Dog Days 01, Hanasaku Iroha 01, Nichijou 01 [First Impressions]
Since the spring season has over forty shows rolling, Sekijitsu sadly won’t be able to cover them all. However, we are hoping to get as many first impressions as possible. Since I’m not going to spam the site with three posts in a row, I’ll instead group this weekend’s offerings (namely Dog Days, Hanasaku Iroha, and Nichijou) into this single post. I’ll say upfront I’m probably not blogging any of these (as I am with Tiger & Bunny, also featured above), but as there are some promising titles in here, there remains the possibility another team member might pick one of them up.
Alright, hit it!
Dog Days is positively brilliant. The characters are unbelievably unique, the script is so sharp and intelligent, and the premise is incredibly interesting. I highly recommend this show to each and every anime fan–oh, wait. It’s no longer April Fools? Okay, allow me to revise this.
Well, I’m a little late to the party, and at this point, it’s common knowledge the Internet’s collectively meh on this thing. I’m not particularly fond of it either, but it’s fine… For a kid’s harem show that is (making them otaku young, huh. Very smart, Japan, very smart. I see why you have the world’s third biggest economy.)
Anyway, Dog Days takes a painfully generic and childish premise (a hero from modern times is the fated savior of a fantasy land) and plays it completely straight… Well, not even. It takes a painfully generic and childish premise and dumbs it down even more; the Cat and Dog people aren’t even at war. They’re just competitive, and they’re getting squashed in their version of war which is more like our Olympics or World Cup. Yes, this is a series about fantasy athletic games with a Gary-Stu hero.
Usually, I wouldn’t have any problem with this, but the preview was a little misleading. They promised war, they promised fantasy… Sure, it looked generic, but there was potential for parody or subversion as the very same team had done with Nanoha (which I’ve heard is a quasi-dark magical girl series and also not bad). Oh, well.
Should you watch it? Absolutely… If you’re twelve. It’s not beyond awful, but it’s even more generic than it looks.
Alright, Hanasaku Iroha, you’re next. Let’s see if you have better offerings.
Hanasaku Iroha is contending with Ano Hana for the “artsy, touching, young adult anime drama” spot this season (it’s a surprisingly broad category), and I’d be surprised if Ano Hana is this good. It has a very typical premise–a girl who has no direction and no work experience needs to work at a Hot Springs Inn with her overbearing grandmother ala Spirited Away–but it works since the execution is excellent. The animation is really stunning, and the script is smart. I got Honey and Clover like vibes, and that’s not something I can say about any slice-of-life show.
That being said, I don’t love the series thus far. I’m certainly watching it, but it’s a tad on the dramatic side for me. The lead character Ohana Matsumae is exceptionally adorable, but I got irritated when she spouted metaphor after metaphor in her inner-monologues. Usually I don’t mind metaphors (Honey and Clover is chock-full of them as is Hourou Musuko), but these are just shallow. For example, she’s literally on a train in a tunnel, and she’s also in a dark spot in her life because her best friend just confessed to her and she’s moving away. Then, she gets out of the tunnel and into the light, and she’s excited for the brand new day. Or the night lights come on during the evening, and she hopes that lights will guide her, so she can change for the better. Come on. That’s not good writing; that’s cheesy.
That aside, it looks like a very well executed series with a very charming heroine, great characterization (for one episode alone), a solid premise, smooth animation, and a good script that only sometimes becomes silly. I preferred Tiger & Bunny’s first episode, but if I grade objectively, this one’s better. So far, it definitely seems worthy as PA Works’ tenth anniversary show.
Should you watch it? If you like series like Honey and Clover and Hourou Musuko, you have to give this one a shot. Heck, even if you prefer action or moe moe moe, this one is a good starting point to get into dramatic slice-of-life. Yeah, watch it.
Alright. Finish it up, Nichijou!
Nichijou (“My Ordinary Life”) is the latest “cute girls doing cute things” offering from Kyoto Animation, and at this point, you probably know what to expect. If I had to use other popular shows to describe it, it’s basically a cross between Lucky Star (typical KyoAni) and Arakawa Under the Bridge (typical Shaft and not so typical KyoAni). Though aside from the absurdist angle, it reminds me more of the little I’ve seen from Lucky Star rather than Arakawa.
The first episode is a drastic improvement over the OVA, but I still don’t think it’s that funny, and the music in the broadcast episode is definitely a step-down. I prefer the unique classical undertones to the expected KyoAni J-pop mix, but it seems the OVA soundtrack is more of a once-off. However, the first episode managed to maintain the excellent production values of the OVA; even if the girls still don’t have noses, the animation is fluid and pretty. And I love the opening song. It screams KyoAni (catchy tune, dancing, etc), but KyoAni keeps coughing these up because they work. Instant Youtube hits.
Either way, the characters certainly seem more interesting here than in the OVA; Sasahara (AKA goat-boy) is a standout as is the professor’s crew. Sakamoto (the black cat) from the OVA sadly didn’t make it into this episode, but as he’s in the opening, I’ve no doubt he’ll appear sometime soon. I’ll be sticking around to see that for sure.
Should you watch it? If you’re a KyoAni fan, I don’t even need to tell you to watch it. If cute girls doing cute things and/or cute girls doing crazy things amuses you, you’re also good to go.
Okay, so these are the shows so far. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll also cover first impressions of Brain’s Base’s Dororon and Noitamina’s C. My heart is pretty set on blogging C, but if it flops miserably, I might just cover Hanasaku Iroha or Nichijou, provided no one else on the team wants to pick them up.
Anyway, what do you think? Are there any shows here you look forward to? Any that you hate? Any that you really want us to blog?
Thanks for reading!