In straight continuation from yesterday's post, and with absolutely no further ado, I continue with my summary of the Spring season 2012!
Sandbox academy is a ridiculous place. It seems to let in just about anyone, despite any glaring psychological issues, so long as they're insanely good at one particular thing. As such they've set up a 'Team Special' (special in every sense of the word) which is comprised of the best and brightest students, and naturally the most deranged. Medaka Box follows the story of Kurokami Medaka, the student council president, those she recruits along the way and the resulting dangerous scenarios that ensue.
This show gives off a real Haruhi vibe to me. After all, the format's pretty much the same. The story is told from the perspective of our pained straight man, Kyon-style, and revolves around a girl who emits power and charisma like nobodies business. Plus they collect a couple of bizarre sidekicks along the way. Unlike Haruhi, however, there isn't a given reason for why Medaka is just so ludicrously good at life. She was just born this way or something. Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things though, as the series was surprisingly entertaining throughout and very funny in places.
Now I don't know what passes for a regular schoolgirl in Japan, but I'm assuming this is a tale of four regular schoolgirls. They dream of being idols and such, but are upset by the news that one of them is moving away at the end of the summer. So of course this drives them to the decision to have THE BEST SUMMER EVER, which as an idea is helped along by the fact that there's a big rock which grants all their wishes. Yeah.
As a synopsis it doesn't exactly draw you in, but the show is nicely quaint in its own way. And with music from Sphere, who could say no?
Rock Lee no Seishun Full-Power Ninden
Had to go for this picture
So Bleach is finally over (huzzah?) and what do we have to replace it? A Naruto spin-off? Starring Rock Lee?! This can only be good. So Rock Lee's 'Springtime of Youth' is a chibi-esque comedy following Team Gai through "everyday" situations. I guess it's mainly for people who follow Naruto and already know the characters.
I have to say I'm loving this show so far. The sketch comedy and breaking of the fourth wall is brilliant. I suppose I'm mainly happy due to the fact that they've found an outlet for the nerfing of Lee's character in Shippuuden, not to mention that Tenten finally stands out as a character - a surprisingly good straight man! By far the best character has to be Neji though; the unwilling teammate who gets dragged into all of Lee's shenanigans and is exploited in countless ways.
Sakamichi no Apollon
Now this is something I didn't think I'd ever see: an anime featuring Jazz. When our protagonist, who happens to be a classical pianist, moves into town he becomes acquainted with a drummer who teaches him the ways of jazz. He also becomes acquainted with a girl though and sappily falls in love.
I'm a bit disappointed with this one to be quite honest. From the look of the first episode or two it could have shaped up to be absolutely fantastic, and pretty much all the parts which focussed on the music I found really enjoyable, but then they had to go and spoil it with feelings. We all know how I feel about feelings. Basically it all dissolves into a load of love triangle nonsense, but it did still keep me watching until the very end. The relationship between the two main guys is more interesting than the romantic ones floating around for sure.
Zombies. The media seems infatuated with them these days, so here we have a zombie anime. However, this is most definitely not your same-old zombie tale. Our protagonist, whose mental state we shall not be discussing, has himself a zombie fetish - that is, he's only interested in zombie girls. The only problem is, zombies don't exist in real life...do they? That sounded pretty synposisy didn't it? I'm quite proud of that. So anyway, our protagonist runs into a girl from a tragic family background who just wants to escape and live as a normal girl but through various (here undisclosed) circumstances she can only do this as a real-life zombie.
This has certainly been a stand-out show for me. The art and animation are absolutely great, there are some brilliant characters and the story is original and fun. The things that really do it for me, though, are all the little touches that can be seen throughout - almost incidental actions taken by a character simply in response to a particular character's presence for example. This is really worth checking out. Also, zombies.
Polar Bear Cafe. Does exactly what it says on the tin. This has been one of my many favourites this season, it's just so hilariously brilliant. For the most part the story follows the antics of Panda who works at the zoo part-time as a panda and who frequents a cafe run by Polar Bear and also frequented by Penguin and a whole variety of other animals as well as humans. Simply put the show is a slice-of-life comedy affair, but where "life" corresponds to this world where humans seem to coexist with these walking and talking animals.
With a marvellous array of puns, this show will have you splitting your sides with laughter. The premises for a lot of the half-episode stories seem so simple and yet they're executed so brilliantly. Also Daisuke Ono voices a llama.
This is an anime about fishing and aliens. Mainly fishing. The plot is so crazy, but I'll do my best to summarise it anyway: Boy moves into town. Boy meets other boy who turns out to be an alien. Alien can control people by shooting them with water pistol. They go fishing. Alien comes under surveillance by supposedly Indian guy with Japanese name, who turns out to be a member of alien-investigation agency 'Duck'. They go fishing. Another one of the alien's species is found to be the cause of Bermuda Syndrome and starts to run rampant controlling everyone in town to do a silly dance. They go fishing.
So ridiculous summary aside, this is a fantastic show. It has that vibrant colourful style that I haven't seen since Penguindrum, plus a great setting. Not to mention it actually makes fishing fun! Fishing of all things!
When I first saw this on paper as 'Space Bros' I knew I had to give it a watch, and it immediately won my attention with the voice actor behind Kotetsu from Tiger & Bunny portraying the protagonist here. The story is about two brothers who became obsessed with space exploration at a young age after believing to have seen a UFO and dreamt of becoming astronauts. However the younger of the brothers managed to achieve this dream whilst the elder didn't have as much success. We follow him in the show through the rigorous process of applying to become an astronaut with JAXA - the Japanese Space Exploration Agency.
The whole thing does often feel like just one big advert for JAXA, however it is incredibly entertaining and very funny throughout. I couldn't vouch for how authentic the adventure is in terms of corresponding to the actual JAXA selection process, but it certainly offers up some interesting scenarios.
It's your classic case of rich bigwigs getting society down, but in this case 'society' refers to a bunch of super-mutants that they bred to pit against each other in gory fights to the death. Your average day at the office really. So our story has a couple of facets. First we have Jin, pictured above, who was originally created for the purpose of hunting down these mutants (known as 'Players') but was stolen away by the scientist who created him at birth to be raised as a human; he now has to deal with these two sides of his nature. And kill dudes, he has to do that too. The other facet comes from the story of Kouga, a son of the corporation who originally created the Players. Having been obsessed with a superhero anime, and given the massive pool of resources at his disposal, he sets out to become a real-life Hero of Justice.
I certainly had fun with this one. It has more than its fair share of bloody violence, but the action sequences are well done and there's at least some semblance of a plot behind them, which you don't always get. It's worth a look.
So there you have it. Obviously I couldn't mention EVERYTHING from this past season, even though there are a few other things that piqued my interest. The average quality over so many shows has been really high this time round as I said previously, so really I'd recommend most of these series.
Immediately coming back and doing first episodes again for the next season might be a bit soon, but we'll see how it goes.