Ready for a batch of anime mini-reviews?
Good, but there’s mixed news here. While every title is on the “to watch” list because it looked like a show that might hold my attention – not everything here gets that “Good” or “Recommended” rating.
In fact, there are some shows in this week’s round-up which scrape up a dull “average” while still having had that potential to be so much better.
Irregular Reconnaissance avoids spoilers. Each mini-review, usually a few paragraphs, will tell you what worked or didn’t in the bundle of episodes relevant to this article, but we won’t get into plot details beyond what you’d find on the back of the DVD case. Remember those?
As usual, all scout reports are welcome. If you’ve discovered a neat new (or old) anime series worthy of a shout out, please let us know in the comments below and keep clear of spoilers.
In this Irregular Reconnaissance report;
Episodes 1 to 8
I want to like Listeners more, and I don’t blame my feet for its shortcomings.
It’s not that I dislike Listeners. I think I’ll watch to the end; it just could be so much better.
We start with a likeable young guy who seems content with his life trying to make a living by pulling scrap out of the world’s most enormous junk pile. Then, one day, he finds a young woman with no memory in the garbage. Was she dumped there with one of the national deliveries of trash?
It turns out this woman, who becomes known as Mu, is a “Player”. She can pilot mechs, and our hero, Echo, has learnt to make them.
There’s a supernatural element too. A mysterious foe called the Earless manifest as smoky demon shapes and attack people. The Players, when not competing themselves, are humanity’s best defence against them.
The mechs literally are HiFi stereo transformers, the Earless have giant ears, and the whole show has a music theme. Each episode is named after a classic rock song.
It’s the stretch that ruins it. Pretty much, each time we meet that world’s version of a famous band or artist, a gender-swapped Nirvana (Nir) or Prince (Denka), and it’s just so evident and ill-fitting that it is awkward.
Status: Below average.
The Day I Became God
Episodes 1 to 6
A basketball is interrupted by a young girl dressed as a nun. She says she’s a god. In fact, she’s Odin.
She’s Odin, and the world will end in 30 days.
Madness, right? Well, very quickly, “The Day I Became God” moves to give Odin’s claim credibility. How did she know that? And that? Why do so many people do what she says or predicts?
Once that’s set up, the anime slides into an entertaining slice of life while our basketball players try and woo girls and get on with their life. Meanwhile, at the end of each episode, the countdown to the apocalypse continues.
I’ve not finished. I can’t tell you whether this so-called Odin is a god, but I can say there’s something brewing.
Episodes 1 to 5
A successful mix of supernatural chiller and friendship has my firm attention. I suspect Otherside Picnic will become a show about getting lost and finding someone unexpected as a path to really finding yourself.
The series starts off with a young woman lying in a puddle and apparently in some trouble. We soon cut to a weird monster and know that while this world looks a lot like ours, it’s not.
Later on, we’ve two young women who semi-reluctantly agree to explore the dangerous and sometimes surreal Otherside together. It’s no picnic!
They both clearly have issues to work through, and their bond grows, granting both friendship and strength. That would all be well and good, but both women have the knack of packing guns, and this creepy not-our-world inserts itself on their lives more and more.
I can’t quite see what a good and fitting ending would look like. I’m happy to find out.
Moriarty the Patriot
Episodes 4 to 11
In this anime, Moriarty is a vigilante. Yes, he ignores the law and kills people, but they tend to be wealthy nobles who have harmed others. He wants to tear down the corrupt system.
In the early episodes, we flashback to Moriarty’s (and brother) somewhat unlikely childhood and just as this section starts, just when I was settling down to enjoy some crimes – the inevitable happens.
Impressively, Sherlock Holmes comes across as perfectly friendly and an excellent rival for Moriarty. You might find yourself routing for both men.
Episodes 21 to 26
What a flip-flop of quality. I had thought Samurai 7 suffered only from a slow start and then found its speed. Sorry to say that it falters again in an overly long outro segment.
I must admit I don’t know The Seven Samurai’s plot to tell if the anime was trying to map and meet what happened in that famous piece, but, even so, an accelerated telling would have been wise.
Death is unfair and arbitrary but, sometimes, so is living. It can take the same strength to live your life as it takes to go to your death. It’s a good takeaway and, overall, Samurai 7 does a pretty good job of telling it.
Lastly, it’s just a shame the animation quality was so erratic at times. It’s almost as if the director knew the series’s tempo was wrong but had a limited budget to go back and change some scenes.
Have you found any anime titles that you’d recommend to readers? Or shows to give a miss? Let us know in the comments below, but please avoid spoilers.