Fall 2013 First Impressions: NoitaminA Returns

mighty morphin channel changersIt’s been a pretty dead year for the noitaminA block this year. The winter saw two carry-overs from 2012. Spring was a rerun of Katanagatari. It wasn’t until summer’s charming Silver Spoon adaptation that we started to get anything new, but even then we had an Ano Hana rerun alongside it. Things are finally back into full swing this season, though, with two anime-original works.

Galilei Donna

What's that? In the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's a... gold... fish. A flying robot goldfish.

What’s that? In the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a… gold… fish. A flying robot goldfish.

First is the eccentric but forgettable Galilei Donna, helmed by A-1 Pictures and the creator of Kite. The series centers around three girls who are descendents of Galileo – one of them is some kind of goldfish-obsessed genius middle-school inventor who somehow assembled an armored and weaponized goldfish airship using some blueprints from the attic, one is insanely jealous of her for this and is skilled at hand to hand combat, and the other is… I think a lawyer or something? I don’t remember. It doesn’t help that their names are all basically the same so I can never remember which one is Hozuki or Hazuki or Kazuki. They’re all fighting to keep a sinister organization from getting their hands on some sort of mysterious Galileo-related treasure by getting their own hands on it first, and from the looks of it, they’re going to do it by following some Da Vinci Code-style series of clues based on trivia about their ancestor’s life. Each aspect of the show, from the premise to the characters to the animation, stands as “passable but unimpressive”. The biggest thing that’s stuck with me about Galilei Donna is the mere fact that there is a weaponized goldfish airship. Very little else has stood out as anything other than competent. Galilei Donna is quite a competent show, and you can do far worse than watching it. I’ve been trying to wean myself off mediocre anime recently, though, so I think I’m done with this one.

Samurai Flamenco

Samurai Flamenco clearly took Carranger's traffic safety lessons to heart.

Samurai Flamenco clearly took Carranger’s traffic safety lessons to heart.

Samurai Flamenco, on the other hand, is easily in the running for show of the season if it can keep up the same way it’s been going. I continually find myself at a loss for what to say about it beyond squeaking out a “this show is so perfect” every time something happens in an episode. It’s exceedingly rare that we get characters this well-written in an anime, and it makes all the difference in the world in a low-key, (very visibly) low-budget show like this. They’re believable, they’re lovable, they’re multifaceted, they’re flawed, and they all fit perfectly into the niche that the story has carved for them among the other characters. Think Koutetsu from Tiger and Bunny. I’ve got a soft spot for that kind of unfulfilled adult character looking for a place to belong in life. Not only that, but there are so many little subtleties to the setup and the story itself that tie into not only the characters and their interactions, but also some subtle (by anime standards) real world commentary on things like superheros and idols and talk shows and other little cultural nuances. I have no idea where the story’s headed at this point, since it’s moving a long at an unusually brisk pace for this type of show, but I really hope this doesn’t lead to them wearing the premise thin before the end of its run, something that its 22-episode length increases the risk for. So far it hasn’t missed a beat, though, and given that this is helmed by veteran director Takahiro Omori (best known for Baccano, Durarara, and Natsume Yuujinchou), the impressive feat of keeping both the quality and the pace at their current level doesn’t seem all too far out of reach.

That’s All, Folks!

It’s nice to end this over-long, over-late first impressions series on a good note like that. I’ve not-dropped eleven new shows so far this season, even with my standards set a little higher than usual, so while it’s still a little early to tell for sure, I’d label fall 2013 as a darn successful season. It’s about time we had one of those this year. Even better is that about half of them will be carrying over into the winter, so even if Space Dandy and Silver Spoon are the only good to come out of next season, I’ll still have plenty of shows to enjoy!


About BokuSatchii

Yoroshiku ne!
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