Panning the Stream: Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!, Yurikuma Arashi, Absolute Duo

Well, the Winter Season certainly wasted no time in making an impression, did it?

As a reminder, I watch every licensed premiere and do at least a brief writeup about them. I’ll do full meet ‘n’ greets for shows that caught my interest enough to warrant it. Everything else gets a blurb explaining what I liked, didn’t like, and why the show might not or didn’t make the cut.

So here we go! Magical boys, magical bears, and a boy named Thor. Oh, anime. For better or worse, this is why I love you.

Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! (Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu Love)

Studio: Diomedea
Original Series:
Directed by Takamatsu Shinji (Gintama, Daily Lives of High School Boys) with series composition by Michiko Yotoke (Genshiken, Princess Tutu)
Streaming On:
Funimation (US/Canada), Crunchyroll (regions not specified)

In a Sentence: A pink talking wombat drops from the sky and conscripts five high school boys into becoming his pretty guardians who fight for love and justice (yes, really).

How was it? Incessantly clever, frequently hilarious… and also kinda sweet.

Overall
This one looked promising on paper, given that both the director and series composer had a solid track record with good comedies (Michiko Yotoke’s on double funny duty this season, incidentally, as they’re also series composer for Shirobako), but any time you start playing with gender-bending a genre (“magical boys,” in this case) you run the risk of shooting yourself in the foot. Fortunately Boueibu (that’s the shorthand they’re using on Twitter, so let’s go with it) hits all the right beats, refusing to take itself seriously while also offering a splash of oden noodle-flavored philosophy and even a dash of genuine pathos there at the end.

As with Shirobako, this one’s more about the premise and story than the characters themselves so far (the boys each have one broad, defining characteristic, but little else), but that premise is so fantastically executed that it didn’t strike me as a weakness, at least not yet. Simply put this is good stuff, simultaneously a parody of and a love letter to the magical girl genre, and as long as it can keep mining humor and story out of that, I see no reason why this won’t be a solidly funny (and maybe even a little subversive?) Winter series.

Did it make the watchlist? I was positively giddy by the end of it, so yeah, it’s here for at least a Rule of Three, and probably more.

Yurikuma Arashi

Studio: Silver Link
Original Series: Directed by Kunihiko Ikuhara (Sailor Moon, Revolutionary Girl Utena, Penguindrum) with series composition by Ikuhara and Takaya Ikami (Penguindrum, WataMote)
Streaming On: Funimation (US/Canada), Crunchyroll (here’s a link to the list of regions)

In a Sentence: The long-running battle between humans and bears continues when a pair of bears infiltrate Arashigaoka High School and begin to prey on the students.

How was it? Well, it sure as hell wasn’t boring, I can say that with certainty.

Overall (ish)
I’d planned to do episodic recaps/commentaries about this one and I’m going to stick to that for at least a few episodes, so I have a Nice Long Post scheduled to go out either tomorrow or Thursday with an episode recap and a bunch of thoughts. But I did want to let you know that I watched it and, while I am both confused and concerned, I’m also damn interested. Plus. I mean. It’s Ikuhara. Based on his past work (which I pretty much universally love), he gets an automatic Rule of Three to show me if he’s a mad genius, or just plain mad. I very much hope it’s the former.

Did it make the watchlist? Yes. For now. More on all that in my longer post.

In Brief

Absolute Duo

Man, I really wish studios would spend half as much time and animation on action sequences as they do on swishy skirts and bouncing boobs. Distracting fanservice aside, this premiere wasn’t half-bad. It had a sense of style and fun at times (the “staaaare” sight gag made me giggle every time), and must have been well-paced given how surprised I was when the end credits rolled. But any show with distracting fanservice is going to really have to wow me in the character, story, or artistic department, and while this one didn’t bore me or actively drive me away, it wasn’t enough to make me want more. I doubt I’ll be back for another one.

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