Second Impressions – Magi, Sukitte Ii na Yo, Kamisama Hajimemashite, Sakurasou no Pet no Kanoujou

[Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_17.04_[2012.10.16_11.33.21] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_11.46_[2012.10.16_12.03.39] [HorribleSubs] Kamisama Kiss - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.02_[2012.10.16_20.41.35] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_16.48_[2012.10.16_23.54.05]

No question about it – there are a lot of series this season that aren’t separated by whole lot in terms of quality.

Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic – 02

[Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_04.02_[2012.10.16_11.20.19] [Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_05.04_[2012.10.16_11.21.20] [Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_05.41_[2012.10.16_11.21.58]
[Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_06.29_[2012.10.16_11.22.46] [Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_11.14_[2012.10.16_11.27.31] [Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_11.49_[2012.10.16_11.28.06]
[Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_15.26_[2012.10.16_11.31.43] [Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_16.42_[2012.10.16_11.32.59] [Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_17.06_[2012.10.16_11.33.23]
[Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_18.33_[2012.10.16_11.34.51] [Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_19.44_[2012.10.16_11.36.01] [Commie] Magi - 02 [30F330DD].mkv_snapshot_20.58_[2012.10.16_11.37.15]

One of the reasons it’s so hard to settle on a blogging schedule this season is my current living situation, of course – settling into a new country and wanting to enjoy my surroundings as well as work and attend school, time is limited.  But another reason is that a great deal of she shows this season fall into the same broad category – good, watchable and entertaining anime (or many genres) that don’t especially stand out.  I covered three yesterday, and Magi is another one that fits the bill.  Which to cover, and which to skip?

Magi is certainly a solid show.  It’s very nicely animated by A-1, with some real budget.  It’s quite funny, and as is often the case with Shounen Sunday series, can surprise you with how ironic and dark it gets.  Heck, Kaji Yuuki is even quite tolerable here – he’s playing the straight-man so no weak attempts at humorous delivery, and Alibaba is a thoroughly competent and courageous kid and somewhat free of the normal whiny schlub characteristics Kaji normally exhibits.  It’s a very solid cast generally (many big names still to come) and yet another Tomatsu Haruka role that you’d never guess was her if you didn’t know it.

For now I’d rank Magi near the top of that vast pool of pretty good series, because it’s among the most polished shows of the season and the setting is an especially interesting one.  It also has the benefit of being adapted from a well-liked source material, which should help prevent shark-jumping.  I liked this ep about as well as the first, and for largely the same reasons – Aladdin made me laugh, strong work by the cast and some beautiful depictions of a fanciful take on the Arabian Nights.  Like so many series this season – and this is a good thing – Magi is multiple cour, so I don’t think we need to fear rushed storytelling for a while at least.  It’s not blowing me away, but I like it – and I think it has a pretty good chance to stick.

Sukitte Ii na Yo – 02

[AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_00.29_[2012.10.16_11.51.54] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_01.02_[2012.10.16_11.52.27] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_05.56_[2012.10.16_11.57.49]
[AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_06.33_[2012.10.16_11.58.26] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_08.21_[2012.10.16_12.00.13] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_09.51_[2012.10.16_12.01.44]
[AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_11.25_[2012.10.16_12.03.17] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_12.57_[2012.10.16_12.04.50] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_14.07_[2012.10.16_12.06.00]
[AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_15.02_[2012.10.16_12.07.08] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_15.09_[2012.10.16_12.07.16] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_18.32_[2012.10.16_12.10.38]
[AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_19.59_[2012.10.16_12.12.06] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_20.34_[2012.10.16_12.12.54] [AraAraUfufu~] Suki-tte Ii na yo - 02 [720p 10bit][A7E11DD8].mkv_snapshot_21.15_[2012.10.16_12.13.35]

Well, I guess my worries about Kurosawa being too perfect were groundless.

If I were back in the States, I’d certainly be blogging this, because I liked the first episode an awful lot.  As is it’s still in the catbird seat assuming I don’t collapse from exhaustion and the next few eps don’t jump the shark.  I’ve heard from some of the manga readers that they aren’t especially happy with the direction it takes later on, but I can only go by what I see in the anime – and so far, so good.

I think Mei can be summed up as a character by the line she uttered in the first part of the episode – “I didn’t think you’d actually come.”  Setting aside the English double entendre, it’s a fairly pathetic thing to say – yet, so very true to her personality.  This sort of heroine is hardly a new thing in shoujo, but the same things that endeared me to the premiere are present here – authenticity and a natural, unforced quality. Sukitte seems to capture a very realistic portrait of high school life – neither excessively sweet and pleasant, not unrealistically savage.  A place and time that can be inane, euphoric, painful and tedious.  I love the frankness of the dialogue (especially among the girls) and the focus on sex without an obsession over it.

I didn’t much like Kurosawa this episode – I found his behavior towards Mei during the kissing scene pretty unpleasant, in fact, though in context I’m not sure I was supposed to.  More so than during the premiere we get the sense that he’s a player, and thinks rather a lot of himself.  As is often the case in shoujo I find the beta male, Nakanishi, more interesting, especially with the excellent and very natural Shimazaki Nobunaga playing him.  He’s been paired off with Asami, the sweet girl who suffers from jealous venom (“The boys all want to titty fuck you”) at the hands of her female classmates because of her large chest.  They seem a good fit, though it’s a bit early in the story for anyone to be happy. 

I also want to single out the music here, which is superb – both the soundtrack by Noumi Yuuji and the OP by Okazaki Ritsuko are memorable, lovely and perfectly suit the mood of the series.

Kamisama Hajimemashite – 02

[HorribleSubs] Kamisama Kiss - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_09.05_[2012.10.16_20.47.39] [HorribleSubs] Kamisama Kiss - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_03.02_[2012.10.16_20.41.35] [HorribleSubs] Kamisama Kiss - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_12.54_[2012.10.16_20.51.27]
[HorribleSubs] Kamisama Kiss - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_17.47_[2012.10.16_20.58.22] [HorribleSubs] Kamisama Kiss - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_20.27_[2012.10.16_21.01.02] [HorribleSubs] Kamisama Kiss - 02 [720p].mkv_snapshot_22.11_[2012.10.16_21.02.46]

I don’t have a lot to say on this one, except that it was a pleasant watch.  The episode, like the first, is breezy and fun.  The comic timing is excellent and the characters are likeable and distinct.  This is classified as a shoujo, but strikes me more as a crossover type of series, like Inu x Boku SS.  It’s definitely on the madcap side, with a good deal of slapstick mixed in with the character humor.  I see it more as a series that I’d watch rather than blog, but I’m curious to see what the chemistry is like with Mikage involved, which looks as if it may happen next week, before I make a final decision.

Sakurasou no Pet no Kanoujou – 02

[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_03.40_[2012.10.16_23.37.26] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_04.41_[2012.10.16_23.38.26] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_06.08_[2012.10.16_23.39.53]
[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_07.33_[2012.10.16_23.42.33] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_08.29_[2012.10.16_23.43.29] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_10.53_[2012.10.16_23.47.56]
[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_11.43_[2012.10.16_23.48.47] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_12.22_[2012.10.16_23.49.26] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_13.16_[2012.10.16_23.50.19]
[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_14.44_[2012.10.16_23.52.02] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_16.05_[2012.10.16_23.53.22] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_16.28_[2012.10.16_23.53.45]
[rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_17.14_[2012.10.16_23.54.31] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_21.02_[2012.10.16_23.58.19] [rori] Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo - 02 [A5561527].mkv_snapshot_21.57_[2012.10.16_23.59.14]

And lastly, we have Sakurasou – another series that falls into that vast middle ground that dominates this season thus far.  I wasn’t as knocked-out by the second episode here as the premiere, but I still liked it quite a bit.  I’m definitely getting a vibe here that the stars are aligned for this to get the maximum out of its potential: it seems perfectly suited both for Okada Mari’s pen and J.C. Staff’s visual style, the original writer is on the anime staff and the LNs are supposed to finish about the same the anime – yet another two-cour – comes to an end.  When JC has their ducks in a row, you just get the feeling right away – as with Toradora and Ano Natsu (an original series that nevertheless had that “just right” quality to it).

If I’m to point out one thing that impresses me about Sakurasou specifically, it’s that it manages to feel fresh and different despite superficially having just about every cliche in the book.  In the first place it’s an interesting mix of genre tropes – a little harem, a little coming-of-age, a little shoujo romance, even some seinen (which, if pressed to name just one, might be the box in which I’d place the show).  Shiina has a bit of Erio from Denpa Onna in her with her social cluelessness and erratic behavior, but there’s a lot of Mahoraba and even Kuragehime in the mx too. 

Sakurasou is surprisingly explicit when it comes to talking about sex, too.  There’s Jin’s activities, for example, and then there’s Shiina – it might have been easy to dismiss her lack of boundaries as an innocent reflection of her lack of social development but there more here, and the scene where she ordered Sorata to strip for her was a real eye-opener.  She may be naïve but “innocent” is not quite the right word to describe Shiina, I think.  Sorata’s male lead shyness and the misunderstanding gags with Aoyama are pretty standard-issue, but there was a lot of subtext to that scene that I really liked.

I can still see some yellow lights with Sakurasou, and one of them is that I’m still not sure how well Shiina will wear as a character.  This trope is a bit of a dangerous one, and can get repetitive or boring if not handled well – but there’s enough distinctive about Shiina to give me hope that the novelist knows what he’s doing.  It would be also be nice to Sorata take command of his own life a little more rather than fall back on the standard behaviors of the harem MC, but given that the heart of the story is likely going to concern his finding something he loves to do and accepting that being “normal” isn’t a worthy goal in itself, there’s a good chance that will happen too. 

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17 comments

  1. S

    I think your reviews still are excellent, Enzo! Even if they are in this condensed format, you're condensing anything that doesnt really matter (for me).

    I'm a litte bit surprised Sakurasou isn't on your definitely blog list, or atleast it doesnt seem like it is. I think it is stellar, although not really very well defined so far. And I really like Erika from Ginga as Aoyama here. The typical misunderstanding trope had a few nice touches which enabled Aoyama to avoid being portrayed as the full retard Tsundere that is so popular.

    I'm definitely watching Magi and Sukitte II na Yo too, but I really dislike the male MC in the latter series. He left a foul taste in my mouth in this episode, and I didn't buy the kissing scene in the first episode. Why would you feel the need to answer a disgusting stalker and stranger's question with a "I love you" and a kiss? Wouldn't a "fuck off from my f'ing girlfriend, you %#"!€! #€%" suffice?

  2. A

    Agree, they have to do something with his hairdo too xD

  3. If I weren't so swamped for time and if there weren't so many shows in the "good" category, Sakurasou would be a lock. As is, it's probably right at the top of that tier so there's a good chance. I may end up doing several digest series this season. And thanks the compliment – I'm doing my best!

  4. A

    same here, Enzo…great post, and I am impressed — you're so busy and still can write so much with quality and objectivity. Agreed with everything that you and others said. Don't like the kissing scenes in Sukitte, and what's with the hair…?

    ~Ronbb

  5. e

    Sukitte is arguably the best among this mangaka's works (most of her previous work for me ranged from 'questionable but readable' to 'downright awful with borderline chauvinist hentai dialogue/situations in a josei dressing '), as she managed to keep both her tendencies and/or her editors' 'bad smut' at bay for a while. But even taking thta into account it's middle of the pack at best, and would have benefitted in being kept short and (sorta) sweet.
    The anime direction has boosted the quality here, but I'm not expecting any miracle in adaptation upgrade a-la-Kurenai. This episodes is already ringing my alarm bells. Eh.

    On the other hand that Sakurasou art lesson scene is tickling my fancy. Because I must say… I can get Shiina's mindset during that. It makes so much sense to me it doesn't event stretch believability that much. Artsy minds think alike :p
    Also, way too many cats. That's playing dirty. Catttttttts <3

  6. A

    I think you were supposed to be put off by Yamato's ego, but at the same time, be happy for Mei that he supposedly isn't fooling around with her. At least, that is what I think the show intended, and it seems that you and many others also had a negative reaction to him. And, the main character's name is Mei, not Mai.

  7. Heh, I knew that and did it for the second straight week. I'm on no sleep, Bro.

    I'm glad others had the same reaction to Yamato, because I was worried that was supposed to be romantic. And to Kenosha, normally Spring and Fall have a lot of the multi-cour shows – but there do seem to be a lot this season, something of a reversal of a long-standing trend. I approve.

  8. T

    "…about the same the anime – yet another two-cour…"
    Totally random note because I haven't gotten around to checking out any of these shows yet (though I will):

    Is it just me, or have there been more multi-cour shows as of late? I could swear that there were way fewer multi-cour shows in 2010 and 2011 than we've had lately, but I've got a lying memory. Assuming it isn't just my imagination, this pleases me greatly.

  9. B

    Not sure if it's a trend or selective memory on your part but I'm gonna join you in hoping for the former! I've always preferred longer series (as long as they aren't endless Naruto style shounen shows that just. Never. END.) so yay for multi-cour shows!

  10. L

    I'm in favour of longer series too. Really a lot of these 1-cour shows have ended up with second seasons produced, when it would have made more sense to just extend the original series.

  11. v

    Eh… On Sukitte Ii Na Yo, this was as natural as it could be and the main guy was definitely a player. However I liked it how it didn't try to hide anything, it was a very frank and realistic romance. No matter how quick it seems, from my observation, it was honest view of a modern romance and a smooth guy like him will have no trouble convincing the most stubborn shoujo heroine to relent.

    And this dude Yamato seems almost like Gary Stu but the guys like him exists anyway that despite the fact, he can get any chicks he want, he wants the one that is impossible to get. No matter how slick and snakey it feels, this is how it is.

  12. P

    Ritsuko Okazaki for Life! RIP

  13. I

    I really like Magi, Aladdin is like a little moeblob boy and I can't believe Yuuki Kaji is Ali Baba (he's not emo). I still think that it reminds me of TPGL but certainly seems less dark for the moment.

    If NANA was set in highschool it would be called Sukitte Iinayo. I didn't like NANA (too melodramatic and Nana 1 was quite annoying) and I don't feel too warmly about Sukitte either. It feels rushed, Kurosawa comes off inhuman and for a guy quite annoying (I see Twilight sparkles). Simply put his presence makes it inaccessible for my Y chromosome.

    Kamisama isn't my flavor of comedy.

    On Sakurasou, I agree with GE, that like Chuunibyou, under normal circumstances I wouldn't watch it or enjoy it as much as I do. But something about that feeling of being talentless compared to everyone else is so relatable plus Sorata reminds a bit of Rito albeit much more of a Tsukkomi. The other members of Sakurasou are all quirky in a good way but all seem to have a little something dark hidden below the surface and it thankfully doesn't seem to be a harem just yet.

  14. H

    I don't know what it was about Sakurasou no Pet this episode in particular, but I just kind of got this feeling that the show is really going somewhere good, and it's going to be special in getting there. I don't know why, maybe it's the way that they ended up presenting Misaki and Jin's relationship, where it felt like Misaki is someone more special to Jin, so he won't give in to her over the top come-ons (even though he's with a different girl every night), or maybe it's the way that Shiina is such an exasperating yet calming presence for Sorata. It just gave me a good feeling looking forward. Hopefully it lives up to that.

  15. E

    Shiina Mashiro is a pretty good female character. A mixture of airhead, innocent, erotic(?) and serene~

  16. a

    Re: Sukitte ii na yo

    I actually always liked that kissing scene in the manga. The whole logic of there being different kind of kisses… was kind of cute?!? But I guess it is kind of aggressive (and it had less feeling in the anime than in the manga) and if I were an unkissed 17-year old girl I would probably have freaked.

    In any case, now you made me think about why I originally did like that scene (in the manga) or whether in fact there is something wrong with it. First of all, it's actually a very cliché scene – at least in doramas/K-dramas that kind of 'kiss solution' is used all the time (usually the couple is running away from something and need to hide). It's usually a lot more boring, so I think one of the reasons why I kinda liked it was that it was just slightly different with it's multiple-kisses-with-explanations.

    The other thing is that that scene I think very clearly establishes the difference between Mei and Yamato. Yamato is a player. He will kiss anyone and even sleep with people just because, but it doesn't mean anything to him. Mei is the opposite extreme. She is totally inexperienced and to her every single kiss is means something – it's a shock to her world. If they are going to be a couple, that's a hurdle they will have to overcome – from both ends. But at the moment that's their starting point: Yamato kissing her to get rid of the stalker, kissing her just because he feels like it at the moment, and kissing her because he sort of likes her. He would sleep with her right away probably too, but he is, for the first time, faced with a girl, who won't even though she is starting to like him (actually like him, not idolise him like the other girls who just want to be with Yamato because he is the popular guy).

    I actually don't think Yamato has so much a big ego as that he is just totally clueless, socially speaking. And to some extent he in fact actually doesn't care whether he is popular or not, he just happens to be worshipped by all these people but he is fact quite happy to talk to anyone. It doesn't come across as strongly as in the manga, because everything is a bit fast here. In the manga, I got a lot stronger sense of Mei's resistance (ignoring him, telling him to leave her alone, etc.) and him persisting although others speak badly of Mei. Here I feel Mei is staring at Yamato with lovey-dovey eyes rather quickly. I mean, in the manga, she's struggling with her stirring filling soon too but she's… I don't know… just more resistant and also more strongly outspoken about things she doesn't like (Asumi's bullying, her conversation with Nakanishi). It's a bit of a loss, because that's why I always liked her character so much (even when the story got stupid): because she would frankly state the truth regardless of what the rest of people thought.

    I don't see anything wrong with Yamato's hair?

  17. a

    Ahhh! I didn't realise I wrote that much. 😛

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