Anime roundup 10/9/2014: Happy Haunts

Cross-Ange-1 CROSS ANGE Rondo of Angels and Dragon premiere – Once upon a time, Angelise was the elder princess of the kingdom of Misurugi, but on her sixteenth birthday, a horrible secret was revealed: she was a “Norma”, a person whose very presence is dangerous the operation of the technology whose use has brought peace and prosperity to nearly all humanity. Now she is Ange the warrior, who rides singing into battle against otherworldly dragons. Exiled from human society, the Normas are the only defense against these mysterious invaders.

Does that sound moderately awsome? Now, to reveal the carefully concealed secret of the show: as it eventually explains, its brief is not heroic pseudo-fantasy but to be a “bishōjo (beautiful girl) robot show”. Thus Ange’s battle outfit, shown above, has to be a strong contender for the most impractical fighter garb ever. Later on, a flashback to Ange’s induction into the Norma legion involves, being stripped and then chained to a table for a “physical”. And so forth.

So yeah, it’s all there to be a paean to the straight male otaku gaze. End of story, as far as this reviewer is concerned. But the most disappointing part is that with a bit of script polishing and a different costume designer, this could have been the premiere of a genuinely good show. I can’t help thinking there was some kind of mixup at the studio, and that somewhere a slightly puzzled production team is starting work on a sensibly clothed series about a group of women who spend all their time hanging out at hot springs.

International streams: Crunchyroll (Americas); Wakanim (Canada, France, Belgium, Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia); AnimeLab (Australia, New Zealand)

Kokkuri-san-1 Gugure! Kokkuri-san premiere – Kokkuri is a divination game similar to ouija. The summoner calls out to Kokkuri-san, which may be a fox, dog, or tanuki spirit, to move a coin to indicate a response to their questions. Kohina, a curious girl who lives alone, tries it out and unfortunately summons not just any spirit, but a forgotten god. Equally unfortunate for her new companion is that Kohina is an intelligent, strong-willed cyborg.

Kokkuri, as the fox-man insists that Kohina call him, sees a lonely little girl who needs someone to take care of her. In particular, he determines that someone needs to break her of her all-instant-noodle diet. Domestic tensions escalate rapidly. At one point, Kokkuri threatens to hang himself; at another, Kohina goes after him with a lightsaber.

Japanese comedy is sometimes impenetrable or just plain unworkable to Westerners, but not this time. Kokkuri and Kohina make a perfect odd couple whose squabbles are entertaining without any cultural translation. You should definitely give this one a try.

International stream: Crunchyroll (Americas, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)

Celestial-Method-1 Celestial Method premiere – This is an excellent first episode, and yet I still have no idea what this series is about. Here’s what we know so far: Seven years ago, Nonoka and her friends held some kind of ritual in an old observatory, and the result was a flying saucer hovering over their town and the appearance of a mysterious girl named Noel. Shortly afterward, Nonoka’s family moved away. Now she and her father have moved back, and Nonoka finds that Noel has been waiting for her all this time– unaged…

If there’s one thing to quibble about here, it’s that the flying saucer isn’t surrounded by all sorts of scientists and other observers trying to work out what the hell is up with it. Instead, the town is still a quiet backwater, with the saucer treated like a local roadside attraction. However, on the strength of the show so far, I’m willing to believe it has an explanation ready.

International stream: Crunchyroll (Americas, UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Netherlands, Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa); ADN (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Andorra, Monaco)

World-Trigger World Trigger premiere – In Mikado City, a portal to another universe occasionally admits horrifying monsters into ours. However, the creatures are so well contained by an organization of secretive superheroes that everyone simply stays out of the immediate vicinity and otherwise goes about their normal lives.

When a mysterious transfer student arrives at the high school, he and the class nerd are harassed by bullies. But wouldn’t you know it, when the monsters show up, the nerd turns out to be one of the aforementioned superheroes, and the new kid has impressive powers of his own. Evil is defeated, bullies flee, etc., etc.

So far, this is just phoning it in on both story and animation. Characters’ body proportions vary from shot to shot, bits of the nerd’s glasses go missing from time to time, and mouths have a tendency to sometimes wander back and forth across faces. Nothing to see here, move along.

International stream: Crunchyroll (Americas, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)

Inou-Battle-1 When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace premiere – One day, fantasy fan Jurai Andō is enthusing to his fellow literature club members about the possibility of supernatural powers, when he suddenly has one. So do all of them, in fact, and to Jurai’s ongoing shame, everyone else’s powers are much more epic than his.

What he lacks in power, though, he makes up for in drama and enthusiasm. He’s the one who insists that they have monthly practice sessions, and when an unexpected superpowered foe finally shows up, he’s first in line to face them, albeit with embarassing results. Ironically, some quick thinking on the part of his colleagues leads to the conclusion that the only way to win this battle is to avoid the use of their powers.

With at least one more supernatural villain in store, the promised premise– superpowers and nothing to do with them– has not come through, but what we do have so far is a reasonably solid, possibly intelligent story, with absolutely no boob-related pratfalls yet. This might be okay.

International stream: Crunchyroll (US, Canada, UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa)

Furo-1 Orenchi no Furo Jijō premiere – With a 4-minute episode, there’s only time to do the setup: One day, Tatsumi finds a sick man lying by the river, and rather than calling an ambulance, carries the stranger back to his apartment, totally missing the fact that the guy has no actual legs. Now he’s got a merman living in his bathtub, luxuriating in clean water and pink bath colorants, and refusing to leave.

So far the humor is pretty bland, relying on the situation and the utter self-centeredness of the merman. Meh.

International stream: Crunchyroll (Worldwide except Asia)

Some definite possibilities this week! I’m putting Celestial Method and Gugure! on the list for a second-episode viewing for sure, and debating whether to keep When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace. Next week, the rest of the fall premieres, and after that, one more look at the possible candidates (including catching up on Sailor Moon Crystal, no, I haven’t forgotten it) before setting the lineup for this season.

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