And here I am almost two weeks after my last post finally getting around to this one. This is why my previous first impression posts never came out till about week 4. Anyway, as I said last time, we’re moving on from a weekend’s worth of darn good sports anime to a weekday that’s more machine-oriented. On the one hand, I love me a good show with some robots and junk in it. On the other, I’m very picky about what I actually define as a “good” robo-show. Admittedly, only one of these shows is “mecha” in the technical sense, but they’re all about machines and their masters duking it out, so I figure that’s close enough.
Arpeggio of Blue Steel
This show’s got a pretty sweet name, not gonna lie. I also like that it’s a show about battleships. The naval battles are pretty cool; I enjoy following the sonar-based tactics, and even if the Klein fields and wireframesplosions are kinda weird, maritime warfare is just not something we see very often in anime. The CG for the ships themselves doesn’t look half bad, either; it’s serviceable enough by TV anime standards. What does look kinda bad are the CG characters. Arpeggio is full-CG, and character animation in CG anime has always looked off. The hair and faces are the biggest offenders here – the hair is blocky-looking and the facial features often seem poorly-placed. Beyond just appearances, it’s the other half of the premise that I’m not too keen on – it’s about little girls who are actually battleships. Not that the rest of the cast is anything to write home about, but the main ship girl especially is just… boring. Now, I’m maybe not one to talk here because I rarely have the patience to pay enough attention to war/tactical stories to get hooked by the plot at all, but I felt the same way about the story here. There’s some kind of battle going on here but I can’t be bothered to figure out who’s fighting and why; all I know is that we’re supposed to be rooting for the main character and his ship-girl because they’re the ones most prominently featured in the promo art. I’m sure fans of weapons/military equipment or tactics/warfare will find a lot to love here, because I did like the way some of the ship-centric action scenes in the first two episodes developed, but the bigger picture does very little to grab. I probably won’t be keeping up with this one, if only because there are just so many good shows this season.
Unbreakable Machine Doll
Another show with a supremely awesome title. I mentioned back when I was talking about Strike the Blood that there was another LN adaptation that puts a perfectly good title to waste, and this is it. Unbreakable Machine Doll is about how the titular magic-fighting-puppet-thing wants to have sex with her master, and how she even moreso wants to tell everyone and their 5-year-old daughter that she wants to have sex with her master. And she sometimes gets into poorly-rendered CG fights with poorly-rendered CG trains and dragons. If I learned anything from Fate/Stay Night, it’s that poorly-rendered CG dragons are always a metaphor for sex, so I guess the Machine Doll got her wish after all.
Gundam Build Fighters
Gundam BFFs is about how Sunrise decided that Gundam wasn’t selling enough toys because it was too subtle about being a toy commercial, so they went out and made it an actual toy commercial. This iteration of the franchise looks a lot like those more kid-oriented tournament shows, usually involving card games or tops or what have you, only this time the kids fight with their Gunpla. You know, those fragile plastic robot kits that take hours of snapping and snipping and gluing and painting and love to build. And in every battle, one poor kid’s robot gets completely destroyed. That doesn’t really bother me about the show, just that this is not a hobby I think I would enjoy if I lived in this world. Anyway, it’s about this kid who’s really good at building Gunpla and sucks at fighting with them, who meets up with this magic “Newtype” kid who’s really good at fighting with Gunpla, and how they join forces to go win tournaments and become BFFs together and that’s why the show is called Gundam BFFs I think. Except there’s only one F so maybe they’re just BFs. Ramba Ral is definitely the best part of the show, because he came here all the way from the universe of Gundam 0079 just to provide awkward match commentary to any innocent bystander who is willing (or not) to listen, and he was one of the best characters in 0079 to begin with. He’s even got the same voice actor! As should be somewhat clear by now, there are a lot of fun references to older Gundam shows strewn about here, and it marks this series as being of a concept that I can certainly get behind: it’s a kid-friendly Gundam show for the now-adult fans of the original series to watch with their children. The parents can enjoy seeing all the vintage Gunpla in action and catch all the references to older series, while the kids enjoy the meat of the material, which is clearly targeted to their age group. As I’m only barely a fan of the franchise to begin with, I’ll give BFFs a pass, but as with Arpeggio, it’s a type of show that I’m glad to know exists.
I’m almost done! In the penultimate first impression post of the season, I’ll be looking at some week-2 series that place their focus on their ever-growing gangs of wacky characters, with a couple of them from some promising up-and-coming directors.