by Paul Jensen,
Earlier in the season, I noted that I was trying to keep up with around a dozen shows (not counting the ones I'm doing episode reviews for), and I wondered if I'd be able to keep up with them all. Well, we're in the home stretch and I'm still staying current with the majority of them. I've dropped a couple and I'm playing catch-up on Haikyu, but it's still full steam ahead (or would that be full stream ahead?) for everything else. I'm not sure if I should be proud of myself or if I just need to get out of my apartment more often. Either way, welcome to Shelf Life.
Jump to this week's review:
On Shelves This Week
Synopsis: After moving to Tokyo, Misaki Suzuhara gets swept up in a high-tech sport where competitors use their thoughts to control robotic dolls.
Extra: Much like last week, the retail sites have a couple of items listed that we don't have specific encyclopedia pages for yet, so the title links for those sets will take you to the main show pages. This series came out in individual DVD volumes back in the day, and we've got reviews of a couple of those here and here.
Synopsis: Mikado's true intentions are revealed when Masaomi confronts him about his plan to end the Dollars organization.
Synopsis: When the Shinsengumi are betrayed and forced to leave Edo, Chizuru must decide whether or not to stay true to her oath and Hijikata must master his newfound powers.
Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Heart Throb - Complete Collection [Limited Edition] BD
Sentai - 325 min - Hyb - MSRP $149.98
Currently cheapest at: $90.74 Barnes and Noble
Synopsis: Just when Yuta thinks he has his relationship with Rikka figured out, an old acquaintance from his chunibyo past appears and claims to be his soul mate.
Extra: While we don't have any reviews for this sequel season, you can read my thoughts on the special edition of season 1 along with a couple of other reviews. Both seasons are available on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and The Anime Network.
Synopsis: The members of Luffy's crew try to reunite after the battle at Marineford, but Luffy is unsure of what to do after receiving conflicting advice from Rayleigh.
Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace - Complete Collection BD+DVD
Funimation - 275 min - Hyb - MSRP $64.98
Currently cheapest at: $45.49 Right Stuf
Synopsis: Middle school student Kobayashi volunteers to become an assistant to the brilliant detective Akechi in order to help solve a series of gruesome murders.
The Legend of the Legendary Heroes - Complete Collection [S.A.V.E.] BD+DVD
Funimation - 625 min - Hyb - MSRP $34.98
Currently cheapest at: $24.49 Right Stuf
Synopsis: A powerful magician named Ryner and his sword-wielding partner Ferris are sent on a quest to find a set of legendary artifacts known as Heroic Relics.
Yamibo: Darkness, the Hat, and Travelers of the Books - Complete Collection BD
Media Blasters - 325 min - Sub - MSRP $39.99
Currently cheapest at: $26.61 Barnes and Noble
Synopsis: When her adopted sister disappears in a flash of light, Hazuki joins forces with a mysterious young woman to follow her from one strange world to another.
Shelf Life Reviews
After having my expectations thoroughly upended by Hana Yori Dango last week, I ended up getting exactly what I expected from Omamori Himari this week. The ol' review schedule can be funny like that sometimes.
The show's protagonist, Yuuto Amakawa, is a relatively ordinary guy who happens to be the distant descendant of a clan of demon hunters. That monster-hunting heritage doesn't have much of an effect on Yuuto's life until his old lucky charm runs out of protective magic and vengeful demons start trying to kill him. The good news is that a sword-wielding cat spirit named Himari quickly arrives on the scene to protect him from the baddies. The bad news is that Yuuto is seriously allergic to cats, which could be a serious problem now that he has a flirtatious cat-girl hanging around him day and night.
In terms of narrative structure, Omamori Himari is very much your standard-issue harem comedy. As a bland but well-meaning hero with hidden powers, Yuuto inevitably finds himself surrounded by a variety of supernatural ladies who all compete for his affections. Even if you're not overly familiar with the genre, most of the plot points are remarkably easy to predict. The one upside of sticking so closely to the usual formula is that Omamori Himari is able to blitz through its opening exposition at a genuinely impressive pace. By the end of the first episode, Himari has already saved Yuuto from a demon, moved into his house, transferred into his school, and started a romantic rivalry with his childhood friend. I think this might be the first harem comedy I've seen that's managed to get to the inevitable beach vacation in its second episode.
Despite the inescapable feeling of “been there, done that,” the romantic comedy antics are still reasonably entertaining. The show knows it's treading familiar ground, so it manages to poke fun at itself from time to time. The fanservice is plentiful (I lost count of the number of panty shots within the first fifteen minutes), but it tends to be more dumb and goofy than outright sleazy. The legion of girls vying for Yuuto's heart cover a pretty wide range of character archetypes without being overly annoying, and a couple of scenes even manage to be mildly sweet. Himari makes for a solid “demon girl with a dark side” heroine, and haughty demon slayer Kuesu has her moments as well. As long as you don't ask too much of it, Omamori Himari generally gets the job done as light entertainment.
The only time the series really loses me is when it falls into the all-too-common trap of trying to get serious in its last few episodes. Actual bad guys show up, people's lives are in danger, and the show asks the audience to genuinely care about whether or not Yuuto can learn to use his powers. The final story arc isn't especially bad, but it's clearly not what the series is good at. Rather than trying to raise the stakes at the last minute, I'd much rather see a show like this stick to its strengths and stay light and silly all the way. There's nothing wrong with having a flashy final battle, but there's no need to abandon the goofy humor that's carried the rest of the series up to that point.
Even if you cut it some slack for being seven years old, Omamori Himari is thoroughly ordinary from a technical standpoint. The character designs are starting to show their age, and the animation is nothing to write home about outside of a couple flashes of ambition during the action scenes. The music is very by-the-book for the genre, complete with a cutesy ending theme sung by the cast. This DVD-only release is sparse compared to most of Funimation's recent releases, with minimal extras and no dub. The transparent DVD case does at least allow for a reversible cover, which is a nice touch.
If you're in the market for a harem comedy, Omamori Himari is good enough to get the job done. Don't expect it to go rocketing to the top of your all-time favorites, but it's a decent way to kill a few hours. If this genre isn't your thing, then you can safely skip it and feel secure in the knowledge that you're not missing anything incredible. This is a Rental title in every sense of the rating, but sometimes that's OK. There's room in the world for the occasional “ordinary” show.
That wraps up this week's review section. Thanks for reading!
This week's shelves are from Samson S:
"I've been holding off sending my shelf in but I think after 2 years of collecting it's finally worthy to show off. I've watched anime off and on for the past ten years. I'd go through long periods where life was too busy to stick to one show. But now I'm at a point in my life where I have plenty of time to watch and collect anime. The majority of my collection is Blu-ray, I only have a few dvd's. Genre wise I try to keep a good range of everything from moe to mecha. I'm also I big fan of soundtracks and have quite a few. I'm not too big into reading Manga but I do have some of my select favorites. Lastly I have two Nymph figures (Heaven's Lost Property) because she is my waifu.
Thanks for all you do at ANN! I love reading your reviews. Here's to empty wallets and top ramen for dinner, cheers!"
I'm right there with you on the soundtracks, as there's some really good stuff out there. I only wish it was a little easier to buy the CDs here in the States. Thanks for sharing your collection, and I'm glad to hear you enjoy the reviews!
All I want for Christmas is some more collections to show off in this segment. If you've got a shelf full of anime and manga goodness, send me your photos at [email protected]!
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