[First Impression] Natsuyuki Rendezvous episode 1

 

I know I’m very late with this, but I finally got around to watching this anime, and like Sakamichi no Apollon from last season, I can’t forgive myself for not starting it sooner!

What I expected: A bland shoujo anime with flowers blooming unnecessarily all over the screen to attract interest.

What I got: A very bittersweet romance with an interesting love triangle. Also, Hazuki confessed his feelings much earlier than I would have thought!

Since I expected… not so great things from this anime, it’s a given that this episode blew me away. I got way more into it than I thought I would. The love triangle is just so different from anything else I’ve seen, and presently, I’m not even sure whose side I’m on. Both Hazuki’s unrequited love and Atsushi’s (the ghost) literally undying love are both really sweet, and at the same time, so sad. This is really not a typical romance.

I have Van Gogh’s ear for music, but for some reason, the nice soft piano soundtracks in this anime caught my attention, and I love them. They fit the anime’s wistful mood very well. The opening and ending themes are both fantastic as well. I don’t mean to give Natsuyuki Rendezvous so much praise, but out of the animes I’m watching this season, I think it has the best op and ed.

A romantic walk in the rain talking about an ex-husband. Lucky for Hazuki.

There was just one little inconsistency in the anime that I’d like to address: when Rokka and Hazuki share an umbrella in the rain, Rokka starts talking to Hazuki about her ex-husband like Hazuki already knew. It’s true that Hazuki did learn about the marriage from talking to Atsushi himself, but Rokka wouldn’t have known that. With that in mind, Rokka jumping into the topic with Hazuki seems both a little strange and very, very sad – clearly, she’s nowhere near being over her deceased husband. Something tells me I’m going to be crying a lot.

Bottom line, if you like bittersweet romances, you need to take at look at this anime.

Episode rating: 8 / 10 (very good)

Review status: Episodic

[First Impressions] Sword Art Online episode 1

What I expected: Pretty much what I got.

What I got: An introductory episode explaining the interesting concept of SAO.

In the future, an mmo called Sword Art Online comes out where players can control their avatars using their minds in a feel-real virtual world, though the players can’t move their physical bodies while playing. Our main character Kirito was one of the 1000 beta testers for SAO, but on the first day of SAO’s official release, Kirito re-enters SAO to discover that the logout option has been eliminated, trapping all the players inside SAO with no way of contacting the physical world. The only way to escape is to clear the game, 100 levels of a castle filled with monsters with a mini boss at the end of each level. Kill the final boss at the 100th floor, and you can leave. P.S. Die in the game, and you die in real life.

There’s no doubt that this is an interesting concept, but I have to say that it feels a little… prompty, and that could be because everything in the synopsis is literally told to us in this first episode. I already knew the synopsis going in, so it was kind of boring to bear through the creator explaining everything to the players, but I understand it needs to be done. The only thing I didn’t know was that the creator would make everyone’s avatars look like their real life selves, which I think is really creative, and hopefully we’ll get to see some more effects of that. Will the less-attractive players find it harder to be accepted into a party? Will the cute girls be adored even more now that players know that really is how cute they look?

The truth hurts.

The background art was all great, though I wish the style of the mmo was a bit better. Neither the design of the smaller buildings in the Town of Beginnings nor the players’ outfits were very interesting, which makes the mmo seem kind of lame when we’re so used to (real life) video games with fantastic graphics. Still, I can overlook it. I just hope we’ll see some really cool monster (and mini boss~) designs later on.

See what I mean?

I’m genuinely very skeptical about how SAO is handling its concept. I know that SAO and Accel World have the same writer, and though I haven’t watched Accel World (I know, it’s a sin), I know that losing in the game in Accel World just means you can never play the game again or something, which is far less serious than the threat of death looming in SAO’s background. Sure, the players freaked out when the creator explained that they’re fighting for their lives, but in general, SAO’s art style doesn’t fit the darker side of it at all. They also clearly chose not to take a dark turn with the directing. Imagine how much darker it would have been if, as the creator talks about the 200 deaths, we see the dark figure of the creator as he speaks to the players in SAO in his shadowed room (like L from Death Note), and then we get shown a montage of the actual victims and their family members crying by their bedsides… Instead, the most we get to see of the real world is a mother and a daughter crying. This, plus what I’ve seen from the pvs, make me feel like SAO isn’t facing the darker part of its story, so I don’t expect the anime to ever go very far in that direction. It’s a real shame.

I also had a lot of questions, which isn’t a bad thing unless the anime never addresses them. First of all, what everyone’s been wondering: How are the players supposed to eat or use the bathroom if they can’t move their real bodies? Kirito said it took him months to reach just Level 8, so all the players will need life support for a long time. What will the government do about this? Will hackers be hired to code a logout option into the system? Before I watched this episode, the only question I had was, “Why would the creator trap all those people like that?” and that got explained away with “Because I can and I wanted to.” (not in those exact words) That was lame. Hopefully my new questions will get better explanations.

Episode rating: 6.5 / 10 (fine – good)

Review status: Episodic

[First Impressions] Tari Tari episode 1

What I expected: A girly anime that has nice art. I expected nothing regarding its plot.

What I got: A slice of life school anime that keeps me interested enough to watch, though I’ll probably never be pumped waiting for the next episode.

I was actually very surprised that I found the episode to be as enjoyable at I did. The characters get introduced in at a reasonably good pace, and they all have their own quirks. Miyamoto Konatsu is an energetic, upbeat girl who wants to make a new music club so she could sing in front of the school. Konatsu’s best friend, Okita Sawa, does archery. Very similar in terms of looks to Sawa is Sakai Wakana, who for some reason refuses to sing. Tanaka Taichi is, forever alone, the only member of the badminton club. Maeda Atsuhiro (“Wien”) just moved back to Japan after living in Austria for twelve years. I have to say, the transfer student thing is a little cliche, but Wien’s funny enough that it doesn’t matter.

I really liked that the anime started off with something as heartwarming a class-coordinated surprise for a pregnant teacher on her last day, and hopefully there will be more of these nice moments to come

Also apparently, three girls and two guys seem to be the magic formula. (Kokoro Connect, Harhi Suzumiya…)

Episode rating: 6 / 10 (fine)

Review status: Sporadic?

[First Impressions] Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita / Humanity Has Declined episode 1

If you don’t see anything else this season, YOU HAVE TO SEE THIS CLIP.

Shh. Don’t ask why. Just appreciate. Now on to the first impression/review.

What I expected: A lighthearted anime with a weird (in a good, funny way) humor

What I got: A seemingly lighthearted anime with weird (in a dark, creepy way) humor

The episode started off really weak, and if I didn’t see the pv beforehand, I would have stopped watching after a few minutes because it gave no promising substance. I’m really glad I watched that pv beforehand, because its decent from innocent moe-girls into bleeding bread robot is beyond words. It does get really boring at parts, but it has its… moments. The fairies that I thought were so cute talking about starvation with their big pasted smiles for one (see Nightmare Fuel). Then there’s the image of headless, plucked-bald chickens running around. Plus the golden Bread Guide scene.

Yup, this anime is definitely interesting. The protagonist voices over basically the whole time, and I got tired of her voice halfway through, but her unexpectedly sardonic personality is mildly humorous.

Episode rating: 6 / 10 (“fine”, but only because it fluctuated so much between weirdly interesting and deadpan boring)

Review status: Most likely episodic.

[First Impressions] Arcana Famiglia episode 1

What I expected: A fun reverse harem with interesting, quirky characters, decent action, and nice looking artwork.

What I got: Too many characters being introduced nearly simultaneously and 22 minutes of them explaining their powers to each others. Also, it’s nowhere as grand as its fancy title suggests.

Seriously, this is one of the worst first episodes that I’ve watched, as far as information-introducing goes. In the action scene that the episode starts with, the characters come in like boom, boom, boom, followed by everyone unnecessarily repeating each others’ names at every available opportunity. Two words: slow down. Later on, the main characters name off each others’ Arcana Powers for no reason at all except to tell the audience, which is just flat out sloppy writing.

Even so, I still have some hope for this series. It is adapted from an otome game, so some information squeezing is to be expected. The characters aren’t that interesting to me as of yet, but there was clearly no time for any character development in this first episode anyway, so I’ll wait for next week and hope for the best.

Episode rating: 4 / 10 (needs work)

Reviewing status:
Most likely episodic if it redeems itself.