I certainly realize I’m not the target audience for this one, but there were enough unusual aspects to this 4 Girls@School premise to at least give me hope that it might catch my interest. The gimmick is that the girls are voiced by the idol group Sphere, but the elements that struck at least a small chord with me were the inclusion of a fantasy thread, the studio (Sunrise, in a change of pace) and especially the presence of Mizushima Seiji as director. Alas, the episode itself felt extremely generic, full of schoolgirls overdramatizing events that should be of no interest to anyone but them, and the inclusion of the magical realism at the end felt pretty random. Even if this is your genre I don’t see a lot of potential for anything fresh or original in the premiere, and for someone who isn’t a fan of the basic premise it’s pretty slim pickings so far. Out of respect for Mizushima-sensei I’ll give it another ep or two to see if it catches fire.
Fususato Saisei: Nihon no Mukashi Banashi – 01
I have no idea why Crunchyroll picked up Folktales from Japan, which seems aimed squarely at a domestic audience. But while it’s nothing profound and the animation is low-rent to say the least, I still enjoyed the first episode. Each week will feature three Japanese fairy tales (I didn’t know any of the ones used this week, which all seemed to center around greed) with a focus on the folklore of Tohoku, the region devastated by the 3/11/11 earthquake and tsunami. There’s a complete lack of irony here – just elemental tales presented with a dollop of gentle humor and a good deal of sincerity. It’s simple, straightforward and fun – and a nice introduction to the legends of the country whose more adventurous arts we all love so much. Give this a try – you just might be surprised how many times you smile in 22 minutes.
Saint Seiya Omega – 01
Let me state for the record that I’m nearly a complete neophyte when it comes to Saint Seiya. If you asked me, I’d have said it was some sort of super sentai show about Greek Gods and Goddesses, and it aired a long time ago – and struggled to come up with anything else. Indeed, this is the first new series in 25 years, but I was struck by the promo art and it’s always interesting to see what legendary Toei Animation is up to, so I thought I’d give it a try.
I’m not going to bother trying to explain the premise – I’m the last person who should be doing that – but it was fun, and very competently produced. From what I gather young Kouga (Midorikawa Hikaru) is the child of the Goddess Athena (posing as a mortal named Saori) and possibly Saint Seiya (Furuya Toru), the gold-clad hero – and an extremely powerful cosmo user though he doesn’t know it yet. The villain of the piece is the God Mars (Shibata Hidekatsu, recently the narrator on Fairy Tail) – mixing our Greek and Roman mythology there – looking to use Athena’s (Nakagawa Shouko) power to rule the universe. It seems to be up to Kouga to stop him, though I’m not exactly sure whether Seiya is dead in the material plane or just unable to intervene directly (he did save Athena and Kouga from Mars when Kouga was a baby). It’s definitely old-school – overdramatic and theatrical – but Saint Seiya Omega is a fair bit of fun. I’ll definitely watch a few more eps and see how it plays out.