YattermanYuru YuriJapanese
Anime 1st episodes 2015: X-Z
Including: Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches, Yatterman Night, Young Black Jack, Yurikuma Arashi, Yuru Yuri Nachuyachumi! (OVA and specials), Yuru Yuri San Hai!
Medium: TV, series
Year: 2015
Series: << Anime 1st episodes 2015
Keywords: Yatterman, Yuru Yuri, anime
Country: Japan
Language: Japanese
Format: 5 first episodes
Website category: Anime 2015
Review date: 1 April 2017
It's a movie, but I've watched it anyway: Yokai Watch Movie #1: It's the Secret of Birth, Meow!, which is unremarkable but fun
It's a movie: Yowamushi Pedal: Re:ROAD, which is about a cycling club
Not reviewed: Yu-Gi-Oh! Duel Monsters Battle City Hen, which a compilation series anyway
yoru no yatterman
Yatterman Night
Yoru no Yatterman
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: hell yes
One-line summary: small girl becomes villain to be hero
I've since finished it and... I loved it to bits. It really worked for me.
I'm really excited by this one. It looks far more interesting than I'd expected.
Yatterman is a silly, repetitive children's show. Yatterman would fit the same baddies every week. I've seen the Takashi Miike live-action version, which is pretty forgettable.
This, on the other hand, is called Dark Yatterman. (Okay, Yatterman Night. Same thing.) I was expecting some kind of brooding anti-hero and lots of grimdark. Nope. We begin with happy, sunny light and girls playing in the fields... for about five seconds, until a meteor shower turns the Earth into a red ball of hellfire. Looks like planetary extinction time. A skull rises like a mushroom cloud and a cheerful voice says "it's punishment time!"
Some unknown time later, a woman called Dorothy is pregnant. Looks like the Earth survived after all, although Dorothy's surroundings look a bit post-apocalypse. The father is dead, but Dorothy manages to give birth to a girl.
Next thing we know, that girl's six years old and her name's Leopard. Dorothy's telling her about the world. There's a Yatter Kingdom, ruled by the Yatterman Heroes. Leopard thinks it must be heaven there and says she'll go there one day. Umm... ouch. What she doesn't know, though, is that she and all her friends are forced to live in their current hellhole, banned from the Yatter Kingdom for the crimes of their ancestors. They're the descendants of those goofy villains who used to get defeated every week, the Doronbow Gang.
Now Leopard's nine years old and Dorothy's sick. The Yattermen have medicine, so Leopard goes to ask those noble, good, virtuous heroes to help her mummy.
This doesn't go well. Not everyone survives to the end credits. Little, innocent nine-year-old Leopard thus vows to fight evil. She's going to become Doronjo and rebuild the Doronbow Gang, with her friends promising to help her even though this means helping a nine-year-old girl fight an oppressive political regime. I think Leopard is wonderful and I adore this set-up. I love it. I can't wait.
Young Black Jack
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24
Keep watching: not sure
One-line summary: prequel series for Osamu Tezuka's second most famous character
I've since finished it and... it's quite good in its way, but I usually felt a little distant from it
I'm ill-acquainted with the works of Osamu Tezuka, which is something I fully intend to remedy. He's really important. He gets called the god/father/godfather of manga, or else Japan's equivalent of Walt Disney. (He much more varied than Disney, though, and willing to go way darker.) His most famous creation is Astro Boy, but Black Jack's probably number two. It's been adapted to anime more than once, but the prequel manga that this is based on isn't actually by Tezuka himself.
So I want to watch it. However I'm not sure if it's for me. Black Jack is a brilliant doctor who charges very high fees and achieves miraculous results. In this episode, this translates to a not-very-interesting story in which a small boy's lost an arm and a leg in a bus-train collision. The parents are pleading for his limbs to be reattached, but the doctors insist that it's impossible. Enter Black Jack! (Well, sort of. He's still a student and not going under that name yet. His real name's Kuroo Hazama.) He demands five million yen, which might stick in the craw a bit for a viewer from the land of the UK's National Health Service, but then he performs amazing surgery! It's difficult! He thinks of something clever! He succeeds! The storytelling's all efficiently done, but unfortunately I'm not convinced that I'm going to be that thrilled by lots of episodes in which we watch a surgeon doing his job.
It also doesn't help that this patient is someone we don't know. The boy was unconscious when he was brought in. This particular story is more about Black Jack himself, since as it happens this is the first time he's carried out an operation. I quite liked the drop of acid with which the episode ends, but otherwise I'm afraid I wasn't that impressed.
I might still watch this. I like period settings. (It's set at Tokyo University during the 1968 student unrest.) However I've tried and failed to watch Black Jack before, although there I was trying to follow lots of medical terminology in Japanese without subtitles. That won't have helped. This prequel series also has no Pinoko, who's the main reason to watch Black Jack as far as I'm concerned. I should also mention that the surgery scenes don't show us the gore, although oddly that almost made it more unsettling to watch. Your imagination's filling in the gaps.
Hopefully they'll start telling stories about Black Jack's patients rather than Black Jack himself. I should probably try at least one more episode, which might perhaps be more representative.
Yuri Kuma Arashi
Yurikuma Arashi
Yuri Bear Storm
Lily Bear Storm
Lesbian Bear Storm
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: watching this show is mandatory
One-line summary: schoolgirl-eating lesbian bears
I've since finished it and... it's clearly the most important anime of 2015.
It's the latest work from famous loony and auteur, Kunihiko Ikuhara (Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum). Thus it has to be watched. Simple as that. It's going to be a dense text, full of symbolism and surprisingly dark themes.
It's about schoolgirl-eating lesbian bears.
It could have been about zombies or vampires instead. Theoretically such a change wouldn't have significantly changed the episode, except that it's all-important because bears are: (a) cute, (b) real and dangerous. Japan's mountains have bears. Don't go near them. Ikuhara's bears are unrepentant killers who live to eat humans and see it as an expression of their love for each other, but are also teensy-weensy teddy bears with cute girls' voices. (They can also transform into human form and infiltrate our society.)
The bears and the humans are barely distinguishable. They're all Japanese schoolgirls. They're all lesbians. They're openly enraptured with each other and declaring that they'll never give up on their love. Cliched shoujo heroic platitudes are being put in the mouths of man-eating monsters, who as it happens mean every word. The episode also puts significant focus on the human couple eating their packed lunches together on the school roof.
However when the bears eat someone, we get an ugly industrial cityscape, police sirens, the area cordoned off and... well, realism.
The only thing that doesn't look like a Kunihiko Ikuhara show is the bland character designs. The colour schemes, the architecture... that's all saying it's him. There's a level of abstraction and playfulness that demands you pay attention to levels of meaning you wouldn't normally be looking for. (The Convening Yuri Trial is the loopiest scene, abandoning literalism altogether.) The sexuality is very Ikuhara, although admittedly until now he'd never come right out with an explicit World of Lesbians and this much nudity. It's arty, innocent nudity, though, that to me doesn't feel like fanservice.
A friend of mine described this series as "trying too hard to create art", which strikes me as a brilliant description (except that I think it completely succeeds). That's what Ikuhara does. It's at once playful and aggressively dense. There's more meat in this one episode than in an entire series of most shows.
This show is already important. Not watching it isn't an option. I'm told it will get a good deal darker, by the way.
Yuru Yuri San Hai!
Season 3
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: I suppose so
One-line summary: schoolgirls doing nothing important
I've since finished it and... I enjoyed it more than I'd been expecting. I'd been underrating this show.
I've watched all of Yuru Yuri to date, so I was always likely to watch this series too. I was neither encouraged nor dissuaded by this particular episode. It's okay. It amused me. I didn't feel that my brain cells were being destroyed, which is a cut above some slice-of-life shows.
PART 1: the four main girls (Kyouko, Yui, Akari and Chinatsu) are doing nothing on a swelteringly hot day. Kyouko suggests playing the King Game. Everyone draws lots and the randomly determined King can give any order to a randomly determined victim. Be careful who you play this with. (Kyouko has other ideas of what "King Game" should mean, but they're silly and she's overruled.)
Most of the comedy here comes from Chinatsu's increasingly scary urges to become the King and make Yui kiss her. It wouldn't be a complete surprise if she killed someone one day. Meanwhile, Sakurako is still stupid. The show also proves itself pleasingly restrained when Kyouko's little skirt somehow preserves her modesty even when theoretically it shouldn't be doing so (she's semi-conscious and being dragged across the floor by her feet).
Oh, and is it just me or has the show forgotten about Kyouko's crush on Chinatsu? Mind you, Kyouko's so manic that it's quite possible that she'd never really been serious and she'd just been high on Kyouko-ness as usual.
PART 2: cooking class at school, which Kyouko turns into an arm-wrestling contest.
PART 3: Akari's nice to a little girl (Hanako) who's trying to use a vending machine. This really is just Akari being nice with no ulterior motive, because that's Akari, but then she realises that it's an exciting opportunity to be big-sisterly! Inevitable result: failure.
I quite liked it, in a passive sort of way. It's amusing. It's not as good as anything that I'd call good, but it does its job. I've now watched 28 episodes of Yuru Yuri with no negative reaction and I wouldn't object to watching even more, so it can't be all bad.
yamada kun and 7 witches
Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches
Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo
Season 1
Episodes: 12 x 24 minutes
Keep watching: hell yes
One-line summary: the next generation of body-swap school comedies
I've since finished it and... it's a bit compressed, but there's a lot of good in there. I didn't like the OVA episodes as much, though.
I'm not sure whether or not to try to avoid spoilers, since the whole episode's basically all about extreme but fairly well-recognised SF ideas taken to another level. If you don't know anything, you're in for a cool time. I suppose... okay, I'll discuss some spoilers here, although obviously they're only for ep.1. Nonetheless I'd recommend not reading what I'm about to write and just going off now to watch this anime.
Spoiler space.
Spoiler space.
Spoiler space.
We start with a bad boy (Yamada) getting told off at school. He's rude to everyone (including his teacher) and he doesn't do any work or indeed bother staying awake in class. His grades are terrible. When a pretty but serious-looking blonde student (Urara Shiraishi) talks sensibly to the teacher, he thinks she looks "boring".
He then trips on the stairs on top of Shiraishi and they body-swap. This happens within the episode's first few minutes.
After that, there's some good comedy to be had from their opposing personalities. Yamada is abrasive and charges yelling at all obstacles. Shiraishi is modest and ladylike. They're not very good at impersonating each other. "Shiraishi" punching out "Yamada" in front of a bully made me laugh out loud. (Shiraishi's being bullied, which adds a slightly darker tone to the episode that Yamada hadn't expected.) That's just the episode's first half, though. Other stuff that happens includes: (a) Shiraishi and Yamada working out how to get their bodies back, but the details have insane implications for one's love life, (b) doing it again, at will, and (c) a third party getting in on the act.
And that's just one witch! (I presume Shiraishi's a witch, even if she wouldn't call herself one. Yamada can't be one, though, unless I'm being tricked by the title.) Anyway, seven witches? Will they all be body-swappers, or will they have other powers? This show looks awesome. I can't wait.