Spring 2012 is coming, attempting to wrap up Winter 2011.
This is not the Age of Aquarius. The first series of Aquarion was mediocre at best - surprising really given Yoko Kanno's duties on the soundtrack and the birth of what should have been a decent pop-star in the form of AKINO. EVOL comes after an ill-advised OVA and reboots the premise by retaining the giant robot consisting of separately piloted craft - think Getter Robo except with squeals of orgasmic delight from the female aviators - but amps up the ridiculous factor to eleven. The opening episodes are pleasing in how seriously the show doesn't take itself with a a male protagonist who floats on wings growing from his ankles when he has any naughty thoughts.
You don't come to Nisemonogatari (lit. Impostory) for the plot or characters, you come to it to watch an art director take an LSD trip through modernist architecture and a paint-palette orgy. You come for the in-jokes and the riffs on other media. You come to listen to what few other series ever dare to try: banter. And what banter. This is not the banal monologues which often pass for conversation but a shotgun approach to dialogue: sometimes funny, sometimes racy, othertimes just oblique.
Sometimes a specific element of a series becomes notorious, the murderous end to School Days for instance, and Yosuga no Sora (Sky of Connection) has its own as an epilogue to the first episode. Female masturbation isn't something certain facets of anime have shied away from but it poses the question of whether or not it's in good taste. Short answer: no. What puts the series into a different category of lewdness than other tasteless series such as Ikkitousen, Queen's Blade and Kanokon is that here the series makes a desperate attempt to tell a meaningful story of emotion and heartbreak the likes of which visual novels are renowned for.
It's all been done before though, and done better. The beige-grey palette will be familiar from Futakoi Alternative and though the characters avoid the most egregious archetypes, their motivations and reactions feel all too commonplace. That black undercurrent though, with plot threads such as the sister's incestuous obsession with her brother, feel far too forced. Their taboo nature magnified when the characters are still schoolchildren of indeterminate ages and maturity. More succinctly: it crosses the line between the self-knowing, head-shaking titillation of Ladies versus Butlers and into deviant fetishism and disquieting sexual territory.
The best thing The World God Only Knows has going for it is confusion. With its anti-social protagonist and dating-simulator slant, the series can't make up its mind as to whether it's an acerbic take on the two dimensional approach to dating-simulators, or a parody of the spate of story-reset-repeat visual novel adaptations that have spawned recently. Equally though, it could end up as neither and result in bland drivel that the first three episodes skirt dangerously close to.
It all starts so promisingly with Keima who, despite being obnoxious and reclusive, somehow isn't instantly repulsive - likely the effect of his dandy cravat. After a bubbly spirit girl drops into his life the story spanks along and seems to eschew common staples like the moving in ritual or the transferred into school ritual. Then the first episode ends with the girl transferring into his school and the next episode starts with her moving into his house. The series doesn't so much ignore genre tropes as delay them, then air them half apologetically.
An amnesiac girl falls to earth. Girls fight until their clothes fall off. A man stands pure and oblivious amidst a brothel's worth of females. A beleaguered viewer has seen it all before. Take your pick from Queen's Blade, Ikkitousen (any flavour) or Tenjou Tenge and Hyakka Ryouran Samurai Girls (Hundred Blooming Flowers Samurai Girls) will follow both logically and thematically. The premise is simple and familiar: put as much flesh on display as frequently as possible with only a hastily scrawled story to keep it legitimate.
The series' aesthetic draw beyond the curvaceous dolls on parade is the odd blend of chunky, flat characters against abstract watercolour backgrounds which expertly evoke ancient Japanese vistas. So too does the ethos of the characters, steeped in the bushido code of the samurai, the chaste speak of honour and fealty to their master while the unclean employ subterfuge and dirty tactics - as well as servicing their fickle master's sexual whims. It could easily be taken as naive patriotic propaganda with the opening episode's exposition of weapon-wielding girls taking down squadrons of World War 2 planes.