Tag Archives: review

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.

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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.

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)

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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.

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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?

Rinne no Lagrange Episode 1

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For those who missed the pre-air edition that came out last week or who simply insist on viewing all their anime in HQ, this past Sunday (Jan 8) was the actual premiere date of Rinne no Lagrange (輪廻のラグランジエ: Flower Declaration of Your Heart), XEBEC’s new offering this season in cooperation with Production I.G.  Directed by Sato Tatsuo (Kidou Senkan Nadesico; Shigofumi; seems to have his hands full this season with the potentially-great Mouretsu Uchuu Kaizoku as well), Rinne no Lagrange appears at-a-glance to be yet another tale of an unlikely youth thrust into the fore of conflict in the pilot seat of an all-too-convenient mecha. If that rudimentary description of the show’s basic premise sounds all-too-familiar to you, which I’m sure it does, fear not. The plot has accounted for cliche fatigue and added a little twist: the pilot in this instance happens to be a girl. Variation enough for you? No? Well, don’t give up on this one yet. While the cliches are indeed numerous, what Rinne presents in its opening act is actually done quite well.

CGI effects and frenzied, laser-riddled mecha skirmishes aside, there is still plenty to like even if you aren’t crazy about the subgenre. Fans of Macross Frontier‘s Ranka Lee will surely enjoy the vocals of Nakajima Megumi, who performs both OP and ED themes, “TRY UNITE!” and “Hello!”, respectively. See how lucky you are? I know mutsulini for one definitely approves. As for the acting seiyuu, a mix of veterans and newcomers gives the show a more well-rounded quality that balances experience with fresh appeal. Notably, much of the rookie talent headline in main character roles.

Kamogawa koukousei Kyouno Madoka (rookie Ishihara Kaori) is an all-around natural athlete, skilled in virtually any sport; and while she’s already the president (and sole member) of her own Jersey Club, she’s a much sought-after player in multiple school club activities. Upbeat and always eager to lend a hand with a smile and a genki “maru–!”, she’s also the kind of girl who wears her school mizugi under her seifuku, if that’s an indication of anything. You know, so she can save any hapless, curiously unattended drowning children on the way to school. Of course, this is all in a day’s work for Madoka: good Samaritan; infectious optimist; Jill-of-all-Trades.

                                                                 Hi. I came to recruit you… Is this a bad time?

 

One afternoon, she is approached by Lan (Seto Asami), a mysterious girl with the emotive expression of Nagato Yuki (mainly in that she has next to none that are readily apparent) although she seems capable of crude attempts at humor. After becoming fast comrades, Lan wastes no time revealing her identity as an alien, her mission to protect Madoka and the strange, gigantic craft she asks her to pilot. For the average person, that kind of information might be hard to swallow but Madoka casually takes it in stride. I guess for her meeting aliens is an everyday thing.

Not everyone is so keen on the idea, however, as Nakaizumi Youko (Noto Mamiko), whom Madoka calls onee-chan, is one of a professional faction aware of the alien activity and is personally intent on preventing Madoka from becoming a magical girl pilot at all costs. But of course we can’t have that, because any unwarranted obstruction of the primary protagonist in fulfillment of their role is a cardinal sin. Not only does Madoka sortie with the invading mech but she incapacitates the threat in style with a perfect “maru!” German Suplex.

 

Ishihara’s performance as Madoka makes for a thoroughly likeable heroine even if the character is essentially a rehashed clone of most every young gun to ever see a “giant robot.” If the basis of her character is less than original, Ishihara brings out Madoka’s earnestness and her easy-going exuberance with an adept touch that more than makes up for it.

Much of the rest of the cast have yet to make their entrance (most notably, the other pilot girl – Kayano Ai as Muginami), though the players who have already assembled only hint at an exposition that has yet to show us exactly where the show intends to go. Thus, it’s kind of early and unfair to attempt to gauge the potential worth of the rest of the series based on this single episode, simply because it has yet to truly differentiate itself from all the others that came before it. Luckily with a name like Production I.G., it makes it easier to have confidence they will keep Rinne not only watchable but great entertainment. So while it might not be a story you haven’t heard before, there are surely a number of worthwhile surprises ahead.