First look, last look

I recently sampled some of the winter and spring anime series. A few are watchable, but there’s no Dennou Coil or Madoka Magica among them. Mouretsu Pirates remains the only one I can unhesitatingly recommend, and I classify it as “light entertainment,” albeit an unusually well-executed example.

*****

I picked up the first disc of the original, quarter-century-old Saint Seiya to fill out an order in one of RightStuf’s 25-for-$100 sales. I made it though the first episode. The armor was pretty and the hair impressive, but the story was pure dumb shounen. Has the franchise improved any over the years? Nope. This is as far as I got in Saint Seiya Omega:

Jack London could not be reached for comment.

*****

I launched the first episode of the new, upgraded version of Nyarko-san to see if it was any better than the abysmal Flash shorts inflicted upon us two years ago. Within five minutes, the male lead stuck a fork into the wrist of the cute crawling chaos. The hell with it.

*****

I’ve been curious about a card game that occasionally turns up in such anime as Animal Yokocho, where it is called “100 poets.” Exactly how it played is not clear there or anywhere else I’ve seen it. It turns out to be uta-garuta, one of the many forms of karuta β€” sort of a literary hybrid of slapjack and concentration. A hundred cards bearing the last two lines of short poems are laid out on the playing surface. Someone reads cards from a second set bearing the complete poems, and each player tries to be the first to find the card bearing the ending lines of the poem being read.

It might be a pleasant diversion to devise an English-language version of the game, if someone hasn’t already done so. Variations come to mind β€” silly limericks for children, other limericks for adults, lyrics from the Great American Songbook, etc.

Competitive karuta is the gimmick of Chihayafuru, yet another damned series about quirky high school students. Unfortunately, I didn’t last long enough to see any card action. The josei art style didn’t appeal to me and none of the characters caught my interest. Jonathan watched the entire show and liked it quite a bit, so I might give it a second chance.

*****

I did make it all the way through the first episode of Ozma, which apparently has nothing to do with L. Frank Baum. As with Saint Seiya Omega, the character designs are appealingly old-style. So is everything else, except not quite so appealing. It’s set in a wasteland Earth, where competing quasi-military groups are interested in a Mysterious Woman. Giant whales swim deep in the desert sands; one of the commanders relies on tarot cards; there’s lots of shouting and shooting; I’m starting to lose interest. Maybe I’ll watch more. Maybe I won’t.

*****

The first episode of Polar Bear Cafe focused on a lazy panda’s less-than-wholehearted attempts to find a job. I generally don’t find slackers amusing, and I didn’t find it particularly funny. I believe the next episode concerns a penguin with money problems. I’ll see how that is and then decide whether to keep watching. If Polar Bear Cafe does turn out to be worthwhile, it will be valuable as a show for youngsters as well as adults.

*****

Sengoku Collection is another series in which Japanese historical figures are reimagined as pretty, busty young women. It looks like it’s going be mostly silliness and mild fanservice. If it maintains its tone and doesn’t get stupid, it might stay on my watch list.

I wonder: how would you go about making an American version? I’d probably pick characters from the Revolutionary War; the scars from the Civil War still haven’t healed. What kind of anime girl would George Washington be? Or Thomas Jefferson, or Aaron Burr? Where would you put them, and when?

*****

I watched the first two episodes of Inu x Boku Secret Service. An aloof, unfriendly girl with purple eyes moves into an apartment house for certain unusual individuals. There she finds, to her displeasure, that she has acquired an aggressively obsequious bishie bodyguard with mismatched eyes. The show poses the question: why would a multi-tailed fox want to be a dog? Also, is the dog a loyal golden retriever or a manipulative cocker spaniel? ((I generally prefer the company of dogs to that of people, but I’m not fond of cocker spaniels. I’ve been bitten more often by them than by any other breed of dog.)) I expect the underlying story to be the unspoken struggle for dominance between the girl and her bodyguard. As long as the series maintains its light touch and doesn’t devolve into kinkiness, I’ll probably watch more.

7 thoughts on “First look, last look”

  1. I don’t see how you could do something like Sengoku Collection with the American revolution, let alone the Civil War.
    The characters they’re using are from 450 years ago, and they were involved in the events which led to the founding of the Tokugawa Shogunate. That got replaced by the Meiji restoration, which in turn was forcibly replaced by the current system.
    So people like Nobunaka and Ieyasu are historical, but they have little or nothing to do with founding the current system in Japan.
    Doing that for people like Jefferson, Franklin, Adams, and Washington would be rather different. Those men approach the level of secular saints in American tradition, since they set up the system we still live under. It’s OK to make fun of Nobunaga, even in Japan, but I can’t see anyone really being very happy about such mockery of the American Founding Fathers, except people who hate the current system and wish it was overthrown.

  2. I dissent; considering Hetalia makes fun of half the Western world, we can take a little good-natured ribbing about the founding fathers.

    Since anime archetypes don’t do well outside of Japanese culture, I’d alt-history them into important figures in a Japanese revolution (after winning the American one). Fighting against… aw heck, pull a Strike Witches and make them space aliens.

    I propose JohnJacqueline Hancock takes the attention-hound oujo-sama role, based solely on his famous signature. (Though he was also wealthy, popular, and more well-known as a politician than a military man.)

  3. How about Ethan Allen as some sort of yankee-bancho rebel chick constantly at war with the student council, Thomas Mifflin as a corrupt, chiseling Kansai-type greedhead (think Nabiki from Ranma 1/2), Conway, Gates, and Lee as the typical mean-girl bully-clique – that sort of thing?

  4. Oh, yes; that’s the one where Jeff-tan’s childhood friend shows up unexpectedly. Frankie-chan decides they must be lovers (“look at the way they fit”), and she and the shocked Adams-chan secretly follow them around the festival, misunderstanding everything they see.

    -j

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