Through another looking glass

Quick notes on what I’m currently watching:

Jonathan said the magic words “Alice in Wonderland” in his notes about Kyousougiga, so of course I had to take a look. A few minutes into episode zero, I wondered if I was back in Kenji Nakamura Land. Not exactly, it turns out, but some of the designers had indeed earlier worked on Mononoke and other Nakamura projects. If you liked the art in Gatchaman Crowds, check Kyousougiga out.

About Kyousougiga itself: after watching episodes zero (surrealistic verging on psychotic; prestissimo) and one (in which the story actually begins; allegro ma non troppo), I can say that it sure is lively, inventive and fantastical, and very, very busy — you can’t let your attention wander for an instant lest you miss a vital clue. Whether all the bright colors and incessant activity ultimately add up to a story that makes sense remains to be seen.

Kill la Kill rockets along like a psychobilly song, proudly lowbrow and defiantly tasteless. There might be a political message and sociological commentary lurking beneath the outrages and the breakneck pace, but through the fifth episode it hardly matters. Kyousougiga and Coppelion show how artsy anime can be; Kill la Kill reminds you that you’re watching cartoons. Before there was Miyazaki, there was Tex Avery.

Arpeggio of Blue Steel has been a pleasant surprise. Given the elements — kids in the navy, sentient ships and submarines with “mental model” avatars that look like pretty girls, a powerful but vaguely-defined enemy, glowing hexagonal grids — I expected a Strike Witches ripoff. However, the focus has been on battle tactics, politics, and the puzzles human behavior presents to non-human minds. Fanservice has been minimal thus far.

For a while it seemed that I couldn’t be bothered to come up with a real title was going to be the comic counterpart of Divergence Eve: a very good show nearly spoiled by a surfeit of jiggle. Possibly the makers realized that; I didn’t notice any buy-the-BD moments in the fifth episode. However, while it was mildly amusing, it was never more than that, and Raul’s outbursts are increasingly grating. Unless the next few episodes are markedly better, I’ll probably drop it.

I likely will also drop Outbreak Company. Our hero crossed the line from raving otaku to blithering idiot in the fourth episode, and much as I would like to see what elves and dwarves make of human culture as presented in manga and anime, I’m losing patience. Update: Ken the Brickmuppet reports that the fifth episode is a disaster. The show is now off my watch list.