Posts from October 2009

3 Episode Taste Test: Kämpfer

Unimaginative. Tired. Bland. Tedious. Insipid. The list of derogatory descriptions for Kämpfer is lengthy but suffice to say the utter lack of inspiration the series demonstrates is quite staggering. Cherry picking the most aggravating elements from other shows and combining them into a thoroughly banal presentation of gender swapping and fighting females which, on the face of it, is a combination ripe for exuberance.

the proclivities of the entire school population wielding an XX chromosome seem ridiculously tame

The opening scene is enough cause for one to turn off and continue no further: a luminous red-head shooting at a fluorescent blue-haired buxom female running and darting about conspicuous trees while her clothes are seductively shredded. Were it not for the next scene, a comparative master class in introductions, the series would be starting off at the very bottom of the entertainment hill. The inaugural episodes oscillate from apathetic combat to surprisingly gratifying school humour and only seems to hit its stride in the third which introduces a plethora of débutantes eager to ravish the goofy protagonist who woke up one morning a different sex than that which he went to bed.

Read the rest of this entry

3 Episode Taste Test: Kimi ni Todoke (Reaching You)

Understating Kimi ni Todoke would be to say that it is saccharine: one cannot help but grin moronically at the continuing quest of Sawako Kuronuma to ingratiate herself with her school mates. Afflicted with the curse of rumour, she starts the series alone and subject to spurious tales of bringing curses upon those that slight her and it is only through the attention of the affable Shota Kazehaya that she is able to propel herself from quiet and alone to quiet with friends. It's deftly done, especially in three episodes, and with at least two thirds of the series remaining the story is sure to evolve well.

The greatest problem that the series could face is becoming mired in petty backbiting

Beginning at the start of the summer holiday, the set up is perfect for a "Grease" style tale of warm-weather romance and inevitable school alienation. But the story defies expectations and skips ahead to the following term, awkward greetings and new teachers in tow. From there Sawako succeeds in making friends and, if the fourth episode preview is anything to go by, at least one enemy: gaining the affections of a popular figure was always going to raise someone's ire. It is a simple story well told and it is the pace and legitimacy of the characters, especially the painfully adorable Sawako, that shoot this otherwise slow burner well-above it's more sedate contemporaries.

Read the rest of this entry

3 Episode Taste Test: Seitokai no Ichizon (The Student Council's Discretion)

Two minutes and twenty seconds from the start of the first episode until the chirrupy opening and nearly fifteen references to other anime are made, an average of one every ten seconds. Breathless to the point of near schizophrenia, the introduction to Seitokai no Ichizon crams in references to popular websites, itself, fandom, and is almost disparaging of its own existence. Hitting the ground with wheels spinning the first episode is raucous and laugh-out-loud hilarious to the point where one's jaw aches and mind reels with the barrage of anime culture references. That it slows down in the succeeding two episodes is a blessing although the threat of stagnation looms large.

This is poignancy by contrast as is so often the case with comedies

The Hekiyou School Council members are drafted in based on popularity which means the density of "cute" girls is high and the presence of a male all the more shocking - Sugisaki saw an opportunity to go for a harem ending (his words) and dragged his test scores from last to first in order to get an assured seat. The result is a chaotic group that takes pleasure in the act of doing very little while trading barbs and succumbing to their own vices. From the diminutive council leader, Sakurano, with a penchant for rabbit-shaped sweets to the icy cold Akaba with untold mental powers it's an oddball group who's chemistry tends to simmer rather than pop.

Read the rest of this entry

3 Episode Taste Test: Nyan Koi (Mew wuv / Cat love)

Ignoring the most obvious pussy jokes, Nyan Koi is an unabashed romantic comedy. The opening seconds are rife with familiarity: the sun streaming through classroom windows, a waif-like schoolgirl standing demurely opposite the rag-haired boy. Were it not over in a few seconds the temptation to turn it off in disgust would build to almost unbearable levels. To say the road has been well travelled would be an extreme understatement and all the kitschy hooks in the world aren't enough to save lazy writing and tired character types. Talking cats just don't provide the impetus necessary to last twelve episodes or more, especially when up occupying a genre dominated by heavyweights like the recent Toradora! and similarly veined Kannagi.

with blind faith being put into the local feline mob

The premise concerns Junpei's ability to communicate, Doctor Doolittle style, with cats after a mishap with a local feline shrine. His family's neck-scarf wearing cat speaks of a curse that can only be lifted if he helps one hundred "distressed" cats lest he turn into a cat himself - a fate he is sure would lead to his death given his allergic reaction to cats. This last fact is swiftly forgotten about by the third episode when it becomes obvious the modus operandi of the curse is to introduce and ingratiate Junpei with as many young ladies as is possible. In three episodes his skirt collection is already burgeoning and with a set of twins and an angry looking youth featured in the OP and ED still to come, the pieces are arranged for well-trodden tedium.

Read the rest of this entry

Queen's Blade

The production of a Queen's Blade anime builds on the fighting-fanservice genre championed by titles such as Ikkitousen and Tenjou Tenge and takes it to the most logical next step. The series, like the "visual combat books" preceding it, is a cynical marketing ploy, a multifaceted brothel catering to every fetish and deviance able to be safely sold to lonely, lewd or lascivious males. Discarding the comparatively coy allusions to naughtiness used in other series, Queen's Blade takes every opportunity to disrobe it's bevy of disproportionately curved females with frequent trips to hot springs, dunkings in hot oil or scattering any other liquid liberally on their persons.

This cavalcade of banality permeates the series from characters to plot

The series is perverse at it's best and represents the most saleable pornography possible: only just restraining itself from full-frontal nudity or explicit sex acts, still hiding behind outlandish situations or judiciously angled shots to retain the microscopic shred of dignity the protagonists may have. Eager not to be branded as cheap smut, there is a certain grotesque inventiveness to just how far character designs and scenes will be taken in order to eke out the most obvious innuendos or exploitive implications.

Please note: the remainder of this post contains images of nudity, if you are offended by these or are otherwise unable to view these images within your municipality due to laws or moral obligations, please do not proceed.

Read the rest of this entry