Panning the Stream: Snow White with the Red Hair, Chaos Dragon, Actually I Am, Monster Musume

Love is in the air, but the sparks ain’t always flying.

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We come at last to my most anticipated new series of the season—and no, it isn’t either of the ones about dudes with monster harems. Animation studio BONES is doing a shoujo for the first time since—geez, Ouran High, I guess—and the results are predictably lovely. As for the rest… well, it wasn’t all bad, it just wasn’t all my cup of tea. Of course, some of it was rull bad, too. Hit the jump for some goodies, some not-so-goodies, and of course, some dudes with monster harems. Only in anime, I tell you what.

Snow White with the Red Hair (Akagami no Shirayuki-hime)

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Studio: BONES
Based On: The manga by Akizuki Sorata
Streaming On: Funimation (U.S./Canada)

In a Sentence: After pharmacist Shirayuki flees her homeland when her rare red hair catches the eye of her kingdom’s prince, a chance encounter with a young man named Zen promises to change both their fates.

How was it? Lovely and dreamlike, with art and characters to match.

Overall
I’ve read the first two-odd volumes of the manga for this one, and while I love the general idea behind it, the actual execution is rough around the edges, somewhat jerkily paced and lacking artwork that draws (pun!) you into the character’s lives and psychologies. Even so, I suspected this could be special in the right hands, and boy, do we have ourselves a whole mess of right hands.

We’re only one episode in and already seasoned director Ando Masahiro (Blast of Tempest, Hanasaku Iroha) and studio BONES have improved upon the source material. Ando takes the time to establish Shirayuki’s life prior to the central conflict, which immediately gives the story more weight and its protagonist a greater sense of depth and personal history. This isn’t a high-octane episode but BONES keeps it interesting, filling the frames with expressive faces and body language which help convey personalities and relationships (the prince is particularly well-animated, becoming a much more memorable character than he is in the manga). The vibrant color palette and lush backgrounds are also gorgeous, painted to look more like a Disney film than an anime series, which only serves to enhance the fairy tale feel of the story and the sense that we’re slipping into a world much different from our own.

Assuming BONES doesn’t make too many changes to the base source material, I suspect this will be a pleasant, almost sleepy little series about two likable protagonists with solid chemistry and their own unique goals. This first episode bodes well for the show at large, and I look forward to seeing how it progresses from here.

…And The Rest

Chaos Dragon

Chaos Dragon dared to ask the question: “What would happen if a bunch of geeky writers became so famous that someone made an anime based on a DnD game they played one time?” The answer will not surprise you. This is a terrible, terrible premiere. It’s packed with clunky exposition and inorganic world-building, way too many one-note characters, choppy and repetitive animation, and a hideous CG dragon just to put the cherry on the crap sundae. It’s clusterfuck Nirvana, the trainwreck that other trainwrecks aspire to be.

In fact, I’m pretty sure it was scientifically engineered in a lab somewhere to be my perfect hatewatch, because I kind of can’t wait for the next episode. Watch it if you enjoy reasonably inoffensive convoluted fantasy garbage. You won’t be disappointed.

Actually, I Am (Jitsu ha Watashi ha)

The opening theme had me rolling my eyes, but I kept going and the episode itself surprised me by actually being a pretty cute little low fantasy rom-com about a guy who can’t keep secrets and the girl he likes—who just so happens to be a vampire, a secret he has to keep lest she be forced to leave the school. The cast was likable, the main pair work well together, and the character design has a fun throwback style to it even if the rest of the production is pretty low-quality.

It’s almost guaranteed to turn into harem hijinks at some point, judging by the OP/EDs, and there were lots of other shows that interested me more, so I’m still not sure I’ll come back to this one. But if you like supernatural school stories, there’s a real good chance you’ll enjoy this premiere.

Monster Musume: Everyday Living with Monster Girls

It’s… pretty much exactly what it sounds like. Credit to the creator for going all-out insane with this one, packing it with raunchy comedy and demi-human fanservice. Monster Musume doesn’t shy away from its wild premise, and makes it a point to let you know right off the bat that it’s going to be a show about a dude getting freaky (or nearly so) with busty monster-girls. Which, you know, if that’s your thing, then have fun with it. As for me, I found the humor fairly repetitive and neither the characters nor premise intrigued me much, so I bailed at the halfway point. Consider it dropped.

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2 thoughts on “Panning the Stream: Snow White with the Red Hair, Chaos Dragon, Actually I Am, Monster Musume

  1. “I’ve read the first two-odd volumes of the manga for this one, and while I love the general idea behind it, the actual execution is rough around the edges, somewhat jerkily paced and lacking artwork that draws (pun!) you into the character’s lives and psychologies. ” Agreed, well except for the art, I really like the character designs in the manga more than the anime (the faces are more delicate and the eyes are just weirdly far apart in the anime), although I think the anime is going to one-up the backgrounds. This is one of the weird times when I’m expecting the adaptation to be better, just pace it tightly, end where the manga should have and bam, nice little story and another entry into The Revival of Shoujo Fantasy (TM).

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    • Oh, for sure, I like the original character designs, too! It’s less the base art itself that didn’t quite work for me as it is the panel-to-panel decisions. The faces aren’t terribly expressive and there’s a sort of stiffness to the movement, which can make the characters feel a little flat or bland even during the more tense or emotional moments. (Which I realize isn’t the best description but it’s the best I can do without doing an actual panel-by-panel analysis. ^^; )

      I realize part of this is intentional, since it’s a pretty grounded/laid-back kind of story, but so far I think the anime has done a better job of showing personalities non-verbally and giving the brief action sequences a better sense of tension/excitement. Hopefully they can keep that up.

      Long live The Revival of Shojo Fantasy (TM)!

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