May 9, 2014

Anime Reviews: Kotoura-san, Teekyu 2 & 3, RecoRan Mi

This time around I review three very different comedies.

Kotoura-san title/logoKotoura-san is bright, colorful, fun, and sweet. It’s all around a decent show, though I wish it had more confidence. It seems scared to lean more on its drama/romance side and instead relies on far too much run-of-the-mill silly antics you’ve seen a hundred times before. Oh well.

A very dark scene of Kotoura walking to school looking emotionless as other students whisper and look her way in the background

The basic gist is the eponymous main character Kotoura Haruka who was born with the ability to read minds. Nothing earth-shattering there but it does provide for a lot of easy humor and it does attempt to address the ol’ trust issues thing with this twist. But none of the characters are at all that interesting outside of the very likable Kotoura herself so it’s all kind of a waste. Especially given that the first episode is killer good… then it gives up on that for the most part. You see, it starts out explaining her growing up. How her family doesn’t catch on to her mind reading and how she doesn’t understand why everyone gets mad/frustrated when she blurts out secrets because until she is older she doesn’t realize that reading minds isn’t normal. It’s an incredibly powerful initial bit of drama that manages to be downright tense and emotionally brutal as things escalate over the years. It does a tremendously good job of setting her up as a sympathetic character with trust issues as a result and then…

Then the mind reading, family issues, and trust aspect mostly fade into the background as it focuses overwhelmingly on the same comedy high school antics you’ve seen countless times. Worse, it is mediocre comedy for the most part, and the plot disappears and it meanders for awhile until in the final episode when it tries to bring back a smidgen of the drama from the first but it can’t quite muster the same skill. Still, it’s very cute and when it's dramatic and sweet it can be really effective at it… it still probably isn’t as good as stuff like Toradora but it is far from bad.

Kotoura and Manabe stand back to back, with her looking up at him from behind smiling right as he launches into a full-on perverted fantasy

Manabe is the goofy single-track-minded boy that initially is the only one who doesn’t find her mind reading disturbing when he finds out. Instead, he finds it amazingly cool and becomes a bit obsessed with her, eventually crushing on her like a fiend. Of course, she knows all of this since she can read his mind, and it is amusing and kinda cute I guess. It’s good that he’s such a faithful idiot too, as he brings stability both to the character dynamics and to the relationship, especially early on when Kotoura is still mostly in a moody funk. Their dynamic works well and is the strongest part of most scenes. (And the fact that he intentionally fantasizes about her knowing she can read his thoughts just to push her buttons is always fun.)

There is a slightly confusing though not that bad arc with a vengeful girl but after that it focuses on her joining a really dumb club with some really boring characters (okay, there’s like one or two good scenes where they strongly hint at their backgrounds together and it’s kinda nicely done but other than that not so much). Near the end is an unfortunately poorly executed arc with the gang trying to use Kotoura’s powers to track down a criminal. Meh. The series does so much better when they focus more on the relationship stuff.

A group shot of the ESP club members standing in front of the very gothic and overgrown club door at school.

Aside from the glimmers of goodness and the stand-out first episode it’s hard to recommend that strongly. As a result, Kotoura-san quickly becomes very forgettable. Music, animation, and voice work are perfectly adequate though notably a great job on Kotoura. While it never overtly impresses, the animation is still very clean, colorful, and well done. If only there was more interesting things for them to do… It’s all a shame since you can see the better show it could have been had they the balls not to just do another school rom-com. To echo my opening paragraph: oh well. But don’t let that stop you if it sounds a little cute and/or interesting, you’ll likely enjoy it well enough just as I did.

Teekyu 2 title/logoTeekyu continues the crazy in two follow-up seasons. It is more of the same, which is to say still funny with dialog going Mach 2. Everything I said in the first review still applies. Which is perfectly fine with me because I enjoyed it thoroughly and its brief stay makes it all the more enjoyable to breeze through. But, alas, it is after all just a silly gag reel essentially. Nothing too memorable even if it is fleeting fun. Even after 36 2-min episodes I can’t really remember any of their names or what really happened (I think it did have a few mini-arcs in there, didn’t it?) but I distinctly remember chuckling and smiling a lot so what the hell.

Recorder and Randsell Mi title/logoRecorder and Randsell is another one that I previously reviewed (at the time it was for the first two seasons) but this third season of the painfully dumb RecoRan was… different. Animation style was vastly changed in addition to the general feel (perhaps a new director?) so it made for a much better experience actually. It seems they lost some budget and thus rely more on barely redrawn photography shots for backgrounds and things but still… the overall feel now is more cozy, simple, and rough but it gives it a lot of nice character actually. The plots, too, while still full of a lot of dumb humor and too short for anything meaningful, seem to be slower and more subtle. It’s less about punctuating each short episode with another tired police-chase-on-the-suspected-pervert gag and more on exploring some new (and old) characters a bit more closely… in their head.

A photo showing the entire Miyagawa family in front of their house

Is it good? Ehhh. It’s still mostly pointless and lacks any punch or purpose. But it isn’t nearly as dumb as before. Even so, it isn’t really worth your time… probably. But if they made a full length season like this, even a one cour? Perhaps. With some time to develop more and with decent writing it could be not bad. Alas, this is all we will likely see as I get the feeling this was the finale.

As of this writing, you can watch all of Kotoura-san, Teekyu, and RecoRan for free on Crunchyroll.

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