On Last Exile:
Hmmm… the female heavy nature of Last Exile’s cast didn’t but me (probably because I still haven’t seen the original, not getting enough sleep as is), but some of the character quirks and personalities did. It honestly feels like the writers assume that giving characters quirks is going to make it popular with the moe crowd not matter how much the half-ass it, which honestly strikes me as a really bad assumption to make. Remember, Nessa didn’t save Fractale. The setting is enough to drive my interest though.
(edit: Watched episode two shortly after writing that… starting to think that maybe I need to see the original to make sense of what’s happening.)
On Macross Frontier and K-On!:
I think Otaku tend to see the launch of big, “blockbuster” titles as a cause for celebration and see spending money as part of it – kind of like people who will decide to go all out for a night and spend $90 – I’ve had coworkers who do that. The point of the Macross Frontier connection is that I think it points to Infinite Stratos being much more of a highly anticipated “blockbuster” than most English speaking fans give it credit for – Frontier sold great and looked spectacular, so the first independent outing of the team behind it might have been perceived as a major event.
And when I say people were pumped for K-On!, it means I think that it also had that kind of hype surrounding it. Kyoto’s sheer meme creation power – witness “Don’t Say Lazy”,” Azu-nyan”, and “Moe moe kyun” – helped out a lot there.
On Mashiro-iro Symphony:
I actually like Manglobe’s artstyle in this one. Granted, the original art is much better – Izumi Tsubasa being a favourite artist of mine – but that’s always the case.
I see Fear as being merely flat chested rather than truly loli. Granted, I’m also prone to selective blindness when it comes to loli fanservice (Ro-kyu-bu comes to mind… barely noticed it).
On Infinite Stratos’ ending:
My main issue with it is simply that the writers didn’t have the balls to carry one plot thread through to its logical conclusion. You’ll see what I mean if you make it that far in.
On Boku was Tomodachi:
Watched episode 3 – going to get my girlfriend to read me lines from eroge now.
Before I launch into my thoughts on episode three, perhaps I should mention why I didn’t care much for the first two.
One problem is that I’m not fond of intra-harem rivalry. It’s worth noting that my favourite anime love triangle – Kana and Akiko in Iriya no Sora, UFO no Natsu – is my favourite precisely because the girls end up befriending each other through rivalry. I doubt that’s going to happen here, at least not with the sort of sincerity that Kana and Akiko expressed.
Now, I’m usually willing to cute harem comedies some slack on this front if the provide a convincing “for the lulz” defense, and the first couple episodes actually mount an okay one – some of the humour was pretty mean-spirited, and in fact drew some laughs for precisely that reason. Still, the result was kind of lackluster.
Episode 3 improved my impressions but it’s still a mixed bag. On one hand, the show dangled some potentially interesting plot threads. On the other hand, the style of the show doesn’t exactly strike me as conducive to good drama. Granted, I would never have guessed how good the Charlotte arc in Infinite Stratos would be from the first few episodes, but this reminds me more of say, the case of Ayase in Ore no Imouto. When she was introduced, I thought the show was going to use her in plotlines exploring the interfacing of otaku and mundanes. And indeed her arc delivered that, but instead of further developing that idea, they flanderized her into a yandere in subsequent appearances.
Kobato reminds me a lot of Kuroneko with the gothloli otaku act, however, like Kuroneko she didn’t leave a very good first impression. Kuroneko struck me as (excuse my language) a pretentious little bitch when introduced, but the series then humanized her by showing her mischevious side and how she’s nice to her sisters, to the point where she became my favourite. Kobato is too much of a helpless shut in to appeal at the moment – we’ll see if she improves.
Also, regarding Inori from Guilty Crown… I’ll just say that while I actually liked the singing in outrageous costumes in episode one, she kind of falls flat in episode two. There are submissive girls in anime I like, but they tend to be more like Ame from Denpa Teki na Kanojo:
Spoiler for Denpa Teki na Kanojo quote:
“Juu-sama, I beseech thee. Please give me your orders.”
“As you wish. I shall inflict punishment on those foul beings.”
And she claims that he was her king in a previous life. In other words, if we were talking shy girls, Ame would be Kotomi to Inori's Sunako.
My main concern with the Last Exile sequel is that it may have caved in too much to the moe crowd. The original Last Exile is my fave anime of all time. And one major reason was the depth of that cast. Claus was a nice person whose dreamy nature was infectuous, Alex was a classic example of 'dead man walking' doing the necessary thing and Dio was a great mix of fantasy catalyst character tropes and bishie qualities. While Lavie was a spunk, Alvis was charming and Sophia was damn inspiring. It was a balanced cast. This time Dio is the only male in sight that gets reasonable airtime. Clearly Gonzo need it to sell in the domestic market, but I worry they might have gone too far. Plus the original Last Exile took at least 5 episodes for the story to kick in/reveal its true nature. It's too early to say whether the story for this one has enough steam for it to last 2 seasons.
I can't imagine the idea of someone being pumped going into a K-ON! episode - how is that possible?! I consider it the very definition of tryptophan. However, that is quite plausible for Angel Beats. Still, 9/10 of the reason I saw that show through was Yuri. I identified with her and admired her role despite the fact she was never going to be the love interest.
I thought Frontier was merely the 1980 Macross version redone with modern art styles and character tropes? Lynn Minmay and Ranka Lee are effectively the same person! But styled to suit their time.
Hey, silly works. It's working great for Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai. As for endings - anime has always struggled with good endings.
As for your reply to the season in geenral:
- Shy girls really irritate me. At least the way they're overdone in anime. And Wandering Son lacked the impact/warmth Aoi Hana had for me. But yeah, like I said in my blog - it does come down to what makes you feel good the most as well as interested. What's doing it for me is that most motivational/follow your dream shows are very shounen-like. Chihayafuru isn't and it's got the kind of character development I crave. And anyone who's looked over my anime list and my fave characters quickly realises I love my strong, spunky females - within reason.
- If Mashiroiro had the visuals up to scratch, I'd watch it. A good moe/VN show has to be pretty. manglobe really failed on the visuals. I just can't get that moe feeling. C3 is just full of every character type and voice style I despise. Plus lol-oriented service makes me want to hit the hotdial button to Chris Hansen.
- Well, you got my point on the Kotomi/Sakuno comparison then. Kotomi had an edge because her somewhat head-in-the-clouds nature was then countered by her genius and eclectic nature. Kotomi was a well costructed character, whereas ones like Sakuno just don't have an edge.
- For me, Boku wa Tomodachi has the hooks I've wanted from a show of its genre for years! It makes me laugh, gives me service in a way I don't feel guilty or cheap, has properly established character relationships I can believe and is trying to be anything other than generic. I think you need to watch Episode 3. It really ramps things up. Remember what Triple_R said in his PM about some aspects of Infinite Stratos? The 3rd episode utterly nails those aspects and then some. Episode 3 sets Boku wa Tomodachi apart from the pretenders. Plus Kodaka's younger sister, Kobato, appears in this episode - and she seems to meet most of your preferences, plus she's voiced by Kana Hanazawa.
For me, Infinite Stratos started as pretty good guilty pleasure material (ie. the writers knew it was silly and just went with it), got surprisingly good around the middle with Charlotte's arc (surprisingly sweet for a harem show romance), and then crashed and burned at the end (so much wasted potential...).
As for the sales... remember the theory that shows like Angel Beats and K-On! sell in part because the audience is really pumped going in, end up enjoying themselves because of that, and then buys the series as a souvenir of sorts?
I suspect that may be a major factor for Infinite Stratos. I seldom see it mentioned around here, but 8-bit is pretty much Satelight's Macross F team spun off into an independent studio. Describe the show as a "Harem show with mecha duels by the creators of Macross Frontier" and the amount of attention it received makes sense (to me, at least).
As for the discussion of the blog post... I'm going to reduce this to some key points since it was simply taking me too long to try and write up a detailed report:
-My favourite shows ATM are Fate/Zero and the new Last Exile. They feel kind of like a minor revival in the fantasy/sci-fi genre, and remind of a few shows I really liked in the past like Utawarerumono and Crest of the Stars.
-I like Chihayafuru but not as much as shows it reminds me of like Wandering Son and Kimi no Todoke. I chalk that up to my not finding kurata as interesting as shy girls and crossdressing (I won't delve too deep there).
-The "cute" side of the field is a bit weak... maybe I'm just disappointed to see Ikoku Meiro end.
-Despite the above statement, I would rank C3 and Mashiro-iro Symphony a lot higher than you did. Mashiro-iro's first episode didn't really grab me but the second had one of the most subtle and interesting subplots I've seen in a show about a group of guys entering an all girls school. C3... while I actually liked Fear's merrily destroying things more than most harem show antics, I think part of what of why I got a kick out of episode one was knowing that the primary point of it was to lull the viewer into a false sense of security before the bloodletting starts. It is, after all, a show about cursed weapons and torture devices manifesting as girls.
-I get the point of the Sakuno/Kotomi comparison but I like Kotomi way, way more. On the surface, they have similar placid mannerisms, but with Kotomi I always got this impression that if you played your cards right, you could reach around those mannerisms and make contact with someone interesting. I never get that sort of impression from Sakuno.
Boku wa Tomodachi... on the flip side, I wouldn't rank this one so high based on the first two episodes. It's competent, but it's missing the kind of hooks that generally keep me interested from week to week.
Oh dear, I'm partially responsible for making Triple_R watch Infinite Stratos? My mentor would clip me over the head for that one! However - if what Triple_R claimed over his PM is true - I guess I'll finally watch it too. I've always wanted to found out why that is the one harem show in the last few years that blew the others out of the water sales-wise.
I tried and failed to write a response to your blog post in a reasonable period of time early today - will try again later but its probably on the backburner for a few days due to school and other VM/PM requests.
The first Garden of Sinners movie is EASILY the weakest. Movie 2 is the actual starting point of the timeline. The first is really the 4th in chronological order. Give the 2nd a go - it's spellbinding. But it is slow - you have to be in a mood to be able to take that for 90 minutes uninterrupted.
The Tsukihime anime is okay as an introduction to the Type-Moon world, but only as that. Once you play the game, you realise how much better the game is.
I donít really have a strong opinion on whether Gen should have included more female characters. I can certainly say there are places I think he could have included more female characters and that I probably would if I was writing a story with similar themes. But Iím satisfied with the result of the decision, the contrast Gen achieved between Saber and the other characters is wicked awesome.
(I should also note I slightly revised my stance on whether the mage families are patriarchial. They are, but itís an aspect of their larger nature as Machivellian control freaks.)
My experience with other Type-Moon work is actually pretty limited. I loved the characters and concept of FSN when I saw the two Deen adaptations but never really loved the shows themselves, so Fate/Zero looks like it has a good shot at being the best in the franchise. The only other material Iíve seen is the first Garden of Sinners movie, which I didnít actually like that much but for some reason still want to see the rest of. Might see if the biggest Type Moon fan among my friends is up for a full day event at some point since heís back from Russia now. I tend to constantly be in panic mode about my schoolwork even when Iím doing well so having a buddy around is essentially for anime watches of more than a couple hours.
Iím curious as to whether watching the new and old Last Exiles concurrently would work Ė Iíve been carrying the original back and forth with me between university (during the week) and home (on weekends) for a couple weeks now but Iíve been too busy to even start.
Amazing how different Type-Moon titles end up in anime form than their VN versions, hey? I once thought the Tsukihime anime was good. Then I played the game. Man, J.C. Staff passed over so much good material. They only hinted at Shiki's true identity and not even properly. They barely hinted at the Kohaku/Hisui situation and poorly at that. Akiha was made far too soft - I wanted a fire battle, damn it! Ciel's backstory is awesome but they avoided it...And even though they only covered the Arcueid arc, they still missed some important bits. As for Fate/Stay Night, Deen completely ruined Archer's character. Some of the interaction between Saber and Shirou was off. Rin needed more love later in the series.
I just hope Fate/Zero gets a decent showing by ufotable, since they did a good job with Garden of Sinners. But years of anime watching have made me wary until the proof is sufficient. But it is interesting to see a cast with mainly males and Saber as a dominant-persona female in a men's world. Certainly anime is too female-character saturated lately - if this show does justice to the guys, I'll give it my support. Anime could really do with some decent males of late.
Will say more about this season soon. Planning to watch what's available this weekend.
I'm still feeling a sense of dread about the Last/Exile sequel though. I just get the feeling Gonzo will have compromised too much with new gen desires and stray from what Last Exile stood for in the first place. I hope I'm wrong, because Range Murata artwork, Dolce Triade music and Maaya Sakamoto/Hitomi Kurioshi themes deserve a good series to go with.
My “group” is actually just a group of friend, although several of us attend the same university club. I think you’d have trouble finding many anti-Anno clubs around here… Eva was (along with Bebop and a couple others) huge on late night cable in the US, and that seems to have spilled over into Canada. Also, in general, I think the fans of pre-90s shows are vastly outnumbered by 90s fans in the local scene, although that’s probably in part that most of my experience concerns university clubs – tends to affect the age of members a lot.
That said, I think a decent number of people have seen the original Mobile Suit Gundam. And I remember some of the older members of my university anime club had seen Rose of Versailles, which is definitely high up on my list of older shows to see. Most of them have graduated by this point though.
My friend is a little different from your typical Eva/Anno fan. He actually went through a bit of a depressed phase at one point and I think he feels a certain connection to some of Anno’s works because of that. In fact he’s outright said he’s pretty sure he perceives them differently from people who haven’t been through that. And yeah, its specific to depression era Anno – he didn’t care for Rebuild at all.