zombiesvampiressamuraiShow by Rock
Anime 1st episodes 2015: S
Including: Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend: Season 1, Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold, Samurai Warriors, School-Live! (2015 anime), Seiyuu's Life!, Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX, Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign, Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya, Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist, Shin Atashinchi, Shomin Sample, Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 50, Show by Rock!!, A Simple Thinking About Blood Type, Sky Wizards Academy, Snow White with the Red Hair: Season 1, Sound! Euphonium, Strike The Blood, Super Short Comics, SuzakiNishi the Animation
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2015
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2015 >>
Keywords: Senki Zesshou Symphogear, Akagami no Shirayukihime, Show by Rock, Seraph of the End, anime, SF, fantasy, harem, magical girl, zombies, vampires, samurai
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 20 first episodes
Website category: Anime 2015
Review date: 26 February 2017
Listed under "A": Shingeki! Kyojin Chuugakkou, as Attack on Titan: Junior High
Listed under "B": Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru, as Beautiful Bones: Sakurako's Investigation
Listed under "F": Soukyuu no Fafner - Dead Aggressor: Exodus, as Fafner: EXODUS
Listed under "F": Shokugeki no Souma, as Food Wars
Listed under "H": Star-Mu, as High School Star Musical
Listed under "K": Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki, as Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine
Listed under "P": Subete ga F ni Naru, as The Perfect Insider
Listed under "W": Seiken Tsukai no World Break, as World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman
Couldn't find: Sushi and Beyond (Eikoku Ikke, Nihon wo Taberu)
It's an OVA and part 1 was in 2014: Strike Witches: Operation Victory Arrow vols.2-3
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Shin Gekijou-ban: Initial D Legend 2 - Dokusou
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Shisha no Teikoku, aka. The Empire of Corpses
Doesn't count because it's a movie: Sinbad: The Flying Princess and the Secret Island
It's a movie, but I watched it anyway and it's a quiet, sober historical that I quite liked: Sarusuberi, aka Miss Hokusai
It's a movie, but I watched it anyway and it's hilariously terrible: Shingeki no Kyojin Kouhen: Jiyuu no Tsubasa
sae kano
Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend
Saenai Hiroin no Sodatekata
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: self-aware anime genre deconstruction, about a game-creating school club
I've since finished it and... it's a bit hard to like for a while, then it improves
This is actually episode 0. That's often a prequel OVA released several months later than its parent TV series, but I checked and this really was the first broadcast episode of Saekano. I think the next episode (ep.1) jumps back in time six months. Anyway, it's a light novel adaptation, starring one long-suffering boy, four girls and a good deal of eccentricity. We begin with all the girls bathing naked together. What makes this interesting is that the show's deliberately indulging in cliche while having its girls argue about perception and judgement of the anime industry. It's quite funny, in its way.
Similarly we're introduced to the characters as part of a criticism of badly written anime introductions. "Why are you suddenly breaking into clumsy exposition?"
This is quite fun, but I'd be surprised if they managed to sustain this level of self-awareness through the whole series. (It doesn't even last throughout this first episode.) Besides, I don't think I'd want them to. I want some story too. It turns out that this is a game-making club on a location scouting trip. The boy is the president and director. The four girls are the game's illustrator, writer, musician and heroine. (Yes, heroine. I'm not sure how that works, but then again I'm not sure she is either.)
Strip away the deconstruction and it looks like a standard romantic comedy, really. However I liked it. This genre can be very entertaining and this looks like quite an interesting one. The cast are fun, the self-awareness is amusing and all the girls have very different relationships with Tomoya. I'm looking forward to it.
saint seiya orgone no tamashii
Saint Seiya: Ougon Tamashii
Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold
Latest incarnation of long-running franchise
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: armoured macho heroes
The original Saint Seiya was a classic manga from 1986-1990, with 28 volumes. (This explains this anime's art style, which was slightly retro without being in-your-face about it. I like retro.) It's about mystical warriors in armour who look like goofy tokusatsu heroes, or at least that's the impression I got from this. It's had a 114-episode TV anime series, films and lots of sequels, of which this is the latest.
We begin with lots of mighty warriors in glowing armour, shouting in manly unison. (I think at least one of them is a girl, but you'd probably need a veterinary examination to distinguish her from the pretty boys.) They're macho! They're determined! They're awesome! Even after only twenty seconds, I already knew I wouldn't be watching ep.2.
The show then improves (from a low base) by dumping an unarmoured boy in the snow. His name is Aiolia, but I'm going to resist the temptation to call him Areola, even though that would be more entertaining than anything in the episode. This is Asgard. It's connected with Valhalla and Yggdrasil, while the local goons are wearing Viking-like horned helmets. I smell mythology.
A blue-haired girl called Lyfia is asking people to fight. They say no. She asks Aiolia. "Can you not hear the cries of our land? At this rate, Asgard will be ruined!" Aiolia responds by walking through a wall, snapping the chains on his feet without even seeming to notice them and then beating up a bunch of soldiers! He's superhuman! I'm supposed to care about this! Apparently he's a Gold Saint of Athena and he should be dead, with his friends all fighting Hades in the underworld. That last bit would actually be mildly interesting if the whole show weren't obviously all about gods, pantheons, etc.
Lord Baddie shows up in armour that makes him look like a spiked penis. His name's Frodi and he's representing Lord Odin. He fights Aiolia! "My fist that's faster than light cannot beat this speed!!?" This is a fight between two super-macho men in silly armour. It looks like Garo. It's not a Garo spin-off, is it? That would have been a bad sign if there had been any room for my expectations to get lower than they already were. Aiolia loses to Frodi, but then he has an emotional flashback that powers up his armour to make it glow even more and look awesome. Aiolia then shouts a lot while blasting energy beams or something, which lets him win after all.
Thinking about it, that's not actually a fight. A fight would have action. This is just shouting a lot in intense close-ups.
I should apologise to Saint Seiya fans. I'm being flippant and offhand, because I have less than no interest in this show. It looks terrible. I'd have happily watched a Lyfia series, but unfortunately we also have armoured heroes fighting those anti-fights.
"The power of God has awakened!"
Samurai Warriors
Sengoku Musou
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: don't be absurd
One-line summary: samurai
They're samurai. They have swords. They fight a lot, yet no one dies on-screen even when you've got lots of soldiers running into battle. A lot of these samurai are very pretty and look as if they sing in a boy band.
Obviously there was almost no chance at all that I'd be interested in this. As it happens, it's based on the sengoku era of Japanese history and is full of real historical characters... but it's also based on a computer game (Samurai Warriors 4-II). Admittedly they haven't included giant robots and magical beam attacks, but there's a sword fight that ends with a sword blow so mighty that it makes a crater in the rocky (?) ground. The loser's lying in the middle of it and he's still alive.
There's one character I liked. He's the older geezer with twinkly, impish eyes, who doesn't take himself too seriously. There are also some female characters, i.e. cleavage opportunities. Even with them, though, don't even consider watching this. It's not "so bad it's good" or anything. It's just pointless.
gakkou gurashi
Gakkou Gurashi
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: looks like a slice-of-life school series, but...
I've since finished it and... it's excellent and I'm thinking of buying the manga
It's going to be hard discussing this without spoilers. When I review the entire series (which I will), I'll have no choice but to give it away, but here I'm just talking about ep.1 and so I should be able to stay spoiler-free.
It's a meandering, fluffy, iyashikei slice-of-life episode about the girls of Megurigaoka Private High School's School Living Club. "Iyashikei" means "therapy, healing, rejuvenating, refreshing, soothing" and it's a potentially dangerous word when it comes to anime. When done well, it's lovely and charming, e.g. Kamichu!, Hanayamata, Yotsuba &!, Azumanga Daioh, etc. When done badly, you're in for pointless episodes of nothing meaningful happening at great length, again and again. I'm currently watching Is the Order a Rabbit?, but it's almost content-free and probably killing my brain cells with every episode.
This episode is veering towards the "pointless" side of ikashikei. There are four schoolgirls and a puppy in this school club. Their puppy goes wandering off, so the girls have to look for it during class. Really? They wander around school. There are low-key character beats with the girls talking about each other's auras, with Yuki suggesting that Miki's might be scary and Miki suggesting that Yuki's is luke-warm.
All this is okay. It's not great, but it's okay. I'm not particularly interested in these girls, but they seem good-natured enough.
Then comes a certain shift in perception. I'll be watching all of this.
Seiyuu Life
Seiyuu's Life!
Sore ga Seiyuu!
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: comedy about newbie voice actresses
I've since finished it and... it's charming, low-key and funny
It's a Gonzo show, but I'm going to watch it anyway. It's educational and I enjoyed it. My problem with Gonzo has always been their storytelling, but this show looks likely to side-step that by not being story-based in the first place. Instead it's a slice-of-life show about the working life of seiyuu (i.e. voice actors), adapted from a manga written by a voice actress. We begin with giant robots (yikes!), but fortunately that's just what's on screen for a job that our heroines are working on. Surprisingly, the art style for the real-world characters is more cartoonish than usual for anime, when you might have expected it to be more realistic.
Our heroines are newbies. Futaba Ichinose is timid, sometimes talks to a doll and is still at the stage of letting her acting challenges overwhelm her a bit. Ichigo Moesaki is a cringeworthy ball of strawberry-themed deliberate cutesiness, but only when you first meet her. She's a bit more human after that. Oh, and there's also a sweet, polite fifteen-year-old veteran, because you can't judge the length of someone's career from their appearance.
What's cool about the episode is all the real-life details about a that you might not have guessed. Futaba shakes her clothes before getting dressed in the morning, looking for an outfit that won't rustle or make any other noises. There's a extraordinarily silly status-establishing routine of newbies introducing themselves one by one to everyone in the room. The studio couldn't be less glamorous, but even professional voice actors are liable to go fannishly berserk if they find themselves working alongside particularly famous colleagues. Directors are capable of asking you to say your line in the voice of someone with big boobs, which I think anyone might find challenging.
I liked it. I like the music. It's full of details that surprised me, despite having seen Shirobako and Animation Runner Kuromi. (One day I must watch Bakuman.) I'll definitely be continuing.
sympho gear
Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX
Senki Zesshou Symphogear Season 3
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: um, um, um, um, yes.
One-line summary: SF battle series about magical girls in power armour fueled by rock music
I've since finished it and... it's the show's worst season to date. I got bored by all the fights.
I honestly can't decide. It's clearly a very silly show, so... okay, that's swayed me. I'll watch the silly thing.
There's a space shuttle having trouble on re-entry, so they fire a missile at it. This missile contains singing girls. They do a "Megadeath Symphony", then go through a mountain the hard way and save the shuttle. Apparently these girls work for U.N. Supernatural Disaster Response Team Task Force S.O.N.G.
We then learn that they're schoolgirls. Was there any other possibility? They bicker about holding hands in public and this show really isn't trying to hide its lesbians. However their school has really unflattering swimsuit designs.
There's an idol concert. The idol then has the SF high-tech equivalent of a magical girl transformation sequence.
This is obviously whacko. That's a good thing. Less encouraging is that the baddies and fights seem fairly arbitrary and meaningless, but hopefully I'd have more of a handle on them if I weren't jumping into the show halfway through. Does that mean I'd want to go from the start of Season 1? I'm a little hesitant about adding three seasons of this potential nonsense to my to-watch pile, but... ah, what the hell. I'll report back.
Owari no Serafu
Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign
Owari no Seraph
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: children in a world ruled by vampires
I've since finished it and... the hero is the epitome of blind macho idiocy, but I enjoyed it anyway. It's a good story.
Mankind's been devastated by a virus. A voice-over informs us that it's our own fault and that our species is going to die out, with only children under thirteen having immunity. Fortunately they're being taken into protective custody! This involves living under the guardianship of two kinds of vampire:
(a) robot-like hulks of indifference that don't talk and don't care whether or not your hands are underfoot. Annoy them and they'll drop you over a precipice, though.
(b) chatty Lords, who make comfortable arrangements with the most delicious children to their mutual advantage, but would butcher half the cast with their bare hands just to enjoy our despair.
The human characters are all children, of course. Yuuichirou is the kind of idiot whose dial is permamently set to "abrasive jerk" and will start fights with vampires twice his height. His friend Mikaela, though, knows the mystical arts of being diplomatic and staying alive. They belong to the same orphanage, along with a girl (Akane) and several much younger children. At this stage we don't know what kind of body count to expect and we have hopes that some or all of our heroes might stay alive.
Don't watch this show if you're squeamish about bad things happening to children. Ep.2 is set four years later and not everyone in this episode will be in it.
It's good. It's nasty. Recommended to old-school vampire fans. I'll be continuing, obviously.
Seraph of the End: Battle in Nagoya
Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen
Season 2
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: post-apocalypse vampire killers
I've since finished it and... the hero grows as a person, while the story gets even more apocalyptic.
Yuu's really changed, hasn't he? He's not the hot-headed moronic drivel-monger he used to be. He's calmed down. He's had two big chunks of character development since the start of Season One and I admire how far they've brought him. Shinoa actually asks him to his face if he's found a different reason to live, which of course he has.
Mitsuba gets a promotion, which is tearing her up. Shinoa doesn't get a promotion and she'd have turned one down if she was offered it anyway. We also learn that names are really important.
It's the aftermath of the Season One finale. People are wondering what happened and whether Yuu's been experimented upon. The Hiiragi clan descend from their position of absolute power to investigate Yuu, which is not a good thing. "We tortured them a bit since you were being suspicious." I'm particularly suspicious of one of them. He's not the most evil Hiiragi, but that languid speech pattern makes him sound like a vampire.
Then we meet the actual vampires. They have a ban on drinking blood directly. Is that an attempt to control their numbers, or something else?
I like this show. It's good. They've got so much to get through that this episode doesn't have time for an end credits sequence, instead lightly superimposing credits over the continuing story. I like the world, I like its spiky cast and I like the dark hints of possible secrets. I'm definitely continuing.
Shimo neta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai
Shimoneta: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist
Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: HELL YEAH
One-line summary: lewd resistance fighters opposing public morality
I've since finished it and... it's awesome. But in the worst possible taste.
The actual show might end up being rubbish, but I laughed my head off at ep.1 and the idea of it is brilliant. Wild horses wouldn't stop me continuing.
It's set in a dystopian future Japan that's banned porn, innuendo and naughty words. Everyone has to wear throat monitors that alert the authorities if you say anything prohibited and the opening scene shows an armed raid by anti-terrorist police on schoolboys. A woman wearing knickers on her head can cause dangerous panic at a train station by saying something rude. Japan now has the "healthiest public morals in the world".
It shouldn't be hard to see what this is parodying. It's silly, yes, but it's also making a serious point underneath the comedy. This is a real trend. The questions of censorship and what should be taught in schools are live issues, both in the West and Japan, often hijacked by the most hysterical and illiberal. Thus the society portrayed here is absurd and dsyfunctional. Sex education is "when mummy and daddy love each other very much" and one of the characters is a would-be scientist who's trying to conduct illegal research, i.e. find out where babies come from. She genuinely doesn't know. Biology isn't being taught properly. (This particular character is also a nutter and a freak, mind you.)
Our hero (Tanukichi Okuma) is going to join two student organisations. The one he joins voluntarily is his student council, working to protect public morals and led by a beautiful girl of such purity that she can't engage with their dirty-minded enemies. "We at the student council do not exactly understand what 'lasciviousness' is. So we haven't developed a plan."
On the other hand, the organisation Tanukichi's dragged kicking and screaming into is SOX. It's just him and a girl who's fighting for the sake of public perversion.
It's beyond sanity. It made me laugh like a loon. Everything about it is nonsense, but genius. This is a Fahrenheit 451 totalitarian regime where a woman can defeat anti-terrorist police by threatening to take off her clothes. This is why I watch anime.
"Let's create a beautiful world of dirty jokes together!"
Shin Atashinchi
Season 1
Episodes: 26 x 23 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: silly anime sitcom
I'd have watched the original ATASHIn'CHI series, because one of its series directors was Akitaroh Daichi. Mind you, that ran for 662 episodes. This, on the other hand, is directed by someone else and I didn't think this opening episode was that great anyway.
It's about an ordinary family, the Tachibanis, with character designs that look as if they were drawn for (or possibly by) four-year-olds. Mum is the least human and looks like a walking butt plug, with legs and bicycle tyre lips. She's neckless, with her head simply being the upper half of her body. I quite like that, mind you. She's fun to look at. Her children and husband are less freakish, but still cartoon characters.
The story and characters are more of a problem. The episode's divided into fragments that make it feel like a 4-panel gag manga adaptation, but what's more I tended not to laugh at them. Mum is the show's best character. She idolises being strong-willed, which she takes to irrational extremes. Strength of will means you don't need an umbrella if it's raining! Strength of will means it's okay to eat rotting beans you found in the fridge! One of the mini-episodes within this episode is about Mum's war with crows and cockroaches, which I didn't find funny but is sort of okay.
I was less amused by the son, Yuzuhiko, and his determination to make himself look cool with sunglasses. I got bored during that mini-episode.
It's just random domestic stuff that's presumably meant to be funny. I'm happy to believe that it improves, but I'm not tempted to hang around. I'll jump ahead to ep.13, because it's the first episode of 2016, but so far this doesn't feel like something for me.
Shomin Sample
Ore ga Ojou-sama Gakkou ni "Shomin Sample" Toshite Rachirareta Ken
I Was Abducted by an Elite All-Girls School as a Sample Commoner
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 23 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: kidnapped boy is the object of wonder at exclusive girls' school for being common
I've since finished it and... it's as daft as a brush, but adorable.
It's likeable. Silly, but with its own deranged charm.
"Shomin" means "commoner". All-Girls School Seikain is an academy for the pampered, naive daughters of the super-rich. They've never heard of mobile phones and they're so sheltered that one of them thinks your wish will be granted if you kiss a commoner. (She's a bit weird, though.)
Kimito Kagurazaka is an ordinary high school student who gets kidnapped one day by private soldiers. His old life no longer exists. He is now the property of All-Girls School Seikain, who've been having some problems with students reacting with shock and horror to the real world upon graduation. Long debates were held on how they could toughen up the girls. The answer was a peasant! Kidnap a boring, mediocre example of the great unwashed and get the girls used to interacting with scum! (Only the school administration are judging him that harshly, mind you. The girls themselves are fascinated, seeing Kimito as an exotic ambassador from an exotic realm of fantasy.)
Oh, and the administrators think Kimito's gay, with a bodybuilder fetish. If they learn that this is false, then for the girls' safety, they'll have him castrated.
This is ludicrous, obviously. It's also yet another school-based anime based on a series of light novels where one male protagonist is the object of fascination for lots of girls. There are also other problems. I wanted to kill the "I'm so cute" headmistress who calls herself a schoolgirl, while the school uniform's skirts are somehow showing more of their wearers' arse shape than skirts usually do. They're either clingy or slightly see-through.
I still enjoyed it, though. It's good-natured and happy. Much of that is due to Aika, who's an aggressive, insanely gullible loner with emotional issues. I liked Aika. She ends up starting a Commoner club with just her and Kimito, demanding that he teach her how to be common in order to become popular. Like I said, she's weird.
"Commoners have a much more developed civilisation!"
Shounen Hollywood Holly Stage for 49
Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 50
Season 2
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: slightly-more-realistic-than-usual boy idol show
It's about a five-man group of boy idols. They sing. They dance. They perform every night at what might be a slightly run-down theatre and they're not living the big life yet. The show's not doing badly, but they need bigger audiences. They have to do umglamorous jobs too, like cleaning the auditorium, standing in the street and handing out flyers to passers-by.
They google themselves and find people writing irrational things about them. They try to be philosophical about this. "If you can't take people judging and comparing you, you shouldn't be in this business." One of them got ill for a few days and as a result might have lost his central place in the line-up and got replaced for some kind of audio recording session. He's back now, but there are going to be two versions of that introduction and it'll be the fans who decide which one's more popular. Everyone in the troupe is friendly and supportive, but it's a brutal portrayal of show business.
They also have an owl, which is cool. It's a horned owl, called Cat.
It seems like a decent show, but at the end of the day it's still about pretty boys singing, dancing and posing. That's not to undersell the craft and effort that's required for that kind of show, but it's still a bit on the vapid side and I personally wouldn't be interested in watching their stage show. Mostly it's just song-and-dance. That's okay. The "I'D RATHER DIE" bit is everyone doing their catchphrases to the squeeing female audience, which is the kind of cloying cutesiness that would make you consider becoming a rent boy as a less humiliating line of employment.
The show does look good though. I thought the same of the Season 1 episode I saw too.
Show by Rock!!
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: to my utter astonishment, yes
One-line summary: bonkers
I've since finished it and... I loved it to bits! It's genuinely excellent.
I'd wanted to watch something I wouldn't want to watch. I've got six or seven shows on the go right now (some of them quite long), but I also wanted to watch a random first episode of something I'd never seen before. The challenge: to choose something that wouldn't become Number Eight.
The title was encouragingly discouraging. "Show by Rock!!" That sounded on a par with Unlikeable Brats' Cardfight!!, Even More Idols!! or Breakdancing Rap Obnoxious Small Boy Battles!!
However, darn it, the show's so deranged that I have no choice but to watch it all.
We start with a shy girl who's trying to pluck up the courage to join her school's rock band club. Her name's Cyan. I liked her. She's cute in a "librarian in glasses" way and really into her music. (Admittedly the line between "wannabe musicians" and "wannabe idol" in anime is wafer-thin, but at least musicians are actually playing instruments, sometimes writing their own music and actually being creators in a way that's not as true of idols.)
Cyan then turns on her mobile phone and gets sucked into another reality by a demonic mobile phone game. Until now, the show looked like normal anime. Now, it looks like a CGI kiddie cartoon on acid.
Cyan has turned into a CGI caricature of herself, incidentally. She sees a CGI boy band concert, which gets invaded by a glowing purple CGI Godzilla skull demon. Help! Who can fight building-sized demons? Answer: rock stars! That shouldn't include Cyan, but somehow she gets drawn into it too!
This astonishes the rock stars. "Only Myumons with music skill should be able to enter this space!"
"But what should I do?" exclaims Cyan. Answer: A GUITAR! ROCK AND ROLL! A pink heart-shaped talking guitar appears in Cyan's hands and orders her to play it and destroy the monster.
Cyan now returns to a normal anime appearance, but with cat ears, little fangs, a tail and a tendency to say "nyan" (i.e. "meow"). There's still no explanation of any of this. She talks to an egg that wants to sign her for its rock band agency. There's a boy band who'd like her too, but Cyan signs with the egg to become the fourth member of its animal-themed girl group. She's still a bit concerned about the small matter of having been sucked into an insane alien dimension, but hey! She's in a band!
The episode finale is a boy band's all-singing introduction.
This has to be watched.
A Simple Thinking About Blood Type
Seasons: 2 + 3
Episodes: 12 x 2 minutes per season
Keep watching: to my surprise, maybe
One-line summary: little faceless figures representing the personalities that correspond to each blood type
This show needs more explanation than most. Here we go...
1. In Japan and Korea, blood type is used like a horoscope. It predicts your personality, depending on whether you're A, B, AB or O. Type A is earnest, sensible and a bit tense. Type B is passionate, creative and sometimes irresponsible. Type AB is rational, sociable and adaptable, but also capable of being indecisive. Type O is confident, strong-willed and sometimes cold.
I don't think people in Japan even realise how weird this is. (It's even more popular in Korea.) In fairness, though, it was partly developed as a counter-argument to racist European pseudo-science in the 1920s.
2. This anime (Japanese but based on a Korean webcomic) stars little cartoon people with letters for faces, one for each blood type. They're sitting on chairs being interviewed together.
3. The blue cartoon figures (i.e. male) are being asked what they think is most important in a woman? They agree on first place ("face") and second place ("personality"), but after that opinions start varying. Someone says "money", to general disapproval, and another "boobs".
And that's it. Two minutes. It sounds like a daft idea for an anime, but I laughed. I know almost nothing about blood type personality theory, but I was actually thinking of watching more... until I watched the first episode of Season 3. Two minutes I can cope with. Four minutes was stretching it a bit far.
Kuusen Madoushi Kouhosei no Kyoukan
Sky Wizards Academy
Kuusen Madoushi Kouhosei no Kyoukan
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes + a 13th OVA
Keep watching: run away
One-line summary: worst light novel adaptation of the year
Good grief, it's weak. I've sat through and even enjoyed some dire harem-style light novel adaptations in my time, but this one was all but punching me in the face.
We start with ten minutes of confused info-dumps and scenes that don't feel connected to anything. Only after that does it start to resemble a narrative. There are some sky wizards who fight magical devil beetles, but I was a bit vague on the specifics of... well, anything more than that.
We meet the Impossibly Wonderful Male Protagonist, who differs from the norm in having a dead-eyed, empty expression that suggests that either (a) he doesn't care about the people he's talking to or (b) he's stupid. His name's Kanata and everyone calls him a traitor. I didn't like him. He's boring even by the low standards of "insert your own face here" identikit harem and light novel heroes.
Kanata bumps into Girl One (red hair), who's annoying because she drops her toast on him and then gets angry with him because she's a tsundere.
Kanata bumps into Girl Two (blue hair), who's self-obsessed and patronising to a point that makes you want to kill her on sight. You can't even talk to her. Everything she says is about how wonderful she is. She accuses Kanata of being a stalker because she thinks he must have been mesmerised by her beauty.
By this point my reactions to the episode had graduated beyond "is annoying" and were instead at "can also piss off".
Girl Three (blonde hair) seems nice, though. Paralysed by her own shyness, mind you.
The one bit that seems mildly interesting is that Kanata is these girls' new teacher. They're the legendarily bad Team E601 and he's got to train them up, despite being the same age as them and hated by the entire school to boot. Well, guess what! I hate him too. In fact, I hate three-quarters of this episode's core cast.
Quality rating: burnable.
Akagami no Shirayukihime
Snow White with the Red Hair
Akagami no Shirayuki-hime
Season 1 (of 2)
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: herbalist girl in pseudo-historical setting
I've since finished it and... it's a good, solid show.
It's good. It's adapted from a shoujo manga about a character (Shirayuki) whose name means "Snow White", but she's got bright red hair. She's also more practical and capable than most fairy tale heroines.
The fairy tale elements (in ep.1 at least) are at once understated and very loud. The tone isn't fantastical at all. It feels real. It feels like a historical, except that you'd probably have to call it fantasy because the countries' names aren't real and it's not clear what century this would be. Pre-industrial, anyway. Shirayuki is a busy herbalist with lots of patients, but then one day a soldier knocks on her door. He's come on behalf of Prince Raj, who's decided to add her to his collection of concubines.
Shirayuki calmly packs her things, makes medicine for all the patients she's leaving behind and then does a runner out of the country. She later meets an arrogant cock called Zen, but he's actually an okay guy when you get to know him. He's better than Prince Raj, anyway.
You can see the fairy tale elements. There are princes, a heroine with a fairy tale name (although she's not a princess) and even a basket of sinister apples. However it's all being played straight. There's no whimsy or magic. Poison is just a means of killing someone, not a plot device to send someone to sleep for a hundred years. I enjoyed this. Shirayuki's way too sensible and level-headed to be particularly funny, but it's easy to cheer for her and I enjoyed the show's egalitarian take on sexual politics in what's loosely a fairy tale setting. Happy to keep watching this.
hibike euphonium
Sound! Euphonium
Hibike! Euphonium
Season 1
Episodes: 13 x 24 minutes + a 14th OVA episode
Keep watching: yes
One-line summary: schoolgirls in a brass band
I've since finished it and... expect a show that's a little understated, but really good.
I've been told it's excellent. It's also by Kyoto Animation and it's since received not just a second season but a compilation movie. School music clubs aren't my first-choice anime genre, but I'd always been planning to watch this one. The actual episode, though, is okay. I watched it. I wasn't blown away, but it looks fine. I don't know if I'd have continued if I hadn't known its reputation.
It starts with schoolgirls winning first prize in a competition, but it's "dud gold". Much later in the episode, this gets explained. If you want to compete nationally, you've got to win an event at a lower level first. Some gold medallists will get selected for the Nationals, but others don't. Those are "dud golds".
This looked like a season finale, so I was confused. Looking it up on the internet, though, it would seem that this was a junior high school event. The episode then continues with the same characters starting high school. Our heroine, Kumiko Oumae, isn't sure whether or not she really wants to join another music club after that dud gold incident. Hazuki Katou is full of energy, despite having no experience whatsoever. Sapphire Kawashima has an embarrassing name and prefers to be called Midori. All this is perfectly watchable without as yet managing to be anything special.
There's a male character or two! I was astonished. The main one is Shuichi Tsukamoto and he seems to be a childhood friend of Kumiko's. What else is there? Um... not much, really. Kumiko and her friends check out the music club, meet other students, etc. There are some girls who are clearly going to be important characters. I'm not sure I'd say the story's even got properly started yet. Well, let's see how it develops.
Strike Blood
Strike The Blood
Two OVAs, tagged on after Season 1
OVA #1: "Kingdom of the Valkyria I"
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: action harem show
It's the weakest Strike the Blood episode I've seen to date (of four), because it's the most harem-ish. La Folia Rihavein is back on Itogami Island and she wants Kojou Akatsuki to marry her! Her viking king father assumes that other harem members are Kojou's mistresses. La Folia approves. "Even if that were the case, I wouldn't have a problem with it. Great men like to indulge. It wouldn't be unusual for a Progenitor to have five or ten mistresses. If you keep insisting that I marry someone, then I shall choose him as my groom!"
There's a royal party for all the girls. (This feels like a checklist of everyone who'd appeared in the TV episodes.) "Please marry my daughter!" There are conversations in bedrooms (with underwear) and in the communal bath (with nipples). However, Kojou also gets a more romantic scene with Yukina Himeragi.
There's a modest amount of plot. A monster attacks, for the sake of a brief, gratuitous fight scene that means nothing. Then, at the end, there's a similarly empty cliffhanger. Naaah.
supershort comix
Super Short Comics
Season 1
Episodes: 8 x 4 minutes
Keep watching: no
One-line summary: surreal gag show, not funny
It's a web anime, based on a web manga. It's a gag manga in the sense that it's not serious, but I don't think I was ever in danger of laughing. The point of it is surrealism.
A self-proclaimed loser is about to try to jump over a stupidly tall gym horse. He thinks this is his only talent. He's trying to impress a girl. He fails to achieve the obviously impossible (d'oh), but the gym horse is full of crabs and he's forgotten his Crab-Collecting Basket.
In a game of baseball, the pitcher balances on his own ball as he throws it and gets hit out of the stadium by the batter.
The girl lends the loser her Crab-Collecting Basket. There's a giant crab. Our hero collects the crabs in ten minutes, which is a world record. However his ears are shrinking. "One of my internal organs is squashed, but I can live!" He coughs up some blood. The end.
I can live without watching ep.2.
Suzaki Nishi
SuzakiNishi the Animation
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 3 minutes
Keep watching: I might
One-line summary: probably pointless, but amiable with schoolgirls
I've since finished it but... I can hardly remember anything about it. Which says something in itself.
It's entirely generic so far. Schoolgirls. Tennis. A flasher... okay, that's potentially less harmless, but it's played for laughs and the main thing I disliked was the lack of reaction afterwards from the headmaster (?). I think that might be for the purposes of double-entendre gags. (I was watching in raw Japanese without subtitles, so I might be wrong.) In real life, though, you'd want the guy sacked.
Apparently it's a spin-off of an internet radio show whose hosts are playing cartoon versions of themselves in this anime. They're voice actresses called Aya Suzaki and Asuka Nishi. They even sing its theme song.
If you believe this anime, then the one with ginger hair is a lunatic with tennis superpowers and the calm one with blue hair is nice in a "traditional Japanese lady" way. They've just transferred to the same high school. The episode is an exercise in anime formula, but I shouldn't get too critical after only seeing three minutes. The girls seem nice. So far I have no idea what I'd get if I watched more of their adventures. Would I be bored or charmed? It doesn't even remotely look like anything special, but the entire series isn't much more than half an hour.
I might watch it if I've got nothing better to do. That's probably the most positive reaction you're likely to see to this first episode.