Knights of SidoniamechaJapanese
Anime 1st episodes 2014: J-K
Including: Jinsei, JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Karen Senki, Kamigami no Asobi, Keroro, The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behaviour, Kindaichi Case Files R, Knights of Sidonia
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2014 >>
Keywords: Knights of Sidonia, anime, SF, fantasy, mecha, detective
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 8 episodes
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 9 April 2015
As usual, these aren't reviews of entire series, but just my first impressions of first episodes.
[COULDN'T FIND] Calimero (Karimero) Japanese/Italian (series one 1974-1975, series two 1992-1993, series three 2014+)
[COULDN'T FIND] KutsuDaru -- A short-form anime about traditional Japanese monsters.
[REVIEWED UNDER "B" ] Black Butler (Kuroshitsuji)
[REVIEWED UNDER "C" ] Cardfight!! Vanguard
[REVIEWED UNDER "C" ] La Corda d'Oro -Blue Sky- (Kiniro no Chord Blue Sky)
[REVIEWED UNDER "C" ] Cross Ange (Kurosu Anju Tenshi to Ryu no Rondo)
[REVIEWED UNDER "I" ] If Her Flag Breaks (Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara)
[REVIEWED UNDER "I" ] Insufficient Direction (Kantoku Fuyuki Todoki)
[REVIEWED UNDER "M" ] Kagerou Project (Mekaku City Actors)
[REVIEWED UNDER "M" ] Mysterious Joker (Kaitou Joker)
jin.sei
Jinsei
Jinsei
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: funny, but no
One-line summary: schoolgirl agony aunts
It's funny and I like the cast, but the format is anti-story. I'm not really tempted to continue... he says, reading reviews to see if anyone has anything interesting to say about it.
It's about a school newspaper club's advice club and the joke is that all the columnists are biased and can't agree on anything. Sometimes their combined advice manages to be sensible, but only by accident. We have... 1. Yuki, the Token Boy Protagonist, i.e. the comedy's straight man. 2. Rino, a science geek who talks like a Martian and has no mercy. If she thinks you're wrong, she'll shoot you down in flames. 3. Ikumi, a sports monster who takes pride in her uncomplicated thought processes. 4. Fumi, a nice, slightly dreamy girl with big boobs who's into literature.
The good news is that I laughed a fair bit. It's a simple format. A reader's question comes in and these clowns go off on bizarre tangents while disagreeing on how to answer it. It's cute and likeable, but it's also repetitive. There's no overall narrative. Firstly, solve an issue. Secondly, solve a different issue. Thirdly, solve yet another unrelated issue. The end.
If I believed this could possibly have a story, I'd keep watching. It's funny. It's not harem-like, despite the "one boy + multiple girls" cast. (I hear that later episodes introduce fanservice, though, and Ikumi fondling Fumi made me wonder if she's a lesbian.) I could imagine checking out other episodes out of curiosity, but right now I won't be continuing.
jo jo bizarre adventure stardust crusaders
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders
Season 2, plus movies and OVAs
Episodes: 24 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: I didn't like it
One-line summary: deliberately overblown macho adventure
How odd. I didn't like it.
I'd heard great things about this show. It has a strong reputation, it's been a success for a good while now and I probably will end up watching it eventually. To my surprise, though, this episode didn't tempt me.
It's action-adventure with huge, rough-talking men who reminded me of Kenshiro from Fist of the North Star, but more hammily acted. The latter is deliberate, by the way. It's the sort of knowingly overblown line delivery that can be hugely entertaining if it fits the tone of the show. (It does. That's good.) Unfortunately I couldn't make myself interested in these macho bruisers, despite a lively storyline of thief-eating coffins, police cells and spirit possession. JoJo is rude to his mother, e.g. calling her a bitch, which didn't endear him to me even if she's okay with it.
It doesn't look like anime, by the way. The art style looks like Western comics. That's not a problem, though.
The villain looks memorable. I'm sure the storyline will be exciting. Nonetheless this episode didn't grab me. Things that appealed to me about it: nothing, really.
senki karen
Karen Senki
Karen Senki
Season 1
Episodes: 11 x 11 minutes
Keep watching: CGI animation, ewww
One-line summary: gun-toting girl vs. Skynet
Nope. Not watching this. I have no problem with the characters or storyline, but the CGI animation put me off. There's a shot in the closing credits of Karen walking through a crowd and I'd swear they're the living dead. Mind you, some scenes struck me as possibly rotoscoped.
Anyway, we begin with a little girl (Karen) and her sister talking to a big, nice robot in a field. That sister is going to die. There was a war in which machines culled humanity and now it's a post-apocalypse cyberpunk world in which Karen's grown up to be a robo-hunter. The fight scenes involve flight and are as spectacular as you'd expect from CGI.
The robots are the most interesting thing here, I think. We see that nice one at the start, the Illuminati pyramid-shaped cyclops eye killers and a prostitute robot that perhaps might be suggesting that the robots are people too.
If you can live with the CGI, it's fine. The design work is interesting. The show might well turn out to be very good, although obviously all I saw here was eleven minutes. I won't be continuing, though.
Mischief of the Gods
Kamigami no Asobi
Mischief of the Gods
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: Brain's Base, so yes
One-line summary: reverse harem of the gods
I've since finished it and... oh dear. I don't think the complete series works.
I knew in advance that I'd be watching the whole series, because of The Rule (i.e. it's by Brain's Base). What I didn't know is that it's an adaptation of an otome game (i.e. romantic simulation reverse-harem computer game for girls). It's very silly. However my mind blew when Zeus turned up at the end.
We start with a pretty boy who'll have a naked magical transformation sequence, in which his hair grows out like the world's greatest shampoo commercial. He then rides on a winged horse with a schoolgirl. This has nothing to do with anything else in the episode.
We then meet Yui Kusanagi, whose family runs a Shinto shrine. She's a serious girl whose hobby is swordsmanship and who is about to get transported into a magical world of beautiful boys who look deeply into your eyes and don't understand the idea of personal space. Whenever we first meet one, flowers will explode into bloom behind him. Colour-coordinated with his hair, naturally. Anyway, the first boy is an elf-man of roses who says, "Don't approach me; it will bring you misery." (Will Yui ever heal his wounded heart? Tune in next week to find out!) Blue Flowers has an abrasive attitude, but we know Yui will be able to help him too. White Flowers claims to have lost his memory and woken up here. Short-Haired Blonde is seduction on legs. And so on.
...and they're gods. Zeus kidnapped Yui so that she could teach them how to love. He actually has excellent logic underneath this and it all makes sense, but... wow. What's a girl to do, eh?
I've been being flippant, but there's actually a lot here to like. The show's idea is interesting and pleasingly bonkers. (Did I mention the school setting? Well, there is one.) Yui seems level-headed and sensible, as well as terribly nice. Admittedly the original game's reviews are only so-so, according to Tomoko on visiting its Japanese Amazon page, but I'm not worried about the quality. It's Brain's Base. I also can't see any reason to have a problem with, say, the half-naked manservice in the closing title sequence. Firstly, it's funny. Secondly, it's oddly reassuring to see a gender-reversed equivalent of all those harem fanservice shows, because otherwise it just wouldn't be fair.
This is going to be awesome.
(...or so I thought until I watched the rest of it.)
kero.ro
Keroro
Sgt. Frog
Series 2
Episode 1 or 359
Keep watching: I'm tempted
One-line summary: children's show about five frog-like alien invaders
It's a kiddie show, but it looks quite fun and the two main human characters strike me as extraordinarily cute, even by anime standards. I can't see myself ploughing through all of it, but I'd be more than happy to watch more.
There's quite a lot of Keroro, by the way. Keroro season one has 358 episodes (normal length, not three minutes each) plus five movies and ran from 2004-2011. Apparently it's full of pop culture and SF references. Episode 169 in 2007 even has a nod to Doctor Who, including the voice actor who was then dubbing David Tennant. (A telephone box materialises. You could just as easily convince yourself that it's Bill and Ted.)
Anyway, this is season two and a reboot. The Hinata family haven't even met any aliens yet, which they do for the episode's genuinely funny punchline. What we know so far about the aliens is that they look like frogs. What we don't know (unless we're already familiar with Keroro) is that they're trying to invade the Earth and that they keep failing, so you could perhaps think of this as a Japanese equivalent of Pinky and the Brain.
It made me laugh. The Hinata children look adorable. All looks good so far.
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behaviour
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes + a 13th OVA
Keep watching: Brain's Base, so yes
One-line summary: housemate comedy
I've since finished it and... I like it quite a lot.
It's another Brain's Base anime, so it must be watched. It's a comedy about five ill-matched housemates, although this first episode only has four of them and I only know about the fifth because she's in the closing credits.
1. Kazunari Usa is a slightly pathetic boy who's just starting high school and would like to have an intelligent, refined girlfriend. He'd also prefer not to be sharing rooms with a pervert, but unfortunately...
2. Shirosaki is a pervert. To quote their landlady... "He might be a pervert, but he's mostly harmless. If anything, he's the type of guy who wants to be harmed instead. He's a masochistic loser and a chicken who likes chicken cutlets. Oohoohoohoo."
3. Ritsu Kawai, a quiet girl on whom Usa fixates in a slightly stalker-like way. Unfortunately she's immune to him. She doesn't often react to things outside her head, except when hitting them with wooden swords.
4. Mayumi Nishikino, a sleazy, loud drunk with big boobs and a problem personality. She appears to be uncontrollable.
The show looks like a laugh. The characters are fun. Usa is a loser, but he's hardly the only one. Their landlady is amusingly open-minded, despite being a white-haired little old lady. It's also clearly not going to be a harem anime, or anything eye-rolling like that. The female cast appear to have the job of tormenting the boys, as is suggested in the show's Japanese title. (A literal translation of what it sounds like would be "we are all pitiful". That's an untranslatable Japanese pun, so someone's invented a completely different English-language title with three other puns instead.) In short, I laughed. More than happy to keep watching this.
Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo Returns
Kindaichi Case Files R
The File of Young Kindaichi Returns
Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo Returns
Series 2
Episodes: 25 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no, but it looks good
One-line summary: teen detective franchise
It's pretty good. Looks solid and entertaining. It's another high school boy detective show, playing out like a slightly more realistic version of Detective Conan (no James Bond gadgets, protagonist not regressed to early childhood by use of experimental poison, etc.) Technically, in fact, Kindaichi started two years before Conan and was an inspiration for it. Kindaichi Case Files had a 148-episode anime series in the late 1990s, plus various bits and bobs (films, OVAs, TV specials), but this is a revival or reboot rather than an ongoing show. The "R" in the title means "Returns".
The original Kosuke Kindaichi was a famous fictional Japanese detective, created in 1946. This anime's hero, Hajime, is his grandson. We learn in this episode that he's useless at school and terrible at tests, but while messing up all the other questions he did manage to solve an "impossible" question that the teacher threw in for laughs. Anyway, this week his friend Miyuki discovers via an unconventional job offer that she's the spitting image of a fashion model who's gone missing in Hong Kong. (This is weird because her plain character design is desperately unflattering.) The fashion show wants a stand-in. Could our heroes oblige?
It's family-friendly, but not kiddified. There's death on-screen, with a stabbing and a poisoning. There's an exciting chase with Kindaichi on a bicycle pursuing a car. (No, I'm not being sarcastic. It's rather well done, although unsurprisingly he doesn't manage to hang in there very long.)
This is part one of a multi-part story, by the way. I liked it. It's well done. I'm neutral about detective stories in general and I've got too much in my "to watch" queue to continue with this, but I'd have no problem with recommending it to someone who might.
Sidonia no Kishi
Knights of Sidonia
Sidonia no Kishi
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: I can't decide
One-line summary: mankind in the year 3394
I've since finished it and... Season 1 is very good. Season 2 is fan-bloody-tastic.
Absolutely gorgeous. It looks stunning. I'm sure there's just as much CGI-assisted animation here as in Karen Senki, but here it's been rendered to look cel-traced and with no uncanny valley. What do we have? Cool opening space fight. Imposing alien life. Backgrounds so rich and detailed that it's as if you're really there. It's animation as SF worldbuilding. The people aren't being drawn expressively and even the brief fanservice scene looks oddly mechanical, but it's all part of the style. It's a dazzling achievement by anyone's standards.
The future is full of ideas. It's the year 3394 and mankind is living in a city that was built a thousand years ago. It's ruled by creepy people in masks and there are street protests about "abolish martial law". Technically, we're at war. With whom? Gauna. People can photosynthesise, bears can talk and there's a third gender that can reproduce with either of the other two. Are those pink-haired girls clones? Or something else?
The storyline is less surprising, but it's fine. Our hero is some kind of subterranean mole-man thief who's like Wile E. Coyote in his ability to take punishment, get up and keep running. The city's rulers catch him and (more surprisingly) give him a legal guardian and a job. He's bad at it, but he's going to have to get better in a hurry if he doesn't want to become Gauna food.
There are mecha, but it feels like a fascinating SF future that happens to contain mecha rather than the other way around. It's intriguing. It's also getting a second season that's just started in Japan. Definitely worth a look.