Sunday, July 11, 2010

Summer anime 2010: Part 2

Once again before we get started, a few helpful links for the people who aren't completely familiar with Japanese media terms. Ecchi, light novel, moe, visual novel, and chibi.

Gakuen Mokushiroku (High school of the Dead)
Director: Tetsurou Araki
Length: 12

"In Japan, several high school students and a school nurse have banded together to escape Fujimi High School shortly after it was attacked by zombies. The group now attempts to figure who or what was responsible for this plague, and in the meantime, attempt to survive the present apocalypse. The story is initially narrated through the eyes of Takashi Komuro, one of the students who had survived in the initial outbreak." (MyAnimeList)

In short, this anime looks like it will be awesome. I've always been a fan of zombies but never seem to find good renditions of them in anime (I may just not be looking in the right places), so this anime has filled a gap in my heart. One of the most essential things about zombie survival stories is the characters, and here they've done that so very right. While the first episode isn't always the best judge of such things, if it continues in a similar fashion I know I'll grow to care for these characters and be quite sad to see them die (and they will, it's a zombie apocalypse!). The setting almost seems like it's straight out of a B-grade movie but I honestly don't care, most zombie movies are like that. Gore and fan-service are a constant so far, and I hope the show continues in that fashion as it's a perfect mix.

The animation is a 50/50 effort. The action scenes are beautifully animated, very smooth if a little off in terms of perspective at times, but many of the shots at slower moments look like they've been reduced in quality to save on money. At one point there's a large stack of chairs and tables that move as one rather than individually, and it's very noticeable. I'll praise the music for being suitable if somewhat unoriginal. Fast paced electro pop rock songs go with zombies and they use that to their advantage, but the slower music is fairly generic. The opening and ending songs are both solid but lack in substance, the opening lacking a keyboard or something else to fill the gap that makes it feel a bit empty while the ending just comes off a little too ballad like for the anime. I have to praise the use of silence as well. Normally you notice a silence and feel put off by it, but High school of the Dead uses it with excellent timing to give full effect to what's happening on the screen. I can't see myself dropping this one after five episodes and I advise you get to watching it if you're a fan of zombies, good action and characters, or just plain old bloody gore.

Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu (Legend of the Legendary Heroes)
Director: Kawasaki Itsuro
Length: 26 episodes

"Ryner Lute is a lazy student of Roland Empire Royal Magician's school. One day, Roland Empire goes to war against a neighbouring country Estaboole, and he lost his classmates in the battle. After the war, Lute sets out for a journey to search the relics of a "Legendary Hero" at Emperor Sion Astal's command." (MyAnimeList)

It seems this part of the update continues to be good with this series, this time adapted from a light novel. Legend of the Legendary Heroes follows its name in being somewhat ridiculous, however it does so in a good way. The show likes to cross genres, giving a lot of comedy to its action but still keeping it nice and exciting as well as dipping a bit of drama into the mix. The plot is nothing special so far, being quite similar to other shows in the genre, but it does promise a bit more of a serious tone further down the track. The characters all seem over the top but somehow a bit more human than a lot of the characters I've come across so far this season.

The animation is pretty good, but what I love is that it avoids using a chibi in its comedy sections. The magic seems to be computer generated which is the norm these days but I feel they could be doing it better. It doesn't seem quite as good as it could be, seeming on par with the same effects from anime that's nearing 5 years old now. The music is very good, fitting into the series perfectly. It's not quite free of seeming generic or over the top but it's certainly better than most shows like this. The opening and closing are both ok but once again nothing great. Overall the show seems fairly average, might keep watching past episode 5.

Nuraihyon no (Mago Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan)
Director: Nishimura Junji
Length: 24 episodes

"Rikuo Nura - a kid that is 3/4 human and 1/4 youkai. He lives in a house full of spirits alongside his grandfather who is the leader of the youkai. Rikuo is destined to take over his grandfather leadership but his human side has no interest. Rikuo is just a normal kid who has no interest to become the leader of youkai." (Wikipedia)

I won't say this show is bad, if anything it's good. However it is amazingly clich├ęd or at least the main character is. I had my fill of angst with Evangelion, but it seems I'll be getting more if I watch this show all the way through. While Nuraihyon no Mago doesn't seem like it'll get anywhere near as bad as Evangelion, I can't help but feel there are going to be similarities between Rikuo and Shinji. Anyway, aside from our angst ridden demon lord the rest of the show looks really good. A supernatural slice of life seems to be the aim for the show and I think it'll go well if it goes that way, but I can't help but feel the overriding plot will leave me disappointed. Either way, I think I'll enjoy it even if not for the main point of the show.

The animation is quite nice, showing off a very nice transformation between human and demon, probably the best I've seen in an anime so far. The character designs are very nice, especially for the demons giving them all a unique look even if there are so many of them. The music I can't be so nice about. Again it's very generic. With the amount I've said that so far in these reviews I'm not sure if it's just me or if music in anime just sucks except for the few good ones. Either way, nothing stands out about it in this show at all; even the opening and ending are generic. Oh for another Cowboy Bebop!

Overall, Nuraihyon no Mago is definitely a decent anime but I'm concerned about how it will end up, especially considering its length. I imagine I'll stay with it pats episode 5, but we'll have to see when we get there.

Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin (Seikimatsu Occult Academy)
Director: Kitakubo Hiroyuki
Length: 13

"The story revolves around Maya, the daughter of the former headmaster of a private Japanese academy dedicated to the study of the occult who died in 1999; and a time travelling agent Uchida, a mysterious young man who travels back in time from 2012." (Anime News Network)

This wasn't originally on my list as I thought it was a sequel, however it turns out it wasn't so I'm watching it. I'm glad I am as well, it's a surprisingly good mix of horror, comedy, and school life. While it's hard to judge from one episode, it looks like Occult Academy will have a very good plot with great characters, I'm already interested in the female lead and her companions. I don't normally watch these sorts of shows, the closest I've come being Rosario + Vampire (which already is extremely different) but I think I'll enjoy this one.

The animation and music are both excellent, with a special mention going to the opening which has both an amazing song and the best visuals I've seen in an opening for a series to date. The rest of the show follows the opening's footsteps and has beautiful animation that's used well in both the action scenes and in the slower paced parts of the show while the music suits the moods perfectly even if it doesn't stand out as amazing. The ending is the worst part of the show, having somewhat generic music and only displaying still shots of what I can only guess to be live action versions of the main characters.

Occult Academy is definitively staying on my watching list after episode 5 unless it does something very strange to make me hate it (but it won't).

On another note, Shukufuku no Campanella has been confirmed for 12 episodes (my guess being 1 off), Seitokai Yakuindomo has been confirmed for 13 episodes (my guess being correct) and I've discovered that Tono no Issho only had 1 minute episodes, so I have dropped it. As for part 3 of this section, you'll unfortunately have to wait until the 17th of July at the earliest as Cat Shit One doesn't air its first episode until then. I may decide to give it its own update and post the other two as early as tomorrow, but I'm not sure how likely that is.

All images from MyAnimeList. Most descriptions found there as well. It's pretty handy for stuff like that (:

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