Tsugumomo – 01
About the best thing that can be said about Tsugumomo, I think, is that it’s old-fashioned in a relatively charming way. It’s a textbook fantasy harem ecchi (think ToLoveRU or the like) full of dirty jokes and adolescent sexual innuendo. As I understand it the manga gets pretty hardcore, but the anime does air on television after all, so that side of the equation is certainly going to be toned down quite a bit. Tsugumomo looks like an anime from 10 or 15 years ago too, and not in a bad sense.
Still, for all that, this show really is a bucket of cliches. Male lead gets turned on and turned off and constantly abused, osananajimi who gets exposes and lashes out, brocon big sister. It’s pretty old-hat, really, and I was frankly pretty much over it by the halfway point of the premiere. The whole business of an overprotective obi that takes human form is a pretty formula setup, too, and none of the characters in the first episode stand out as especially interesting or charming. I’ll give Tsugumomo another week to show me why the manga seems modestly well-regarded, but it’s a longshot that I continue with it past that.
Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine – 01
To be honest my expectations for Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine were pretty low, based on the lukewarm (at best) reception the premiere landed to. But I actually thought it was pretty decent on the whole. Yeah, it looks cheap – if there’s a trend emerging this season it’s lousy visuals, as the gap between the elite studios and the have-nots grows ever-wider. But I found it to be modestly entertaining for what it was.
One thing I liked here was the feeling of not instantly recognizing the voices of either royal tutor Heine Wittgenstein or the four bratty princes he’s been hired to teach. Yeah, Bridge’s hiring of no-name seiyuu (oddly enough apart from the two bit-part palace guards, who were played by Namikawa Daisuke and Tachibana Shinnosuke) is another cost-cutting measure, but it’s nice to hear some unfamiliar voices once in a while, especially in male roles where the same clique of seiyuu seems to fill 90% of the parts. All of these newbies are pretty good, and I like the deadpan cynicism Ueda Keisuke brings to the title role.
Oushitsu Kyoushi Haine is another series that faces an uphill battle to stay in the blogging rotation, as the story itself doesn’t seem to pack a lot of heft. But it might just have enough charm and laughs to stick around for a while, depending on just how insufferable these four princes turn out to be – and just how much they come off like routes in an otome VN. For one episode at least the signs are fairly positive, as the interaction between Heine and 15 year-old fourth prince Leonhard has a bit of depth to it. The Royal Tutor was a flyer going into the season and it still is, but if nothing else the premiere did enough to keep it in the conversation.
Warau Salesman New – 01
Well, that was pretty fucking depressing…
Just to qualify, I know next to nothing about the Warau Salesman franchise, which has seen several anime adaptations of Fujiko Fujio’s manga. But I knew enough to expect things to get pretty dark, given that it’s the story of an evil salesman named Moguro-san who’s kind of a human monkey’s paw, granting the unhappy and unfulfilled wishes that will come back to haunt them. Still, this premiere was pretty grim even in that context.
The most interesting element of Warau Salesman to me is seeing this old chestnut of a premise set in modern Japan, where unfulfilled yearning and malaise are practically a religion. The salesman’s (played with aplomb but not much subtlety by the great Tessyo Genda) first two victims are a miserable salaryman and a shopaholic office lady. Both of them are around 30 – the age when the realization that those dreams you had aren’t gonna happen really sets in. The salaryman’s trap is a hostess club in the basement of his building, where he’s dragged by a co-worker who was himself lured into it by Moguro. The office lady is hooked by a credit card which lets her buy anything she wants – with the caveat that all of it will be repossessed the next morning.
The thing about this is, Moguro’s victims aren’t bad people – they’re just unhappy losers trapped in the banal of workaday existence in modern Japan. That being the case it’s hard to find much entertainment in seeing them cursed by Moguro-san, and the office lady is saddled with an especially cruel fate (the idea that the card might not be such a bad thing, since she said she got her thrill from the act of shopping itself, was oddly seductive for a nanosecond). There’s not a whole lot of subtlety to Warau Salesman so far either – this is pretty broadly played material. But I’ll admit I did find myself sort of caught up in what was happening, so we’ll see how this throwback premise holds up over the course of a few episodes.