I’ve always been rather hit or miss about following new anime each season. Even with a Crunchyroll subscription, I’ll go one season following several new shows, or at least giving several new shows a chance, then go a season without watching a single thing. I hesitate to call this a “busy” season, since what counts as “busy” for me is light compared to the more serious fans out there, but I am watching a few things so I figured I would share my impressions of the handful of shows I’ve checked out. (Oh, and note that I’m only covering new shows here, so this is in addition to other things I’m watching, i.e. Fist of the North Star and my film backlog).
Kotoura-san: everyone who’s watched this has commented on the stark contrasts in tone; the first half of the first episode covered our protagonist being shunned by her peers and abandoned by her parents because she can’t control her ability to read other people’s minds, and tends to share the thoughts she hears. Then in the second half we see her make her first friend, and the rest of the episode is marked by rather goofy comedy. Based on the second episode, that contrast will be the norm for this show. The second episode worked a little better, I think, because the dark part, in this case bullying, was more integrated into the rest of the episode, rather than maintaining a 50/50 split.
The animation and music are passable, but nothing special. So far, the drama has been pretty good, but the comedy has largely consisted of one basic joke where the male lead/love interest intentionally thinks dirty thoughts around Kotoura to fluster her, which was funny the first time; the fourth, fifth, etc., less so.
Chihayafuru: the second season picks up where the first left off, and it’s my early favourite of the season. It still looks great, and introduces a couple interesting new lines of conflict in the club members’ differing visions for how they should proceed (e.g., focus on gaining more members? winning individual tournaments? team tournaments?) as well as dealing with a couple new members.
One thing I like about the show is how I can relate to some of it; as an officer of a school organisation at university, I and the other officers often had to work out disagreements on where to focus club activities, and attempting to attract, and retain, new members. Of course, I can’t help but treasure a show that features a love for poetry, even in the context of a game.
Sasami-san@Ganbaranai: like most studio Shaft shows, it’s certainly visually appealing if nothing else. Director Shinbou Akiyuki has a background in graphic design, and one can tell from the unusual camera angles, use of colour, and abrupt insertions of different art styles. It is Shaft’s “house style,” so if you’ve seen more than one or two of their other shows it won’t be anything new.
I liked the second episode more than the first, mostly because of the infodump at the beginning. The first episode just threw the audience into some seemingly incoherent action with no explanation, and though some mystery is often a good thing, the audience needs something to work with.
Nekomonogatari Kuro: speaking of Shaft/Shinbou productions, this one’s already finished, but I just watched it over the weekend. I’m never quite sure what to say about the –monogatari shows, which is why I haven’t posted about Bakemonogatari or Nisemonogatari. In a way, it reminds me of another Shaft series, Hidamari Sketch, in that both have a lot of dialogue and, relatively speaking, not a lot of action, yet it’s the visuals more than the dialogue that keep me interested. I probably wouldn’t have made it through the first season of HidaSketch if anyone besides Shinbou had directed it, and though Nekomonogatari and its predecessors have enough substance that they could’ve worked in a more traditional style of animation, it’s the novelty Shinbou incorporates that makes them so enjoyable to watch.