It's cleanup time in my blog, which means catching up on a show that I've been withholding comment on for a while, a new recommendation to watch, and taking out some garbage and throwing it away.
Phi Brain - Kami no Puzzle (Episode 5)
So after watching the first episode of Phi Brain I made the decision to give it a few episodes to let it reveal it's plot and what direction it's going to go in, and it's walking the line of being good and bad and remaining at being "there". There's something about the art style that's not working for me and is a bit distracting, but I like the concept and the characters despite that. I'm glad that I was able to get the fifth episode in, as it fills in a bit about "Einstein"'s love/hate relationship with the puzzles and why he's offended at the use of those puzzles as death traps. The relationships of the other "Solvers" are starting to round themselves out, and seeing different attitudes of the "Givers" is also interesting, and a good thing that most of them aren't murderous crybabies like I would have thought after watching episode 3. The fourth episode finally introduced a Giver who's reaction to their puzzle being solved wasn't indignation but actually happiness at the solving, which was needed to break up the fits of rage and temper tantrums thrown by the other Givers when bested. I'm still interested enough in this series to keep watching, and would probably put it in last week's "If you like this type of thing, you'll like this thing of that type" category, which I'd also do with the next show, much to my surprise.
Ben-To (Episode 4)
So after listening to episode 105 of the Anime Addicts Anonymous podcast, I was surprised to hear that Chiaki liked Ben-To but couldn't describe why. Like Phi Brain, it has some things going against it, like the tsundere "Ice Queen" who's the leader of this particular pack of "wolves" in a no-holds barred battle for cheap bento boxes. I think the absurdity that I enjoyed in Kore wa Zombie desu ka? that I thought I'd get in C3 is present here, and that might be why I'm enjoying it despite it's flaws. The set up is ridiculous, but that's never stopped me from liking a series with a ludicrous kick off to it's action. There's a part of me that thinks at time that I'm over-analyzing the show, that it might be trying to say something about honor in battle, and codes of ethics, instead of just being about people beating each other up for cheap eats. I'm sure it's there, but it might be more fun to watch this without thinking too much about it. It's a good "brain off" series as it's entertaining for what it is, and again, if you like this type of thing (absurd comedy), you'll like this thing of that type.
I try to have positive things to say about most shows, since maybe when it comes to anime I'm an optimist at heart. These shows, however, prove to be poor examples of what they're trying to accomplish, and there's better things to be watching instead, and I've already given twelve shows this season which fall into that category. I'm not saying you might not like them, or even love them, I was one of the people who loved Mayo Chiki! last season so you should know that my opinions are my own, and my opinions are that these shows shouldn't be watched in lieu of shows that in my opinion are better options.
Mashiro-Iro Symphony (Episode 5)
I don't object to a good harem romance, and that's something that Mashiro-Iro Symphony isn't. It has the pacing of a slice of life show, and a main character who's too much of a blank slate to get a read on him. He's just "the nice guy". Whatever the nicest option is for him to do, is what he's going to do. "You need to leave and want me to do the rest of your work? That's ok, because I'm the nice guy." "You're going to show outright hostility towards me? I'll win you over by being the nice guy." "I may have done something unknowingly which you took offense to and have blown out of proportion? I'll smooth things over because I'm the nice guy."
This show wouldn't be so bad if it wasn't so intent on keeping the "atmosphere" cozy. Some conflict and emotion would go a long way towards rounding out the characters and their real feelings for each other. They're just being so nice to each other, that they're burying anything that might resemble an emotional trait that I could attach myself to. Instead, it looks like it's going to continue being a cycle of misunderstanding causes potential PVC figure to get their feelings hurt, and nice guy smooths everything over so we can get on to the next episode. It's spinning it's wheels, and not doing so in a remotely interesting way.
If you're looking for something like this, go watch any number of better shows. Love Hina, Ai Yori Aoshi, Mayo Chiki!, or the spectacular Kimi Ni Todoke, just ignore this one, since even Manglobe couldn't save this from the drop pile.
Un-Go (Episode 3)
How much disappointment do I have towards Un-Go? So much that I'm going to ruin this show by letting you watch the best parts of it. Here's the first thing that's great about this show.
What a great opening, terrific music (from School Food Punishment who did the closing theme to [C]-Control), great character designs, interesting environment, terrific animation, what could possibly go wrong here? Well, here's the other great thing about this show.
Fans of No. 6 will recognize the LAMA music at the end of the show and again, fantastic and meaningful lyrics to what should be another terrific Noitamina production. Unfortunately, everything you see between these two things is boring garbage. The show spends more time throwing a myriad of characters at you, that by the time something happens you don't care who the culprit is. Pick a random dude that looks sketchy, that's what it seems like this "defeated detective" does, because it's not like anyone has any recognizable motivation here. Watch Case Closed if you want a detective series instead of this.
Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon (episode 1)
It's a rare show that after one episode turns me off of it so much that I won't give it a second chance. I even watched two episodes of the absolutely dreadful R-15 before retiring that series to the garbage heap. The only shows in recent memory that I've watched one episode of and bailed on were Hen Zemi (which is more trashy than R-15) and now Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere. It fails for the same reason Un-Go does, except even more so. The first episode felt like I was sighted in someone's "Random Anime Trope Generator Machine Gun v4.23", they flipped the switch to fully automatic, and then hammered down the trigger for 23 minutes. "Don't like this character, how about this one? Maybe this one? How about this one, she has wings! Ok, this one has a Robot! This one IS a robot!" Not a single character seemed to have any shred of intelligence to them, and most looked like they went for second and third helpings of cup size rather than common sense. Add in that the "leader" of this group, none of which I could remember the names of since it seemed more important to try to sell another PVC figure with large breasts, comes in long enough to announce that he skipped class to buy an eroge, but after he finishes it he's going to confess his feelings for "Horizon" who's been dead for 10 years, but before that, he's going to grope his teacher. And then you're going to give me the serious voice over during the ending theme to try to tell me that there's something more going on here than slapstick comedy? I can't imagine that in my projected Super Six that this was above Last Exile, Fate/Zero, or even Un-Go, and that it went from there to dropped in less than 25 minutes is amazing to me. Garbage. If you want a show that goes with a theme of retelling history, go watch Fate/Zero, it's light years better than this.
Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! (episode 5)
Can someone tell me when this show gets back to what it was doing in the first two episodes? There was a giant battle that was reminiscent of a Baka To Test class battle to start with, and in the second episode there was some hint that there was some great conspiracy that these kids were going to get involved in. And in the third episode, there were breasts. And in the fourth episode, more breasts and naked girls. And in the fifth episode, did I mention breasts and naked girls, because there's a lot of those in this show. I've almost forgot about those first two episodes because every time I queue up an episode of this my brain shuts down from pantsu overload and my eyes glaze over. It looked like it was going to try to do something interesting, a samurai spin on Full Metal Panic! possibly, but it got bogged down in awkward advances of cute samurai girls to a character who is so hung up on a different cute samurai girl that he can't see the forest for the trees. Someone needs to sit the main character down with a copy of School Days and say, "Do this, just don't go overboard so you can avoid what happens in the last few episodes" and make it a hentai already. Watch Baka To Test or Full Metal Panic! instead of this, unless you really, and I mean really, like samurai girls.
Next week, I might look around at some other anime that I haven't been watching this season, and revise the Super Six to see if Fate/Zero is able to make it's way in, since after a shaky start, it's progressed brilliantly since.