SENGOKU NIGHT BLOOD

Welcome, all, again.  Today’s choice for discussion is SENGOKU NIGHT BLOOD, an anime offering from Marvelous AQL, Inc., itself one of the collaborators on the game upon which the anime is based.  As indicated by the title, this series is set in Japan’s Warring States period, lasting roughly from 1467 to 1603 or thereabouts.  Well, it’s almost set there, being in another dimension with very similar (but occasionally pointedly different) history and societal development.  Protagonist Yuzuki gets sucked into her cell phone and transported to Shinga, where she must survive local wars long enough to figure out a way home.

We have over the past few viewing seasons been offered a wide variety of treatments of famous Sengoku period warriors.  We’ve several times seen Nobunaga and his peers as females; we’ve seen them with mecha; we’ve seen them reincarnated into future generations; we’ve even seen them as animals (SENGOKUCHOJYUGIGA remains one of the most imaginative and unique anime series I’ve ever watched!).  So I suppose that it was almost inevitable that we’d eventually see them as vampires, werewolves, and whatnot.  Shinga, the land into which Yuzuki is brought, is ruled by clans of supernatural creatures bearing familiar names and lineages; the Toyotomi are vampires, whereas the Takeda are werewolves.  And Yuzuki?  She’s just trying to make sure her blood stays in her own veins!

It seems that Yuzuki’s blood has restorative powers for the Gegga tribes, the collective name of these supernatural warrior clans.  Her blood awakens and activates latent powers of theirs, such as the near-immediate healing of wounds.  This mirrors the blood of the Himemiko, a being revered by the various Gegga tribes and under whose rule Shinga was at peace.  It was her disappearance that prompted the outbreak of conflict, and Yuzuki is even secretly recruited to help look for her.  Meanwhile, though, spreading knowledge of this unique quality of Yuzuki’s blood might make her a little less likely to be killed, but a lot more likely to be abducted or enslaved.  This series seems so far to have just a vague flavor of Vampire Knight, what with Yuzuki’s strangely protective attitude towards her current hosts (captors) and her would-be captors.  I’d almost accuse her of having Stockholm Syndrome, but for that to be true, she’d need to actually realize that she’s already a captive.  As it stands, this heroine’s superpower seems to be compassionate kindness rather than alacrity.

So, why do I like this show?  There are plenty of other clueless characters in anime to watch, so it’s not Yuzuki (although the fact that she realizes she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed does make the fact less irritating than normal).  The artwork is pretty standard fare, although it seems sometimes to have a peculiar (and literal) sheen that sets it apart from other shows.  Character exposition has thus far been a bit abrupt; I hope to see character development occur a little more smoothly.  So, again, why do I like this show?  I guess that I’m just fascinated enough by the larger-than-life personalities who shaped the Sengoku period that I want to see how this latest interpretation of them plays out. . .besides, who wouldn’t agree that Date Masamune would have made one heck of a werewolf, even if friendly with the church?  (And that, my friends, is no Papal bull!)

Initial Thoughts about TwoCar and Anime-Gataris

Welcome, all, again.  This is another “initial thoughts” post while I give all the new anime series 2-3 episodes to get themselves in order and on track.  Sadly, Black Clover has already fallen off my viewing list.  All respect to Mr. Horie, but even his talent couldn’t redeem that cacophony: Asta’s voice just could not be more grating.  So, one down.  But today I bring you two dark horse candidates, TwoCar and Anime-Gataris.  And I say “dark horse” with reason: one is about a sport unknown to many, while the other is about a non-anime watcher’s introduction into anime.  Heavy stuff, here.

We’ll begin with TwoCar, which follows a high school’s girls sidecar racing team as they compete with other teams and with each other.  So, sidecar racing. . .yes, it’s real.  My first introduction came courtesy of the TV program World’s Dumbest, so you can bet that the folks whom I watched were NOT doing it correctly!  Anyway, it’s basically racing with a motorcycle that has a sidecar attached, and the driver and passenger must shift their weights in relation to the vehicle and each other in order to provide the best turning, course traction, etc.  However, “sidecar” is apparently a very fluid term, as some motorcycles seem to have only variations of a basic platform for the passenger’s use (hence the sport is also called kneeler racing).  While this is obviously more dangerous, it also allows for greater flexibility of body placement and thus weight distribution.  Again, this is a real thing, as is the Isle of Man TT mentioned in the first episode (a race of roughly 113 miles, thrice around the island’s famous Mountain Course).  So, learning.  Oh, and it helps the story immensely that the school’s star two-girl team are currently at each other’s throats because of competing crushes on their coach.  The same coach who’s already resigned and left to race on the Isle of Man.  BAKUON!! this is not.  But I’ve got nothing against fast bikes and fistfights, provided I don’t have to personally participate.

Moving on, we have Anime-Gataris, a show about a non-fan’s sudden introduction to anime and its fandom.  It seems that as a child, Asagaya Minoa watched a memorable scene in an anime series she’s since forgotten; the school’s Anime Club seeks to jog her memory!  So far it’s pretty cute, an effortless watch for easy laughs rooted in instant recognition.  Of course, that’s also the danger to this approach–with anime’s growing popularity, curiosity is more prevalent now, making the show’s premise a not uncommon situation IRL.  To wit, while the show is fun to watch, isn’t it even more fun to subtly (and good-naturedly!) mess with a real friend as you introduce them to real anime?  I’m looking forward to watching our protagonist wade through her viewing list and her new acquaintances, and can’t wait to witness her interpretations of anime’s abundant genres.  But the real fun so far is watching this total newbie’s reactions to the classic tropes with which her club assails her!  My only fear is that, because this one’s preaching to the proverbial choir, it will probably be all or nothing–either a hilarious romp or a dry and dusty flop.  I’ll hope for the first!

Initial Thoughts about Black Clover and KONOHANA KITAN

Welcome, all, again.  As we enter a new viewing season, I shall today make a few observations about two new shows that might be getting attention for entirely different reasons.  Mind you, at just one episode in apiece, I’m certainly not attempting any sort of review.  But Black Clover and KONOHANA KITAN have both caught my interest, so I wanted to share a few thoughts. . .

Let us begin with Black Clover, a much-anticipated arrival due to the popularity of its ongoing manga run in Weekly Shonen Jump.  This series had some serious preceding buzz, but sadly it was the buzz-saw voice acting for one of the two protagonists that stole the show.  Lead character Asta, voiced by veteran VA Shun Horie (iDOLM@STER, Whistle!, and others), screams his way through almost the entire first episode, and it gets old very quickly.  Now, we realize that he’s hyper.  And we also realize that he’s frustrated, being the only person around who cannot perform magic.  But none of that excuses what we viewers endured (or tried to).  So now I have to ask: if Horie was searching for Asta’s voice, why didn’t he get better guidance?  Aren’t there a number of production and sound staff present during recording sessions?  This was a big disappointment, especially considering the pretty artwork and solid story: two frenemies who’ve grown up together as church-reared orphans come of age in a land ruled by magic–which only one of them can wield.  Let’s hope that fan complaints (already saturating the internet) can help fix this problem and salvage what should have been an early favorite show!  (I actually liked the show itself, all except for Asta’s grating vocalizations.)

Meanwhile, KONOHANA KITAN–about which I heard barely even a whisper before its sudden appearance–is as muted as Asta is loud.  But, wow!  Oh, wow!  I never knew that pastels could be so vibrant!  Just looking at this show is an experience to be savored–the artwork is exceptional, and often effulgent.  The story seems (superficially, at least) quite similar in plot and setting to Hanasaku Iroha, but in a less-modern age and with a hotel staff of Kitsune.  And that pretty much covers it: cute fox-girls working at a quietly elegant hotel are joined by a new staff member; training and other life experiences ensue.  Soft voices, slow story pacing, and absolutely mesmerizing artwork combine to relax and seduce the viewer.  This show’s first episode was a joy to watch, and I’m already re-watching it.  And, yes, I’m also already planning to purchase the series when it becomes available–it’s just that gorgeous!  So please give this show a chance.  Even if it turns out that it’s not your thing, I doubt that you’ll regret watching.

And that’s it for now.  I’ll probably do another post along these lines before I start trying to actually review any of the new shows–you know, give them time to get up-and-running.  If you want to check out Black Clover, I seriously suggest watching on “mute” with subtitles engaged.  Asta’s constant screeching is that horrendous.  But get good and comfortable for watching KONOHANA KITAN, as you might be in no hurry to leave. . .