I was pretty sure I was going to review Un-Go this season, but while waiting for the first episode to air, I had the opportunity to watch a lot of other first episodes and read reviews on what other people thought of them. There were a couple of shows that I thought would be good, like Chihayafuru and Mirai Nikki, but I couldn’t be sure until I watched them. … And they’re pretty good. Which made me think I need to take a closer look at what this season’s offering before I make any commitments.
There was the possibility that Gooney was going to take this one, because it was one of the shows he was anticipating this season. But Chihayafuru lost out to Persona 4 for him, haha. So far – that is, up to episode two – Chihayafuru is a pretty sweet show. My main concern had been what kind of girl Chihaya was, because the tone would largely be set by her personality. The revelation of her character has been pretty well done so far – well, at least for young Chihaya, since we’re currently in flashback mode. (Although I do get the feeling that ‘current day’ Chihaya is feeling a bit lost…) One of the great achievements of this show is that it easily illustrates the context for each character – the socioeconomic status of Arata’s family, the pressure of fundamental achievement Taichi lives with, the importance and priority of Chihaya’s sister and her modeling career. Having this insight of what influences each character makes it easy to get caught up in the emotional threads that tie them to each other – and that’s without being overly dramatic or angsty.
I… really didn’t think I’d even be considering this show. I’ve seen the OVAs and while I didn’t hate them, I didn’t love them either. The characters seemed a bit flat and Potte (aka Fuu) was a bit too fuwafuwa in the head for me. Plus I wasn’t exactly sure what the story was all about. So when I watched the first episode of Tamayura ~hitotose~, it was out of pure curiosity. And I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised. Rather than jumping in where the OVA left off, they went back to before Fuu and her family had moved to the island where her father grew up; back to when they lived in the city. They also introduced her best friend, Chihiro, who was the one character who made this episode for me. It was a bit silly that Chihiro cried so much, but I was able to easily overlook that because of why she was crying. Seeing Chihiro so sensitive and attentive to the issue of Fuu’s father’s passing was incredibly touching. It really grounded Fuu as a character for me and their close friendship only went to further strengthen the story. This first episode provided context to the show, and it gave meaning to why Fuu and her family moved to Takehara.
Admittedly, I had no idea what this show was about before watching it. Admittedly, I still have no idea what this show is about after watching the first episode. I was initially excited about this show because of the character designs, the animation, and the seemingly cute Inga who wears that cute half-panda ensemble. I’m sad to report that, while Un-Go is well animated, it’s not close to being this season’s top in animation eye candy. Which is okay because there was a hint of an intriguing story behind the pretty … face that is Yuuki the Defeated Detective. Actually, the hint of intrigue is Yuuki the Defeated Detective: who he is, what his purpose is, and what his relationship to Inga really is. Oh: and for those of you who had hoped that Inga was a girl and not a boy, you’re in luck, because Inga is only half boy. That is… he transforms into… a woman. This also creates some intrigue in Inga, as she (presumably it works only in his female form) is able to ask one single question of anyone and they have to answer honestly. I can see how that’s helpful in an investigation, but you really have to ask the right question if you only get one shot.
Lots of people have referenced Eden of the East as there are a couple of similar factors like the use of special cell phones, or the survival game structure. But other than those two things, there’s really not much they have in common. For starters, Mirai Nikki is kind of scary. The opening clip with Yuno (or at least I think that’s Yuno) and the cage and the axe… scary. The serial killer homeroom teacher… scary. And Yuno’s crazy eyes…. But Mirai Nikki offers much more than just scary – which is good because I don’t actually like scary. It’s not so much the premise that seems interesting, but how things will play out in this battle royale. I’m curious to know who the other players are and what sort of strategies they come up with. I think this would be a good show to develop theories and make wild, bold, nonsensical predictions about.
Well I have no conclusion. Not yet at least. I’m going to wait until after the second episodes to decide. But what do you think? What are you watching and which of the four would you choose?