Saturday, July 28, 2012

Summer 2012's Anime Survivor (Live From Otakon!*)

Hello from Otakon 2012! AniMaybe is having a great time in Baltimore! We're partying with cosplayers and attending all the big panels and industry announcements and glowstick-glowstick-glowstick dacing at raves and

Yeah, yeah. That's all one big fat lie.

Hardy har, Geoff. Joke's on you. Everyone and their tsundere sister is having more fun without you at Otakon, while you're stuck back home with your work and lack of a decent personal budget.

Fine. You know what? I am totally prepared to have fun without you guys. Screw y'all and your collective Haruhi dances. I'm going to have just as good a time partying with Crunchyroll and Funimation during...

Summer 2012's Anime Survivor!

(Oh. That's right. Everyone's at Otakon, so the announcement loses its punch.)

No matter! I'm going to run my own panel from the solitude of my apartment called "Geoff Tebbetts Actually Liked Hand Maid May: My Year With A Tsutaya Records Rental Card"! Just go ahead and party with the bigwigs from ANN! I'll be fine by myself!

To put things as simply as possible, last season was quite fun to have to balance sixteen shows at the same time and drop one or two of them every week. However, as time went by and actual workable time was lost, I realized I had to constantly drop two shows a week. This was a large workload for me to juggle, so we're cutting the competition's roll before it's too late this time around.

Besides, are you all really expecting high quality from anime this season? Summers are for swimming and watermelon splitting, not anime and blog writing. Animation companies don't take their business all that seriously during the solstices, unless someone was hoping to catch the other companies sleeping.

If anything, my preconcieved notions have already been confirmed. Campione! and So I Can't Play H! (Uh-oh! Exclamation points! We saw these in Dragon Crisis! and Upotte!) have already proven they're aiming for Cheesecake-Factory-sized portions, while Love and Elections and Chocolate is apparently already ridiculously stocked with harems. Those shows have been mercifully left off our game, along with some possible winners (Sword Art Online; Joshiraku) and some definite losers (Yuru Yuri 2; WHO IS IMOUTO?!)

So let's take a look at the randomly-selected shows running for the right to be called our "Anime Survivor"!

Two shows this season have tried for the same "two-guys-three-girls" formula that worked with the likes of Haruhi Suzumiya and Toradora, the first from the box being Kokoro Connect. Originally released as an eight-volume light novel by Sadanatsu Anda, the concept is pretty much straight out of any "personality switch" movie you may have seen in the past (i.e. Freaky Friday, Vice Versa), but the twist is that the members of the Yamaboshi High School Cultural Club have no idea when the switch is to be made and who the "victims" may be.

Can Taichi, Iori, Himeko, Yoshifumi, and Yui keep this phenomenon a secret while trying to get to the bottom of it? What will become of their friendships now that they are forced to walk a mile in different shoes? More importantly, who is this "Heartseed" character who is apparently pulling the strings?

Our second anime about an afterschool club in need of direction is Tari Tari, the latest animation from P.A. Works. If it looks familiar, it's due to the character designs from Kanami Sekiguchi, who designed the characters for another P.A. Works show, Hanasaku Iroha.

While Konatsu has always loved singing, her dissatisfaction with her placement in the school's choir leads to a disagreement with the school's vice-principal and her defection from the club. Not one to be turned away from her dreams so easily, she seeks help from her friends Sawa and Wakana to start a rival choral club, but (as we all know now), you need five students to make a club, and Konatsu is a few short!

Can she talk Taichi, the only member of the school's badminton club, and "Wien", an eccentric transfer student who has been abroad in Vienna for over a decade, into joining the club? And can the club make any progress with the Vice-Principal in charge of the school's official club?

The first full-blown comedy in this season's Anime Survivor is the only non-Crunchyroll entry in the list, Binbô-gami ga! See, practically everything in Japan has a god affixed to it, including the entire concepts of happiness and misfortune. One of the luckiest people in Japan, high-school debutante Ichiko Sakura, gets most of her fortune from the devistating amount of "Happiness Energy" that she extracts from others, making her extremely popular and well-off.

The gods send Momiji, one of Japan's "gods of poverty", to straighten out this disruption to the energy flow. Of course, Momiji herself is rather unorthodox in her approach, going so far as to try and kill Ichiko in some situations, only for Ichiko's good luck to undo most of her plans. Will Ichiko learn to be humble? Will Momiji crack from the constant barrage of "flat-chest" jokes? Will any anime be free from being mocked by this anime?

Well, the world hasn't exactly ended in adaption of Romeo Tanaka's light novel, Humanity Has Declined (Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita), but in some way unexplained to us, the human race has taken a major step backwards, society having devolved into villages devoid of culture and lacking in survival skills.

However, one girl (who is never given an actual name) has a vital role in this broken-down society, acting as a mediator between the humans and the "fairies", a population of ever-smiling sprites that apparently want to learn all about humankind's inventions. Whether it be in the manufacturing sector or exploits in subculture, the fairies manage to make a mess of things, but how much has humanity done it to themselves?

If you're not sick of Nobunaga Oda, the shogun that united all of Japan in the 16th century, I'm a little surprised you aren't. At least, I'm surprised your perception of the man hasn't been forever changed. Much like Hyakka Ryôran Samurai Girls, Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox, and Sengoku Collection, just about all of Japan's heroes have been turned into adolescent girls, the latest reincarnation compiled in The Ambition of Nobuna Oda.

Total Sengoku-Era otaku Yoshiharu finds himself a victim of a time slip and is involved in a battle where historical figure Hideyoshi Toyotomi was accidentally killed. Forced to relive history and set it straight with his knowledge of a Sengoku-Era video game, Yoshiharu finds that Nobunaga Oda is Nobuna Oda, an ambitious girl who plans to unite all of Japan. So how does Yoshiharu get back to his own era, and will he keep his filthy monkey-paws off of the women?

The luck of the draw has allowed for both noitaminA shows to be covered in Summer's Anime Survivor. The first announced by Crunchyroll, Natsuyuki Rendezvous, goes for a sullen route, opting for drama over action. While we're not sure about main character Ryûsuke Hazuki's past or future, we do know about his current intentions, his infatuations turned towards Rokka, a plain yet diligent florist in Hazuki's neighborhood. Upon taking a part-time job at Rokka's business, Hazuki seems to have staked his claim, until he finds another man in her apartment.

Well, the spiritual remains of a man. Apparently, Rokka's husband had died a few years ago, and his ghost remains at the flower shop. So why is it that Hazuki can see him while Rokka cannot, and what sort of attachments are keeping him around? What can Hazuki do to get this separated couple to move on?

The only actual mecha show for this competition, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, is a bit of a conundrum in retrospect. Muv-Luv itself is the title of one of your typical harem visual novels, but this alternative version of the game is so extreme that it doesn't appear to resemble the original at all.

This version takes a strictly Evangelion approach, as almost impenetrable aliens known as "BETA" have invaded Earth, forcing humanity onto its collective heels. Having seen Japan easily overwhelmed in the past, along with her friends in her squadron, Yui Takamura looks to lead a global team of mecha battlers to take on the BETA. Can the team learn to overcome their prejudices and unite? Can humanity recover and find a way to eliminate the alien scum? Can anime fans tear their eyes away from the T&A armor shots?

The second noitaminA entry is one of those super-rare Pokémon cards—a sequel! Moyashimon Returns...returns with its millions and billions of microbes and Tadayasu Soemon Sawaki, the only one who can hear what they all have to say.

While Tadayasu continues his education in agriculture and all things fermented, his classmates and teachers get on with life, but questions remain unanswered. Why is there an underground passageway that lurks beneath the university? Why is one of the post-graduate students quitting so abruptly? And will Tadayasu be able to convince one of his classmates he actually can speak with all these show-stealing organisms?

We can pretty much thank the surprising success of Chihayafuru for the resurgence of karuta and, by virtue of its use in the game, classical poetry. (We don't actually know that, but it does bring back those cool classical Japanese classes I took in college.) While that wave continues to curl, Chôyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi is hopping on to ride it until it breaks. The poems read for those challenging karuta games now come to life, as the meaning behind each is interpreted into both English and modern Japanese so a new generation can get the idea.

And finally, we managed to snag one of the Italianime shows! Look, Campione! wasn't able to go one episode without flashing its meatballs at us, so we have to go with the other show, La storia della Arcana Famiglia. On the island of Regalo, the structure of society depends on the work of an organization called "Arcana Famiglia". Without the help of such patriots, who have gotten their induction into the organization by making a contract with a card from the Arcana, the island would pretty much devolve into chaos.

However, there is also an important ceremony that the "Papa" of the group has announced. The winner of a vast tournament between the Famiglia's members will become the new leader of the family and gain the marry the Papa's daughter. There is one big problem that comes with the tournament—the Papa's daughter, Felicita, is also a fighting member of the clan, and she doesn't want to marry!

There is your list of the ten participants in this season's Anime Survivor. Which one will be last left on the island? Which will be the first to receive the axe?

And who is going to give me a lift to Baltimore?

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