Short Synopsis: Our lead character is surrounded by the Shinsengumi.
I watch these first episodes of second seasons of series that I originally dropped, in order to check whether or not I missed something: did they actually improve through their course? How have things progressed so far? In the past, I have revisited a few series that I originally dismissed this way. So, what does Hakuouki do? A recap; perfect. I dropped Hakuouki after episode five, and after watching this recap, I have to admit that I probably dropped it at its weakest episode. This episode just kept the twists coming here, which were actually quite interesting. They were a bit cheesy, and I saw little change in the villains, but the story turned out better than I expected: this is not like Vampire Knight which devolved into nothing more than angst and bishies. This second season also promises to be a lot more varied here. I still have two problems, though. The first is that this recap episode nearly worked a little too well. It perfectly summarized twelve freaking episodes in just twenty minutes. These pacing issues also were part of my issues with the first episode: it was just so damn slow at times, with little to make up for it. The second problem is the female lead. I like her premise, but the creators forced her too much into the harem role: she has to be everywhere, she has to be involved with everyone, and her whining holds back scenes that she has no business in whatsoever. For me to actually finish the second season of this series, I demand two things: make every moment count, and develop Chizuru significantly.
Shinrei Tantei Yakumo
Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a detective who can see spirits.
Yeah, you don’t want to watch this series as a murder mystery. At that area, it’s nowhere near as good as series as Ayatsuri Sakon: the introduction moves too fast, the culprit is revealed way too soon and at no point does it try to make the viewer wondering what’s going on, or unravel clues. Instead, this show is more of a thriller and character study. When looking at it that way, the fast pacing is going to be interesting for the future of this series, it will be more able to concentrating on “why is everything happening”, rather than “what’s going on”, and with the right execution it will be a good way to spend its limited time of 13 episodes on its characters. Koichi Mashimo’s absence on this Bee-Train series hurts, though: I’m really missing his characterization here, and that’s what worries me the most about this series. Still, even though the characters could have been better portrayed, I’m not denying here that this wasn’t a good episode: it started off slow, but it steadily got better and better, resulting in a great climax for a first episode that really made me intrigued, especially when it got all artsy with the buildings and the random people. The soundtrack is not as good as usual Bee-Train series, but nevertheless it’s among the best of the season when it finally shows its real colours.
OP: Quite intense, and surprisingly varied in tone and atmosphere for an OP. Works well.
ED: Beautifully sung. I like the concept of combining pictures from the pasts of the characters.
Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii wake Nai
Short Synopsis: Our lead character has a weird sister.
There is a new male lead cliche that has been emerging during the past number of years to join the ranks of “your typical loser”. I’d like to call him the “Kyon-clone”: neither a loser nor too popular, he snarks himself through the series and tries to be the voice of reason amongst a cast of weird people with his voice acting having nowhere near the charms that Kyon had. It’s a cliche I see quite a while used in harems, and it’s starting to get annoying. Ore no Imouto has another one, and he does little to set himself apart. In any case, I was really fearing this series, though THANK GOD it’s not as abysmal as KissXSis was; there was little fanservice and the two siblings didn’t seem to be in love. Instead, it’s more like Nyan Koi: occasionally able to raise a chuckle, but most of all boring. For now, at least, because I have one HUGE problem with the way this episode portrayed the lead characters’ little sister: she’s a freaking tsundere! I appreciate this series for including a bit of wit in its dialogue and all, but they really weren’t subtle with those hints!
ED: It’s more like some insert song than an ED, but it’s generic J-pop anyway.