Monday, April 25, 2011

FIRST LOOK: Ao no Exorcist, C The Money of Soul and Possibility of Control, Deadman Wonderland, Hana-saku Iroha, Sket Dance

So the spring anime line-up has just kick-started and among my watchlist, quite a few have delivered. Of course, there's still the 3-episode rule to consider but if you're a long time reader of this blog, then you already know that I'm not particularly a stickler for rules. Well, here goes nothing: my first impressions on the 2011 spring anime line-up.

Ao no Exorcist (1)

The first episode of Ao no Exorcist starts out slow.  This is not bad because it allows us plenty of time to see and understand the main character and his situation in life. Rin is basically a good-for-nothing guy, emphasis on the good. Ever heard of the saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions?" Well, Rin has good intentions but his actions in pursuing those good intentions somehow always end up with him getting in trouble, whether with the local neighborhood bullies, his employers or even his own family, which by the way is an entire congregation of monks/exorcists. Just what the heck is he doing wrong? Everything, as it turns out. He's actually the son of a demon and a human woman. And not just an ordinary demon either, but the demon of demons: Satan. Rin's demonic powers manifest themselves by the end of the episode in the form of blue flame engulfing his whole body, which scares some would-be bullies, except for one: a kid who is possessed by a demon, Aseroth, who invites Rin to come home with him. Fortunately, Rin's father (or foster father?), a great exorcist, arrives just in time and purges the demon away. But Rin's troubles are just beginning.

The premise is not that original. Isn't Bleach and every other shounen anime a little like this? Except that this one involves the widely Western concept of exorcism. I understand that this is an adaptation of a popular shounen manga and is actually one of the more hyped up shows this season. As far as the first episode is concerned, I say Ao no Exorcist does not disappoint. The visuals are great, the music's the usual fare, I like the pacing. But I'll have to see the next two or so episodes to make my final judgment.

C - The Money of Soul and Possibility of Control (1)

What does it say about a show when you can't remember the name of its main character thirty minutes after you've watched (and liked) it? Or maybe it has nothing to do with the show at all and everything to do with my inability to recall Japanese names. Sorry. My bad. *sweatdrop* C - The Money of Soul and Possibility of Control is about this guy who's too poor to go on drinking parties, buy a nice lunch, or take his crush out on a proper date, who has to work two part-time jobs just to make ends meet, who has to review for the civil service exam early in the hopes of becoming a civil servant, not because he wants to perform public service but because he thinks that a government job is safer than a private one. In short, this is a guy whose entire life revolves around money -- how to make it, how to make it last, how to make more of it -- and, thus, the perfect candidate to play in a weird game set in a psychedelic world where the currency is, well, money. Interested yet? The show is a little out there, which shouldn't come as a surprise considering that the story comes from the brain of the guy who gave you Kuuchuu Buranko. As for me, I was pleased with the visuals (although not at first) and was intrigued enough to want to check out the second episode. This could turn out to be a sleeper hit this season or the next Ergo Proxy, which I liked but which almost everyone lambasted for being pretentious as hell (which is probably true)? Only the 3-episode rule can tell.

Deadman Wonderland (1)

I wasn't very impressed with this show. I would love to love it from the get-go, considering that the main character is voiced by one of my favorite seiyu, Paku Romi, but I can't seem to get into it. Deadman Wonderland is the story of Ganta, a survivor of an earthquake that destroyed the old city of Tokyo. Ten years later, he is just an ordinary boy in high school when a harrowing event occurs and changes his life forever. A man covered in blood and wearing a red cape suddenly appears and kills his entire class. As he is the only survivor, Ganta is accused of the mass murder and is sentenced to death and spend his remaining days in Deadman Wonderland, a private prison facility that also acts as a theme park-cum-tourist attraction. There he meets all kinds of people, from kleptomaniacs, to sadistic jail wardens, to a white-haired girl who talks peculiarly like a child and claims to know Ganta. Then Ganta suddenly manifests a strange power, coming from a red crystal embedded in his chest by the "Redman." Just who is the Redman? Why has he given him this power? Will he ever get out of prison alive? I guess I'll give this one the 3-episode rule.

Hana-saku Iroha (1-3)

I was so pleased with this anime because it met my expectations and perhaps gave even more. Hana-saku Iroha is the story of Ohana, a sixteen year old girl who is at the cusp of womanhood. Her mother, Satsuki, is a struggling novelist and a hopelessly neglectful parent who runs away with her boyfriend to escape his debts. She leaves Ohana to the grudging care of her own mother (Ohana's grandmother), who is the manager of an inn. Naive Ohana thinks she's embarking on a rosy adventure where everyone is kind to her and show her all the secrets to a happy, interesting life -- only to have all her hopes horribly dashed. The moment she arrives, a girl calmly tells her to die while her friend refuses even to look at her, her grandmother puts her to hard labor so she can earn her keep, and things just keep getting worse. But blessed with a can-do attitude and self-reliance, Ohana is going to make these people's lives just as hellish as they're making hers and she's going to do it with a smile, too. I am really liking this show. I love the characters. I love the art style and production values. Oh, and you won't recognize Mamiko Noto here.

Sket Dance (1)

Switch! Onihime! I don't get why the guys at ANN don't like this show. Sket Dance doesn't pretend to be deep or anything like that. It's just a slice of life anime that's there for the gags. It's like Arakawa Under the Bridge, minus the over-the-top hilarity. Not laugh-out-loud funny but amusing enough. It's refreshing, if you ask me.