Code: Breaker – 01
This one interests me mainly for the presence of Irie Yasuhiro as director, as I’m a big fan of his work on FMA: Brotherhood. The premiere is a solid episode without breaking any of the rules. The art and story construction seem very arch-typically shounen, though the violence level is certainly amped up. You have the tall, dark transfer student Oogami Rei (Okamoto Nobuhiko) living a double-life. You have the heroine, Sakurakouji Sakura (Hikasa Youko) an ace martial artist who witnesses Oogami doing something terrible in the park. While conventionally Sakura looks like the main character based on the premiere, that would be a bit of a departure for a shounen – though I don’t expect her to actually die or anything, as hinted by the end of the episode.
In short: an enjoyable premiere with solid production values from BONES-lite Kinema Citrus that didn’t blow me away. There are similarities to Zetman and Ao no Exorcist, though I see a more general case of being a product of the genre through and through. I expect an exploration of the merits of vigilante justice, with Oogami and Sakura on opposite poles.
Ixion Saga DT – 01
The details aren’t important, really – this show is basically big names having fun on their day off. You have Brains Base, director Takamatsu Shinji and a cast that includes Kamiya Hiroshi as a villain, Fukuyama Jun as a bad trap, Eguchi Takuya (doing his best Okamoto Nobuhiko impression), Kousi Yuusa, Tomokazu Sugita, Kaji Yuuki, Hosoya Yoshimasa and Nakai Kazuya just to name a few. And a premise that’s another take on the modern teen being transplanted into the world of an RPG – except it’s clear from the hilarious opening scene where the boy is seduced by an overacting buxom avatar that this is not being taken remotely seriously.
Not surprisingly given the talent involved, Ixion Saga ends up being quite fun. No pretensions are made towards creating anything of substance – it’s plain and simple that this is a spoof of gamers, RPGs and the anime that portray them with too much seriousness. From the ED and DT (virgin) puns to the simple kick-in-the crotch slapstick to FukuJun’s switching between trap and GAR voices to the Princess’ hilariously deadpan expression, it’s all pretty much a silly waste of time, in a good way.
Chousoku Henki Gyrozetter – 01
I’m not sure how much “Chief Director” Shinji Takamatsu is involved in Gyrozetter, but it’s yet another series with a big pedigree that’s safely under the radar. This one has the sin of being a “kids” show, so matter the talent involved it won’t get much attention, but like Ixion Saga it’s a good studio (A-1), Takamatsu-sensei is involved and it has a very strong cast – plus, it’s written by Satou Dai, who penned the original Eureka Seven.
Make no mistake, this one is aimed squarely at the hearts of 12 year-old boys – pro wrestling humor, AI cars that kids can drive – some of which transform into giant robots – and annoying Moms, just for starters. But because of the talent involved it’s a great example of what that sort of cartoon is supposed to be – the silly humor is actually funny, the kids are likable and the action is lively. Also, no time whatsoever is wasted diving right into the plot. A very solid and entertaining diversion.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – 01
A subtle, reflective and somber mood piece? Um, no.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is one of those old shounen chestnuts (something like 70 volumes) that I don’t know much about, and I hadn’t seen the OVAs. But I’ll say this – it’s an example where the popular view of a series is truth in advertising. JJBA is bombastic, bizarre, surreal and silly – completely over the top and without an ounce of restraint. And there’s certainly something to be said for that.
It’ll be interesting to see what David Production can do with this massive series in a relatively short adaptation, but they’re off to a good start. The character design and art are classic shounen but nothing special in terms of production quality, but the little touches (straight from the manga) like the “Bam!” and “Smooch!” effects are a nice touch (that may have been the best animal punch since Alex Karras and the horse in “Blazing Saddles”). Dio (Koyasu Takehito) is certainly one of the most despicable characters I’ve seen, and Jonathon Joestar (Okitsu Kazuyuki) – just the first of many manga protagonists – is such a preposterous fop that it’s hard not to like him. Nothing in the premiere is remotely believable, but I was swept up enough by it’s relentless energy and goofiness that I enjoyed it right to the end. Also loved the use of the original LP version of Yes and “Roundabout” for the ED.