Slightly longer posts this time, because I feel bad about falling behind.
Spoiler warning(for Gakkou Gurashi in particular)
Well, that is certainly a cool way to present a premise. Kudos to the writers and director for coming up with and showing so many different ways to give the viewer hints. Everything from the dog acting unnaturally(opening sliding doors, etc.) to Miki being weird around classrooms, to all the visual hints like the windows, the blackboard and the cross in the dirt on the rooftop(I’m guessing it isn’t really a horticulture club), and, last but not least, Kurumi carrying a shovel around(hello, memories of Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi). I also must say that I was very happy that none of the characters outright revealed anything. The fact that I was constantly concerned about someone “bursting into exposition” says something about the usual quality of writing in mystery, plot-twisty anime, or at least in the ones I’ve encountered.
At this point I should probably mention that I knew about the zombies before watching the first episode, so I was sort of aware of what to look for and what to expect. Which is why I was so pleasantly surprised by how well the “secret” was revealed, and by how grim the setting actually is. I was expecting moe school girl zombies and “spooky ghost”-type horror, not rotting, shambling zombies. Which, in contrast with the cute character designs and personalities of the main characters, caused this very interesting reverse gap moe kind of effect. Gap horror, maybe?
My favourite thing about the show, however, is completely unrelated to the plot twist. My favourite thing is that it’s actually cute and it makes me laugh. The faces are funny and the characters have funny personalities. It has all the makings of a slice of life moe cute-girls-doing-cute-things show and it’s competent at it. In addition to which it’s a horror mystery. If the serious part ends up being lacklustre, at least it’ll be cute and funny, and if it stops being cute and funny, at least it’ll have a pretty interesting setting. So it’s a win/win situation! …Unless it fails at both aspects, in which case it’ll have nothing. But I hope that doesn’t happen, because I quite liked the first episode.
Verdict: One of the best premieres so far. Definitely continuing.
Kuusen Madoushi Kouhousei no Kyoukan
This is where I draw the line: The main character is walking in a park where there are no corners beside one particular set of vending machines. Well, just when he’s about to walk past the vending machines, a girl walks out from behind the vending machines and collides with him. Before the collision, she had a toast(with jam on top) in her mouth. This piece of toast naturally falls on the main character’s crotch, the girl falls on top of him, and he ends up grabbing her breasts. After the dust settles, she flies into a fit of rage and calls him “saitei” and “hentai”.
Maybe it is no coincidence that the Twitter hashtag for this show is “kusen”, which is also Finnish for “I am taking a leak”. This show is piss, and watching it is less pleasant than urinary retention(don’t ask). I now feel like I have to apologise to the creators of both Gate and Gunslinger Stratos. My main problem with Gate is its main character, and Gunslinger Stratos was actually pretty interesting, it just wasn’t my kind of show. The story in Gate is actually pretty interesting, and I liked the “time travel” and guns in Gunslinger Stratos. Neither of those shows are as horrible as I might have made them sound in my posts. But Piss the Animation is. It’s only slightly more watchable than Ame-Iro Cocoa. I didn’t even finish the episode.
Verdict: Sometimes I wonder whether anime was a good idea or not…
Having seen Oreimo, the premise of the show and the little sister character understandably concerned me. As a matter of fact, the first half of the episode gave me the impression that this would be the kind of show that fetishises having a little sister or something like that. Umaru is spoiled and disrespectful, and her brother gives in to her every demand. He even acknowledges that this is harmful behaviour, but he still does it. Umaru is also portrayed as a genius at pretty much everything, which isn’t a very healthy way to portray a human character, at least not in my opinion.
The reason I care so much about how the characters are portrayed is that I think the show has more to it than just the intended funniness of the contrast between “prim and proper” Umaru and “at home” Umaru. The circumstances surrounding how Umaru came to live with her brother haven’t been explained yet, but I have a feeling they’re related to her childish behaviour and, in the words of her brother, her inability to eventually adjust to society. In addition, it’s obvious that Umaru is not as carelessly happy as she pretends to be. Her modesty seems to be caused by her lack of self-esteem, which is why the attention she gets at school does nothing for her(because the boys and girls who call her beautiful aren’t seeing the “real” her). This is why she desperately seeks attention from her brother, and when she can’t get it, she drowns her sorrows in sweets and snacks.
I think most people can relate to at least some parts of that. I know I can. The attention-seeking, the instant gratification of snacks, the self-esteem issues. And I like how the show manages to explore all of these things in a way that is somehow simultaneously subtle and exaggerated. Usually you’d probably get an internal monologue from the brother saying “My sister is beautiful and successful, but she has a secret: She is depressed and lonely” or something like that, but this first episode had nothing like that. At the opposite side of the spectrum, Umaru’s “snack scene” was so long and detailed and hedonistic that it was absolutely disgusting, and I think that was the point. From an outside perspective it’s repulsive, but to Umaru it’s the only thing that gives her pleasure. And it’s these things that make me interested in the show. I want to see if the brother figures out just how miserable his sister is, and I want to see if Umaru herself can admit it if backed into a corner. At least so far, this show is more psychological than most. There’s always the chance it’ll go downhill and turn into a hamfisted sobfest/crazy comedy, but I remain hopeful.
Verdict: Interesting in a very surprising way. I want more.