The next few days are pretty much going to be a death march to try and keep up with the flood of premieres, especially with the second cours of the Fall carryovers starting in earnest tomorrow. Today it’s two from the vast mid-tier of the expectations list, Hamatora and D-Frag.
Hamatora was something of an intriguing mystery heading into the season – from a new studio (NAZ), with character designs and concept from Kodama Yuuki (Blood Lad) and a well-known director, Kishi Seiji, acting in the “Chief Director” role he’s never played before. And Kishi is as hit-and-miss as directors get to begin with.
In my preview I said this might have a bit of a Durarara vibe, and in all honesty I think that’s pretty much what they were going for. In practice, though, the result is something more like K with weaker animation – and while that’s a series I didn’t outright dislike, in this context that’s not a compliment. Like K, Hamatora feels very forced, as if it’s trying too hard to be cool and hip – the difference being that shows like Durarara (and the even better Baccano!, by the same author) are cool without having to try.
I’d really like to like Hamatora (and I will give it at least another episode). I like the idea of a show set in Yokohama, an interesting place underrepresented in anime. Private dicks with superpowers (in this case called “Minimums”) solving crimes while trying to scrape together burger money and not get serial murdered is a decent concept. It has a cast full of big names as long as your arms and Kodama’s eye-catching character designs. But the premiere feels like all marketing and no content – like it’s just a treatment that got extended to a full screenplay. We’ll see if there’s an uptick, but for now my feelings are pretty indifferent.
D-Frag – 01
The thing with comedy is, it’s either funny – for you – or it isn’t. And I didn’t laugh once during the premiere here, so much as a chuckle or a guffaw. So that’s pretty much a death sentence right there.
I don’t think I’ve ever dropped a Brains Base series that wasn’t an otome game adaptation after less than three episodes – in fact I’ve finished almost all of them, and liked most of those at the very least – but I’m really going to have to psych myself up hard to watch D-Frag next week. This tired old genre – girls make the guy’s life hell (which was never much good to begin with) has already been done to death. If this hadn’t been Brains Base I wouldn’t have held out much hope – it’s not as if the manga is widely adored – but I’d hoped their usual good taste in manga adaptations had caught something that wasn’t evident in the synopsis. So far it doesn’t look like it.
D-Frag really plays as a tired mishmash of a bunch of other mediocre shows, most directly the really abysmal Medaka Box (though it’s not as pompous and self-important, at least). It has the usual big names sleepwalking through their roles, really mediocre animation (disappointing for Brains Base, though the much better Oregairu was also pretty shoddily made) and so far at least, not an ounce of originality or charm. This is pretty open-and-shut, though out of loyalty to the studio I might give it one more chance next week.