Dec 31, 2013

Anime Reviews: Aiura, Ishida & Asakura, Sparrow’s Hotel

Three more short reviews for three short yonkoma-based series.

Aiura title/logoAiura is a series I almost forgot to review because it was so short. Is it forgettable? Well… I guess so. That’s kind of a bummer since it isn’t a bad little series. But, it is extremely short. One thing that does stick out in my memory is the intro. Steve Jobs and crabs. I’m not making this up. You’ll just have to see it for yourself. It is total wut. The show itself? Not so much. It’s a very simple, laidback slice of life show about a trio of girls. It’s an enjoyable little diversion, with some very pleasing and cute animation and characters. Backgrounds are simple but colorful and charming and the character movement tends to be very well done without nary a bit of corner-cutting.

But the short airtime really hurts here, as the mood and ambience and so on is pretty damn good yet the credits always seem to start rolling right as the episode gets rolling. That and it wastes a good third of its incredibly brief episode time on the intro and outro. While the outro isn’t so bad I guess, the intro is… well, I already mentioned how weird it is. It’s good for a little weird snort at first but after the tenth time seeing it you’ll probably start to get a bit annoyed since the humor wears itself out fast, the music isn’t that good, and it doesn’t really fit the rest of the show’s style or mood, especially when you’d love to just see more of the show itself and less of the bizarre intro montage.

The main cast up close in a close friend trio, all smiles

Ayuko is a semi-shy short timid-ish girl who begins a friendship with two other girls in her class. The other two, the tomboyish cool girl Saki and the goofball Kanaka, are childhood friends and play the expected comedy double act. A lot of the episodes are just focusing on little slices of their lives with an overall arc of them growing closer as friends and understanding each other’s quirks. On the whole, the experience is short, sweet, and subtle.

I would, however, rename the show to Thighs: The Animation (or maybe Thigh-ura?). If you are a leg man, well… you’ll be that much more frustrated every time the credits song starts up. If this ever gets picked up for a full treatment, I would definitely watch it, but as it is you’ll probably forget to review it like me.

Ishida & Asakura title/logoIshida & Asakura is one of the weirder super-shorts I've watched, with only 2 minutes per episode (just like the similarly silly Teekyu). It seems to be frequently compared to Sakigake!! Cromartie Koukou and I can definitely see why, although I feel Sakigake!! is a far better watch (though far longer, admittedly). And boy, do its yonkoma roots really show.

The basic gist is two male friends in school, one is incredibly over-the-top and the other is a childlike simpleton with an afro and is somehow generally well-liked. Toss in a few other weirdos and you have a cast ready for loud and zany “Total Japan” bizarre humor. It’s a 100% WTF kind of show, the kind you could easily make clips of and make your friends watch to leave them terribly confused.

At any rate, it's good for a handful of laughs and like most super-shorts its brief stay helps to prevent it from getting tiresome. It never really manages to expand beyond its few weird joke styles but they are amusing and then it is over. And I'm okay with that.

Sparrow's Hotel title/logoSparrow’s Hotel takes another yonkoma and attempts to briefly adapt it kind of expecting it to be an experiment, a sliver of its much longer running source material. Thankfully, its focus on just a few characters and its silly simple charm make it work better than you’d expect.

As the name implies, the setting is the Sparrow’s Hotel, where a trio work the front desk and attend to customer needs and generally run the place. It’s situated downtown and so is a bit small for a hotel but is near bars and such. Tamaki is sort of the manager and a short, blue-haired tsundere type; Misono is your typical nerdy fellow who spends most of the time being weirded out; and Sayuri is usually the reason for that as she is a tall, attractive, naïve, and bubbly type who also happens to be an incredibly strong and skilled ninja-like fighter.

There’s not much to really follow since it is another incredibly short series, but what is there is mildly amusing and cute at times. The biggest hurdle to enjoyment, other than the length, would probably be with the painfully obvious low budget. The animation is… not great. But, helpfully, it isn’t terrible either. It is cheaply made but it tends to do well enough with what it can, without ever really being just outright bad in skill. By that I mean it seems like they just needed to do it quickly and on the cheap not that the animators were bad or incompetent. It also dramatically changes style halfway through. Likely the second batch of six episodes were made months later.

It’s short and yes, again, I must say this leaves it being little more than a brief diversion. But the quirky animation style (both of them) gives it a strange charm I cannot dismiss. There’s far better stuff out there, to be sure, but this is simple, easy, and not bad. But it’s still really forgettable.

As of this writing, you can watch Aiura, Ishida & Asakura, and Sparrow’s Hotel for free on Crunchyroll.

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