April Anime Season (Spring 2006)

By bluemist on March 30th, 2006

Time to cry again.

This is probably the season with the best lineup of potentially good anime I have ever encountered so far… and it came at the worst possible time… when I’m busy.

It has everything. Bishoujo? Check. Shoujo? Check. Sequels? Check check check. There’s something for everyone in this new season. Prepare to smoke your computer/TV/portable screens.

For the comprehensive list, go here and here.

Ah! My Goddess 2nd season – Oh my gawdness… I barely finished the first yet.

Ergo Proxy – Probably the front runner of this season’s action anime genre.

Finalist – From a Princess Soft game. More girls.

Fushigiboshi no Futagohime Gyu! – The cutest twin magical princesses in anime-dom returns for yet another year. I know who’s most happy with this.

.hack//Roots – Those .hacks were nice time wasters back when I had only a few anime to watch. If this turns out to be the same slow-poke, I’d drop it.

Higurashi no Naku koro ni – I’ve been hearing about how this is the second most popular doujin game ever made (Tsukihime is the champ). It’d be nice to see why.

Inukami! – Probably a cliche, but nevertheless, cute animation design.

Joshikousei GIRLS-HIGH – If it’s about joshikousei, it must be good. Popular seiyuu are here.

NANA – If 2005 was the year of Hanadan, 2006 is the year of NANA. This is one of the biggest shoujo series of recent memory, and I am already excited since I am thirsty for shoujo already (too much bishoujo).

School Rumble 2nd Semester – Make way for the funniest school anime without Osaka-san! A definite watch!

Soul Link – NAVEL’s older game before their popular one Shuffle.

Strawberry Panic – I seemed to have learned not to skip a Dengeki G’s series, even if it turns out horribly average. There’s something in the way they draw bishoujo.

Suzumiya Haruhi – Late update… what the heck was I thinking? Leaving out the potential School Rumble counter-programming of the season? By Kyoto Animation no less!

Tsubasa Chronicle 2nd season – Must… not… miss… Sakura-chan.

Tokko – From the author of GTO. I miss that anime. I hope Tokko is as crazy/cool as that.

Utawarerumono – A classic game from Leaf. Please don’t let it be a disaster on rails again.

XXXHOLiC – Seems to be a two-punch for CLAMP this season. Nice. Hope to see more crossovers.

Yume Tsukai – Looks nice. I’ll give it a whirl.

To Heart 2

By bluemist on March 10th, 2006

To Heart 2

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I was thinking all the while that To Heart 2 will be really good, considering that Comic Party Revolution, the other anime franchise of Aquaplus, turned out rather well. But then the IMO horror that is ~Remember my Memories~ still looms. That series not only had inconsistent animation, but a pace and story that I didn’t enjoy too much. This time, To Heart 2 more or less had the same problems, but not enough to call it a bad anime… or maybe… I’m biased?

I played the game, and featured it rather heavily, so there may be some personal biases of mine that will lead to the anime counterpart getting a more positive review from me. For one, I really love the mix of the all-new characters this time. The energetic childhood friend, the mature onee-sama, the soft-spoken iincho, the annoying challenge girl, the scheming club president, the weird girl from outer space, twins with different personalities, and the ever-required maid robot. While this cast sounds extremely cliche, the difference is in the moe~ factor. The To Heart 2 characters have the same cuteness vibe that made the original To Heart so popular. The lead male character is also an improvement over other similar series. Takaaki is neither a Bakayuki or a Junichi, but if you ask me… he acts kinda gayish.

Now I’m gonna try to remove my bias. Technically, To Heart 2 the anime is created for existing and upcoming fans of the original game. Its premiere in the fall season of 2005 would coincide with the much-anticipated PC version of the game (it was originally on Playstation 2), To Heart 2: XRATED. That said, and because you, my primary audience, is of the english-speaking anime community, many of you guys may be alienated when watching this anime. It is as if it pits you immediately into the events assuming you already know the game, or know of the first To Heart. Unfortunately, many of us can’t play the game because of the language barrier, and so some may not be able to enjoy it too much. Add up the fact that there are 9 featured girls in mere 13 episodes, and that makes them even less memorable.

Aside from the dilemma from non-fans of the To Heart 2 game, even the fans themselves are complaining. What they saw in the anime were very diluted, modified and condensed versions of each girl’s story. What took them about 5-10 hours to complete in the game, the anime finished in 1 or 2 episodes. The conversion quality left so much pain, as it wasn’t to the level that they expected. The most significant alteration to the original was the watering-down of the drama. The original To Heart 2 stories were heartwarming tearjerkers. Compared to that, the To Heart 2 anime stories seemed lifeless.

Couple that with inconsistent animation, incomplete stories, and confusing timeline, the anime is disaster on rails. Thankfully it had some nice bits here and there. For the fans, they have seen the To Heart 2 girls interact with each other like never before, because in the game they barely even know each other. Also, having all the original seiyuu in check for the anime makes it pleasant-sounding. Music is forgettable but not annoying, and the OP/ED is quite good.

Overall though, maybe it will be just the fans who will enjoy an anime like To Heart 2. Anyway, the best episode to watch is the 12th one, and I can say you could even see it standalone (not watching the other eps). Continue it with the last one for the open-ended conclusion, and you have the 2-episode Konomi OVA. That’s my recommendation if you don’t want to waste time. There are many other bishoujo-game based anime better than this (Stripey has a nice top 20 list). My other recommendation is to play the game somehow. You’ll feel the moe~ factor better over there.