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Some quick reviews - The Secret Diary of Lignamorren
The Occasional Thoughts of a Lost Ratboy

Sean Willard
Date: 2011-04-04 10:31
Subject: Some quick reviews
Security: Public
Here are a few quick reviews of new anime in the Spring 2011 season. So far I'm enjoying this season.

Nichijou (My Ordinary Life)
A delight. It's mostly laid-back slice-of-life cute-girls-doing-cute-things humor with a leavening of the bizarre. Folks are comparing it to Lucky Star, but my take is that it's more like PaniPoni Dash! on Valium. And without the distracting blackboard jokes. There's even a Beckyesque "professor" in a white lab coat who appears to be about eight years old.

Hana-Saku Iroha
This one sneaks up on you. It's about a 16-year-old girl named Ohana who goes off to live with her grandmother in a countryside hot springs inn; sounds pretty vapid, right? But it gets surprisingly deep before the end of the first episode. Her grandmother has disowned Ohana's mother (not surprising, as the mother abandoned her to run off with her creditor-fleeing boyfriend) and isn't any too pleased to be caring for the girl, putting her to work to earn her keep; and Ohana manages to immediately antagonize one of the other girls working there. Much stress and angst by the end of the show.

Dog Days
Enjoyable though not great fantasy of the ordinary-kid-whisked-away-to-herodom-in-magic-land sort. Very lightweight and harmless; the wars in which the kid is expected to defend the obligatory young princess are entirely bloodless affairs that resemble paintball matches set in obstacle courses. Frothy. I'll be quite cross if halfway through the season "shit gets real", as the kids say.

In anticipation of a couple new shows I'm watching their precursors; Wolverine, preceding X-Men, and Fireball, in advance of Fireball Charming. Wolverine is more of the sort of crap that Marvel and Warren Ellis and Madhouse fed us with Iron Man; I watched Iron Man mostly because I really enjoyed the Robert Downey films, and I'm struggling through Wolverine just because X-Men is said to be a direct sequel to it, and those merry mutants have been dear to me since I ploughed through the entire story at Reed College's wonderful Mill (Music Listening and Lending Library) in '81 and '82. But objectively, I can't in good faith recommend any of these Marvel anime.

Fireball, however, was an unexpected delight. Thirteen tiny episodes, two minutes each, all CGI, of a little imperious prima donna of a robot princess and her giant hulking spider-like servant, and their rapid-fire banter. That may not sound like a promising setup, but it's pulled off brilliantly. Even the seemingly awkward, jerky, completely inhuman movement of these CGI robots is actually paced beautifully. Oh, and did I mention it's by Disney Japan? Another nail in the coffin of my friend metaphorical's claim that the Disney logo implies suckitude. I can't wait for Fireball Charming.

If you're interested in any of these, keep an eye on Tokyo Toshokan, which lists just about every new anime torrent that comes along, or for the rigorously ethical among you, AnimeSuki, which lists only unlicensed shows. If your network connection is good enough (as mine isn't), there are also Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu, which stream a number of series complete with subtitles the day they air in Japan.
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April 2011