The Summer 2004 Anime Preview Guideby Rachael Carothers & Ronald J. Duncan,
Here's your Summer 2004 Anime Preview Guide, brought to you by Ronald and Rachael. Please remember that these opinions are solely based on the first episode of each series. While it's possible they may improve (or get worse) as the series progresses, we're not time travelers and can't see that far into the future. If you'll please return your trays and seatbacks to their upright positions, we can now begin our descent into the new anime season. Thank you for reading, and we hope you'll fly with us again.
Synopsis: Alice is an 11 year old girl. She's an elementary student who is sick of her ordinary life and thinks about how nice it would be to be able to use magic. One day, she wandered into a magical world she'd only seen in her dreams. There, Alice met two apprentice witches named Eva and Sheila. It was decided that she would learn magic with them. Now, what adventures await Alice in this world of magic?
His Opinion: Although the premise of a girl traveling to another world and gaining the ability to do magic isn't exactly an original concept, there is something inherently different about this series. The story, combined with the highly unusual art style is more than enough to draw you in. As it unfolds, it takes you into a world filled with magic, and we are immediately introduced to a young girl named Alice who has just arrived from the human world.
Considering the short length of the episode, I found this to be well paced. It offers the perfect balance in giving you just enough to keep you interested, without giving so much away that you really can decide if you like it or not. As far as the artwork goes, I couldn't decide at first if it was ugly or beautiful. In the end, I had to go with the latter. It carries a mix of something almost nostalgic and something modern at the same time. I found Alice to be a fun character and from what I've seen so far, a strong supporting cast as well. With a story involving apprentice witches, and a mischievous human girl who is out of place being given the opportunity to become one, it can lead to all sorts interesting situations.
Her Opinion: Alice wants nothing more than for her boring life to change into a magical one. Assuming, of course, that magic automatically means fun and happiness. There hasn't been anything truly magical happenings yet, but I have high hopes. Since the series seems to take place in a witches' school, I imagine that there will be a ton of spells on the way.
I quickly fell in love with Tweeny Witches. It has extremely beautiful animation, which is most apparent during the broom-flying scenes. The background music fits in so well that it's almost unnoticeable. Even the voices fit the characters to a T. With 10 minute episodes, this is one you most definitely should not pass up.
Synposis: Kenzou Tenma, a Japanese brain surgeon in Germany, had it all: incredible skill at his work, a rich and beautiful fiancée, and a promising career at his hospital. However, after becoming disenchanted by hospital politics, he chose to save the life of a young boy who got shot in the head over the life of the mayor. As a result he lost the support of the hospital director, as well as his position in the hospital and his fiancée. A short time later, the hospital director and the doctors that replaced him were murdered, and once again he was catapulted back onto the top. But as the chief suspect of the murders, Tenma did not get an easy life. As a matter of fact, it seems that the boy he saved was much more than he had appeared to be... Now to clear his name and to correct his past mistake, Tenma must get to the bottom of these and other murders, and investigate the truth of the Monster who is behind all of this.
His Opinion: You know it's going to be a bright and cheerful story when they open with a (slightly revised) quote from the book of Revelation. The first piece of music, "Grain" is also fantastic, and also helps set the perfect tone for the series.
I love the use of the hospital politics, especially Dr. Tenma's reaction when he realizes he could have saved a patient who died because he didn't get the proper treatment. His fiancée is no better, when she so nonchalantly speaks of lives not being equal. Later, when Dr. Tenma winds up in a similar situation, I love the contrast in his decision to go against the hospital director, and I await to see how it affects his bright future. It's even possible that public opinion will play into the politics given who the boy was that he did operate on. I have my doubts about this however, given the small preview for the second episode and the foreboding atmosphere of the story.
In the end, with the way the story has started, the somber background music, and how well written the story and characters are, topped off by outstanding animation done by Madhouse, I think this is easily one of the best series of the new season.
Her Opinion: Politics versus morality. It almost always makes for a good plot. The animation is fairly ugly but I believe that it was intended to bring you back to the rawness of Dr. Tenma's internal conflicts. While I don't find anything in the show aesthetically pleasing, I completely understand why it was done that way. In my opinion, the animators didn't want people focusing on the prettiness of the characters. If you take out “The Pretty,” all you are left with is the plot. Hopefully the plot comes through despite such a heavy burden on its shoulders.
In the beginning, his life is ideal. He has a well-paying job that uses his natural talents, a seemingly loving fiancée and the backing of his superiors. However, he quickly finds out that he is being used by his superiors to perform on the wealthier patients and that his fiancée is a lot more self-centered than he had known. When he finds out how unfair hospital politics can be, he tears himself apart trying to decide if he wants to keep living this way or if he wants to follow his heart and help the people who need him, not just the people who can pay. I'm intrigued by the possibility of where the show could go but if it doesn't add more than just the regular hospital politics, it could get boring very quickly.
Synopsis: In a city where anyone can carry any types of firearms, violent crimes run rampant. Stuck in the middle of this world is Kyohei, a young man with dreams of becoming a pastry technician. His first goal is to save enough money so he can study abroad. A friend tells him about a well-paying job offer for a personal chef. Unbeknownst to him, the employers are a group of vigilante women. Will he be able to get enough money to study abroad before something kills him?
His Opinion: Bakuretsu Tenshi really only has two things going for it. The visuals are superb, but this is unsurprising, considering Gonzo's talents. I also enjoyed the background music. It completed the feel for the urban setting, and truly gave the action sequences a thrilling effect.
Everything else is fairly mediocre. First we have a cook who doesn't even appear in the OP animation sequence. Considering the amount of screen time he has in the first episode, it's hard to make out what his role is supposed to be. If he's not going to be a major player, then they spent far too much time developing him. Worse yet, if they were using him for an excuse to have us meet the girls, then they took too long to introduce the true main characters, and we really have no reason to be interested in them. To top it off, the girls are sterotypical. We have our "mother figure", the hot-tempered redhead, the blue haired "no personality" and our lolicon hacker. Is there even a point in trying to make all the girls look sexy, especially Amy who looks like she's been hit with an ugly stick? The costumes come off as equally unimaginitive and stereotypical as the cast.
In the end, although the visuals are impressive, the writing is lacking, the characters are stereotypical, and the scenarios are overdone. I just can't recommend this one, even for the fanservice. It's reaching to be something, but it has no idea what it wants to be, or where it wants to go.
Her Opinion: From the opening sequence, you can tell that this is a Gonzo production. Their gorgeous animation style is hard to miss. Even in the opening scene, the background alone is just amazing. When you add in the characters and the action-packed background music, everything fits together perfectly.
The biggest problem lies with the characterizations. There's the stereotypical mean girl, violent girl, cute girl, responsible girl and the boy that doesn't know what to make of any of them. From the viewer's standpoint, I can completely understand why Kyohei doesn't understand the girls. The plot tells you absolutely nothing about them except that Jo likes to shoot stuff. There are hints that something deeper lies beneath but even those hints point to the Bubblegum Crisis plotline. I'm interested to see where this is heading. However, if some explanations don't start coming, I can't see how this show will go very far.
KONO MINIKUKU MO UTSUKUSHII
Synopsis: Takemoto Takeru, an ordinary high schooler, encounters a strange light during a bike delivery for his part time job. When he stops and searches the surrounding, he observes in the forest a cute girl named Hikari climbing out of a sparkling cocoon. Takeru instantly falls for her at first sight, but suddenly a monster appears at the same spot and attacks the girl. This describes the exciting days of the mysterious girl Hikari and Akari, Takeru's childhood friend Nishino Mari and his classmates, who all come onto the scene. Actually these are just ordinary days, but in Hikari's point of view, they are wonderful.
His Opinion: When a series starts at the beginning talking about extinction, you know it's going to come from a more serious point of view. For the first time in awhile, Gainax has decided to revive the imperfect hero. I found Takeru likable though, simply because if you understand his introspection, it's not that he's lazy, but instead he's only interested in doing things HE can do that will make a difference. He's just not sure what that is.
After going through the motions to lead us to his meeting with Hikari, he finally finds his purpose. It becomes a matter of protecting her. The transformation sequence he has is one of the more interesting ones in awhile as well. I was surprised by the pure joy he had in delving out the raw violence he had as he was putting down the monster that had attacked them. What was frightening however was the brief glimpse at Hikari's dual natured personality. Seeing the sadistic look on her face and the eye color change is intriguing and leaves you wanting to know more. To add to this, little is explained why Ryo's sketch early on in the episode looked like Hikari. The first episode leaves you with more questions than answers and definetly draws you in.
While Mahoromatic and Abenobashi suffered from pointless fanservice, this one appears to have lightened up a bit. This time around, it looks to take a more balanced approach and keeps it regulated to where it seems appropriate. The background music and OP theme song are top notch, and the series is well animated. The story has yet to really unfold, but it has taken strides in going back to the days when Gainax produced better work. This is easily the best work Gainax has done in the past few years. The only nitpicks I have as well. The ED theme is too cutesy for the rest of the series. The other is that Hikari's character is too similiar to Mahoro in that they are both of questionable origin, so using Ayako Kawasumi for both characters may have not been the best idea. Based on the credits for the rest of the characters as well, a change in the voice cast would have been in order.
Her Opinion: A GAINAX show with a weird beginning. Who would have thought? In the introduction scene, they talk about extinction but it doesn't really go anywhere in the first episode. Nevertheless, the animation is decent. While I didn't notice any flaws with it, there wasn't anything to make it stand out either. Looking back on some of the music, the opening and ending songs seem a little too peppy for such a depressing first episode.
The worst part is the annoying characters. Takeru doesn't want to do anything because he feels that he has something more important to do. He just doesn't know what that is and when he finds it, he doesn't want do to that either. Ryou is way too trusting of people. All of the girls complain all the time. Takeru's uncle is seemingly an alcoholic and his aunt seems to think that's just fine. Then they add in the alien girl, Hikari, who spends her part of the episode either nearly naked or entirely naked. And, of course, there's the monster that attacks them. I found myself thinking of Blue Seed and Devilman for a majority of the last half of the episode. GAINAX has a reputation for putting out decent series, which is the only reason I'm even thinking about watching more of this. Hopefully, it'll get better over the next few episodes.
MIDORI NO HIBI
Synopsis: High school delinquent Seiji Sawamura is desperate to have a girlfriend, especially after being rejected by 20 girls as of late. He's afraid that he will end his life with his right hand as his only companion. Apparently, that doesn't change when one day when he wakes up and discovers that his right hand has become a girl named Midori Kasugano, who confesses that she has had a crush on him for the last three years.
His Opinion: When I first heard about this concept, my brain snapped. I wanted to know where the stash of drugs were being kept. As I watched the episode though, I was able to laugh pretty hard. Seiji has one of the funniest imaginations I've ever seen.
Seiji loses his "devil's right hand" and has it replaced with a miniaturized version of a girl who confesses her love for him. Considering he's been unlucky in love, this doesn't exactly balance things out. Instead, this brings new meaning to his right hand being his only lover. I can't help but enjoy where this can go.
If nothing else though, it earns points for originality. The story is driven more on scenarios rather than developing the characters, but comedies are like that. Having had the opportunity to read some of the manga ahead of time, I already had expectations for this show. It's almost strange and bizarre enough to work. I'm also pleased that it didn't take unnecessary trips down ecchi lane. Let's hope the anime follows suit. It's a good solid comedy this season, if you can go for somewhat mindless fun.
Her Opinion: What in the WORLD did I just watch? The lead male character, Seiji, is a guy with the reputation for fighting. When he can't find a girl to date him, he wishes for ANY girlfriend and somehow the girl that actually DOES like him, Midori, turns into his right hand. Now he is left trying to find a way to fix this while not letting any one else find out about it.
This is very disturbing. Midori doesn't find a single thing wrong with being Seiji's hand. After all, she gets to be with the guy she likes. I'm thinking that this is going to turn into one of those “WTF” shows. Since the plotline revolves around the girl-hand situation, I can't see how this is going to get any better than the first episode. Though I suppose it would be good for those times when you just need a laugh.
Synopsis: Kippei Katakura is a high school playboy who would flirt with any girl he sees. His life was turn upside down when one day, his 5-year old cousin Yuzuyu shows up at his house after her mother abandoned her. And now, Kippei has been handed the task of taking care of Yuzuyu for the time being, and he must learn how to become the "mother" that Yuzuyu needs.
His Opinion: We start of with Kippei who seems to be a popular guy, and plenty of girls want him. And of course, like any happy-go-lucky high school guy, he likes to play around and be irresponsible. Of course, following the traditions of such guys, there is always the one girl (Kokoro) who seems to see right through him. This in turn causes him to wonder about her. It also probably doesn't hurt that the rest of the girls at school seem like airheads who will fall for any line. Given the opening animation, I suspect it will be up to Super Preschooler Yuzu! to help bring them together. Although I saw some predictability to the series, it doesn't make it bad at all. Because he's now in this situation of having to take care of a five-year-old girl, it will obviously cause him to mature, and in turn, Kokoro's going to take a second look.
I only found a couple of problems with this series. With all the other adults around who can take care of Yuzu, they give it up to somebody in high school? Are the rest of the adults that incompetent? Sure, wise choice. I'll give Kippei points for this, he says it's like a soap opera, and he's right on the mark. There was one area in there that instead of coming off as amusing, really just came off as being wrong. Why was his older sister implying he shouldn't have things turn into a lolicon situation? Was that really necessary? Because of this, in the ending scene, when Yuzu sleeps in his bed, I found that to be completely inappropriate. I also wasn't a big fan of the animation as I found it to be inconsistent at times.
For fans who are seeking something realistic, I really must suggest this one. Here, there are situations that are more likely to happen than in your standard soap opera fare. I've had some similar things happen within my extended family as well, so I can relate to this series on a completely different level. If you are the type enjoy a decently written story, and something that tugs at the heart, I'd recommend checking this out instead.
Her Opinion: This show is just so cute! Like many other series, this will probably turn into a “bad guy goes good” plotline but so far, they have taken the right approach to it. You have Kippei, who likes trying to kiss just about every woman who bats an eyelash at him, being forced to take care of the adorable Yuzu. (Really, I didn't see the other family members as viable options as her caretaker. They didn't seem all that concerned about Yuzu's well-being over their own personal inconvenience.)
Everything about the show is so cute... but cute in the good way, not the “I'm gonna go puke now” way. The animation flows well and the all the music fits with it. Some of the adults have their ‘ugly’ moments but that can be quickly overlooked when you see how cute Yuzu is. I hope that the writers are able to accurately portray how a small child can change your life completely. This is definitely a show I'll keep watching.