One of the odder bits of history for me is that the original series of Infinite Stratos broke me out of a slump with anime that had, until then, lasted for several months. It was brain-dead entertainment with few, if any, redeeming features and I was happy to assign watching it as aberrant behaviour. After all the story just ends without conclusion or explanation which isn’t surprising when it is the epitome of the harem setup; but whatever the first anime series did half-heartedly, the second (with the oh-so confusing title, Infinite Stratos 2) does with ferociously awful gusto.
just a hostage situation in a maid cafe and invites to fun-times at an amusement park
Not content with five girls all chasing the sole male, Ichika, two more are added (sisters, natch) and join the queue for wooing the dunderheaded lead. After all, this isn’t the story of a boy being able to pilot a heavily armed mechanical exoskeleton when only girls have been able to do it before. This isn’t even the story of a secret shadowy organisation trying to do… something nefarious. It’s about five, then seven, sexually frustrated girls trying to impose their own vision of lusty romance onto a boy whose obliviousness to their overtures borders on the mentally deficient. All the pesky and sporadically engaging CG combat just gets in the way of cooking for him! Or celebrating his birthday! Or going on play dates with him! Or just outright chasing him!
Screenshots aren’t going to sell you on the latest Yozakura Quartet anime: Hana no Uta (Song of Flowers). The borderline lazy and haphazard line work and wildly varying character styles between episodes will be enough to turn anyone with a jaded artistic eye away. If you actually watch it though, well the animation still errs on the side of janky, but aesthetic issues tend to ebb away when it becomes clear how refreshingly playful the thirteen episode series is.
a teenage ogre at odds with her power? Hey wait is that a witch in a pink mini-skirt?
This starts with a cast that is comprised of nothing less than a cat-eared telepath, a pair of terrifyingly strong ogre siblings, a half-demon who can summon objects with just a word and a nurse descended from Dr Frankenstein. Eclectic to say the least and the kind of barely restrained bedlam that constitutes interplay within the core group can range from dancing to a Wii fitness game during a town meeting to mock battles overseen by a lackadaisical town spirit.
The formula is all too familar: alien lands on earth, befriends local youth and romantic hijinks ensue. The opening episodes of Asobi ni iku yo! do nothing to tweak this formula beyond adding cat-ears and a tail to the buxom interplanetary interloper. The recent Ano Natsu de Materu at least kept things clean, here the feline Eris is disrobed and in the protagonist's bed within minutes. Seconds later and the domineering childhood friend arrives (how inconvenient!) and the quiet and traditional Japanese beauty follows shortly afterwards.
Those who, somewhat rightly, switch off after those episodes though would be missing what turns out to be a surprisingly entertaining romp through science fiction of old and a locale less travelled: Okinawa.
Hapless villagers: Why is she attacking us with potassium chloride?!
Dandy pirate: *evil cackle*
Hapless villagers: That outfit does not look conducive to piracy!
Animators: Who knew skeletons were so hard to animate?
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.
Anthropomorphisation in Japan is a time honoured tradition and part of its global exportation of "cute". Some view it with indifference, others disdain. In anime culture it has a long history beyond the days of "OS-tan" with different females representing the different available computer operating systems. Nowadays you'd be hard pressed not have had a run-in with such characters: trains, browsers, planets and vehicles to name but a few have been transformed into anime characters or, to use the vernacular: moefied.
This season of anime has popped up two shows notable for their anthropomorphisation: Haiyore! Nyarlko-san and Upotte! The former taking creatures from the stories of H.P. Lovecraft, the latter guns from the around the world. So in an attempt to compare apples to oranges: