Roving Thoughts archives


Discovered about UN-GO's creative staff

Quoted from randomc's episode 6 writeup:

[Mizushima and Aikawa] have already proved themselves adept at translating unusual source material to anime by the brilliant job they did with Oh! Edo Rocket, which was adapted from a stage play by Nakashima Kazuki (who also wrote Gurren Lagann) [...]

I generally barely notice exactly who the creative staff behind anime works are, but this is a set of connections that genuinely startles and impresses me.

(One interesting note is that according to ANN Mizushima also directed Hanamaru Kindergarten, which had a startlingly interesting set of ending animations that are well worth tracking down on their own; each one did its own little mini-story in various genres, complete in a minute and thirty seconds or so. I didn't watch HK itself, but I quite enjoyed the ending segments. I believe you can find them on Youtube.)

For future reference, ANN entries for Mizushima, Aikawa, and Nakashima.

(In another interesting thing, Nakashima not only wrote the original stage play of Oh! Edo Rocket, but he also wrote the script for one episode. I wonder how odd it felt to be scripting his own work as filtered through someone else, since Aikawa was 'series composition' for OER.)

anime/UNGOStaffNote written at 01:47:15; Add Comment


My (somewhat) early impressions of the Fall 2011 anime season

Another season brings another set of shows that I've seen a few episodes of. Now I want to write down my impressions of them so that I can look back later and reflect on how wrong I was. This is a smaller set than I've done previously; for various reasons, I haven't had as much time and enthusiasm for watching anime lately.

Shows I've seen, more or less in the order seen:

  • Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai: The first two episodes were goofy fun, but I found the third episode kind of boring. Having people talk about their feelings is not what made me interested in this show; as a harem show, we've seen all of this before and MajiKoi is not doing anything particularly unusual in that department.

    (By this point I don't actually care why generic female protagonists one through N are pursuing the male protagonist, so the less time any harem show spends on trying to explain it the better. Infodumps and flashbacks take valuable time away from more potentially entertaining things, like crazy fights. I think that this is one thing that Infinite Stratos got right; to the extent that it bothered to create reasons at all, it generally showed them during the show instead of having characters explain things.)

  • Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon: the action scenes were well animated. Everything else was almost completely incoherent, silly, or both. I wish they hadn't attempted to explain any of the background; I think it would have worked better. Unfortunately, I am feeling somewhat lost in subsequent episodes due to the large cast that's somewhat hard to keep straight. In fact, the more episodes I watch the less I can keep things straight, which is busy draining the drama from all of the nice action scenes.

  • C3: The more I've watched of this the more interesting it gets. The first episode was a not bad magical girlfriend story (unfortunately with the now apparently mandatory fanservice); the next four episodes picked it up from there and kept getting more interesting. Of course, it's possible that things will slow down now that many of the characters have been introduced; there is a certain tendency in anime for manic openings that almost immediately slide into something predictably boring, and as a harem/magical girlfriend show this could easily go that way. I'm optimistic, though.

  • Shakugan no Shana III: I feel quite ambivalent about this. It's nice that they're making things happen, but what happened with Yuji gave me whiplash and they still haven't explained it. But if I'm being honest, I have to admit that I've been watching Shana for long enough that I'm probably going to stubbornly see this through to the end no matter how it is.

    (I agree with Aroduc that this show has pacing problems. I managed to accidentally watch the third episode before the second episode and I didn't even notice. It might even have improved the experience.)

  • Guilty Crown: The first few episodes are a perfectly acceptable beginning to a perfectly ordinary action show, of a type we've seen before (most recently in Sacred Seven). I'm willing to watch that, especially since it seems nicely animated and they're willing to be amusing.

    (The third episode ends on a surprising note, which I like.)

  • Last Exile - Fam, The Silver Wing: The first episode is a nice dose of action and interesting things (although it suggests a somewhat predictable path for future episodes; I think that I can look forward to another installment of 'stuck up princess gets exposed to normal life'). Its connection to the original Last Exile seems unclear, but it does successfully remind me of the good early episodes of its predecessor.

  • Persona 4 The Animation: People who are familiar with the game may get more out of this than I do, but for me this comes across as an ordinary, acceptable action series. I don't expect anything deep or moving, but I think I'm going to be kept reasonably entertained.

  • Fate/Zero: Given that I kind of know that the story ends badly, this is more interesting and enjoyable than I expected. It's well done and the characters are interesting (and I'm pretty sure I'm supposed to dislike the ones that I by and large dislike).

  • UN-GO: I've seen three episodes of this and the more I see the more I've liked; I like the characters, the interactions are interesting, it has a decided tinge of the supernatural to help, and the mysteries aren't cliched and aren't too obvious (at the same time you can see the answer coming). I could still get bored of the 'mystery of the week' formula, but so far it's looking good.

    Note that UN-GO is not necessarily a show to watch if you want to see actual justice happen. The setting has a quietly totalitarian government that is a strong believer in 'realpolitik' and in the first two episodes the government covers up real crimes with a politically expedient false explanation and thus lets the actual perpetrator go. In fact the second episode implies that the nice government agent we see a lot of may have calmly had an innocent person killed to reinforce the coverup. To its credit I don't think that UN-GO considers this a good thing (and various characters are starting to push back against it), but I also don't think we're going to see this totalitarian system go down in flames over the course of the series.

    (So far I am carefully not thinking too much about this aspect, but it may get to me at some point.)

  • Mirai Nikki: When I watched the first episode of this, I had managed to forget that the premise had the protagonist trapped and forced to fight for his life. That he is a middle schooler and has a crazy person hanging out with him does not increase the chances that I will watch any more of this. (She is at least an interesting crazy person, though.)

    (Then I skimmed some information about later episodes, and apparently I missed the memo that this is a brutal and grim show with lots of unpleasant things happening. So, definitely no more for me and I could have saved my time here.)

Of these shows, I expect to watch C3, Fate/Zero, Shana III, Last Exile, and Guilty Crown all of the way through (more or less in that order of enjoyment), barring a show getting stupid and bad. MajiKoi I expect to watch one more episode of and then probably give up as it becomes clear that the first two episodes were exceptions, and Horizon is losing my interest fast. Persona 4 depends on if I feel I have time and interest. For UN-GO, I hope to watch it all the way through but I'm aware that I may get abruptly bored with a mystery a week.

May watch an episode of if I feel enthused at some point:

  • Chihayafuru: I have in the past enjoyed sports anime, and I think that this is broadly one. On the other hand, I've got enough to watch this season as it is, so the sensible thing may be to skip this.

Have not watched for various reasons:

  • Invasion! Squid Girl (aka Shinryaku! Ika Musume) second season: This wins some sort of peculiar award as the series I most wish that I could appreciate, but as I've already determined it's not for me.

    (Second place in this category goes to Idolm@ster on the strength of various blogging. This shows the power of compelling writing.)

  • Phi-Brain: Kami no Puzzle: I've decided to more or less declare a moratorium on shows where the protagonists are forced into danger because someone will kill them if they don't (I've previously called this the 'trapped protagonist' genre). To put it one way, I don't really enjoy watching things where the protagonists are basically screwed and doomed from the start.

    (It helps that most everyone is reporting that Phi-Brain is pretty bad.)

anime/Fall2011Brief written at 01:30:36; Add Comment


Looking back on the Summer 2011 anime season

It's easy for me to write an entry on my early impressions of a season, full of blind optimism that's based on a few episodes of a show. It's much harder to look back after the fact and admit to myself (and others) where I was wrong, where what I was watching didn't work out and was a waste of time that I should have given up on earlier. Staying silent is the easy way, but I've come to feel that it's a little bit dishonest; it's tacitly leaving up things that I now know are wrong.

As a result, this time around I don't feel like tossing off another breathless early season impression post (for the fall season) without looking back and being honest for once. So here we go, a retrospective view on my views of the summer 2011 season:

Shows I finished:

  • Kamisama Dolls: I really enjoyed what there was of this; I found it well done, with interesting characters and situations. Unfortunately it has a non-ending that may frustrate some people; it is basically a 'continued in the manga (and maybe in the second season)' thing, where we don't get any actual answers or real resolution of anything except the immediate situation.

    (If there ever is a second season, I'll happily watch it.)

  • Sacred Seven: This was never deep but I always found it entertaining; that it was inextricably silly was part of the attraction. It achieved what I expected of it. Some of the peripheral characters were great.

    (Sadly they changed the opening at some point. I still love the opening song.)

  • Dantalion no Shoka: I enjoyed it, but from early on I accepted that it was a horror show and the real purpose of the nominal protagonists was exposing us to the horror stories (and being interesting people), not actually doing anything. As part of this, I'm not bothered that it doesn't particularly have an ending. People who want more structure and an actual ongoing plot that is resolved should avoid it.

    (Evirus calls it the anime equivalent of a collection of short stories, and I think that's a very good description of it.)


  • Natsume Yuujinchou San (#9): I like this when I watch it, but I'm unable to feel any urgency about watching it, especially since I basically already know how the stories are going to feel. I think I've probably burned out on feel-good stories of friendship, even if they have supernatural elements.

  • Mawaru Penguindrum (#6): That the crazy people have reasons to be crazy does not make them any less crazy or any more attractive. At the same time I do like what this show is doing; I'm just not all that enthused about watching it in practice, so I haven't watched any for a while.

I am someday going to finish Natsume, even if it takes me a year. I don't know if I'll ever watch much more of Penguindrum, and I'm probably going to wait until it finishes so I can read people's commentary on whether it was worth it in the end.

Effectively or actually abandoned:

  • Mayo Chiki #2: I haven't been in the mood to watch the kind of comedy that this show delivers. That may change someday, but I doubt I'll do more than dabble in it. My memory is that what it did, it did quite well; it's just that its genre didn't enthuse me this summer.

    (For various reasons my enthusiasm for anime has been at a low ebb lately. In another season I might have watched more of this.)

  • Kami-sama no Memochou #4: I didn't consider it a positive development when the protagonist got more and more involved with a Yakuza group. I'm pretty sure that the show disagreed with me about this, and as a result my enthusiasm waned. This may have been unfair, but see above about my enthusiasm.

  • Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi #5: The incoherence overwhelmed me.

  • Blood-C #7: I stuck with this far longer than I should have. Everything I've read about further developments makes me happy that I abandoned it; extended 'it was all just a hallucination' plots make me grind my teeth for all sorts of reasons. See Aroduc if you want more.

    (And I must say that I am shocked, shocked, that a Clamp-influenced show would have a softly spoken nice person who turned out to be powerful and evil. Who could possibly have seen that twist coming based on Clamp's earlier work?)

  • Nekogami Yaoyorozu #1: as predicted, this failed to sustain my interest and I never watched another episode. Various grumpy reviews of it (from Aroduc and SDB) did not help.

That makes five shows that I started out expecting to like and watch all the way through and either stalled out on or abandoned, and only three that I watched all the way through. Maybe that's a typical ratio for people, but I've previously liked to think I had better early judgement.

(Possibly in the past I've just been more stubborn about watching mediocre shows all the way through once I started on them, and giving up on them early is a positive development. Or maybe I've given up on more shows than I vaguely remember, and I should go back and review other seasons too.)

anime/Summer2011Retrospective written at 12:11:55; Add Comment

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