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dtzav.bmp A good evening to you all! A new season of anime is upon us, and with it a new start of madness in this blog! While we still have lots of stuff from the fall to clean out, mostly due to us falling behind when I dropped my hard drive while it was running, but that doesn’t preclude us from ignoring the new stuff as well.

dioav.jpgUsually, it’s our laziness that causes us to do that.

dtzav.bmp But not this year! No, this year we’re getting the drop on all other bloggers! Mwahahahaha… for you see… we will be giving out season awards ONE EPISODE IN.

dioav.jpgNo, thats still laziness. Rather than work through the series you’re justrushing out the slipshod awards now.


dioav.jpgFine, fine. I know better than to contradict you when you whine. So, whats first on the plate?

dtzav.bmp First, let’s get the crappiest of the crap out of the way. What say you to the latest piece of dung Gonzo has pooped out, Blassreiter?

dioav.jpgI say “Don’t quit your day job”, but this HAS to be the only one they have. Really, the only thing they have going for them in series like this is the apparently large number of decent CGI artists they must have chained in the basement.

dtzav.bmp Indeed. Their writers seem mostly non-existent, with the first five minutes of the first episode being a completely pointless action scene that breaks out in the middle of a motorcycle race. And the character designs themselves are awful and bland. Even the CGI isn’t up to Gonzo’s usual “standard.” Perhaps the CGIers are starting to mutiny.

dioav.jpg Nah. They’re just showing off how CGI’y it can be. Maybe there’s a spark of ‘lets warn everyone how jarring this show is through cgi of that form’, but its more “LOOK! MOTORCYCLES!”

dtzav.bmp And when the show actually starts, the series assumes we know and care about an uninteresting hero. It’s foolishness. The whole air of the series is pretentious and obnoxious. I wasn’t even planning on DOWNLOADING it, so the only way I determined that I would watch it was to watch the streaming off of YouTube.

dioav.jpg Some other reviews sum it up. It’s horribly jarring and inconsistant. It’s a racing anime! It’s a monster anime! It’s a super hero of some sort! And it’s full of angst that even makes Emonaut look reasonable, since its just dull AND pointless, rather than just pointless.

dtzav.bmp It’s not worth following at all, and anyone who does follow it should be ashamed of themselves as a human being. I give it the “Most Pretentious Filth” award of the season.

dioav.jpg Well, while we’re speaking of poorly written shows, lets go to one that at least has heart and spirit.

dtzav.bmp Oh, you mean the other one with CGI Motorcycles?

dioav.jpg Yes. But at least these motorcycles do something! Yes, its useless, but they do.

dtzav.bmp We are speaking, of course, of YuGiOh 5Ds, the latest in the long running series of card game commercials that only becomes really good when you remove the card games and replace it with internet culture.

dioav.jpg Yeah, but the original show still has a sort of idiot charm. See, it’s like Pokemon anime. Except in the Pokemon anime, the thing that has taken over all of culture is at least cute and powerful critters with actual utility.

dtzav.bmp Unlike YuGiOh, where the fate of the world rests on childrens trading cards. And in 5Ds, the card games are more serious business than ever. But how can it not be serious business when they take place in high speed races on futuristic motorbikes?

dioav.jpg And the entire world is based on them. This world is quality insanity. First, it appears to be set up like Midgar from Final Fantasy VII, with the clear divide between happy futuristic city and shit slums. Second, everyone plays cardgames on motorcycles. EVERYONE.

dtzav.bmp From the poor kids in the ghetto to the policemen that keep them down. And the card games are used to settle disputes. Like whether a person stole a super-advanced computer chip for their motorbike.

dioav.jpg Its not that they settle disputes. Its that a police officer is willing to card game someone he should be apprehending. And his motorcycle has a helpful feature that makes it essentially break when he loses. Good work keeping the streets safe, buddy!

Police Officer I ain’t your buddy, friend!

dioav.jpg I’m not your friend, guy!

dtzav.bmp And apparently they’re Canadian. Anyway, the whole world is just about that nuts, and our main character is a mostly mute arrogant prick. And the Final Fantasy VII comparisons come back, especially when you observe his impressive hair. He’s essentially Cloud, making him the least interesting YuGiOh lead ever.

My Hair is Assaulting You!
“How does the helmet fit over my hair? I’m keeping THAT a secret.”

dioav.jpg So, to sum up. The hero’s a rock, the world is insane, the card games are excessive, and the dialogue is horrific. In other words, comedy gold. 5D’s, you brave, foolish soul, we award you the “Best CGI Motorcycles” award.

dtzav.bmp Now, to hijack this for a few quick shots at series that I’ve watched and Ruan commented on, but that Dio has not seen. These two series are Kure-nai and Kamen no Maid Guy. Unfortunately, I don’t share the same enthusiasm for them as our enigmatic contributor.

dioav.jpg Just to interject, that guy scares me. Why is he only around when we aren’t?

dtzav.bmp You know I always leave the door locked, so if there’s any reason he and the cameos are getting in, I blame it entirely on you.

dioav.jpg I don’t use doors, I’m microscopic.

dtzav.bmp Then… maybe it’s that other guy. You know… whats his face. The guy who’s never on… GAH his name escapes me.

dioav.jpg Anyway, go on.

dtzav.bmp Ah, yes. Anyway, Kure-nai had one of the most confusing first episodes of the season, almost matching Blassreiter for the amount of disconnect I felt with it. Everything moved way too quickly, and at the end I wasn’t quite sure what I was watching at all. The OP was cute, though, so I give it the “Next likely OP Meme Candidate” award.

dioav.jpg And the terrifying looking show with the muscular maid?

dtzav.bmp And Kamen no Maid Guy, while definitely more instantly entertaining (a rarity for a show focused on interesting fanservice), actually had a fairly promising start… but it’s hardly an A-rank series at all. It’s more like Muteki Kanban Musume gone horribly wrong: madcap nonsense with a bit of fanservice thrown in. I’m going to keep watching it, to see if they go anywhere with the Maid Guy’s character. But overall, all it gets is the “Hayate on Steroids Honorable Mention” award.

dioav.jpg And I’m back!

dtzav.bmp Yes, and it’s your turn to start one of these things.

dioav.jpg So, lets talk about the fact that, annoyed as I am with Gonzo, they still haven’t completely lost it yet.

dtzav.bmp Ah yes, that strange beacon that could be hope that is Tower of Druaga. The hope could also be a lie, but if there’s any show that Gonzo has that can return them to their best days this time, this is it.

dioav.jpg They made a good start. In one of the most frantic examples of an episode I’ve seen in a while, thy created a stellar example of a self conscious parody of fantasy gaming and fiction.

dtzav.bmp Parodying a gamut of cliches and ending with one of the biggest cliches of all (it was all just a dream), the first episode is a hilarious and excellent red herring episode, much in the vein of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. The second episode, however, is the true beginning… and I must say, I found some promise in it. While not carrying through the madcap parody atmosphere of the first episode, there are still twinges of a deconstruction of the typical RPG story going on, and the main character has proven himself to be actually fairly likable. Because the series is penned by master deconstructionist writer Shouji Gatoh of Full Metal Panic fame, I’m optimistic that the series will be a little more than “generic fantasy anime zed”, and thus give it the “Most Likely to be a Deconstruction Fleet” award.

dioav.jpg But we will be waiting with the mallets to take it apart if need be.

dtzav.bmp And now we’re getting into our top three picks of the season, each with their own excellent things that they have going on. First is Allison and Lillia, a series that is posing itself in its first episode to be a delightful high adventure (and high altitude) series of the like we haven’t seen in a while, and so far with some fun main characters to follow.

dioav.jpg They’re fun because they’re essentially realistic. We have the main male character, whose name escapes me at the moment.

dtzav.bmp It’s Wil, though his name is something of a misnomer. After all, he seems to have absolutely no willpower when confronted by the first titular character, Allison, who is my personal favorite female lead this season.

dioav.jpg Well, that’s clearly because he’s an easy going guy. Not to mention a bit clueless about the obvious crush his friend has on him. Poor doomed sap.

dtzav.bmp But at least he has a photographic memory, and is willing to go along with the cute blonde aviator on her little treasure hunt. It’s the simple promise of adventure that makes this show so appealing. There’s no fanservice jokes, no facefaulting, just a colorful world for a boy and a girl to explore with their airplane… and maybe find a way to bring peace to it at the end.

dioav.jpg I appreciate the lack of obvious relationship jokes. The guy says something dumb, and rather than an absurd level of violence, the girl just glares at him. When I say doomed, I mean that mostly, his future is probably inevitable now.

dtzav.bmp Allison is also very much like Haruhi. When the adventure kicks off and the man who tells them of the treasure gets hauled off by the suits claiming to be with the tax agency, she not only chases after with Wil in tow, she flat out steals an fighter bi-plane under the pretense of “borrowing” it.

dioav.jpg There’s just this charming tone of easygoing adventure to it. A lack of pretention. Like the obvious lie of the man from the “tax bureau” who takes away an old man, clearly for some sinister reason. The show didnt even pretend there wasn’t something off, so why not have them try to kill the main characters when they follow after?

Official Tax Gun
“Official Tax Gun!”

dtzav.bmp And so, with all this considered, Allison and Lillia gets two awards for its first episode: the “‘Yes Dear’ Award for Cutest Couple with a Dominant Female“, and the honorable mention for “Almost as Scary as Reality Tax Organizations“.

dioav.jpg The next series is… a hard one to explain. It has a lot of strong opinions on both sides of the board this time around. Mostly, the problem here is how much people “get” the joke the show is trying to give us.

dtzav.bmp The series in question is Zettai Karen Children. Personally, I found the first episode to be hilarious from start to finish, mostly because the premise is too absurd to take seriously. So apparently there’s a government run organization called BABEL (and yes, the headquarters is called the Tower of BABEL) that employs psychics to fight the various misanthropes that plague the city. Among these psychics are three high-powered adorable little girls: Kaoru, Aoi and Shiho. Together, these three form a unit called “The Children,” and are able to get away with all kinds of wanton destruction because they’re just so gosh darned cute.

dioav.jpg And the chief spoils them. But if the first episode is any indication of other espers besides them, there’s a reason people don’t mind the girls’ destructiveness.

dtzav.bmp The reason is, of course, the various psychos that crawl out of the woodworks each week. The villain of the week that starts us off is a wandering Hard Gay parody that runs around firing lasers that solidify things from his crotch. His name is Muscle Okama.

dioav.jpg Also, he seems to control snakes, and is really good at drilling things.

dtzav.bmp To say that this series is on drugs is an understatement. It’s almost as if someone took the basic ingredients for the Powerpuff Girls (sugar, spice and everything nice, with a spill of Chemical X) and added Crystal Meth.

dioav.jpg Aya Hirano continues her streak of playing female characters with perversion issues. This time playing a 10 year old girl who looks at skin mags with big breasted women and pretty much is obsessed on that aspect. And there’s a green talking squirrel with a screw in its head. I don’t know why.

dtzav.bmp And yet, everything works. The series is really funny and it certainly looks like there’s lots of potential heart to its nonsense. It’s a parody of Magical Girl Team shows done to the extreme with a wonderful apparent soft side to it.

dioav.jpg A lot of that is due to the girls. Despite being absurd, cheerful lunatics, they clearly have inner wounds. When you’re classified as a WMD, it has a tendency to have people not comfortable around you, causing some isolation and trust issues.

dtzav.bmp Fortunately, the first episode also introduces us to the man who would be the guardian of these three, and I must say, I think he’s likely the most Gar male lead we have this season.

dioav.jpg It’s strange to see Gar out of such a nice guy character, too.

dtzav.bmp But Gar he is, actively joining in the girls battles despite being a “normal,” and even heaving giant Shougi pieces to defend them. But his nice guy side is there too, as he clearly views the three girls as girls and not weapons. More likely to be a father figure than anything else, Kouichi Minamoto alone gets the “Most Awesome use of Shougi Piece” award, and the series as a whole gets the “Most Outrageous Parody of the Mahou Shoujo Genre Award.”

dioav.jpg Works for me. Speaking of outrageous, we have one more show to go into today.

dtzav.bmp Yes, outrageous is certainly the way to describe my personal surprise number one show of the season. When I first read about Soul Eater, I was worried that we were going to get Bleach as written by a Final Fantasy fanboy.

dioav.jpg It had that bad sound to it. Something about all the absurd weapons and death god lines. But then images started to appear.

dtzav.bmp The art style of the original manga seems very much inspired by Nightmare Before Christmas and its ilk, and Studio Bones (doing their first major adapation of a work since Ouran High School Host Club) has taken that style to an extreme, giving the halloweeny-styled world a real sense of… well, Style.

dioav.jpg From the Sun and Moon, which are somewhere between insanely funny and nightmarish, to the happy happy Grim Reaper in his hall of Guillotines, everything about the show has this hip, absurd dark style.

“Why yes, I AM the most stylish Shinigami ever. How did you know?”

dtzav.bmp And as if to match the adaptation of art style, the animation too amplifies the mangas already bombastic and high-energy action sequences. Scythes normally wouldn’t make feasible weapons, but Maka and her companion/weapon Soul Eater make it seem all too easy with almost jaw-dropping intensity.

dioav.jpg Then we have the absurd jokes. Blair the witch, and her smashing pumpkins attack. Calling the Reaper through his phone number “Death death kill”, and blatant fanservice being used for absurdity.

dtzav.bmp And don’t forget that the Reaper’s scythe is not only Maka’s father, but also is a (Ouran) Tamaki-personality womanizer who constantly grates on his poor daughter’s nerves.

dioav.jpg He’s not Tamaki. He’s Tamaki on speed.

dtzav.bmp And while the series has a very shounen premise to it, it already has managed to avoid some of the story pitfalls of shounen. For one, both from this episode and from reading onward in the manga, all the major females kick as much ass as the males.

dioav.jpg It seems to be an over the top celebration and slight deconstruction of shounen. Like Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, but in a different manner.

dtzav.bmp It’s the first shounen series I’ve been able to be truly excited about since Busou Renkin, and because Bones is the one anime studio I trust for high-quality consistency, I expect this series is going to be a wild ride for all 51 episodes, even after it goes towards its likely gecko ending. Soul Eater wins the awards for “Least ‘Grim’ Reaper” and “Most Likely to be totally Awesome.

dioav.jpg And that’s our show. If you watched it, good job on making it through!

dtzav.bmp And be sure to stay inside to watch your anime! Spring in the great outdoors is miserable, but Spring inside is always the best anime season of the year! HOO-HA!