The Winter 2014 Anime Preview Guide
Super Sonico The Animation

Bamboo Dong

Rating: 2  (out of 5)


Considering Super Sonico's origins as a heavily-endowed, usually half-naked mascot for Nitroplus, whose existence serves to primarily fuel the sale of body pillows, padded mousepads (whose embellishments alternate between her voluptuous breasts, and her equally voluptuous ass), and figures, one can't be terribly shocked or offended that the inevitable Super Sonico: The Animation is largely a collage of Sonico doing cutesy things, or jamming her rear into a camera.

On the cutesy side of things, we learn a few things about Sonico: she loves cats (of course), has a half dozen animal-shaped alarm clocks (of course), and is charmingly always late to school (naturally). It's standard character stereotype fluff, even down to Sonico's love for sweets. Over the course of the episode, we also learn that she's a gravure model, works at her grandma's restaurant, and also sings and plays in a band. None of it is particularly interesting or note-worthy, but one has to remind themselves constantly that Sonico isn't meant to be a three-dimensional character. Her personality traits and hobbies are less about her as a character, as they are built-in reasons to sell merchandise of her in different outfits and scenarios. Sonico wearing a waitress uniform? No problem. Sonico playing the guitar? Of course. It's a cash cow, borne from a cash cow, and to expect differently would be naïve.

That having been said, commercialism aside, Super Sonico is simply not interesting. It doesn't have enough fanservice (aside from the cheesy gravure scene in which she poses in a white bikini for what feels like five minutes) to really justify being called a pure fanservice show, nor does it give viewers any indication of why they should adore Sonico as much as the many auxiliary characters in the show. Super Sonico may perhaps be "super," but "how?" or "why?" are questions not bothered answered.

While the show is blasé and simple, it can't actually be said that it's particularly bad. If anything, it's just boring, given that it's basically just a 23-minute promo for a mascot. Perhaps later, we'll learn that "Nico-chan" really does have a host of problems, and that she'll have to overcome some kind of difficulty, other than having to perpetually wear a heavy set of headphones. Until then, it's all fluff and no substance.

Super Sonico the Animation is available streaming on Crunchyroll.

Theron Martin

Rating: 1 (of 5)

Super Sonico has been the mascot for game software company Nitroplus and their annual live music festivals since 2006, so naturally she deserves her own series. And we all know how well series about mascot characters work. (See Rio – Rainbow Gate!) This one's first episode only further proves that one needs much more than a basic character gimmick on which to build a series.

Super Sonico (she has no other apparent name) is a voluptuous, pink-haired, 18 year old college student whose trademark is that she always wears a stylized set of headphones which do not seem to interfere at all with her ability to hear. (In probably the first episode's most amusing moment, a picture shows her wearing them even as a toddler.) She is virtually a walking amalgamation of moe traits all wrapped up in a big-breasted, big-hipped body: she has trouble functioning in the morning because of low blood sugar (which of course often makes her late to class),  helps out her grandmother at a restaurant, plays guitar in an all-girl band called First Astronomical Velocity, and still finds time to look after five cats and be an ace student. And naturally she does gravure modeling, too, because the series has to show off her ample figure.

And that's where the biggest problem with the series lies: she is so perfectly tuned to be a lovable character that she's boring. Since the series really has nothing to it beyond her, that makes the first episode boring, too. It tries to make up for it by having her manager being this oni mask-wearing freak, but that joke will get old really fast. Even the fan service isn't all that great because the character designs are, frankly, not all that attractive and the artistic effort is nothing to speak of; the closing performance number certainly will not be favorably compared to ENOZ in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, for instance. Studio White Fox has had some great successes the last few years (The Devil is a Part-Timer, Jormungand, Katanagatari, Steins:Gate), but this will not be numbered among them.

Super Sonico The Animation is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

Carl Kimlinger

Rating: 1.5

Review: This is an easy one. If you want to know if Soni-Ani is meant for you, answer these two questions: 1. Do you know who Super Sonico is? 2. Do you love Super Sonico beyond all human reason? If you answered yes to those questions, chances are pretty good that you'll enjoy Soni-Ani. Chances are also pretty good that you're not bothering to read this. On the other hand, if you answered no to one or both, then there's simply no reason to watch this limp, syrupy trifle.

For those not in the know, Super Sonico is a mascot character devised by the visual novel company Nitroplus to promote their music division. As imagined by this series, she's smart and hardworking but a bit of a natural airhead. She loves cats, loves her idol-industry work, and does well at college. Her defining features are her bright pink hair, massive bust, and ever-present earphones. The episode itself details an average Sonico day as she sleeps in and rushes to school, does a photo shoot, works at her grandmother's restaurant, and meets up with her bandmates to try out a new song.

All of which is excruciatingly boring while simultaneously being hideously sweet. Sonico is so blindingly pure, so innocent and trusting and helpful and smart and good, that not for one moment do you buy her as a person and not a manufactured marketing ploy. The scenes of Sonico charming preschoolers and being swarmed by loving kittens have you gagging on sugar, and the phoniness of the entire enterprise infects her life at every turn. If you must have a balanced accounting, there are a few decent jokes—you have to laugh at Sonico's baby pictures; apparently she was born with those headphones on—but honestly there's nothing else to recommend the show. Even the fan-service is rote and wooden.

Super Sonico the Animation is available streaming at Crunchyroll.

Rebecca Silverman

Rating: 1.5  (out of 5)


Sonico is something of a pink-haired wonder – she's an ace student of marine biology, she plays in a band, she works as a model, and she helps her gran out at the family restaurant each and every day. She also was apparently born with headphones on, so she has to set four alarm clocks and keep five cats to make sure she gets up each day, so perhaps she isn't perfect after all. But gosh darn it, she's so cute!

...and that's pretty much it. Yep, Sonico's cute. Look at her, doing cute things and being cute. Aw, how cute. While it isn't entirely surprising that a show based on a mascot character with little backstory of her own is light on the plot, it certainly didn't have to be that way. Had the writers picked one of her aspects and focused on that, we might have had an interesting story about a college student, a model, a guitarist, or a waitress. But instead what we have is a mishmash of things designed to make us go “awww” and twenty-four minutes of looking at Sonico's bust or thighs. (Mostly the latter – this show loves its round, plump thighs.) It really does feel like a waste, and it was the first episode this season that had me checking how many more minutes were left.

For all of that, I really do like that Sonico is a university student rather than a NEET or a high schooler, and the fact that despite her chronic lateness she's a good student is also a plus. She may have been born with headphones on (did I mention how annoying that is in her character design?), she may have trouble getting out the door in one go, but she is not stupid. She's also apparently a competent plain cook and guitarist, so if given the chance, she could have been (or become) a well-rounded character.

So really, perhaps the issue here is not that Sonico began her life as a cute mascot character – it is that no effort was made to take her beyond that. The seeds of a better character and an actual plot are there, it is only that no one bothered to water them, even with their drool as they looked at the heroine in a barely-there bikini.

Super Sonico the Animation is available streaming at Crunchyroll.

Zac Bertschy

Rating: 1 out of 5


It's a day in the life of Sonico-chan! She's a pink-haired marvel with enormous tits and equally enormous headphones seemingly welded to the sides of her helium-filled head who can't go more than a couple seconds without everyone she encounters telling her how wonderful she is, which really gets in the way of her 4 or 5 different jobs. She's a cat hoarder, a student, a gravure idol, a waitress at her grandmother's restaurant, and the lead guitarist for cutsey anime girl band First Astronomical Velocity, which has the amazing superpower of transforming into cheaply-animated 3D models when they start playing their instruments. Lovably clumsy and forever late for her next appointment, Sonico-chan stumbles through her busy busy day while everyone stands around and talks about how great she is. Oh, Sonico-chan! WE ALL LOVE YOU SO MUCHHHHHH

It's not all cute kitties, moe noises and hyperactive encouragement, though - during her bikini photo shoot session for a boob magazine, the producer tries to get her to try on an outfit even skimpier than her trademark paper-thin white two-piece, an act which summons her manager, a scary guy in a monster mask who lets the producer know that such a thing is against Sonico's contract. This is as close to "conflict" as the show gets.

So apparently Super Sonico was previously just a mascot character for software company Nitroplus, but proved popular enough to expand into manga and her own videogames. Now we have this show, which is effectively 22 minutes or so of everyone plus the camera worshiping Sonico over and over and over again. She can do no wrong and is beloved and desired by all. There's nothing else to this. The animation's passable but nothing to write home about and the color palette looks like every other bright 'n shiny fanservice fest out there. Weirdly I'm reminded of Rio - Rainbow Gate!, but even that had more of an actual story than this thing does. If you were already a huge fan of Super Sonico and just wanted to see something, anything resembling a TV anime starring her, maybe this will do it for you, but the rest of us will just wonder what in the world the point of this show is other than SONICO IS SO GREAT ISN'T SHE GREAT GUYS MAN THAT SONICO HOO BOY SHE SURE IS THE BEE'S KNEES

I mean, I don't think she can even take those stupid heaphones off. They look like medical headwear. I wonder if it's some kind of strange condition, where if she slides them off her insides will start to leak out of her ears, and she'll deflate like an unwanted balloon. Let me know if that happens later.

Super Sonico the Animation is available streaming at Crunchyroll.

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