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Nov 26

Fall Anime – Week 6

Glass Lyfe 5Eva

Woo, didn’t utterly destroy the blog installing multi-author stuff! Anyway, anybody keep track of Saimoe? Well, it turned into Saimadoka (again) this year, with the pink haired girl being the blue haired girl (damned if I know their names, it was a mediocre show I plan to review sometime). What people see in that series I’ll never know. But enough bitching about 2ch kawaii polls, lets bitch about something more important, this weeks (give or take) anime! And there’s more content than ever this week. Sam has joined the fold as he disects the glasses worshiping series Meganebu, and Alexe has added a slice of country to the proceeding with Non Non Biyori. Otherwise, its most of the regulars with Kill la Kill, Magi, Kyousougiga and Galilei Donna! Sadly, Mike’s been a little busy as of late (writing stuff that’ll appear later this week) so no Ippo or Flamenco this time, but there’s still plenty to go round.

Sam on… Meganebu (ep 1)

Usually I’m not much of an animé viewer, I catch the odd one every now and then, but I thought I would give one a shot for the Anicom blog. Basically it just means that I might not be the best source of an informed opinion on animé. I’ll also admit I’m a little behind everyone else, but give me a couple weeks and I’m sure I’ll catch up.

So when I asked Sean for something to review for the blog, he gave this rather odd show, and I’m not entirely sure what to make of it just yet, this is only the first episode.

Meganebu is a show about people who wear glasses, sounds like some specialist magazine you would find at WHSmiths. More specifically it’s about boys in a high school club who have a dedication to the “art form” that is glasses.

In the first episode the gang is hard at work to create a pair of X-Ray glasses, in order to look at women naked without them noticing. Of course this is because, you know, teenage boys are incredibly horny, so much so that they must work all day and night, in order to see something they could probably find in a quick google search.

The whole concept of the show is used as an excuse to just be quirky and weird. It’s crazy, but only in a sort of attention seeking way. There’s not much interesting stuff done with that craziness, if anything it’s a rather sort of predictable insanity.

It relies on exaggeration and slapstick in order to be funny, but not in any way that you haven’t seen before, so it’s actually not funny. It’s slapstick can be boiled down to “I am angry now so I shall hit you, but it shall be in a very over the top manner that could probably damage someone.” The show even has a “Please don’t try this at home” warning, not even kidding.

Then there’s a point in which the boys plan out a military-style operation, complete with a map (painted with rainbows, because everything in this show seems to be made out of sickly sweet colours). They even have a “Mission Start” title card and everything. Of course what this results in is some over-the-top running sequences, in order to complete their mission.

Let me remind you that this is a show about people who wear glasses. This show loves glasses, and it will make sure you know that. I have to wear glasses, I don’t like it, they’re uncomfortable, but I have to wear them to see properly. These strange characters take their glasses incredibly seriously.

Let’s take a look at a phrase written out after the opening.

“We don’t use glasses merely as a vision correction tool or a fashion accessory (…) That is our Glasses Club.”

Glasses are life for these people, they even have a derogatory term for non-glasses wearing people, “No-Glassers”.

The first episode of Meganebu is silly, but not funny. It’s exaggerated and filled with the brightest shades of flashing pinks and greens, in order to make up for it’s uninteresting subject material. I’m kind of curious though, it didn’t stretch beyond “ha ha aren’t these people too serious about glasses”, but the first episode is only the first impression, and first impressions aren’t always the best.

There’s a miniscule shred of interest I have to see if it goes anywhere with the concept. However, if we’re taking bets, this episode tips the odds to favour it being potentially rather disappointing.

Alexe on… Non Non Biyori (ep 1)

Renge: This is my village. It’s a quiet, peaceful place. But…Sometimes I think…Do I actually?
Natsumi: Ren-Chon!
Renge: …Live in the country?

Non Non Biyori is based on the manga series written and illustrated by Atto. The series revolves around the lives of four girls each in different grades that go to school together.

Some relaxing music for whilst you read:

We open with many long distance shots of the series setting and beautiful backgrounds set to peaceful music, as it continues the notes become slightly clumsy as if it were a child playing the flute. Then first grader Renge Miyauchi gives us the introduction to the series.

She is greeted by one of her school friends Natsumi Koshigaya, a first grade middle-scholar and they go to catch the school bus together. The two of them discuss what they had for breakfast and almost miss the bus.

At the bus stop they meet Natsumi’s older sister Komari, a second grade middle-scholar and as the bus drives them to school Renge talks about the morning’s news.

The three of them arrive at their village school, Ren-Chon being the observant first grader she is notices that there is something different about their classroom, though she can’t quite figure out what, and when their teacher comes in she is followed by a girl none of them recognises.

The girl turns out to be Hotaru Ichijou, a fifth grader (though she doesn’t look it) from Tokyo who has just moved to their village because of her parents work. As she takes her seat Ren-Chon finally realises the difference was the extra desk.

The teacher begins class and introduces everyone to Hotaru, as well as all of the girls there is a single boy in the class, Natsumi’s and Komari’s older brother, third year middle scholar Suguru.

Hotaru is surprised that their class is made up of different grades and Komari explains that they are the only students in the whole school and that they all mostly study by themselves.

As break comes the girls decide to play dodge ball, as they walk through the school corridor Hotaru asks why there are so many buckets. Natsumi explains that they are to catch leaks and that you shouldn’t get close to them because the floor is so damp around them you could fall through, of course she was kidding though (However as they leave we see Suguru in a hole in the floor behind them).

Outside the girls play some kind of version of catch and Hotaru drops her house keys on the floor. Having a house key seems confusing to the other girls and we learn that none of them ever lock their houses; it is here we see more of the distinct difference in culture Hotaru is going through.

After school the Ren-Chon invites Hotaru over to her house and the four of them go, as they walk Ren-Chon points out the tangerine trees and the girls talk about the food growing there. Hotaru asks about shops and learns there are only two in the village, a co-op and a candy store. She is also surprised to learn that cattle, deer’s and boars are also a common sight.

At Ren-Chon’s house she shows off her new trick to Hotaru and they stand in the backyard as she tries to whistle. Even though no sound comes out the group is surprised when a Tanuki comes out of the bushes as if it were drawn out by Ren-Chon’s silent whistle. Ren-Chon claims that the Tanuki is called Gu and that if she whistles again he’ll do a trick. She whistles and this time sound
comes out and…Nothing happens.

The next morning Ren-Chon plays her flute on the way to school as usual and meets up with Natsumi and Komari. Ren-Chon asks Natsumi if they live in the countryside because Hotaru seemed really surprised by their way of living. Natsumi claims that there are probably schools in Tokyo that have a mix of grades and that doesn’t mean that they live in the country.

At the bus stop they discuss the matter in more detail; Ren-Chon believes that because a tanuki lives at her house that must mean they live in the country. Natsumi claims that just because they live there doesn’t mean that it’s the country and tells them it’s not the country because it’s not inconvenient.

During lunch Ren-Chon tells Hotaru to save her desert and the three girls take Hotaru to a lookout spot behind the school where a cherry tree grows and you can see the village fields. Hotaru relaxes and the four of them eat their desserts together.

Unfortunately at the end of the school day they miss the bus going home, as they stand in the bus stop Hotaru asks when the next one will be and Komari tells her it will be there in two hours. This shocks Hotaru and Natsumi claims that buses in the country are really inconvenient and the episode ends with a shocked Ren-Chon claiming ‘I knew it!’

Non Non Biyori probably isn’t for everyone, if you prefer your anime to have more action I’d probably give it a miss. However the backgrounds are so pretty and the soundtrack is so relaxing that for me it is better than most other slice of life anime’s. The characters are pretty good too and Ren-Chon became my favourite character the moment she appeared. If you like watching shows that have no particular plot but make you feel relaxed and happy I’d definitely recommend this.

Sean on… Kyousougiga (eps 4 and 5)

The character focused stories continue in these two episodes, as Yase and our young Myoue come under the spotlight. Both also take one of the previous ONAs, but this time around it’s not just there to be reused, they expand and develop them to function in the larger timeframe television affords. In short, this is what the show should’ve been doing from the start.

In Yase’s story, we see how utterly unable she is to part with anything, stemming from her desire to hold onto anything and everything related to her mother. We get a glimpse into her childhood memories and her attempts to tame the beast that dwells within her, as well as her relationship with Kurama, something rarely touched on previously.

Meanwhile, in Myoue’s episode, we learn how sick he is at constantly being dealt the bum hands, and forced to deal with everything because he’s too weak to really say otherwise, as well as a glimpse into his past and why he was adopted into the wacky family, and the reason why he too adopts the Myoue name instead of staying as Yakushimaru.

Undoubtedly the best part of these though is they manage to remain relatively self-contained stories, that both reveal more details about the weird world (did you know stuff hit with Koto’s hammer doesn’t regenerate for some reason) but more importantly, advance the characters. Both Yase and Myoue develop over their 20 minutes of fame, the former coming to accept the cycle of life while the latter realises something’s been staring him in the face all along.

And that, in some ways, is what was missing. Having a cool world is one thing when it’s just concentrated 5 minute bursts, but when making the leap to something longer you need to make me give a damn about the people I’m watching, and these two truly nailed it, with both comedic and bittersweet moments. It’s the first time I can truly say that these have taken a step forward from the originals.

And that’s why those two spirit animals have such silly names

Of course, with all the main cast now having their stories told, and all ONAs now reanimated (I think), where do we go now? The ending certainly seemed to suggest we’re going to move on from isolated stories to a coherent narrative for the second half, and it’s certainly what the show needs at this point. If that’ll be the case, who knows, but for the first time since this began I’m truly intrigued as to where we’re going next.

Phil on… Kill la Kill (ep 7)

This week we basically forget about everything that happened last week, as life marches on as normal (well, Kill La Kill normal) for Ryūko despite being pummelled into the ground last week. We’re once again reminded of the “plot” of beating all the clubs as Ryūko sets out to beat as many as she can while improving the Mankanshoku family lifestyle. This is achieved by making the fight club (more western movie references!)

The plan is a great success and we soon hit the plot of the episode, the age old clichéd “life was good until we forgot that the most important thing was each other instead of material gain”. That pretty much sums up this week’s episode. We’re treated to a lot of action scenes, with a particularly great fight at the end which reveals that Mako is a lot stronger than she seems. Satsuki also appears to make her speech about “pigs in human clothing” spiel again, and she even seems to smile when Mako tears off her ultima uniform (which makes Mako look badass), seemingly impressed with Mako proving she’s human in Satsuki’s eyes.

Them Diva’s chilling like nothing’s wrong here

There are also hints at the end of the episode that there may be a deeper meaning to Satsuki getting Ryūko to fight all the clubs, as a means of weeding out all the “undesirables”. Next week (well, this week given the review run an episode behind) we get Dragonball Z style ‘Filler’ with Driving lessons! The episode showed off a lot of different character designs (with all the “Clubs” shown) and showed a lot of thought in certain shots, with lighting and the angle of the shot having to be “just so”. Definitely a good episode (albeit clichéd) and Mako’s ultima uniform is clearly the best design

Finally this week’s episode was titled “A Loser I Can’t Hate”, or the Japanese title (and song it’s named after) is “憎みきれないろくでなし”.

Sean on… Galilei Donna (eps 4 and 5)

Let the quest for the mcguffins begin! Yep, with the core premise of searching for Galileo’s Moon sketches set up in the last episode, these two cover our gals journeys to collect two of them. But first, time to deal with drama.

Yep, ep 4 is exactly what you probably guessed, the resolution to mid’s confidence issues about being left behind by her siblings. With lil falling ill after falling several stories and slamming into multiple cars (oh no, she has a fever… not broken bones… anime injuries folks) after being chased by sky pirate henchmen who were in their town for no real reason, and old looking after her, it falls to mid to figure out the easiest voice command system in the world and fly around a bit, before our honourable sky pirate villain learns of their plight and pulls off. So glad he can be such a sport in the face of the energy crisis.

Small thing, but I love the Italian interfaces, makes it seem more authentic

Oh yeah, almost forgot the character of the week, Hans! Guess which country this episode was in. The inventor of some healing dohickey, he was too late to save his daughter’s life, but after hearing mid pour out her heart and soul as she faces herself, helps lil to heal up and gives them the next sketch, which he was using as a coaster. And then they leave the homeless man there to probably die. Next!

So, episode the fifth, going to the Netherlands, where apparently the arrest warrant has reached even the boonies. Still, life in the sticks is proving to be harsh. Adnimoon have been using the energy crisis to cut off supplies to little villages and towns, making the lives of the unfortunate all the tougher, causing them to turn to shadier methods of getting by and branding them criminals. So ensues a debate on what’s right and wrong in their scenar-

-or not. The interesting plot is sidelined to get in a wuv story. This engineer boy really likes our lil engineer girl but already has feels for this girl he’s known for so long, making a telescope for her birthday. Together they discover an underground section of the building and dig out the next scroll, before being targeted by Adnimoon. As our sisters are forced to flee but try to fight to protect the people, I must admit I was becoming a bit jaded by the whole thing, until…

Oh. Well. Shit. Looking past the relatively plain plots of these two though, there were some neat developments. The main one apparently being most people are double crossing dicks. Both Ludger, the leader of the village people in ep 5, and our Galileo fangirl herself, have sold out, and I was truly surprised to not see the latter brought up after it happened. I assume they want to save it for a bigger reveal, but why the goldfish AI wouldn’t just dob her in straight away is beyond me.

More interestingly though, after lil is blasted away once again, well…

Apparently that device which I’d assumed was just some neat torch is actually witchcraft. I’m really looking forward to how they explain that thing. Maybe it is the Galilei Tesora, it seems the kind of trick this show could pull.

What peeved me the most though, is that besides mid getting her development in episode four, nobody really goes anywhere. The fifth one builds the characters of the week far more, and while that makes the ending all the more impactful, it means our main cast really haven’t developed or even done much in these two episodes, and the parents have vanished completely from the story. I’m really hoping it doesn’t just continue this character of the week-esque format until the end, but with five mcguffins left to get in six episodes… I wonder if the basic structures all but set. Here’s hoping for something a little more in the coming weeks.

Alexe on… Magi: The Kingdom of Magic (ep 8)

Finally we arrive at the start of this seasons main arc.

We start with a recap of what happened last episode and begin in Sindria where Sinbad thinks about Aladdin taking his school entrance exams. Yamairah proudly claims that Aladdin must have been made a 1st Kodor (a rank in the school) however when we switch to Aladdin we see that he has been made a 6th Kodor, the lowest of the low. Without the rukh to help him Aladdin’s magic is extremely weak.

After being assigned his Kodor he joins the other students in entering Magnoshutatt and is surprised by the amount of magic he sees, although it is not just him most of the other students look the same way. When they reach the academy Aladdin finds his room and meets his roommate, a Heliohaptten boy named Sphintus. Sphintus is standoffish towards Aladdin at first because of his low rank, but as the episode goes on he becomes friendlier towards him.

Aladdin finds out that students have an exam called the Iktiyar every two months and if you fail it they expel you, he also discovers that all of his classes are Body Strengthening. Since this is a magic school this confuses him and he wonders why he has no magic lessons.

The next day in class Aladdin and his classmates have their wands taken from them and we are introduced to their teacher Instructor Myers, a terrifyingly strict woman with a questionable choice in
clothing. She tells them that they are not worthy of their wands, whips them, slams Aladdin in to the ground (this happens a few times)

After that their class begins and day after day Aladdin and his classmates a put through gruelling physical training, which includes chin ups, running, press ups you get the idea. The classes are so exhausting that every night Aladdin falls asleep right away, usually when Sphintus is trying to tell Aladdin about himself.

Many students in his class dropout because they can’t handle the physical training, however Aladdin and the rest decide to trust Instructor Myers methods and tough it out.

In the end only five of Aladdin’s classmates, including himself made it to end of their training, Myers is especially surprised that Aladdin made it and he says it was thanks to her, she turns away and we see her cry with happiness however we find out that it was not her but rather her boobs that kept Aladdin going. Myers gets them to try their magic again and they discover they are much more powerful than before. Myers explains that because their body has been strengthened the rukh no longer uses its power to suppress their magoi and as a result they can use more powerful magic.

After this their magic lessons finally begin and they learn about the different types of magic, Aladdin discovers that he is a Red Mage, a mage that uses fire and heat magic and also finds out that his second most capable magic is wind. Despite not using wind magic before Myers tells him to listen to Rukh and he finds he is able to use it.

Finally the day of the Iktiyar arrives, Myers encourages her class and Aladdin is first to take it. The examiner reminds him that if he fails he will be expelled however he amazes him and the whole school audience by combining his fire magic and wind magic together. The result takes Aladdin all the way from 6th Kodor to 1st Kodor.

And that ends the episode, however after the credits we are taken to a jungle and we see the back of Alibaba as he stands looking at Leam (or Ream).

——

Hmm. When people ask me what shows to review I should really give them decent things instead of rubbish. First Strike the Blood, now Meganebu. Oops. Ah well, its… character building? Whatever. But if you’re interested in writing for the blog, be it these weekly doses of opinions or just talking about something from the past you really like, hit me or Reaf up. Oh, and take part in the ArtJams. Pleeeaaaase. There’s only so many terrible drawings I can produce…