Summer 2013: First episodes - part 2

Another set of first episodes have been weighed and measured! Hopefully you will find some of the below summaries and/or opinions helpful.

Servant x Service

Set in the ever-thrilling environment of a government office, Servant x Service follows the exploits and escapades of the people working in said office, specifically those of three new civil servant recruits. The first of these new employees is a happy-go-lucky kind of guy who slacks off and gets girls' email addresses whenever possible, the second is a soft-spoken lady who is nervous about starting her first ever job, and the third became a civil servant for the purpose of "revenge". That is to say, Yamagami Lucy Kimiko Akie Airi Shiori Rinne Yoshiho Ayano Tomika Chitose Sanae Mikiko Ichika bears a grudge against her name, rightly so, and directs this frustration towards whichever civil servant it was who cleared her birth certificate as A-OK. Her ambition is to find said civil servant and give him a good talking to about the responsibilities of his job.

I have to say this was a good bit of fun. It's adapted from a 4-panel strip by the author of 'Working!!' which I really enjoyed, so I'm expecting good things from this series. As one would expect it's entirely ridiculous - for one thing at least two of the new employees would have been fired on the spot on their first day - but that's the idea, especially to highlight the contrast with the setting of a government office and the traditionally dull tasks performed therein. Suzuki Tatsuhisa's character is particularly entertaining, and I doubt it's going to be much of a surprise when it's revealed that it is one of his "previous generations of civil servants" that certified Yamagami's ridiculous name.

Symphogear Season 2

Or to give it it's full, ridiculous name: 'Senki Zesshou Symphogear G: In the Distance, That Day, When the Star Became Music...'. Season 2 opens with more of the same really. More fast-paced, high-octane, music-driven action interspersed with some dialogue I wish wasn't there and the occasional pretty-looking concert sequence. They introduced a new beloved character and then turned her into the big evil within a few minutes which was a bit silly, but on the plus side it's Hikasa Yoko and she's got a good voice to add to the amazing pedigree of Mizuki Nana, creating some nice music. All-in-all from what the first episode teases it's going to be the first series all over again but with different bad guys. I doubt I'll be able to see it through this time unless anything particularly new and gripping shows up.

Love Lab

Your typical "protagonist walks in on someone doing something embarrassing as they are unschooled in the ways of love and so the protagonist ends up becoming their love coach despite the fact that they are themselves completely inexperienced" plotline. In this case the protagonist is the tomboy 'Wild Riko' who is bored with her everyday life and would secretly like to find love, and her unfortunate student is the supposedly perfect student council president Princess Maki who is in actuality completely ditzy and eccentric. At Maki's behest the girls start practicing things like making an impression on boys and holding hands, and hijinks naturally ensue.

Given the plot of the series and that it is set in a girl's school I was expecting quite a lot of yuri overtones, but thankfully there has been very little of that thus far with the show instead focussing on the comedy. The structure of the comedy is essentially Maki throwing out crazy ideas or doing silly things followed by a reprimand or scathing comment by straight-man Riko. This sort of style can tend to get quite old quite quickly, but it kept me entertained for the entirety of the first episode and with more character introductions on the horizon I'm hoping the jokes won't get tired.

Danganronpa: Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei - The Animation

Originally a visual novel, Danganronpa is set in a prestigious high school where all the younger generation's best and brightest are gathered together. A group of 14 elite students and one "normal" student who was selected by lottery are enrolled as freshmen, however they find themselves trapped in the academy with no way out and are addressed by a freaky teddy bear who claims to be the principal. This bear seems to have some pretty messed-up tastes, and informs the students that the only way for them to escape the school - which is now their permanent home - is to kill one of their peers. Thus begins what will presumably be an epic tale of survival.

Given that the first episode is entirely set-up (no one is openly scheming yet) it was surprisingly captivating. The characters and setting are vibrant, and who doesn't love a good story where kids are pitted against each other in battles to the death? It's proven a successful concept in the past for sure. I'm looking forward to seeing how things begin to develop now the so-called 'Prologue' is out of the way. There's also a fancy sequence at the beginning of the episode with a unique art and animation style that whets one's appetite for death.

Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku

Or 'Chronicles of the Going Home Club'. Natsuki, in a traditional display of apathy towards club activities, jokes that she will be joining the Going Home Club. However she is naturally surprised to learn that at her school there is an actual club called the Going Home Club whose activities are a mystery. She and her classmate end up joining and are introduced to the eccentric characters therein, namely a martial arts expert with a penchant for bear fighting, a spoilt rich girl and a carefree "normal" club president. All for the sake of not letting their youth pass them by, we see the members feeding pigeons and eating crepes as part of their club activities.

Looks like another in the long line of random comedies set in a girls' school. This was an entertaining episode though. It's more of the style playing off the straight-man protagonist, but the jokes are so completely out there, plus the fourth wall is broken a fair bit which is always fun. Can't say this sort of thing hasn't been done before, and it's not even unique within the season, but it was good enough for me to keep at it for at least another episode or two.

Genei wo Kakeru Taiyou

Otherwise known as 'il sole penetra le illusioni ~ Day Break Illusion' apparently. The first episode introduces us to our main character Akari who has an obsession with tarot cards, which she inherited from her mother, and supposedly tells accurate fortunes. Alas the girl she's living with turns out to be evil in some way and through a hazy sequence of events her existence ends up being erased through Akari's power (possibly?). As the episode approaches a climax we see a man set fire to the fortune-telling mansion where Akari works and she confronts him. However he turns out to be some kind of demonic monstrosity and Akari undergoes a transformation, fuelled by the power of tarot, to take him down. She needs assistance with this though, and thankfully other magical girl reinforcements arrive on the scene to help out, and the stage is set for a magical tale of intrigue and action.

The show gives off quite the Madoka Magica vibe as it seems to be going down the route of a dark, gritty mahou shoujo story, and also the battles and evil deeds seem to take place in a sort of strange parallel world that is unseen by our own. The first episode got me intrigued as I want to see how they explain the mystical powers stuff and/or what they set-up as a bad guy, but as far as story and characters are concerned thus far there isn't any depth to speak of. The opening song is performed by LiSA though, so that's always a selling point for me.

Part 2 complete! It turns out being away for the last few days did leave me with a bit of a backlog but I'm doing my best to get through it quickly. Part 3 on its way soonish!


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