Three more first episodes arrived in the past days, so here are my first impressions. There is a strange amount of connections between them. Two are about dead/living romances. Two were better than expected from their studios DEEN and Hoods. Two has exceptionally icky premises. Two of them are based on manga that I have been following, even though I rarely follow manga. All three make use of surreal imagery, or as the anime fandom likes to call it, “They look like they were made by SHAFT”.
Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
I didn’t read any source material for this one, but I heard the studio went for an original opening. It’s an In Medias Res with all the members of the cast already hanging out together in the club room, the male lead already being aware of the ghost, and everyone having pre-existing attitudes towards each other.
Well, I guess that’s one way to avoid a stereotypical boy-meets-girl starting, followed by episodes of harem-collecting, but I hope that at least the second episode will be a flashback to how it all started. Because this way, I just can’t really follow them around as the protagonists.Even though it wouldn’t take a genius work to figure out who fills in which archetype from this episode, the whole episode still felt like following a bunch of strangers.
Oh my God, am I that well-trained as Pavlov’s dog? Unless the childhhod friend is first seen with bento in her hands, or if the female lead won’t appear in an ominous scene where she introduces herself to the hero, they don’t even register with me as the main characters? Thats it, right? I won’t even start salivating until I hear the proper bells and whistles?
Speaking of salivating…
Mysterious Girlfriend X
This one seems to be the least surreal of the three at a first sight. There is a dream sequence, and an abstract opening, but that’s it. Most of the visuals are grounded in reality, in fact, they are very old-school, like something ot of the 90’s. But even before I knew that it will get an anime, I thought that this series was very “SHAFT-like”, in various details. Especially it’s habit of making up brand new pseudo-sexual habits in every episode. (lol toothbrushing lol). In MGX, many of these are revolving around drool, but some are not.
The only thing that I didn’t like about the adaptation, was Urabe’s voice. It seems to be popular in some reviews, for sounding strangely realistic, that’s supposedly fitting with her character. But for me, personally, it was always annoying when anime characters sound like real people. I expect them to sound just as cartoonish as they look. That’s why I also dislike dubs. For some reason, dub actors, even the ones who are experienced in making chirpy sounds in western cartoons, have a habit of slipping back into their realistic voice whenever working on anime. This seiyuu sounded just like these dub actors. If I close my eyes listening to her, I can see a 3D woman in front of me. When that is paired with 2D figures, that is just uncanny, and not in the good way.
One of those soft monotones like what all the Rei clones get, would have been much more fitting for Urabe.
This is one of those that I’m reading the manga for. I looked into it a few months ago when the anime was announced to be in development, and I followed it as long as it was translated, and kept checking out the newest releases month by month. While I more or less enjoyed the story, I fully expected the anime to be panned by the elitists, by the prudes, by the “untaku”? “oobs”? , and generally by the kind of people who tend to to pan shows for having a high school male lead, with a busty childhood friend (this time cousin), and an enigmatic moe female lead.
Because Sankarea has all of these. It’s not an artsy noitaminA story, it’s not a josei drama, or a seinen horror. It’s not original for originality’s sake. In fact, it follows many ecchi/harem conventions exactly as unapologetically, as you would expect from a show that was picked up by DEEN. But if you are not having a knee-jerk reaction against a few of these tropes being used in moderation, you might discover that Sankarea also happens to have an interesting main plot, and an unique atmosphere, that makes it worth following the story.
Fortunately, DEEN did their best on the directing and the animation front as well, so now the show is pretty popular with almost everyone. By the way, abou the animation, I’m just reporting what others said. Call me unrefined, but these old-school flat character designs with thick outlines always looked really cheap to me. Even if I know that it’s just a gimmicky detail, the more recent ones with shiny skin and shaded colors look a lot more detailed than these. Even DEEN used those in shows like Dragon Crisis. Beyond the character designs, the art style was indeed nice, I guess. I’m wondering how they will follow up the last scene, that seemed to be a direct copy of the manga’s colored inside cover, not of a plot point, but many viewers were hooked specifically by that, so some sort of explanation will be needed why they included it.