First Impressions Digest – Love Kome: We Love Rice, Sekaisuru Kado, Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul

Love Kome: We Love Rice – 01

So, this turned out to be a short.  It’s cute, but basically three minutes of puns about rice farming and idols.  Obviously not a blogging candidate.

 

Sekaisuru Kado – 00/01

OK, this was kinda interesting.  Toei made some seriously unconventional choices with this sci-fi original.  In the first place, they went with an intro “Episode 0” that was a complete fake-out in more ways than one.  First off, it was a low-key, thoughtful and actually very engaging story about a couple of young government bureaucrats assigned to negotiate a buyout of a factory to make way for a government hall – and thus completely different in tone and premise from Sekaisuru Kado‘s actual plot.  And second, it was animated entirely in the traditional method – before switching over to almost full-CGI when the sci-fi plot actually kicked in.

The funny thing is, I liked the “mundane” traditionally animated episode better than the “real” one.  Yeah, the awkward transition was a reminder of just how far 3D character animation has to go to be comparable to even low-budget hand-drawn.  But beyond that, it was pretty cool to see a story so unlike anything we usually get in anime – a thoughtful, clever look at the art of negotiation and the state of the modern Japanese economy.  Thus far at least the premise – a giant cube appears at Haneda, swallows a plane, and a white-haired alien eventually emerges to address mankind (read: Japan), seems pretty (frictionless) boilerplate by comparison.

Yeah, I can’t help but thinking a series about a genius young bureaucrat and his goofy sidekick traveling post-boom Japan negotiating would be more intriguing that what Sekaisuru Kado is.  But I give it credit for starting out the way it did, and there’s enough in the alien setup to offer a little interest.  Also, director Murata Kazuya is a serious and talented industry stalwart whose impact on this project shouldn’t be dismissed – he seems capable of steering Sekaisuru Kado through the minefield of formula in which it finds itself.  For sure, this is worth a couple more episodes at least.

 

Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul – 01

It was a really excellent return for Shingeki no Bahamut, another of those anime I liked quite a lot but tended to take for granted a bit.  This was the first MAPPA series that really made any money, and one of the surprise hits of 2014 – a game adaptation that basically created an original story and told it in very cinematic form.  Shingeki no Bahamut was one of the most movie-like series of recent years, both in form and substance, and that made it a very refreshing change of pace.

“Virgin Soul” finds us returning with the same director (veteran Satou Keiichi) but a new writer in Ooishi Shizuka.  That can be a worry with an original series (which Bahamut effectively is at this point) but there aren’t really any danger signs in the first episode.  It’s good, damn good – as with the first season’s non-outsourced episodes the looks is terrific, with well-integrated CGI, lovely backgrounds and great cinematography. We’ve apparently skipped ten years forward, with the capital now thriving under a king named Chaorice XVII (Umehara Yuiichirou).  But this largesse is built on the backs of slavery, and that’s given rise to outlaws like the Rag Demon, who seems to see the rescue of these demon slaves as his mission in life.

Some of the old cast is here – Kaiser is, a Knight in Chaorice’s court clearly conflicted over what’s happening.  Rita shows up briefly at the end of the episode, and Bacchus and Hamsa are their usual comic Greek chorus.  Of Favaroooo!!! there’s no sign yet – I’m sure he’ll pop up soon – but siding into place at the center of the narrative is Nina (Morohoshi Sumire).  She’s a crazy genki – and strong – 16 year-old construction worker whose secret identity is as an aspiring bounty hunter.  But her even more secret identity seems to be secret even from her – she’s a dragon who changes form when she gets too excited staring into the eyes of a handsome man (one of whom is the muralist played by Miyano Mamoru).

I wasn’t 100% thrilled with Nina’s over-the-top antics, which border a bit too much on anime cliche to fit neatly into the Bahamut universe.  But apart from that this ep had everything that made the first series such a winner.  And early signs for the writing are good, because the exposition in this episode was deftly handled.  We know pretty much everything we need to know about what’s going on here without a character having to halt the narrative and blurt it out, and that’s good writing.  Definitely a promising start, and “Virgin Soul” is a strong contender for blogging space on what look to be very crowded weekends this season.

 

 

 

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7 comments

  1. H

    Sekaisuru Kado was more interesting than I thought it would be based on the preview I saw, though I am on the fence about whether I will continue with it for long. I got pretty frustrated that the majority of the episode focused on what was going on outside the cube rather than what happened to the passengers mainly because far too much of that time was focused on an incredibly annoying cliché of a character. The scientist woman drove me nuts from the moment she appeared and may be enough to make me drop this if she is around too much. I had no idea there was an episode 0. I’m gonna have to check that out.

    Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul’s first episode was really great. Nina so far is a fun and likeable character who certainly has room to grow. I liked the naïve and bumbling qualities about her when it came to how she tackled bounty hunting and encounters with attractive men and I think she could make a very interesting counterpart to Kaiser.

  2. Z

    I feel ya. That scientist chick was exceptionally grating.

  3. I too really enjoyed Bahamut. Was shocked to find out what she really is.

  4. M

    Agree with you on Sekaisuru Kado. Would’ve been better if they just made a whole season with content like episode 00’s, even if the actual metallurgical knowledge featured in the episode was about as deep as the average Republican’s thought process. Still not sure if I’ll stick to it for long. That “physicist” chick has got the most annoying, sibilant, downright ear-grating manner of speech ever. Seriously hope the alien feels the same way I do and disintegrates her ass. Speaking of the alien dude, I’m kinda conflicted. On one hand, I’m glad what came out of the cube didn’t resemble some cliched collective robotic race named after a boring Swedish tennis player, but on the other hand, he doesn’t look alien enough. Oh, and what’s with the heavy red eyeliner everyone’s using?

  5. Yeah, I did intend to mention how annoying that ridonkulous “scientist” was, but I forgot. The less we see of her the better.

  6. Y

    “even if the actual metallurgical knowledge featured in the episode was about as deep as the average Republican’s thought process” DAMN; that burn made me giggle.

  7. Z

    I really liked episode 0 of Sekaisuru Kado, as well. And I am still onboard for an anime where the BEST NEGOTIATOR IN THE WORLD mediates between humans and an all powerful alien. The 3D though, and that scientist chick . . . ugh.

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