Akatsuki no Yona
Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a young princess of an important country.
Impressions: I started out as a fan of the shoujo genre. That unfortunately changed after the entire genre suddenly deteriorated after a point. I’m not sure what happened, but at a certain point, all shoujo series just became dry, one-dimensional and bland; full of fanservice and pandering. Only once in a while you had something like Kamisama Hajimemashita, but even that in the end boiled down to a romantic comedy, instead of series that packed real punches like Ashita no Nadja, Glass Mask or Kaleido Star. With Akatsuki no Yona though, we finally have another seemingly good shoujo adventure. At the very least, it manages to push a lot of the right buttons in its opening episode: it starts off with a younger version of the lead character and shows a bit of character-development right from the start. The acting for once isn’t bone-dry but instead the characters are fun to watch. I especially want to give the creators props to the way they portrayed the female lead character: the way in which they delivered the energy that goes on inside the mind of a teenaged girl, including how she feels about love, was quite addictive. The show does look sloppy right from the start, which is why I fear that a lot of people won’t give it a chance, but that changes pretty quickly once you see it in action. Now: keep this up! Have a story to tell that fits the pacing of an anime, instead of goofing off for too long. This episode didn’t introduce all of the side-characters yet, but make them count.
Donten ni Warau
Short Synopsis: Our lead character ferries criminals during the Meiji-restoration.
Considering that this is only a shounen-series, I can see that there’s something good buried underneath. This episode itself was sloppy, but for a series of its genre I’ve seen much worse. The thing is dhat Donten ni Warau opened with an episode that had absolutely nothing to do with its plot. Or at the very least, the beginning of the episode and ending of the episode threw around hints of this epic storyline, and yet most of the episode here focused around the usual shounen brat acting on his own, and this really weird piece of comic relief in which a character who seemily had nothing to do just started cross-dressing for no reason. This was meant to be a character-building episode for the three main characters, but their problems are all pretty basic: you have an older brother who is really strong, a middle brother who wants to be acknowledged but who is weak (and who probably is the main character here), and the youngest brother who is just still a kid. You can make quite a few predictions based on this set-up. Where this show scores points is its setting: for the villains to be the samurai who are discontent with pretty much losing their identity after Japan’s westernization: that’s actually a very good base for a villain. It’s something different from those “I want to save the world so I need to destroy it first”-villains.
ED: SO many characters appear here who made no appearance whatsoever in this episode. The ED itself is also not bad either.