Monday, November 2, 2015

[Ended] Monster Musume

Pros: It knows what it is, and it doesn't really pretend to be anything else. It has a good deal of sensibility in it, at least for what it is.

Cons: And what it is, is harem with a lot of erotic appeal, wrapped around a nice guy trying to do the right thing, prohibited by law from doing anything sexual with any of the entourage of women that all want to sex him up.

My Opinion: As the series went on, I started to notice a trend with me. Every single time, after I had finished and closed the tab, a minute or so later, if I remembered I didn't read the ending Species Info Page, I always went back and jumped the video to it so I could read it. Once, I went back and checked four episodes at once, just to be sure I didn't miss a single one. I really enjoyed reading those, and I think that is indicative of something about the show. I can't speak for anything but the anime, but I think the amount of thought that went into the info pages shows that there's a certain minimum intelligence in the show, even if the theme is by far and large one of the most shallow you can find in anime, the harem.

At the end of the day, the status quo hasn't moved anywhere when the series ends, but the journey there was actually fun, even for someone like me who finds harem and fan service grating and irritating, which is saying something.

Certainly, the show is shallow by nature, that's just how harem goes. But I'd like to make the point that, as far as harems go, Monster Musume seems to have their shallow bar set a good deal deeper than the average, and I will happily sing its praises if I think that will help, even in the slightest, increase that trend across all anime. Nothing pisses me off more than a Checklist anime, because I feel like it's a waste of the animators time to work on something with a story and characters that a cheap pseudo-AI could have spit out a hundred carbon copies of.

 [Spoilers] Highlight to see, if you've already seen the show.
I found it particularly interesting that at one point in the show, it is basically decided on that the main character needs to pick someone to marry, and he actually agrees, but for the sake of harem proceeds to hum and um about who. Most of the time you never get to the point where the center of the harem actually realizes anything close to choosing someone, until maybe the end of the show.
[End Spoilers]

The last point I want to draw attention to, is the depth of the characters. While I grant that every single one of them has some kind of Trope pinned to their back, and they display it every chance they get for comedic effect, they are surprisingly not ruled by their tropes. Hell, the show even has really good reasons why the characters have their tropes. They outright say in one episode that a character is bad at cooking because their species is primarily carnivorous, and carnivores have 1/25 - 1/50'th the sense of taste of humans. That impressed me.

Impartial Opinion: At the end of the day, this is still a Harem. A harem with a unique theme, and as far as characters+story+world go, a great deal more depth than any other harem that I've ever heard of. I guess if someone wanted to break a friend into the Harem genre, (I won't even pretend to understand why), this is the best bet? At the very minimum, pretty much anything to do with Harem and Fan Service annoys me, but I still enjoyed this show every week.
If you're looking for, or don't mind (especially if you simply don't mind), Harem and lots of Fan Service scenes, I suppose I recommend this show. There's a refreshing amount of intelligence in this show for it's genre slot. Taken out of the context of harem, this kind of story and setting would be immensely interesting to me in a slightly more serious tone. Especially if it had as well constructed of characters.

[New][October 2015] OwariMonogatari

Summary: During October of his third year in high school, Koyomi Araragi is introduced to a transfer student named Ougi Oshino by his underclassman Kanbaru Suruga. Ougi tells Koyomi that she has something she wishes to consult with him. When she draws the map of Naoestu High School, she finds something peculiar on the map of Naoetsu High School she draws. This discovery reveals a tale that wasn’t meant to be told, and this makes Koyomi’s high school life totally different. This is the story that brings to light “what” makes Koyomi Araragi. This is the story that reveals the “beginning” of everything.
-Quote provided as is, from the summary-

First Impression: See Opinion. Also, Ougi Oshino is the Creepy. Any time it goes to a close up of her eyes...

At the same time though, there's something I just love about her character. Something is her, but I love the character. Those eyes though. Oooh, *shiver*.

My Opinion: It's more from the Monogatari series. That should be all you need to know. If you were already watching, continue to do so, if you haven't started watching, you need the previous seasons in your belt first.
No really, what the hell is wrong with you if you watch this first? You will understand literally nothing.

[New][October 2015] Utawarerumono-The False Faces (Itsuwari no Kamen)

I had a hard time picking an I used both!

Summary: A nameless man wakes up in the middle of a vast, snowy plain he doesn’t recognize. Not only that, but he is suffering from amnesia and doesn’t even remember who he is. Suddenly, he gets attacked by an insect-like creature, but is saved by yet another strange creature attacking the insect, and a girl named Kuon... with animal ears and tail... dragging him away. Upon discovering his stranded state, she decides to look after him, and names him Haku. The story follows them as they travel, with Kuon haggling the easy-going-natured Haku every step of the way, that 'Those that don't Work, Don't Eat." But more is going on, not only all around them, but also with Haku.

First Impression: It's the second season of an old favorite of mine, you can't get more biased than that. A word of warning, so far the opinions I've read have all been you don't need to watch the first season for this one, but you're going to have a harder time with it if you don't.
In that regard, I highly recommend the first season, Utawarerumono, with one condition:

There is no debate here, you will do it.

It is the most garbage first episode I've ever had the misfortune to see, because not only is it completely asinine, completely removed in its own little bubble from the entire rest of the story, but it also is completely misleading about what the show is like and about, not to mention it contains spoilers! Just to stick an extra nail in the coffin.

Now, if you had told me it was an OVA included in a disc or something, I'd have given it high praise for probably being exactly what the fans wanted, because the thing is almost pure fan service from front to back. Which is precisely why it does the show such a disservice.
It scares away people that were looking for a show with more depth than cheap erotic appeal, and it instills a feeling of betrayal in the people that the first episode attracts because the rest of the show is extremely low-key on fan service. So low key, that when I was watching the second season, I remembered that I never cared about it in the first. They do fan service in a way that actually appeals to me, even if the erotic appeal still goes over my head. To summarize it as best I can, the fan service just sort of... naturally happens on screen, instead of the forces of the universe conspiring to put everyone in revealing poses, with revealing camera angles. It's also never cartoon'ishly over-dramatic. That alone appeals to me immensely.

My Opinion: Great. It's going to be great. It already is, and I have an entire first seasons worth of gold to back up my personal emotional sentiments with impartial evidence. (although technically the validity of said evidence is ALSO my opinion but give me something to work with here, m'kay?)

By the way, make sure to watch past the Ending Song in each episode, they have additional content at each episodes end. Not necessarily something you NEED to see, but you will appreciate doing so.