Jun. 30th, 2015

xparrot: Chopper reading (books)
[livejournal.com profile] gnine is here for the moment, so we've been trying out some new shows! We've seen the first four eps of Sense8 (fascinating, can't wait to see more) and Syfy's Killjoys (want it to be better than it is, sigh) and a bunch of recent anime, two of which I have to recommend for anyone who's into that, or would like to be.

The first is Ore Monogatari!! aka My Love Story!! aka the cutest cute that has ever cutely cuted. This anime should come with a sugar warning for diabetics. It's a shoujo about a high school boy who is the polar opposite of the attractive shoujo hero, both in his colossal manly body and face, and his straightforward personality. Due to his looks, he's never had a girlfriend; they all fall for his bishounen best friend. Then one day he helps out a girl, and you can guess where the story goes from there. Except whatever you're imagining, it's cuter than that. It's a fun, sappy, quietly silly show focusing equally on Takeo, his best friend, and his girlfriend, and the relationship developing between them (don't worry, it's not a love triangle; not a threesome either, but equally about friendship as romance), and most of the stories are basically about which one of the three can be the sweetest (spoilers: it's all of them.)

Also the brother (who not-so-secretly enjoys school shoujo comedies) was honestly wondering about the gender of the mangaka - the writer is female, it turns out, but we guess she might have teenagers, because she captures a particular sort of low-key teen boy friendship in a way that felt very true to him.

If you like Ore Monogatari, I'd also recommend last year's Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun/Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, which has similar character dynamics, though is a lot goofier, more a straight comedy, bordering on parody - of the gentle and loving sort; if you're a shoujo fan I wouldn't miss it. Both are up on Crunchyroll.


The second is Ansatsu Kyoushitsu/Assassination Classroom, which has to be seen to be believed, but I'll try to explain why (and the summary is going to sound more spoilery than it really is - the basic idea is laid out in the first five minutes of the show - but if you want to watch it cold, go ahead, do it, you won't regret it. Provided you have a tolerance for certain shounen tropes, crack, and crack played straight(ish). And a basic grasp of Japanese schooling would help. But seriously, this show is amazing, I fell for it so much harder than I was prepared for.)

So Assassination Classroom is yet another take on that educational classic, the class of troubled teens getting an unusual new teacher who turns their lives around, à la GTO, Gokusen, etc. The twist - and it's a doozy - is that this teacher is a super-powered tentacle monster who blew up most of the moon and is going to do the same to the Earth in a year...unless this class of plucky young junior high students can assassinate him first.

This is quite the challenge, as he can move at Mach 20 (and the brother is thrilled by how cleverly and accurately his superspeed works), he's immune to most weapons, and also he's the best teacher the kids have ever had.

On the other hand, if they can kill him, they get a ten-billion yen reward from the grateful nations of the world. And (hopefully?) save the planet.

And if you're thinking this sounds completely absurd - absolutely yes! and yet the series makes it work. It's crack played straight - not realistically, and it's not a dark series; half the time it's a comedy and it keeps hitting the expected hopeful and triumphant chords of kids overcoming adversity with the help of a few adults who really care. But the emotional tension is all over the place and off-kilter from the tropes it's deploying, and that's deliberately and effectively done, often hilariously, occasionally disturbing. The kids are all the standard types of failures and delinquents, but they're well-sketched and lovable and you can't help but cheer them on...even when you're not quite sure you should.

(As a bonus Sugita Tomokazu is playing the PE teacher/special forces agent teaching the kids assassination skills and becoming way more attached to his students than he should be, considering the stakes. I apparently have a thing for Sugita-voiced characters who should never in a million years be mentors for kids and yet end up mentoring the hell out of them, though otherwise Karasuma-sensei is a 180 from Gintoki.)

The end of the season falls down a bit in how it goes more overtly action-shounen; but there's another season coming next year and I can't wait for it. Not the least of which because there are so many questions about the whole scenario, and it's offered enough hints to imply answers may come. In the meantime you can watch the first season on Hulu. And then come here and talk to me about it, because yes, so many questions!! (I'm debating whether or not to read the manga or be patient...)

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