[Featurama] Summer 2012 Mid-Season Review
Drop everything, folks. Six weeks have passed us by, which can mean only one thing: Mid-season reviews! Matthew is busy running away from his responsibilities in Osaka, which has left me in charge! How… foolish. In one corner, we have Chris, who hasn’t quite had the best of luck with his shows. In the other is me, just having the best of times. Finally, we would have Matt, but he’s in Osaka.
Hit the jump for our reviews!
Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai
The interesting thing about shows like these lies in the fact that they aren’t crass in what they are presenting. The whole concept of a pervert using his perviness in battle is fodder for a lot of nudity. The presentation and handling is still of surprisingly well thought out quality and the bizarre comedy of the show isn’t too bad either.
After 5 episodes, this show feels like it could take a break. Our protagonist has built himself an effective harem and has even proven himself to be a worthy ally. His growth is actually ahead of schedule.
Where the show goes from here is a big question. Right now he is in the midst of a shinigami battle for power. The red haired shinigami he has tied himself to has found the one true powerful being in the school and now it is time for the series to actually put a focus on battle. You can only get so far with fanservice leading to a one hit kill for a beast and I think this series will begin to push through to something more interesting.
So far, the show is well animated. Even the censorship is done with a bit of thought. There’s no blinding white mist: now we have black triangles and censor bars that, at the very least, don’t absolutely ruin the scenes.
Our protagonist reminds me of Love & Collage’s Hachibe Maeda. Except, instead of loving certain women unoquivacolly for their parts, Ryosuke simple finds the beauty there is in them.
With the way this harem ramped up, I’m not sure really how to gauge where it will go from here. However, it’s been a pretty good show for the season so far.
Moyashimon‘s continuation started a bit rough with me, but the episodes have really started to grow in to their own. It still has much of the humor and science that made the series a favorite of mine. However, it is missing one MAJOR element.
What Haruka added was a potential romantic interest for our protagonist, Sawaki. With the removal of Hasegawa, we are left relying on primary interest Hazuki who has had a lot of focus on her, and Yuuki Kei who has had nothing really. Now many could argue that Haruka and Yuuki have absolutely no romantic feelings towards Sawaki. However when you remove a lot of the tension from the harem ensemble, you are left with characters that have very little real personality to back them up.
The effect is that everything feels a bit stagnant at university and the sophmore slump is unacceptable. Yuuki’s reveal to the group was shrugged off, Haruka has been withdrawn completely from the ensemble, and the pairing of Hazuki and Sawaki really has none of that tension and that power that Hasegawa brought with her.
Moyashimon is still one of the better shows out this season, but, unfortunately, its charm is now solely in the comedy. Even the microbe ability Sawaki has is downplayed as a teaching tool instead of being utilized as the outstanding talent that it is.
This is Moyashimon going through the motions and, unfortunately, it could be better. The festival has begun and it’s intriguing to see some elements of chaos. However, that’s really all there was. Sadly, this season of Moyashimon has yet to yield anything new, and that’s a bit disappointing.
Much to the surprise (and joy) of fans who failed to stay for the credits of its unexpectedly touching thirteenth episode, Shirokuma Café has continued into the summer season with an abundance of new episodes. At first, I was apprehensive, recalling the lull in originality that occurred near the middle of the show’s first thirteen episodes. However, I soon realized that there was nothing to worry about- not only has the Café kept on its course, but it has almost constantly been improving, week after week.
Going into the second stretch, I soon came to the conclusion that, for Shirokuma Café to avoid regression into stagnation, it would need to focus more upon its ensemble. While the black and white trio at the focus at the show is great, the show truly shines when it brings in even more eccentric personalities to accent the main cast. During the summer season alone, racial tensions between King and Emperor penguins reached new heights, a businessman from out of town found himself face-to-face with talking animals for the first time, and Panda-obsessed Rin-Rin kept on being his lovable self. In other words, it has been fabulous.
Despite Polar Bear continuing his trend of becoming the most deliberately misleading and harmful friend possible, Shirokuma Café still offers its own refreshingly light-hearted and fun sense of humor, keeping it on my must-watch list.
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
Quick quiz: what do suicidal bread, yaoi romance manga, and neko girl deep-space probes have in common? If you don’t know the answer, start watching Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita. Translated into English as “Humanity has Declined,” my current favorite show of the season functions both as an amazingly colorful post-societal comedy and a scathing mockery of today’s commercialized culture.
Though the chronological order is completely scrambled, the two-episode arcs that make up the show are delightfully refreshing, allowing Jinrui wa to craft stories of a decent length while also covering a wide breadth of misadventures and themes, though with each arc, the commentary upon modern society’s trappings has become less and less pronounced.
Carrying all of the insanity upon her shoulders, our nameless heroine, who has been given the monicker “Realpolitik-san” at Twinfinite’s office, continually steals the show with her surprisingly dark and calculating thoughts. Alongside her may be found an ever-growing cast of oddballs and eccentrics, rotating in and out with each arc.
Even halfway through the season, I continue to marvel at just how beautiful Jinrui wa is, in almost every way possible. From the character design to the color palette, everything is gorgeous and bright. However, beneath the façade lurk some pretty damn dark humor and secrets, and it is in this what is truly amazing about the decline of humanity.
How well can you truly know yourself or others around you? Kokoro Connect, through its main gimmick of body-swapping, attempts to answer these questions, and the results are overwhelmingly fantastic.
It seemed (extremely) unlikely from the first episode, but Kokoro Connect has flourished not only as a fantastic slice-of-life comedy, but also as a drama exploring broken psyches and the concept of self. Continually, I have found myself impressed with how the show is able to tackle serious emotional problems in one moment, then, through the magic of body switching, have Taichi kick himself in the balls the next. Almost every single episode, I have been left with goosebumps at the transition from next week’s preview to the ED.
Now that the body-swapping arc has concluded, our hapless group of buddies find themselves faced with random removal of all inhibitions and physical filters. While body-swapping was fun, the show’s new gimmick excites me because of its inherent danger- Yui and Aoki have already found themselves in police custody, and only one episode of the arc has passed. If this second arc progresses like the first, there is no doubt that some very exciting twists will be in store.
Finally, my one reservation concerning the show: while each female member of the ensemble has been explored and nearly torn apart, I feel that we just have so much more that we have yet to see from Taichi and Aoki. I deeply hope that these perspectives will be further explored in the later episodes, fixing the uneven character development that we have so far seen.