Welcome, all, again. We’ve finally reached the new viewing season, for which I am extremely grateful! While we were treated to some good shows over the past few months, I was somewhat disappointed by what I considered their scarcity. Overall, we seemed to get a lot more filler this past season than normal, so I’m hoping to see that trend reversed. And we already have some strong contenders! Realistically, it’s too early to offer real reviews yet, but I’ll touch upon some shows that I either liked or in which I at least see potential.
We’ll begin with AHO-GIRL, a comedic short with episodes lasting about 12 minutes (same with Tsuredure Children). Female lead Yoshiko Hanabatake is an over-the-top airhead with a passion for bananas and her childhood friend and neighbor, Akuru Akutsu. For his part, Akuru generally gets dragged into whatever mess Yoshiko is busy creating and ends up cleaning up behind her. This show has a great feel to it, with Yoshiko looking a lot like Shizuku from My Little Monster but acting more like Haru (both manga were published by Kodansha). Unfortunately, Akuru has a quick temper that regularly leads to bouts of casual violence towards Yoshiko, very reminiscent of Kyouma Mabuchi in Dimension W. But while Kyouma’s violence, sickening as it was, contributed to his show’s story through character exposition and development, there is no such excuse here. This is a comedy, and it has no place for the brutalization of women–especially portrayed as a running gag. There is already plenty of actual physical comedy, so why go this sad route? This show has a lot going for it: biting humor; strong characterization; and simple, fun storylines. I sense real potential here, but I might have to stop watching if they don’t curb the violence.
Next is Tsuredure Children (also spelled Tsurezure Children), a collection of vignettes involving different pairs of high school students and their twisted relationships. Somebody had a great idea: after years of watching rom-coms that featured that one tsundere character, why not have a show with all tsundere characters? Genius! And just for angst-y irony, attach a title meaning “thoughtful silence”–really, with this group?! True, all this is just another form of sensory overload, but it’s so cathartic! Just a taste–the student body president attempting to extort romance from the school delinquent. (Yep. But go back, and read it again.) This should be fun!
Convenience Store Boy Friends (Konbini Kareshi) is more of a traditional slice-of-life series, this time following a group high school first-years as they navigate their new school environment and their changing relationships. New friendships are formed even as old ones mature, all in the face of the confusion and pressures of adolescence. The first episode gave some solid character exposition and hinted at equally strong character development in the wings. The storyline was believable and not at all overloaded, while the artwork is solid and often impressive (especially certain backgrounds). These seem like some good, likeable kids, so I’m looking forward to seeing where this show goes.
Last for this posting is Restaurant to Another World, a fantasy that almost seems to blend Food Wars! with Maoyu Mao Yusha (Maoyu, for short). Of course, I’m always game for food-themed shows, and this one is off to a strong start! The Western Restaurant Nekoya sits in a quiet corner of a shopping district, serving dishes not native to Japan. But its entrance door also appears in different places at times, allowing denizens of alien, magical realms to eat within–although serving times are kept different between their worlds and ours (surely to prevent mayhem and panic!). We viewers are witness to various interactions between these beings, as well as being privy to the type of reveries only inspired by great food and its enjoyment.
Anyway, these are four shows that–based upon first episodes, mind you–I want to see more of, and soon. I’m really hoping that AHO-GIRL can curb its ridiculously gratuitous violence and build upon its strengths, while the other three are already well on their way to favorite status, each for reasons as unique as its individual premise.
And one last thing! Anyone going to Anime Blues Con in Memphis this coming weekend (07-09 July), please look for Meaghan Beninati in the Artist Alley. She and her husband Dennis will be manning a booth and selling their wares. Meaghan is a friend of mine and a very talented artist, so stop by and see if anything catches your fancy. She also accepts commissions (according to her availability), and has produced two gorgeous commissioned pieces for me. In fact, tell her I sent you–it won’t get you any discounts, but it should be good for a puzzled look!
[Parental note: gratuitous casual violence by the male lead of AHO-GIRL towards his female co-lead. Worse still, these incidents are presented as physical humor. And these are no small taps–the first example we witness is a savage right uppercut to the girl’s jaw. Characters and viewers alike deserve better.]