Anime 1st episodes 2014: U-W
Including: Wake Up, Girls!, When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Witch Craft Works, Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil, Wolf Girl and Black Prince, Wooser's Hand-to-Mouth Life: Awakening Arc, World Conquest Zvezda Plot, The World Is Still Beautiful, World Trigger
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2014
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2014 >>
Keywords: Wooser, anime, fantasy, SF
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 9 episodes
Website category: Anime 2014
Review date: 14 October 2015
As usual, these aren't reviews of entire series, but just my first impressions of first episodes.
Couldn't find: Wasimo -- short-form anime where, after a young girl's grandmother dies, her father builds her a robotic grandmother as a substitute.
Listed under "I": In Search of the Lost Future (Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete)
Wake Up, Girls!
Wake Up, Girls!
Season 1, but it's a sequel to a movie
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no, but it looks more realistic than usual for its genre
One-line summary: struggling 7-girl idol group
I found it a bit confusing, since it feels like a Season Two. (It's a sequel to a 52-minute movie.) Seven girls have formed an idol group called 'Wake Up, Girls!', but their management company is probably about to go bust and their only performance to date has been one song at one sad little venue. They're still optimistic and keen to continue, though.
What's interesting about this is that idol anime tend to be wish-fulfilment fantasy. This isn't. This is a more dry-eyed view of the grottier end of show business, with absolutely no glamour. Bosses run out on their companies' debts. One of the girls used to be in a famous group, but she got dumped and now she's a nobody again. The girls' sole performance to date included revealing skirt twirls, but their next job (if they don't refuse to do it) might involve bikinis. Mind you, the most cringeworthy bit is where one of them demonstrates an Idol Signature Phrase she's thought up, which is standard in the idol industry but will make you want to die.
Occasionally the animation looked cheap, I thought. Ironic, yeah. The art itself is fine, but the computer-inking can look a bit weightless and for some reason all the shots with old ladies in look terrible.
I'm probably not going to watch this, but I approve of the show and wish it all the best. It can be funny ("are you bragging?") and it's easy to like the girls' determination. It's coming across as a bit drab at the moment, but it's meant to. That's the subject matter.
"It's always sunny above the clouds."
Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de
When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace
Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de
Inou Battle Within Everyday Life
Inou-Battle in the Usually Daze
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yeah
One-line summary: "school club with superpowers" comedy
I've since finished it and... it's a mess, but I enjoyed it.
Imagine a comedy inspired by "Love, Chuunibyou and other Delusions", where the joke is that every mad thing Rikka says happens to be true. That's not quite right, but it's close enough. It's funny. I'll give it a whirl.
Jurai Ando has a nasty case of chuunibyou, i.e. he's a delusional twat. Half the time he's talking like the villain in a fantasy epic and all the other members of his literature club ignore him or treat him as a joke. He pretends that he has magic powers. So imagine everyone's surprise when one day his arm starts glowing and all the club members gain superpowers.
Six months later, though, the superpowered club members are still basically the same. Ando is still a pathetic overacting loon, while that superpower of which he's so proud is useless. He can make a black flame come from his hand. It doesn't burn anything. It just looks cool. Meanwhile the girls are matter-of-fact about their condition, although they do run monthly superpower checks, teleporting to another world for friendly combat. (That said, though, Hatoko and Chifuyu do get a bit carried away and their battle looked potentially lethal.)
The show's weak point is Ando. He's the centre of the joke, but he's in danger of annoying the audience as well as the other characters. However it's a good joke and I like the down-to-earth bathos of everyone responding sensibly to fantastical situations.
The show might turn harem-y. One boy and lots of girls from a light novel series. Hurm. Well, if it does, it does. For now, the dude's being trampled underfoot so vigorously that I'm assuming any such developments will be undercut by lots of self-mocking humour. The show's idea makes me laugh, anyway.
Witch Craft Works
Witch Craft Works
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes, although the reviews aren't encouraging
One-line summary: the girl beside you on the school bus is your magical bodyguard
I've since finished it and... I liked it quite a lot.
Even Takamiya thinks he's a nonentity. He doesn't talk to people and he doesn't try to make friends. He just goes to school and does what he's told.
At one point he thinks he's dying and reflects, "I haven't even held hands with a girl yet." He's never likely to do so, either. Lots of anime shows have milquetoast nice guy protagonists, but this is beyond that. Takamiya seems to have suppressed emotional reactions, at one point being surprised to realise that he's experiencing anger. His first reactions don't seem to suggest "nice guy", but "unexpected human contact, run away!"
At the start, this appears to be a real-world anime. By the end, Takamiya has:
(a) had a building appear in the sky and fall on him,
(b) been attacked by an army of killer robot bunnies, sent by a witch with cat ears,
(c) been saved by a witch made of living flame (Kagari) who says he's her "princess" and reties his school tie as if he's a girl.
Oh, and the bouncy end credits are sung by deadpan cartoon witches as they're strapped to torture devices and burned at the stake.
I think I've got to watch this, haven't I?
My worry is that the show will develop along harem lines. Kagari has promised that she's never going to leave Takamiya's side, although this is because she's his bodyguard rather than for romantic reasons. The episode also ends with five more witches joining their class. Hurm. One boy and lots of girls. However I shouldn't be assuming the worst. That's bad of me. Besides, for me right now, Takamiya's personality makes harem nonsense hard to imagine.
Much of the comedy in this episode comes from the fact that Kagari is worshipped by all the girls at school, who see Takamiya as lower than an insect and will have him beaten up if they think he's getting unforgivably close to their "princess". That was quite funny, but I don't imagine they'll be a big part of subsequent episodes. Kagari herself will sort out the bullies and the problem will be other witches, not their fan clubs.
I'm not wild about the character designs. Everyone has cartoonishly big upper lips and philtrums, which makes Kagari look like a horse. (She's really tall, so her face was already long to start with.) She's supposed to be beautiful, but no.
Do I like the characters? That's not quite the right question. They're kind of charmless, but in a way that's potentially interesting. It seems to be the point of the characters, or at least it might become so. It's mostly the show's wacky content that's grabbed my attention, I'm afraid, but I'm happy to give it a go based on that.
Wizado Barisutazu Benmashi Seshiru
Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil
Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24
Keep watching: I don't hate it, but no
One-line summary: see the title
Cecil is a wizard barrister and a cocky newbie. She jumps into situations knowing nothing about them and promising to defend any wizard at all, even one who's attacking her at the time. (That can't be legal, surely? The defence council would be the chief prosecution witness.) She's also unnecessarily confrontational to two policemen.
The opening credits also suggest that this is going to be an all-action anime, with Cecil and her friends blowing away bad guys. Not sure how that fits in with a drama about barristers.
Cecil's character design reminded me of Yasuomi Umetsu (Kite, Mezzo Forte) and indeed this is one of his shows. Both Kite and Mezzo Forte had explicit sexual content, the former famously having graphic rape scenes of the very young female protagonist. Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil is a TV series, though, and should be family-friendly. The worst this episode gets is Cecil having a comedy talking frog sidekick who's a bit of a lech.
Umetsu is superb at animated action, though. This episode's all-action opening is stunning, with a special weapons police squad, a wizard, a train, a helicopter and spectacular property damage. I'd been expecting a silly show given the title, but that sequence looks fantastic. The opening credits are similarly impressive. (The offending wizard gets sentenced to death after what looks like a fairly cursory trial, by the way, and sentence is carried out magically on the spot. Gosh. The guy was guilty as sin, mind you.)
I'm not really tempted to continue. Cecil's mother being on death row is a nice touch, but Cecil herself rubs me up the wrong way and I'm not convinced this show has a clear idea of what it wants to be. I'm not sure that I, personally, would be in a hurry to watch a barrister series in the first place anyway.
Okami Shojo to Kuro Oji
Wolf Girl and Black Prince
Oukami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 + OVA
Keep watching: it sounded interestingly spiky, but no
One-line summary: romantic girls' story about an abusive relationship between a sadist and a cretin
It's too much for me. I couldn't take it.
It's a shoujo manga (i.e. for girls), which is good because had it been for a male audience then it would have been deeply disturbing. It's still pretty extreme, mind you. Our heroine is a girl called Erika Shinohara with a habit of telling lies. (Her best friend tells her to stop it.) Erika's about to start at a new school, though, and she wants to make friends. Thus, in this episode, she...
(a) Decides to gang up with the two most dubious, anti-social girls in sight, because everyone else seems to have friends already. The logic escapes me.
(b) Because they have boyfriends, she can't stop telling them about hers (who doesn't exist), with whom she has lots of perverted sex (she's a virgin).
(c) When her new friends notice that she never lets them meet this boyfriend or even shows them any photos, she takes a photo of the most handsome boy in their class (Kyouya Sata) and says that's him. Admittedly she hadn't realised he was in their class, but seriously. By this point she's been studying there two months.
The guy finds out and turns out to be a sadist. In return for pretending to be her boyfriend and not telling everyone her secret, he orders her to become his "dog" and treats her like dirt. That's the show's premise. It's going to be a romance, by the way, although it sounds as if Kyouya's going to be such a bastard throughout to Erika that a lot of fans have problems with the show's intended pairing.
Personally, I couldn't watch Erika. There should be limits to stupidity, but she's setting fire to them. A romance about a moron so self-destructive that you'll think it serves her right when she gets herself into an abusive relationship? Nope, not for me.
Wooser no Sono Higurashi Kakusei Hen
Wooser's Hand-to-Mouth Life: Awakening Arc
Wooser no Sono Higurashi Kakusei Hen
Usa no Sono-hi-gurashi: Kakusei-hen
Season 2
Episodes: 12 x 4 minutes
Keep watching: yes, even though this particular episode isn't great
One-line summary: short-form anime about a cute but evil creature
I've since finished it and... it's pointless.
I've had this on my radar for some time. Here's what I'd heard about it:
"A bizarre, weirdly dark Random Events Plot Gag Series about a perverted yellow rabbitoid."
Clearly this is a must-watch.
What's more, elsewhere I'd seen simplistic, thick-lined art reminiscent of Hello Kitty. I'd definitely be up for an evil Hello Kitty, but to my surprise this episode has been drawn and animated like regular anime. It looks quite good. Drat. Well, maybe it looks more kiddified in season one.
That said, though, this particular episode isn't funny. Wooser stalks two girls as they play tennis and reflects on his preference for girls aged fourteen or fifteen. That's more or less it. Well, it is only a four-minute episode. I'll keep going and see if it improves...
Sekai Seifuku Boryaku no Zuvizuda
World Conquest Zvezda Plot
Sekai Seifuku: Boryaku no Zuvizuda
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: a little girl is going to conquer the world
I've since finished it and... I really liked it.
The show begins with a little girl having conquered the world. It looks like a wasteland. Evil has won!
We then flash back to a Japan where tanks and armoured vehicles patrol the streets and there are different classes of martial law. Class 2 is about to be declared for the night, which means trouble for junior high school student Asuta Jimon. He's just picked a fight with his dad and he now regards himself as having no home to return to.
He then runs into that little girl, Kate Hoshimiya. She's small enough to need stabilisers on her tiny pink bicycle. She's also a brat. She takes all Asuta's food and says things like, "If you swear fealty to me, I'll share with you my snacks and the world after I've conquered it."
We then meet the superhumans, robots, magicians and more who are following Hoshimiya.
Refreshingly bonkers. The central idea is appealing, but at the same time the characters are funny while also potentially interesting. "It's easy to find a replacement for someone," says Asuta, while I like the contradictions in Hoshimiya. It's looking different, anyway.
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
The World Is Still Beautiful
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: princess sent abroad to marry a king she's never met
I've since finished it and... it's charming.
It's really nice. The story is reasonably good, but it's the execution that's charming and intelligent.
Nike Lemercier is a princess of small, impoverished Rainland in a fairly standard Western fantasy/historical world. 16th century, perhaps? It's post-medieval, with Elizabethan-style sailing ships, but there's also a bit of magic floating around.
Anyway, Princess Nike is going to Sunland to marry its King Livius. She's never met him, but the Rain Kingdom has been promised political autonomy (i.e. they won't get invaded) if they'd be good enough to supply a royal bride. Can't argue with that. Nike doesn't have a problem with it, either. She's cheerful. She tells her official retinue they don't need to babysit her and can sail home, because she's going to slip into the port incognito and try to get to know her new country.
The world and its characters feel well-realised. I was charmed as early as Nike's conversation with the sailors on her ship. It's nothing special, but it sets a tone that's both warm and realistic. Nike's money is worth next to nothing in Sunland. There are Sunland political factions opposed to her marriage who are directing her official escort and are looking to arrange an accident. It's possible that King Livius is a warmonger, but if so then he's a successful one who pacified the entire continent in a three year campaign and has done wonders for Sunland's economy. Admittedly the latter would be partly due to conquering a new empire, but his subjects clearly admire and respect him. That said, though, the episode is also reminding us that people die in battles, including non-combatants.
By Sunland standards, Nike is a yokel. She can't find a room and gets robbed. She falls in with some ordinary people, but their mother was killed four years ago. In short, the world convinces me. The only cartoonish bit is the two slightly goofy robbers who at one point threaten to commit comedy rape. Them I could have lived without, but otherwise I'm completely on board.
Nike is likeable and cool. The episode is fun. The world is interesting. There's no fanservice (this being a shoujo anime), unless you count the boy in the closing credits. I'm a fan of this show already.
World Trigger
Season 1
Episodes: 50 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: it's not without redeeming features, but no
One-line summary: aliens keep attacking the world
I like the characters. I'm fine with the set-up, although some of its details smell of Kiddie Show. The animation is awful.
The world is under attack by alien axolotls. We call them Neighbours and it's been going on for years. These days the people of Mikado City don't even bother to move away, since the Border defence agency does a good enough job of driving away the occasional Neighbour when it pops through their dimensional gate.
That's quite good. It's like a lightweight, slightly parodic Attack on Titan.
In practice, it's a school series. All the characters are 15-year-old schoolboys and one of the two main characters looks five years younger than his age. Osamu is a straight-as-a-die good guy, who always does the right thing but has no discernable sense of humour. He's also a Border agent. (A little googling tells me that Border agents are generally school-age. Uh-huh.) Yuma Kuga, on the other hand, is an amiable but amoral little white-haired boy who's friendly enough if you're being nice to him, but will walk away unscratched even if you drive a car into him.
Kuga is the reason to watch this episode. Everything else is by-the-numbers, but Kuga's disinterest in heroic convention is different and quite funny (e.g. calling Osamu an idiot and a weakling for getting beaten up when trying to save Kuga from bullies).
The bullies are a bit of a warning sign. They're the kind of easily overcome bullies (if you're Kuga) that mark a children's show, although they are convincingly unpleasant.
The animation, though... yeesh. It's ghastly. And this is ep.1, which is traditionally a big-budget showcase! There's something uniquely ugly about cheap computer-drawn art. Apparently the manga looks rather good, but everything on screen in this anime screams "shoddy knocked-out tat". I'm out of here. I was tempted by Osamu and Kuga, but no. (It also doesn't help that season one is 50 episodes and that there's already a season two, so I'd be there for ages if I did decide to watch it all.)