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!

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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: 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.

 

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.

 

 

First Impressions: Masamune-Kun No Revenge

masamune-kun-no-revengeThere is honestly not much to say about this first episode to be honest. I just found it generic (Even more generic than Akiba’s Trip), mean-spirited and just plain bad. The story follows Makabe Masamune who used to be overweight as a child and because of that he got turned down by his childhood love Adagaki Aki. Flash forward many years and Makabe has improved himself and is now a good looking high school student and when he encounters Adagaki Aki again, he is prepared to exact his revenge by making her fall in love with her and then finally dumping her.

This is one really petty premise if you ask me and the views on body image are not any better. The first thing they state is that if you are not fit and good looking you are a nobody in this world. Sure, the main character will probably learn some kind of lesson which makes him change his views and ways, but I am not planning to stick around to see that happen.

I was not expecting much going in and it seems that I was right in doing so. At the end of the day most harem anime go along the same story track anyway, so there is not much to be surprised by. So I am going to give this one a pass!