Dream (Level 21)

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The Spring anime lineup is definitely shaking up to be worth looking into with enough worthwhile titles for me to grab my attention. I even managed to come across some titles worth a look that I wasn't even planning on checking out for this season. From slice-of-life dramas to manic comedy to superhero action, here's a look at my thoughts on Spring anime titles I have had a chance to look into for this season thus far.

Currently Watching
Tiger and Bunny
The premise to this series is quite original compared to much of what I have heard in recent years with the focus on corporate-sponsored superheroes competing on a reality show. Seeing product placement on the costumes of the superheroes for companies like Pepsi and Bandai was worth a chuckle when I first seen Tiger and Bunny. The series is focused on veteran superhero Kotetsu Kaburagi (superhero name Wild Tiger) forced to team up with newcomer hero Barnaby Brooks following the acquisition of the company that was sponsoring Kotetsu for the reality show. The first three episodes thus far have been used to introduce the two characters and focusing on the two adjusting to working together as they have different views of how a hero should be. This is one of the better-looking titles I've seen thus far for the season featuring plenty of well-rendered CG animation for city landscapes, the costumes worn by the heroes and fluid animation coming from the heroics pulled by the competing superheroes. I am hoping there is a point in the series that explores what led to superheroes becoming walking advertisements for corporations in the world of Tiger and Bunny. But for now, this series is doing a decent job of hooking me thanks to the chemistry between Barnaby and Kotetsu.

Hanasaku Iroha
I am a sap for slice-of-life titles and for the most part, Hanasaku Iroha has done a good job of hooking me into the show. Finding herself dumped onto working for her grandmother's hot springs resort by her irresponsible mother, Ohana finds herself learning to adjust to her new surroundings as her grandmother treats the family members working under her as employees, overcoming her own shortcomings with her personality and trying to make friends with the younger workers at the inn. The first two episodes appeared to be focused on a serious drama with exploring Ohana's circumstances of working at the resort. Yet in the third episode, there is a change in mood thanks to the antics of an erotic writer that Ohana meets up with in the resort leading to some comedic and somewhat perverted moments. Some folks I've come across in blogs and forums online have already started ripping on the series for going against the serious mood it had in the first two episodes and are threatening to drop the show. I did enjoy said episode despite it seeming out of place with what was set up in the first two episodes. It looks like the next episode will be focused on the school lives of Ohana and the high schoolers at the resort which should make for a decent break from focusing on things at the resort.

The focus on time travel that I heard of from the premise for this visual novel game spinoff was what brought me into checking out Steins;Gate. I was not expecting the focus on otaku-related subjects during the first episode until I seen Chaos;Head (made from the same makers of this series) recently which led me to get used to this element to the series. Unlike Chaos;Head though, this series looks more stark and subdued in its overall feel as color is a bit more darker and there is a more defined look to its visuals. Rintaro Okabe's character is quite different from Takumi from Chaos;Head  in that he is not afraid to defy others with his theories related to time travel and possible conspiracies, even while coming across as a bit eccentric. Like Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate appears to be setting up for a complicated plot set up by a powerful corporation as Takumi digs deeper into a conspiracy from said corporation. The time travel subject of the series has hooked me in well thus far with mentions of real-life infamous Internet figure John Titor proclaiming to be a time traveler and the series making reference to his original theories of what the future would hold for humanity. I'm looking forward to continue seeing what developments come up with Takumi's conflict with SERN in Steins;Gate.

Dodoron Enma-kun Meeramera
This was one of a few titles I wasn't planning on originally watching. I can be a sap for comedy titles provided they deliver the right stuff to hook me in and with the manic and perverse comedy of Dodoron Enma-kun, this series looks geared to be my comedy title of choice for the Spring season. The series knows how perverse and over-the-top it can be with its humor with Enma not afraid to do overkill tactics to kill off enemy demons and the raunchy elements to the show blending right in like a demon literally trying to attack Enma and his friends with a certain body part and Yukiko-Hime always winding up getting unclothed during intense moments with a demon. From what I understand, this series is a remake of an old 1970s anime series and it does show with the character designs. If you have no problem with manic, perverse comedies, then you should be able to get enjoyment out of this series.

A Channel
Many of you on Anime Vice are well familiar with my utter hate of moeblob titles. This has to do with the fact that such titles force you to feel a certain way towards the overly cute and submissive female characters that are portrayed in said titles, which is a huge turnoff for me in portraying female characters. Fortunately in the case of the latest moe title A Channel, this feeling of caring for the characters actually comes off naturally for me this time around instead of making me feel like wanting to bang my head on a wall. Other than Run's ditziness frying my brain cells at points, the interactions between her and her friends come across quite naturally enough where I did get some chuckles out of some of the actions of the characters and enjoying some of the heartwarming moments with the interactions between the four characters. As long as A Channel is able to keep the interactions between the four friends natural, I might not feel so tempted to bash moeblob titles as much as I have been.

C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
Long title aside, C was one of this season's heavily anticipated titles by anime fans. Being a sap for Noitamina titles, this series was a definite choice for me to check out and from what I seen of the first episode, I'm already hooked. The first episode of this series did quite well at introducing both the twisted world of the competition for money in bank accounts and introducing college student Kimimaro. It's hinted from the get-go that there is something sinister going on in the "Financial District" that the creepy banker tempts Kimimaro into accepting. With the college student struggling on his own, such an arrangement would seem tempting to anyone trying to get by financially. The world of the "Financial District" already set this series up as one of the best-looking titles of the season with its highly colorful and abstract environments and the slick looking battle scene that took place at the start of the episode. It will be interesting to see how well Kimimaro handles things in the Financial District for the next episode of C.

This was another title that I originally had no plans of checking out and much to my chagrin, I didn't even know it was another Noitamina title airing this season. Setting aside my lack of prior research on AnoHana, I also got hooked on this show thanks to its dramatic focus on Jintan and the ghost of his dead childhood friend, Menma. The show got started from the get-go in pulling its punches with exploring what led up to Menma's death, the guilt Jintan had over her loss and what led him and his five friends to drift apart after Menma's death. The show appears to be focusing on Jintan trying to reunite with his friends to grant a wish for his childhood friend's ghost with what was brought up Menma during the episode. With the effective emotional drama AnoHana pulled in its first episode, I'm looking forward to seeing how things progress with AnoHana in the weeks to come for the Spring anime season.

Deadman Wonderland
This was another highly anticipated Spring anime series I heard folks raving for. Looking into how the first episode ran, my impressions of Deadman Wonderland are not too good thus far. It looked like the series was forcing things to be as hellish as possible for Ganta and to quickly toss him into the prison/ theme park known as Deadman Wonderland. The first five minutes of the episode alone looked quite rushed with the flow of events where Ganta's classmates are slaughtered, he gets hospitalized, arrested and went through a speedy trail. It's like the series wasn't sure how to toss Ganta into Deadman Wonderland so they decided to toss a bone and run with it. A later scene where Ganta recalls the time he spent with his classmates while in the prison had me caring less for the kid because of the lack of depth on his life before being tossed into Deadman Wonderland. In terms of showing off the prison/ carnival park premise, the series does do a decent job depicting it with the twisted mix of entertainment shown with the prisoners treated as circus freaks for the carnival that the audience enjoys and the reality of the situation with prisoners being treated horribly with their lives at risk with the prison staff caring less for how they treat them, shown clearly through a prisoner eventually killed from the poison in the collar strapped to his neck. However, the series has done a poor job from the start for me in mixing grittiness and substance effectively like Black Lagoon's been capable of pulling. I'll give this series a few more episodes to see if it can clean up its act or else I will be ditching it quick.

Hyouge Mono
Feudal era titles have done well in the past to hook me in as I got great enjoyment out of seeing similar titles like House of Five Leaves, Beast Player Erin and the 2009 anime adaptation of The Tale of Genji. Hyouge Mono makes itself a satirical comedy focused on the obsessive interest that warlord Sasuke Furuta has for expensive tea sets and his tense relationship with legendary shogun Oda Nobunaga. The laughs for the first episode for me came from Sasuke's facial expressions and his interest for a rival warlord's prized teapot getting his mind off a mission. This series definitely seems to be set to be under the radar for this season as there are quite a number of high-profile titles airing and Hyouge Mono has none of the conventional anime elements that would hook in viewers making it an acquired taste. As a matter of fact, the first episode of Hyouge Mono aired two weeks ago yet it wasn't subbed by a fansub group until just last week. So anyone planning to check out this series should be prepared to expect fansubs for it to be out later than usual.

Titles I Dropped
Sket Dance
The first episode to this shounen series had me comparing it to the old cheesy weekday afternoon after-school specials made during the 1980s to teach kids lessons on touchy subjects like bullying and drug abuse with how the Sket-Dan operated. The Sket-Dan does have its typical character archetypes that you would expect out of high school anime like Yusuke being the hot-headed, loud-mouthed leader, Himeko being the short-fused violent girl and Switch the group's brains and resident computer geek. Seeming both cliched and cheesy with how the characters and premise were painted, I chose to ditch Sket Dance after its first episode.

Nichijou was originally planned to be my comedy anime title of choice for this season thanks to the seemingly bizarre humor of it thinking I would get something like Arakawa Under the Bridge. However, the dry delivery of the humor I seen from the show's first episode had me getting bored with it and it led me to not seeing beyond the episode's first half.

I decided to get a quick peek at the series since I heard first impressions of it seemed better than Madhouse's takes on Iron Man and Wolverine. The character designs to it definitely looked close to their comic book counterparts as Wolverine no longer looked like a gloomy bishounen from his Winter series and the opening battle with Dark Phoenix looked slick. However, the Japanese voice acting for the characters sounded quite corny and kept me from wanting to watch any further than the Phoenix battle. Perhaps when the series gets dubbed in English and airs on G4 in the near future I might be tempted to see the show again.

There is one additional anime title I'm planning to look into for this season which has yet to air in the form of Moshidora which I will likely post a review of here on Anime Vice once the series completes its run. The series will be airing all 10 of its episodes the next two weeks Monday through Friday starting on April 25. Otherwise, feel free to post your thoughts on what I thought of the titles I seen for the Spring 2011 anime season.
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