Welcome to the first quarter-annual (and perhaps only) edition of the Spring 2014 Oriental Cartoon Anime Previews First Impressions Mega Post Thing. Before we start, allow me to take a moment to warn you that I’m a terrible writer-man. Most of what I write are twitter posts, where I can’t even be bothered to check for spelling errors before hitting the send button. So, after you’ve taken a dump on my terrible opinions about oriental cartoons, if you’d like to pick apart my run-on sentences and inability to convey thoughts with more than 140 characters, please, go right ahead. I’m just trying to learn how to write again.
Soul Eater Not! – April 8, 2014
Streaming on Funimation
Six years ago when I saw the first episode of Soul Eater, I thought to myself, “Yeah, this is okay, but I’d like it way more if it had about a fourth of the cool visuals and was a slice-of-life-moe show.” That’s essentially what Soul Eater Not! is. The super stylized visuals of the original Soul Eater were the hallmark of the show, as far as I’m concerned, and Not! discards those almost entirely for a far more typical moe anime aesthetic. Though not super distracting as far as the new characters are concerned, when the OG Soul Eater cast members cameo in this episode (and they all do, in rapid succession, just to assure any worried viewers that this is, in fact, Soul Eater), things start to look a little off. Everyone looks a little more lifeless than you remember them.
Putting the legacy of a show I did not actually watch or care about aside, Soul Eater Not! doesn’t actually look too bad. Backgrounds look nice, even if less interesting by comparison, and the two odd, action sequences in the episode do actually maintain the high quality of animation that the original Soul Eater TV series was well known for. Though, having read some of the manga for this spin-off years ago, I don’t think you’ll find satisfaction in this series down the line if it’s the action at the end of the episode which hooked you. Soul Eater Not! is more content to feature its characters having tea parties and working in Maid Cafés than getting into fights with baddies.
It is difficult not to compare the show against its predecessor, but its premise is actually fairly interesting on the surface. Soul Eater took place in a school where the superhero protagonists happened to attend, but I bet the series rarely took the time to focus on the normies back in class who aren’t quite up to the task of saving the world. If you were a fan of the original show, and the moe-fication of Soul Eater doesn’t bother you, Soul Eater Not! is a fairly rare opportunity for world building in a universe you are already well acquainted with. If you are not a fan of the original, like myself, and you’re just a fan of cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime, this is certainly one of those.
The World is Still Beautiful – April 8, 2014
Streaming on Crunchyroll
Typically, when a princess is placed into an arranged marriage with a man she has never met, we get stories about defiance of fate and duty. It is fairly interesting to see a princess in this sort of tale who doesn’t follow the cliché. Princess Nike, hailing from the Rain Kingdom, actually shows genuine enthusiasm for being wed to the Sun King, Livius, for the good of her homeland. She makes the journey to her new husband’s keep by herself, in order to learn of her new country.
At the tail end of the episode, we’re introduced to the Sun King, who conquered the world in three years, and it turns out he’s even younger than Nike. Probably not a stretch on my part to assume he’ll be the love interest and a huge focus of the series, given that The World is Still Beautiful is adapted from a shoujo manga by Dai Shina. Nike is a level-headed and very modest, yet tough. In a single episode, she’s won me over. I’m eager to find out more about what makes her tick, and can only hope the King’s character is equally engaging.
One Week Friends – April 8, 2014
Streaming on Crunchyroll
If someone had described One Week Friends to me as “The Anime Version of Fifty First Dates,” I probably would never have even given it a chance. I’m quite glad I never read that Youtube/Crunchyroll/ANN comment, though, because this was much sweeter than nearly anything with Adam Sandler’s name on it.
The show is sugary sweet and features ample amounts of blushing. Perhaps bittersweet, as no matter how many touching scenes with Hase teaching Fujimiya about the magic of friendship we sit through, we can be sure it’s all going to be reset by the end of the episode. This show will either be a cute weekly slice of cute antics, or completely frustrating when Hase’s progress gets wiped each week. Who can say if it’ll be worth keeping up with?
Kamigami no Asobi – April 5, 2014
Streaming on Crunchyroll
Kamigami no Asobi climaxes prematurely when one of the boys initiates his magical girl transformation sequence to change from his school uniform into his toga. I am no expert on otome games, but everything following the show’s en media res cold opener seems extremely paint by numbers. Our lead girl, Yui Kusanagi, is as dull as can be. Without any plans, dreams, or former relationships to color her personality, she’s standing by ready to be the surrogate you. The girl’s one notable skill is that she’s good at swords. Admittedly, a useful talent for any aspiring anime-lead. I question whether she’s actually get the opportunity to demonstrate those skills in the series with all the dudes around.
The show’s gimmick of a girl whisked away from her every day world to a literal school for gods is only momentarily amusing. There’s an initial surprise factor if you do not know anything going in, like I didn’t, but somehow when we’ve had countries and trains personified as cute boys, various mythological gods seems kind of mundane. Kamigami was never meant for me, and unless I hear word of a Buddha boy, I doubt I’ll come back to it. I will at least say, I appreciate that the main character actually has a name, unlike the lead of the last Otome thing I saw, Amnesia. Cute character design too, I reckon. Female self-insert characters always seem to look better than male self-inserts into harem shows.
MAJIN BONE – April 1, 2014
It is quite fortunate that Toei Animation’s Majin Bone is being simulcast by our good friends over at Crunchyroll. Children’s toy-commercial anime does not have the grooviest reputation for getting fansubbed super reliably. Furthermore, when 45 of a season’s 50 new shows are being simulcast, it’s usually the toy commercials that are not making the cut (Everyone cross your fingers for a Lady Jewelpet simulcast!).
Majin Bone is in fact a toy commercial for a new “virtual cardgame” being released by Bandai, as well as action figures and the like. In the context of this cartoon, that means pretty boys use glowing, magical cards to don some very Gatchaman Crowds-esque suits of armor and do aerial stunts in a virtual reality subspace. We really do not see much more than a preview of these sequences in this first episode, however, it is easy enough to imagine how this will play into the grind. The computer generated sequences don’t look particularly astounding, but the suit designs are very cool. Shark-Guy’s suit in particular looks awesome. Hideki Ishikawa, who is better known for designing Megaman characters, apparently designed the CG models, but they’re very reminiscent of Kenji Andou’s CG suit designs for Tiger and Bunny and Gatchaman Crowds.
There isn’t very much to chew on yet, but the lead character and his spunky girlfriend are energetic kids that are entertaining enough to watch. Shogo is a typical teen that hates exams, practices karate, and keeps getting walked in on while he’s reading those filthy magazines of his. He’s got the makings of the fairly typical hot-blooded shonen hero. Gal-Pal Saho is a dog-loving, UFO-hunting sidekick. She’s easily excited and fun to watch, but it’s tremendously likely she’ll exist solely to be Shogo’s love interest and cheer leader as the show goes on. The rest of the show’s lead cast spend the entirety of this episode stalking our hero from the shadows, anxiously awaiting the cliffhanger where he gains his powers.
Hard to gather much from this very typical first episode, but I did not find it at all boring. If your tolerance for children’s toy commercial anime is low, you shouldn’t even bother checking this one out, but I’m going to stick around for a while to see if it goes anywhere.