Fuuka – 02

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There’s something…annoying about ready-made, built-in love in a show like this. We’re introduced to Hinashi Koyuki, the famous idol (Hayami Saori!), who damn near has a crisis upon hearing back from Yuu, whom we know she hasn’t seen in years. So she’s been madly in love with him all this time, or was it just a spark that was lit when contact was made after so long? I don’t know, but it’s too neat and tidy.

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Fuuka attempts to be coy, but she’s not fooling anyone; she could’ve gone with anyone to the Hinashi concert, but chose Yuu, who had to turn down Koyuki’s offer to come, only to end up there anyway. More coincidences = more frustration there’s very little emotional legwork going on on either side. It’s like Yuu’s in a very formulaic dating sim.

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Caught between the blue-haired wild child who seems to be sizing him up for boyfriendship (and is apparently the spawn of Suzuka, though I never watched that show) and the famous celebrity idol childhood friend Fuuka adores, Yuu stays cool. After all, he hasn’t the slightest notion of just how infatuated with him Koyuki is, nor how much elation she expresses when he says things she wants to hear.

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But a reckoning is coming. Surely at some point some combination of Yuu, Koyuki and Fuuka will meet, and not only will Yuu have some explaining to do to Fuuka, re knowing Koyuki, but he’ll face an impossible choice. That being said, considering the title of the show, Fuuka seems positioned to win, though I can only speculate about how Yuu will react if and when he finds out about Koyuki’s feelings. I shouldn’t, as he’s wont to do, jump to the wrong conclusions here.

Oh yeah, and after hearing her sing (she’s pretty good), Yuu suggests maybe Fuuka get into music, and she starts a light music club (ugh) at school, like, a day later. Am I supposed to believe she never considered getting into music until Yuu made that glaringly obvious observation?

I dunno man…this show could be trouble.

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Fuuka – 01 (First Impressions)

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Twitterphile Haruna Yuu has moved to Tokyo with his younger sister to live with his two older sisters. In a misunderstanding, a blue-haired girl breaks his phone; he later transfers to her class. After more interactions, the girl comes to trust Yuu, gives him her name, Akitsuki Fuuka.

She accompanies him to a movie, the theme to which is sung her favorite idol (and Yuu’s childhood friend) Hinashi Koyuki. After a surprisingly pleasant date, Yuu gets a cryptic photo text from Koyuki, asking if he remembers her.

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From the creator of Suzuka and Kimi no Iru Machi (Seo Kouji) comes Fuuka, about a guy with an unconventional family situation, an old friend who is now a celebrity, and a weird but charming girl with which he gets off to a rough start, but gets smoother as the episode progresses.

The episode is the same way, relying on a super-lame upskirt photo-based misunderstanding that’s followed up by a second instance of Yuu pointing his camera at Fuuka and just happening to catch a glimpse of her panties.

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This is a show with the sheen of a serious, naturalistic romantic drama, but too often leans on exaggerated actions and coincidences that strain credulity.

It doesn’t help that while he seems to be a nice guy, Yuu is pretty dull, and is more defined by outward things, like his many sisters who don’t mind being undressed around him, or his patently awful Twitter feed. No one cares what you’re doing every waking moment, brah.

As charming as she is, Fuuka also seems at times to be trying too hard to be the hyper sporty weird girl. Minorin you ain’t, kid.

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Still, neither party is as loathsome as the couple from Kimi no Iru Machi, but I have a feeling the could become so at some point, as the love triangle forms. For now, I’m still barely on the guy’s side. I’m just hoping the fact that Fuuka’s favorite singer being Yuu’s childhood (and likely another love interest as well) doesn’t collapse under the weight of its own coincidence.

The idol herself was only on the margins of the episode, lurking; I imagine we may see more of her in the next episode…which I’ll be reviewing soon, as it aired right after the first. For now, I’m hedging.

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Youjo Senki – 01 (First Impressions)

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The Gist: in an alternate World War I, where a certain Empire has been surrounded, Mages are deployed to hold the enemy back in an infinite delay game of mobilized defense.

Second Lieutenant Tanya Degrechaff is one such mage…except she isn’t. She’s a walking death dealer, easily able to rip apart enemies of the Empire with her magic bolt action rifle and…flying boot? She demonstrates this by defeating an entire company of enemy mages on her own (with a sort of nuke-bullet) after they easily kill off an Imperial mage company.

However, her platoon of mages is not so powerful, nor subordinate to follow her instructions and, during this week’s missions, either they are killed or accomplish nothing. Likewise, central command (and enemy central command, which we see during the closing credits) are also inept and terrified of this child murder-machine.

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Youjo Senki is a mixed bag, visually. When it wants to, it animates explosions and gesture reasonably well, and the moody clouds are top notch. It even risks drawing characters from quirky low or high angles. Unfortunately, all the characters look a bit weird, style wise, with exaggerate lip and eye shapes and positions.

The plot is problematic too, where individual battles are coherent but the flow between them, or the over all purpose is not clearly defined. Rather, there’s no build up for the characters, nor mystery about them, and everyone’s motivations seemed to be limited to ‘war.’ (edit: I’ve seen learned that Degrechaff has a mystery behind her but that’s not indicated in this episode at all)

Combined with the mostly mud-color pallete and a eye-rollingly juvenile ‘evil chant’ sound track, Youjo Senki feels like it’s trying harder for a mood than a coherent story or resonant characters.

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The Verdict: Youjo Senki doesn’t feel like it’s making a statement by using a child-soldier, which is something that has no real World War I context. It also doesn’t feel like it’s making a statement about World War I style combat either, nor about people, nor does it show any real relationships in the first episode.

If you are into loli murder-machines who are spelled out evil incarnate, or into alternate World War I aesthetics mixed with magic, you may like this.

If you find the anime tendency to misconstrue World War I and World War II Germany annoying, don’t ‘get anything’ out of evil little magic girls, or are looking for a cohesive plot with interesting characters, probably not?

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