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The Autumn 2012 animé season
As Kokoro Connect winds up, possibly a little earlier than planned, and the lovely Hyōka is nowt but a memory, the Autumn 2012 season is kicking off.
Originally, I was not overly interested. It looked fairly Meh-worthy except for Robotics;Notes (which I hope will be related to the Steins;Gate world).
So, without any further ado...
This opened with exploding bodies and stylistic out-of-focus buzziness. Nice hook.
Unfortunately, having watched two episodes now, I can honestly say I don't really know what the hell is going on. Something about people (children?) getting a "cursed" special power. We flit forward 1000 years, then 500 years (forward or back? I gave up caring). Some girl in a creepy religious ceremony had her power taken from her and sealed... then it was given back to her? Kids go to school 1000 years in the future looking remarkably like kids at school now (only wearing a sort of futuristic kimono thing), some vanish, everybody fears a ghost cat, there's a string line upon which you must not cross else some strange ghoul-ghost-thing will chase you and that's bad. Um...
To be honest I only watch this now because the background music is pretty decent, but if it doesn't make sense in an episode or two I'm dropping it.
Zetsuen no Tempest
Briefly, a group of powerful nasty people are using unspecified magic to raise something that should be left well alone. A side effect of this is a sort of illness where biological tissue turns to metal. A powerful mage, a cute young woman, is left stranded on an island so she puts a talisman/communicator into a bottle where it is picked up by a rebellious adolescent. He, and his friend, are not your usual protagonists, what with pierced ears and a penchant for getting into fights for the hell of it. Then the troublesome boy disappears and, visiting a grave, the other boy is beset upon by another woman, a well-armed "volunteer" who is pushing him for information on the first boy. Well, just as guns are drawn and it looks serious, boy turns up heralded by loads of butterflies out of season, and kicks the woman unconscious. Then he explains he is now a magic user who agreed to help the stranded mage in return for her then helping him track down his sister's killer so he can personally dispense some justice. Volunteer woman wakes up, tries to attack the boy, fails miserably, and for her efforts, she gets knocked out again. However rather than just punching her in the face or the back of the head, she gets her head rammed into the ground. It's a bit gratuitous, no? Then this giant metal ball-thing rises out of the sea and opens a massive eye.
That's a bit of a messy résumeacute; of the episode, but it kept my interest.
A 23 year old NEET (Not in Employment, Education or Training) spends his time playing an on-line multiplayer game called "BTOOOM!". He has racked up a respectable ranking, aiming to be the world's best.
The game is an interesting one. You have a sort of radar-sonar device to hunt out enemies (and be hunted), and you have a selection of bombs. Some explode on impact, some have timers, and so on. With those and strategy, you wipe out the enemies and progress up the rankings.
Until one day the protagonist wakes up on a sort of island jungle with a lunchbox and a set of little bombs.
Much of the first episode is him getting to grips with the fact that he appears to be playing for real now, and figuring out what is going on. Oh, and realising that holding live bombs (and being the target for such) is a little higher stakes than a game and arguing with mother.
While the given synopsis didn't sound too exciting, there might be some potential here. I'll give it a few more episodes to see how I feel.
The synopsis reminded me a little of Kamichu!. This is so Shinto it will no doubt be a widget series. But unlike Kamichu! this one looks like it is playing it mostly straight.
Okay, opening with a sort of grainy film reel sort of thing (reminds me of Resurrection Of The Little Match Girl), we learn that the protagonist, a schoolgirl called Nanami was made homeless. Her father legged it leaving beyond a lot of debts and, she got kicked out by people wanting payback. So wandering the streets in despair, she saves a guy in a tree from a dog. The guy thanks her, listens to her tale of woe, kisses her on the forehead and says she can stay at his place, giving her a map.
It is a run-down temple.
Thinking she's been had, she goes to leave and bumps into two spirits. They look like a cross between puppies and fat cherubs, with strange masks on. I'll have to dig up my book on Shinto to see if it says what the heck they were. But then there's the temple guardian. A sort of wolf-man called Tomoe (that's to-mo-eh) who takes camp fagginess to new heights. Just check out the second picture below. Well, he is not happy that the mere helpless schoolgirl is now the temple's Earth Deity, but... yeah... she's now a God. It's a Shinto thing, Kamichu! one day woke up a God (not that many people took her seriously at first).
I will watch this as I, personally, find Shinto to be obscure, weird, and fascinating in equal measure; so it is always interesting to see a Japanese take on their own religion, especially in animated form when the supernatural can be more easily expressed.
Chūnibyō Demo Koi ga Shitai!
The synopsis didn't sound terribly interesting: "Yūta Togashi suffered from chūnibyō while he was in middle school. When he graduated, he put that dark history behind him and forgot about it... or he was supposed to. High school was smooth sailing and full of enjoyment - until the unavoidable, sad event occurs. The event that locks Yūta into a contract with Rikka Takanashi and disrupts his desperately ordinary life." [MyAnimeList, via AnimeSenshi]
I picked this up on the strength of it being KyoAni, and I'm glad I did. It is bloody awesome.
Yūta was a boy who suffered chūnibyō, adolescent delusions (or "8th grade syndrome") in junior high school. You know this, the person with such a desperate need to be special that they start acting out their fantasies - like I'm a trainee secret agent, or in Yūta's case, "Dark Flame Master".
He starts high school, a bit away from home, so he can forget about this embarrassment and just be a normal boy in a normal school.
Unfortunately for him, he lets rip with his delusion one final time in the empty school gym. I saw unfortunately because he wasn't alone. He might have survived the experience if the cool kids were there and mocked him a little bit, but no - the person who heard was an cute nutcase called Rikka who suffers heavily from chūnibyō - to the point of wearing a coloured contact lens (her "Wicked Eye") which she keeps covered with a medical eyepatch. There are also bandages around her left arm. There's no injury, it is... a strong case of chūnibyō.
The animation is good, there's a lot of slapstick - a lot of which sadly involves Rikka being hit, I guess sentiment about violence towards females is a little different in Japan? There is one scene which involves Yūta trying to silence Rikka's delusional fantasy where he smacks her on the head twenty six times in rapid succession. It is funny, but when it ends and she lets out a tiny sob and you can see tears, it suddenly gets a bit distasteful. It crossed the line.
As for Rikka. Well, KyoAni certainly knows how to do "cute". The moment Yuki smiled in the Haruhi movie was a minor miracle pointed out by many blogs (including my own), not to mention Mikuru Asahina. Then there was Hyōka's Eru Chitanda. And now, Rikka. Who is adorable (cuteness proximity warning!) to the level that when Yūta is mean to her, one wants to smash into the TV screen, grab her and give her a big hug.
Go on, tell me her call of 痛い (itai!, it hurts!) doesn't make you want to punch Yūta...a lot?
This probably falls into the trope of "cute things need protecting", but Rikka is weird - so it isn't a saccharin overdose.
There are also some brilliant nerdy in-jokes, such as Rikka performing the Konami code on a vending machine. There are all sorts of weird places where the Konami code does something (hint, try it here!).
I'm looking forward to where this goes.
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