With the start of any new anime season, there are obviously quite a few shows that make you wonder how they acquired the funding to commence production. Sometimes they go as far as making you wonder if anyone watches them at all. Well, at least one person did.
Egged on by the staff and IRC regulars of this particular publication, I have taken the challenge of watching some of the new stuff from this seriously quite lovely season that they dared not watch.
ROUND 1: TAYUTAMA -KISS ON MY DEITY-
This here is a series that tries to jump on the “Eroge on TV” bandwagon that quite a few other series have tried to do. It’s based on, apparently, a hit eroge of the same name by “Lump of Sugar.” It seems to have rode those waves of success and hit the airwaves, much to our dismay. As most of you should know by now, pornography has never been known for quality storylines, mostly due to the oft-hilariously short fap-and-squirt nature of it and the fact that, generally, it’s only about the “eye candy.” Unfortunately this show is blessed with neither.
Tayutama starts off with the ancestor of our protagonist fighting off the hordes of Pokémon-esque “tayutai” along with the help of his magically inclined female partner. As the fight rages on she ends up transforming into her true form, a shiny tayutai ‘thing,’ and sacrifices herself to seal off this giant dragon “Ryuou” and all of the tayutai running around in a fancy wooden shrine. Centuries later, our protagonist, who can see spirits!, finds out about the impeding destruction of the shrine and, with the help of his friends, tries to exorcise the spirits using his spiritual skills, only to end up dialing up the spirit of the “Kikuramikami no hime,” only to receive a divine warning and then get interrupted by the spirit of “Ryuou,” which with the help of more cute little wacky looking tayutai cause the clumsy female childhood friend of the hero to have a little accident releasing the sealed spirits.
It’s at this moment that the goddess bestows upon our hero the usual clichéd mysterious magical loli (but not really!) cat girl with a giant hammer. OH MY! But wait, there’s moé! After a little scuffle she ends up getting knocked out, but when she wakes up later they go on to have an extended yet awkward lap top loli scene wherein they decide on a name for the girl as well as to save a bit of cash by not having to animate mouths by focusing the camera on a looping, tail-wagging underskirt shot for a solid minute.
This part ends with a fairly annoying scene in which our cat girl friend forces the idea of marriage into the protagonist and seals it with a kiss. They top it all off at the end of the episode by, of course, having our lead male walk into a room the next day only to see her in her full glory and then having the clumsy female friend also walking in and seeing her and quickly turn around giving the lead the usual “PERVERT!” beat down. This leads to the father of the protagonist, voiced by fan favorite Norio-Fucking-Wakamoto, walking into the scene a bit later and seeing two girls fighting over his son and going “Pretty girls!?”.
As you can see, it’s just overly boring generic moé fluff. Pretty much what you can expect out of this is paper-thin characters and meandering plot in which they parade the usual fetish-ized female cast around and a flat apathetic male lead onto which the viewer is expected to project themselves. The animation isn’t so great and somewhat stiff while the colors are bland. I guess you might like it maybe if you were a prior fan of aforementioned eroge, but then you’d be publicly admitting to having “played” with “it”.
ROUND 2 – TEARS TO TIARA
Ugh. Another show built off what originally existed as an eroge. This time it’s a tactical RPG with visual novel-style cutscenes in between. Exactly what I said before can be said again. Porn rarely creates a good story and it certainly shows in this work. Sure, it was adapted into an actual game with the all the naughty bits cut out, for the Sony Playstation 3 even, but it can’t help the fact that the source material is terrible.
Sure. The game might actually be a fun thing, but as the Super Mario Bros. movie has taught us, the game can have some the best game play ever and none of that awesomeness will transfer over into the film. So what we get then is another piece of marketing tie-in junk with no redeeming qualities.
The story starts off with the usual divine warning, wherein the main magical female lead lets us know something bad will happen; well, obviously something does. In what appears to be a scene scumming straight out of the game Tales of Phantasia: while all the guys, including the “hero,” are out hunting for boars, an evil army descends upon the town, obviously looking for something. Boasting about their greatness they decide to burn the town. Here’s where it decides to go its own route by having the female lead walk out and say “Hey! I’m the only one here!” and the bad guy, a priest, decide to go against burning the town after she implores them that there is no one in town. The priest then realizes that the girl is the descendant or some other of some royal lineage… Which is what exactly he was looking for, a live sacrifice to resurrect the demon king! Oh my!
Of course, the girl then decides to try and threaten to kill herself, which would’ve been all right. But no, they randomly bring up a pair of kids and she then trades her “magical” name in exchange for the kids’ lives. Yes! A magical name which, when uttered, turns her into a mindless subservient slave, perfect for an eroge.
Shortly after, our hero, who is also the girl’s brother, and the rest of the guys come back to town and decide to go and save her. So they all run right into the military’s base killing guys while the bad guys summon up the demon king. It ends with our hero running down a long hallway screaming the female lead’s name as the demon king materializes as a white-haired, black-clad bishounen guy. That’s it. Most of the episode is just spent talking. With many lines cribbed right out of the tropes of basic modern fantasy stories.
There isn’t much of anything else interesting worth mentioning at all about this. The character designs are in the boring style of wacky modern fantasy anime & video games. The animation is so-so and the backgrounds are OK, but the combination of these with fancy 3D computer graphics make the disparity in level of quality very clear. It’s especially visible in this first episode because it takes place completely at night. This is completely bland. There’s no taste or flavor to it at all. It’s like chewing a piece of cardboard. No wait, I think cardboard actually tasted better.
ROUND 3 – ASURA CRYIN’
Asura Cryin’ is a show based off a series of light novels written by Gakuto Mikumo. It seems these novels were quite trashy, as the resultant TV shows just a lovely hodgepodge of silliness. Not just any silliness, but the kind where they take things very seriously for whatever reasons they feel fit to do so.
The story starts off with the usual absolutely “normal” kid protagonist, but in this story he’s apparently haunted by the ghost of his female childhood friend. After moving into the dorms for whatever school he’s in, he’s visited by a Mysterious Girl, a friend of his older brother, who drops off the Mysterious Object, a heavy briefcase with no apparent way of opening it. Later on at night he is attacked by another Mysterious Girl who is looking for an Extractor and then freaks out when she sees the ghost. The next day, it is quickly revealed that both Mysterious Girls go to the same school as our protagonist. Mysterious Girl 1 even tries to get him to join her club by enticing him with the fact that she’ll “reveal everything,” thereby making the point of this whole thing moot, but our guy decides to think about it.
That night, he is attacked yet again, this time by Mysterious Organization A, also looking for the Extractor. As their leader interrogates the kid, Mysterious Girl 1 decides to interrupt the session releasing the kid from being tied up, while she drops hints that she works for Mysterious Organization B. It is at this moment that Mysterious Organization C and its leader pull up in their cars and storm the place. While they end up fighting amongst themselves, the wussy kid half-assedly finds the box, but is quickly attacked again by the leader of Mysterious Organization A.
Surprise! Mysterious Girl 1 shoots a hole through the wall and comments on the box. Double surprise! In a fashion much like the Kool-Aid Man the leader of Mysterious Organization C busts through the wall and we’re left with a three-way standoff over the kid, the ghost girl and the box. Since they all want what is in the box, the kid decides to open it after being egged by both the ghost girl and Mysterious Girl 1.
And what’s inside? A big 3D CG robot.
In other words, there’s too much stuff going on and none of it really seems to matter. Almost no one says who they are and you only find out anyone’s identity when someone else mentions it. Everything is so robotic in its placement that it’s as if they picked a bunch of various tropes and memes from anime and put them in whenever they feel like it.
Who are these mysterious organizations and what are their goals? Who are the bad guys? Who are the good guys? Why should I care?
Aside from all of that, everything else about the episode is sort of lame as well. The animation is OK, with some bad in-between frames here and there. The character design is of an overly gaudy sort with a real preference towards black and white colors. The main kid even has ridiculously annoying ahoge as well as a few other characters. And, finally, all the characters are boring. You’re better off staring at a wall.
ROUND 4 – COOKING IDOL I! MY! MAIN!
Just because it came out a bit early doesn’t mean it’s exempt from preview. Cooking Idol I! My! Main! is a short format program shown on NHK’s Education television channel in the afternoon. It’s about a young girl, Main, played by a young Haruka Fukuhara, with a dream about becoming a famous idol (i.e. Pop Star).
At what might have been her first idol contest, this girl was afflicted by stage fright and given a recommendation by her manager to “think of cabbages.” She then ends up thinking about them so much that the song she was supposed to sing ended up becoming about nothing but cabbages, ruining the show. Luckily her manager finds another show she could be good at, “Cooking Idol!”
Meanwhile, in the land of the cooking fairies, many of said fairies are sent off into the world to be paired up with humans. A naive one named Misanga, who was pleading to join in, accidentally falls into a warp and gets sent to Earth along with a magical cookbook tossed by their leader at the last minute.
After falling in a trash bin, Misanga travels around visiting various restaurants and seeking his partner, a person who can see him. Unfortunately, he gets seen by a cat and falls into a cabbage delivery truck. Later on, at the Cooking Idol audition and after meeting the wacky director, Main picks out some cabbage from a box an assistant brought in. It is then that the fated meeting between girl and fairy occurs, followed by another somewhat psychedelic cabbage song.
The director, after seeing the girl singing to herself, lets her audition. This is where the show gets weird.
Once the cameras turn on, the show switches to a live action segment where the voice actress for Main sings, dances and, after being reminded by a shitty 3D GG rendering of the little cooking fairy dude, proceeds on making something edible: a cabbage bear mask thing. The live action segments are what probably caused a bad reaction to this show. They are pretty bad and somewhat creepy when you think about the type of folks who may be watching this.
This is pretty much a kids’ show. I don’t know why the guys suggested this one was super terrible. It’s pretty decent compared to the previous shows. Although I wouldn’t watch it myself, it’s actually watchable. It’s silly, that much I agree with, but it’s just some purely saccharine stuff mostly meant to appease the kids while enticing them to learn something in the process. A method I’ve always found to be a bit underhanded, but I guess it sells. This show secretes all those sugary elements in just about everything it does.
The animation is decent, featuring cutesy but very expressive characters with a fairly colorful palette. The character design is very plain and simple, but the cooking fairy’s design is really terrible and unappealing to the point that he stands out in every scene he’s in. Finally, in what seems set to become a staple of the series, this little girl ends up having a cooking epiphany in every episode; an epiphany in which the senses are overloaded with colors, moe, and ludicrous imagery of whatever happens to be the food of the week.
In essence, it’s OK for the kids, but any older viewers might definitely have a loli complex.
ROUND 5 – HANASAKERU SEISHOUNEN
Hanasakeru Seishounen is based on a manga by Natsumi Itsuki, who seems to have herself a bit of pedigree with bishounen-themed stories. This one comes from one of her stories from the late 80’s continuing onward towards the late 90’s, making this show a throwback to those old school bishoujo-style storylines. At first glance I thought this wouldn’t be so bad but, unfortunately, it’s terrible.
The story is about completely over-privileged spoiled girl Kajika Burnsworth, who is sent to Japan, by her super rich father, to go to school and try to live a “normal” life, or as normal a life a spoiled rich girl can live.
Being half American (I guess), her silver eyes brunette look make her a gorgeous beauty and cause her to stand out in the crowd. After telling a touching story about the only love in her life, a white leopard, she ends up making a friend, a very homely and subtly lesbian girl named Yui. Of course, being different, all the other girls are envious of the new pair to the point where, out of nowhere, a bully pops up and our heroine stares her down. An act celebrated with a kiss.
Obviously, our brash girl likes to take things into her own hands so she refuses to take her fancy-pants limo with attached bodyguard and instead chooses to walk home with her friend. They are soon attacked by a bunch of ruffians, friends of the bully, and even though her bodyguard comes to the rescue, she decides to comply with the hoodlums. They then take her to a small abandoned shack somewhere in the outskirts of town and the gang’s leader decides to make her his. Immediately, another of her bodyguards, wearing Chinese-style clothes, pops up and takes everyone out, leading to a romantic scene.
Later on, she is whisked away back to New York where in her father decides to play a game with his daughter. Three guys, most likely bishounen, handpicked by her father and who’ve never met her are to do so and try to woo her over. If she finds them and ends up falling in love with one of them he’ll let her in on a big magic fate-changing secret. Of course, unbeknownst to Kajika, he has a fourth guy in hand as well, the Chinese bodyguard. And such is how the story begins.
This stuff is so melodramatic and shitty. They try hard to make the viewer sympathize with the characters, but they are so boring that it’s impossible to care. The situations and character interactions are all contrived and forced, as if most of it feels pulled out of someone’s ass as they were making it.
The animation is another thing that pisses me off about this show. It feels like a slideshow whenever there is any substantial amount of movement on the screen and they take a lot of shortcuts any time something important happens. I mean, it’s OK to cut a corner here and there, but this is like cutting the whole thing in half. Hell, it’s choppy enough that it hurts my eyes while watching it. That, coupled with some really unappealing character design and very average backgrounds make it pretty horrible to experience visually. This makes for a pretty bad combination with the mental deterioration the horribly contrived story causes.
This one feels like it might just be a cheap money maker for the animation company involved, living off the notoriety of the original work, because I don’t see any effort put into it.