One thing about a majority of the short-pull series that I see is that many of them are based from 4-koma strips and, boy howdy, does it show! It’s not much more than set-up, joke, punch line, we all have a good laugh and that’s the end of the episode. Next! It almost seems more trouble than it is worth, but these shows can also be quite enjoyable. I tend to think of them as a proving ground for future writers and directors to test the waters without investing a whole lot into it, especially if it tanks. (more…)
Short Pull Series XXII – I’ve Got My Eye on You
One gets the feeling that anime companies will do a show about anything. I mean, there are shows about playing Go (“Hikaru no Go”), performing rakugo (“Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu”) and even one about soda cans that turn into girls (“Akikan!”). So, I initially was not surprised when they did one about scuba diving. For most of us, what we know is whatever was gleaned from Jacques Cousteau specials on TV, or, in my case, “Sea Hunt” (yeah, check the archives for that one.) But what about something a tad more casual? Too bad “Amanchu!” is not that show. (more…)
Do You Want to Play a “Game”?
Although not exactly like “Shiro Bako” (which detailed the struggles of an anime production company and how they are getting out their latest offering), “New Game” (“Nyu Gemu”) details the struggles of a video game production company and how they are getting out their latest offering of one of their most popular games. It also follows the tale of Aoba Suzukaze, (dead center), a recent high school graduate, whose first real job is working for this company, Eagle Jump, and how she can fit in to the demands that both the company and game want of her. She also runs into or runs afoul of or runs around in circles with the odd and divergent staff that populate this company and I will tell you right out, there is not a single man that works for this place and precious few men seen among the show’s run. This means it raises the question “Is it yuri?” (as you may have seen in my commentary revolving around “Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid”). However, I’m going to let that pass and focus on the show itself. (more…)
On the flip side of Sakamoto, we have this guy. Everything Sakamoto is, he isn’t. “Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge” (“Tanaka-kun is Always Listless”) relates the tales of Tanaka. Now, I can’t tell for certain if he is lazy, anemic, bored or uncaring, but he desperately has to rely on the good-will of his friend, Oota, to physically truck him from place to place. He can (and does) sleep everywhere and it is a wonder how he is able to dress himself in the morning. If the food would just crawl into his mouth, he’d be as happy as they get.
Oota thinks he is missing out on a lot life has to offer, but Tanaka is content with things as they are. Even when classmate Miyano wants to be his apprentice, as she admires the complete inertness Tanaka exudes, he declines the offer, as that seems like too much work for him (and, after you see him in action, or inaction, you understand why). He also appears to be grandly clueless, as he stumbles upon a secret that fellow student Shiraishi has. Or maybe it’s that it doesn’t mean a great deal to him. This is both the core charm and the overall frustration with the series. You just can’t tell the difference.
Is he a slacker? Is he a passive-aggressive? Is he a sponge? Is he a deep thinker? You are never really sure, but to see the huge amount of effort placed onto him to be more than just a rolled-up carpet, lugged from place to place, is astounding. I just wonder what it will be like when he has to get a job.
There is also a series of OVAs, done in chibi style, of varying lengths, but nothing over a minute. They are not much more then set-up and gag, but it does help to explain things a bit better. It’s that for a single joke, there really was no logical way to insert it into the series without it coming off as more strangeness. Some may feel that this is a caliber of ‘nothing’ show, but something does happen; it just unrolls very slowly and maybe that’s what we want to say. Then again, maybe not.
On a scale of 1 to 10:
Artwork 7 (Eyes seem too big)
Plot 8 (Expressed surprisingly well)
Pacing 8 (Good, despite a potential lethargic nature)
Effectiveness 8 (Tells itself well)
Conclusion 6 (It reaches a ‘coupler point’, but hasn’t ended)
Fan Service 0 (A similar show would be “Honey and Clover”)
Overall 8 (Oddly compelling)
And remember, it’s first run until you’ve seen it. Just let me sleep.
“Haven’t You Heard” the News?
There are a lot of strange shows about school life, whether we speak of “Ouran High School Host Club” or “School Rumble” or even “Medaka Box”, but the offering before us, “Sakamoto desu ga?” (“Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto” or “I’m Sakamoto, You Know?”) certainly ranks as one of the strangest. We follow the aforementioned First-Year Sakamoto (nope, we don’t know his first name AT ALL) the incredibly cool and popular genius who is well liked by both girls and boys. Despite the strange situations he may be in, Sakamoto always manages to fix the problem in absolute perfection while still being over the top. (more…)
Short Pull Series XIX – A Flash in the “Pan”
OK, lest I sound like a sour old man (“Hey, you kids, get off of my lawn!”), there is nothing wrong with all-girl animes…..to a point. It’s just that you need to have something more than moe girls or full-figured femmes or luscious ladies cluttering up the screen. I do like (wait for it)…plot. Wait a tick…..why does this opening sound so familiar? Because this show, “Pan de Peace” (“Pan de Pīsu”, “Peace through Bread!”), is honestly no different than “Usakame”, save that instead of tennis, it’s bread. (more…)
Don’t Worry, Be “Happy”
Every once in a while, you come across a show with a concept so odd, that you have to look into things a bit more deeply. Such is the case of “Anne-Happy”, (Anhapi♪), also known as “Unhappy Go Lucky!” or “Unhappy”. The plot is surprisingly thin:
Tennomifune Academy is an elite school where students train in various subjects such as arts and sports. The school, in a sense, chooses you, not the opposite (much like a wand from Ollivander’s). That is, except for the students of Class 1-7, a.k.a. the “Happiness Class”, who have been deemed “unfortunate” and must try to overcome their own misfortune and achieve happiness. The series follows a core group of five students, who each have their own problems, as they try to find their own elation. (more…)
Short Pull Series XVI – Please, “Please Tell Me” Now!
In my many years of reviewing anime, I have come across a crop of shows that I refer to as ‘nothing’ shows. There is a huge amount of talking, but nothing really happens. This is not necessarily a bad thing, as some of them are character and plot driven and tell a fascinating story. But it can run hot and cold.
Our latest offering, “Oshiete! Galko-chan” (“Please Tell Me! Galko-chan”) is also a short-pull series, in that the episodes only run for about eight minutes. But they pack a lot into these shows. Our cast includes (right to left), the aforementioned Galko, Ojou and Otako. Yes, they are very iconic, as they are, respectively, a gyaru, an airhead and an otaku. But they go beyond those limitations and tell some interesting tales. This came off for me as closer allied to “Daily Lives of High School Boys”, another ‘nothing’ show, but with a definite edge to it. (more…)
Short Run Series XIX – The “Marshmallow” Man
A fetish is an unnatural desire towards a want or need, whether it be black underwear or leather straps or Hello Kitty. I bring this up, as “Ojisan to Marshmallow” (“Ojisan to Mashumaro”) is a caliber of fetish show, except our hero, Habahiro Hige, is drawn to marshmallows, and it is more than drawn, it is a compulsion. (more…)
Short Pull Series XVII – “Cat” Got Your Tongue?
I sometimes wonder why some shows get made at all, especially ones of this nature. I mean, not only is it four episodes (and a brief OVA), they don’t run that long anyway, so this is a Double-Double (Short Pull and Short Run). “She and Her Cat” (“Kanojo to Kanojo no Neko”, subtitled “Their Standing Points”) is about a girl (Kanojo) and her cat (Kuroneko) and how they interact with their time together. The biggest problem I had with this show is that I knew how it was going to end by the first episode, so I was just along for the ride. (more…)