Another batch of smaller reviews. Due to holidays and other things I held off on watching some of the more interesting/important series.
Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox (retitled Battle Girls: Time Paradox here in the states, since it sounds better than the literal translation Warring States Maidens: Pink Paradox) is one of those shows with a silly premise and style that also tries to have some serious bits thrown in. It’s obviously pandering and niche and yet it wants to sort of be something substantial. Imagine Escaflowne mixed with Koei's Samurai Warriors and lots more tits. Put simply: girl is transported to alternate history Sengoku period Japan during Oda Nobunaga’s infamous rise to power, except in this dimension all of the famous folks from history are women. In fact, everyone is a girl, which they actually humorously address outright (props for that, by the way). The answer? Because it’s an alternate dimension (explains everything). Then, where do babies come from? Storks. Cabbage patches. Bamboo shoots. Yes, seriously.
Anyway, the actual show plays out like a semi-comedic semi-dramatic action adventure. There’s a lot of shallow-yet-flashy shonen-style fighting (especially the last third of the series) mixed with lollerskates hijinks mostly from our bumbling lead girl. Set in historical Japan, replete with ridiculous armor and outfits and characters, lots of boobies and fanservice, and even the unavoidable yuri glaze on top of this cheesecake (since, yanno, everyone is a girl in this world).
Did I mention pandering?
Still, there’s some quite good animation, quality-wise, though it tends to be a bit by-the-numbers a lot of the time. Voice work is all pretty good, too, and the end of episode previews with live-action gag scenes with the seiyuu are amusing. All of this tends to reinforce the “doesn’t take itself too seriously” quality, which actually works in the series’ favor in my opinion. The obvious pandering and lack of any true originality hurts, but the to-hell-with-it-just-go-with-it attitude allows the show to be a bit silly and over-the-top to good [enough] effect. Still, this just means it manages to be a mildly enjoyable diversion without any real depth (hell, the thing was based on some pachinko game). It looks and sounds good, and it’s kinda fun and kinda funny at times, but woefully forgettable.
YuruYuri takes the lesbian thing a bit further by being completely upfront with its intended purpose right in the damn title. In case you somehow miss that fact, the first episode will make sure you don’t, tossing plenty of obvious girl-love in your face repeatedly. Much of the humor is based on this, too, whether it is Akari’s older sister and her weird sister-fetish, Chitose’s wild lesbian fantasies, or Chinatsu’s unhealthy adoration of Yui.
But I’m getting ahead of myself. The show is basically just an excuse to have a bunch of school girls sit around and talk and interact. It’s K-On! but without the music and more overt yuri. Still, the basic idea kind of works because each episode simply involves sticking several of the many characters in some kind of situation and letting their various personalities bounce off each other for awhile. It is very dialogue driven, not a lot really happens, which means it is definitely very episodic and random and pointless as far as plot, the kind of show that could probably keep churning out episodes indefinitely like your average American sitcom.
This would all be okay if it had the writing chops to pull it off. The characters are mostly stock archetypes, all of them have the same basic body shape, all of them wear the same uniform, and all of them are purposefully designed to be various flavors of “cute”. A dozen or so get introduced by only two episodes in so it becomes a bit difficult to remember who is who for awhile. Fortunately the animation is very good quality, even though it doesn’t often have much opportunity to shine. Voice actors are also top notch here and really help.
By no means is the show outright bad. It’s very much slice-of-life, comedy, and cutesy and it knows its target audience very well. For those that aren’t harpooned by the cutesy lesbian angle, there’s just enough humor and such to make it worth watching one or two here and there, but the lack of a point or plot or truly engrossing characters will probably leave you feeling unsatisfied. That might not be so bad if not for the comedy being kind of hit-or-miss. It ranges from subtle slow situation comedy to slapstick mayhem, some episodes were chock full of laughs and others barely elicited a chuckle.
The second season is basically just a direct continuation with more of the same except not as good overall. The opening and ending are noticeably inferior and the jokes and deliveries just seem too limp too often, it has nothing new to offer in the way of characters or ideas so it just repeats a lot of the same stuff from the first season. Chitose is still fantasizing and getting nose bleeds, Chizuru is drooling, Kyoko is crraaaazy, Chinatsu has a weird evil streak and still skirt-chases Yui, Ayano is a tsundere, and nobody cares about Akari. It does seem to be even more self-aware of these running gags, but that too rarely equates to more laughs.
It’s an easy to watch show, always light and humorous, and has plenty of gags and cutesiness. But there are plenty of other slice-of-life shows, ones that are funnier, more meaningful, and so on. YuruYuri is enjoyable but when compared to the competition it’s hard to recommend it as it fails to really excel at anything. It’s never as funny as other pointless slice-of-life shows like Nichijou and Lucky Star. And if moe/cute is your bag there are far better crops out there that also tend to come with half-way decent (or better) plots as well. But you could certainly watch far worse.
Chitose Get You!! is one of those silly little throw-aways. Each episode is a mere three minutes and that includes time for the credits/theme song. It does sort of have an overarching basic plot and stuff but with so little time it obviously never really develops it. Put simply, eleven year-old Chitose is enamored of this office worker who’s building is across from her school. Hijinks ensue as she ditches school to go see him and other antics, mostly involving her teacher who has to play the irate disciplinarian most of the time. A handful of other colorful characters round out the cast, like the tomboy Misaki or the reticent and eccentric Hinako.
Does she ever get him? Nope, he mostly plays the tired, trod-upon, confused, hapless chap. It’s mostly just site gags and random weirdness. But it’s mildly amusing and what the hell, it’s only three minutes per episode. If you approach it as a quick time-waster then it’s not so bad. The animation is pretty basic, the voice work is fine but unremarkable, and the music is uninspired and functional. But, again, it is meant to be cheap fast laughs. And it certainly works as that.
Teekyu is similar, in that it is also a silly throw-away show. It ups the ante though by being only two minutes per episode, including the credits. They accomplish this by having all the dialog and actions occur at breakneck speed (almost like it is being fast-forwarded). Blink and you’ll miss another dumb pun or some bizarre reference.
Four girls are in the tennis club but only sometimes do they ever actually hold racquets let alone play or practice the game. It’s mostly just extremely fast-paced weirdness, as they go on episodic ventures to all sorts of things. It doesn’t take itself seriously or realistically in the slightest but manages to pull a lot of fairly humorous punches and in record time no less. It’s fun but can be difficult to follow and, yes, obviously largely pointless. But I laughed and enjoyed its brief presence.