A brief aside on Blood-C episode 3
(This is the kind of thing that I would put on Twitter if I had a Twitter account. Maybe I should get one. PS: spoiler, sort of.)
Boy, Saya was surprisingly cold-blooded in episode 3 when she just stood by and let the nice innocent baker walk into the monster to get unpleasantly killed. Especially since the show went out of its way to show that the baker hadn't already been mentally consumed by the monster (he was just under its control or something) and probably could have actually been saved.
(And this does not seem to have been red-eyed killer Saya, either. Her eyes were normal in the scene.)
I sure hope this means something important, because Saya is several times less likable and sympathetic now.
On Gosick's ending
The last two episodes of Gosick (which I just recently got around to watching) are so much of a change that I got whiplash, and are among the fastest I've seen an anime series descend into more or less incoherence. It's as if the writer and director woke up after episode 22 and realized that they still had two thirds of the story to cover and only two episodes left.
(There are spoilers here.)
As you'd expect the result was less a story than an extended summary of a story. There were abrupt and unexplained lurches in what was going on (at the end of episode 22 Kazuya was being held by the Ministry to get Victorique's cooperation; at the start of episode 23 he is in military training in Japan). Major story events casually took place offscreen (eg Cordelia freeing Victorique from captivity). What we did see was often drastically out of tune with how Gosick was before. Characters did abrupt changes in characterization that made it hard to care about them. Completely inexplicable yet very convenient things kind of happened. And amid all of this the show spent times on scenes that seemed to do nothing (eg Kazuya's hallucinations, if they were hallucinations).
(I also feel disturbed by what the last two episodes seem to imply about the show's world; they casually present a situation where it seems that Germany may have won that world's version of World War II. Japan has a nice real-world habit of considering WW II to be this not a big deal that other people make too much of a fuss about as it is, so seeing anime downplay it makes me twitch.)
Apart from the last two episodes, Gosick was a decent show. Unfortunately episode 22 doesn't end on a good stopping point so you can't really pretend that the last two episodes never happened.
My early impressions of the Summer 2011 anime season
Another season brings another installment of what is now my regular habit of taking a snapshot of my views of the early episodes that I've seen (just like last time).
Shows I've seen, more or less in the order seen:
- Sacred Seven: it's a Sunrise action series. It's acceptable. I'm
sure there's going to be a midseason surprise twist, because that's
So far this has my favorite opening of the season, partly because it's so goofy it's impossible to take it seriously. (For some reason I find the hero's little pseudo-motorcycle absolutely hysterical.)
- Kamisama Dolls: the start is interesting and I mostly like the
characters. The action helps, although I could do without yet another
incarnation of the 'young female character is cutely incompetent' trope.
- Mawaru Penguindrum: the portions of the first episode that were
supposed to make sense were well done. I need to see at least one
more episode before I actually understand it, though.
(The second episode is more setup, so I can't say I understand it yet.)
- Kami-sama no Memochou: I like the characters so far, and that's really
what a show like this is about; the nominal mysteries are likely to be
- Blood-C: the first episode was a disappointingly boring introductory
episode, and they lose style points for lame exposition. The second
episode doesn't add all that much, and the fights seem oddly pointless.
Still, I hang on optimistically.
(Saya exposits by explaining things to her schoolmates, but there's no reason for what she explains to have only come up now, especially since this seems to be a small town where everyone would know all of this background anyways.)
- Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi: there's an interesting story in here
somewhere, but I can't help but feel that the actual execution in
the first episode is a bit lacking. In many ways this suffers by
comparison with Kore wa Zombie desu ka, which covered much the
same ground but better and aired only six months ago. The second
episode makes me somewhat happier, but not hugely.
(Also, this sets new lows for casual fanservice, with radioactively censored casual fanservice for bonus fun.)
- Natsume Yuujinchou San: just what I was expecting
and hoping for. If you've enjoyed previous seasons (and even if not),
this is more of the same.
- Nekogami Yaoyorozu: it's pleasant but the first episode feels a
little lightweight. I suspect it may not sustain my interest for
- Mayo Chiki: much more amusing than I expected it to be, even
if Subaru is about as convincing as a boy as Charles (from
- Dantalion no Shoka: Bearing in mind that I really like this sort of thing in general, I found this nice without being stunning. I expect to enjoy it a lot, although they could always fumble future episodes.
Have not watched due to the description being not to my tastes in various ways (this list is incomplete):
- Ikoku Meiro no Croisee: plain and simply not my genre. I have no opinions on its merits.
- Idolm@ster: also not my genre from descriptions so far, although
Author may yet get me to watch an episode.
- Usagi Drop: like Aroduc, I am kind of allergic to melodrama
- Ro Kyu Bu!: you jest.
- Blade: Madhouse's Marvel adaptations have if anything apparently gone downhill since I found Iron Man not interesting enough to watch more of. And Blade was always a second-stringer Marvel character anyways, movies not withstanding.
(I don't really have anything to say about the other shows I've not seen. I may yet watch an episode of some of them in optimistic hopes.)
On Natsume's Book of Friends
Extracted from Aroduc's 2011 Summer Anime preview:
A series that seems to inspire one of two things in people, an intense love [...], or the compelling urge to take a nap.
However fond I am of Natsume Yuujinchou, I have to more or less agree with Aroduc here. NY is pretty much a bunch of heartwarming slice of life stories that just happens to be about the supernatural (or mostly about the supernatural). Given my usual tastes, I have no idea why I like it so much, and I certainly can't recommend it except very selectively; it would bore or annoy a great many people.
(But if quiet, heartwarming stories about the supernatural sound like your kind of thing, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. Consider this a strong plug. You could probably start anywhere without losing much, but starting at the beginning of the first series isn't going to hurt.)
The military in Infinite Stratos
If IS' military use is prohibited, what is that destroyer doing in the academy's harbor?
If I take IS's background seriously I have to conclude that the whole 'IS military use is prohibited' thing is propaganda, and not very convincing propaganda at that. IS are armed, IS pilots are taught weapons and combat operation, competitions between IS pilots are combat duels instead of any number of other plausible tests of IS pilot skill, IS piloting seems heavily militarized, and so on. I can't think of a single non-combat use of IS we see in the entire series.
If I try hard, I can make the background covered on the Wikipedia page (see also) make some sort of sense. Clearly 'IS will never be used in combat' is a highly unstable balance of power that no one expects to actually last once things get serious, so everyone is frantically trying to get powerful ISs and stockpiling trained pilots (and keeping a careful eye on each other).
(When I was watching the series, I just assumed that there was some secret menace lurking in the background that some of the adults knew about and that all of the IS pilots were being prepared to fight, perhaps alien invaders or something. The IS anime ended right about where I'd expect the big reveal about this to happen in a longer series and I have no idea what happens in the light novels.)
PS: I try not to think too hard about the background in Infinite Stratos. The claimed lack of military use is just one of the issues that are probably best not examined too closely.