Frame Arms Girl – 01 (First Impressions)

The Gist: Ao, a high school girl living alone, receives an 8 inch tall fighting girl robot with the artificial intelligence equivalent of a 10 year old. The robot instructs her on the ways of cutting out plastic model kits and then two more robot girls show up and then there’s a VR fight, which the first robot wins with Ao’s help. Then Ao is convinced she should let them stay in her apartment and fight… for pay! (but first, she’s late for school)

You may be into Frame Arms Girl if you collect models or enjoy scantly clad girls wearing armor and weapons. It looks nice enough, if a little silly, even in motion and the voice work is acceptable. (I especially enjoyed the idiotic shout out to the brand of clippers Ao uses to trim her robot’s parts of the spru and that, because she doesn’t trim them correctly, her robot does worse in battle)

You may want to skip Frame Arms Girl because there is no way this is going to work for most people for an entire season. The absurd nature of basically watching a commercial for collectibles, wrapped in a fantasy where they are life like and interact with you, seen through the lens of a girl who doesn’t really care and doesn’t seem to leave her apartment much, has nothing to work with.

Sprinkle on the paper thin ‘the robot may learn emotions over time’ cliche and you’ll probably want to gouge your own eyes out by the 4th episode. (with premium clippers no less)

The verdict: I can not stress how impressed I am that Frame Arms Girl isn’t completely terrible. I found it very watchable despite not finding any of the content compelling. Despite having worked in the toy industry — in collectibles no less — I’m not familiar with this particular brand and my wife swears she will kill me if I put any more stacks of plastic sprus in our basement. (So I have no reason to want to look into it more)

The only obvious visual flaw is Ao herself, who doesn’t seem to be rendered ‘looking’ at the robots. This really undermines the believability of the space but I’m not sure that matters, since Ao doesn’t directly interact with the robots in the first place…

Ultimately, I will not be reviewing it this season but you can probably do worse than giving the first episode a shot.

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Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine – 01 (First Impressions)

The Gist: Heine Wittgenstein, a child-sized man, is hired by the king to be royal tutor to 4 royal pains in the ass. Each Prince sits 2nd through 5th in line of succession and each has a moderate emotional short coming, and each immediately refuses to accept a tutor. Heine is up for the challenge, though, and with an unwavering facial expression and some serious dry whit, works his way into their hearts. (At least, he does with the first prince this week.)

You may enjoy OKH because it features solidly timed dry humor backed with simple but effective sound cues. Also, the princes are probably charming in their own messed up little boy way.

“I’ve suddenly been added to the vegetable food group.”

You may feel comfortable skipping OKH because it’s a fairly silly idea, set in an over the top imperial palace that manages to be epic and bland in equal measures. Heine goes super deformed on a regular basis as well, which works this week but may wear on your nerves over time.

Honestly, this is a decent enough show but I have not decided if I will stick with this one yet. If you’ve seen it, drop a comment below!

Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records – 01 (First Impressions)

Rudderless bastard Glenn Radars is appointed substitute professor at the illustrious Alzano Imperial Magic Academy, much to the chagrin of elite family heiress and top student Sistine Fibel. Sistine, her friend Rumia Tingel, and the rest of his class quickly learn Glenn’s a lazy bastard who refuses to teach anything, leading to a fed-up Sistine challenging him to a duel, which he promptly and definitively loses.

The title is certainly a mouthful, so I’ll shorten it to Akashic Records. And it’s pretty much the quintessential “7.33” anime. It’s definitely watchable, and I see potential in Glenn as either a redemption project or a paragon of stubborn bastardry. But man, the female students are moe-d out, with midriff-bearing uniforms reminiscent of Cross Ange and one or two too many accessories. There’s also a walking-in-on-girls-changing scene.

But the titular Bastard Magic Instructor Glenn is just such an unrepentant bastard, and there’s something oddly satisfying about just how immensely he’s wrecking this super-elite magic academy with his abject contempt for any kind of magic instructing. So too is Sistine’s seething outrage towards this cad who represents everything she isn’t.

Hints of his past indicate he was meant for great things, but either never got there or crashed and burned, and now he’s seemingly given up. But his friend professor Celica Arfonia won’t let him freeload, forcing him to substitute teach or face the wrath of her elemental magic.

But “fearing getting zapped by high-level magic” is not as powerful a motivator as one would think; after all, Celica just said he had to show up, not that he had to actually do anything but write “Self-Study” on the chalkboard in handwriting that gets worse as the day drags on.

Akashic Records’ and Glenn’s comedy is couched in the fact that despite being average on paper and having no public accomplishments (or even a teaching license) Glenn still struts around as if he was the Empire’s Chief Mage, or at least hot shit, and talks a ridiculously big game relative to his actual skill. It’s pretty fun to watch him revel in his bastard-ness.

Like Glenn himself, there’s potential in this show, whether Sistine’s somewhat repetitive (if completely justified) adversarial approach shifts into something more productive, or if the joke is that no matter how hard she or anyone else tries, he’ll happily remain being scum.

So I’ll give this a 7 for now and harbor cautious optimism. After all, it’s a pleasant-looking show with decent comic timing and doesn’t take itself deathly seriously. There’s also a laputa hanging up in the sky, and I’m hoping Sistine/Rumia/Glenn make their way up there before all’s said and done.

Little Witch Academia – 13

The Gist: The Samhain Festival is quickly approaching and Team Akko can not escape their fate as sacrifices to the sorrowful ghost Vajarois…and Sucy and Lotte can not escape the feeling that Akko’s plan to make that sacrifice more fun, is just a lot of wasted effort.

However, things begin to turn around when Diana’s lackeys Hannah and Barbara pull Akko aside and chew her out for the ‘trick’ she played on her. While making fun of Akko’s place in life, they go out of their way to throw shade at Lotte’s lack of presence and Sucy’s creepiness…while those two are within earshot in the hall. And why not? Team Akko isn’t anything but the laughable leftover losers in their eyes, and in the eyes of much the rest of the school.

The Samhain Festival gets underway and it becomes quickly apparent that the guest witches’ opinion of Luna Nova isn’t much better than Andrew’s muggle father’s. The traditional events largely bore them, or are done incorrectly like the bubbling pot that spits slime at them or the dancing flower that eats one of the girls casting the spell.

Curiously, the guest witches heap much of their criticism at the feet of Luna Nova’s Grand Mistress, Miranda Holbrooke. This struck me as a bit strange, only because Holbrooke has come off as stodgy as Professors’ Badcock and Finneran (At least, she had until Akko had raised her father from the dead a few episodes ago). Regardless, the visiting witches don’t give any examples of why Holbrooke’s management has been deficient, though she certainly lets Team Akko run with their tradition breaking idea—going so far as to restrain the other professors from interfering.

Speaking of Team Akko, with an energized Sucy and Lotte now by her side, Akko puts on a slapsticky ‘Sacrifice Show’ for Vajarois and the guest witches. While many of the laughs are at Akko, whose magic transformations teeter on the edge of failure, the crowd is laughing and, eventually, the trio manages to lift Vajarois’ curse in a fantastic display of light and pleasure.

The emotion of it all even reaches Diana, who can’t wrap her head around what she’s seeing, and who she’s seeing do it. More interestingly, she’s shocked to learn that Akko’s group isn’t even allowed to qualify for “Moonlit Witch,” because they broke the rules, in spite of creating a good and unexpected result appreciated by all in attendance, including the dissipating ghost herself…

Thankfully, winning “Moonlit Witch” was never really the point for Akko. As much as she said otherwise, all she wanted was to do some magic that other people thought was fun, and to do it with her friends.

Confronting traditions seems to be the major theme this week. That, and that witches are overly focused on magic without practical application, and don’t appreciate that practical application is needed in their world, and needed to justify them to the non-magical world.

Like AkkoAmanda, Jasminka and Constanze put on a great show of skill cleaning up after the failures of the traditional performances and, like Akko, that trio is payed no mind at all because of their place in life (magical janitors).

Even Diana’s masterful performance rings a bit hollow, as summoning a magic unicorn doesn’t serve a practical application in comparison. Diana hasn’t made that exact connection yet, but it will be interesting to see if she carries more respect for Akko and the others into future episodes. Because she was impressed, even just for the magic’s sake, this time around.

The Verdict: LWA has re-tightened it’s grip on my heart these past few weeks. Putting aside the lackluster episodes that weakened that grip mid-season, LWA knows how to charm with western style slapstick (Sucy’s casual pointing as Team Akko plummets to the ground is pure Bugs Bunny) and simple power of friendship themes.

The battle against tradition is an interesting focus as well. Consider how strange it is that Luna Nova has had the ability to lift Vajarois‘ curse for ages—right there on the shelf—but none of the witches have bothered to investigate, let alone try it out. Its little wonder that a baffoon like Akko is needed to shake up their world.

How this all plays into Chariot’s secret identity and the greater magic words plot, who knows? (I didn’t see Akko unlock another word this time out) Regardless, it moved the characters along, the world along, and was a hoot to watch throughout!

Tsugumomo – 01 (First Impressions)

The Gist: One day, Kagami Kazuya’s sakura-patterned obi, given to him by his late mother, takes the form of a blue-haired girl named Kiriha revealing she is a tsukumogami.

After saving him from an attacking amasogi, Kiriha assigns Kazuya as her “servant” and shares his living space, remaining as inseparable as they were when she was a mere inanimate obi.

Roll Credits…

Even with a rather poor translation, I don’t think I missed much nuance here. Kazuya is defined by his utter lack of distinguishing features or personality traits—other than carrying around an obi and smelling it all the time, which would be kinda sweet, I guess, if it wasn’t also a bit weird.

Along with his one-note “class-rep” character, and his one-note big sister/guardian, there isn’t much depth to be found here, only reminders of shows past (and half-hours wasted on said shows).

We end up seeing many sides of Kiriha, and to her credit, between her superior, imperious attitude, propensity for making messes, and love of pudding, she also has Kazuya’s back (both out in the world and in the bath) and seems to mean well as a companion/protector.

But rather than working in her favor, these myriad sides only served to paint a muddled picture of who and what she is, beyond an once-inanimate object given (pretty) human form. Also, if you’re going to have blue hair and red eyes, you best come correct.

Throw in bland-as-paste Kazuya and a not particularly great-looking production (aside from one okay action scene) and there’s not quite enough here to encourage me to continue.