Better late than never.
12-sai: Chicchana Mune no Tokimeki – 01
I’ve been anxiously awaiting a subtitled version of 12-sai since it aired a week ago. But as time progressed with no news and the show trapped on the post-fansub purgatory series that aren’t streamed languish in this days, I had a sick feeling it would be released at the busiest and worst possible moment, and so it was. As such it was either wait yet more time before doing a First Impressions post or bite the bullet and do a quick introduction.
I had this series pegged as another sleeper heading into the season. The manga is well-reviewed and there’s a real dearth of anime that seriously tackle the problems of kids this age – and every time we get one there’s always someone complaining that the characters are too young. What, we don’t have enough high school shows? Stuff like 12-sai makes a nice change, though admittedly it can be a bit of a minefield and tends to be pretty tough to market.
I liked this premiere quite a lot, though it was titled just a bit too much towards the cutesy side of the spectrum. I don’t think one can possibly avoid thinking of Kyou no Go no Ni when watching 12-sai, as they both deal with the problems of late-primary school kids. Class 5-2 is definitely more quirky and comedy-driven though (it was written by Minami-ke creator Sakuraba Coharu after all) while 12-sai plays more like a coming of age romcom. The primary focus here is on the budding romance between two main couples, with all the awkwardness that implies, but there’s some more general commentary on gender politics as well.
That life in Class 6-2 centers around embarrassment seems fitting, because life as a 12 year-old revolves around avoiding embarrassment for most kids. There’s just so much to be embarrassed about – boys and girls each have their own budding biological nightmares (though the girls’ tends to be more public), and interest in romance is sparking all over the place. It doesn’t help that boys and girls that age are are pretty much a different genus, never mind species. It’s a difficult and confusing time, and 12-sai does a pretty good job of depicting that.
As for the characters themselves, I’m not quite sure which ones have breakout potential yet. The heroine is pretty much a classic innocent, the best friend a cipher and the two guys neatly break down into good-boy hunk and bad boy-scamp. They’re all likeable enough but I found the broader focus on the gulf between the boys and girls to be a little more involving and incisive. I’ll be interested to see what kind of impression couple #2 makes in their formal introduction next week, and on balance 12-sai looks like a refreshing break from a season heavy on action, violence and teenagers.
Kiznaiver – 01
Okada Mari’s – and Trigger’s – other sci-fi entry this season takes its bow as Kiznaiver joins the fray. Based on one episode I think it’s the better series in both cases, but I’m a long way from being sold.
Trigger seems to be emerging as a kind of pseudo-Shaft rather than a pseudo-Gainax. Their shows all seem to settling into a kind of pretentious, over-stylized patter that plays like an effort to distract from how cheap they look. Kinzaiver is certainly not immune to that, though it does have just enough intrigue in the plot to make it tolerably interesting. But if you hadn’t told me, I’d have sworn the dialogue was written by NisiOisin rather than Okada.
I found the execution – the teleplay, the cinematography, the animation, the acting – mostly insufferable here. But the idea of a network joining a bunch of test subjects via wounds is kind of interesting. My biggest problem is that I don’t like any of the characters playing it out (that’s common to both Okada shows this season for me) and it’s a chore to listen to them talk about it. Maybe that will change in the weeks ahead, but it’s a pretty thin reed to cling to in a schedule as tight as this season’s.