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Art by 羊箱@Pixiv.

Well, it’s another new year folks! How are you all after the recent “Silver Week”, when all the anime and manga companies took a break? For me, it was a great time to catch up on old projects and speed-watch Chihayafuru (another 10 episodes!). However, I also thought that this period would be perfect for a retrospective look on a few series that Sekijitsu missed covering and to discuss about them.

So, without further ado, I present Robotics;Notes, Shin Sekai Yori and Girls Und Panzer! Be warned, SPOILERS AHOY!!

Robotics;Notes

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Like its towering predecessor, RoboNotes started out with a problem. But this time, instead of time paradoxes, the problem is rebuilding a club and a giant robot.

Say, what?

Yes, a giant robot. Although the awesome prologue may say otherwise, things weren’t that straight-forward in RoboNotes. The ragtag Tanegashima Robotics Club had to go from a mini “hobby robot” to a bigger clumsy robot before building (I assume) the kick-ass mecha they call “Gunvarrel”. The twists and hurdles made this series stand out from your usual “build a club” plotlines.

RoboNotes also excelled in its strong characters. We have the unlikely hero in Kai, the genki girl in Aki, the nerd Pleiades Subaru, the moe-moe Jun and the fujoshi-tech wiz Kona. Although we’ve seen these stereotypes before, the show manages to build them up and let them shine individually. Still, they have a long way to go before calling themselves a team; they still don’t have the chemistry and camaraderie yet, except among the veterans.

Besides that, RoboNotes portrays interesting themes such as escaping a sibling’s shadow (Aki’s sister) and dark conspiracies for world domination. Where’s Okarin when you need him? XD

Speaking of conspiracies, now that Kai’s connected the dots, how will he combat the sinister plot to fry the world in a solar storm? Will he tough it out alone? Or will he build the Robotics Club into a Save the World Club? In any case, Robotics;Notes is proving to be a worthy successor to Steins;Gate.

Girls Und Panzer

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The darling of the Fall season, Girls Und Panzer has been steamrolling its way into many a moe and tank otaku’s heart. Although I expected the Tankwondo concept to be gimmicky, I was simply blown away by the show’s sheer heart. Using Team Oarai’s camaraderie and subtle historical nods, Girls Und Panzer had managed to suspend my disbelief at the sight of high school girls shooting tank shells at each other.

However, Girls Und Panzer’s art design failed to bring out the life in all these amazing characters. With such mundane faces and dull colours (most of the time), the show lost a bit of its “oomph”. Plus, a huge cast of characters from every school and team limited the focus on each character’s development; everyone gradually got lumped together into their respective squads during key moments, especially in the last stages of the tournament. Hm…maybe they wanted to show the camaraderie among the girls? Or is it just a budget problem?

In the latest episode, the stakes for Oarai are getting higher as their school is threatened with closure if they lose the Tankwondo tournament. And now that they’re in the finals, they will be facing the elite Black Forest Peaks team with the fearsome Maho in command. Will they blaze through without a hitch? Well, the two-and-a-half episodes allotted for the final match doesn’t seem to suggest that…

Bah, to hell with doubt. Panzer Vor!…or not, the next episode’s slated for March, so we’ll have to wait and see how Miho fares against her cold-hearted sister.

P.S. MAKO IS MINE! XD

Shin Sekai Yori

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After a weak and confusing first arc (frolicking, then a BIG REVEAL, followed by a Queerat safari, before a timeskip), Shin Sekai Yori is getting me hooked again with the death of Shun and the “talk” with Satoru’s aunt.

Overall, Shin Sekai Yori’s only strengths are its ability to up the creepy factor and its eerily effective music. The actual truth behind the “terrible” secrets were rather mundane and somewhat tragic, but the atmosphere surrounding the characters when they uncover it is really quite something. It’s just the right amount of tension mixed in with a sense of foreboding. There’s no high-pitched violins like in those god-awful “paranormal documentaries”, but a subtle tone that warns you that “THIS IS SERIOUS…AND CREEPY”.

And although Shin Sekai may not have the best character designs this Fall, Saki’s confrontation with Shun was one of the most mind-bending and unique scenes I’ve ever seen. The scarred wasteland, the eerie Aurora lights and Shun’s “will-draining” marbles came together to show just how horrifying psychic powers can devolve into. And although I’ve been suspicious of info-dumps since the minoshiro affair, Satoru’s aunt really gave a much-needed explanation on the almost-mythical “karma demons”. I also enjoyed her flashback in the hospital, which was filled with a quiet sense of dread.

Still, a sore point for me about this series is its slow pace and jerky storytelling just after the first arc. Shin Sekai being slow is more of a pet peeve for me, but the jerky portions were very frustrating at times. One moment we’re getting a HUGE revelation, the next-everything’s back to normal. Maybe the story is like that to emphasize the kids getting “mind-wiped? If that turns out to be the case, then I might be the biggest fool in Sekijitsu’s history yet. XD

Anyway, what do you think the kids will do now that the elders are after Mamoru? Will they be hunted in turn as well? And what will they ultimately do to stop the reluctant killings and social experimentation? So many questions, but I’m confident that Shin Sekai Yori will answer them in its own methodical manner. Whether it’ll descend into another out-of-the-blue yaoi/yuri fest remains to be seen…

Well, that’s all I have to say about these three promising shows for now. Are there any other shows you think I should’ve covered? Got any different opinions on the shows? Share your thoughts below at the comments! Meanhwile, we here at Sekijitsu will be trying our best to cover the rear end of each of these shows, so don’t tune out just yet! There’ll be more to come in the coming weeks. (^_-)