A review of The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat anime
If you haven’t been hardened by the “singing” of idol groups like AKB48 then you’ll likely be clawing at your ears within seconds of the opening to Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko (The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat or, charmingly, just Stony Cat). So cloying and reprehensibly saccharine is the track that writing the whole series off as sycophantic fluff within minutes of the first episode would be easy. But like Sakurasou no Pet, Stony Cat’s worth is measured many episodes in rather than from gut reactions.
This isn’t to say that you need to wade through episode after episode of dross just to glimpse entertainment - there are plenty of madcap antics and brightly coloured shenanigans to go around. But the emotional and thematic heart of the series doesn’t come until several wishes in to the titular stone cat of the title.
Steins;Gate is a story of a broken, haunted man. It's not about time-travel as any summary of the plot would imply, that's just a vehicle for asking the question at its heart: how far would you go to save the ones you love? This isn't some tag-line stolen from the latest silver-screen offering from Hollywood but a measure of what is perhaps one of the most potently affecting and consistently brilliant series of recent memory.
he alone understands what transpired while everyone else is left only with echoes and phantoms
Eleven episodes in and you may be unconvinced as events have progressed in a solid if humdrum fashion. Lanky protagonist Rintarou is at first intensely difficult to like with his moronic fixation on being a "mad scientist" and frequent soliloquies about a shadowy "Organisation" stalking him from the shadows. Megalomania, check. But as he begins to gather females ("lab assistants") quicker than a trainer does Pokemon the banter between him, teen prodigy Makise, eternal do-gooder Mayuri and rotund hacker Taru begins to take on an endearing, familial tone.
Eureka Seven AO was never going to be as good as its progenitor, Eureka Seven. Very little since has been as unyieldingly brilliant as that 2005 masterpiece and few could hope to match its expansive, multifarious characters and story. That AO makes a good stab is, paradoxically, to be commended as well as lamented.
The story of Ao, a pariah on his own home island, joining up with a clandestine organisation to pilot a giant robot and battle similarly sized enemies is not new. The details of course are different and the background of political turmoil between Okinawa and Japan rumbles on while trapar - the nebulous green energy which allowed E7's robots to surf - is now mined as an energy source. For anyone with any familiarity with the original series then it's all a bit discombobulating; is this a prequel, sequel or alternate universe? Is it just another telling of the same story like the tonally wonky Pocket Full of Rainbows movie was?
It's fitting that in his introduction at the world premiere of Nerawareta Gakuen (literally: School In Peril, official: Psychic School Wars), Jonathan Clements mentioned that whenever The Girl Who Leapt Through Time is remade, so too is Nerawareta Gakuen. It's easy to see why: it has the same overall genre of a campus love comedy with strands of science fiction bubbling beneath it that makes the stories so endearing. Here though the time travel is a little woolier, the story a little more meandering and the visuals a whole lot more colourful.
skirts and stained glass windows, sunsets and sad songs
Were you to take the skies of a Makoto Shinkai work and push them through a high-powered kaleidoscope, you would be some of the way towards imagining how colourful and visually arresting the entire production is. This is not to say it is universally beautiful, although there is sublime artistry in every scene, but the lack of restraint is at times wearisome, dulling the eyes. What could be better than a classroom bathed in the evening sun? One with stained glass windows! And bubbles! All lovingly rendered and fully animated.