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Archive for March, 2013

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Robotics;Notes was never going to have an easy time. Not when it was following Steins;Gate, one of the most critically lauded series in recent memory. I’d say there were high expectations, but most discussion before its airing was rather muted. Nobody believed it could have ever been as good as Steins;Gate. Fortunately, by being part of Nitroplus’ and 5pb.’s Science;Noun (or Semicolon or whatever you want to call it) metaseries, it was also preceded by ChäoS;HEAd. Which was absolutely shite. Nobody believed it could be worse than that (spoiler: it isn’t). Expectations were surprisingly balanced and realistic.

This time around, instead of dealing with conspiracies involving time-travel and murder à la Steins;Gate or conspiracies involving dimensions… and swords and… whatever the fuck Chaos;Head was actually about, we get conspiracies involving robots, augmented reality and the motherfucking sun.

Let's build some fucking robots!

Let’s build some fucking robots!

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Psycho-Pass

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Cyberpunk and anime have a long history together. Many, many cyberpunk anime series and films came out in the 80’s and 90’s, some of them hugely influential – Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Serial Experiments Lain are rightly regarded as classics. So it seems strange that there haven’t been many – if any – to come out in the past few years. Beyond Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, there weren’t really any notable cyberpunk series in the 00’s. It seems the genre became untrendy, or unfavourable. Which is a shame, really, if you consider just how integral technology has become in that short amount of time.

Enter Gen Urobuchi and Psycho-Pass.

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Gotta love that in media res

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Spring 2013 Plans

Red = nope. Orange = sure, why not. Green = actually excited for.

Red = nope. Orange = sure, why not. Green = actually excited for.

It’s that time again! A new season, a new bunch of mediocre cartoons to force myself through, and this stupid list. Winter has largely been disappointing (the only new thing to be really good was Chihayafuru S2, which is a sequel and so doesn’t quite count), and while Spring looks set to be better, I can’t really get excited for it. Ah well.

List:

  • RDG Red Data Girl
  • Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge
  • Photo Kano
  • Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince
  • Devil Survivor 2 The Animation
  • Aku no Hana
  • Namiuchigiwa no Muromi-San
  • Shingeki no Kyojin
  • Haiyore! Nyaruko-San W
  • Kakumeiki Valvrave
  • Suisei no Gargantia
  • Miyakawa-ke no Kuufuku

And some thoughts:

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Yama no Susume

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The ‘cute girls doing cute things’ formula is a well-trodden one, even when given something of an iyashikei bent. There’s not exactly a lot of ground left to cover, so expectations for Yama no Susume weren’t exactly high when it was announced. Schoolgirls being insufferably nice to each other! But on mountains! Fortunately it proved to a rather pleasant surprise.

What worked in its favour more than anything is that it was simply a series of shorts – each episode was less than 5 minutes long. As a result a lot of the padding and guff that typically accompany a series such as this are non-existent, and what we’re left with instead is a very focused, almost distilled take on the genre. Each episode explores one or two things; it cuts to the point very quickly; but it nonetheless doesn’t let up its very relaxed and cheery atmosphere.

The characters are admittedly quite archetypical and don’t leave much of an impression, but that’s to be expected considering the length.  What’s very impressive though is how quickly and effectively they get the characterization of them across – they only do a handful of things across a few episodes, but each one speaks volumes about their personality. Aoi is the only one who gets any real development, and fortunately her little arc is quite satisfying and pleasant.

Those are some rugged, burly mountaineers

Those are some rugged, burly mountaineers

Visually, Yama no Susume also impresses. The animation is remarkably good for a series of this size and scope (usually, it would be considerably cheaper), and the soft, light, pastel artistic style does wonders for the atmosphere and tone. It’s still obviously not particularly high-budget, but it is rather pretty.

There may not be much to Yama no Susume, but what there is is really quite lovely. They didn’t have a lot of material to work with, but chose to embrace this and let it influence the output instead of fighting it. “Short but sweet” is the perfect way to describe this series.

7/10

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Inferno Cop

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The world is a dark and evil place. Gangs of thugs stalk the city streets, the police are corrupt and will ignore anything at the right price, and honest citizens are forced to live in constant fear. But there’s a bright, shining light of hope for the future and justice for the sinful. From the depths of Hell comes our protector of peace… Inferno Cop!

The first ‘full’ ‘series’ from Trigger, the guys who were previously the good part of Gainax, Inferno Cop is a lot more ridiculous than the synopsis lets on. Our eponymous hero starts out fighting (read – blowing up) various thugs out at night, before fighting a supervillain, being sent to the future, being sent to the past, being sent down to hell, becoming a car, becoming a pharaoh, and saving the world from a vast and ancient conspiracy. And a helluva lot in between.

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