Leave Nothing Behind! Chroma's Spring 2013 Impressions
Well hello folks, Anime Expo and Los Angeles await me in a mere two days, so I will be writing up this impressions post before leaving, so I can focus on getting the expo post up. So let's get this show on the road, no?
Aiura is a watercolour joy. Its short-but-sweet runtime of 4 minutes per episode is perfect to explore a trio of high school friends and the small adventures they have with their free time. As mentioned, the backgrounds are beautifully watercoloured and give the entire show a really inviting feel, and the cute designs of the cast only complement the look further. I quite enjoyed the characters and their laid back approach to their honestly plain-ish lives. Sometimes, that's all you need to make a relatable connection to your audience.
If anything, I think everyone would have a grand ol' time with the series with its ridiculous opening alone, if anything.
Wow, just wow. Thinking that the first season of Chihayafuru was so crisp and full that I never thought it could be topped, but the series just continued to grow and improve. The creators knew that the original concept was simply stunning, and their plan this time around was to pile on top of it. Intense karuta continues, but even more interesting characters join the mix. It initially felt awkward for me with a couple new additions to the Mizusawa karuta club, but by the end these two earned their place. Plus, we get an epic return of Shinobu the karuta queen, and with a climactic match against childhood friend Arata, the levels of awesome spiked way too high. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and might even end up putting it on my top favourites list of the year.
Hayate no Gotoku! Cuties
Rejuvenate that Hina-love, fans. While you're at it, revive that love for the other characters too. The previous iteration of Hayate no Gotoku was not up to par for what I had witnessed in the first two seasons, and many people had given up on this before checking it out. Luckily, Cuties tosses out the strange serious tone and goes back to the lighthearted fun. The animation has also reached a nice medium; a slight decrease in quality for the backgrounds, but a huge improvement to the character designs. At the very least, they can live up to the "Cuties" part of the title.
Hentai Oji to Warawanai Neko
Now this is a series that I really want to like, but just personally cannot. The show consistently assaults you with a very cute set of characters, but I was also beaten over the head with its tasteless ecchi barrages. It was even more uncomfortable for me to witness as the show claims the girls are in high school, but gave them the appearances of 10 year olds. Imagine having that impression of a character, then seeing them handcuffed in a shed while in a bikini. To me, that title is just laughing at me now. I'd personally recommend just checking out artist Kantoku's artbooks if the designs tickle your fancy.
Ore no Imoto ga Konnani Kawai Wake ga Nai.
It's really difficult for me to summarize exactly how I feel about this one, as it invoked so many different reactions from me. In a sense, I guess that's doing something right, in my case.
This is the second season to a series that revolves around a brother and sister pairing, and their crazy friends in between. The sister Kirino is archetypal tsundere, acting mostly loud and violently opposed unless engaging herself with her creepy ero-games. On the one side, the fact that the show tries constantly to put the brother and sister together is disturbing. On the other hand, the show does also offer a setting that ties directly into the struggles of an anime-obsessed otaku trying to juggle her hobby with her social status. Let's not forget that stellar seiyu lineup that includes (but is not limited to) Taketatsu Ayana, Hayami Saori and Hanazawa Kana. There's actually a lot to like in this show, just be forewarned that some topics within may not be to your personal liking.
After experiencing a personally satisfying experience from Amagami SS, I was pretty excited to hear about Photokano, a series that would follow a similar format.
Ultimately, it just did not do much for me. I witnessed stale characters in comparison, with much less development with the creepy male lead. Let me tell you, while Amagami SS did indeed included an episode/arc for the lead's sister, it was reserved as a rather cute aside that strengthened their family bond, not any romantic interests. When the sister jumps on the brother in her dripping wet bathing suit, then the brother licks her "pool sweat" from his face, that's just downright creepy. I still get chills thinking about it.
Red Data Girl
Gorgeous, gorgeous, and just not for me. P.A. Works infused their usual beautiful animation style into a rather simple story about a shrine maiden who remains sheltered due to a cursed power that destroys any electrical device she touches. Despite this, she wants to try her hand in the social life, and is enrolled in a high school, under the watchful eye of a rather sour-faced guardian.
As mentioned, the series looks brilliant. There are several moonlit shots in the episodes that are just unbelievable to look at, but ultimately for me, the character designs and backdrops were very stale in comparison. Also, the initial premise of being unable to interact with electronics (which would have been a really interesting premise!) is thrown out for a different story altogether. They tried a different lure, and hey, I personally didn't bite.
Shingeki no Kyojin
Surprise! How could I not get involved with a series that was getting so much attention and praise? Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) is a doom-and-gloom tale of colossal titans demolishing the human race, but the tales of humanity rising up to fight back. You've probably seen it all already: severed limbs, pools of blood, deadly beauty Mikasa, intense Eren, "potato girl" Sasha, and [insert any other memes/posters/photos here]. The ass-kicking vibe of this series is fantastically paced, getting you pumped right at the end for the next episode. The characters leave a lasting impression on you, and while a few are fodder for the giants, you can get invested in most of the others in their fight to stay alive. It's only halfway complete, so now's still a great time to join the squadron. I'm sure having a blast like everyone else is.
"It's not a yuri series, right?" "It's not a yuri series." "Yup, not a yuri series."
That's how you sum up the formula for about 75% of this series' dialogue. But hey, as annoying as that sounds, it's actually quite fun, and that's some pretty darned good praise. My best guess is that the three main protagonists are just so carefree and friendly together that you stop caring about that entirely. I mean, how much less can a series cling to an intended strong plot when it has the characters run a "look-up-whatever-the-heck-we-want" club? It honestly feels like a Yuru Yuri train slammed into a K-ON! train, and you know, that's alright with me. It definitely doesn't entertain me quite as much as those other two series, but I really did have fun for what it was.
Kotonoha no Niwa
You really have to applaud Makoto Shinkai for his creative work. Sure, the stories are never Hitchcock-complicated, but he's always trying new things and attempting to evolve in some way, from his earliest works where he did pretty much the entire productions by himself. Kotonoha no Niwa (The Garden of Words) is Shinkai's most beautiful work to date in terms of animation, and in terms of character interaction it works well too. Holding out at a mere 45 minutes, the film uses short expository scenes to get all of its points across, allowing its shoemaker apprentice protagonist to create a special bond with his troubled instructor. It doesn't reach too high, therefore the feeling it leaves you with at the end isn't unsatisfactory. Finally, let it be said that I have fallen in love with the ending theme 'Rain', along with the mere fact that Hanazawa Kana is back again.
So there you have it. With a few disappointing series, it definitely didn't feel as full as the previous seasons, but the great series definitely filled many large voids. See you all at Anime Expo!