The Spring 2012 anime season is kicking into high gear. Some shows have already started airing and a glutton will be arriving this week. This season has more shows that I want to check out than usual and as they air, I plan on writing a quick first episode impressions on them. Now, it's important to note that these are not reviews of the entire series. They are simply my quick opinion on on the impression that the first few episodes gave me.
Ozma (Episodes #1-3)
A mysterious woman escapes from the military and is taken in by sand pirates who vow to protect her.
I'm a Leiji Matsumoto so this one was a guaranteed watch. Leiji's signature art style is in full effect and is very pretty to look at in HD. The colors in the show are vivid and bright, which really makes the screen shots lovely. The animation is a mixed bag of quality where a single scene might have beautiful and fluid elements (for example, someone on a motorbike with their hair blowing in the wind) combined with something truly awful looking (in the same example, the actual movement of the bike may be perfectly still and clearly a motion tween). All in all it makes the animation average out to being good enough.
The story so far has been tense, yet still has a sense of fun and adventure to it. Nothing is reinventing the wheel by any stretch of the imagination, but it's been an enjoyable ride so far. The characters are your standard Leijiverse fare, which means very tropey and everyone looks like someone from another Matsumoto series. Gido (voiced by Sho "Aizen" Hayami who does his best to compete with Rie "Insert Tsundere" Kugimiya for the title of Most Typecast VA) could pass as Captain Harlock cosplaying as a masked Gundam baddie, Bainas is a pretty clear cut yet awesome clone of Emeraldas, and Maya is a tall and slender woman with mysterious background just like Maetel, but these similarities are par for the course in Matsumoto's works.
3.5/5 Sticking With It
Matsumoto is one of my favorite creators and I've enjoyed everything that I've seen by him. Ozma is no different, although it being based off of an unfinished manga from over 20 years ago and only scheduled for six episodes pretty much guarantees that the series will simply stop rather than reach any type of conclusion. Still, it's been a blast for its first three episodes and I plan to stick with it for the long haul... if you can call 6 episodes a long haul.
Space Brothers #1
After losing his job, one brother returns to the dream that he and his brother shared of becoming astronauts.
I can't quite put into words what I expected coming into this series, but the first episode left me pleasantly surprised. The level of humor was something I wasn't expecting. I was expecting something more serious, and honestly a little dull, but what I got was a sitcom with some heart to it. I find Mutta, the main character, to be easy to relate to. He just lost his job (for headbutting his boss who was talking crap about his astronaut little brother) and is forced to move back home with his parents. I've had that as a nightmare ever since I moved out of my parents house so I totally feel for him there. Additionally, he's having an incredibly hard time finding a job, something many people can associate with in the current economy. Despite some of the comedic or fantastical elements of the series, it's very down to earth in a way that I don't usually see in anime and is a nice counter to Ozma, which is a much tropier series.
As far as production values are concerned, the animation is nice. Not quite as high as a series like Nisemonogatari, which was something along the lines of a master class in animation, but everything was appropriately fluid and I didn't notice anything that I would call a negative. The animation essentially bottomed out at good, so no complaints from me. I don't usually care for most anime opening themes but this Space Brother has a a flat out great opening song that came off as a nice combination of Radiohead and modern Duran Duran. Definitely my favorite opening song that I've heard so far this year.
5/5 Sticking With It
I can't think of a single negative thing to say about the series so far. When people say that modern anime has fallen off or is nothing but moe and fanservice series, I feel like series like high quality shows like this one are always forgotten or ignored. Hopefully this one won't suffer that same fate of not counting.