'm faintly disturbed by Inari's new magical powers, for instance, since I'm finding it hard to imagine story uses of them that won't end regrettably. I appreciated the fact that Koji is also capable of being an inept twat, instead of being an idealised figure of perfection. I'm intrigued by Inari's big brother and his angry glare at the shrine. Yup, I'm watching all of this too.
Initial D Final Stage
Initial D: Final Stage
Initial D: Final Stage
Season 6 of Initial D, not counting OVAs and movies
Episodes: 4 x 28 minutes
Keep watching: you'd have to pay me money
One-line summary: car racing
Do not watch under any circumstances. It's about car racing. Admittedly it's a long-running franchise going back to 1998, with this being its tenth anime iteration, but it's still about car racing.
The first five minutes were hilariously bad. Two cars are driven at suicidal speeds along a deserted road by drivers with all the facial animation of zombies. Had they met a car coming the other way, everyone would have been killed. I was begging for them to run over an old lady or small child, or perhaps to crash into some people like themselves and die. After that, Satan could torture them in hell for their part in helping to destroy the environment. Anyway, this car-racing has an inner voice-over, in which we discover that Hero Nerd loves driving so much that he's practically having an orgasm.
To be honest, I could have stopped with "it's a car racing anime" and still had ample reason to steer clear. That said, though, this episode's problem for me wasn't just the cars, but the lack of anything else. Watching Initial D: Final Stage is like being stuck in a bar with a boring drunk who won't shut up about his pet subject. The characters' only motivation is cars. Nothing exists except in relation to cars. The dialogue is all about cars and is also devoid of wit or nuance. Nobody ever relaxes or shows their human side. Nobody's funny. If this show ever had a sense of humour, it must have clubbed it to death long ago and buried it in the desert.
Even a mother talking about her son is telling us about his relationship with cars and why he drives them as he does. Mind you, I was impressed that this macho-looking show had any female characters in it at all. They don't drive, but at least they exist.
Even the animation is horrible. The cars aren't too obviously CGI, which is apparently an improvement on earlier seasons, but the cast aren't even convincingly human. They'll move like Gerry Anderson marionettes. They'll be cheaply animated, with flapping mouths in otherwise immobile faces. They'll even be badly drawn, in an art style that in fairness is less stylised than anime-normal, but hasn't managed to combine that with being good.
Sometimes the animation looks okay, mind you. I also liked the music.
There's one character I liked. He's only in it briefly, but he seems to be in a foul mood and he throws away his keys. That was interesting. I wanted to know more about him.
It's painful. I was amused for a while by its badness, but soon I was just waiting for it to end. It's begging to be parodied, except that you wouldn't be able to tell the parody from the original. One-note, dull and humourless.
inugami-san to nekoyama-san
Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san
Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 4 minutes (including the OVA)
Keep watching: yes, but.
One-line summary: lesbian schoolgirl couple
I've since finished it and... it's modestly entertaining fluff.
To my surprise, oddly off-putting. I'll be continuing with it, but it appealed less than I was expecting.
"Inu" means "dog" and "neko" means "cat". (Anime fans often know that even if they know almost no other Japanese.)
INUGAMI-SAN is thus a tall blonde girl whose name starts with "dog", but she loves cats. She's said to have a dog-like personality, but in a serene, elegant way that to me seems more cat-like. She ties her hair in a ponytail that sometimes wags.
NEKOYAMA-SAN, on the other hand, is a short brunette girl whose name starts with "cat", but she loves dogs. She supposedly has a cat-like personality, but in a boisterous, over-energetic way that to me seems more puppy-like. She has unruly hair that sometimes spikes up to mimic cat ears.
Did you get all that? Well, I didn't. I needed a rewatch to get a grip on who was which animal in what way. Admittedly that's no hardship since it's only four minutes long, but that still didn't endear me to it. As for the story, it's based on a four-panel gag manga about two lesbian schoolgirls. This interested me, since one sees so much playful lesbian subtext in anime that I was looking forward to seeing it brought out in the open. Unfortunately here I thought it sometimes felt thudding and artificial, with slightly cheap sexual fantasies and a "let's get married!" at the end. (It's flippant, but it still feels to me more like anime formula than like the interactions of real people.)
I'll be continuing, but with lowered expectations. The four-minute running time didn't need to be a killer, but I think it's going to feel more like gag manga than a serious exploration of its characters. The third cast member is a straight man, for instance. (Well, in the sense of "straight" probably meaning "gay" and "man" meaning "girl"...)
Rokujouma no Shinryakusha
Invaders of the Rokujyoma!?
Rokujouma no Shinryakusha
Invaders of the Six-Tatami Mat Room!
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes yes yes!
One-line summary: the mother of all genre clashes is trying to steal your apartment
I've since finished it and... it's silly fun.
Is it a harem anime? I don't know and don't care. The cast is hilarious and I was laughing like a drain. I'll definitely be watching all of this.
Kotaro Satomi is living on his own because his mother's dead (I think) and he doesn't want to be a burden on his dad. What's more, he's found a small but super-cheap flat. Improbably, his landlady is a girl in his class. Anyway, we see Kotaro go to school and join the knitting club. No problem. Knitting is good.
Meanwhile there are hints of weird things going on in his vicinity, although they don't seem to match up. Is it a ghost? Aliens? Answer: that's not the half of it. Kotaro's about to meet a ghost girl, a magical girl, a subterranean girl from Edgar Rice Burroughs who plans to conquer the surface people (i.e. us) and an alien princess with attitude. All in his room. With no intention of leaving. They've got nothing to do with each other, by the way. They just show up one by one, each with their own agenda and zero interest in compromise. This would be an improbable coincidence if it were just two or three of them, but by the time we hit five it's just a riot.
The most mysterious of them all is Kotaro's landlady, by the way.
Happily there are no romantic overtones, although that might well change. (Is it a harem anime if there's one boy and lots of girls, but it's all entirely platonic? I suppose the answer might technically be 'yes', but my mental image of a harem anime has always been the sad otaku fantasy of lots of girls throwing themselves at one personality-free male.) Anyway, none of this rabble appears to fancy anyone else. Everyone's too busy apologising for being pathetic, booting attractive girls outside into the cold or trying to destroy the planet. I believe I did mention that the alien princess had an attitude?
I laughed a lot. It's funny to see, for instance, a ghost dismissing the claims of a magical girl because "there's no such thing as magic". This is going to be good.
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
The Irregular at Magic High School
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
Season 1
Episodes: 26 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yeah, why not?
One-line summary: incestuous subtext heroes vs. fascist bastards at magicians' high school
I've since finished it and... I quite liked it.
Cool worldbuilding background. The cast look fine. The brother-sister lead characters have incestuous subtext so heavy that it even freaks out their friends. Status-drunk snobs at school seem set on recreating apartheid. I wouldn't call it brilliant or anything, but yeah, why not? I'll give it a whirl.
Firstly, the world. It's the end of the 21st century, magic has been an established technology for nearly a hundred years and the world was torn apart by climate change, nukes and World War Three. A social order has been re-established, but the behaviour of certain people at school suggests that it's not necessarily all it might be.
Secondly, our heroes. If you don't have a sense of humour about incest, steer clear. Tatsuya Shiba and his sister Miyuki Shiba are two teenagers who've just won places at Private Magic University Affiliated High School. Miyuki came top in the entrance exam, so she's a first class student. Tatsuya is rubbish at practical magic, so he's a second class student despite having lots of other skills, e.g. ninja training, or the ability to be emotionless at all times. He likes his sister. That's normal. Miyuki, on the other hand, really, really likes him and he doesn't seem to mind, to the point where you could wonder if he's leading her on. That's less normal. I don't think they're actually doing anything, though. (Probably.)
Thirdly, the school. First class students are magicians, nicknamed "blooms", and second class students can be thought of as highly trained squibs, nicknamed "weeds". Blooms pick on weeds. They're such knobs that they'll even try to order Miyuki not to associate with her second-class brother, so you can imagine how well that goes down. This show has cool fights, by the way. I'm not thinking of the magic here, so much as Tatsuya's sparring with his bald pervert ninja sensei. That's... wow. It's not long, but it's impressive. Now that's a fight.
It's looking good. Not great, mind you. If I'd been in a different mood, I imagine I'd have passed it over. However it's solid enough and looks as if it might get interesting, with a lively cast, two eyebrow-raising leads and an encouraging 26-episode run. With a bit of luck, that might mean lots of story and ideas, with the space to explore them properly. The anime's by Madhouse, so that's a good sign too. I dare say Tatsuya and Miyuki will have put off some viewers, but I'm amused. Let's see where this goes.
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka
Is the Order a Rabbit?
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka
GochiUsa
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes, although probably without any great commitment
One-line summary: schoolgirls run a coffee house
I've since finished it and... watching it was a mistake, to be honest. It's empty.
Pleasant, fluffy nonsense. I enjoyed it. I'll be watching more.
Cocoa is an easily pleased, good-natured airhead who loves cute things and is friendly to everyone. Okay, "airhead" isn't fair, but she's certainly no deep thinker. Even when she turns out to be brilliant at mental arithmetic, her lack of self-awareness still manages to make her look like a ditz anyway.
Cocoa's also new in town. (It looks like a German mountain village, probably with Heidi or the von Trapp family about to come over a hill singing.) Cocoa's going to be a waitress at the Rabbit Cafe, which naturally makes her melt at the thought of a cafe full of rabbits. What she actually meets, though, is: (a) a small and nearly emotionless girl, Chino, who runs the cafe, and (b) Rize, a gun-toting soldier's daughter who already works there as a waitress and occasionally shows signs of self-consciousness about not being girly.
It's featherlight and sometimes silly. The milk drawings are daft, although I laughed at Chino's attempt. It also has a minor fantasy element and some mild fanservice (Rika in her underwear). However it's also nice and likeable. I'm sure I'll enjoy it, albeit without having my world shaken.