Fall 2013 Anime Impressions

Just a quick roundup from skimming through the new stuff:

* Ars Nova – I’m most interested by the fact that all the characters are completely CGI – appropriately the studio is called “Sanzigen” (more commonly romanised as “san jigen” – 3 dimensions) and has done a lot of CGI work on other titles. It’s a bold direction for anime to take, and may indicate what’s to come in the industry – though games have been approaching from the other direction (eg cel-shaded polygons – though that might be out of fashion now). It’s based on a manga – the world is semi-post-apocalyptic, after the appearance of a mysterious technologically advanced naval fleet that has cut off continents from each other and shut down communications. As a minor spoiler, there is a lot of anime-typical anthropomorphisation of military hardware.

* BlazBlue – I’m not familiar with the game, but the animation is good and I recognise many of the voice cast. This may actually date the original source, as I’m a few years behind the hottest names. Anyway, it’s not exactly what I’m looking for right now.

* Kyoukai no Kanata – Finally Kyoto Animation is doing something non-yaoi, and it’s decent. The show has their trademarks: a witty male lead providing narration, a wacky/dojiko heroine, moe-friendly character designs, and top-of-the-line animation. I was confused initially (minor spoiler) by the brief concealment that it’s an alternative world.

* Log Horizon – This Satelite anime is a disappointment – the animation lacks the sharp designs and colours of the studio, and the storyline is essentially Sword Art Online without teeth. My brief investigation indicates that it came after SAO from some kind of amateur writing site in 2010, and while I’m reluctant to compare them, having watched SAO makes me ask all sorts of uncomfortable questions about what’s going on, and whether characters are reacting the way they should. Log Horizon appears to be a “what if” of living inside a game, with the SAO-style setup more of an excuse than a source of drama. Some of the characters are a bit too unrealistic for me to swallow, but the MMO setting (including menu screens, character classes and strategy) appears a lot more accurate (remember, Kirito is a huge cheater).

* Golden Time – I skimmed this one extra lightly when I realised it was shoujo. If you’re into that genre, find a more appropriate reviewer.

* Outbreak Company – This is the otaku anime of the season, bulging with references to the smash hit Attack on Titan. The animation is clear, the setup as ludicrous as ever, and there are a couple of nice jokes (being rejected by the osananajimi, being given an ultimatum by the mother) and references (an “unfamiliar ceiling”). The protagonist spends much of his time categorising the people he meets into anime tropes, but the self awareness lifts it a notch. It’s on my “maybe” list.

* Coppelion – I love post-apocalyptic settings; this appears to be a reasonably serious take at something like that. The animation is very distinctive: amazing scenery behind thick-lined characters with old-style cheeks and stark shadows. The animation for the action scenes is great and there’s even an Angela ED.

* Galilei Donna – This is a light-hearted adventure series with sharp animation and CGI, great mecha design, a fast-paced storyline and quirky characters. The pseudo-Italian alternative world setting is eye-catching, and a dose of Kuwashima Houko can’t hurt.

* Gundam Build Fighters – I really don’t know what to say here. Perhaps that the motivations of the juvenile characters is more realistic than other Gundam series. Actually, it’s not. Anyway, this appears to be an Angelic Layer-style series where Gundam Plamo (plastic models) are the stars. I’m sympathetic to the hobby, but completely out of the demographic.

* Kill La Kill – I almost missed this series, as I don’t watch school-brawl series (I read Tenjo Tenge and that was enough beautifully-drawn stupidity for a lifetime). However the director and writer are ex-Gainax, and they collaborated on Gurren Lagann. So Kill La Kill has beautiful, quirky, distinctive, exaggerated animation – perhaps the diametric opposite of Sanzigen’s CGI. Koshimizu Ami stars as a rebel standing up against a hierarchical school society (1984 and Nazi mentions abound) and does a damn fine job.

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