Spring Anime 2013 Impressions

The current season is already approaching its halfway point – so I thought I’d share some thoughts on what I’ve been watching. There’s a whole lot on offer, and a whole lot of it is pretty excellent. The following impressions represent how I feel about particular shows just at this point in time, so they are of course subject to change. Let’s begin!

Hatakaru! Maou-Sama!

6/13 episodes

Well this is completely hilarious. Easily the funniest show of the season so far.

[Commie] Hataraku Maou-sama! - 06 [694CA9F4].mkv_snapshot_14.47_[2013.05.13_10.20.44]

“The Internet is awesome!”

Maou-sama! gets away with its ridiculous premise due to a sharp, funny, and very tongue-in-cheek delivery. The characters are all pretty funny and so far the master-and-servant dynamic between Maou and Alsiel is the funniest all season. Seeing the two of them struggle to make a living in modern Japan without their otherworldy powers made for a totally hilarious opening episode. Maou’s enthusiasm and dedication for his job at MgRonalds is also funny as hell. Emilia + Chiho make a funny pair, and the recent inclusion of Urushihara is also totally welcome. The character cast is totally awesome and every episode so far has managed to include some deeper plot details while still being totally hilarious.

[Commie] Hataraku Maou-sama! - 06 [694CA9F4].mkv_snapshot_22.14_[2013.05.13_10.30.05]

Hatakaru! Mau-sama! is off to a great start so I hope it follows through with the same quality as it progresses. It bugs me that Emilia is such a weak character though, the way she relies on Maou all the time makes her look less like a tsundere and more like a Disney princess. However there has been some extra focus on her character development recently which is posititive, and she’s still very likable. That aside, this is still a decent  show and I’m keen to see where it goes.

Should also mention that the OST is spectacular and the animation is highly above average. Oh god, the facial expressions.

Aiura

5/12 episodes

Aiura is a neat little surprise, presented in 4-minute format. It is gentle, fun and cruisy. The artwork is particularly eye-popping for such a quick show and the soundtrack is pleasant too. Aiura manages to convey a charming character-oriented SoL without feeling rushed despite its short runtime. So far I’m enjoying the interactions of the main characters, as they form a great trio of personalities. Kanaka is particularly hilarious and totally flawed which makes her seem like a totally real character. Ayuko and Saki are great too.

[Commie] Aiura - 02 [408E3EBC].mkv_snapshot_00.01_[2013.05.13_10.46.47]

And who could deny that OP? It’s catchy as hell, but the implied joke about Steve Jobs’ death is kind of… dark. Not to mention totally out of place for the show. Anyway, if you’re not watching Aiura then give it a go. It’s not a big time investment and it totally pays off. I Would totally watch 20+ minute episodes of this show if such a format ever came to exist.

[DeadFish] Aiura - 04 [720p][AAC].mp4_snapshot_01.44_[2013.05.13_10.44.08]

Kakumeiki Valvrave/Valvrave the Liberator

5/12 episodes

I don’t really know what to say about Valvrave. There’s a whole lot going on and not much of it makes any sense. However, if you can put up with its extremely hyperbolic tendencies and unconventional plot escalation then there’s some fun to be had here.

[HorribleSubs] Valvrave the Liberator - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_18.09_[2013.05.13_11.02.00]

As someone who hasn’t seen a lot of mecha I can’t offer a totally fair criticism of this show. I can, however, see why hardcore mecha fans might be disgusted to learn of its existence. While it’s not totally unenjoyable, cliché and a completely nonsensical plot have really marred the first few episodes of Kakumeiki Valvrave. The mechs look pretty awesome, but the school-based SoL elements and somewhat immature characters will probably repel purists.

[HorribleSubs] Valvrave the Liberator - 01 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.05_[2013.05.13_11.02.22]

I could just about excuse the insanely stupid political backdrop in Valvrave’s universe for the first few episodes – but having just witnessed the direction of episode 5, I have absolutely no idea what Valvrave really wants to achieve anymore. There’s a wealth of genres (slice of life, mecha, comedy, action and… pop music?) clashing all over the place in an attempt to please everyone (not to mention a little fanservice) but the show just ends up losing focus and relying on characters that aren’t properly developed yet to carry it along.

That aside, it’s hard not to find something likeable in Valvrave. The pacing is snappy and it’s incredibly unpredictable so I won’t be dropping it just yet. Humor is present in the mix. The animation and OST are pretty kick-ass. But again, it’s kind of hard to care about the fate of its characters when the whole show makes so little sense. In fact, some are suggesting that Valvrave is actually just a parody. Episode 5 says they might be right. See below image.

[gg]_Valvrave_the_Liberator_-_05_[3726226E].mkv_snapshot_17.55_[2013.05.13_11.13.59]

♪ I know I am Hero! ♪

Sparrow’s Hotel

5/13 episodes

I don’t have a whole lot to say about Sparrow’s Hotel because… it really isn’t that great. It’s another short (3-4 miunte) anime, and unfortunately it’s quite lacking in quality when compared to the likes of Aiura.

8bKbrgn

Sparrow’s Hotel is a comedy based around hotel employee Sayuri Satou, whose job description is not exactly 100% clear. She does basic hospitality work but is also a skilled assassin and strikes fear into the hearts of any troublemakers that might come across the hotel. It’s very fast paced, the dialogue is super quick but the writing is devoid of any real wit or charm. It’s just kind of bland. Satou is supposed to be a flawed character because she lacks a bunch of social skills, which is an attempt to make her more realistic, but the whole vibe of the show is completely over the top so such an inclusion just seems… odd. The quality of animation is not very appealing and there is nothing notable about the OST either.

 RzSWLsh

Who knows, maybe Sparrow’s Hotel will pick up during the second half of its runtime. There have been a couple of funny moments but so far it’s been fairly hit and miss with most gags failing to land.

I’m also watching a bunch of other shows and will be posting further impressions + reviews later on. Stay tuned!

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