Panning the Stream: Sabagebu!, Tokyo Ghoul, Shounen Hollywood

And now for something completely different…

Yesterday’s trio had similar threads, but this group couldn’t be more disparate if it tried. An all-girls’ airsoft gun club, an urban horror story, and a boy band in the making. Any worth watching? Hit the jump and all will be revealed!

Sabagebu! (“Survival Game Club”)

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Studio: Pierrot
Based On: The manga by Matsumoto Hidekichi
Streaming On: Crunchyroll

In a Sentence: Transfer student Sonokawa Momoka joins the “Survival Game Club,” where a group of quirky girls compete in airsoft gun competitions.

How was it? Meh.

Overall
I have remarkably little to say about this one. It’s a comedy with an all-girl cast, a smattering of fanservice, and is technically categorized as a shoujo, though you’d never guess it from the episode. There were some things I liked – the eccentric president and the jaded MC, mostly – but the meta-humor got stale in a hurry, the “emotional” moments felt forced, and the airsoft gun battle didn’t engage me the way I think it was supposed to. It was an okay premiere, but I have a hard time seeing it holding up over multiple episodes.

Coming Back for More?
Comedy series are hard to review – either you find the jokes funny or you don’t – and while the series elicited a couple chuckles out of me, it wasn’t enough to make me want to come back. I think I’m tapping out on this one, guys.

Tokyo Ghoul

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Studio: Pierrot
Based On: The manga by Ishida Sui
Streaming On: Funimation, Hulu (week delay)

In a Sentence: College student Kaneki Ken finds himself dragged into the frightening world of ghouls – powerful humanoid creatures who feast on human flesh.

How was it? Creepy and curious, but maybe not as riveting as I’d hoped.

Overall
I try to go into new shows with blinders on, but this one blipped on my radar. Lot of hype here, and I have a wildly mixed track record with hyped shows (love Space Dandy, dislike SAO, lukewarm on Attack on Titan, etc.). About 10 minutes in I was worried that it was going to lose me altogether, but in the last five minutes the show settled into its premise, introduced a pair of characters, and finally engaged me the way I’d hoped it would from the start. You have my attention, Grotesque Ghoul Underworld.

One other thing worth mentioning – the animation. About halfway through I was convinced this was done by BONES and could not believe it when I found out it was a Studio Pierrot show. Simply put, it looks damn good, with slightly ragged character designs and smoothly animated action sequences. My eyes didn’t deceive me, though – turns out the character designer has worked on a number of BONES shows in the past, hence the look and feel. This is a compliment, Pierrot. Thanks for proving to me that you can actually animate things. Keep it up.

Coming Back for More?
The hype is high enough and the production values good enough that I’m giving this one at least three episodes to properly hook me. Judging by the way the premiere ended, I think it will succeed. I hope so, anyway. I have a feeling this show will do well commercially, and I’d like to be able to enjoy it along with the rest of the anime community.

Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49

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Studio: ZEXCS
Original Series: Written by Hashiguchi Ikuyo (part of the “Shounen Hollywood” Idol Project)
Streaming On: Funimation, Hulu (week delay) (listed as “Shonen Hollywood”)

In a Sentence: In an attempt to rejuvenate the fading Hollywood Stage theatre, a group of teenage boys are recruited to form a new pop idol group.

How was it? Well it wasn’t NEARLY as bad as I thought it’d be, but…

Overall
This show has two things going for it. The first is decent enough character designs that I actually could kind of see people fangirling over these guys. The second is a sense of self-awareness and even cynicism – there’s a lot of talk about crafting a stage personality (and how it’s mostly bullshit), and the guys have a semi-interesting discussion about the thin line between being bullied and being famous. Some of the drier humor even got a chuckle out of me, which I really didn’t expect going into this thing.

All of which is to say that the series isn’t terrible, but it’s also not particularly good. The animation is decent for the dancing but bad for facial expressions, most of the dialogue is pretty wooden and/or over-the-top (seriously, Mr. Manager, what was with that extra-long philosophical speech in the middle of the episode? I thought you were a stone cold cynic), none of the characters really grabbed me, and the plot seems fairly standard. It didn’t send me running like Samurai Jam or Locodol did, but I was definitely done by the 20-minute mark.

Coming Back for More?
If I were in my mid-teens I might have watched it for the cute boys and tongue-in-cheek humor, but I’m not, so I’m not. And while I don’t know as much about the male idol industry as I do the female, I suspect it’s not much better, so there’s that “ick” factor to consider, too. Point being, I’m out. Later, ShoHo.

Not Watching

Re: Hamatora

I wanted to like Hamatora. I really did. It felt like the kind of show that was made in a hurry by someone who had a cool idea but was still learning how to make anime. There was a spark of something in its characters and story, even though it wasn’t all that well executed. I thought it was growing pains. I thought it would figure itself out.

And then the hot springs episode happened. And it was so… everything about it was so… just… I mean, just bad, you guys. Just pointless and poorly animated and uninteresting and… bad. It killed my stamina. I gave up. Did it get better? If it got better I might give it another try, but until I know for sure, I’m not going to waste my time on it. There are, like, 70 episodes of Hunter x Hunter I could be watching instead.

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