Anime 1st episodes 2015: L
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Year:
2015
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Format:
3 first episodes
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Review date:
17 December 2016
Has its own review (one-off special and prelude to Season 2 of the anime series): Le Labyrinthe de la Grisaia - vicious, evil, excellent
Has its own review (movie): Love Live! The School Idol Movie - I enjoyed it, but this storyline's run out of steam
Has its own review (short film): Little Witch Academia: The Enchanted Parade - great fun and I'm looking forward to the upcoming TV series
Doesn't count because it's a movie: The Last - Naruto the Movie
lance n masques
Lance N' Masques
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: modern boy brought up as a Knight Templar, rich little girls and their even stranger maids
I've since finished it and... it doesn't so much go downhill as disintegrate.
There's enough weirdness here to hook my attention. What's going on with Dad? What's with the maids who've been ordered not to befriend their mistress? Why are there two nearly identical little girls? I want to know where it's all going.
The main character, Youtarou, is a knight from a 900-year-old order that's either the Templars or a bunch of rip-off merchants. He has a weird father and he's not the only one. He's dirt poor. He's also been so finely trained that he's incapable of not acting like a knight, which in practice means rescuing girls and delivering cringeworthy dialogue that would get anyone running for the hills.
The first thing he does is rescue a little girl who'd fallen from an implausibly great height. Later he's being stalked by a little girl who's talking to a horse and may or may not be Girl #1. I wasn't sure, but her name is Alice. Some time later he runs into a third little girl, who I think probably is Girl #1 and is called Makio. How many little girls is Youtarou going to run into? Are they all super-rich with mansions? (Makio's maid Yuifa holds dark suspicions of Youtarou, which seemed both misaimed and sensible.)
There's a comparison of knights with superheroes. Makio believes that "heroes are strong", "heroes never lose" and "heroes never give in". She's even given Youtarou a superhero knight name ("Knight Lancer"), except that she thinks Youtarou and the Knight are different people.
The episode can be a bit silly. Youtarou's lance (not a sword) is ludicrously huge and he has super-strength, which he'll get to use on some cartoonish gangsters. However the stuff with people's fathers is bordering on dark and I want to know what's going on.
Itoshi no Muco
Lovely Muco
Itoshi no Muco
Itoshi no Muuko
Season 3 (but unrelated to Seasons 1-2)
Episodes: 13 x 12 minutes
Keep watching: probably not, but I might.
One-line summary: children's cartoon (?) about a dog
I've since finished it and... it's okay.
Muco is the pet dog of Komatsu, a glassblower. (He's a Japanese breed, a Shiba Inu.) This first episode didn't particularly tempt me, but now I'm thinking again since apparently the original manga got ranked sixth in a Japanese bookstore workers' poll of most recommended manga. What's more, a quick glance at the manga online has revealed that this episode is a very faithful adaptation and that its shoddy-looking art is just reproducing the original manga's style. Hmmmm.
It looks like a children's cartoon, but the title sequence suggests that the important human characters are three adults and only one child (who's pulling Muco's tail and is presumably the enemy). We then start the episode and learn that Muco is bouncy, happy and empty-headed. He's unintelligent even compared with normal dogs. He's the kind of bundle of enthusiasm who can get so excited about chasing his tail that he falls in the pond.
As a further example of Muco's intellectual level, it hasn't occurred to him that Komatsu isn't also a dog and it shocks him when he realises this.
Of course we're hearing the thoughts of a cartoon dog. He has a voice actor. Real dogs don't speak Japanese. That said, though, you'd still hardly call his thoughts sophisticated. He's on the level of a human four-year-old. He's only one or two steps above "food food excitement enemy run run chase" and he certainly can't communicate with the humans he lives with. The latter is actually one of the anime's better ideas. Komatsu is terrible at guessing what's in Muco's head, despite being a pretty good owner who does a fine job of looking after Muco and keeping him happy.
There's a dodgy-looking bloke in a death metal T-shirt. Muco loves him unconditionally because he smells of food. There's a mildly amusing bit of business with the humans trying to photograph Muco. (If it's Komatsu, Muco goes apeshit. If it's not, he's offhand about it.)
...and that's it. There's not much to it. It wouldn't even have occurred to me to keep watching if I hadn't learned that the manga's quite well-regarded. I suppose they are short episodes, but I'm still not sure.
lupin.3rd
Lupin the Third Part 4
Lupin III
Lupin the 3rd
Season 4
Episodes: 24 x 23 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: yet more Lupin
It's very good. I don't like it.
Lupin III is a mega-franchise. Everyone in Japan knows about it. Lupin, Fujiko, Goemon, Jigen and Zenigata. They've been around for decades, with a film and/or TV special generally coming out every year even when a TV series wasn't in production.
Monkey Punch first ripped off Maurice Leblanc's Arsene Lupin character in manga form in 1967. (By the time his estate got around to legal action, the name was deemed to have entered the public domain in Japan. However since he'd died in 1941, it's since entered the public domain in France too.)
It became an anime in 1971, with the legendary Hayao Miyazaki as one of its directors. (He also directed one of the Lupin movies.)
Anyway, this episode is an efficient, lively adventure. Lupin gets married! Obviously we're expecting everything to go wrong, but to my surprise they don't end up just pressing a reset button. Lupin really does marry Rebecca Rossellini, even if he is shouting at the end about getting her to sign divorce papers. Meanwhile the action is light-hearted and fun, the double-crosses are ten-a-penny and the art style is particularly refreshing. It's ignoring current anime fashions. It's defiantly retro, looking the same as Lupin's been looking for all these years. I loved this art, actually, which feels bold and fresh and is easily my favourite thing about the episode.
They've also kept the theme music. You couldn't change that. They've also brought back franchise veterans as director, chief director and series composer. It's doing everything right.
However I simply don't like Lupin. I never have. He's a thief who steals stuff. Yes, his adventures generally have him foiling villains. Yes, this particular episode ends up with the stolen crown being returned to its rightful owner, although that's no thanks to Lupin. Personally, though, I get no pleasure from the adventures of a thief, with his activities presented as morally neutral, or even possibly heroic. Watch him steal stuff! Isn't it fun! Ha ha, watch him outwit the silly policeman!
Watching Lupin III makes me want to see him die. That said, though, apparently manga-Lupin is an outright rapist whose crimes span the full moral spectrum. That I'd find more palatable. Anime-Lupin has traditionally been more heroic, but apparently a controversial 2012 series went in a more manga-like direction. It's called Lupin III: The Woman called Fujiko Mine. I approve, but I won't be watching that either.
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