High School DXD Episode 2

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Mutsulini: Here we are again after 25 minutes of hellscape called High School DxD Episode 1. We bring you High School DxD Episode 2. Though the show is getting a bit more interesting with some redeeming qualities sprouting here and there… it is nevertheless an ecchi-heavy oppai-centric and horomone-driven anime. We return from the end of last episode to Issei’s bedroom again to see Issei continuing to act like a little girl as it is revealed that Rias had been sleeping next to him naked that night. As is the case for cowardly peons like Issei, he goes ballistic and clumsily stumble over every little dust particle floating in his bedroom as his mother walks in on them. Oh what fun that is.

As you can see (or rather, not see,) Issei’s members are in plain view, which is quite shocking in typically moderately censored anime such as this one. For the decent viewers out there, the image provided has been self-censored by Omoshirosou’s very own censor board. So, enjoy.

So, a bit more is revealed later on in that Issei is now a devil (akuma) thanks to Rias’ resurrecting him. Along with a few of other cast members, these devils do various tasks for people for reasons yet to be known. I am guessing they go around making pacts with people and fulfilling their wishes for their souls of whatnots but I’ll have Kujou-san kindly explain the rest of the episode to you folks. Now onto the ending sequence.

[Censored for general consumption though in this she is in a lingerie and nothing is revealed… I the censors made it worse than it looks. I the censors also mosaic’d the mouth due to its suggestive nature.]

Since the first episode ended with the opening theme, we got to wait an extra week for this. The ending sequence for this show is a combination of two socially acceptable vices of our era, pole dancing as featured in strip clubs and Las Vegas style gambling. The sequence is almost entirely composed of the female cast taking turns pole dancing in lingerie with the rest of the screen decorated with themes ranging from playing cards to poker chips to laces. The song STUDYXSTUDY is performed by a new seiyuu group StylipS composed of the famous Yui Ogura and Kaori Ishihara of YUIKAORI along with Arisa Noto, and Maho Matsunaga. It is a lot upbeat and faster than the opening so it goes well with the comedic and ecchi nature of the show… Okay I should stop saying anything good about this show now. Kujou-san, help…

Kujou-san: Now that mutsulini has thoroughly spoiled you all by skipping ahead to the mind-bending depravity that is the ED sequence, your appetites will surely be thoroughly whetted for the meat of the episode. That is if you haven’t already ruined yourselves over Rias and her demon brigade of pole-dancing vixens, all of whom are that much more delicious unpixelated.

At this point we should go a little further into what the protagonist has become: as mutsulini mentioned, the quintessential pervert Issei-kun, revived in essentially the same form in outward appearance but entirely different in incorporeal substance, finds himself no longer human. Because he was quickened by Rias and thus spared from death he is now a demon. What’s more, he is now bound to Rias under a contract which essentially makes him her slave (I imagine in every sense of the word), much in the fashion of liege lord and vassal in that he is bound to Rias under bond of absolute loyalty.

Rias sends campus golden boy Kiba Yuuto to fetch Issei back to the Room of Close Associates Occult Research Club, where he is introduced to the rest of the club members; and it’s no surprise they’re all demons as well, from the petite Toujou Koneko (Taketatsu Ayana), to elegant vice-president Himejima Akeno (Itou Shizuka).

Rias informs Issei of his latent ability, the Sacred Gear, which has power to withstand angels and devils and was the reason why he was killed by the fallen angel Amano Yuuma. At this point, Issei is no more than a gopher tasked with various odd jobs, culminating in his first real mission –proxying for one of Koneko’s contracts. True to his perverted nature, Issei thrills to the prospects of building a harem of slaves for himself. Unfortunately for him, however, the prize at the end of his bike ride (he as of yet lacks even the ability to summon properly) is a degenerate otaku with a fetish for being babied. No contract this time, it seems. Sorry, Issei: coffee is for closers ONLY! Always Be Closing! ALWAYS BE CLOSING!

At least in the end he is able to awaken the Sacred Gear (tearing the clothes off a beautifully-built fallen angel in the process) and stumble across a sweet-faced cleric chick.

In closing, there is one thing I take issue with regarding the whole contract arrangement: according to tradition going back who-knows how far, when making contracts with demons, the demon always secures the knowing and willful consent of the party in question.

That is, the poor, ill-fated soul who for whatever reason is driven to such desperate terms as to make a deal with the devil, so to speak, has to agree to be bound by the contract, part and parcel. Whether it’s with a ritual signing some arcane document in one’s own blood or actually swearing some kind of oral oath, there is always some kind of pledge of acknowledgement. I’m not sure why. Maybe it has something to do with most demons falling under the “Lawful Evil” category in the morality spectrum. It would seem it’s just something they do. At any rate, this tradition has been established with a good deal of precedent in literature and folklore from various cultures the world over (do we really have to cite examples here?) so it seems strange that Highschool DXD would do away with that vital rite that officially makes the pact kosher.

Oh well, back to the boobs.

Another – Episode 2

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Mei sits alone on a bench in the courtyard, which is fenced with yellow rosebushes. As she issues her cryptic warning to Kouichi, a sudden, violent gust of wind whips through the air, putting a million rose petals to flight. The arcing camera angle as it rotates around the impassive Mei and the bewildered Kouichi filled with the brilliant accent of yellow in a chaotic breeze is an excellent augur of the ominous portent that hangs over the school (and certain other of the town’s residents), which is one reason why this scene is so very well done.

 

The yellow rose is one of the few that doesn’t implicitly carry a message charged with romantic suggestion; and one of its many meanings is joy and happiness. In this context, there must be no ambiguity in the yellow roses’ message. Mei informs us “it” is coming: an unanticipated storm is about to occur that will strip away the relatively peaceful tranquility the town now enjoys after being mired in dark events in its past.

Based on the fact the rosebushes serve as a backdrop in the scene itself and are not of active importance to the two principals, it is of the author’s humble opinion the yellow roses represent the peace and happiness of the status quo that will soon be torn to shreds in the face of a chain of tragic events that will swallow everything in its path. It’s always refreshing to see directors employ this kind of cleverness in their craft as it greatly enriches subtext.

 

 

Throughout the episode, several of Kouichi’s classmates hint at the dark secrets surrounding class 3-3 before class officer in charge of “countermeasures” Akazawa Izumi tries to enforce damage control.

However, it is too little, too late to quell Kouichi’s curiosity as he has already employed the assistance of a nurse at the hospital to help investigate the identity of a girl who recently died there. Mei’s warning at the beginning of the episode and the repeated near-miss events that nearly expose the truth, along with a few foreshadowing moments, help give the plot some momentum as things begin to take shape and turn up the tension.

 

One thing’s for certain. When tailing a suspected ghost, you’ll never be bored with where you end up. Kouichi’s pursuit of Mei, who in the otherworldly fashion is always within two steps of disappearing from view, brings him to an obscure, out-of-the-way locale in the deep recesses of the town’s back streets. Here the doll motif takes central focus as Kouichi enters an odd building which incidentally houses a doll gallery.

Welcome, Sakakibara Kouichi: you are now entering the Uncanny Valley. The deathly silence of the dark, somber studio gives him no comfort, and he is startled to see a doll that bears a strong resemblance to Mei before coming face to face with Mei herself in the bowels of building’s lower level.

 

One of the things that makes Mei so profoundly creepy is her uncanny, unsettling voice: an odd lethargic monotone with unnatural pauses, brought to great effect by seiyuu Takamori Natsumi. On a completely different level, another thing that makes her creepy would be her taste in dolls, when she points out her favorite among the scattered bodies. In the final moments of episode 2, she offers Kouichi a chance to see what lies hidden beneath the eyepatch…

At the beginning of the episode, classmate Mochizuki remarks the world “screams” and is filled with uneasiness that everyone can feel. It seems it’s only a matter of time now before the sense of dread turns to outright terror.

Hidamari Sketch: Eternal Sunshine? The Kids Aren’t Alright

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Welcome back. From time to time, we the authors bring you special features not found anywhere else. This special edition in-depth feature both celebrates and takes a skewed view of the popular slice-of-life series Hidamari Sketch, soon to return this year with a confirmed fourth season. Well, who doesn’t love a good sequel?

The world of Hidamari Sketch is a place of sunshine, flowers, butterflies, rainbows, puppies and pretty much anything stereotypically associated with idyllic harmony and inherent goodness. Basically, a literal Heaven-on-earth. Here, said puppies are invariably always well-fed, never kicked (or have sticks shoved up their asses by malicious schoolgirls with compulsively-destructive tendencies: this means you, Mitama Mayo!) and will without fail find good homes. Because the people who inhabit this land of eternal happiness essentially live in a vacuum sealed off from all the ills, woes and despair found in the real world, one would be hard pressed to experience crises more serious than forgetting one’s homework as they simply don’t exist. –Or do they?

Beneath all the whimsical cheerfulness lies telltale signs of an altogether different story that unfolds from day to day. Upon closer examination, disturbing traits and personality disorders become readily apparent. In a series of short surveys, I uncover the more serious issues afflicting the main characters and select minor players, revealing shocking truths that indicate the world of Hidamari Sketch is in fact as maladjusted, angst-ridden and dysfunctional as any other.

As Hidamari Sketch is not a series that focuses on developing a full-fledged plot around a central protagonist in the typical fashion so much as it presents short-and-sweet vignettes in an achronological format, the more significant characters in the daily lives of the main girls will be presented (with certain exceptions).

Disclaimer: As a recent convert to the Hidamari Sketch series (all thanks/blame goes to mutsulini), I must emphasize that I am a fan. This post is not intended to be an extensive, serious psychiatric analysis, neither is it a professional evaluation in any way. I do not claim advanced knowledge of nor do I hold degrees in psychiatry or its related fields. The speculative musings presented here are precisely that and are at best mild exaggerations and at worst obvious gross misrepresentations of the simple, innocent quirks that make Aoki Ume’s characters such clean, wholesome fun.

 

YUNO (ゆの)

By the third season, Hidamari Sketch x  Hoshimittsu, Yuno has graduated to second year but remains the shortest of the six girls living in the apartment. Occasionally, Yuno has displayed signs of having a fairly-sensitive height complex. The problem of course, lies not with Yuno’s height in itself, but whether the issue of her diminutive stature is a source of deep, psychological angst and/or undue psychosomatic stress on her physical person.

Yuno is often ill-at-ease, second-guessing herself and often seeks confirmation from others to feel secure. Of the four upperclassmen, Yuno perhaps has the most fragile sense of self in that her confidence needs a boost every now and then. Though in the end all her anxieties and self-consciousness are probably nothing more than the everyday insecurities of adolescence. Ultimately, the case for Yuno’s potential neuroses is minimal at best.

CONCLUSION: LOW/MINIMAL RISK

 

MIYAKO (宮子)

A tall, strikingly beautiful blonde with a beaming smile and friendly, out-going personality, she is the definition of the easy-going “my pace” (マイペース) character. Her characteristic sanguine nature seems to display a combination of symptoms of hypomania within the Bipolar disorder spectrum.

Her elevated mood (i.e. her near-constant state of euphoria);  attention deficit (a trait that already qualifies Miyako as also possibly suffering from ADHD/ADD); occasional sporadic acts of disregard for her personal safety in the face of potential physical danger; and near-compulsive need for engagement in hyperactive physical activity all mark her as a potential hypomaniac. There is also the lesser issue of her immense appetite but this is probably owing to nothing more than evidence of the kind of metabolism needed to fuel the absurd, boundless energy levels she displays on any given day.

In correlation to the above, Miyako may also suffer from depression as a prerequisite (indeed, essential) condition necessary to developing hypomania:

Often in those who have experienced their first episode of hypomania (which is a level of mild to moderate mania) – generally without psychotic features – there will have been a long or recent history of depression prior to the emergence of manic symptoms, and commonly this surfaces in the mid to late teens. Due to this being an emotionally charged time, it is not unusual for mood swings to be passed off as hormonal or teenage ups and downs and for a diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder to be missed until there is evidence of an obvious manic/hypomanic phase [Drug-Induced Dysfunction in Psychiatry. Matcheri S. Keshavan and John S. Kennedy, Editors (Taylor & Francis, 1992].

Do these findings imply there are additional, external factors which contributed as a direct cause of Miyako’s outward symptoms of hypomania originating in depression? There seem to be signs, however circumstantial, of a troubled home life. Child abandonment and abuse via neglect are the most likely potential causes/issues at stake.

Resourceful and independent, Miyako can pretty much get by on her own, undertaking her move to the apartments without her parents’ help; and while she does mention an older brother in passing (he apparently maintains her hair with his gardening skills), she never really ventures to talk about her home life in the course of Hidamari‘s three seasons and specials. Mysteriously, significant periods of her life are unaccounted for. Details are unclear, but she discloses she once had to rely on celestial navigation to find her way. Thus what little is known about her background hints at a past of hardship and adversity.

Always hungry, Miyako is virtually a scavenger amongst her friends as she is always on the lookout for a potential meal. Though her appetite has already been mentioned if one really stops to consider: the mere fact she becomes crestfallen over the sacrifice of the equivalent food value of Sae’s ¥160/apiece Poloroid snapshots (Hidamari Sketch x 365 – EX) is enough to depress anyone.

In fact, a patient with the equivalent of Miyako’s assortment of possible issues faces the possibility of advancing from hypomania to full-blown mania and possibly even dementia or psychosis.

CONCLUSION: HIGH-RISK. INTENSIVE THERAPY RECOMMENDED.

 

HIRO (ヒロ)

Hiro, sweet Hiro. Virtually all of her insecurities stem from issues with her weight. Thus she is extremely self-conscious about her body image. Hiro has been shown to engage in controversial tactics for the sake of slimming down, including but not limited to forced fasts (Hidamari x Hoshimittsu Ep. 5), special diets (such as the infamous konnyaku jelly diet), and other extreme measures, such as wearing heavy clothes at a kotatsu in the middle of summer. However, while she strives to maintain an ideal figure, Hiro is not above binging on sweets or other treats to reward herself for meeting certain goals (Vanilla ice cream anyone? She’s got a whole freezer full of it (Hidamari x Hoshimittsu Ep. 12).

Aside from her fixation with weight and dieting, Hiro is rather socially well-adjusted and displays no other known irrational behaviors, social disorders or serious mental health issues outside of her possible moderate eating disorder.

CONCLUSION: LOW/MINIMAL RISK

 

SAE (紗英)

The no-nonsense, industrious Sae is cool and level-headed; her only true social disorder seems to arise from mild symptoms of emotional repression when it comes to her her imouto Chika, though by Hidamari x Hoshimitsu that issue seems to have been resolved for the most part. Although Sae sometimes displays signs of moderate withdrawal from social interaction (e.g. shutting herself away in her room for days at a time), this arises when she is under pressure from work deadlines and as such is irrelevant to her psychological profile.

CONCLUSION: LOW/MINIMAL RISK

 

NAZUNA (なずな)

Introduced in Hidamari x Hoshimittsu, Nazuna is one of two freshmen living at the apartments. A pure, gentle soul, Nazuna is mild-mannered and occasionally displays slight symptoms of mild social anxiety disorder via shyness. She seems more comfortable allowing others to initiate conversation and social dialogue; but aside from her more passive social posture, Nazuna’s shyness is not problematic as a full-blown social phobia and does not interfere with her day-to-day ability to function in society.

CONCLUSION: LOW/MINIMAL RISK

 

NORI (乃莉)

Nori is clearly the most tech savvy of all the Hidamari residents, as she is the first to utilize an internet connection in the building; but while she is proficient with computers, she displays no warning signs of abnormal or asocial behavior related to technology e.g. complete withdrawal from physical interaction with others in favor of communication with the outside world exclusively via computer. As such, she is disqualified from further clinical evaluation.

CONCLUSION: LOW/MINIMAL RISK

NATSUME (夏目)

Natsume: the “other girl” in Sae’s life, or rather, the girl hovering at the outer border of Sae’s life. Poor Natsume is never able to bring herself to openly communicate her feelings to Sae and thus is perpetually left feeling unfulfilled. Natsume’s mechanism for coping with her frustrating, unresolved emotional impasse is to engage in stalking the object of her desire.

Stalking is a serious indication of obsessive behavior that is unacceptable and is a violation of interpersonal boundaries. Unless the root cause of such behavior is confronted and properly addressed, the obsession will continue to threaten Natsume’s healthy social adjustment and her ability to effectively channel and express her emotions in a socially acceptable manner.

CONCLUSION: CAUTION – MODERATE RISK. COUNSELING RECOMMENDED.

 

CHIKA (智花)

Chika may very well be the ideal imouto: she’s sweet without being being reduced to a treacly mess of sugar and fluff; and she has the moe factor without trying so hard to make one painfully aware of the fact. In fact, her seiyuu (the venerable Kugimiya Rie) dials down the tsun-tsun tartness inherent in most of her younger girl types and complements it with real charm and wit. Chika has a frankness and frighteningly-discerning acumen of a much older girl; and her genuine warmth is her most disarming aspect. Though she’s one of the most mature girls in the series, her cuteness remains unrivaled. In sum, Chika is the type of imouto who merits being spoiled rotten.

By the way, just to clarify:

THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH CHIKA. PERIOD.

 

OYA-SAN (大家さん)

The landlady of the Hidamari apartment complex struggles to kick her cigarette addiction and she seems to have hoarding tendencies (Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimittsu Ep. 10) but there doesn’t appear to be any serious underlying psychological issues worth exploring here… nothing a beer couldn’t fix anyway.

CONCLUSION: LOW/MINIMAL RISK

 

MISATO-SENPAI (みさとセンパイ)

Mysterious kitsune upperclassman to Sae and Hiro, Misato-senpai is a self-admitted compulsive liar (Hidamari Sketch x 365 Ep. 7). The fact she has a habit of lying consciously and with extreme ease about the most trivial matters is definitely a serious red flag. Disturbingly, that may only be the tip of the iceberg, however, as compulsive lying is often a symptom of some deeper underlying psychological issue, such as Borderline personality disorder, Narcissistic personality disorder or even Bipolar disorder.

Since Misato-senpai is a rather minor character and only rarely makes an appearance (mostly via flashback), speculation as to her possible psychiatric profile cannot be concretely defined with any real substance. This is rather unfortunate as she has one of the most complex and engaging personalities in the Hidamari universe, and analyzing her would no doubt yield most interesting results.

CONCLUSION: INCONCLUSIVE – HIGH RISK POTENTIAL. CURRENT WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN.

 

KOUCHOU-SENSEI (校長先生)

Yamabuki Koukou’s long-suffering principal is often the only agent to rein in the flighty, volatile Yoshinoya-sensei’s more outrageous antics. He seems to be one of the more stable, rational personalities in the series, and apparently has the vigor and agility to perform outstanding feats of physical prowess, such as jumping both the school gate and the street in front of it in a single leap. The principal has no known observable personality disorders.

CONCLUSION: He’s just old. That’s it.

 

YOSHINOYA-SENSEI (吉野屋先生)

Finally, the main event, the piece de resistance.

A woman truly rife with issues, Yoshinoya-sensei earns the distinction of displaying the most serious problematic behaviors of all the cast. No other character, however minor, that appears in Hidamari Sketch is so fraught with such a severe case of behavioral abnormalities. Her most readily apparent personality disorder lies with her rather severe adult child complex or perhaps, to use a popular pop-psychology term, Peter pan syndrome (which also seems to have ties to psychiatrist Carl Jung‘s puer aeturnus archetype (Latin for ‘eternal boy,’ although in this case the subject is a puella aeterna). However, her vast litany of potential personality disorders go far beyond any other character on the list in terms of both breadth and severity of her symptoms.

Conveniently, the bulk of her psychological abnormality can be summarized with the single term hyperthymia. Indeed, when considering the extent of the varied manifestations of problematic behavior inherent with this personality type, Yoshinoya-sensei’s pattern of bizarre, childish and grossly inappropriate behavior becomes a natural fit for a diagnosis of hyperthymic temperament. Those individuals afflicted with hyperthymia often display a multiplicity of symptoms, including but not limited to ignoring social norms; extreme talkativeness; activity extroversion and productivity; low threshold for boredom; strong attention-seeking behavior; vividly cheerful temperament; emotional sensitivity; and very strong sexual drive. For a more comprehensive list of other relevant symptoms, please consult the link above.

While a couple or even a few of these symptoms together do not necessarily constitute a state of psychological irregularity or even signify anything remotely out of tune with a particularly vigorous disposition, when coupled with her child-like frame of mind; lack of properly-defined personal boundaries; and strong tendency to construct fantasies/escape reality and responsibility, it is incontrovertible evidence of a severely imbalanced psychological state.

Like Miyako, she may also have a less-than ideal home life situation (circumstances of her childhood and upbringing is not explored) but that is likely only a natural conflict arising from her irresponsible behavior as an adult and status as a parasite single, employment notwithstanding. All things considered, Yoshinoya-sensei can only be described as a person possessed of severe personality issues and emotional instability. Her disturbed mental state is all but confirmed by her own actions.

There is nothing to account for her squeaky feet, though (It’s been proven that it is in fact her very feet that squeak, rather than her shoes or indoor slippers (Hidamari Sketch x Hoshimitsu Ep. 5)). That’s probably a question modern science has no answer for.

CONCLUSION: CATEGORICALLY-CONFIRMED. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED FOR INTAKE INTO PATIENT POPULATION TO BEGIN INDEFINITE ONSITE TREATMENT ASAP

Nisemonogatari Episode 01 – Review~nya

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And here’s a show that we’ve all been waiting for, Nisemonogatari (偽物語).

Nisemonogatari is a direct sequel to the legendary troll anime studio Shaft‘s blockbuster hit and money cow Bakemonogatari from 2009, originally a light novel series by Nisioisin. Just as Bakemonogatari, this new show is also directed by Akiyuki Shinbo also known for the slap in face hit, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, among many others. The title Nisemonogatari is a portmanteau of Nisemono (swindler, charlatan, impostor or the more physical fake, knockoff, counterfeit) and Monogatari (story, tale.) Few fansub groups thus translate the title as “Impostory,” which I feel is rather appropriate since the fakes being referred to the title are the fire sisters Karen and Tsukihi (and the antagonists) but as is usual for Nisioisin, there could be further wordplay involved.

Before I continue here are a few notes to consider:

1) I will not re-explain the entire Bakemonogatari series.  The show itself does not baby the audience and I will not do so myself.  This is a direct sequel.  Please only read and follow the show after having watched all 15 episodes of Bakemonogatari as it will be worth your time and you will thank me with gifts of gold and myrrh.

2) Entire main cast excluding characters that will not reappear for this show have not changed or have not changed significant therefore the list will be brief.

3) I will not go into detail about personalities of individual characters except new antagonist(s) and the fire sisters Karen and Tsukihi.

Thanks, so… shall we start?

[Gratuitous Height Chart for the Curious]

Introducing the usual recurring cast though only half of the two new lead protagonists had voice role in this episode:

As newer characters are introduced, I will introduce the new cast members as they appear.

Main Cast-

Hiroshi Kamiya as Koyomi Araragi (big bro, lead character from Bakemonogatari, vampire)

Eri Kitamura as Karen Araragi (lil sis, main lead character, half of fire sisters, alias: Karen Bee)

Yuka Iguchi as Tsukihi Araragi (lil’er sis, main lead character, half of fire sisters, alias: Tsukihi Phoenix)

Secondary Cast-

Chiwa Saitou as Hitagi Senjougahara (Koyomi’s girlfriend, sadist, alias: Hitagi Crab)

Emiri Katou as Mayoi Hachikuji (wandering ghost, anti-lolicon, alias: Mayoi Snail/Mayoi MaiMai)

Miyuki Sawashiro as Suruga Kanbaru (Hitagi’s kouhai, overly sexualizes self, alias: Suruga Monkey)

Kana Hanazawa as Nadeko Sengoku (Tsukihi’s childhood friend, has youthful crush on Koyomi, alias: Nadeko Snake)

Yui Horie as Tsubasa Hanekawa (model student, unrequited love for Koyomi semi-resolved at end of Bakemonogatari, alias: Tsubasa Cat)

—–

With that out of the way, we start the show.

The events of Nisemonogatari takes place about a month after the end of Bakemonogatari. As is typical of sequels, the show starts at a questionable location where inexplicably Koyomi Araragi is tied up at the abandoned cram school which used to be home to the protagonist’s “friends,” Meme and Shinobu Oshino who have left the area and Araragi, at the end of Bakemonogatari. We find out that he was actually kidnapped by Hitagi Senjougahara for what is assumed to be for his protection (and or for Hitagi’s sick pleasures?). Though we don’t know exactly how many days he’d been there but he guesses that it’s been a day or two.

From there we flashback to the morning of the day of the kidnapping, July 29th. It’s summer vacation and Tsubasa Hanekawa who, along with Senjougahara, frequently tutors Araragi with his school work calls in to cancel their tutoring session. Bored at home, Araragi wanders into a conversation with his younger sister Tsukihi Araragi who is lazily watching television. After many witty remarks and eye candy camera shots later, Araragi decides to call Nadeko Sengoku and tells her he’s thinkning of visitng her that day. Nadeko in an obvious show of desparation and nervous wreck welcomes his potential visit. Koyomi then heads for Nadeko’s house after being told by Tsukihi that she is probabaly not welcomed despite Nadeko being Tsukihi’s childhood friend. And since Koyomi, being a man, does not understand the situation he’s getting himself into.

Araragi, on his way to Nadeko’s house, runs into Mayoi Hachikuji. After a bit of kurfuffle that ensues from their encounter, Koyomi and Mayoi enter into a long discussion that ranges from hesitating to tell Koyomi’s sisters about him turning to a vampire to how inserting “courage” to any deplorable act can turn them into something admirable. As is expected from Shaft, the scenes are a quick back and forth between the characters and their extremely fast dialogue along with eye candy worthy experimental architecture. In the end, Mayoi and Koyomi part ways with Mayoi leaving Koyomi with a philosophical perspective on the consequences or burdens that could be placed on the sisters for having Koyomi tell them about his secret.

—–

This show will be hard to screw up as Bakemonogatari has been extremely successful and by keeping to the same formula, it will most likely reap the same fruit as before. However, this being Shaft they will most likely dazzle with us with something. The story is already well done in the sense that it is coming directly from the light novels. How the rest of the show will be presented would all be guesses so I am guessing that the show like its predecessor will be full of fast and witty dialogue filled with excellent character development and mindbending twists. Anything more than that would be a plus. For those of you who might not have liked Bakemonogatari, unfortunately, this show will most likely have the same issues, such as rapid screen changes every couple of seconds and random buildings and characters doing awkward poses.

For now, I am desperately hoping that Shaft and the director Akiyuki Shinbo will inject more creativity into an already creative show. After all, expectation this high can only be satiated and countered with blow-your-mind delivery.

High School DXD Episode 1

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Kujou-san: Welcome back, friends, and Happy New Year. Lots of new shows to kick off 2012, and one of the first reviews for Omoshirosou(!)’s sophomore year is production team TNK’s brand-spanking new High School DXD (ハイスクールDXD). Both mutsulini and I will be reviewing this series jointly, so you can look forward to both our input on this series as it progresses this season. Featuring OP “Trip -innocent of D-” by Larval Stage Planning, and ED “STUDYXSTUDY” by StylipS, the show is one of Yanagisawa Tetsuya’s (Sora no Otoshimono: Tokei-jikake no Angeloid) first projects as director.

 

んでくれないかな?” Could you… die for me?

Not exactly romantic, though that is the very phrase Hyoudou Issei hears from his supposed girlfriend Amano Yuma just before she kills him. Only minutes before, he’d been relishing the intoxicating experience of his first date ever. But what should have been a rose-colored evening of sweet, adolescent bliss takes a deadly turn as Yuma suddenly, unceremoniously impales him through the abdomen, leaving him to die in a state of confused agony.

 

But before we get to that, we should backtrack a bit. Oppai-obsessed Issei-kun (the increasingly ubiquitous Kaji Yuuki) is a second-year koukousei with a healthy libido and not all that much else going for him. He and his like-minded, good-for-nothing friends can usually be found somewhere on campus, cursing their inexperience and lusting after virtually any girl within a five-mile radius. However, he’s somehow gained the attention of the school goddess, Rias Gremory (Hikasa Youko), who chairs Komaou Academy’s Occult Research Club.

—–

Mutsulini: Welcome back gentle anime lovers, Mutsulini reporting in for Omoshirosou(!)’s first joint post.

Now that Kujou-san has over the events of the show’s very first episode so I will briefly enter into a brief analysis of Issei, our protagonist, and finish off the episode.

Issei is one of those protagonists who is typified by complete moral depravity and sexual ineptitude. He and his two inept goons do nothing but watch ecchi anime and wish to someday endeavor in sexual conquest which would be denied even with a prostitute. Below is a scene depicting the three recreating the scene, intentionally or unintentionally, from Porky’s sans the insertion but it ends up looking more like they’re entertaining themselves in brotherhood of sexual desperation outside of the girls’ changing room.

 

This show quickly devolves into a parade of emasculation through the main character going nuts over the thicket of watermelon sized breasts and divining winds that always lift the skirts up to the desired position to which grants visible access of the nether realms. Of course, I could be saying that about lot of other shows but dehumanizing Issei, the so-called libido driven teenager who is nothing but a fantasizing dimwit, has high entertainment value unto itself. After all, as Kujou-san mentioned, this is a boy who failed at getting to first base, by being killed.

Fortunately, to my pleasure, this episode’s highlight comes from the repeated killing of this ill-begotten boy who probably deserves nothing less than the gory assaults he endures only to be revived twice by the dominatrix-in-waiting Rias who happens to sport the largest pair of breasts in the show. After his second death, Rias reappears to claim ownership to Issei’s body as he again drifts into eternal slumber.  The episode ends with Issei waking up naked next to an also naked Rias. As expected of a testasterone driven manly man, Issei immediately huddles to the corner of his room in fetal position.

Look forward to our review of episode 2 of High School DxD~

Senki Zesshou Symphogear Episode 01 – El Review

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Hello everyone, after being convinced by Kujou-san on how informative this episodic reviewing thing can be, I was converted and decided to do ongoing show reviews.  For this season I will be doing Senki Zesshou Symphogear and Nisemonogatari.

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Having only read a brief synopsis of the show prior to the first viewing, I had little to no expectation for this show. To be quite frank, I only decided to review this show after learning that Nana Mizuki was in it and no other real reason. So, thanks Kujou-san.

Senki Zesshou Symphogear (戦姫絶唱シンフォギア) is an original anime produced by a relatively rookie studio Encourage Films and co-produced by Satelight slated to run 13 episodes with Nana Mizuki performing the opening theme Synchrogazer and Ayahi Takagaki performing the ending theme Meteor Light.

Before I begin, let me briefly list the “apparent” main cast members as you will all soon find that this concept of main character is just that, a concept.

Surprisingly, the show features an impressive cast but as Kujou-san and I discussed, so did Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon. In Senki Zesshou Symphogear (which can be literally translated as Battle Maiden Excellent Symphogear,) Aoi Yuuki (Madoka Kaname from Puella Magi Madoka Magica and Mina Tepes from Dance in the Vampire Bund) stars as Hibiki Tachibana, Yuka Iguchi (Index from To Aru Majutsu no Index and Tsukihi Araragi from Bakemonogatari series) as Hibiki’s roommate and friend Miku Kohinata,) veteran Minami Takayama (Conan Edogawa from Case Closed series and former member of Two-Mix most notably having done the theme songs for Gundam Wing series) as idol duo Zwei Wing member Kanade Amou, and, of course, Nana Mizuki(refer to my previous post) as the other half of Zwei Wing, Tsubasa Kazanari.

Show starts. Main character is dead. Thank you for watching. The End.

The show opens up with Miku going to visit Hibiki’s grave… One way you know that a show is going the right way is seeing that as soon as the show starts one of the main character is already dead. But, in the midst of crumbled and shelled out buildings, we transition to two years in the past where apparently Hibiki is still alive attending a concert featuring Zwei Wing’s Kanade and Tsubasa and all the futuristic buildings are shiny and vibrant again.

Though having promised to go with Hibiki, Miku skips out due to family stuff and we get a pleasurable few minutes of Nana Mizuki and Minami Takayama singing voice. Occasionally we get a random flash of a control room looking place where a male character with lion manes (I will go into more details about him in later episodes,) discusses with another in the room about how excellent the concert is going while staring at a glowing relic that seems to have lasers pointed at it.

However, peace is disturbed when the folks in this control room seemingly located beneath the stadium realizes that all is not excellent and the relic causes a violent explosion which is followed by an onslaught of extremely badly designed foreign beings attacking the people at the stadium. And for some odd reason the crowd already knows what they are and calls them, Noise. These Noise of varying shapes and sizes with some flying would envelop its victims in the stadium then turn the victim and itself into black ash. It does not look too pleasant, rather, it looks gruesome and cruel as the people are screaming up to the point where they dry up and turn to powder. One young woman repeatedly screeches that she does not want to die as she turns to powder shakes me with an odd fear despite the horrid monster designed apparently (assumedly) by a five year old.

Most Excellent Monster Design curtesy of an unnamed five year old.

My fears soon subsided when the two members of Zwei Wing, to no viewers’ surprise, turned out to be power suited super heroes who slowly but surely takes off into action.

When you fight, you show what moves you’re doing in giant banners covering the entire screen, cause you’ll just end up dying in a cruel way.

How would power suited idol duo fight monsters? Well, 1) you get giant swords, which they have, and 2) you sing while you slash and thrash. That’s right folks, they LITERALLY sing while they slash and thrash at the monsters. All goes decently well despite being weakened by the large number of Noise but the duo persevere, that is, until Hibiki who idiotically as main characters are wont to do stumbles near the fight then gets pierced right in the chest by a piece of straying debris. Kanade, then runs to her and tells her to stay alive then just settles the matter herself by singing a song in what seems to be in Old Norse or some non-German germanic language which apparently kills her and kills all the Noise. The scene ends with Hibiki witnessing Kanade in Tsubasa’s arms as Kanade is slowly ripped apart in silhouette.

Then comes Hibiki’s miraculous recovery and her at school with Miku again and running into Tsubasa who is also a student at the same school. Of course, no one knows what happened at the stadium except Hibiki and Tsubasa so Hibiki desperately wants to speak to her but fails to do so.

Later we’re shown a brief scene where the military mindnumbingly shoots straight through these Noise monsters with no effect until Tsubasa shows up and drops down from a helicopter WHILE singing and singlehandedly defeats Noise while the yet again completely inept anime military men watch on.

Next we’re bestowed with the epic climax of the episode. Hibiki goes to a convenient store only to discover black ash remnants of humans all over the area. She spots a little child so she chivalrously grabs her and runs to safety while being chased by the artistic aberrations. With a few winding turns and dips into sewage then a long ladder climb to the top of a nearby factory, they are hopelessly trapped with no where else to run. Scene cuts back to the control room with the lion mane man where they detect Gungnir (some sort of energy?) then we get to see one of the best moments of offmodel history since the Transformers days in mid 80s.

Things growing out of or pumping in and out of Hibiki…

This energy transforms Hibiki from the inside out and turns her into a power suited warrior… Alas, witness the scariest image known to man of the supposedly main character who happens to be as innocent as a bunny rabbit. After the final scene we transition into a cinema style credits with the opening theme by Nana Mizuki.

I might be hyping this a bit or bashing it but this show will either be the second best show in the season or THE worst. Stay tuned to see which way it goes.

Fooooooood!!!

Another – Episode 1

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Sakakibara Kouichi (Abe Atsushi), newly-transferred third year to Yomiyama Chuugakkou from Tokyo has just moved to the countryside. While recovering from an illness in the hospital, he encounters Misaki Mei (Takamori Natsumi). Curious, he decides to try to approach her but soon finds the girl, and his new school and classmates, at the center of a terrible, decades-old secret.

Originally from the novel of the same name by Ayatsuji Yukito, and later manga adaptation, Another (アナザー) is P.A. Works’ latest project and incorporates the best qualities in suspense, mystery and horror in an attractive, stylishly smart package. Another is directed by Mizushima Tsutomu (Blood-C; xxxHolic series; Shinryaku! Ika Musume series) and features OP “Kyoumu Densen” by ALI PROJECT; ED “anamnesis” by Annabel.

 

Yomiyama: whether bathed in the colors of a dusk sky’s dying sunlight or blanketed in eerie fog, one can’t help but be reminded of all the rural charm of Hinamizawa, another exurban village of the damned.

 

During his in-house convalescence, a few of Kouichi’s new classmates from class 3-3 drop by to introduce themselves and wish him a quick recovery. L-R: Akazawa Izumi (Yonezawa Madoka); Kazami Tomohiko (Ichiki Mitsuhiro); Sakuragi Yukari (Nonaka Ai). It’s of great personal satisfaction to see Nonaka-san in particular feature in this series.

Girl of mystery. But don’t bother: Misaki Mei has little interest in talking. Curiously, the doll she is carrying at her side when Kouichi first encounters her in the hospital elevator also seems to suffer injury to its eyes. Speaking of dolls, they are a common motif throughout the episode i.e. they are so common they are omnipresent from the opening sequence, punctuating certain situations. Perhaps they correspond to specific events relative to certain characters later in the plot. If so, they might be vital clues with hidden meaning. Or maybe they’re just there to add to the whole creepy sense of foreboding that pervades the atmosphere.

 

After his recovery, the air is tense at first as Kouichi starts classes at his new school; as he takes his seat, everyone seems to willfully disregard the haunting figure in the back corner of the room –a figure Kouichi immediately recognizes as Mei. Is this a classwide conspiracy? Although following his self-introduction he is given a friendly welcome by most everyone, several keep their distance, eying him with sidewise glances and skepticism from the sidelines. It seems not everyone is intent on making nice with the new kid.

Kouichi’s growing fascination with Mei drives the latter half of the episode; and he begins seeking answers by interviewing his classmates. One of his more friendly acquaintances, Yukari, in fact shudders at the mere mention of the name “Misaki” before quickly recovering to mask her reaction behind a feigned wall of ignorance. At this point he is still unaware of the massive taboo he is trespassing upon, that what he is trying to investigate has been put to silence long before with the understanding that acknowledging it is forbidden. But whatever ambiguity that may have lingered in his mind is precipitately dispelled when he rushes to meet Mei on the roof of the school.

 

Of course, this is where the plot officially lets you know that Mei (e.g. her presence/influence whether passive or active) is the key and that all further development past this point hinges on her. However, why not take things a step further and implicate the protagonist as having something ominously murky surrounding him as well?

She is coy, almost trifling, as she toys with Kouichi’s curiosity. But before she leaves, she warns him against trying to talk with her again and gives him a chilling, cryptic revelation that his name is connected with a bizarre death that had occurred at the school. So ends episode 1 as the unwitting hero struggles against a growing sense of uneasiness regarding the strange girl Mei who appears and disappears out of thin air.

 

One of the show’s already apparent strengths lies in its musical score. ALI PROJECT, mentioned above, skillfully establishes the dark, unsettling tone befitting the series with the OP in their trademark “Black Alice” style. However, props must be awarded to Otani Ko (Gundam Wing series; Blade of the Immortal; Tokyo Magnitude 8.0; Shakugan no Shana series), a skillful veteran composer who has contributed his works to a number of excellent anime titles throughout his career and whose background compositions help vitally underscore the subtle sense of dread throughout the scenes. The dramatic tension throughout the dialogue is in large part thanks to his spot-on scoring.

Overall, episode 1 is a very strong opening act that beautifully sets up the rest of the unfolding story. Night is coming. Will there be another tragedy?