Initial Thoughts: Anime Spring 2013 Season

You know how in Pee Wee League Sports when the coach would give awards to everyone on the team regardless of how crappy the player was? This is my anime equivalent of that.

As of late, the Spring 2013 lineup has been the first time in probably ever that I’ve followed so many titles. Now a good three or so episodes into a chosen few, and I feel like some initial thoughts are to be shared. So without any further ado in no particular order…

Devil Survivor 2 – The “I really wanted to like this but just couldn’t” Award

dmncap02I’ve played a handful of Atlus titles and felt like the characters in each were appealing enough to the point that in the case of an anime adaptation, things would play out decently enough. Such is not the case with Devil Survivor 2. Sure, the pieces for at least a decent series are there—heroic duty-bound protagonist, goofball bro sidekick, girl with no real purpose except being a girl, secret government-y organizations, marketable monsters… but something just felt off. Maybe it was the pacing, or the general direction, but whatever the case, things just felt incredibly dull even in the midst of fight scenes.

At the least I’ll check out the game it’s based on, but as an anime, I’m dropping it.

Flowers of Evil –Award for causing the most ruckus amongst fanboys

dmncap00002Flowers of Evil is one of those shows where you’re probably better off reading the manga adaptation first just so you won’t be too caught off guard when watching the same scenes in glorious budgeted rotoscoping. The particular choice of animation alone has been enough to strike controversy among viewers, insisting that it isn’t a style fitting for the series. Sure, anime has dabbled in rotoscoping before, but even then it would only be for certain scenes and not for the entire series. Personally, I find it a quirky enough style that matches the general story, which so far has been giving off something of a thriller-vibe, though monsters and serial killers are the least of the main character’s worries. Nope, all the torture and (supposed) story progression here comes in the form of a very, very twisted classmate who seems to be suffering from Joker syndrome since all her intentions seem to fall under the collective umbrella of just wanting to watch the world burn.

Considering that the manga is a good nine volumes and counting, I’m actually interested how this 13-episode series will finish up. I mean, it’s not exactly Kids on the Slope where certain bits of the story could be glazed over, so I’m suspecting a Bunny Drop approach where they just cut the story off and maybe embellish a bit to tie up some of the more disturbing loose ends.

Attack on Titan – The “I’m not surprised it’s a solid adaptation” Award

dmncap00001I rarely keep up with things like anime announcements for future seasons, but news on Attack on Titan getting an anime adaptation was just impossible to ignore. Expectations were through the roof and yet it seems to be delivering so far. Epic opening music that suits any possible video footage aside, it’s a solid series about a dystopian society and one boy that strives to escape from it. People have become so accustomed to the incredibly bleak futuristic dystopias, that they forget that the term can be used outside of a futuristic backdrop, which Titan does beautifully. I usually hate Lord of the Rings-type settings with rural farm-ey environments, but this series puts enough spins on its environment that I honestly didn’t even consider making the connection until just now.

It’s blend of action and occasional comedy to break up some of the more tense moments reminds me of old-school shonen, but minus the camp value and toy marketability (though the short-shorts attire for soldiers regardless of gender may prove otherwise), which is a breath of fresh air from most current anime I’ve gotten accustomed to.

Gargantia – The “I’ll probably end up watching this only after the series is over” Award

dmncap03I know people have been raving about Gargantia, but just one episode in and I’m just not interested enough to follow along during its initial run. Similar to Devil is a Part-Timer, the opening scene is a purposefully confusing drop-you-in-the-middle-of-the-action type of scene. In Devil is a Part-Timer, though, at least the title was stupidly long and descriptive enough for me to form a decent guess as to where things will be going next. Not true with Gargantia, which finishes its first episode with the protagonist being stranded on a foreign planet with inhabitants that aren’t even technologically advanced enough to know what a mecha is. Initial thoughts make me think things will be going the Pochahontas/Ferngully/Avatar route, with the fair-skinned protagonist aiding the dark-skinned foreigners in some kind of battle where an unlikely friendship is formed for the sake of defeating a common enemy.

I’m really hoping it doesn’t go that route, and in the case that it doesn’t, I’ll make sure to marathon through the series after its initial run. For now, though, my short attention span just isn’t willing to take a gamble on this. And speaking of short-attention span…

AIURA – The “Less is More” Award

dmncap01I know ~4 minute anime shorts have started to make their way back to recent anime seasons, but so far the only one I’ve seen that’s kept me entertained has been Aiura. In terms of story, things are incredibly light and mostly focus on cute schoolgirls talking about nothing in particular. But what keeps me interested every week is its opening sequence, which I’ll go as far to say is the first anime opening in a while to get me sincerely hyped for what’s to come. It’s this odd mishmash of crab imagery mixed in with Steve Jobs all while the cast sings in a delightfully slightly off-tune vocal that doesn’t go too overboard with the cutesy… and it all just works.

Sure, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but at 4 minutes per episode, it’s something I don’t mind watching.

Henneko – The “I swear it’s not as bad as the full name implies” Award

dmncap04Henneko, or for those that don’t care about saying it out loud, The “Hentai” Prince and the Stony Cat is essentially Liar Liar: The High School Anime minus the Jim Carey reaction shots (which would have been great). Main guy Yoto, is a blatant high school pervert that suffers from the odd, odd dilemma of his peers never noticing his sophomoric tendencies. Wanting to be more forward with his emotions, he makes a wish on a stone cat while also meeting main girl Tsukiko, who wished to be able to be more mature by emoting less. As you’d expect, both wishes come true and hilarity soon follows as Yuta’s perviness has given him the nickname of “Hentai Prince,” with straight-man Tsukiko tagging along.

The series so far seems to be following the predictable path of finding out how to reverse the spell cast on the two mains while at the same time coming to terms with who they are and whether that means accepting their current state of affairs or not. Still, there’s enough quirkiness in the story as well as the cast that makes this quite the fun watch.

Oreimo 2 – The “You probably already know if you like this show or not” Award

dmncap00004I’m pretty sure most anime picked up for a season 2 has made sure that at the least viewers would get more of the same. And in that sense, My Little Sister can’t be This Cute, Season 2 delivers. Cute little sister Kirino introduces unsuspecting older brother Kyousuke to some kind of otaku-culture, and inappropriate borderline incestuous hilarity ensues (I wonder if that’ll bite me in the ass search-referral-wise). In any other media outside of anime, I feel like just talking about this would get me arrested. However, the series continues to balance its erm… “sensibilities” with some legitimate character building that’ll make you care for the characters on a deeper level.

Loved the first season enough to stick with it for another season, though I will say that the school scenes with the (semi-)new characters feel incredibly out of place.

My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU – The “It would be pretty standard, but it’s aware of that so that makes it okay” Award

dmncap05…aka My youth romantic comedy is wrong as I expected, aka Hamachi, aka OreGairu. Honestly, if you’re going to have a long name for your anime, at least try sticking to just one. Hamachi joins ever-increasing list of anime about students in a quirky club that do… stuff. Unlike most anime of that “genre” though, this series actually takes the time to consider things like the high school pecking order, which you’d think most other shows would take the time to as well, but don’t. Because of such, Hamachi occasionally reminds me of a standard shojo in that there’s a lot of high school drama you can either relate to or would rather admit not to. As (one of) its titles suggests, though, there are a handful of moments where the characters are fully aware that their situation is far from being unique, especially for an anime, and it’s those little moments that make it shine.

It’s decent at best, but if you’re able to latch on to at least one character, then I say it’s worth the watch.

The Devil is a Part-Timer! – The “Alright, I’ll admit it’s good” Award

dmncap00003Of all the anime this season I watched, I had the lowest expectations for The Devil is a Part-Timer. Maybe it’s because the five second pitch for the show sounds incredibly obnoxious in my head (“Part-timers are relatable, but what about devil part-timers?”), but it wasn’t until a friend suggested the show to me that I finally gave in and watched it. And wouldn’t you know… it’s actually pretty good.

When the Demon Lord and one of his generals are teleported to modern-day Japan with little to none of their magical powers, they’re forced to go through life disguised as ordinary humans and going through the typical trials and tribulations you’d expect out of someone with little to no real-world (or at least our real world) experience. Initial humor about menial jobs and living in a crappy apartment is funny and painfully relatable, and is essentially everything I wanted had Saint Young Men been picked up for a full-on series. The hints of the demons’ magical past catching up with them when random earthquakes start hitting nearby makes me unsure of whether or not the series will continue being able to pull off elements of the fantastic with the mundane, but for the time, I am fully entertained.

 

So there you have it. Nine shows total, one of them dropped, one put on the backburner, and the rest I’m currently keeping up with… for better or worse.

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About daemoncorps
Gabe (daemoncorps) has been writing about anime and the like since 2005, but has been babysat by it for much longer. He primarily spends his days distracting himself on twitter or writing for Fandom Post until he realizes he has a weekly webcomic (tapastic.com/series/scramblebouquet) to work on. He also just finished writing his first full-length graphic novel about unemployment (https://tapastic.com/episode/293804).

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