Having been absent from the Vice for too long, I've decided to return with the Winter 2012 season. You know what that means:
For a good amount of anime viewers, I'd say it's always time for piracy, even outside of Bodacious Space Pirates. Unlike contemporary pirates, however, these Space Pirates are legally sanctioned.
As of 7 January 2012, I've seen the first episodes of light novel adaptation Bodacious Space Pirates, harem visual novel adaptation-sequel Amagami SS+, and 4koma "moeblob" adaptation Kill Me Baby. I've also enjoyed my first simulcast (via Crunchyroll, which I would definitely recommend as a legal outlet for new anime) with Nisemonogatari.
If you called me out for being most
excited about Nadeko Sengoku's makeover in Nisemonogatari, I wouldn't argue against it. What can I
I love characters voiced by Kana Hanazawa. I'll even admit that I still listen to Ren'ai Circulation from time to time, too.
Straight up: if you haven't watched Bakemonogatari and are into intelligent occult-themed thrillers as well as the prominent, minimalist-yet-beautiful production style of SHAFT, I highly recommend you do so now. Its Winter 2012 sequel, Nisemonogatari, is already promising to be an entertaining ride filled with the wit of original light novel author Nisio Isin. I'd go so far to say that Nisemonogatari is the most anticipated Winter 2012 anime - and having just finished its simulcast on Crunchyroll - I can say for certain it will be the Winter 2012 series I will follow most religiously.
Why would I especially recommend that those interested in Nisemonogatari watch Bakemonogatari first, though? Out of sheer confidence in their craft, SHAFT wastes no time for reintroducing any of Bakemonogatari's extensive cast or recapping on the previous season. In the typical first episode style, the viewer is dropped into the story in media res - the first scenes of Nisemonogatari is an endearing, classic exchange between protagonist Koyomi Araragi and Hitagi Senjogahara.
The first episode is dialogue-heavy and doesn't hold back on the series' best aspects. Most of the entire cast is revisited with few exceptions, and each encounter throughout the episode relishes on the most endearing aspects between the series' characters while hinting strongly towards impending events with Araragi's eldest little sister, Karen. (Not to mention the episode title is literally "Karen Bee, Part 1" - despite the fact she actually has no screentime.) While some may understandably see this episode as a slow burn (considering how Bakemonogatari started with Araragi nearly having his tongue stapled!), I loved everything about about it and I'm definitely excited to follow Nisemonogatari. Thanks to Crunchyroll simulcasting, I will be sure to devote Saturday 12:30PM EST solely to this series.
I don't know what possessed the shift between literal translation Miniskirt Space Pirates into Bodacious Space Pirates but I'm sure either form would probably turn away a lot of potential viewers. Either way, Kana Hanazawa will be having a busy season! Beyond voicing Nisemonogatari's Nadeko Sengoku, she will also lend her voice for Bodacious Space Pirates co-heroine Chiaki Kurihara.
Okay so I guess I can see the miniskirt part of the title. And Kana Hanazawa's voice (Voicing Chiaki Kurihara, right) does make this a bodacious title...
Essentially, this series looks like it will be a coming-of-age space opera featuring a semi-competent space-yacht club member and part-time maid café waitress Marika Kato (left) who must succeed her late father as a space pirate captain. I can already tell this series will incorporate gratuitous space battles (budget permitting) and a load of fanservice. Nevertheless, Kana Hanazawa is voicing a protagonist. So I must. Watch. This. Even though this will a hit-or-miss for a good number of people.
For an anime that places itself in a very action-oriented genre, the first episode was a slow burn of backstory, with the rapid buildup of tension into the beginning of formal action with a sudden gunfight saved for the last few minutes leading into cliffhanger. Some might quickly dismiss this series but I'll try to keep an eye on it, if only for Kana Hanazawa.
Few may remember summer 2010's harem visual novel adaptation Amagami SS. Those that do will probably remember the general distaste towards the conclusion of Rihoko's arc, which essentially threw away the best possible ending for her (Rihoko being the only heroine in the anime without the best possible ending) in favor of sending demeaning subliminal messages to Japanese viewers that "chubby girls only get friend zoned." While I was kidding about the subliminal messaging part, I do think it was backwards for the adaptation to not allow Rihoko to get the best ending when every other heroine, a stalker and even the protagonist's little sister get the most socially-acceptable amount of love possible.
My jab at the Rihoko arc aside, Amagami SS+ picks up where each arc from the previous season left off. So the makers actually have a chance to fix their malicious social commentary in favor of a better Rihoko ending. This is also an indicator for those new to Amagami to either continue on to the next part of this article if they aren't interested or start watching Amagami SS if you like harem visual novel anime adaptations. While it is competent it is certainly not among the best.
Nevertheless, I personally loved Amagami SS for the perverted antics of our protagonist and how he acted on them shamelessly, leading to some genuinely entertaining moments.
Where in the anime's first season each heroine had 4 episodes, Amagami SS+ will devote 2 episodes to each heroine. It looks like we've got a different order of arcs this time around, too, since the first episode was the beginning of Ayatsuji Tsukasa's arc. For those familiar with Ayatsuji, some may be surprised that she seriously hooked up with our typical perv protagonist Jun'ichi Tachibana. The amount of high school drama in this arc - having to do with an Ayatsuji rival who wants to win Student Council President from her even if it takes exploiting Jun'ichi's ineptitude to resist the allure of young women - seems like a unique way to start us off and I'm drawn to watch it all unfold. Fans of the previous iteration will likely also enjoy this new season.
Between the outrageous reading of this anime's title and the hilariously ridiculous opening, I just had to include the above video. I don't know what it is about how the melodramatic Japanese-accented English (I mean just listen to how "Baby, please kill me" is read off in the first few seconds of that video!) is so entertaining for me, but I think the video as a whole is telling on what Kill Me Baby is all about: moeblob shenanigans. Honestly, as tired as the genre is, I find this series endearing.
Also, for those interested - despite the character designs that suggest so - Rie Kugimiya isn't voicing any of the featured protagonists of this series. She will, however, be voicing someone to be introduced later in the series airing.
Considering how one of the protagonists is an overly cautious assassin (Sonya, pictured above), another is a shady ninja and the third is a normal happy-go-lucky moeblob girl, this may attract those into slapstick and those who aren't tired of 4koma adaptations. By the way, I refer to moeblobs lovingly (which may be considered derogatory to some fans of the genre for some reason) since I'd say the genre is still a guilty pleasure for me. Especially after Nichijou, which ended up being a sleeper hit for me.
If it continues to entertain me, I'll definitely keep Kill Me Baby as my guilty pleasure for this season. While the comedy isn't top-notch, I'm a sucker for slapstick and even anti-humor to an extent, so I was thoroughly entertained.
We're barely in the thick of the Winter 2012 season and I feel like I've already seen a little bit of everything. My universal recommendation would be Nisemonogatari with a prerequisite of Bakemonogatari, while the other series I'd only recommend to those especially interested in the respective genres aforementioned. Otherwise, they'll be hit-or-miss and your mileage may vary. I'll look out for more Winter 2012 anime series.
Actually, Zero no Tsukaima Final airs tomorrow. Expect something on that!