Daroki (Level 9)

And thanks to the fact that I could recognize a 40+ year old Yes song, I am officially old.
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So with the beginning of the Fall season, shows are clamoring for attention, and firing their opening salvos into the anime world in hopes of making their first impression count. While I haven't watched everything that was on "The Contenders" list, I've watched a bit of it and closed off ties to other shows. (Speaking of "The Contenders", I'd like to again give thanks to whoever nominated the blog as part of the Community Spotlight. It's appreciated and absolutely serves as motivation to continue writing.)

Last week I got around to finishing off Blood-C, which left me thankful that the show ended it's groundhog day loop in the first four episodes, but not as thankful as I was that the show as over. Granted, the Saya at the end of Blood-C was far more reminiscent to the Saya I would expect from the Blood series, and the gore factor went into the stratosphere eventually, but there was just something to the show that I couldn't grasp on to. Maybe it was the slow start and that it didn't have enough time to get me over the initial disconnect, which might be as logical an explanation as I can think of right now, but Blood-C feels like something that I can say I watched, and won't blame anyone else for not joining me in seeing. It'd be hard to recommend to fans of the original Blood: The Last Vampire because the Saya is so different, and hard to recommend to new fans because the Saya is so disjointed. I'm not left excited for the prospect of the Blood-C movie next June, and I'm not sure if enough people will be to make the venture profitable, but maybe with some distance my feelings on that will change.

The one show out of the contenders that was put in the "Super Six" that I haven't watched yet, and I'll probably watch after I finish writing this, is Persona 4: The Animation. There's more than enough people writing about the show that my thoughts will be another added to a rapidly expanding heap of postulates on the transition from game to anime, but I'm still more excited for this series than any other in the fall season, even after watching the first episodes of a few of the new shows.

The one show that seemed to get off to a surprisingly shaky start was the other series that I had a reserved spot for in the "Super Six", the first episode of the second season of Bakuman. I'm a bit shocked at Hattori being removed as Ashirogi Muto's editor, as the dynamic between the three was one of the more enjoyable aspects of the first season. Putting Mashiro and Takagi in a further discomforting position in attending the Jack party helped smooth the initial discomfort at that development though, as it's always a good sign when you're feeling the same level of discomfort as the protagonists. There's a lot of pressure on the two, and the early shakeup in the second season helps add new characters which should keep breathing new life into the show and carry it forward. It was a bit of a rocky start before the show seemed to settle back down and, by the conclusion of the first episode, put you back in that frame of mind that let you enjoy the first season so much.

I haven't watched the entire first episode of Fate/Zero, and only dug into a few minutes into it, but what I've seen so far is promising. That opening sequence could have killed any interest I had, but by keeping the focus on Emiya it gave me a character to grab on to who looks like they're going to drive the opening of the Fate series towards what it's become. Emiya's perspective may be the best one for a Type-Moon neophyte, like myself, to take while entering the universe they created, and as long as the show continues from that perspective, I'm going to give it a fair shake. The reveal early on of Illyasviel brought back memories actually of playing Mass Effect 2 when the Normandy was revealed. I'm sure if I had played the first Mass Effect, that seeing the new and improved Normandy was supposed to give me the same sense of joy and familiarity that Illyasviel as a baby was supposed to, but both fell a bit flat for me due to a lack of familiarity. I'm assuming that Illyasviel is a big deal and that she is important, and maybe in the end I can look back and recognize that, but at this point the focus on Emiya is a deft move that kept me from getting too far disconnected with what was happening. If it continues to work this way, Fate/Zero might make a Fate fan out of me yet.

I might be coming from C3 (CubexCursedxCurious) from the right place, in aligning the prism to see this through the eyes of someone who enjoyed Kore we Zombie Desu Ka?, but there's a startling difference between the two shows that makes itself obvious right away. At least Yuu was quiet and expressed herself through her writing and emoting, which was far more endearing than Fear's constant foul diatribes. I see the dynamic they're trying to create here, but unless they execute with incredible skill, that dynamic's not going to be one which holds me for any period of time, and C3's opening salvo doesn't inspire much hope for that. I'm going to hold on to C3, but it's moving down the list towards drop territory, especially if other shows step up and demand my attention.

A show that does have my attention right now, however, is Chihayafuru, which opened up quite nicely. I actually like Chihaya as a character, since while she absolutely could use a few gates between what she's thinking and what she's saying, you're never wondering where she's coming from. She's not doing the things she does because she's stupid, but because she possesses a dangerous level of honesty and no shut off valve to stop from saying things better left unmentioned or doing things best left undone. Honest, pretty, and kind are three attributes I like in my heroines and the developing triangle between her, Arata, and Taichi is something I'm highly interested in, with the kurota background being a fine way to force these characters to interact and rival each other.

I did get a chance to get in two shows that weren't on "The Contenders" list from last week, and both left me intrigued enough to continue watching, albeit with short leashes. Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! has the shortest of the two, since it looks like it could, worst case scenario, turn into "Baka no Test no Pantsu!" as it has the class battling mechanic of Baka no Test with plucky underdogs using cunning and guile to defeat overachievers in the first battle, but with widespread fanservice which borders on getting out of control. If Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! doesn't perform at a high level it will end up driving me to the second season of Baka no Test instead of continuing on with it. I'm going to give this show enough time to explain if the constant use of Onee-sama to Momoyo is a term of endearment, or are Yamato and Momoyo are actually siblings. If they are, I'm finding the nearest exit. If it's going to turn into a fan service fest, I'm going to also turn it off and go towards Baka no Test, which is the true specter holding court over this show's chances of making it into my viewing rotation.

Another show not on the early list was Phi Brain - Kami no Puzzle, and I survived the first episode which bodes well for this style of anime. Usually I'll know early on if I don't like the way that a shonen anime like Phi Brain is developing and if I don't like it I'll bail early. Fortunately, the premise and characters were interesting enough for me to get through the first episode, and put it on the hold list to watch more of. It's going to take a few episodes to develop, so if I'm going to hold it, it needs to stay that way either until episode four, unless it does something ridiculous and horrible. I've read that Phi Brain is an original work that was written by Sunrise, so it has the chance to become something really unique and special, or something offensive and stupid. So far, it avoided being offensive or stupid, so I'm up for making the commitment to checking the show out and seeing where it's going to go.

There's still more out to watch, including a lot of the shows that I pegged as initial contenders to start with, but as of right now, C3 is in the process of disqualifying itself from being listed as a member of the "Super Six", while Fate/Zero and Phi Brain's opening salvos are strong enough, that if Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere doesn't come out strong, those shows will be asking if it could please step aside and make from for them to enter.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I need to visit from friends in Inaba... Kuma!

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