Saturday, April 21, 2012

Anime Survivor: Spring '12 - Week 1

Sixteen possible survivors start out on a deserted island.
Which will be voted out first?!

Patterning an anime blog as a Survivor clone is probably not the most original of ideas, nor is it likely the best of them. After all, there are a million anime blogs out there (Vote for your favorite at the AniBlog Tourney! Or not! - Ed.), and chances are that some have gone the "reality-television" route. Hell, why haven't conventions tried some sort of "Cosplay with the Stars" idea?

However, I've found that the 2012 Spring anime season has presented a challenge that I feel hasn't been experienced before. We've suddenly been presented with a bountiful harvest of shows with more potential than a live wire. Crunchyroll pretty much flushed their tank, now that Gintama', Bleach, and Cardfight! Vanguard have wrapped up their animations for the meantime, and while they have beefed their lineup with the second seasons of Fate/Zero, Kimi to Boku, and Phi Brain, they've also added close to twenty new shows!

Funimation only added two new shows to their lineup to replace the powerful departure of Future Diary, but one of those titles is the new Lupin the 3rd spin-off featuring the busty bombshell Fujiko Mine. Viz grab two of their own in Accel World and Zetman, while The Anime Network/Sentai Filmworks is just happy to snap up licenses for home video release.

There are few surprises lurking outside of online streams—zombies were, perdon the pun, left for dead (Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka?'s second season was left untouched, while Sankarea is still homeless)—but I'd say this anime season should completely revitalize the fan base. There are a lot of shows to pick and a lot to weed out.

And that's what we're going to do at AniMaybe. Every week, we will look down the lineups and send one or two of the shows home with a lifetime supply of Rice-A-Roni until we get down to the one new show that summarizes the Spring 2012 anime season nicely. Of course, Kids on the Slope has been conveniently left off, since that will be reviewed weekly, but the sixteen other shows will get in the cage with only one walking out.

Upotte! - Medaka Box - Space Brothers - Folktales From Japan
Hiiro no Kakera - Saki - Sengoku Collection - Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals
Tsuritama - Haiyoru! Nyarko-san - Dusk Maiden of Amnesia - Kuroko's Basketball
The Woman Called Fujiko Mine - Mysterious Girlfriend X - Polar Bear Cafe - Accel World

There's our list of the sixteen combatants! The first show voted off of our island is...


Selling Points: Seishô Academy has an interesting mix of students. You have your male students, your assault rifles, your submachiners, your battle rifles...wait, what? Yes, this school has a bunch of anthropoid guns that walk and talk just like regular girls. This really shouldn't surprise anyone—why should swords, planes, and operating systems be the only ones able to walk around in skirts?

So Funco and her friends have come from around the world to attend middle school and grow into fine young artillery units. Much like all innocent-sounding harem shows in disguise, Upotte!! then breaks out its own not-so-secret weapon in the form of a faceless new male teacher—his arrival and his apparent knowledge of holding guns sets Funco's own hair trigger off (quite literally!), only for the human FNC rifle to literally fly off the handle and send him to the hospital with surprisingly no bullet wounds at all. The rest of the first episode is devoted to introducing the cast and how closely they resemble their models, complete with more boob-touching, sexual innuendo, and another couple of injuries delivered by Funco.

Defense: You were expecting Ghibli here? It's a Xebec show (To-Love-Ru, MM!, Rio: Rainbow Gate!), and director Takao Katô's last show was Hen Zemi. If you came to watch this show for drama and excellent screenplay, you're obviously new to this whole thing.

I mean, if there was any sort of plus to Upotte!!—that's teppô (gun) with its letters written backwards, by the way—it's at least the character designs by Akio Takami (Softenni). No offense to original manga designer Kitsune Tennouji (Eden's Bowy), but the characters look much crisper and livelier in anime form. Of course, all we get at times are the back of knees, so if you have that fetish, I guess it's a good show...

Final Judgment: This show ain't pullin' punches, pal. These are guns made to look and act like middle-school students, and considering the "sex-as-a-weapon" metaphor is so quickly established in this show, I'm pretty sure we're going to get nothing but sexual hijinks and implied orgasms. In addition, since the lead male is an adult teacher new to the school, I'm pretty sure the sexual harassment flags will go unpunished. I mean, what man in his right mind identifies a middle-school student by the fact that she wears a thong under her skirt?!

Upotte!! tries to paint each character by their nationality (as they're all made in different countries), but the mechanics are all wrong. The orange-slice American speaks in the Osaka dialect, the Swiss girl looks Asian, and the head teacher...okay, she obviously has the German feel to her. However, my complaint is one of mere sensibility. These are humanoid guns, as their "stomachaches" are loose springs, so why do they hold guns when they fire? Shouldn't bullets be flying out of their...mouths or something? (Not going in the obvious route, pervs.)

Upotte!! is totally a show for gun aficionados (the "skeleton stock" joke completely lost me) who haven't grown up yet, so I suppose the "well, if you love it so much, why don't you marry it?" tongue-in-cheek remark fits. Since the harem shows for this season actually seem sensible, I'm going to have to give this one the boot. If you really want your anime with guns, stick to heavier artillery like Gunsmith Cats or Golgo 13. Upotte!! is totally a pea shooter.

Next week: we give two shows the boot!


  1. My guess is you'll give the boot to the new Naruto show and Sengoku Collection. Can't blame you for either, despite how I kinda like SenColle.

    1. We'll see. Those shows need to pick it up if they want to last until the end.

  2. "why haven't conventions tried some sort of "Cosplay with the Stars" idea?"

    I have actually done Survivor 3 times at conventions. I was the host for all of them. We had immunity challenges and votes with a bunch of people all in cosplay. It was really fun. A couple of them are up on YouTube - search "Hetalia Survivor."