Friday, October 18, 2013

Fall 2013: What I'm Watching (Part 2)

The second half of my Fall 2013 first impressions is coming up. 

Galilei Donna

The girls that make the earth go 'round (the sun).

Hazuki, Kazuki, and Hozuki Ferrari are three sisters living in Italy, though they do not live together as Hazuki is a law school student and the other sisters live separately due to their parents’ separation. They are descendents of Galileo Galilei, though that only factors into how often their mother berates them for not acting like the descendents of one of history’s most famous scientific minds. However, their ancestry brings them a trouble of an entirely different sort when a giant flying mecha piloted by sky pirates target them, looking for “Galileo’s inheritance”, followed by police who apprehend the family looking for the same thing. The only thing that saves them is a giant goldfish-shaped mecha built by middle-schooler Hozuki based off old blueprints she found in their house’s attic. As they escape from various forces that are after them, the three Ferrari sisters must also uncover the secret of this “inheritance”, the Galileo Tesagoro, a finding by Galileo that could shake the world even more than his defense of the Earth revolving around the sun.
So take an action/intrigue plotline rather akin to The Da Vinci Code (though so far without the anti-church sentiments), throw in some mecha and also add some cute girls, and you have Galilei Donna, one of two original (not based on an existing manga/novel/game) offerings this season from Fuji TV’s noitaminA block. It’s a rather wide-appeal show; whether you like mecha action or historical-based action-intrigue or just want more cute girls in your season, this show probably has it for you. With a lot of flashy action and some rather out-of-this-world elements (the goldfish mecha is even more ridiculous once you see how the actual goldfish is incorporated), it’s definitely an interesting show and one that has caught my attention. Whether the show can take all that and bring out a good story out of all of it remains to be seen, but for now, this show is looking good.
Galilei Donna is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic

You shouldn't need 1,001 nights to watch this show.
Sequel Alert: This is a direct sequel to Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, so watch that first.
I have some rather mixed feelings about the first season of Magi. On one hand, the show has some great moments, especially when looking into what it means to be a leader and what it means to have freedom. On the other hand, the characters, particularly Alibaba, are prone to doing stupid things and regressing where they should have made some development. That said, I do like the show enough to be watching the second season, and once again, it’s a case of “if you liked the first season, you’ll like the second”, at least for now.
Both seasons of Magi are available for streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Daisuki.
Nagi no Asukara

Four little merpeople.

A group of four childhood friends, Hikari, Manaka, Chisaki, and Kaname, are among a group of “sea people” who can live and breathe underwater. They are forced to attend a school above water when their middle school closes, though. After going above the surface, Manaka meets her classmate Tsumugu and a connection seems to form between them, which gets on Hikari’s nerves as the girl he had been watching over for much of his life seems to be slipping away from him. That turns out to only be the start of his worries, though, as relations between the sea and surface people seem to be strained, worsened by the discovery of Hikari’s older sister, Akari, in a relationship with a male from the surface.
This original work from P.A. Works looks absolutely incredible. P.A. Works has long been known for their visually impressive shows, and this show is really no exception. If you want to just enjoy really good visuals, Nagi no Asukara is perfect. The story itself, though, is still warming up. On the surface, what we have here is a classic love polygon with a group of established friends and one outsider that threatens the romantic prospects of one of those friends, which is fairly common; what makes all this harder to stomach is how immature Hikari is about dealing with it, as he frequently yells at Manaka and is just overall a brat in how he handles things. Manaka is overly submissive and doesn’t try standing up to Hikari, and there are no points for guessing where Chisaki and Kaname factor into this love polygon (though at least Chisaki is an interesting enough character from the start). That said, these characters are at that sensitive early puberty age, and immaturity isn’t out of place for Hikari or Manaka or the others. What’s important for an interpersonal drama like this show is that the characters grow, and Hikari does show some signs of growth in the third episode as he faces what his sister is going through. This show might not be one of my more anticipated shows, and it could very well just make me rage at bad relational writing in the end, but the potential for a really good show is here, which does make all the pretty visuals more worthwhile.
Nagi no Asukara is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
Non Non Biyori

Cute girls looking for something cute to do in the countryside.

Hotaru Ichijou is a mature-looking 5th-grade girl who moves to the countryside because of her father’s work. She attends a school with a total of four other students of different grades, all in one class: first-grader Renge, seventh-grader Natsume, and eighth-grader (and Natsume’s sister) Komari (and also their brother, but he’s not important). The four of them spend relaxing, amusing days in the peaceful countryside.
So you’ve seen Yuyushiki in Spring and Kin-iro Mosaic (and maybe Tamayura) in the summer, and you’re thinking, “Man, those shows were great and just what I need to unwind each week. Where’s my cute-girls-doing-cute-things show for this season?” Well, here it is. Non Non Biyori is yet another show cut from the same cloth as the aforementioned shows, although it has its own distinct features as well. That the girls span a decent age range and overall skew towards younger is one distinct aspect of the show. The other is how it takes place in the countryside and how there is a very relaxing feel to the show, easily classifying it as iyashikei. It’s cute, it’s relaxing, and it’s also quite funny at times, meaning this should be yet another winner in the “cute girls’ slice of life” category of anime, which understandably not everyone is a fan of, but if you are a fan of such shows, you’d be a fool not to be watching this.
Non Non Biyori is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
Samurai Flamenco

Ordinary heroes?
Goto, a cop, discovers Hazama, a model by day who at night dresses as a superhero, calls himself Samurai Flamenco, and goes around town fighting evil. And by evil, I mean drunk businessmen, loitering teenagers, and people who put out their trash too early. As his antics cause more of a disturbance among the people of the city, Goto manages to strike up a friendship with him, while at the same time tries to put out all the fires he causes.
I don’t really have much to say about this show. It’s about a guy who has an overblown sense of justice and causes trouble because of it, and the more serious cop that tries to keep him from doing something really stupid. It’s a fun show, and one that may eventually develop into something good that looks at what it really means to be a hero. Other than that… well, it’s the other original noitaminA show. And it definitely has a bromance going on between the male leads, if you’re into that. And isn’t “Samurai Flamenco” just a really fun name for a show?
Samurai Flamenco is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
White Album 2

Happy girls in snow? We'll see how long that lasts.

Sequel Alert? Nope, not this time. While it does reference things that happen in the first White Album game/anime, this is a completely standalone story that you can jump right into without ever touching the first series (which may be a good thing, as I haven’t heard the best things about the first series, which I haven’t watched).
Haruki Kitahara is the last member of a light music club in which most of the members quit, with the school festival coming up. He practices alone in the music room, though sometimes the piano player in the next room over starts harmonizing to him. After diffusing a situation in which Setsuna Ogiso, a popular girl in the school and the reigning “Miss Houjou”, refuses to participate in the contest again, he befriends her, and later has her join the light music club when he hears her singing along to his guitar playing. As for the piano player, he discovers that it is none other than Kazusa, the girl that sits next to him in class, who frequently skips class or sleeps through it and always looks mad about something.
This show is based off the visual novel of the same name, which, as I mentioned above, is a standalone story with only a few references to the first game in the “series”. Without knowing anything about the first series (including any of its supposed problems), I can say that White Album 2 looks to be yet another enjoyable visual novel adaptation. The first two episodes focus mainly on Haruki and Setsuna, so I can’t say anything about Kazusa yet, but both Haruki and Setsuna are likable characters; Haruki is much more proactive of a character (even if it gives him a flaw such as being prone to lecturing others), while Setsuna is a classic “nice girl” that seems to have some hidden depths. The way the story plays out, as well as the nice atmosphere the show provides (in part due to a nice use of the soundtrack, which is good for a story based around music), all help contribute to a show that has exceeded my expectations and has me looking forward to more. A lot will depend on how good the writing is when the drama, especially with what looks to be an impending love triangle, kicks into full gear, but this show has every sign so far that it can pull it off (whether it will is a different story).
White Album 2 is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
Yowamushi Pedal

This show has passed all doping tests.

Note:  Also known by its shorthand name, Yowapeda, on Crunchyroll.
Onoda Sakamichi is a hardcore otaku who frequently bikes across steep hills to Akihabara and uses the train fare he saves to buy more stuff. He had hoped to join the anime club upon entering high school, only to find that it had disbanded due to a lack of members. He then goes to try to recruit more people to join the club… and instead catches the interest of competitive cycler Imaizumi when he sees Onoda bike up the steep rear school hill on his “mommy bike” (a heavier bike with a basket intended for grocery runs and the like), as well as the interest of Miki, the cycling club’s manager. Onoda might have intended for a high school life indulging in otaku interests with other otaku, but when Imaizumi challenges him to a race, all signs point to him joining the world of competitive cycling instead.
Here’s my sports show for the season. Cycling isn’t a very frequently covered sport in fiction, so it’s nice to see an anime about it. Adding to my interest in this show is how fun the characters are; there’s a lot of funny interplay between Onoda and the comically-serious Imaizumi, as well as Miki, who seems like the classic “nice girl” until you find out that she has an obsession with bicycles and the people that ride them that reach stalker levels. Some good ol’ sports action, as well as some otaku comedy, should all help make this a fun sports anime. (Not to mention it’s educational; did you know that you get more pedaling power by raising your bike seat so that you have to fully stretch your leg to pedal?)
Yowapeda is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
In addition to these shows, I will also be continuing the Monogatari series that is still currently airing. There is also one other new show I may end up following, though it’s not set in stone yet so I haven’t covered it. (It’s very likely not any show you’d expect, though.) There are also a lot of shows that I’ve had to pass on, unfortunately. (Or fortunately.)
As a new feature, I will be adding a page to this blog that lists all the currently airing shows I’m following, as well as a ranking and a score for that show if at least 3 episodes have aired. You can also check out my MAL profile, as before.

So what are you watching this season?

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