Anime First Impressions: Spring 2014 Part Three

The first episode of Ryuugajou Nanana's Treasure goes like this: twelve years ago, seven genius students worked together to help realize the dream of their leader, Nanana Ryuugajou's idea: create an island where kids of all ages (from junior high to college students) can be free to achieve any goals they have, free of interference from adults.   Now in the present day, we meet Juugo Yama, a fifteen year old who has come to this special student zone, known as Nanae Island, in order to escape his home life.   Only, he finds his apartment is haunted by Nanana, the creator of the island who was murdered ten years ago and is now bound to the place she was killed.

Now going off the OP, you might think this was a series that got dropped somewhere between the opening and the mid-episode eyecatch. Not so.  This series is genuinely funny, actually choosing to focus on it's core concept rather than a constant barrage of fanservice.  Oh sure there's still some service to be found if you're looking for it, but it's extremely dialed back compared to what you expect in this moe era of anime.

What I love the most is how they seem to be just ignoring the fact that Nanana was killed.  It happened, they all think it was unfortunate, but they've pretty much moved on.   Nanana spends her days playing video games and eating pudding (must be nice when you can't gain any weight since you're...y'know...dead), and everyone else has gone on with their lives as well.   It's played for laughs more than anything else, even if eventually solving that will probably be the main story of the series.

With some fairly decent animation from A-1 Pictures and hints at a plot that runs far deeper than your average slice of life inanity, Ryuugajou Nanana's Treasure stands a fair shot at being one of my favorite shows of the season.  So of course it's only 11 episodes.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei

Mahouka (lit. The Irregular at Magic High School) does a couple things that bug the shit out of me.  First off, it's explanation of magic bugs the shit out of me.  Apparently, in the future resources crazy crazy scarce, so much so that nations begin fighting over them, which is cool.  Somehow magic is developed--that's fine--and then used as a method of warfare to control the remaining resources that exist in the world...and there's where you lost me.   I get that magic would have warfare applications, but they don't even hint that magic is being utilized as a way to create additional resources at a faster rate.   Plus introducing a harsh, war-torn world and then switching to what appears to be a fairly affluent high school is irksome, but that's actually fairly close to real life so that I let slide.

The other major thing it does is introduce the version up of the Boring Invincible Protagonist: The Boring Invincible Protagonist...who no one knows is invincible.  You'll often see this guy pop up in series that have invented some sort of harsh social caste system--he's meant to show that systems based on meritocracies don't always work as there are people who have superior talent receiving the same treatment as those with below-average abilities.

But that's on a deeper level--on a more practical level, what this means is not only is the main character impossible to harm and will always win, it now means he's always right.   Everyone around him is now incompetent, because they can't see how powerful he is.  They treat him like trash when in reality he should be the most important person in the show.  I know this because the first two minutes of the show are a discussion on exactly this.  The end result of this is the viewer constantly screaming at their television/monitor about how idiotic all of the characters are.   It's a subconscious way of putting you on the main character's side, even if you don't like them.  Worse, it's a way of keeping them out of the action because they have to "hide" their abilities.

Fuck that; I like bad-ass, broken protagonists.  If he (or she) is going to be that way?  Just own up to it.  Find more inventive ways to challenge them, and stop lying to me to pretend they aren't really busted.

Aside from that, Mahouka doesn't really do anything particularly new or interesting in it's opening episode.  It had an excellent, very well animated fight scene at the start of the second half, and there are hints at a pretty cool magic system...but all of that is irrelevant if they don't focus on it and instead direct their attention to the weird obsession the two main characters have with each other, and the fairly tame slice-of-life elements they attempted to insert.   This is another series that's not terribly offensive though, so it bought itself four more episodes to prove itself to me.

Oh, giant robots!  Opening song sung by Masaki Endo's band, Endohkai!  Protagonist who hasn't been properly introduced to good hair styling product!  This is CLEARLY a hot-blooded super robot series!

*several boob grabs later*   LOLnope.   This whole thing is an extended parody of giant robot series.  The main robot, Daimidaler, can only be powered by people capable of generating hi-ERO particles.  Currently, the only person capable of using him, and saving the Earth from other giant robots with dick cannons, is Madanbashi Kouichi, a pervert who activates his powers by groping boobs.

Generally I don't care much for fanservice because I feel like if you want porn you should just go watch it, but when a series capitalizes off the stupidity of fanservice it becomes a blast for me.  Still though, aside from the comedy it's nothing special in terms of plotting or animation and the mecha design is obviously garbage (though there's several jokes to be made in regards to Daimidaler's right arm being diesel while the left one is all wimpy) so I can't blame anyone who skips it.   For me it's just a neat way to turn my brain off for 22 minutes.

Mekakucity Actors

Man, I don't what it is this season with anime and main characters that embrace that shut-in (hikkikomori) lifestyle.    In general though, I've never watched SHAFT series so someone will have to tell me if this series is the standard.  There's lots of neat little tricks that are done with animation, and the color scheme seems to change to be concurrent with the current mood of the plot.  

Mekaku City Actors follows main character Shintaro Kisaragi who, due to an accident involving a friend, hasn't gone outside in two years.  A major computer geek, his only "friend" is a surprisingly human A.I. he once downloaded by accident named Takane Enomoto (Ene).  The first episode sees Shintaro forced to leave the house for the first time because of a mistake Ene made, leading him to come in contact with a strange group of characters.  Oh, and he foils a store heist or something, which is actually a big deal but I'm writing it off because I've got a feeling that'll be the least crazy thing to happen.

This is another one of the better series--it's strange, but it's a good sort of strange.  Like I mentioned before, the tricks they play with the colors are pretty slick and the anime seems to have a lot of potential in terms of developing this off-beat group of characters I see in the OP.  There's a good chance I'll finish this, though I'm hoping I don't get stuck with the "bad ending" so many stories like this are known for.   

Well, we're almost done with this list as I approach the final five series.   Expect the final installment to be full of a ton of raving about pure shonen awesomeness.    The count is way higher than I want it to be, so when I do my final impressions in a couple months don't be surprised if I abruptly cut a lot of these series exactly where I said I would. 


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