Spring Season Anime Round-Up

We’re a couple of weeks into Spring season, so it’s time for some impressions again. Aki and I are still shedding tears into our Pepsi about there not being more Tiger & Bunny, but this season is actually turning out to be better than expected. Since we talked about ZETMAN before so I guess that’s a good one to start with…

We Are Disappoint

The worst fears I had about ZETMAN are turning out to be true. 13 episodes is too little, the pace is far too fast, and they’re changing things too much. I fully expected them to change something – that’s always the case with adaptations – but they’re making the story less dark. I won’t say more about the changes since Aki’s avoiding being spoiled about the manga story. There’s no time to build any characterization at the pace they’re going, and Aki is just confused and doesn’t really give a damn about any of the characters. Or the plot. If they’re even managing to build any plot, so far they’re going for the cool factor and nothing really clicks together. I’m mostly just feeling sad about what they’re doing to ZETMAN. The more I watch it the more I feel like I can’t really recommend it to anyone, and it’s a shame because it does look good and the action sequences are well composed. The opening song is very catchy too. I might end up watching this alone if Aki decides to drop it and read the manga instead.

And The Rest

The previous season, most of the stuff we dropped was because it just turned out boring or plain bad. This season seemed like the season of the ragequit because we actually started with a few of those! After the ill first impressions we found a title that is really worth checking for Taibani fans.

Space Brothers (Uchuu Kyoudai) – Hirata Hiroaki plays the main character: a thirty-something guy who gets fired in the first episode from his job designing (red) sports cars, wears too short pants that show his ankles, squashes his burgers and fails a lot. Sound familiar? Well, it’s not Kotetsu but the parallels are really amusing. We got no idea if Hirata got a bit of typecast here after his success with Kotetsu because he’s using a very Kotetsu-like voice for the role. The series is entertaining with a good pacing, even though the setting itself feels quite generic – the main character has to overcome a lot of obstacles to reach his dreams. I feel like I’ve seen a story like this many, many times before but it doesn’t really bother me. The other things outweigh it. Oh, and Crunchyroll is streaming it so you can watch it there.

We’re also happy that Noitamina is good again after a few seasons of stumbling. We were a bit iffy about Sakamichi no Apollon at first because the series compositor Kakihara Yuuko did an epic failure with Persona 4 the Animation, but so far it’s been really pleasant to watch. Tsuritama was automatically on our watch list because we’ve both got the hots for Nakamura Kenji‘s series – Mononoke is one of our all-time favourites.

The rest of our watch list for this season looks like this: Arashi no yoru ni, Folktales from Japan, Hyouka (this just started so we’re still undecided if we’ll stick with it), Jormungand, Lupin III: Mine Fujiko to iu onna, Eureka Seven AO, and Shirokuma Cafe.

It’s Not Anime But I Like It

Actually, there’s something we want to recommend this season: Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger – a parody on super sentai shows. Now, what makes this interesting for us is that Satou Keiichi did the character design for the show. Maybe we’ll get to see some dangerous underpants (with a surprise bulge) in it. Plus it’s really really funny, even for people who don’t normally watch tokusatsu shows. Give it a try!

So Who’s Going To Watch ZETMAN?

The Spring 2012 anime chart is pretty complete already. There isn’t that much that tickles our fancy on the list, except for one title… And this isn’t directly Tiger & Bunny related, but close enough. T&B’s original character designer Katsura Masakazu‘s manga ZETMAN is getting a TV anime which starts in April.

Although we are really excited about this, we have some reservations.

  1. The staff. It seems that the director Nabeshima Osamu‘s biggest achievement so far is D.Gray-man anime. DGM anime was pretty uneven, but I think the ending was fine (I ragequit the manga at the weird zombie apocalypse arc). The screenwriter Tomioka Atsuhiro is mostly known for Inazuma Eleven and Pok√©mon, though he has also written stuff not aimed at kids. We’ll see how this turns out, especially because…
  2. …rumour has it that ZETMAN will be a one-cour show. I’ve got a bad feeling about this, because I am reading the manga and it doesn’t seem like 13 episodes will be enough. Of course, it’s possible they announce a S2 before the series ends, but it’s all too likely they’ll make the adaptation to cater to manga readers and leave out a lot of things.
  3. The lack of actual princess-carries (yeah I know the correct term in English is bridal carry but that’s how we roll here in Sternbild) in the manga! The original main visual of ZETMAN anime had Jin princess-carrying Kouga, but there’s no scene like that in the manga. I have a pretty good idea about who this advertising was aimed at…
  4. The PV.

Technically it looks pretty good, but the scenes don’t really connect. The colours look gritty but that’s fine considering the source material. I’m looking forward to see all those scenes animated. Aki hasn’t read the manga (and she doesn’t want to be spoiled), so here are her thoughts on the PV:

My first three thoughts were: a) great suit design (though I suppose that’s all thanks to Katsura) b) this video gives you this impression that the anime will have some nice and fast-paced action scenes and c) I like how different it feels from Taibani, since it is usually colorful and feels very “alive”, while Zetman goes the dark and edgy way. But I don’t think it’s the “bad” dark and edgy, I think they might actually pull this off and be more on the side of “epic dark” and not “emo dark”.

The cast choices seem pretty good to me. I’m a big fan of Namikawa Daisuke so I was happy to see him cast as Jin and I think he’ll be great for the role. There are a couple of familiar names from Tiger & Bunny among the cast: Kusunoki Taitem, Ise Mariya, and Yusa Kouji. Yusa especially seems like a great choice for Haitani’s role. Hanazawa Kana seems a bit typecast as Konoha, I hope she doesn’t end up annoying me.

More about what we actually wind up watching sometime later when the series have already started. I think we’ve dropped like over half of the series we started watching in the current season, so we filled some of that spare time by watching Maou (episodes 4-11 written by Nishida Masafumi). It’s good, by the way. We haven’t seen the original Korean drama that it’s adapted from so we can’t say how it compares, but it is definitely worth a watch. Like Aki said, it’s more serious than the usually goofy Japanese dramas, so even if you’re normally put off by them we’d recommend giving Maou a chance. The writing is great, and the acting is generally very good – only Ikuta Toma should lay off the caffeine since he’s over-the-top hot-headed most of the time. (Just remember to bring tissues if you decide to give it a try.)