More first episodes! It's going to take me ages to plough through M, by the way.
- [REVIEWED UNDER "C"] La Corda d'Oro -Blue Sky- (Kiniro no Chord Blue Sky)
- [REVIEWED UNDER "F" ] Le Fruit de la Grisaia (The Fruit of Grisaia, Grisaia no Kajitsu)
- Lady Jewelpet
- 6th Jewelpet series
- Episodes: 52 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: No
- One-line summary: cutesy and formulaic magical girl show
It's the sixth series in the Jewelpet franchise. They do a new one each year, each with 52 weekly episodes, so it's a juggernaut that never stops. It exists to sell merchandise to little girls. You buy a soft toy called a Jewelpet, which comes with a password to access the Web-Gurumi website in which you also adopt a virtual version of your pet. (Your account expires after a year, but can be renewed by buying further Jewelpets.) You can also buy a Jewel Stick, Jewel Charms, Jewel Pocketbook and Jewel Pods, plus many other things.
That's not what I watched, though. That's the real world. This episode starts by introducing us to Momona, who looks like a Christmas tree decoration and is colour-coordinated in pink, pink, pink, white and shocking pink. She has an amazing hairstyle. Anyway, she's a little jealous of her cousin's wedding, but only to a degree that makes her seem human, not creepy.
Momona then gets teleported to a fairy kingdom with a castle that's... um, Disneyland. No, sorry, the Jewel Palace. What did her cousin's wedding have to do with anything? Don't ask. Momona's now one of many Petit Ladies in Lady Jewel's underage harem. (Caveat: the anime doesn't use those exact words.) Lady Jewel is looking to train up her replacement, i.e. the next Lady Jewel. She gives every girl a dildo, which turns out to be a pen, and dresses them all in ball gowns. These Petit Ladies are going to be helped to grow up! Momona will apparently become "a lady who's able to love herself".
No, there's nothing remotely suspicious about any of this! "We've got your parents' permission by email." Ah, that's okay, then.
The Jewelpets are suffocatingly cute, even by the standards of cute girly anime. Momona's is a fluffy bunny wabbit with Minnie Mouse eyes, flowers in her hair, a necklace, a ruby and cherries. I wanted to see all these magical mascots eaten by sharks.
Momona also has a Prince. There's a scene where she trips and falls on him, so they accidentally kiss. You know, that completely naturalistic thing that happens all the time in real life, not just in anime. However the other Petit Ladies include a bitch who claims to be the owner of Momona's Prince.
What in this episode is good? Well, I liked the suggestion that Momona's Jewelpet is a skiving loser who just abducted some random bimbo with no talent, no brains and no chance of success. That was funny. Lady Jewel also has some interesting henchmen, including Lady Lector (Hannibal?) and Lady Boot (voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro and hence capable of delivering English words with good pronunciation). Momona doesn't yet seem like anything special, to be honest, but she's likeable enough and I'd be happy to cheer for her.
To be honest, you can understand this show completely with a Google image search. Pink to the power of pink, magical girl, ribbons, cutesy animals, etc. I'm sure the show's quite good for what it is, though. It's just very focused on its target audience. The diabetic-choking aesthetics, the anime cliches, the Jewelpets themselves...
- Laughing Under the Clouds
- Donten ni Warau
- Cloudy Laugh
- Season 1
- Episodes: 12 x 23 minutes
- Keep watching: Definitely not
- One-line summary: swordsman brothers
Bleagh. Looks dull.
It's a historical, set in 1878 in the Meiji era. Japan's biggest prison is in the middle of Lake Biwa and there are lots of samurai who need sending there, basically for being samurai. Our heroes are three brothers (Tenka, Soramaru, Chutaro) who make a living catching criminals and ferrying them across the lake.
(a) Tenka is the oldest and he has a weird big brother fixation that would make you uneasy if his younger siblings were female. (I really hope this disappears in later episodes.) Here he decides that Chutaro has found a girlfriend and decides to dress up in women's clothes to test this.
(b) Soramaru is the middle brother and he's obsessed with being stronger, which he defines as being able to defeat bad guys. He wants a real sword fight! His pride tells him that he must fight! If he's not allowed to fight, then his pride has been injured and he will be in anguish! (He doesn't even expect to win this fight he's yearning for, but a true warrior doesn't care about whether he's still alive afterwards!) Pride, pride, pride, sodding pride. It's squeezed out his brains. DIE, MORON, DIE. (Spoiler: he doesn't.)
(c) Chutaro is the youngest and he goes around imitating his brothers. He's the only one who didn't annoy me, but if he's copying Tenka and Soramaru then I'm sure it's just a matter of time.
I didn't care about any of it. The end credits suggest that there's an interesting villain in the Lake Biwa prison, but... well, yeah. Let's hope he kills the main characters.
- Futsu no Joshikosei ga Locodol Yattemita
- Season one
- Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: no
- One-line summary: reluctant schoolgirl idol
I won't be watching further, but it looks fine.
Our heroine, Nanako, wants to buy a swimsuit. This takes up the episode's first ten minutes and is fairly boring, but in an inoffensive way. She looks for part-time work. She visits the shops with her friends to see what's affordable. At this stage, it's hard to see the point of the episode.
Then, though, her uncle offers her a job. Yes! She'll do it! What is it? Answer: she's going to be a local idol, or for short a "locodol". In other words, this is (yet) another anime about girls becoming idols. The good news, though, is that there's nothing showbizzy about it. It's amateur hour, organised by this idiot politician uncle as part of his ill-considered plan to revive this rural small town's economy. You'd get more professionalism in a school play. Nanako is an ordinary girl who doesn't actually want to be a bimbo in a swimsuit. She wouldn't have taken the job if she'd known what it was.
They're also terrible at it. I cringed watching Nanako and Yukari getting thrust on a stage with no rehearsal, script or preparation. What they're being asked to do is difficult! Uncle, oi, uncle. You can't do that to people! If these were professionals, they'd get sacked.
On the upside, though, Nanako is a grounded, level-headed girl who has a realistic view of the world and takes her responsibilities seriously. If she's going to do this, then she's going to do it properly. I liked her. She's got a head on her shoulders. So far, she's the best thing about this show.
I quite enjoyed it, but I feel no urge to watch any more. It's nice girls being nice. That's it. It got more entertaining when we learned about the "locodol" thing, but it's the kind of show that can be summed up with the word "pleasant". Oh, and there's something slightly undercooked and plain about the character designs.
I wish this show all the best and I think Nanako and her friends are fine, public-spirited people, but I'm happy to leave it at that.
- Log Horizon
- Log Horizon
- Season 2
- Episodes: 25 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: it has a lot of fans, but this episode didn't tempt me
- One-line summary: people living inside a fantasy computer game
- I've since finished it and... I'd misjudged it completely. It's clever, imaginative and entertaining, although you should start with Season 1.
I believe it's quite well known, although less so than Sword Art Online. It's set in a fantasy role-playing world of computer games, in which the players have been sucked from the real world into the fantasy one. I quite like the premise and there are interesting things about how this episode explored it, but I wasn't motivated to continue.
It won't have helped me that this is Season 2, though. I've probably been put off shows unfairly by not starting at the beginning. It would seem that there's a large party of regulars, but unfortunately our main characters here are two men with an unsavoury goal (stealing a stupid amount of money for an undeclared reason) and regrettable methods (abandoning their friends), who are giving nothing away while negotiating with a banker. Um. I quite liked the ideas, mind you. Money and economics don't work in the same way here, with the former being big spinning coins that bounce into existence when you kill monsters. Banks exist, but they don't invest or offer loans. I enjoyed this look at unconventional financial infrastructure.
However I didn't really care. We meet lots of regulars, but in a superficial way. The two we spend time with aren't particularly engaging. The world itself is nifty and we're going to be seeing a great deal more of it (dictatorships! goblins!), but so far it's not for me.
I'm sure I'd like it better if I returned to the start of Season 1, though.
- Lord Marksman and Vanadis
- Madan no Ou to Vanadis
- Season 1
- Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: yes
- One-line summary: fantasy civil war setting, with boobs
- I've since finished it and... I quite liked it, actually.
Everything except one thing looks encouraging. It's set in a medieval pseudo-Europe with mild fantasy elements (a cameo from a cute baby dragon) and an anti-romantic attitude to war. Your country can send soldiers to help your allies in battle and see them wiped out as an army of 5,000 routs one of 25,000. (The casualties include men being trampled by their own fleeing allies.) Aristocrats use the fact that they're at war as an excuse to bully, exort and kill their own citizens. A prisoner of war is a possible recruit and/or a walking ransom. The only upstanding sword-wielding male knights we see also happen to be massive swaggering cocks who sneer at our hero because he uses the "cowardly" weapon of a bow and arrow.
It's violent. The politics feel grubby, unpleasant and real. It feels as if it's taking the setting seriously. I could get into this.
Unfortunately, though, these characters are often buxom women in tight tops. Our hero (Vorn) gets caught by a warrior queen (Viltaria), known as a Vanadis. She finds him attractive (uh-oh), although technically speaking what's appealing is merely his skill with a bow and arrow. She also has big boobs. Her second-in-command has even bigger boobs. Hang on. Whoah, whoah. What exactly am I watching? The only upside is that I see no danger of this degenerating into a traditional harem anime, since Vilteria is dominant, strong and a warlord who has no problem with executing her own subordinates. Cross her and she'll cut your head off. There are no weak characters here.
Vorn's no pushover either, mind you. If he can see you, no matter how far away you are, he can put an arrow through whatever body part he chooses.
I'm going to watch the rest of this. It looks good. I like this world, its surprising treaties and our hero's lack of interest in job offers. (He's the lord of a small domain that looks likely to become a casualty of war.) I'm concerned by the shoehorning in of boobalicious girls and harem-esque potential, but the characters are strong and I'm sure the show survives it.
- Love Live! School Idol Project
- Love Live!
- Season 2
- Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: I quite liked it, but probably not
- One-line summary: schoolgirl idols
- I've since finished it and... Season 1 is great, Season 2 is good-to-okay and I'm lukewarm about the sequel movie.
It's got more personality than you'd expect and I enjoyed it, but it's still another anime with "idol" in the title.
It's season two, by the way. In season one, apparently a group of girls became idols (i.e. pop stars) to stop their school from closing down. However you don't need to know that and indeed I hadn't guessed that there had been a previous season until I googled the show afterwards. This year, they'll be participating in "Love Live", a school idol competition.
Good surprises included:
(a) The musical number. No, not a stage show within the fiction. The characters break into song as if this were Rodgers and Hammerstein, with a number about how Honoka's the new student council president. That was surreal and cool.
(b) A bitch giving lessons in how to be cloyingly super-cute.
(c) Honoka confounding everyone's expectations and being a bit of a weirdo.
(d) Shouting to tell the rain to stop.
On the downside, the Nico-Honoka race is daft. You'd have to be a halfwit to base decisions that big on something that random. The skirts are also distractingly short, although I don't think I'm meant to be noticing that since the show's aimed at girls. (It is, isn't it? It must be, right?) It's pretty good, though. It's still another schoolgirl idol show and I'm not planning on continuing with it, but I'm confident I'd think it was good if I did.
- Love Stage!!
- Love Stage!!
- Season 1
- Episodes: 10 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: yes
- One-line summary: gay romance, funny
- I've since finished it and... it's good.
The generic title made me expect an idol show. Wrong. It's a yaoi (or Boy's Love) anime and it's really entertaining. (Genre definition: yaoi is manga about gay men for a female audience and completely different from the same thing written for an audience of gay men. That's called "bara", i.e. rose. Yaoi is... um, more idealised.)
Anyway, I'm definitely watching the rest of this show.
Izumi is a boy who looks like a girl. He's from a showbiz family of drama queens, but he hates performing in public and he just wants to draw manga. (He can't draw.) Unfortunately, ten years ago, he was dragged into acting in a commercial that's about to get a "ten years later" sequel. The twist: Izumi was playing a girl. He got away with it at age eight, but could he now? Does he even want to try? Hell, no.
The character designs are ugly. They look like blood-sucking alien monster, while also being stereotypical manga pretty boys.
After that, the title sequence is very gay indeed and has... um, I'm not sure. Love idols? Cross dressing? For quite a while, I had no idea what Izumi's gender was meant to be, by the way.
As for the episode, it's funny. Izumi's narcissistic rock star brother made me laugh. Ryoma appears to have spent ten years with the wrong idea about Izumi's gender. Izumi getting into character and leaping adoringly into Ryoma's arms is hysterical, especially given what's coming in the script. Recommended.
- Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions -Heart Throb-
- Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!?
- Even with Eighth Grader Syndrome, I Want to Be in Love
- Season 2
- Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
- Keep watching: yes
- One-line summary: middle school = fantasy world delusion
- I've since finished it and... I love it.
Definitely watching more of this. I'll have to go back and start with season one, obviously.
Chuunibyou (for a more pedantic transliteration) is one of those Japanese words that has no English equivalent, but is still often useful when talking about manga and anime. There are other words like this, e.g. tsundere, yandere, and translators tend to pretend that they've already become English words. For an audience of anime fans, in fairness, they're not entirely wrong.
Anyway, "chuunibyou" means "behaving in a way characteristic of teenagers going through puberty, esp. by being overly self-conscious; 2nd year of junior high sickness". The people in this anime, though, have the more specific problem that they're living in a fantasy world inside their heads. They think they're travelling to defeat Smaug with Gandalf and Bilbo.
These loons are funny. They're also quite sweet, because they're friends and looking after each other.
Yuta is a boy whose family have all moved abroad for his father's work, so he lives on his own. Well, until a week ago, anyway. Now, a girl called Rikka is sleeping in his spare bedroom.
Don't worry, though, it's not what you're thinking. This isn't the cue for universal misunderstandings of a completely innocent situation! Yuta and Rikka are actually boyfriend and girlfriend. Sort of. Maybe. Ish. It's hard to tell (even for Yuta), since Rikka's chuunibyou is so extreme that her interactions with reality are... um, filtered. She goes to school. She meets her friends. You can have conversations with her. It's just that you'll get a better response if you phrase a request to get up as "Wicked Lord Shingan, the time of awakening has come!"
She wears a medical bandage over one eye. There's nothing wrong with it, but she thinks it's a "wicked eye" with magical powers.
Do you need me to say any more? This stuff writes itself. The difficulty would be in restraining it from doing so. The episode's funny and the characters are likeable. One of them loves untranslatable Japanese puns, though. This show also has a 2012 season one + OVA, two short seasons of internet mini-episodes and a 2013 anime movie. The more the better. Lead me to it!