Arslan SenkiHimouto Umaru-chanJapanese
Anime 1st episodes 2015: H
Including: Hacka Doll the Animation, Haikyuu!!, Heavy Object, Hello!! Kin'iro Mosaic, The Heroic Legend of Arslan, Hetalia: The World Twinkle, High School DxD BorN, High School Star Musical: Season 1, Himouto! Umaru-chan
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2015
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2015 >>
Keywords: Arslan Senki, Himouto Umaru-chan, Kin'iro Mosaic, Hetalia, anime, SF, fantasy, harem, boobs
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 9 first episodes
Website category: Anime 2015
Review date: 20 November 2016
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Hana to Alice: Satsujin Jiken (although I'm planning to watch it at some point)
Listed under "A": Hidan no Aria AA (Aria the Scarlet Ammo AA)
Listed under "D": Hokuto no Ken: Ichigo Aji (DD Fist of the North Star)
Listed under "S": Hibike! Euphonium (Sound! Euphonium)
Listed under "W": Houkago no Pleiades (Wish Upon the Pleiades)
Hacka Doll the Animation
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 8 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: girls who are mobile phone apps
It's a comedy about the Hacka Doll mobile phone app from DeNA Co. Ltd. This episode suggests that it's a bit like an Amazon recommendations engine, making suggestions for things you might like. It's meant to streamline your life, as suggested by the name. "Hackadoll" is a transliteration of a Japanese word for "advance" or "make progress".
However the show's opening credits are all about girls with big boobs.
Did you know that mobile phone apps are sentient? More specifically, that they're girls? Well, they are. Crumbs. Furthermore these girls are idiots and we're meant to be looking at their boobs. (In fairness it's quite hard not to, but at least there's no nudity.) Their boss sends them to Earth to advance humanity with their bodies. They ask for clarification and get told that this means "do anything as long as it's not morally offensive". Their first client is a girl who likes explicit manga about gay men. This isn't actually a sleazy show, being mostly just bubbleheaded banter between mobile phone app girls who aren't actually very useful, but you could hardly say that the scriptwriters were aiming high.
I liked the art shift in the anti-flashback. That was quite good. However the closing credits have cheap CGI dancing ("MY EYES! MY BLEEDING EYES!"). Fortunately that's short.
Reasons to watch this show: boobs. That's a bad reason, yes, but I can't think of another.
Haikyu!! Second Season
Season 2
Episodes: 25 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: volleyball
I watched the start of Season 1, which was quite good. This is perfectly decent too, although of course it's still about high school volleyball.
The episode starts with our Karasuno High heroes having lost a big match. They've got over that now, though, and they're practicising like the dickens and in need of practice matches. Good news, though! The club's patron teacher has managed to organise some matches by getting Kurasuno invited to another school's training camp! Yippee! None of that is very interesting.
More fun is Kageyama and Hinata getting lost while running (because they're idiots) and bumping into one of the star players (Ushijima) from Shiratorizawa Academy. They might be mortal enemies, but at least they can have stoically macho conversations together! Our heroes even ask if they can go and watch a Shiratorizawa training session, which amazingly doesn't get a response of "sod off and die". Ushijima gives permission. All this is good stuff. The politeness of enemies makes the scene crackle, while of course our heroes are capable of undercutting the granite-like warrior spirit with comedic silliness. Getting lost (again) at Shiratorizawa and bouncing about like fleas is good for a laugh.
Eventually the episode ends with the ultimate horror for our heroes, i.e. having to study. If they don't pass their exams, they won't be able to go to the training match. (That's "pass", not "do well".) A line of boys all looking away shiftily made me laugh too.
It's quite good. The art occasionally has a bit of a rough-hewn comix thing going on, which I like. I have no interest in volleyball, but the show itself has been very successful. You'd practically need a freeze-frame to spot any female characters, mind you. (There's a glasses-wearing girl in black with a clipboard taking notes, but that's it.) As so often with sports anime, Haikyuu!!'s fandom includes lots of girls who want to see hot-blooded boys getting intense together. Which is fine. (There's so much anime aimed at fanboys that it's nice to see fangirls getting attention too.)
If any of that sounds like your thing, watch this. It does its job pretty well.
Heavy Object
Season 1
Episodes: 24 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: probably not, although I could imagine changing my mind
One-line summary: spherical mecha + fanservice
It's a mecha show, but it doesn't look like it. An Object is a big iron ball, fifty metres high and packed with artillery, and the only thing that can destroy it is another Object. They've transformed conflict. War is now "clean". Countries bump their Objects against each other, like a megalomaniac porn video, and the loser accepts it gracefully and pulls back its now-pointless army. The introduction wanks for a while about the "certain island nation" that invented them, using all of its ingenuity and traditional craftsmanship, which would be more convincing if it wasn't a big iron ball.
I'm not interested in mecha shows, but this one has a voice-over with lines like "intent on the worthless pursuit of killing each other" and "warped culmination of the capability of man". Still reserving judgement at this point. I might keep watching.
We then meet some characters. Two soldiers are shovelling snow. (One of them's really a student, but I'll call him a soldier.) They discuss the quality of army food and decide to shoot a deer. This scene is only okay, but the conversation becomes a little more interesting when one of them meets a girl (Milinda). She's an Object operator. The show still hasn't lost me yet.
The soldiers' commanding officer is eighteen years old and has huge boobs. The closing title sequence has close-ups of boobs and arses. Worst of all, though, one of those soldiers (Qwenthur) is doing Object maintenance when he accidentally triggers some belts that look as if they're crushing Milinda to death. He's ordered to help her, but he doesn't. Instead he stands there like an idiot and does nothing for the best part of a minute, trying to get over the fact that he'd have to put his hands near her boobs. She survives, but that's no thanks to him.
That's where the show lost me. Die, you stupid, stupid anime. (Although admittedly it's just one scene, so maybe it's atypical. The possibility exists.)
Kiniro Mosaic
Hello!! Kin'iro Mosaic
Hello!! Kinmoza
Hello!! Golden Mosaic
Season 2
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: I suppose so
One-line summary: cute unintelligent girls doing cute unintelligent things
I've since finished it and... it's nice but pointless
It's more Ki'iro Mosaic! Unfortunately I don't think very highly of Season One. It's watchable, but its cast are such idiots that I struggle to believe in them as people. However I'd heard reports that Season Two was better and so far it seems to be.
It starts horribly, mind you. Alice is talking English, because God hates me. Yow ow ouch. I became incapable of concentrating on anything else. It's the American accent on what's supposedly a British character, with the voice actress's own Japanese accent coming through on top. Instead of paying attention to the plot, artwork, characterisation and other such matters, I was noting Alice's "gawd", "ass always" and "foRRRward". It still feels wrong to me that she of all characters speaks in that high-pitched voice, by the way. She's British. It's inconceivable. You'll sometimes hear such voices in real life in Japan (and you might spill your drink), although they're far more common in anime. In Britain, though, good grief, no. It would be less embarrassing to dance the can-can in Trafalgar Square wearing only fishnets. If you ever talked like that in public, you'd never be able to show your face again.
Anyway, Alice soon returned to Japanese and the pain went away. I could relax into the familiar cosy emptiness of high-school girls doing nothing. That's what they did throughout the twelve episodes of Season One. They can spend hours of screen time on nothing, usually in a way that makes them look feebleminded. They'll fail to notice when someone gives them a Sailor Moon hairstyle as a prank or something.
This year, though, the show's violated the format. They've attacked the foundations of the show's identity and made it impossible to know what wild and crazy thing might happen next. There's a sensible character! Her name's Akari Kuzehashi and she's a competent teacher! She's a bit scary if you're a schoolgirl, she doesn't take any nonsense and she tells Karen to shape up. Quite right too. I was in awe. A non-idiot in Kin'iro Mosaic? Will wonders never end?
She has quirks too, mind you. She worries about not being loved by her students and so tries to practice smiling. She also seems to be a lesbian, but that's basically mandatory in this show and practically goes without saying.
That's the show's first half. After that, four of our heroines decide to investigate the fifth girl, Shino. This is less interesting than Kuzahashi-sensei, because these heroines have always come across to me like a five-headed moe blob with at best one brain between them. They're the Airhead Collective. That said, though, this particular episode is trying to remind us that Shino is also supposedly sensible and serious. The happy-go-lucky Youko even calls her incomprehensible.
Is this a good episode? I don't know if I'd go that far, but it's as amiable as ever and I liked Kuzahashi-sensei. I watched Season One. I'm planning to continue.
arslan senki
The Heroic Legend of Arslan
Arslan Senki
Season 1
Episodes: 25 x 25 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: epic Persian historical fantasy
I've since finished it and... it's swordsmen, slaves and strife
It's by Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist, Silver Spoon). That's enough for me. Technically it's a novel series by Yoshiki Tanaka, mind you, but this anime is an adaptation of Arakawa's manga based on the novels. Obviously I'd have preferred something that was Arakawa's from head to toe, but I trust her and I'll watch it. (I say that not having watched Hero Tales, mind you.)
It's about a prince (Arslan) in a macho desert country (Pars) that looks North African. He's a thoughtful, forgiving eleven-year-old in a world with no tolerance for either. The episode begins with a massive battle and a mountain of their Lusitanian enemies' corpses. A good king is a man of martial prowess! Fight and kill! That is the way of a man! Arslan's retainers teach him swordsmanship and look forward to his maiden battle. His father is a bear of a man with a scary beard and no discernable personality. His mother is an ice queen. Meanwhile the soldiers return from the battlefield with prisoners to be sold as slaves, at least one of whom is Arslan's age.
Our hero gets involved with this boy. There's a giraffe. There's some good CGI (and one brief moment of bad CGI, with soldiers running down an alley). We see how much empathy the Parsians have for Lusitanians. (Hint: not a lot. "My goods have run away!") Interestingly, though, the Lusitanians aren't much better, being religious fanatics who believe all heathens should be killed. It's not good vs. evil, but instead Murderous Enslaving Bastards vs. Murderous Religious Bastards. If I thought the narrative agreed with the Parsians' macho attitudes, I wouldn't be touching this with a bargepole, but fortunately so far it looks more intelligent and nuanced than that.
Lots of episodes, mind you. There's also a second season. Well, I'm sure I'll enjoy it if it's Arakawa...
Hetalia: The World Twinkle
Season 4
Episodes: 15 x 5 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: Hetalia, but they're cats
It's the latest Hetalia! All the world's countries are hot boys (only occasionally girls) with world history turned into silly sitcom antics! Until now, I'd only seen the first season (Axis Powers) and the movie (Paint It White!). I'm vaguely fond of the show, but I think it was funniest in the early days when it was doing World War Two.
Here, they're cats. I don't know why. They just are. They also appear to have moved away from history, at least for this episode, and instead are mentioning current affairs. They mention the euro-zone's economic difficulties, the G8 and Abenomics. Unfortunately they haven't thought up any jokes about these things. The Abenomics reference is just saying "Abenomics" several times, unless perhaps the show's poking fun at Japan's inability/reluctance to explain it. (I'm also unconvinced that whoever wrote these subtitles got the reference, since they've spelt it "Avenomics".)
I won't be continuing. It's silly and amiable, but I don't really see the point. There's just not much there, really, unless you've been watching it all and you're into the characters.
high school dd
High School DxD BorN
Series: 3
Episodes: 12 (TV) + a 13th (OVA) x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: extreme fanservice harem anime with angels and devils
Oh dear. I'd heard about it, but... oh dear.
The episode begins with five topless girls asking our hero (Issei Hyodo) to play with their boobs or make babies. This is a dream. Our hero wakes up in bed with three topless girls, one of whom is awake and looking to deepen their friendship. This turns into an argument between Topless Girl #2 and Topless Girl #3 about whether or not they should be sharing Issei.
Meanwhile the animation is as shameless as the situation. If you're watching the TV-censored version, little DxD icons pop up and hide nipples. They need lots of them.
The show then briefly becomes an annoying school anime, then perks up and becomes a satanic fantasy in which the school's students include demons and fallen angels. Many of those supernatural beings even live with Issei (and share his bed). Issei likes this. He's not the usual Bland Nice Hero, but actively lecherous. He enjoys sleazy discussions. Later everyone will visit some hot springs (as was inevitable) and Issei discusses breast-fondling with swelling emotional music and a declaration of passionate fervour. "Sensei, I'm going to poke some boobs!"
There's no excuse, really. I've enjoyed harem shows in the past, but sexing them up to this extent makes the fantasy being peddled significantly more unsettling, I think. That said, though, I got the impression that there's quite a good show underneath the sleaze. I'd sooner watch this than To Love-Ru Darkness 2nd, for instance, since you could edit out the family-unfriendly material and still have a decent episode with an attention-grabbing premise, dynamic characters and a storyline. I could get to like this cast.
However it's still a pornographic harem fantasy. Its twists on theology are intriguing, but what it's really about is providing its audience with unhealthy wank opportunities.
High School Star Musical
Star-Myu: Koukou Boshi Kageki
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes + 2 OVA episodes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: all-singing all-dancing boys' school
I've since finished it and... I liked it.
If I were a girl, I'd be watching the hell out of this. I'm not, but I'll be watching it anyway. Looks like a laugh.
It's set at a boys' high school. Lots of boys. They're pretty. Whatever your taste, there's a boy for you! There's...
(a) one with beautiful long flowing green hair.
(b) a cool one in glasses (black hair).
(c) an arrogant scarlet-headed one who needs a slap. "I'm not someone a commoner like you can talk to so familiarly. Go and be reborn with more status, boor."
(d) our hero, Yuuta (orange hair, optimistic and fearless but not overly burdened with knowledge)
(e) Yuuta's love-interest-to-be, Tooru (pale brown hair, gentle, shy). He's the stereotype of Japanese femininity, but with a penis. They gaze at each other. They're lovely. "If it's him, I'm sure..." They're going to be roommates! Next week, he'll be darning Yuuta's socks, folding his clothes and replacing his toothbrush. "You're like a mother!" says Yuuta. Nearly, yes, but not quite...
The deliberate edge of slight camp is quite funny. The Kao Council introduces itself with a song-and-dance number. There will be another later. However the singing and dancing is taken deadly seriously, with Ayanagi Academy being a music school where everyone's got a laser focus on their chosen branch of the performing arts. This episode's mostly about the auditions for Star Frame Class, during which the judges have no mercy whatsoever.
It's fun. I enjoyed it. I'm not the target audience, but who cares? It's basically another idol show, but I'm capable of enjoying the better examples of those. This looks as if it should fall into that category.
himouto umaru chan
Himouto! Umaru-chan
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: she's Miss Perfect at school, but a raging slob at home
I've since finished it and... I enjoyed it a lot. Entertaining comedy.
It made me laugh almost immediately, so I'm sticking with it. I've heard lots of praise for the full series from elsewhere too.
Umaru-chan is perfect. She's a high-school girl who gets 100% on her tests, swims faster than the swim team champion, plays the piano like a concert pianist, etc. She's modest, beautiful and adored by all.
That's her public persona, anyway.
When she gets home, though, she turns into a lazy, greedy slob who eats crisps and junk food all day, plays video games and pesters her big brother to dance to her every whim. She throws tantrums. She's obnoxious. She's also drawn in a completely different style, having shrunk to a quarter of her normal height and wearing a hamster-design hoodie. That big brother (Taihei) calls her "himouto", a combination of "imouto" (little sister) and "himono" (a word that I hope doesn't mean what I think it means).
It's funny. I'm not sure how Umaru manages to maintain that perfection at school when she doesn't appear to study or even do any piano practice at home, but clearly this puzzles Taihei too. There's comedy in both of Umaru's personas, since she'll switch into Saintly Umaru in public and make everyone think Taihei's a big meanie for... well, pretty much for breathing.
Looks good! I'll report back.