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Jan 26 2011

Winter 2011 Initial Impressions

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It’s taken us quite a while but Aorii and I once again present our initial impressions of the shows we have picked up for this season. I think this is the first time we’ve watched the exact same shows. The order of our lists is basically the same although we have Fractale and Gosick reversed in our respective versions. This is mainly due to our own particular genre preferences. Anyway enough talk. Let’s go down the list!

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

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Current Episode: 3
Aorii: I thought Madoka was going to be a spin on traditional mahou shoujo like Nanoha was; nope, more like Shinbo decided to flip it upside down. From the dark tones surrounding the entire magirl girl career to the sinister Faustian messages that surrounds Kyubey, this series feels like Shinbo’s commentary on a dark side of the mahou shoujo ideal rather than any fluffy magical girl show. I’m still not a fan of using Hidamari character designs in a serious atmosphere, but ever since episode two began to properly unravel this series I’ve been completely entranced by it~
Honya: I had a feeling that I would love this series but I was surprised by why and to what extant. It was initially in the middle of my priorities list until the shocking events of episode 3. What I thought of as Nanoha + B★RS + Hidamari Sketch suddenly got a dash of Narutaru. Madoka like Nanoha is demonstrating that a magical girl series does not have to be all sugar and rainbows. I enjoy the the very cute character designs for the series though because of the creepy juxtaposition of expectations versus reality that it creates. Its Faustian themes are also generating the kind of theorizing that I enjoy participating in and if some of the speculation turns out to be correct I can see it becoming the show of the season.

Hourou Musuko

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Current Episode: 2
Aorii: Beautiful graphics combined with a nostagic presentation style that brings one back to the childhood, delivering a subtle message that compares the likeness of our childhoods regardless of one’s sexual identity and orientation. I’m still not sure about their choice to speed up the pacing by skipping the first 30ish chapters of the manga which included countless key character development points, but it’s certainly a very promising start~
Honya: The in medias res presentation of Hourou Musuko creates a barrier which makes it hard to jump into initially. With several dozen chapters skipped it’s difficult for a non-manga reader such as myself to take everything in at once. With that said I’m loving all the things I have seen so far and all of the things that are hinted at. It feels like jumping into the middle of the chaos of a group of children exploring what gender means and what it means to them.

Gosick

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Current Episode: 2
Aorii: The production qualities seem solid and the storytelling rather fluid, but only again this is one of the detective series that simply doesn’t catch my interest. I do love Victorica’s laugh though x3
Honya: As a fan of mystery stories I enjoy Gosick more than the average person would. It does a great job of capturing the essence and feel of the mystery genre so it feels like I’m watching a mystery novel animated. Victorique is an interesting character as well and I’ll be looking forward to seeing how she explores the world and grows as a detective and young lady. My one complaint though is that the actual mysteries presented thus far are quite easy and except for a few minor details I’ve solved all the cases. I just hope that maybe things will ramp up in difficulty or that the events presented thus far are building up to a case on a larger scale.

Kimi ni Todoke

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Current Episode: 2
Aorii: Can’t have much of an impression on a second season can I? A new misunderstanding because Sawako couldn’t speak up frustrated me a bit, as we’ve pretty much returned to the first season’s approach. But I’ll be back to melting over their cuteness soon enough~ ^o^
Honya: I like the second season so far although in comparison to the stuff higher up on the list it doesn’t command quite the same attention from me. The second season features more of the same material as the first season so there isn’t really anything to report on. This isn’t bad per se but at the same time it also it means it doesn’t provide the surprises that I look for in the other series.

Fractale

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Current Episode: 2
Aorii: Not even going to hide it; I love this setting xD; I could care less about accusations of unoriginality or industry drama in the face of such intriguing setting design that’s also a dystopian piece of social critique, with the entire Fractale world seeming like the nextgen of omnipresent social networking; not to mention Nessa’s semi-solidity and ability to change the state of anything (even doppels) in that world is just making me question the reality of the Fractale world even more~
Honya: At first glance Fractale really does feel and look like a Ghibli televsion series. The setting as shown thus far seems well-constructed and pretty intriguing albeit somewhat unsettling. The freedom of economy and travel afforded by the Fractale System seems to be a miracle but I find it very disconcerting. It feels more like a glass cage than anything else. Until I see more of the series it’s very hard for me to make much of a judgment. On a related note, I swear Hanazawa Kana is mimicking Toyosaki Aki when she plays Nessa.

IS: Infinite Stratos

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Current Episode: 2
Aorii: I wasn’t expecting anything except ‘mecha’fights, which fits as while the opening battle sequences were awesome, the story still hasn’t shown itself and the setting makes no sense. There’s also some heavy use of character stereotypes (the Chinese girl doesn’t have hairbuns so she has to be a restaurant girl -__-;;) and super shounen attitudes here, but hey— I’m just waiting for the action to start x3
Honya: for the time being is just okay for now. It’s entertaining enough but not exactly artistic. The setting reminds me somewhat of G Gundam in the sense that all the nations have a single machine with which they compete with each other. The characters as they stand currently follow the traditional archetypes too closely (Chinese restaurant girl lol) so it’s hard to find them endearing. At least the action sequences are fun to watch. Maybe once the conflict hinted at during the first episode, which for the time being I’m guessing is a reverse-engineered military-grade IS, is brought to the forefront, Infinite Stratos will be able to truly show its wings.

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?

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Current Episode: 3
Aorii: The ridiculous wacky humor series always tends to appeal to specific tastes. Personally I’m split on it: I find quite a few of its absurd moments entertaining, not to mention the main character is often hilarious, but the other half the time I’m just bored by it. Just waiting to see how many races/jobs this main character gains as every girl seems to be contributing one (that vampire ninja is totally going to bite him right?)
Honya: Probably the series I’m most meh about. I don’t dislike it and find it entertaining because of how silly it is. It’s like watching a series with characters designed using a handful of dice with random words on each face. I guess it’s entertaining in a stupid way.

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