Disclaimer: I own all 20 currently translated manga volumes of Natsume’s Book of Friends. I have Nyanko-sensei merch. I’m just a teensy bit biased.
This is actually pretty unusual for a shoujo manga/anime, mostly because while there’s a lot of romance, it happens around rather than to our main character, Natsume, who is a dude (which is in itself rather unusual for shoujo).
Or Mikakunin de Shinkoukei if we’re purists (and I tend to be). It’s a romantic comedy anime which is heavier on the comedy than the love part, which saves it from the crapper, I think.
It revolves around an arranged engagement, so we have believable mixed emotions and turmoil, but we don’t get bogged down in it because of ridiculous obsessions.
This is a show about weird contrasts, which are inherently funny to our brains, so I think it has a solid humor base. The yokai-girl is obsessed with UFOs and Unidentified Mysterious Animals from the Japanese version of the Syfy Channel. The super-popular student council president has a (non-sexual) “little sister fetish.”
The premise of this anime is that a 29-yr-old man has moments of literal deja vu, where he experiences resets of time, and it’s usually because something is wrong and he feels compelled to fix it. He does stuff like saving a kid from a wreck with a truck where the driver died of a heart attack.
And then (mild spoilers) his mother is murdered and he’s rewound in time to when he was 11 years old. And when he was 11 years old, a two of his fifth-grade classmates when missing and were found dead, along with a girl from another elementary. He was the last to see the first victim alive. He’s forgotten about most of it in the last 18 years, but it may be why his mother was killed. Continue reading
Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World): HOLY SHIT, YOU GUYS. GO PUT THIS IN FRONT OF YOUR FACE. RIGHT NOW.
Though I don’t know if Shin Sekai Yori available outside Crunchyroll. Apparently it came out last winter but was overshadowed by Sword Art Online. Like Psycho Pass (which is out on Netflix), Shin Sekai Yori is a story set in the future where there has been sociological engineering going on. But while Psycho Pass feels like a cross between Blade Runner without the sentient robots and Judge Dredd without the most of the lone-ranger aspect (or any of the Stallone cheese), Shin Sekai Yori is in the far, far future where everyone is psychokinetic and it looks like mystical hippie utopia, where kids go through a Shinto-Buddhist ritual to contain their powers and trade ghost stories about Trickster Cats and False Minoshiro. And everyone wears sweet-ass clothes.
I have found my anime crack. I would try snorting it if it came in powder form.
Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is a sort of comedy that juggles multiple Sanity Balls and is about a group of high school students who help the titular Nozaki create his shoujo manga. It’s even better if you know the shoujo tropes they’re playing with like sugar-high toddlers with spaghetti, but the surprise-style humor is consistently funny (right up there with Phineas and Ferb or Adventure Time, and surprise humor is hard to do) and can stand on its own feet.
Hori-senpai is my favorite. While all the characters have their moments of in/sanity, he’s the closest to being the Only Sane Man in the room, though Kashima does her best to chip the edges off his mental stability. I can’t really ship Hori and Kashima like we’re supposed to, because for all Kashima’s devotion, Hori seems like her keeper more than a peer. You can do better, Hori. You can certainly find someone with better impulse control.
The largest and most obvious problem with this show is the shitty, shitty CG used to make it. It puts the subliminal screaming in the phrase “uncanny valley.” Surprise and shock are expressed with all the nuance of a strangled crack whore.
But aesthetics aside, it’s not a bad story. But Hare Krishna balls, why the shitty CG? Did they use all the production money on the modeling crack whores? But it seems like they use the base setup from Battlestar Galactica, of which I’ve only seen, like, an episode each of the original and the remake, so I don’t have enough for a compare-contrast.
The Sidonia is a seed ship from Earth that barely escaped after the evil-giant-space-whale-things called gauna attacked. And they’re still encountering and fighting gauna thousands of years afterward. The garde pilot space-mecha to fight the space-whale-things and protect Sidonia, and underdweller Nagate Tanikaze (or Tanikaze Nagate, if you’re a sub-snob like me) is quickly promoted by Sidonia’s mysterious captain for the piloting skills he learned from his grandfather.
Of the three aspects of the show, I like the mysterious backstory stuff the best. Space battles between mecha and space-whales are pretty nifty, but I like how they unfolded the backstory, even if I can’t help but be impatient with the typical-of-anime slow-to-exposition. The third aspect, the interpersonal relationshippy stuff, is narratively necessary to give us a reason to care about these characters but gets fucking tedious when roughly three-fourths of it is love-triangle bullshit. Fortunately three-fourths of a third is…[grabs calculator]……….fuck, that’s a quarter of the entire show.
I’m just gonna call it three-fourths of a third. That’s more palatable.
Then again, that also means that 75% of this show is space-whale battles and mysterious backstory and interpersonal stuff that doesn’t make me want to pull out my bitch-slappin’ hand. And all you have to do is get used to the stoner’s repertoire of nonverbal communication. Have fun with that.
Also, only the first season is out on Netflix, and they totally do the anime thing of ending it just when it promises more. Sneaky bastards.
On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness: Adventure. Peril. Lost Jewels. And the Fearsome Toothy Cows of Skree by Andrew Peterson. Analysis: Mehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. I picked up word on this from Speculative Faith, and I was hopeful for something lalloppingly goofy fairy-tale-ishness. Something, perhaps, Galendor-ish or Circumnavigating Fairy Land-ish. Not so much. Peterson tries, but he just doesn’t commit to it. He is not gifted with charming dorkdom. The rest of the book is chock full of secretly-important-farmboy(s) and dark-evil-conqueror and general O HAI monomyth theory as seen in Star Wars that it just falls flat.