Spring 2009: First Episodes and First Impressions

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This past weekend, a whole bunch of new episodes of various anime came out. For the most part, my expectations were met, and I’ll probably stick with these shows for at least another episode or two. Let’s roll them out.

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Perhaps the best anime I saw this weekend was the new Fullmetal Alchemist. It did a very good job of reintroducing the characters in such a waythat new viewers can understand them, without boring longtime fans who already know what the show is about. Unlike the first episode of the first series, this one cuts straight to the chase and starts with an action packed chase/battle. For being a throwaway villain, the ice alcehmist was actually pretty badass. They also show flashbacks to the human transmutation that crippled the Elric brothers, which helped speed up the pace of the series as a whole. As you can probably tell by the screenshots I picked, my favorite scenes were the deformed comedy parts. This is stylistically more faithful to the manga, as even some of the more serious chapters have a comedy moment like this. The story also seems more faithful to the manga with its occasional images of the original homunculus. My only complaint is that the OP and ED aren’t very good, although the animation that goes with them are excellent. The animation quality is top notch, and I hope that it stays that way. While I wasn’t a diehard fan of the original, I am interested enough in this series to stick with it the whole way.

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As a guitar aficionado, I was looking forward to K-On. While the first episode wasn’t bad, it just felt like the same old bullshit of cute girls being cute that’s dominated the anime market for the past couple years. While I usually like these shows, K-On didn’t do it for me. I blame this mainly on the main character Yui. She’s too airheaded and clumsy to appeal to me. She’s also the central focus of most of the episode, so I got tired of seeing her very quickly. Another problem was that in order to give the episode some kind of overarching plot, the writers had to lengthen scenes in order to fill up time. This is a problem as the original manga is a gag based 4 koma. The jokes are quick and simple, so a lot of fluff needed to be added. Unfortunately this fluff ended up being Yui’s clumsy antics. So while the first episode of K-On wasn’t very good, I’ll stick with it for the entire season. I like the other characters, especially Mio (girl on bass), and I hope that the series begins to focus on the band as a whole rather than Yui and her retardation. The ED is my favorite song of this season, and I have it on loop as I type this. Worth checking out, even if you only want to see what the hype is about.

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Natsu no Arashi is one of those shows that did not meet my expectations, but still enjoyed. Probably the most interesting aspect of this show is the feel. As it is a flashback of what I assume is the 70s, everything about this show has a 70s feel from the character designs to the OP. I’m personally not that into 70s anime, so I understand what they’re trying to do, but I don’t like it. I’m not sure if its an attempt to immitate the 70s look, but I hate the character designs, all of whom look very flat. I am a fan of Jin Kobayashi’s cartoony art, and I don’t feel like they did a good job of capturing that look. The plot of the first episode was pretty good, with all the time traveling antics fitting together nicely. I’m not sure if I will watch this show in its entirety, but I’ll give it another chance. It really lacks anything extraordinary to keep me interested at this moment.

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Like K-On, Saki is another show about cute girls doing cute things. Only this time, they’re playing mahjong instead of musical instruments. Saki is basically everything I expected. The writers did a good job of adapting the manga and fitting multiple chapters and introducing all the characters in one episode without making it feel rushed. The rules of mahjong aren’t overemphasized and game situations are put into general terms, so that people who don’t play can watch without too much trouble.  The characters all look very cute and the cast behind them is outstanding. In short, Saki is a solid show that score above average marks in every field. If I had to complain about something (and I do), it would be that it doesn’t really excel at anything. The characters are cute, but I’ve seen better. Nothing will ever beat Akagi as far as anime based on games go. In the end, I’ll stick with it and enjoy it, but it probably won’t be memorable.

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I have never seen any Mazinger Z before, so Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-hen was confusing to say the least. It starts at the end, and introduces and kills most of teh characters in the span of minutes. I like the look, and the mechs have this funky mix of old school designs with new school coloring, so I’ll keep watching it. It’s meant as a tribute to the many years of Mazinger cartoons, so I’m sure that old school fans are having a ball watching this. As for me, I’m hoping it will be a good introduction to the Mazinger universe.

That’s all for now. Look forward to continuing reviews of these shows next week. I was also accepted into Anime Nano, so I look forward to having new readers. Until then, stay cool people.

One Response to “Spring 2009: First Episodes and First Impressions”

  1. Kairu Ishimaru Says:

    Yeah. The K-ON! ED totally rocks.😀

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