Second Impressions Digest – Yahari, Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince, Photo Kano

Yahari - 02-7 Majestic Prince - 02 -5 Photo Kano - 02-10

My basic feeling is that Yahari is a show I could come to like quite a bit if it doesn’t make me hate it first.

Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Come wa Machigatteiru – 02

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Yahari - 02-5 Yahari - 02-6 Yahari - 02-8
Yahari - 02-10 Yahari - 02-11 Yahari - 02-12
Yahari - 02-13 Yahari - 02-14 Yahari - 02-16
Yahari - 02-17 Yahari - 02-18 Yahari - 02-19

Everything about this show screams dichotomy to me.  I think it has a good heart and buried deep inside it there’s a real intelligence that could be put to good use in telling this story.  But it’s so hopelessly ensnared in light novel trappings that I’m not sure it’s ever going to be able to escape.  And every time I think it’s going to achieve a moment of emotional subtlety, it clubs me over the head with incredibly broad and manipulative dialogue.

I find something quite poignant in the fundamental observation at the heart of the series – all of the main characters basically spend their time dreaming up reasons for why they’re isolated, when the reality is that they’re simply very bad at moving along with the crowd.  Hikki’s tortured navel-gazing mixed metaphor at the beginning (a lone-wolf bear) sums him up pretty well, and it’s quite affecting even if it is rather pathetic.  Yukino’s ridiculously high standards for other people are just a way of justifying why none of them want anything to do with her.  And Yui is simply a climber who’s neither ruthless or skilled enough to achieve the acceptance she so badly craves.  The irony here – Hikki and Yukino are supposedly too honest for their own good when in fact they’re experts at self-deception – is an effective one.

It doesn’t help that this series is such a weird hodge-podge of  themes floating about in the atmosphere – we meet a chuunibyou character this week in Zaimokuza Yukiteru (Hiyama Nobuyuki, bombastically funny as usual).  There are parts of the Service Club premise that feel like recycled Sket Dance or Medaka Box. And it’s impossible not to see the thematic parallels with Haganai as the oddballs of the Service Club conglomerate around Hachiman – heck, we even meet a character this week who I assume is a girl dressed as a boy.  It feels as if all the expected boxes are being checked off, one by one.

I really want to like Yahari, because I think ultimately it has a good message and the ability to deliver it in a pleasing way – and I think there’s still a chance I will.  But it’s driving me crazy so often with its trendy clichés that I’m really not sure I’ll be able to stick it out long enough for that to happen.  Another problem is that while I sympathize with all the main characters so far, I don’t especially like any of them with the marginal exception of Hikki.  Three episode rule?  For sure – at the very least.  But I have serious doubts at the moment.

Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince – 02

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Majestic Prince - 02 -9 Majestic Prince - 02 -10 Majestic Prince - 02 -11
Majestic Prince - 02 -13 Majestic Prince - 02 -14 Majestic Prince - 02 -16
Majestic Prince - 02 -17 Majestic Prince - 02 -18 Majestic Prince - 02 -21
Majestic Prince - 02 -22 Majestic Prince - 02 -23 Majestic Prince - 02 -24

OK, I’m sure this is just a coincidence, but what were the odds that a character named “Saionji Reika” would show up in two straight series with “Ginga” in the title?  Ginga e Kickoff fans will know that name of course, and in this episode of Majestic Prince we meet the busty, boozy mechanic by the same name (played by Oohara Sayaka).  Or maybe, just maybe, there’s a GeK fan somewhere at Dogakobo?

As for the second episode itself, it was somewhat less relentlessly silly than the premiere, but still reveals a mecha show that doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously as the other two airing this season.  We got an interesting Tiger & Bunny moment when Team Rabbit’s mobile suits were given corporate sponsors after their success made the “Majestic Princes” instant celebrities.  And there’s clearly a division in opinion at HQ over the entire program, with some like Lt. Amane (Asano Masumi) openly disgusted with the use of minors as child soldiers.  That especially becomes egregious in this episode, as military strategy takes a back seat to marketing and PR.

I was entertained by this episode, especially by the travails of the hapless Rabbits as they tried to deal with their newfound celebrity.  However, it remains to be seen whether there’s enough meat on the bones of this premise to keep Majestic Prince going for two cours, especially if it (as seems likely) becomes less of a true comedy and more of an ironic action/drama.  I won’t judge GKMP by the standards of Valvrave and especially Gargantia, because it isn’t trying to be the same kind of series those are – it doesn’t have their ambition and it certainly doesn’t have their budgets.  But it still needs to be entertaining and have a raison d’etre in a crowded lexicon of mecha anime, and I have some concerns about whether it can answer those questions in the affirmative.

Photo Kano – 02

Photo Kano - 02-2 Photo Kano - 02-3 Photo Kano - 02-4
Photo Kano - 02-5 Photo Kano - 02-6 Photo Kano - 02-7
Photo Kano - 02-8 Photo Kano - 02-9 Photo Kano - 02-11
Photo Kano - 02-12 Photo Kano - 02-13 Photo Kano - 02-14

Photo Kano is a pretty bland offering thus far, despite the fact that Madhouse is doing the production and it has a terrific cast.  Right now we’re just seeing an avalanche of heroines flashing on and off the screen, and the male lead agonizing over the dubious antics of the Photography Club.  None of it is really making much of an impression either to the positive or negative, which is a tough place to build from.

I’m not generally a huge fan of the omnibus format used by the Amagami SS series, but maybe it’s a better fit for the Enterbrain school of VN than a traditional format.  Love it or hate the individual routes at least Amagami always had a sense of narrative drive, which is largely lacking in PK so far.  You don’t expect the male lead in this sort of series to have the charisma to carry the show, and Kazuya is certainly no different, but with so many girls fighting over screen time none of them is making much impact either.  I quite liked Niimi Haruka (played by the superb Itou Kanae) – maybe there’s just something about Harukas in shows like this – and we also got the great Nakahara Mai playing the student council president, Muroto Aki.  But right now I don’t see they or anything else bringing enough to the table to make Photo Kano really take off as a series.



  1. i

    I already put Photo Kano back in its shelf out of disappointment that it wasn't like its predecessors KimiKiss and Amagami, but I was actually wondering a few weeks (I think when LB ended) back if there ever was a bad Haruka?

    I don't mean like antagonist but like say how most people consider Sae Nakata annoying.

    I liked this episode of Yahari much more. Something felt like it clicked over the course of it despite another mean bitch of a Marina Inoue character. I think I warmed up to Yui in comparison to the first episode and now I'm more used to the characters and comedy now. BB have turned a corner and not crashed for me.

  2. I'm very much torn with Yahari. I mean, really – did we have to have a reverse trap, people weren't comparing it to Haganai enough? I really do think there's a good series in there trying to break free of all the crap pancake makeup slathered all over it, but I'm not sure if it'll ever truly bust out. I hope it does.

  3. i

    This is true but I think people who watched Haganai will be bothered by it more than those who didn't really or didn't like it.

    Also wasn't Yukimura a trap not reverse-trap? so it is a bit different.

    BTW how do you know its a reverse-trap? I thought that was more likely so as not to load the harem too quickly but there was no mention.

  4. No, Yukimura is a reverse trap. And I don't know that this new character is one, but I know that's what LN cliche calls for. And I also know that I thought exactly the same thing as the first time Yukimura made an appearance – "there's no way in Hell that's a guy".

  5. i

    Right a trap is a boy and a reverse trap is a girl. Then I change my opinion to that being a trap. Not sure why but I have a gut feeling mainly from the title saying the romcom is wrong. I think he (if it is a he) might end up like Hastor rather than Yukimura

  6. B

    "Yukimura is a reverse trap"
    lol spoiler much. Granted, the anime already got to that part but you should at least put a warning for the people who haven't watched it.

    BTW the (reverse?) trap is on the wikipedia article if you're curious.

  7. a

    Guardian Enzo, I know yahari may seem painful to watch now but it gets better, they are just in the introduction phase. Its second half will make up for the first half I promise.

  8. l

    My impressions of these 3 are only based on what I saw in the premier eps;

    Photo Kano
    Was never into the whole multiple route school romance thing.

    Majestic Prince
    Was bearable at first. Then leader-kun started shouting hero this hero that.

    Yahari Blah-blah Yackety Yack Seishun Title
    Yahari I don't really give a crap about some angsty teenager and his seishun.

  9. E

    Yahari Too Long Title Which Won't Trigger MS Word's Grammar Checker
    An edgy MC-kun with twisted face all the time.

    Majestic Prince
    Haven't watched. And not going to. After reading what you wrote here.

    Photo Kano
    Uh. Is this an adaptation of some dirty, shameless, hentai game? Typed Photo Kano on google. "Photo Kano (フォトカノ, Foto Kano, lit. "Photo Girlfriend") is a Japanese dating sim game developed by Dingo and Enterbrain, and was released for the…" I THOUGHT SO!
    Being a hentai game adaptation doesn't neccesarily bad. Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, for one, I think is good. This anime has no plot other than showing provocative pictures which MC-kun took.

  10. S

    lol dropping a show because the MC doesn't look generic? nice.

  11. E

    How is he not generic?
    He is your usual shut in, unfriendly and friendless MC-kun.
    Of course, he will get lots of girl ever since story starts.
    That's how it always goes.

  12. S

    You must be trying really hard to misinterpret words. Or does your mind block certain words when you are angry and feeling questioned? This is why we have so much hate on the internet. Everybody assumes the other guy is full of shit and just imagines 50% of the reply.

    I have no faith that this reply will make you read what I and you said again, but the keyword is "look". as in: "look generic" and: "MC-kun with twisted face all the time".

  13. B

    Photokano was released for the PSVita – in other words, it's all-ages. You shouldn't call something an eroge without knowing the difference between a regular all-ages bishojo game and an eroge. Amagami and Kimikiss are both all-ages as well.

    Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, on the other hand, was an eroge, so you were correct on that regard.

  14. S

    I still like Yahari. I see your points about the dialogue, self-aware and manipulative, but it doesn't bother me. I really think this show will have a great message and will deliver it in a good way. All I ask for is that it doesn't turn out to be a stereotypical harem

  15. R

    I am torn with Yahari — it isn't too bad, but it lacks something, and I can't explain what that something is. There are not as many brilliant shows this season as compared to last Spring, Summer and Fall, so if time allows, I think I may stick to this show for a bit longer. I am dropping Majestic Prince and Photo Kana.

  16. T

    Heres where I am with yahari: I like this episode much better than the first, though I can see where the LN stero types are comming into play. Personally I really don't give a crap about that, since as a long time shounen manga reader I've come to expect these stort of things and in the long run what'll really make these sort of shows is what they become near the end(except with medaka box, that was just got overly obnoxious) I'm fine with the characters sofar, and even though I hear people making comparisons to hagani it means little to me as the only comparisons I can make sofar is that they both deal with odd jobs. the nature of how they handle them already seems different from Hagani, in which I honsetly didn't think there would ever be a point to anything untill I saw the ending to season 2. So for now, unless it happens to really piss me off somewhere I'm cool with yahari.

    as for those other shows…yeah, not interested.

  17. m

    Give me a good tsundere protagonist male any day. In my limited anime watching history, this character however, self deceived he may be, seems fresh and interesting to me. I think I am going to keep yahiri and put the other two back.

  18. A

    I'm still on the fence regards Yahari, it's not really established any unique identity as yet and just keeps reminding me of other things. I'll probably give it four episodes to see if it makes its own path.

    I'm not a big mecha fan, but Majestic Prince's air of loving pastiche bordering on parody and the small hints of something more serious in the background mean I'm giving that a few more episodes to see how things develop.

    Photo Kano though I dropped like a stone. So protagonist-kun gets his dad's old camera and goes "Oh, shall I join the photography club full of sleazy perverts, or shall I join the one where I get to talk and interact with girls on a regular basis?" and then joins the sleazy perverts club and goes the creepy voyeur route.
    Stuff like this gives photographers a bad name!

  19. J

    Hard for OreGairu to become a harem when the romance aspect is little to none

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