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Hey Spitz, What’ve You Been Watching? June 2015

July 4, 2015

(This article will be free of spoilers!)

本物の夏が来た! And hey look at that, a monthly article. Fashionably late of course.
It’s interesting to think about how one series, incredibly similar to another, might be terrific, while the other may be dreadfully boring. My best example would be Seitokai no Ichizon’s first season versus its second.
A series lives and dies at the hands of its production company, and I’m a firm believer that a dreadful premise could be handed to a team of people with enthusiasm for what they do and turned into a memorable or at least wonderfully entertaining series.
With the Summer anime season looming, it’s time to go over the Spring series that have wrapped up:

 

0717c162ca7cad245423dcff81d2bca51416450422_fullHello! Kin’Iro Mosaic:
Following the bilingual antics of the first season, Hello! Kin’Iro Mosaic continues the cheerful antics of British foreign transfer student Alice and her Japanese friend Shinobu.
A new year brings with it new faces and new opportunities to create happy memories with friends in this cross-continental slice-of-life comedy.

What I thought: “Somehow manages to
be brighter and funnier than the first season.”
KinMoza’s first season contained some of the most endearing Japanese English voice acting I had come across, which along with its bright visual style and cheerful characters, made it tough to sit through without a dumb grin on my face.
Work was clearly put into making the English spoken by the various Western characters sound more natural, so some of that peculiar charm was lost in this second season, but not entirely.
The comedy here is great however, and the small cast of new characters each fit comfortably in among the returning bunch and bright with them their own fun antics.
It looks and sounds terrific (one continuity flub I spotted aside), and sports a tremendously uplifting OP that I couldn’t get enough of over the past season.
If you enjoyed the first season, Hello! Kin’Iro Mosaic is a no-brainer, and if you haven’t this is a series full of lovable characters and endearing Engrish. Slice-of-life fans take note!

 

f5d57da453376a4a2bbbfa97cbe09e761417800920_fullRe-Kan:
Amami Hibiki, like her Mother before her, was born with the ability to see spirits of the dead as they exist around us.
Whether this ability is a gift or a curse depends on who among her friends you talk to, but regardless of how foreboding the spirit, Hibiki always does everything she can to help them out.

What I thought: “Had the right ideas,
but didn’t quite deliver on them.”
It’s clear that this series had its heart in the right place, though it was unfortunately matched with poor execution. Whether it’s lacking animation, boring dialogue, or even repeated subplots, this series just couldn’t bring the good ideas together in a compelling way.
The character designs are fine, and the ideas for their personalities are alright as well, but they are each almost entirely one-note, and although some sub-plots are very well done, these are nestled within a series which sadly lacked the distinguishing qualities to push it past mediocrity.
A solid premise and promising characters couldn’t save this series from the terrifying grasp of mediocrity.

 

Urawa_no_Usagi-chanUrawa no Usagi-chan:
Meant to advertise the city of Urawa in Saitama-ken Japan, Urawa no Usagi-chan is a slice-of-life series of shorts entailing the lives and times of Takasago Usagi and her friends and classmates.

What I thought: “Touring
advertisement sorely missing pieces.”
The character designs are absolutely terrific, but not enough time is spent with many of them to even get a sense for their individual personalities. This partially has their lack of screen time to blame, but when each episode only has a few minutes to work with, it’s a tough problem to fix.
I feel like the voice acting lacked direction as well, with many characters being met with ill-suited performances by their respective CVs.
The animation doesn’t hold up over the course of the series, and while going into this series with the knowledge that it was meant to advertise a specific area in Saitama, they don’t go out of their way to inform you about why you would want to visit said area.
The 萌え antics the characters get into aren’t all that entertaining or endearing, so it fails on that front as well.
It’s tough to find any redeeming qualities in Urawa no Usagi-chan, aside from the design of its bright cast of characters. I highly suspect that no one will judge you for passing this one up.

 

72626lNisekoi 2:
While his normal, day to day life has continued, at least by Raku’s standards, the mystery lingers: Who is the girl from Raku’s childhood who he had promised his love to? His heart-throb, Onodera Kosaki? The overbearing Tachibana Marika? His false girlfriend Kirisaki Chitoge?
With the arrival of a mysterious old colleague of Tsugumi, Chitoge’s bodyguard, as well as the younger sister of Kosaki, who is now a 1st year below him, perhaps the more immediate question is: Where does the harem end?

What I thought:
“Harem comedy saved by Shaft’s production stylings.”
Shaft could make watching paint dry the most energetic and exciting thing you’ve seen recently.
Nisekoi is the definition of a series which is saved by the production company who has taken up the helm. On paper, Nisekoi’s second season is an even more by-the-bumbers harem series than that which preceded it, as even less time is spent on the primary story hook than the previous season spent on it.
This second season is a gas though. The writing and presentation exude Shaft’s trademark over-the-top style, and while the door is open for a third season, these past two have been so much fun to sit through that they could continue it until the end of days and I have no doubt I’d enjoy every waking second of it.
More of the first season. Much more. More hilarious awkwardness. More over-the-top reactions. More lovely ladies seeking to either win Raku’s heart or end him. More lack of closure.

 

ad2b0b48b9f93920299b014bd70f24ed1428100037_fullPlastic Memories:
In a future where AI and synthetics have evolved to the point in which cybernetic humanoids called Giftia are able to be produced, who look and sound and have emotions just like their human creators, Plastic Memories centers around Mizugaki Tsukasa, who has come to work for the SAI Corporation, who manufacture these Giftia for the public.
As Giftia are only able to function properly for a little over 9 years, Terminal Services are created to retrieve and decommission Giftia nearing their deadline.

What I thought: “Manipulative but effective.”
Plastic Memories is a little contrived from the outset, as corners are aggressively cut with the premise to make the contents of the story sad, and quick. Looking past that, and looking at what the series does with its characters and the world they inhabit, it’s easy to see how this series succeeds where a lesser story told within the same setting might have failed.
There are indeed some speed bumps which feel like story filler more than developments, but this series is thought provoking in numerous ways. While the story is the story, and it takes as much time as it needs, the ideas expressed within it are the star of the show.
A futuristic think-tank about the impact truly human-like AI might have on humanity, Plastic Memories takes a questionable premise and works wonders with it.

 

houkago_no_pleiadesHoukago no Pleiades:
Subaru is a bright young girl with dreadfully uncooperative hair and a keen interest in astronomy.
One day she finds herself in the company of girls her age, an old friend of hers among them, who have been given magical powers by an alien being who seeks help to restore its damaged spaceship into functional shape once again.
A mysterious red haired boy also seeks the missing parts to this Pleiadian’s spaceship, though his own goals are also in question.

What I thought: “Bright and
charming, though with a muddled story.”
I’ve never been so encapsulated by a series so lacking in plot, if only by its design.
Pleiades starts strong, with an excellent, cross-dimensional spin on the magical girl genre, and continues through a (sadly too few in) number of thrilling flying sequences before going off the rails with its story.
When you’re talking about space travel and alternate universes and infinite versions of people and places, things are going to get confusing, but more care could have been given to the later moments of this series.
Some themes and ideas leak through, but for the most, while the characters have likable personalities, the story here does nothing all that memorable or interesting, and the methods used to tell it had me scratching my head.
Even when the plot loomed on becoming incoherent, I couldn’t help but cheer it on. Call me a sucker for aliens or bright personalities or lovely hats, but I enjoyed this series despite its flaws.

 

Regardless of intent, the month end arrives sooner and sooner each month. Does that mean I’m enjoying life more than I used to, and time is simply flying? I hope so, but it doesn’t exactly feel like it.
Don’t interpret that grimly of course. There are plenty of series out there to watch, with a few I have wanted to finish for what seems like millinnia now. I genuinely hope I can find time for them over the next few weeks.
Summer has officially started though. I’ll hold down the fort in here; you get out there and enjoy the bright sunshine!
次回までね。
(And keep those plots unspoiled while you’re at it.)

From → Anime

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