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!
In a world where tanks are a part of everyday life, and pre-UN countries send teenage girls out in war machines to fight not to the death, but to the white flag, one rag-tag team will face their toughest opponent yet. Can they overcome all the odds, work as a team and deal with all of their various family issues and rise to the top?
Of course they can. Girls Und Panzer is an underdog story with just about every trope from the genre ticked off. Think Cool Runnings as an anime, except tanks instead of bobsleds. The knowledge that the girls of Oorai High School can't lose - at least not always in conventional terms - should make this a by the numbers affair. That it manages to be not only supremely entertaining but equally tense and heartfelt speaks volumes for a familiar idea well implemented.
Your enjoyment of Vividred Operation can be accurately measured by whether you prefix "bums" with "little girl" in the phrase "it's full of bums". Thankfully you don't need to wait long for an answer as it's a scant twenty seconds into the first episode before a sunrise from the top of the Tokyo Sky Tree is framed between the legs and crotch of the series' antagonist. You can switch off right there (advisable if your screen is in any way publicly visible) and be safe in the knowledge that the series doesn't get much better.
the smaller the girl, the bigger the hammer
As an entry into the "magical girl" genre it feels a lot like painting by numbers. Spunky and earnest protagonist that acts as the lynchpin of the group? Check. Antagonist who must be won over by the all-encompassing power of friendship? Check. Colour coded sentai team? Check. And yes, red is the leader. Everyone knows that.
Blood-C had a an inauspicious start. Schoolgirl, dark secret, monster of the week, yada-yada. The Blood franchise itself has never been overly inspiring with the original movie a notable exception but the subsequent fifty episode TV series (Blood+) and various multimedia spin-offs remained largely forgettable. It seemed that even with CLAMP's golden touch on character designs and story could not save Blood-C from malignment or misunderstandings.
The Last Dark has its work cut out for it then: try and sate the thin end of the wedge of those who grew to like the series, or try and attract an audience that might not otherwise entertain the franchise any more. For a while at least, the movie seems to satisfy both.
It's probable that Bodacious Space Pirates isn't what you expect. Based off the imaginatively titled Miniskirt Space Pirates light novel, this is not cute girls drinking tea in space. Well, not all of the time.
The series starts divisively enough by explaining the finer points of course plotting and the minutiae of electronic warfare between space vessels, hammering home the point with an encounter concluded through abstract blobs moving about on a computer screen and the futuristic equivalent of touch typing. It's an approach that nestles between the hard science-fiction of Sekai no Senki and the bombast of Nadesico.