Minami-Ke Okawari Is Not Awesome

7 02 2008

As the title suggest, I am really not digging the second version of Minami-Ke. I had a very high opinion of the first season, so it is particuarly painful seeing the same characters and setting treated so many degrees worse than the previous series. Going in I was a bit skeptical, not only because a second adaption being aired in the season directly after the first adaption was aired is totally unheard of, but also because the new studio Asread seemed to have unnecessarily altered the character designs which is always a surefire way to win over fans. The biggest overall problems with the show are that it looks and feels cheap, and that it’s not funny which is a bit of an issue for a comedy show. For some reason I get the feeling that the studio just doesn’t seem to really want to be making this show.

Here is a list of 10 reasons why Minami-Ke Okawari is not awesome.

#1 The Opening

Trapped in terrible OP, send help.Trapped in terrible OP, send help.Trapped in terrible OP, send help.

From the very thing you see in the show is this horribly generic opening. Let’s compare the new one to the original one for a sec. Notice how the Okawari one has a song that doesn’t really fit in with the tone of the show at all? It has terrible walk cycles for the three sisters at the beginning, it has the section with the creepy eyes, but by far the worst crime though is that they couldn’t even be bothered to animate Hosaka.

#2 Cheap animation

I hope you don’t like animation in your anime

It’s amazing how little animation there is in this show sometimes.  Even in the opening five minutes of the first episode, there’s almost none. What typically happens with anime is that they blow their budget making the first episode look amazing, often much better than the rest of the show ends up being. This definitely happened in the first version, and if you don’t believe me watch the sequence where Kana is chasing Chiaki around the apartment again. This show however seems to be having budget problems from the get-go. For example, whenever Chiaki chucks the bear at Kana, it’s accomplished using only one or two frames of animation.

#3 Too cheap for mouth movements

I call this the Rob Liefeld clause

Following on from the previous point, they really go out of their way to avoid showing people speaking. They will often show a shot of the person a character is talking to rather than the character who is talking. If they don’t do that, then somehow obscure the characters mouths. It reminds me a of parody of a cheap episode that the Kujibiki Unbalance OAV did, which had a 2 minute scene that was entirely montionless apart from people’s mouths moving. This is cheaper than a parody of cheapness.

#4 Fujioka?

Original show on left, Okawari on right.

Uhh is that what he looked like?

#5 Poor use of Hosaka

Hosaka, cliff-notes version

Hosaka is appearing in more of the episodes, but he only seems to get about one scene per episode. Part of the humour of the original series Hosaka episodes was watching him come up with these elaborate plans to woo Haruka, get bogged down with the details, and never actually get anywhere with it. In Okawari he just appears and says ‘So Minami Haruka likes Rabbits.’, has a brief fantasy and unbuttons his shirt. It’s like they made some bullet points of his original plots, and just wrote from those without really understanding what they were doing.

#6 Haruka is a right bitch now

They’ve totally nailed her character.

In the original Haruka was a kindly parental figure for the other sisters, who is mistaken for being a hard-as-nails gang leader despite her best efforts to convince people otherwise. In Okawari she is a to-be-feared authority figure for the sisters, and actually goes as far as not cooking dinner for them as punishment for a situation that she couldn’t be bothered to listen to the explanation of. Thanks for making her unlikable, Asread, or should I say… obvious joke based on studio name.

#7 No Sensei and Ninomiya-kun

He’s a samurai, I guess

Yes, I know that they were invented by the writers of the first adaption and were not present in the the original manga, but I don’t care. Their show was brilliant, and one of the funiest things in the first adaption. I guess what we have to put up with as a replacement  here are these terrible and barely animated sequences with that bear thing.

#8 That Fucking Neighbour.

FUCK OFF

This stuttering cretin moved in next door, and won’t stop showing up in each and every episode. He is possibly the least likable character I’ve seen in anime since Renge from Air Master. Look at him, he looks like Harry Potter, only somehow much more pathetic. His gimmick is that he’s a whimpering little shit who can’t turn down any request even if it means he ends up wading through raw sewage to help someone move a rusty bicycle.

#9 Creepy-ass background characters

Fetch the holy water

Comically cheap looking background character have been an anime staple since the original Di Gi Charat where minor characters were drawn as anthropomorphic thumbs. The same idea has also been used in other comedy shows like Puni Puni Poemi where the background characters were black outlines filled in white. In Okawari, the design team have for some reason decided to colour the skin of only some background in character completely black, but not the mouth or the hair. These character even have spoken dialogue. The effect is creepy, real creepy.

Di Gi Charat characters (left), Puni Puni Poemi characters (Right)
Di Gi Charat (Left) and Puni Puni Poemi (right)

#10 Too lazy even to properly do creepy-ass background characters

You lazy bastards

This is what happens when you combine cheap animation with creepy design. Though it does reveal that they draw the characters properly, then cover them up, which is even more confusing.

 Here’s one last screenshot I took and couldn’t fit in anywhere.

Kana is off model

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Winter Anime Season ’08 Roundup

21 01 2008

The winter season is roughly two episodes in now, and I have to make the choices of which shows to watch, and which to ignore. Here is a list of the shows that I am currently watching that started this season. Not a very good season I am afraid, and I’ve ended up watching far more Renai shows than could probably be considered healthy.

Shigofumi ~Stories of Last Letter~
Production: J.C. Staff
Genre: Drama, Supernatural

anime-winter-shigofumi.jpg

There are some things that can only be said after death.

Shigofumi is one of the most promising shows of the season. It is the tale of a girl named Fumika who is a postal worker… of the dead… and her talking staff. I’ll admit that it probably sounds dumb at this point, but trust me it works excellently. Fumika is the bearer of the titular ‘Shigofumi’, which are letters containing the last words of someone who has died, addressed to an earthly recipient. The format of the show appears to be arcs regarding a specific group of characters and the effect the Shigofumi has on them, and only Fumika and Mayama (the staff) remain as regular characters. The tone of the show is light and comedic in places, but overall is quite dark, and occasionally slips into Higurashi levels of darkness.

The animation and visual quality is very high, not like Gundam 00 level or anything but still exceedingly good. Unlike most anime, this show has a very strong opening episode and is very much worth watching if the concept interests you even a little. The first episode has a decent twist towards the end, and shows that it’s willing to go far enough for the show to be actually interesting. I am a little concerned that the show won’t be able to keep going at such a high quality after this great start. All in all, this is definitely a show to keep an eye on, and it would certainly win an award in the ‘Most Promising New Show’ category if there was some sort of award ceremony, which there isn’t.


Zoku Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei
Production: SHAFT
Genre: Comedy

zoku

Continuing from where the excellent first series left off, SHAFT continues to bring their excellent art, directional and writing styles to a show with a great base concept. The concept being, for those not in the know, a man who can only see the bad things in the world which often drives him to suicide, is the teacher of a class of people with huge personality quirks. Most episodes are based around exploring one of the characters quirks. These include, girl who can only see things in a positive light, a stalker, a hikikomori, a girl who is exactly as bad as she looks, an illegal Chinese immigrant, and a male student with such little presences that he frequently disappears.

The format seems to have changed a bit from the previous season, as at least for the first 2 episodes, the opening act has been totally off the wall weird. For example, the first episode the entire opening act is a gag based on a summary from the jacket of the manga’s first volume. In the first act of the second episode, the class is visited by Commadore Perry in a bizarre sequence where the characters only speak gibberish which is helpfully translated into Japanese by subtitles. The rest of the acts have been more normal episodes of the show. The first episode deals with the girl who is constantl being labelled as overly normal, despite her trying to convince people her quirk is being a truant.

One of the main selling points of this show is certainly the art, which if anything has improved in this season. They still cut to super-flat shots, and censor things using the Director Shinbo’s grinning face. The new OP is enormously catchy, and has been going around in my head for days. A perhaps overlooked aspect of the show if the voice-acting cast, which as of episode 2 includes Takehito Koyasu or Ilpalazzo for Excel Saga fans, who seems to only be able to do the voice of characters who wear glasses. I really can’t recommend this show enough, but you should probably start with the first season if you are going to.


Spice and Wolf
Production: IMAGIN
Genre: Sort of Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, a bit of everything really.

Spice and Wolf

Set in what seems to be medieval Europe, a travelling merchant named Lawrence Craft finds that one of his trade villages are a bunch of filthy pagans rather than the more common religion which is presumably Christianity. During a vist in the middle of the pagan harvest festival, he accidentally picks up their local god of the harvest, who takes the form of a wolf-girl named Horo. Due to the march of technology, the villagers no longer need her godly powers so much, so out of boredom decides to accompany Lawrence.

While I’ve probably made the show sound totally out-there fantastical, it’s remarkably down to earth and Horo very rarely does anything supernatural. The show appears to be going to concentrate on the trading aspect more than I would of expected given the premise. A lot of the show is the simple interaction between Lawrence and Horo as they ride around beautifully well realised medieval locations. Lawrence is quick-witted and thoroughly likable, and Horo is adorable and quite unpredictable.

The animation and direction is fine, as are all other product aspects that I could mention. The opening is really nice, and the ending has some hilarious Engrish which is always fun. This show interests me because I really have no idea where it’s going, and how the fact that one of the characters is a nature-god is going to affect anything. Based on the first two episodes this show is already on my ‘watch immediately’ list, hopefully it can keep it up.


True Tears
Production: P.A. Works
Genre: Drama, Romance

True Tears

Here we have yet another Renai show and this time not based on a Key game. The main character is a student who has a talent for art named Shinichirō who lives with an orphan girl that he fancies. There’s also this weird girl Isurugi Noe who is a weirdo, who does weirdo things. The theme of the show seems to be about tears but it’s unclear in what sense, I can tell it’s probably going to be mostly abstract though.

I really haven’t got that much to say about the show at this point to be honest. It’s sort of vaguely entertaining, and Noe is amusing to watch. The production values are fine, with the odd exception of the crowd scenes. They have for some reason decided to use 3d characters for crowds which stick out like a sore face and don’t work in the slightest with the rest of the show. I don’t know where it’s going, and almost don’t care. I’ll give it one more episode to impress me.


H20 ~footprints in the sand~
Production: ZEXCS
Genre: Drama, Romance

H20

Another damn Renai based show. This one is about a blind guy Hirose who’s moved into a remote Japanese mountain village, and his interactions with the other students at the local school. One of students a girl called Kohinata seems to be hated by everyone in the village, and I mean they really really hate her. In the first two episode she gets repeatedly punched, kicked and generally beaten. Of course Hirose wants to know why everyone hates her, but no-one will tell him, presumably just to really drag things out. The whole show feels like a bit of a Higurashi wannabe with a worse setting and less likeable characters. I’m gonna spoil things in the next paragraph, so please don’t read it if you care about spoilers.

From what I just said you might imagine the show is slow paced, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. They seem to have crammed a whole season of plot development into two episodes. Hirose stopped being blind when a mysterious girl who only Hirose can see or hear called Otoha gives him his sight back. This is done without any fanfare whatsoever, and just comes across in about the same as if he were making a cup of tea. Hirose also manages to befriend the beaten Kohinata far more quickly as you’d expect. I’m half expecting them to reveal the whole mystery in Episode 3, and just end it there. If this show doesn’t do something right in the next episode, I’m probably going to drop it.


Rosario + Vampire
Production: Gonzo
Genre: Fanservice, Romance

Rosario

If there’s one thing Gonzo can do its produce a good looking show, but unfortunately for the most part their shows are largely mediocre. They seem to have one A team, and about five B or worse teams. Ever since Gankutsuou finished, I have been waiting for something from them to at least give me a glimmer of the genius went into that show. Last season they gave us the godawful Dragonaut: The Resonance a show I gave up after 5 episodes, and this season they give us a fanservice packed show that seems to just be an excuse for lots of tits and butts. Not that there’s anything wrong with tits and butts of course.

The show is about Tsukune Aono who is so bad at school he can’t get into a high school, but his parents manage to get him a place at ‘Yokai Academy’ which turns out to be a school for supernatural monsters like Vampires, Orcs, and other less defined monsters with tentacles and things. He’s currently stuck there for a month because the bus only goes by once a month for some reason (He could probably walk though if he thought about it). Fortunately, he befriends a vampire girl named Moka who likes pressing her breasts into him. Things could definitely be worse for Tsukune, as a Succubus named Kurumu is also after him. Oh yeah, Moka also turns into an eviler and fightier version of herself whenever she takes off her Rosary (Rosario?), which she does towards the end of each episode.

So, this show isn’t really very good, but it’s not exactly trying to be highbrow in the least. It is just a fanservice show, so if you want some ‘service there is there is more here than you could possibly stomach. Being a Gonzo show it looks amazing, pay special attention to the trees. Wow, damn good trees.


Minami-Ke Okawari
Production: Asread
Genre: Slice of life, Comedy

minami-ke okawari

This show is unfortunately not currently being subbed, as the sub group from the previous show are being retarded in a way that only subbers can be (They are subbing Rosario + Vampire, and Spice and Wolf which are both being done by one or more other groups as well). Should anyone start subbing it, I will do another post about it I guess.