Nisemonogatari is a very understanding series. It understands the difference between pornography and eroticism is a fine line and gyrates provocatively on the latter side. It understands that by emasculating the protagonist and slavishly worshipping the otherwise entirely female cast it champions misandry over feminism. It understands family members transcend the commonly held notions of love and hate and that often reason and logic don’t apply. It also understands, and this is crucial, that as a phenomenon, the Monogatari franchise (including Bakemonogatari before and the upcoming Kizumonogatari film) are fleeting. And damned if it isn’t going to burn magnesium bright while it can.
“inspires slavish devotion and cultish adoration because it has passion circulating in its veins”
All the pieces from Bakemonogatari are in place here: art and animation that sucker-punch the retinas, banter that strafes wit and tedium and a supernatural affliction story framework for support. Like Akiyuki Shinbo’s previous role as director with studio SHAFT the production is, sometimes pompous, but always slick and confident and plays strongly to the intended audience. Specifically, eroticism for otaku. Not the flesh markets that series like Queen’s Blade, Yosuga no Sora or Ladies versus Butlers are, but understanding how to titillate rather than satiate and the confidence to put the story on hold for an episode to indulge in this. Read the rest of this entry
On the surface Working`!! has very little going for it. Sliding off the back of the first series the second introduces no major new jokes or any characters of substance, the animation is scrappy and there’s no drama that isn’t wholly manufactured. Telling then that the most exciting part is when Matsumoto – the eternal cameo – is gifted a voice and takes part, albeit in a small way, in the ongoing story. Against all of this, somehow everything clicks together and works.
“often situations are resolved with a rare outbreak of sensibility but just as many are run unceremoniously into the ground”
This is mostly thanks to a core set of characters which play off each other very well, making sure that no personality (foibles and all) is allowed to dominate. So the sparky Taneshima remains the most enjoyable character thanks to her indomitable good nature, but her clashes with Satou are kept spaced apart, providing brilliant but occasional visual humour. Likewise Takanashi, who exists on the knife-edge of creepy and eccentric, interacts more with Satou and Souma now and his baffling relationship with Inami is kept restrained. Read the rest of this entry
A concept such as a brother’s romantic entanglement with his two, admittedly non-blood related, sisters does not seem like one suited to crippling mediocrity – but Kiss×Sis, by some monumental feat, manages exactly that. The odd family arrangement mirrors that of the series which spans multiple media including an OVA released with the ongoing manga. This saturation of different versions is utter overkill for a bland story and weak characters but compounded here in the TV offering by minimal naughtiness and a wholly uninspiring production of stilted animation and insipid music. The positives are rare but include how peculiarly inventive the narrative is in placing the sisters in situations ripe for corrupting their brother, as well as portraying the two perverse, red-haired seductresses’ intentions as naive and almost pure. Those pluses however are eclipsed by the multitude of negatives which only reinforce the fact that this was a stillborn idea before it was ever committed to paper or animation.
“makes light of situation which is socially and morally bankrupt in order to legitimise a deviant fetish”
Keita is his father’s son, unfortunately for him his sisters are his stepmother’s daughters and while a blended family isn’t abnormal, his sisters’ vocal affection for him is. They are intent on helping him get into their high school which involves some rather unique methods of tutoring, however both Ako and Riko vie for Keita’s affections which spills out into a continual struggle for supremacy. This usually ends up with Keita in the middle attempting to unsuccessfully mediate or otherwise remove himself from the squabble. Although at first disparaging of their romantic feelings, he begins to feel something for them as well, and being all under the same roof it may not be long before something extra curricular happens. Read the rest of this entry
Having a character in a series attempt to win an argument using squirrels seems like it would go down well around these parts; thankfully squirrel related tomfoolery is not all Minami-ke has to offer as it manages to break out of its well trodden, all-girl-school-comedy premise and develop into a raucous look at the life of a family of oddities and the selection of characters which get pulled into their orbit.
“Characters, situations and comedy are stitched together so deftly that it’s hard to think of Minami-ke as a series at all”
» 3 Episode Taste Test
The first season of Minami-ke seems to constantly better itself by proving time and time again that it will not beat a dead horse, providing capricious situations that seem patently obvious when shown, but on reflection take on Rube Goldberg-esque set up. For instance: Makoto, a typically brash and uninteresting character whose only lot in life seems to be to provide a catalyst for Chiaki’s deadpan cynicism, add in the desire to visit the Minami household without incurring special kinds of wrath, mix in some typical gender-bending and atypical cross-dressing, sprinkle in some adoration for Haruka and the result is something that never seems anything less than hilarious. Time and time again the off-the-wall comedy provides sporadic moments of howling laughter buffered by constant amusement with a boy with a propensity for loosening his shirt and sparkling to the trio of straight-faced brothers who also share the name Minami. Read the rest of this entry
It’s inevitable that Mokke is going to be compared to the seminal Mushishi: it deals with a similar “hidden to all but those who can see” neer-do-wells, has a similar way of dealing with them and maintains the same kind of morality about their place within nature. This may sound like Mokke is nothing but a substandard copy of Mushishi but in actuality, the similarities are minimal at best.
“Pleasant and charming it may be however it doesn’t have the humanity or the depth to maintain interest.”
Ostensibly set in modern day with two sisters, the younger of the pair has the ill fortune to be easily possessed by wandering spirits while the other older of the two is able to see and hear the ephemeral critters, a gift she shares with her grandfather. The first three episodes take different approaches to dealing with the entities: the first is about the older sister wanting to protect the younger one culminating in her banishing a shadowy antagonist, the second is about a helpful but tricksy fox spirit, while the third is about a spirit which follows a doubting person around, devouring their confidence and vitality. The nature of the entities is stated on a case by case basis and borrows more from Buddhist and Shinto mythology than the “part of nature” route taken by Mushishi. In terms of comparisons, Mokke borrows more from Dennou Coil than it does anything else; the similar focus on younger children rather than teenagers or adults, even the first spirit is akin to Dennou Coil’s digital aberrations. Read the rest of this entry