First Impressions Digest – Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou, Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii, Fairy Tail 2014

Kawaiisou - 01 -9 Soredemo Sekai - 01 -7 Fairy Tail 2014 - 01 -1
Kawaiisou - 01 -20 Soredemo Sekai - 01 -20 Fairy Tail 2014 - 01 -17

Spring 2014 has hit the ground running, and I’m just trying to keep up.

Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou – 03

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Kawaiisou - 01 -17 Kawaiisou - 01 -18 Kawaiisou - 01 -19

I can’t remember the last time Brains Base had three shows in a single season.  This Spring one of them (Isshuukan Friends) is a no-brainer, another (Kamigami ga Asobi) is a no-chance-in-hell, and then there’s this one – which is right in the middle.  The premise sounds generic, but I like the staff (this is the Blood Lad writer/director team and the mangaka of Love Lab) is certainly above average.

If I started out on the fence, I finished up there too – intrigued, but not sold.  This is an old story – a kid moves into an old Japanese-style apartment complex (a converted mansion, as most of them are) full of weirdos – which many newer fans seem to think started with Sakurasou but draws a line of succession through the likes of Mahoraba all the way back to the grand dame of them all, Maison Ikoku.  The kid in this case is Usa Kazunari (Iguchi Yuuta), whose parents have moved out of town and left him (at his request) behind on his own.  The girl he’s crushing on, Ritsu Kawai (Hanazawa Kana) is also a tenant, as is the perv Shirosaki (Shinomiya Gou) he meets on the way to his new home.  The landlady is soft-spoken but snarky Sumiko (Kobayashi Sanae), eccentric as required by law for this premise but not as much as some you’ll see.

That premise is indeed about as traditional as you can get, but the first thing that leaps out at you in the premiere is the visuals – gorgeous Shinkai Makoto style backgrounds and play with light and shadows – and the dissonance it creates with the comic style.  That style is very broad comedy, quite ecchi and slapstick.  As Miya Shigeyuki showed with Blood Lad he’s excellent with comic timing and if on the busy side, adept with visual humor – but the writing in the premiere results in inconsistent results.  Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it isn’t – which is about how I felt about Love Lab.  In fact that disconnect between the look and content of Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou is the most interesting thing in the premiere, and I rather think it was supposed to be.

As for characters, that’s another “we’ll see”.  Usa seems to have a bit more verve than many leads, though I can’t help but be disconcerted by the uncanny vocal similarity between Iguichi and a young Ishida Akira.  This isn’t my favorite of HanaKana’s personas, and Kawai (the series name is a pun between that, the name of the dorm and the phrase “kawaisou” meaning “pitiful” more or less) could go either way.  Shiro is pure comic relief at this point, as is the busty drunkard Mayuki (Satou Rina) who gets amorous (and stupider than normal) when hammered – which I’m guessing she often is.  We’re sure to meet more misfits in the coming weeks, too.  I’m interested to see if the wackiness settles down a bit after the premiere as it sometimes does with this sort of premise.  This model, if hardly fresh, can definitely work if the writing and direction is there – it’s just a question of waiting to find out if it is with this show.

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii – 01

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Soredemo Sekai - 01 -14 Soredemo Sekai - 01 -15 Soredemo Sekai - 01 -16
Soredemo Sekai - 01 -17 Soredemo Sekai - 01 -18 Soredemo Sekai - 01 -19

The success of the first episode of Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii (spoiler alert for the blog post there) is largely a matter of horses for courses.  If there was ever a series that was made for a studio, it’s this show and Pierrot – the fairy-tale, quasi-European look and tone has their name all over it, and 57 year-old director Kamegaki Hajime (Fushigi Yugi) in an old hand at shoujo adaptations.

For whatever reason I always jumbled this and Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou in my head – must be the rhythm of the names and the closing of the title with an adjective – but boy, are they different.  The animation in this series is as old-school as the tone, even basic – but it fits.  The heroine of the piece is Nike Remercier (Maeda Rena), 4th Princess of the Rain Duchy and – after a loss at a game of Janken  with her older sisters – packed off to marry the King of the Sun Kingdom, Livius (Nobunaga Shimazaki).  The latter is the most powerful nation on the planet, it seems, and the former a backwater, so Nike’s father is in no position to say no to the Sun Kingdom’s offer to exchange continued autonomy for a new bride.

Everything about this premiere is old-school shoujo – the look, the style of comedy, the dialogue – and while it certainly wasn’t spectacular I found it quite charming.  Nike is the classic plucky Princess, determined to make her own way to the King rather than be escorted by her minders.  Naturally this leads to all sorts of complications, and she ends up being robbed and forced to rely on the kindness of a low-ranking merchant widow and his two daughters.  Eventually the two hoodlums who robbed Nike are paid off by a General who clearly has it in for the King to kidnap Nike – after which she shows a certain ability to manipulate the elements, and ends up converting the two idiots into underlings.

As for the King (who has a servant played by Sugita Tomokazu), he’s unseen until the final moments of the episode, when he’s revealed to be a teenager even younger than the Princess (think Ciel Phantomhive in two years).  This naturally conflicts with the fearful image he has in the Rain Kingdom, naturally enough given that he’s managed to conquer the known world.  This is of course going to be the central relationship of the series, one where the King will no doubt prove a brat but Nike will end up falling in love with him anyway.  I look forward to seeing it play out if it’s brought off with as much wit and style as the premiere.  I very much liked the way the old-school presentation was checked with winks to the audience, like the older ruffian telling his brother he’d “leveled up as a villain” when he suggested murdering the merchant’s daughter, and joked about “scoring points with the male audience”.  Can this kind of series work in 2014?  Well, it won’t sell many discs, that’s a given – but I imagine the anime is here to move manga, and if the series is as good as the first episode it might just ably pull that off.

Fairy Tail 2014 – 01

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I had an up-and-down relationship with the original Fairy Tail anime, though it was mostly up.  Until the anime caught up the manga and sunk into mediocrity with original material I was quite entertained by it most of the time, and occasionally more than that.  And if I’m to be honest, there are very few anime characters I truly consider to be sexy, but Lucy Heartfilia is definitely one of them.

Well, Fairy Tail is back and adapting manga material again, and while I doubt I’ll pick up the series as a blogger I’m looking forward to being a viewer again.  It doesn’t seem as if much has changed – A-1 is still in charge, Ishihara Shinji is still directing, and the show feels very much the same.  It’s still occasionally quite funny, always high-spirited and while rarely brilliant, peopled with likeable characters who’re fun to spend time with every week.

It appears as if the focus of the first major arc of the 2014 series is going to be dragons, and it starts with a history lesson courtesy of the soul of the deceased Zirconis (Kuroda Takaya, who’s very busy here – he also plays Arcadios), who has nothing to say to humans after Wendy summons him but is only to happy to gabble on when Happy points out he’s a cat.  There are familiar names (like Acnologia) in Zirconis’ tale of the birth of dragon slayers and the decline of dragons, and it seems as if it should provide fertile ground for an involving storyline.  The nature of Mashima Hiro’s writing is to write long arcs with very little downtime in-between so that’s important – if an arc is a clunker you’re stuck with it for a while.  The other plotline the premiere touches on is the rivalry between Fairy Tail and nasty rival guild Sabertooth, the two sides currently engaged in a battle for supremacy in the Grand Magic Games.



  1. S

    I know what you mean with Minna Kawaisou. It looks like it is going to be a classic setup with new visuals. It also sits right in the middle in terms of its' humor.

    Oddly enough, I actually don't want too much comedy from this series. The character line-up just feels too easy for comedy. I too hope the level of wackiness can settle because I really like Ritsu.

  2. w

    Agreed. I'd much prefer if this one sits more on the romantic end of romantic comedy.

  3. t

    brains base's Bokura wa Minna is a very good series (also looking for their second – Kanojo ga flag).
    it has the animation and art of blood lad, also we got OP, ED ans lovely OST that fits to it.
    it's only the beginning, so it's too early to say what this show will really be. it really reminds me Sakurasou, though it isn't. but Bokura wa Minna is a nice complex – mostly comedy with SoL, a bit school-life (but more apartment life as it seems). of course you can't hold a series only with crazy characters with their own recurring gag, but if they take a more serious act and involve themes on the characters and all, it can work pretty well.
    so far I am enjoying it and look forward to continue.

    as for Soredemo, I enjoyed it. it was refreshing in animation, characters and all. it just made my evening when I watched it – funny, flowing, a bit bizarre (but not jojo's bizarre style)..all click to me, whether it's the characters, background world and its people, the scam going on in the background. it's good.
    having read couple chapters from the manga, I expected something else when I started simply because the ending of the episode is kinda like the first few pages in the 1st I was a bit surprised. but you know how it is – I gave it a try and it still worked. so I am not complaining here. but I guess the real deal starts in the 1-2 episodes. I look forward seeing them doing it.

    You are watching FT??is that april fools joke?

  4. What the hell is wrong with Fairy Tail??

  5. t

    now look, it's not like I meant that Fairy Tail is really bad or something.
    I even read quite a lot of the manga back there and also saw about…half of the previous anime. and if it was bad, trust me I'd cut it out. so it isn't.

    but its repetitive pattern is all over the place. nothing really new under the sun. it's all same generic shonen (Natsu win among with all the others and so) and at some point, it doesn't..bring something interesting enough. not to mention it's full of ecchi for nothing (at least in the manga, though, that can be said on others too…but it also an issue to look at).

    let's take for a while magi S2 (and magi is somehow a "close relative" for fairy tail), it's much more intriguing and all (despite dull start and..not so good ending for S1). yeah, it had ecchi, sometimes bizarre (though, the more this season has progressed, the less we saw it!). but at least there was something there different, changing, even a little bit. the characters, themes..this show has "evolved" to something else!
    I am not saying magi is perfect. it still has some issues too. but by looking roughly at those, it seems fairy tail is just same old news.

    again, I am not saying fairy tail is completely bad or disaster. it's some point, endless shonens aren't working (except for HxH, but it's quite different shonen).
    so..what's so appeal or what's so good in fairy tail?why is it still so?even after an anime with over 175 episodes that had a bunch of fillers?

  6. I already said I stopped watching when the anime originals got boring (I don't automatically assume they will, but in this case they were a huge step down).

    I wasn't aware there was a competition between FT and Magi. I like them both – I don't think either are great. Magi is a little edgier, but FT has its charms. It's consistently fun, the big arcs are usually well-plotted and I like most of the characters. There's no science to it really – it's entertaining.

  7. M

    Not really qualified or in any position to judge it, but I've always wondered what distinguished Fairy Tail from other shounen greats. On the surface, looks like a hybrid of One Piece and the author's previous Rave Master. The main characters don't scream classic and it sounds like the anime has already struck the same problems it took One Piece 400 episodes deteriorate (damn Toei!). My impression from Seishun's manga reviews on RC is that it's very fan service laden (far more so than its contemporaries), so I get the obvious draw for some there – but I'm wondering if it has an overarching story hook that's worked so well for Oda and Ōkubo all those years.

    After spending as much energy as I have with One Piece (enjoyed what I saw of 2008's Soul Eater), I doubt I'd ever commit to another similarly styled work. Even if I hadn't seen those others I feel confident I'd still sooner stick them out over FT simply based on their settings and premise. Guess I'm mostly curious how the latter stacks up to Bleach (I dropped out after soul society ^^;), Naruto, Gintama and the like among fans of long running shounen.

  8. M

    The Fairy Tail anime did go back to the manga material before it went on its hiatus. Did you watch those too? I ask, because I'm not 100% sure what you mean when you stopped watching after the anime original became too boring. Did you stop watching altogether. Or did you go back?

  9. I didn't realize it ever did go back, to be honest. What episode? I assume that was the start of the Grand Magic Games plot?

  10. M

    Started on the second half of episode 151 (As the first half was the conclusion to the flller arc. And yes it was.

  11. s

    The thing that draws me to fairy tail is just how fun the series is; I couldnt care less if it so-called does not compare to one piece or bleach, the comadarie between the characters and the sheer fun of the adventures they go on is what sells fairy tail for me. That is fairy tail's strong point and why it makes for an enjoyable shonen. It's just a shame that the series does not get a better budget to work with..too many stills and off-model drawings at times and the effects are lackluster. There has been a bump in art this time around so maybe that's a good sign of things to come

  12. M

    Fair enough, but I still don't see a compelling case to recommend above other shounen. Why fall short at Fairy Tail?

  13. s

    If you want to enjoy a shonen with a wonderful cast of eccentric and widly animated characters and a story that knows when to take itself seriously or when to be silly, take a dip into fairy tail. While you may not get super intricate battles on the level of hunterXhunter or the psychological intrigue a shonen like that presents (or perhaps the flahsy battles of bleach and naruto), you are given a series filled with energy that can almost always give you that warm feeling inside and show you the thrill and the enjoyment of guild life. As a bonus (and this is a pretty good selling point) fairy tail doesnt suffer from the bloated pacing issues some shonen tend to suffer; for the most part, it's very well paced.

  14. M

    Right, it sort of sounds like the spiritual successor to OP then, which isn't a bad title to hold. Oda's got to pass the 'fun & eccentric shounen adventure' baton at some point. His chapters in recent years have had less of that vibe at least, though I'm not entirely caught up on the latest.

    In regards to the anime, it had great quality control and decent filler when Kōnosuke Uda was steering the ship. Not at all keen on the current director's tendency to derive filler out of canon material. Compounding on that, Toei have become generally quite sloppy towards the material, so A-1 and Fairy Tail have the edge there. The fact that they took a hiatus shows some level of reverence for the source material.

  15. s

    Agreed; overall i think another one of its important strengths is its accessibility to audiences

  16. w

    "If I'm to be honest, there are very few anime characters I truly consider to be sexy, but Lucy Heartfilia is definitely one of them."

    Yes. I could not agree with you more on this. I consider Lucy to be one of the most attractive anime characters of all time. I think Mashima agrees with you too. That said, I think Ritsu may have the most gorgeous character design I've seen in a long time. Even if I don't consider it sexy, it's extremely pleasant to look at. Those eyes especially were very beautifully done. And while we're at it Princess Nike is awesome and very funny. She really made a good impression as a lead.

    …Ahem. Anyway, it's always nice to have Fairy Tail back, but I've always considered it a shame how low-budget it is. It's no masterpiece, but I think it deserves stronger animation than it gets. Out of curiosity, have you ever read any of the manga?

    I was looking forward to Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou, but a lot of the humor really didn't work for me. It made me smile and was well executed, but I feel the jokes simply weren't very strong. The visuals on the other hand I loved the crap out of. Where did BB get the money to do this kind of animation? It's definitely a step up for them lately. The character designs (especially Ritsu are wonderful) I'll watch be watching for the visuals for now and hoping the characters and humor catch up.

    Soredemo was one of my favorite premieres so far, that charm and sense of fun really worked it magic on me. I really like Nike as a lead, she's a spunky, kickass princess and has made some hilarious facial expressions. The humor was great here as well, I especially liked the flashes to her sisters captioned "not actual image". There also seems to be potential for a good story, both from a character and world perspective. And who knows, maybe the otaku will really take to Nike and it becomes a smash hit that completely changes the anime industry's direction? OK, that's not going to happen but you can bet I'll be looking forward to next week.

  17. M

    Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou:

    Sakurasou or maybe Love Hina I’d say. But thank god Ritsu isn’t another Narusegawa though,she annoyed the hell out of me!

    It seems to be a rather easy show to decide on whether the viewer will like or not. I'm like,positive it won't get better(although it could get worst…) so I'd label it as that relaxing anime of the week.

    I’ll only drop it if the characters start being annoying which I didn’t have an issue with so far but eh,you never know and I’m not entirely sold on them either.

    Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii:

    I have a many issues with the shoujo genre in general but there didn't seem to be much of those there,yet. I like the setting and Nike but the other deciding factor for me will probably come next week,when I'll see how Livius is. A big issue I have with the shoujo genre is that the male characters annoy me – they make an anime unwatchable for me even if I like the female lead & other parts of it. They seem to fall even more into stereotypes than girls do in harem shows so I really hope you're wrong about Livius…at least to some degree. I actually want to like this show,especially after this pretty enjoyable premiere.

  18. S

    Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii:

    I'm glad Nike has this tomboy way of getting her things done. The humor seems quite quirky to me, but that's just fine since it goes very well with how her character is portrayed. In a way she reminds me of Hiyori of Noragami.

    Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou was also quite enjoyable to watch. Spring 2014 seems to have a lot more of potential keepers to me compared to the last season.

  19. R

    I can't remember the last time a legit, fantasy style shoujo actually aired on TV. Sure we've had shoujo, but it's mostly modern day romantic comedy and such. I mean old school shoujo like the Twelve Kingdoms or Fushigi Yuugi or something. Sprawling fantasy epic sets are my favorite background, even if the story itself boils down to romance (part of the reason I loved and was so forgiving of Toaru Hikuushi)

  20. Astrea Project, maybe?

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