Tuesday, 29 December 2009

CUAMS Michaelmas 2009 - Review

My review of the series shown by CUAMS last term. Seeing as a review is only really useful to people who haven't seen the series, this post won't contain any spoilers for the actual plot of the shows (except for maybe first-episode stuff).

So, starting with the Thursday slots:

Higashi no Eden (Eden Of The East)

In my opinion, this is the best all-round series that was shown last term. It wasn't necessarily the one I enjoyed the most, but it's the one I would most recommend to people, because I thought it was excellently done. The story starts with a Japanese girl coming across a completely naked guy outside the White House while on holiday. This guy has no memories of who he is, or why he's there. Thus the plot begins to find out who he is, and how he ended up losing all of his memories.

Unlike a lot of shows of this type, I think they got the pacing absolutely spot on. The story is constantly raising new questions about what is going on, and who is behind everything, but at the same time they're also constantly feeding you answers. You're not left in suspense for the entire series with everything revealed at the end, but constantly finding out things which lead you on. The actual plot itself is really good, and I thought it was very well written.

The animation is pretty well-done, the characters are both believable and likeable, and despite it being a very plot-driven series, there's a fair bit of humour thrown in there as well. I thought it was a great series, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the film. Would recommend it to anyone.


Natsume Yuujinchou (Natsume's Book of Friends)

Natsume is quite a slow series, but it's reasonably enjoyable. I guess the word I would most use to describe it would be "pleasant" or "nice". The story is about a boy, Natsume Takashi, who can see mysterious spirits that nobody else can see. He also happens to closely resemble his deceased grandmother, who shared the same ability. His grandmother created the book of friends, which contains these demon's names, and holds the ability to control them. The story revolves around Natsume giving the demon's their names back and releasing them from the book's control, while also fending off demons who want to use the book themselves.

The story is pretty gentle and slow paced. It's the sort of thing I'd advise watching before going to sleep, not because it's boring, but just because that's it's nature. It's not action packed, and I wouldn't say it was particularly hilarious either, but I still found it pretty pleasant to watch.


Maria†Holic

This show split opinion a fair bit in the society. Some people found it a bit offensive, or didn't like the humour, so it's hard for me to really give an unbiased opinion. Personally I was one of those who absolutely loved it. I thought it was crazy, hilarious, and SHAFT doing what they do best. There's no real plot to it, and it's basically a harem comedy. The only difference being that the lead character isn't a boy, but a lesbian girl. There's other stuff too that's utterly mental (cross-dressing, a dorm keeper who has dog ears, etc), and it really has to be watched with something of an open mind.

Being set in a Catholic Girls' School, the show parodies Maria-Sama ga Miteru a fair bit. In fact, it parodies a whole crapload of stuff. It's not something I'd really recommend to someone who was new to anime or Japan in general, because aside from the fact that it's insane and a little bit risque, it derives a fair chunk of humour from various other shows and series. There are also references to all manner of things, from the Virtual Boy to obscure branches of seafood and mythology, so it's not all wrapped up inside the world of anime.

Typically SHAFT, with insane OP and ED sequences (which they screw around with a bit for good measure) and good animation, flicking between a regular style, chibi style and massively exaggerated style for humour. The dorm keeper, God, is possibly my favourite character in anything. To anyone who has seen a fair share of anime though (particularly Marimite), it's definitely worth watching. As long as you're not easily offended. If you're the sort of person who will find it funny, you'll find it hilarious, if not then there's not going to be anything else in there for you, so don't bother.


 Sunday slots:

Tower of Druaga - Aegis of Uruk

This was a show that I wasn't really looking forward to, figuring that it was a dungeons and dragons sort of thing, which I'm generally not really fond of for series. The first episode is absolutely awesome, completely parodying most of that genre, and cinema in general. The second episode is then the first seriously, but the show still has a pretty light-hearted feel (reflected in the OP sequence).

I can't be bothered going into the plot too much - it's your standard sort of magical medieval quest sort of deal. It's based on an old arcade game of the same name, which it references to at a few points quite well. There's a lot of comedy in the series for it's nature, which is probably why I enjoyed it. It's not really that plot driven, mostly they're just trying to get to the top of the tower and fight Druaga. The plot starts kicking up a bit near the end of the series, but for the most part it's pretty light-hearted and fun.

Not up there as one of my favourite series, but it's definitely one of the better ones I've seen, and I found it pretty enjoyable and funny, and certainly a lot better than I was expecting it to be.


Tokyo Magnitude 8.0

The general plot to this is that a girl, Mirai, and her younger brother Yuuki are out visiting a robot convention when Tokyo gets hit by a massive earthquake, of magnitude 8.0 on the Richter scale. The entire plot then follows their journey back home to find their parents, assisted by a young woman, Mari, who is also trying to get back home to find her little girl.

Personally, I thought this was the weakest series shown last term. It picked up in the middle of the series, but I found Mirai to be really irritating at the start of the series. I guess it's part of a coming-of-age aspect of the series, but I really feel they overplayed the sulky, spoiled little brat girl a little bit too much at the start of the series, because I found it pretty irritating. I frankly didn't like the end of the series that much either. I won't say why, because it'd spoil it, but I thought it was pretty cheesy. Not quite Death Note catastrophically bad, but I definitely wouldn't say it was a good way for them to finish the series.

If there is one redeeming thing about TM8, I'd say it is the animation. The broken, smouldering Tokyo after the earthquake is really well drawn, and it looked good. I also thought the series did a pretty good job of putting the viewer in the sort of scenario of if an earthquake of that size took place. I wasn't a fan of the plot, or the characters all that much, but I thought the setting itself was very well done.
A series maybe worth checking out, though personally I wouldn't suggest it to anyone.


Bakemonogatari (Ghost Story)

Another SHAFT show, and another series I really enjoyed. Again, pretty much standard SHAFT in terms of the animation and them screwing around with the credits. To be honest, it's hard for me to really pinpoint why I liked the series so much. There's not much in the way of action or plot, and a lot of the series is just talking and dialogue. It is good though, and it's quite an amusing series. It's not an all-out comedy, there is some plot and deep character development in there. There's also quite a nice romance thing between the two main characters.



I really have not much else to say. It's the witty banter and the SHAFT that makes this show good for me. It's got some cool supernatural elements of people being infected or possessed by demons, and I'd really recommend that people watch it. It can seem a bit slow if you're not into the humour given the amount of conversation, but I really enjoyed it. Plus the ending theme is an awesome Supercell song.


Usavich

I almost forgot about this one, because it was used as fillers on the Sunday meets. It's basically about two rabbits in prison, one of which is an absolute psychopath, the other is a bit of a wuss. No really, that's it. The episodes are only a couple of minutes long, and there's no speech - just weird music and sound effects. I found some of the episodes to be pretty funny, some not. It doesn't really hurt to check it out, but it is seriously crazy stuff.


So yeah, my personal opinions on the shows of the Cambridge University Anime & Manga Society last term. Easier than a blog entry because not much really happened in my life in the last 24 hours. I might do a preview for next term's shows, but really I'm looking forward to Clannad After Story because I liked the first series, One Outs because it's by the same guy who writes the epic Liar Game manga series, and Saki because how the fuck can I not look forward to a show that combines Mahjong and moe.

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