Finally some proper paranormal action romance makes an entrance with the 12 episode long Mushi-Uta (ムシウタ), graciously provided by WOWOW on Thursdays at 24:00 JST.
Much like other recent anime, this new series is based on a set of light novels, where author Iwai Kyouhei has squeezed out 9 volumes so far, with another 5 short stories in the spin-off series Mushi-Uta bug. Heading the animation effort is Sakai Kazuo, who doesn’t appear to have much on his resume apart from a few episodes of Demonbane. It’s weighed up by letting Yoshida Reiko take care of series composition, currently active with Romeo x Juliet. The studio behind the show is Beat Frog, and they don’t even have a homepage, so that could be a bit of a worry.
The setting is a world where parasitic insect-like beings prey on people’s dreams in return for supernatural powers. The victims are referred to as the Bug-possessed, and while their existence is a rumour to the public, a government agency works to capture them when found. First among these hunters is Kusuriya “Kakkou” Daisuke, a young man of regular features, and he’s just received orders to infiltrate a high school where the resistance leader Ladybird is believed to attend. Prone to gloom, Kakkou walks to school in a dreamlike state, but glancing across the railroad he spots a girl with green hair and suddenly breaks out in a joyous smile, then proceeds to jump out in front of a rushing train. So much for happiness, I guess.
Appreciating the art in this show can be tough, due to the terrible broadcast quality of WOWOW, but once you get used to the muddy look you get the feeling there’ll be good stuff in the DVD release. Animation is fine, music’s pleasant, and it uses lots of trippy angles and close-ups to create a hallucinatory mood. Mixed with the overly cute character design, it all comes together in a strange way that’s quite appealing. It’s also good to hear Zegapain‘s voice actors again, with Asanuma Shintarou as Kakkou, and the sweet, fragile Hanazawa Kana as the adorable heroine. But wait, there’s more! Ladybird is played by the versatile Nabatame Hitomi (Arcueid in Tsukihime) and it’s impossible not to recognize Tamura Yukari (Nanoha in Lyrical Nanoha) as agent Min-min.
While this show shares similarities with Kissdum (complete disaster), I sincerely hope it’ll become a success, because I fell in love with the first episode. The mood seems familiar from Gunparade Orchestra, but without the utter boredom. The characters break out of the generic by being charming, but that could just be my love for Shiika’s (uhoh, spoiler?) voice, and the first half of the episode promises plenty of action, in addition to the cute romantic hints from the very end. At 12 episodes I doubt it’ll have a proper conclusion, but there should be three delightful months before I have to rush off and buy the books.
Reminds me of: Gunparade Orchestra
Following the lonely OVA from last year is a full-blown 26 episode season of little girls blowing shit up, under the title Sky Girls (スカイガールズ), broadcast on Thursdays at 25:28 JST.
Confusingly, this show features the exact same staff as Zero no Tsukaima, with director Iwasaki Yoshioka, script writer Yoshioka Takao and animation studio J.C. Staff, which means its second season sees a whole new batch of people. Oh well.
Taking place in 2084, where a third of earth’s population has been lost in the battle against the mechanical cell cluster “Worms” species, we’re acquainted with protagonist trio Sakurano Otoha (cheerful), Sonomiya Karen (IQ 200, yo?) and Ichijou Eika (ace youngster), all aged 16-17 despite appearances. No lolis here, officer. They’re recruited to pilot a new flying weapon – the Sonic Diver – and training begins now. Post-apocalyptic peace never lasts, you know.
Animation like this probably doesn’t come cheap, but then again, it’s possible it’s a first episode thing. In any case it looks good, if a bit simple on the character side. The backgrounds are beautiful, and there’s plenty of girls bending over if you prefer that. I’m slightly less attracted to the wonky mecha design, though. Vocal megastars Kawasumi Ayako (Nodame in Nodame Cantabile) and Horie Yui (Naru in Love Hina) are pillars of support in a cast including Itou Shizuka (Alice in Pumpkin Scissors), Gotou Saori (Barasuishou in Rozen Maiden) and Tsuji Ayumi (Rose in Red Garden).
Cute girls in tight bodysuits flying dangerous weapons, that’s enough to please any critic. The first episode was a bit on the slow side, with oodles and oodles of character introduction, but I’m sure there’ll be some exciting battles eventually. Not to mention that a world without men (most died in the war) means more ladies for me. Or would, if it wasn’t set so far into the future that I’d have trouble getting it up.
Reminds me of: Strike Witches, lol. 🙁