First Impressions: Little Witch Academia

little-witch-academiaI’ve been a fan of Studio Trigger ever since Inferno Cop and I’ve watched everything they have made since then. Kill La Kill was super cool, but I was even more excited about Little Witch Academia ever since the first OVA came out some time ago. Now the show has finally begun airing and I am really impressed with the first episode right out the gate!

While it is certainly different from their previous shows, it still retains the Studio Trigger style so to speak with simple yet recognizable characters and a very playful and sometimes goofy animation style. The whole show is just overflowing with style and confidence!

The story follows Kagari Atsuko who has wanted to be a witch ever since she was six years old when she watched a show by the renowned Shiny Chariot. Years later she has enrolled into Luna Nova Magical Academy, hoping to one day be as mesmerizing as her idol. But let’s just say that the first day of school does not go quite as planned when adventure and funny hijinks ensues.

I would definitely say that the first episode of Little Witch Academia started out on the right foot and really made me want to watch more right now. Sadly I needed to wait a week since the show has just begun airing. But that is totally worth it when the show seems to be this good. Go watch it right now!

Yuri Manga: Heart Gifts

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Sometimes when you are done reading or watching something you feel like you will never find anything like it ever again and that nothing will ever top the experience that you’ve just had. That is kind of how I felt after finishing the short story Heart Gifts by Hattori Masahiko yesterday. It was only three chapters long, but it really impacted me and it did not pull any punches when it came to being dramatic.

The story follows two girls named Shiro and Kuro. Shiro had a weak heart since birth and one day she is on the verge of death. That is when Kuro offers to have them transplant her heart into Shiro, saving her life, but leaving Kuro with a mechanical heart that needs charging to keep her alive. This leads to a very strong friendship between the two or maybe it’s something even deeper than that.

I’ve said before that I like short stories because they take a simple premise and runs with it until the end. The focus is on the relationship between Shiro and Kuro and not much else, which is good since there are only three chapters to work with.

The art here is also very beautiful and super detailed. Sometimes while reading I would stop and look at a single panel for a couple of minutes because of how much there was to look at in the background. The characters themselves are of course just as detailed and very expressive. Out of all the manga that I’ve written about so far, Heart Gifts has set the bar very high when it comes to characters and backgrounds!

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If I have to name any problems with this manga and there is not many mind you, it would be that sometimes (we’re talking two or three panels over three chapters here) the mangaka tends to sacrifice the characters being on model in favor of being super detailed or pulling off a dramatic angle. But this is honestly such a minor thing that it barely matters in the long run.

So would I recommend Heart Gifts? Yes, because it would almost be a crime not to! Since it is only three chapters long, I really think that you should put aside some time, relax and read this very good yuri manga. It is seriously one of the best that I have had the pleasure to read in a long time and I really hope that Hattori Masahiko does more work!

First Impressions: Urara Meirochou

urara-animeSo at what level does cuteness become dangerous for your physical and mental health? Can you die from too much cuteness? These are two of the questions I kept asking myself after watching the first episode of Urara Meirochou. Because I would follow this show on cuteness alone, but it is actually really funny as well.

We get to follow Chiya, who was raised in the mountains and comes to the town of Meiro-Machi with a purpose. But with her being from out of town, she soon runs into trouble with the local authorities in a huge misunderstanding. But she escapes and literally runs into a girl named Kon, Koume who loves all things western and the very shy Nono. It turns out that they are all there to become apprentices under the same fortune-teller.

This show is made by J.C.Staff who you might know from such anime as Toradora, Shakugan No Shana or Golden Time to name a few. So what do these three shows have in common? They are all very colorful, well animated and enjoyable to look at, which is a really good way of convincing me to watch something and Urara Meirochou does not disappoint in this department at all.

Oh yeah, there are also yuri vibes all over this show. There is even a declaration of love already in a scene with the captain of the city guard and her two subordinates. All of this makes me very happy and excited! The same scene also had the strangest words of affection I have heard in a long time, those being: “Please let me take your cold”.

If you haven’t figured out it by now, I am very excited and happy to watch this show! Hopefully it will be able to keep up with the high bar that it has set with it first episode. Not that I am that worried about that to be honest!

First Impressions: Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu

minakamaMeet Maiharu Hiromi, a girl who has recently moved to Kamakura Nagasaki and she loves biking to school, except that there is one small problem. She has for some reason forgotten how to ride a bike. No that’s actually wrong, she has forgotten how a bike works. But she tries her best and she almost runs over a girl from the same school named Akizuki Tomoe, who takes pity on Hiromi and decides to spend the morning before school teaching her the basics of riding a bike and it doesn’t go that well to be honest. But at the end of the episode Hiromi seems to have taken an interest in biking and she is willing to learn more.

If I could only say one thing about this first episode, it would be that the backgrounds are just gorgeous. It almost looks hand-painted. The show is also very well animated and vibrant. One thing though that might put some people off is that the show is really slow. Personally I don’t really have a problem with it, because I found that the slowness worked really well in a soothing kind of way. Now that I think of it, the show feels like Aria The Animation in that way.

Oh did I mention that Hiromi is really cute, even if she is probably the biggest airhead in the universe. So is her friend Tomoe by the way. At the end of the they all of the characters are pretty cute so far, even the teacher! I am going to keep up with this one for sure.

 

First Impressions: Schoolgirl Strikers

schoolgirl-strikersApparently this anime is based on a Japanese phone game with the same name that I had not heard about before watching this. But that does not really matter to me, since I actually found this really fun to watch. Sure, it’s no Vivid Strike from last season when it comes to battle choreography and animation. But it still managed to keep my attention all the way through with cute and funny characters and a really fast pace for a first episode.

The story takes place at a newly established all girls private school Goryoukan Academy. This school has a special unit called the Fifth Force who are tasked with hunting down and disposing of creatures called Oburi that come from the fifth dimension. We get to follow a team of five girls called Altair Torte as they fight the Oburi and also during their fun schoolday hijinks.

But what I was most surprised by was as I mentioned above the high pace of the first episode. First we get introduced to our main characters, they introduce the school with some fun jokes about their school not having any mysteries and then we quickly move on to another fights against the Oburi, where we are introduced to some other of the teams and characters.

I am definitely going to stick with this show. Schoolgirl Strikers is honestly the first anime this season who has been able to make me seriously interested in watching the rest of it and that is a good thing during this very lukewarm winter season.

 

First Impressions: Youji Senki

youji-senkiThe idea of a dark and gritty anime covering the horrors during World War II is a really interesting idea in my opinion and you can even through in some awesome magic to spice things up. This is what Youji Senki tries and fails so hard to do. We get to follow Second Lieutenant and Platoon Commander Tanya Degurechaff, who is apparently a top Japanese salaryman reborn into this very young girls body during a alternate history version of World War II where Germany are the underdogs that you are supposed to root for. Yes, they are basically expecting us to root for the Third Reich!

I have not even said anything about the art and character designs of this show yet and there is really only one thing to say: it is ugly and all over the place! Many of the characters does not even look like they belong in the same show. The two people who are supposed to be the main characters even have totally different designs, which is really confusing to me. The main character Tanya is also a really despicable and unlikable person, which isn’t making things any better.

So yeah, I’m not going to waste any more time watching this series. While I like some of the ideas on paper, the exectution really sours the whole experience for me. This anime season has not been good to me so far.

Yuri Manga: Love Letters

love-letters-fullLove Letters is a manga by Shii Hirone, which is published in the Yuri Shoujo collection along with many other stories about girls love. It’s a short story about Nakahara-San who one day finds a beautiful drawing of flowers on her desk and decides to reply by leaving a drawing and a message herself. It doesn’t take long for a budding relationship to start developing between  her and the person who left the original message, even if she doesn’t know who it is.

I really love these short stories, because they are usually low on unnecessary drama and forced conflict, which longer series tend to get into to keep the reader interested. Here it’s just a simple premise with only three characters that the story revolves around, Nakahara-San, her desk neighbor Kokonoe and the person who is leaving these messages on her desk. It’s short, sweet, quick to get to the point and that is what I really like!

The art has this really beautiful shoujo style to it and is mostly drawn in line art with a few areas of shadow where needed for emphasis, which works really well for such a short manga. Even if the art is simple, the characters are still very expressive which is a plus for sure.

Sadly enough, the Yuri Shoujo volumes are not available in English. I read a fan translated version, but I still want to get my hands on the physical volumes in Japanese. I just like collecting yuri manga even if my Japanese is super rudimentary and it’s never wrong to support those who are creating what you love to read.