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Kantai Collection -KanColle- – 01 »« Kamisama Hajimemashita◎ – 01

Shinmai Maou no Testament – 01

OP Sequence

OP: 「Blade of Hope」 by sweet ARMS

「妹ができた日」 (Imouto ga Dekita hi)
“The Day I Got a Little Sister”

Yes, this is a magical-fantasy-action-harem-ecchi anime, but so far it’s executing well on both the concept and its own story. I was optimistic going in, and it hasn’t let me down yet.

A Word On Fanservice

I’ve been a little down on fanservice lately, especially on my book launch, which had some people confused. Let me clear the record: I don’t have a problem with fanservice as such. My problem is when it’s shoehorned into a story where it doesn’t belong, or when it’s a detriment to the show overall. My favorite type of fanservice is when it’s totally over-the-top, with High School DxD being the ur-example. It’s both so ecchi and having so much fun with it that’s it’s impossible to take it entirely seriously, so we as viewers sit back and enjoy the ride … which, ironically enough, means the story can dial up the serious later on, and we usually accept it, even if the main character is still stripping girl’s clothes off with magic.

It all comes down to prevalence, tone, and execution. If fanservice is a major component, it’s easier to swallow even if it’s just thrown in there, whereas occasional fanservice must be justified within the story to avoid disrespecting the characters. But tone is even more essential, because a story that’s trying to take itself seriously while it’s flashing panties doesn’t work. Finally, if all the little story movements are taken care of, you can toss in a little fanservice for fun and it works. To repurpose a metaphor I’m stealing from Zero Punctuation, fanservice is like ice cream cake. Ice cream cake is great, but if you have it all the time, you’re going to get sick of it. You need to have the meat and vegetables of characters, world-building, and plot before you can add in a sweet dessert.

These are things that Absolute Duo didn’t take care of, so when a girl flashes panties in the middle of a battle, it seems exploitative and crash. Shinmai Maou no Testament, however, has done a better job so far.

Execution Report: Pretty Good

I lambasted Absolute Duo (which I keep typing as Absolute Zero, a way cooler name anyway), and part of the reason I gave was because I’d seen it all before. Sort of. What I meant (and I should have stated this more clearly) is that, because I had seen it all before, a magical-fantasy-action-harem anime needs to show above average execution for me to enjoy it, whereas in the past I could enjoy a magical-fantasy-action-harem anime even if it was objectively pretty crap. This is someone who used to watch anything in the genre moving to what most people were doing all along—saying “I’ll only watch the good ones.”

So Absolute Duo’s problem was not that it’s generic or clichéd. It’s that it didn’t execute on its tropes well. By way of contrast, Shinmai Maou no Testament executed on those same tropes fairly well. Notice how many of the same things happen in Shinmai: The main character is somehow different. He becomes acquainted with beautiful girls at the start of the series. He has some kind of dark past/trauma. There are no parents in sight. But it executed on all of these better. Let’s take them one by one:

  • The main character is somehow different. They did two smart things here. First, he comes pre-trained and powerful. I don’t know why more anime don’t do this! Instead of having to go through tiresome training arcs and miles of exposition to get the main character up to speed, he can already manifest his sword and knows the score. Now we don’t have to waste time! Secondly, he’s no different from other people like him (heroes), or if he is, we don’t know it yet. He’s not presented as an Irregular among heroes. It’s just that he’s a hero. He’s different from normal humans, sure, but he’s not The One Chosen Hero. That keeps him more believable. These are both things I did with my own novel, so I like seeing others follow the same tact.
  • He becomes acquainted with beautiful girls at the start of the series. Once again, original creator Uesu Tetsuto was smart because he justified it. The girls don’t just come up to him because he’s The One Chosen Hero or whatever, there’s a reason (they’re tricking his dad). And by the end of it, you have to wonder if his dad didn’t put himself into a position to be “tricked”.
  • He has some kind of dark past/trauma. They did almost the exact same thing with this, but it worked better because they let us get to know Basara (Nakamura Yuuichi) before they tossed out the trauma. There was some kind of conflict, he proved himself to have some actual personality, so when they throw out this trauma, I’m like “Hmmm, interesting. It looks like he hasn’t used this power in a while,” instead of “There’s the dark past/trauma. Bingo!” (Bonus points: They actually gave Mio a traumatic past too. It’s like she and Maria are real character with hopes, desires, and agency, rather than just erotic objects there for Basara’s (and the audience’s) pleasure! Gasp!)
  • There are no parents in sight. Absolute Duo wasn’t bad here, actually. It just wasn’t good. The boarding school is so common that I’m just like “Oh, all right,” but Shinmai actually gave us a GOOD reason for why Basara’s father is gone: first, because he was letting Mio (Asai Ayaka) and Maria (Fukuhara Kaori) “trick” him, and really, because he has chosen to. Yeah, he’s probably a freelance photographer too, which is a good reason for him to be leaving, but if he’s not brainwashed, he made a choice to go. It’s nice to see a parent that’s not dead for once.

Another smart thing Shinmai did was use technobabble we’re familiar with. They didn’t create all new magic systems, they used the ones we’re familiar with to quickly bring us on board. Demons on one side, gods/heroes on the other, there are races other than humans, magic exists. Good, cool, got it. This is something I did myself with my own novel, where instead of renaming everything about my magic system, I used tried-and-true terms like mana, spells, casters, etc. What this allows the story to do is waste less time on technobabble and use those existing ideas as a jumping off point to tell a new story. As a commenter in the Absolute Duo post said, if it’s not broke, why fix it? The answer is that you can (and should) break it if you think you can do better, but it’s not necessary.

Related: They also didn’t explain things unnecessarily. For instance, they don’t explain why Maria is talking about being wet in combat. Anyone who has read the preview would know she’s a succubus, but they didn’t feel like they had to stuff that explanation in there for anyone who forgot. Good. Tell us later when we have more time.

Not Perfect, But Pretty Good

Not everything is super well done. The pacing is a bit off at times, such as when the thugs approach Mio, and there’s a good few seconds where we watch them approach with little emotion or reaction. The pacing isn’t bad though, and it’s understandable since adaptations are prone to some awkwardness. There’s also some throwaway lines, like when Basara’s father said the girls were “attacked by those weirdos”, and then didn’t explain it. My response: “Wait, go back! I feel like that was important!”

Another example is them putting the OP mid-episode. It was good to not run it at the beginning, because they drew us in with the magic/other races reveal, but I would have preferred to see Basara go all badass right then, rather than lose the moment (and interrupt the flow) so the OP could play (as nice as it was). They could have also made what was coming (the betrayal) less flagrant … sure, anyone who read the premise knew Mio and Maria weren’t normal girls, but the reveal and badass turn would have worked better if the betrayal was more sudden.

There’s also the fanservice. Most of the time I found it more hilarious than erotic, such as when Basara pushed Mio up on the sink (way too suggestive, unnecessary), when Mio was thrusting on his lap (whaaaaat!), or when Basara fell on top of Mio (clichéd). But as I said before, if you take care of the story, you can toss in some fanservice and get away with it. These did take away from the story somewhat—those moments would have been sexier without the faux-thrusting, and wouldn’t have made me laugh—but it doesn’t deter me from watching since everything else is taken care of. Though it will work better if (when) Maria is causing most of the Mio fanservice to happen, because she’s fun!

And Today’s Theme Is: Protect The Home, Protect The Imoutos

I’ve been talking so much about how the story is told, but not about what it’s about! Well that’s because they’ve mostly just introduced everyone and set everything up. What impressed me is that it’s all relatively tightly tied around a single theme. Basara’s father, Toujou Jin (Fujiwara Keiji), plants the bug in his mind to protect the house and his new imoutos, which would have seemed odd if we didn’t learn that Basara was a hero five minutes later. Everything is built around an idea of him protecting them and looking out for family, and it’s rare to see that. It’s also the hardest thing that Shinmai was able to do, which I can say because I don’t even know that I did it as well. Even if the premise sounds kind of complicated when you first read it, after the first episode, the whole idea is easy to grasp:

Two demons try to con their way into Basara’s house posing as his sisters, not realizing he’s a magic-wielding hero himself. He decides to protect them anyway.

Not bad, as far as elevator speeches go. There’s this stuff about a master/servant contract coming up, but if they can wrap the entire story around the theme of protection, it will make it easier to tell a good (and consistent) story.

Looking Ahead – Bring On The Ecchi

Reading this, it probably sounds like I’m gushing. In truth, so far Shinai Maou no Testament is above average. It’s good, it might even become great, but it’s too early to tell. (It also bears noting that the source material I read was better, but that almost goes without saying. Also, most of what I praise comes straight from the source, more than how it’s being adapted into anime per-say.) Mostly it sounds like I loved it because it allowed me to illustrate a point: Using the same old magical-fantasy-action-harem tropes is not a bad thing, as long as you execute on them well. So far, Shinmai is executing quite well, so I’m bullish on the series going forward, and I’ll remain that way until/unless it slips up.

As for whether I’ll pick this up, I was honestly hoping to only blog one show this season since I’m going to be traveling around a lot, and because I got burned on ecchi shows after Trinity Seven. I’ll leave the door open for now, because this episode was good, but I’d put the likelihood at 40%. I do plan on following it, though, so you can probably expect it to see it on the monthly impressions, and you can always check in with me on twitter if you want to chat. Enjoy!

tl;dr: @StiltsOutLoud – Above average execution turns a magical-fantasy-action-harem-ecchi anime into a solid show. Plot and PLOT? I’m in! #shinmaimaou 01

Random thoughts:

  • I liked how both the father and Basara are all scarred up. It makes you go “I wonder if they’re not normal…?”, or if not, makes the reveal make more sense in retrospect.
  • Dude, what’s with the weird amount of sweat? Stop that, Production IMS. It’s weird.
  • Nakamura Yuuichi is using his Satomi Koutarou voice, which didn’t feel like a good fit to me. Fukuhara Kaori on Maria, however, is perfect. She’s so much fun!
  • I liked Maria’s transformation sequence. I was afraid they’d go with a mahou shoujo-esque one, but they zoomed in on parts of her body (Ex: her ears when they were growing, her wings when they were coming out), like that was where Basara was looking at the time. Very natural, and probably helped their budget too.
  • Another thing that makes good fanservice: equality! If you’re going to show all the girls in genitalia-less sexy poses, you might as well do that for the guys too. Genitalia-less equality, huzzah!
  • One thing I didn’t realize was that original creator Uesu Tetsuto also create Hagure Yuusha no Estetica. Which is good because that one was pretty over-the-top, in a not so good way. I could tolerate Estetica’s main character more than, say, Kirito, because I never once took him seriously, but the ecchi was just raunchy. From what I’ve seen here and read of the Shinmai manga, I feel like he’s gotten better at storytelling enough to enjoy the ecchi without having to lean on it so much. I’m expecting a better story than Estetica, though you should still be prepared for more ecchi starting next week.

I wrote a book! My first novel, Wage Slave Rebellion, is available now. (More info) My personal site has also moved. Last four posts: Lessons from the Dresden Files: All alone, Mind meld, Interview with Little Red Reviewer, & Sneak Peek: Wage Slave Rebellion prologue.

Full-length images: 08, 09, 24.

 

ED Sequence

ED: 「Still Sis」 by Sadohara Kaori

Preview

January 7, 2015 at 8:02 pm
99 comments »
  • January 7, 2015 at 8:21 pmThe Green One

    I’ll say it now, this anime will be….polarizing.

    • January 7, 2015 at 8:23 pmGuyOnWheels

      I think you mean mediocre.

      • January 7, 2015 at 8:27 pmThe Green One

        No, I’m pretty sure I meant polarizing. Always nice when random strangers on the Internet think they know what I’m thinking better than I do.

      • January 12, 2015 at 1:53 pmNoZaku

        I a LN adaptation, did you expect originality from it?

    • January 8, 2015 at 2:32 amAndré

      Why? This looks like a typical harem comedy-action anime. Nothing polarizing there.

      • January 8, 2015 at 2:47 amJames

        It IS a typical harem anime. The Green One is being overly dramatic.

      • January 8, 2015 at 11:41 amSean

        It’s because of what happens later. I’m expecting a lot of future anime viewing drops.

      • January 9, 2015 at 11:25 amAndré

        As long they keep showing boobs, people will watch it.

    • January 8, 2015 at 3:08 pmWanderer

      Great, now I’m worried. If they’re going to start killing cute girls, I may have to start threatening to break authors’ kneecaps again. ;)

    • January 9, 2015 at 7:31 amgouken

      true, especially the large ratio of retards in america

  • January 7, 2015 at 8:23 pmHochmeister

    This was pretty good opener, but to be blunt… WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH THE BOOB ANIMATION THIS SEASON?!? Seriously, they look like balloons. I think I’ll put the rest of this off until a rainy weekend after the blue-rays come out. While it looks like it’ll be entertaining, it’s still nothing too special and the censoring was pretty obnoxious; based on the source material there will be lots more.

    • January 7, 2015 at 8:47 pmsilke13

      Tokyo Ghoul at least knew how to do realistic hanging boobs: http://i.imgur.com/D40d3rG.jpg

    • January 7, 2015 at 10:40 pmDafuq

    • January 7, 2015 at 11:11 pmStilts

      @ Hochmeister

      I know, right? I’m not going to say the character designer has never seen breasts, ’cause that’d be rude and I don’t know the guy (and if it’s a lady, she definitely has), but maybe they need to do some studying? Get a lady to pose for them? Something classy perhaps, a Titanic moment.

      Though honestly, I think it’s a simple matter of most fans accepting these strange oppai (the size notwithstanding) as pleasurable, and those who notice it either put up with it or don’t watch these shows, so there’s no incentive to improve.

      • January 8, 2015 at 2:20 pmHochmeister

        I wouldn’t say that there’s been no improvement over the years, for example last week I watched a hilariously trashy show from the early 00′s called Amazing Nurse Nanako! which had some of the most hilariously animated torpedo tits (SFW) I’ve ever seen (in my defnese, the show also featured among other things a Vatican plot to clone a zombie Jesus. It was a helluva trip). But between this and Absolute Duo’s similarly drawn mammaries I’m not terribly happy with the “spherical” style that seems to be dominating my trashy anime these days. Anime’s not supposed to be photo-realistic, but neither should it be hilariously off-model like this, unless intended to be hilarious.

  • January 7, 2015 at 8:26 pmBlahto Blahtoto

    I LOL at the part when they tried to alter Basara’s memory and he showed them who’s boss. Epic Fail

    • January 7, 2015 at 11:22 pmechykr

      True. Things sort of escalated quickly when Basara suddenly teleported and materialized his uber-sword. Turning the tables on the girls. lol

      • January 8, 2015 at 5:05 amNorioku

        The amount of scars he had were sort of a dead give away in my opinion.

  • January 7, 2015 at 8:27 pmStormy

    I like the comparison you did between Absolute Duo and this as this definitely executed everything better.
    It does get decent later on so hopefully they continue a steady pacing
    Hopefully you have time for monthly impressions if it can’t be done weekly.

  • January 7, 2015 at 8:29 pmsilke13

    ”Hey, I think I feel something hard.”
    Well duh. Something will rise up if you keep dry humping a guy.
    http://randomc.net/image/Shinmai%20Maou%20no%20Testament/Shinmai%20Maou%20no%20Testament%20-%2001%20-%20Large%2009.jpg

    • January 7, 2015 at 9:08 pmJames

      Every harem anime has that one annoying c0cktease that you’d like to bitch slap.

  • January 7, 2015 at 8:37 pmLonghaul

    A better adaption than expected, if I had one complaint its that the OP spoiled things.

  • January 7, 2015 at 8:43 pmCherrie

    The fanservice is a bit too much for me in the first half… but then the second half made up for it. Better than I expected so I’ll probably stick with it. Definitely much better than Absolute Duo – I like the MC more and he seems to have more characters than the dude from Absolute Duo (whom… I can’t even remember the name of anymore).

    • January 7, 2015 at 8:59 pmcryarc

      If you felt this first episode has too much fanservice I advice to prepare for some more blatant fanservice for the rest of the episodes… Well the story itself is quite good, it’s just that the amount of fanservice will probably turn off some people.

    • January 7, 2015 at 11:12 pmStilts

      What cryarc said. The fanservice is going to dial up sharply next episode. You probably should just skim the next episode before you commit the time to watching in, Cherr. Might save you some time, lol

      • January 8, 2015 at 10:44 amCherrie

        Don’t get me wrong, if the story is good, I’ll keep watching despite the fanservice. And so far, I think the story isn’t bad and it actually reminds me of Hataraku Maou-sama =X somewhat.

    • January 9, 2015 at 3:09 amAapjuh

      “i’ll wake a guy up with my pants unzipped and grind him, then get mad when i suspect hes getting turned on”

      seems legit

  • January 7, 2015 at 8:45 pmKuntzy

    So, the characters are naked half the time in the opening. How fitting.

    I won’t lie, Production IMS kind of sucks.

    I actually enjoyed Twintail last season because of it’s over-the-top hilarity and it’s fun message of people shouldn’t be ashamed of having a fetish, but the animation in the middle episodes really tried my patience with the series. The egregious dips in quality served to actually force me to focus more on those than the actual series at times. It’s unfortunate really because when the animation was between decent and good, I was having a blast.

    Hopefully it stays consistent at least, but I’ll remain wary of a Production IMS show from on.

    I hope you at least blog next week Stilts. If only to see the general reaction, lol.

    • January 7, 2015 at 11:22 pmStilts

      As I’ve said before, outside of more consistent studios like KyoAni and SHAFT, you can’t just look at the studio and draw a conclusion from that. For many studios, the staff (at least the big shots, and they’re the important ones) switch around on projects rather than staying in the same studio and working on whatever that studio gets, so the product can vary widely from anime to anime.

      For example, see Madhouse, who last year put out Hanayamata, Hunter x Hunter, and No Game No Life, as well as Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei and Mahou Sensou. Even more consistent studios like P.A. Works can swing from Nagi no Asukara to Glasslip to SHIROBAKO. And for places like A-1 Pictures, who have NO consistent staff, the studio name means almost nothing.

      Don’t look at the studio. Look at the staff. You can’t judge based on the studio … but when No Game No Life turns out well, you you notice Hanayamata has the same director, you can start drawing good assumptions.

      Though even then, sometimes you’ll be wrong. (hi2u, Mahouka)

      P.S. The fun part? For adaptations, the studio doesn’t necessarily have control of the budget. The publishers do. It might not even be their fault if they just don’t have the money to keep the animation quality high.

      • January 8, 2015 at 5:08 amKuntzy

        Allow me to express a certain amount of skepticism as to the validity of that statement. (At least when it comes to the art side of the equation.)

        Generally, you tend to pull that argument out when people are railing on the adaptation side of things. It’s a fair argument if we’re simply talking about the pacing/story/feel of the show. Art is kind of different, in my opinion, because of the sheer amount of people involved in it. How am I really supposed to be able to pinpoint the cause of art being butchered to such an extent when there’s so many people that could take the blame? Literally, it was just the art I had a problem with as it became too distracting after awhile.

        As far as the personnel to studio relationship, I wouldn’t go so far as saying that I’m an expert on the subject (or even decently informed really), but I do doubt that animation studios are as much a revolving door to the extent as you say. For the higher up jobs (director, series composition, music director, art director, etc.) I can see, but studios must have consistent personnel for the lower positions. Otherwise, what’s really the point of having so many separate studios?

        Also, I won’t argue about budget, but here’s my two cents on the subject. I know FSN: UBW gets hailed as “Unlimited Budget Works”, but is there any proof that that’s actually true? Once again, I’m not an expert on the subject, but budget has more to do with “time spent” then actual resource usage in this case I would assume. If you have more talented people, you’d be able to get more done in a shorter amount of time. With this is mind, I firmly believe that even for a rush job there’s not really an excuse for some of those scenes in Twintails to be as bad as they were. A lot weren’t even action scenes or far-off shots either.

      • January 8, 2015 at 5:20 amKuntzy

        Wow, that first line came off as less rude in my head. Apologies for that.

      • January 8, 2015 at 11:11 amStilts

        You know what? You’re right. Art is far more consistent across all works of a studio. Not completely—to use my Madhouse example, there’s a lot of difference between Hunter x Hunter and Hanayamata—but both of those mostly go down to source material difference. There’s a certain something “Madhouse” about both.

        No worries, I didn’t take any umbrage, and I learned something too. A nice bonus for the conversation : )

      • January 8, 2015 at 1:13 pmYM

        Regarding visual similarity across Madhouse shows, that’s a result of the digital process. They have their own subsidiary for VFX and composite (compositing of animation onto backgrounds, lighting/texturing/filtering, shading, CG, digital paint) so there’s a common link. This is also how totally different teams can produce episodes for the same series but end up with relatively uniform results. The “Director of Photography” is kind of an unsung hero, as he has humungous influence over the look and feel of a series.

        Anyway, the studio does matter, although not in the sense that some might think. The big questions to ask might be: Do they have an efficient workflow system? Are the coordinators well connected to talent? Are they proactive at lining up those people? Can they stay on schedule? How well do they cope with production hiccups?

        The talent in Tokyo is finite (and the scarcity gets worse as the number of shows being produced increases, as we’ve seen in recent years. It isn’t like the workforce is increasing to accommodate additional production, so the people out there become spread out across more shows): If the above machinery isn’t operating too well, we get Twintail results no matter how much money they have! You can’t buy time and skill that doesn’t exist, so you end up seeking random studios/animators (often you might hire a production assistance studio in Tokyo, who in turn delegates the work to multiple overseas companies) just to get the job done!

        In short, production management defines the studio and NOT the talent (who tend to move in step with veteran coordinators. For instance, if a line producer leaves Madhouse and starts Company X, chances are that the animators close to him will work on Company X shows instead).

    • January 8, 2015 at 1:33 pmYM

      Production IMS isn’t inherently bad. You may remember AIC A.S.T.A., who produced Bamboo Blade, Sunred, and Sora no Otoshimono. After A.S.T.A., they revitalized AIC as a whole and made them relevant again, at least on a commercial level (moe, hit light novel adaptations, basically the stuff that resonates with modern audiences as opposed to 90s/early 2000s AIC). Now I won’t say their work was ever fantastic, but they delivered well enough with such successes as Oreimo, Haganai, and Date A Live.

      On the other hand, they’re in a new situation with a different work structure. For one, IMS opted for a structure that’s purely production management, which may make it harder to procure talent. In the shoes of an animator, would you rather line up work for an entire year (by signing a contract under a studio, who can then guarantee a stable year) or negotiate each show individually?

      I think IMS banked on signing scores of ex-AIC talent for their shows, but they’re possibly thwarted by competing studios that have increased their capacity for the same purpose. These animators have the option of working for IMS, but neighboring companies like Diomedea (4 shows this season!) and Dogakobo have also swooped in to fill the void.

      • January 8, 2015 at 4:39 pmKuntzy

        Actually quite insightful. Thanks for that.

        I do still think that talent has at least some semblance of importance, as if someone is capable of drawing in the same quality as another in half the time, that clearly helps. Companies like Madhouse and UFOtable would probably benefit the most from this, simply because of their pedigree.

        Anyway, the studio does matter, although not in the sense that some might think. The big questions to ask might be: Do they have an efficient workflow system? Are the coordinators well connected to talent? Are they proactive at lining up those people? Can they stay on schedule? How well do they cope with production hiccups?

        I know I was focusing more on physical skills like drawing, but stuff like coordinating could, in itself, be considered being talented as there are people who are just better for roles like this then others.

        God, this whole conversation makes me feel like an a**hole though. Feels like I’m decrying hard work all just to justify my point.

  • January 7, 2015 at 9:05 pmGP1301

    I began to read the mangas and translated novels so far, I must say that this is an excellent appetizer for the main dish of April: High School DxD BorN

  • January 7, 2015 at 9:14 pmSK

    Certainly a better first episode than Absolute Duo, and I was reminded somewhat of DxD (next season!) I’ll see how this one goes, hope it’ll be a fun show.

  • January 7, 2015 at 9:23 pmHalfDemonInuyasha

    Yeah, I can definitely say that I find myself more interested in this than Absolute Duo.

    While Absolute Duo isn’t totally bad, it also didn’t really feel like it’s been trying to draw me in or get to know anyone or anything. It all just feels cut and pasted.

    I mean, just compare the main heroines of the two, Julie/Yulie and Mio respectively. With Julie, we know she’s “different” somehow, but Absolute Duo doesn’t give us anything to be interested in why or anything. As far as we can tell at the moment, she just “is”, hence being a cut and paste character trope. On the other hand, we’re quickly given a small taste of Mio’s backstory in being the daughter of a peace-loving Maou, so it makes you want the story go deeper and, from the looks of the preview, we’ll be getting a bit more.

  • January 7, 2015 at 10:02 pmkagehina13

    I’m so unbelievably burned out on crummy harem shows but the art is really nice for this, I might give it a shot just because I hate myself.

  • January 7, 2015 at 10:06 pmOwaranai

    Thank you for that analysis, Stilts. Don’t want to sound like I’m sucking up but I really do think that in the Battle of the Cliches between Absolute Duo and Shinmai, the latter comes out tops in terms of execution. The thing too about shows like this focusing on the ecchi and/or harem element is that one tag automatically causes some viewers to downgrade it to farcical levels, and I’m glad you didn’t do that.

    I actually came in with moderately low expectations, even after reading the LNs up to volume 5 and all (a series you do NOT want to read in the public, ever) but was pleasantly surprised by how well executed the pilot episode was. The animation is notably cleaner than Absolute Duo and perhaps even Madan no Ou, and they stuck largely to source material. They added in the internal monologue too in tasteful doses so that we understand what the characters think without it overwhelming the viewer (looking at Shigatsu). Some transitions were a little jarring but overall the pacing was quite good, with most of the episode feeling very coherent.

    To elaborate on pacing –
    Show Spoiler ▼

    I loved Maria in the LNs for being the mischievous little devil she is, and am glad they fleshed that out well too. Basara is of course one of those unconventional male harem leads, which makes for a promising start.

    I am, however, cautiously optimistic simply because of a few reasons:

    -LN adaptations are a hit and miss. Absolute doesn’t look good and Madan no Ou disappointed, but Amaburi was brilliant.
    -Story progression of Shinmai. Some of the ecchi content later on in the series borders dangerously on a level that might not be acceptable to be shown on a TV screen. Let’s see how they play with it to make it more viewable.
    -Character progression. That’s in terms of power levels. No over-the-top bling bling explosions make for a good sign though.

    I’d say this though – It’s good to see Shinmai animated, and I really hope the good execution of tropes and clichés continue.

    • January 7, 2015 at 11:29 pmStilts

      I don’t have anything to add, just wanted to say that this is a good comment with some great information. If anyone wants a little more info, see here.

  • January 7, 2015 at 10:09 pmRyan Ashfyre

    When I first heard that Shinmai was getting an anime, I was honestly worried as to whether it could get a proper adaptation. Not for fear that it would get a crappy studio, but whether or not the fanservice (which plays a significant role story-wise, to be fair) could be properly animated without either being butchered beyond all recognition or censored to the point of frustration.

    Let’s face it. Anyone who’s followed the source material knows that Shinmai makes High School DxD look tame by comparison.

    That said though, a pleasantly surprising first episode along with one of the stronger openings I’ve seen this season. Very nice. ;D

    My only complaint, if you want to call it that, is Yuuichi Nakamura being cast for Basara. Of course he’s not terrible, but there were better fits for our young hero out there.

    At any rate, next week should prove to be very interesting. Don’t screw it up, Production IMS. :)

    • January 7, 2015 at 11:28 pmStilts

      Agreed on Nakamura-san. Not bad, just doesn’t feel like a good fit. I always felt like Basara would have more of a straight-up badass voice, a little deeper and stronger. Alas, not many main character seiyuu have that kind of voice … most of the ones who do get stuck playing mentors, villains, and dads.

      • January 8, 2015 at 3:21 amMurasaki

        Almost makes you wish that Matsuoka Yoshitsugu had been dragged into this instead of Absolute Duo.

        Hey, I love Yuuichi Nakamura, don’t get me wrong, but I prefer his Grizzly voice. Shirokuma Cafe was a blast! Also, I didn’t know Hiroshi Kamiya could voice a penguin like that, srsly.

  • January 7, 2015 at 10:11 pmAmiluhur

    Yeah, if it wasn’t for the over the top and silly fanservice this premiere offered, i’d have dropped thia show like a good habit. I’m just glad to have an anime that doesn’t shy away from showing boobs jiggling and pantsu flashing crazily amidst anything. Really the only thing it’s missing is bloody violences, but that can be obtained elsewhere.

  • January 7, 2015 at 10:18 pmSynic

    Execution Report: Pretty Good -Stilts

    Ok, I got the Stilts “go-ahead”.

    It’s also a little funny that you don’t claim to be the “ecchi writer” writer of a certain genre yet a good handful of shows you write about are…

    Show Spoiler ▼

    If you pick this up, awesome. I’ll have more of a reason to contribute to the discussion then the usual “sure, i agree with OP on most of his/her points.” *clicks next show blog*

    • January 7, 2015 at 11:30 pmStilts

      In my defense, it’s mostly just that none of the other writers want to blog ecchi shows series of a certain genre, so I end up doing it. I hate to see anything I’m watching go un-intro’d, because I’m a masochist like that :X

  • January 7, 2015 at 10:42 pmKinda off topic…

    @Stilts/All-Other-RC-Writers

    I was impressed with this episode, which I wasn’t expecting because the harem-ecchi genre usually isn’t my thing. Now for the off topic part: if you thought Shinmai was good, you should definitely check out Junketsu no Maria. It blew me away. I’m honestly kind of hoping both these shows get picked up for blogging, but if I had to choose it would be Junketsu all the way. That’s just how much better the first episode was by comparison.

    Well, there’s my shameless pleading. Hope it works. :D

    • January 7, 2015 at 11:31 pmStilts

      I believe it’s set to get an intro. I guess I’ll have to give it a shot as well.

      • January 8, 2015 at 5:45 pmKinda off topic…

        I’m hoping that it will get picked up by somebody, and I’m willing to bet it will be whoever takes the time to watch it. Mainly because you guys are all really busy as it is so not everyone will watch it. But I don’t think anyone has a right to make more demands on your time, so I turn to shameless pleading instead. :D

        And I could be wrong, there may be other shows that we’d benefit more from seeing picked up. I just know I’m going to enjoy Junketsu either way, and I wanted to do what I could to make sure it got a chance.

        All this is to say: if you at least watch the first episode I can be satisfied that I have accomplished my purpose. My dark, nefarious purpose. Muahahahahahahaha.

  • January 7, 2015 at 10:50 pmReikakou

    Alright Stilts, you convinced me to pick this up.

  • January 7, 2015 at 11:16 pmKiru seryu

    see blog preview
    “ready drop”
    come at me Durararax2

  • January 8, 2015 at 1:20 amAnnyms

    I must be in the minority in that I actually was disappointed in this episode for the exact faults you saw Stilts. I’ve read probably most of what this season will entail in the show and so I am pretty disappointed with the pacing. Then again they did want to fit the Basara’s reveal as a hero in the episode so it makes sense that they cut some corners, but I still feel like the execution still could have been way better while fitting in the required material. The whole middle part just felt off–partially because I knew stuff got cut/rushed, but from a film-making standpoint I felt like this was a problem that lies in the screenwriting, editing, and ultimately the storyboard for the episode. That opening sequence in the middle of the episode is just a prime example of this, where I’m sure I’m not the only one that said “WTF” out loud when it happened. Why not just leave it out or use the OP as en ending sequence?

    Anyways, enough of my harking on the episode’s pacing (as most of you know I like to point out when shows are bad at this). The animation got pretty bad at points–even right in the opening shot the quality was sub-par. It’s a studio with a lower budget so it’s understandable. I’m still not willing to use that as an excuse for poor directing though. Hopefully they bring it back in episode 2 since I still realize this wasn’t an easy amount of material to get into one episode… Actually, if they just took out that awkwardly placed opening sequence they probably could have paced everything better, and I wouldn’t be here complaining.

    As a side note, if you liked the fan-service in this episode, just wait for what’s coming in the next episode…and episodes to come. Testament even makes DxD look like a tame show.

  • January 8, 2015 at 1:21 amIncognito

    After reading your posts on both Absolute Duo and Shinmai Maou no Testament, I’m downright relieved that I picked up the latter instead of the former. Thank you, Stilts!

    No offense, but I was rather disappointed with Studio 8bit after they mucked up Infinite Stratos 2, Walkure Romanze, and (arguably) Grisaia no Kajitsu. (Hence my doubts about watching Absolute Duo.)

    Now, I’m not saying that Production IMS is better than 8bit–there are some reservations about them as well. But now that they have the chance to do better in the realm of ecchi guilty pleasure anime, they should damn well take it.

    • January 8, 2015 at 2:06 amStilts

      As I mentioned above, the studio doesn’t matter as much as a staff. It just so happens your skepticism happened to be well placed this time, lol

  • January 8, 2015 at 1:52 amWorldwideDepp

    I think i follow this Show. There was Ecchi, but it was not the purpose to cover for the lack of Story. No this time is was for Spice the things up.

    Yes, this Show is a follower in the Highschool DxD Shoes. Story is good to shoulder the Story

    And, yes. Good Evil demons is very Rare in the Anime Industry (Like Highschool DxD. Perhaps they have the same bonus like Code Geass)

    • January 8, 2015 at 2:01 amWorldwideDepp

      oh crap, i forgotten Hataraku Maou-sama, was also a good Anime

  • January 8, 2015 at 1:59 amdaikama

    Better than I expected though my expectations were pretty low. I agree with Stilts that this turned out better than Absolute Duo (AD), though I suspect not in terms of degree. The biggest difference IMO is the strength of one character – Maria. She’s not just best girl, but best character IMO, and makes this series work for me (to the extent it does). Long story short, Ep. 01 was good enough to keep me around for Ep. 02. Plus, I am curious to see how the anime plans to handle later… events. Depending upon how it does that, I might stick around all season.

    ————–

    @Stilts: – For the most part I agree with what you say if not quite to the same degree as noted above, but I do have a couple minor points of contention.

    Most of the time I found it more hilarious than erotic, such as when Basara pushed Mio up on the sink (way too suggestive, unnecessary)…

    IDK about “hilarious” (parenthetical notwithstanding) I have to file that scene under “unsettling” given the insinuation. Just can’t see any “hilarity” there. :/ Definitely agree on the “unnecessary part”. Could have just had her smack him upside the head right after he opened the door/tried to make excuses and been done with it if the story required that particular encounter.

    ..but Shinmai actually gave us a GOOD reason for why Basara’s father is gone: first, because he was letting Mio (Asai Ayaka) and Maria (Fukuhara Kaori) “trick” him, and really, because he has chosen to.”

    O.o… It’s a “good reason” to leave your teenage son with two demons – one of which is the successor to the deceased Maou and now targeted by the current Maou? Free will/agency isn’t the issue. I have to question his parenting skills at this point. “Good luck son – hope you remember your hero training! Oh, and don’t have sex with the succubus. That never turns out well!” Being facetious with the latter part… maybe (this is a very ecchi series). Anyway while not a major issue, I have to say I find the “off to adult supervised, established boarding school” reason more credible and certainly no more contrived than this. I get that you don’t like AD, but in this instance I think you’re being a little unfair to it and overly generous with this show.

    Last, but certainly not least. I finally got a chance to watch Junketsu no Maria. I mentioned in my Winter 2015 preview post that I thought Maria had good potential based upon the source material (never know with adaptations :<). Have to say that I'm quite happy with how the first episode turned out. My only complaints are…… honestly, nothing material comes to mind other than it didn't get a UBW level budget for great visual quality. That is NOT to say it's "perfect","epic", "AOTS/AOTY", etc, etc., but I DO think the first episode was very solid. Just plain good, and the best show I’ve watch so far this season that isn’t named Tsukimonogatari. I second the recommendation above about giving Junketsu no Maria a try.

    • January 8, 2015 at 2:14 amStilts

      The bathroom part was unsettling, really. There’s a fine line between cringing and laughter, and I happened to find it so bizarre that it made me laugh instead of flinch … mostly because I knew how easily they could have skipped the cringe-worthy part entirely, even if they kept him covering her mouth. He could have just done that while she was still standing. Still not a wise move, but less silly, at least.

      The feelings I got from Basara’s father was that he trusted his son, he doesn’t seem to think the girls are a threat to said son, and maybe he isn’t just going off for work? He could have been going to rally allies for their protection, for all I know. Yes, the boarding school thing dodges the entire question cleanly, but I like that a parent is actually an identifiable character for once.

      Though, how he didn’t tell Basara what was going on until Basara called him was definitely a convenient plot event that allowed Basara to save Mio and cleanly win his way into their trust, more or less. So everything around the father definitely wasn’t done well, even if I did like that he’s a character at least.

      • January 8, 2015 at 2:42 amdaikama

        @Stilts: Fair enough, particularly on the last point (identifiable character). Just to be clear, the real danger IMO was not Mio & Maria (must… resist… temptation… to make succubus joke :P), but current Maou & Co who are targeting Mio. Bad enough if maou shows up, but as you note, his son doesn’t even have a clue about the situation when dad takes off. O.o

      • January 8, 2015 at 3:04 amZnail

        There are reasons behind daddys actions, so it actually all makes sense, kind of.
        Why he set it up like he did:
        Show Spoiler ▼

        What he is up to:
        Show Spoiler ▼

  • January 8, 2015 at 2:28 amWorldwideDepp

    i also approve that you should give Junketsu no Maria a start. because the last seconds of the Episode, why she is fighting this all. She took Jean d’Arc as example. And, yes looks like they done their Homework how the “church” threaten her after they do not needed her anymore

    So, dakara (jap.). You will not be disappointed.. Even the little needles of Maria’s Succubus is only “ecchi” in our Minds :) “Why do her jaw hurts?” :)

    • January 8, 2015 at 2:32 amWorldwideDepp

      also a notice to our Nippon friends

      “deus” is Latin and means “God” :)

      • January 8, 2015 at 2:45 amWorldwideDepp

        if the Subbers was correct, then she used this Spell to create the food for her

        “hax pax max deus arimax turubitus”
        with translated
        “God of peace, are inducing Max arimax turubitus”

        So a Witch is asking God for Magic, as if she is borrowing Angel like powers from God. Well, i can live with that. Good Witches use Light Magic Powers, Dark Witches then also use “Lucifer’s” powers, if you know what i mean

  • January 8, 2015 at 3:49 amRuben

    BORED!!!

  • January 8, 2015 at 4:37 amprojectnoa

    I wonder why only girls get weird hair color in anime? I know that is to make them differentiate in some way but, sometimes even in the same family their hair color can go wild. (I know they’re not really family in here but in other series)

    • January 8, 2015 at 4:41 amCrook

      In this case I’d say it’s justified because they are not human girls. Then again one of the human characters also has weirdly colored hair…

    • January 8, 2015 at 9:14 amRyan Ashfyre

      True there aren’t as many of ‘em, but there are plenty of anime guys with spectacular hair colors too:

      - Hisoka from Hunter x Hunter

      - ORANGE-KUN from Code Geass

      - Takuto from Star Driver (most notably when he’s riding his Cybuddy, Tauburn. Wow, did I actually manage to remember all that? o__O).

      - Natsu from Fairy Tail, one of the few male leads to sport pink hair.

      And others too, of course, but you get the fabulous picture.

    • January 9, 2015 at 12:36 amSK

      I think this is more of a function of there being more female characters in general, given the sheer number of harem/rom-com/VN adaptation/CGDCT series there are. Many of these shows have maybe 3 or 4 named males, with some series limited entirely to a male MC and his one male buddy. No need to use rainbow hair color to differentiate between 2 or 3 guys, especially if one of them is the MC.

  • January 8, 2015 at 6:41 amMentar

    I agree that it had a noticeably better start than Absolute Duo. At least I facepalmed a lot less ;)

    The comparisons with DxD are going to be slightly off, however. ShinMaou is a peculiar mix. It will be more aggressive on the ecchi and noticeably harsher on the drama side. Much less comedy. Don’t expect all fun and giggles, folks.

    • January 8, 2015 at 8:30 amOwaranai

      That pretty much sums up the overall mood. Maria will probably provide the bulk of the humor. I could probably see Shinmai as a 18+VN even with how they set things up.

  • January 8, 2015 at 6:58 amErimaki

    I’m somewhat puzzled by Mio’s actions.
    When it was brought up she was brought up as a regular human, it made me question her choice of waking up ritual. It made much more sense for a demon lord to try it out.

    • January 8, 2015 at 11:15 amStilts

      I took that to be her giving Basara a little “service” before she had his memory wiped and sent him along his way. Not because he would remember it or anything, but because it would make her feel less guilty if she gave him (what would have been) a nice memory, and maybe maneuvered things so she could be “justifiably” angry at him. Sort of make it so she can more easily dismiss him from her thoughts as a way to get over her guilt, ya know?

      • January 9, 2015 at 2:15 amcryarc

        Or maybe a certain succubus is pulling things behind the scene :p

  • January 8, 2015 at 7:43 amechykr

    Gangster: What kind of a lame name is “Basara” anyway?

    LOL It’s as though the author’s taking the piss at himself with this deliberate pseudo 4th-wall breaking quote.

    Basara’s dad probably played way too much Sengoku Basara upon arriving on earth and assumed “Basara” is really an actual proper name. XD

  • January 8, 2015 at 8:51 amzztop

    Saying Testament is somewhat risque is like saying the sea is somewhat wet.

    • January 8, 2015 at 9:04 amRyan Ashfyre

      I see what you did there…

  • January 8, 2015 at 9:09 amAkura

    I liked this anime

  • January 8, 2015 at 9:09 amGinobi47

    Man… after Absolute Duo, it’s getting really hard not to scrutinize harem animes

    • January 10, 2015 at 10:45 amTMH

      Only after Absolute Duo? It’s been hard to not scrutinize harem anime shows for the past several YEARS! I’m speaking from personal point of view, of course, I’ve had a really hard time finding a harem show that I could really enjoy.

  • January 8, 2015 at 9:43 amTranquin

    Well least it is better than absolute Show Spoiler ▼

    duo

  • January 8, 2015 at 10:29 amSDFGS

    “Genitalia-less equality”, I couldn’t agree more, wish more shows of this…kind would take from that saying but unfortunately its always focused on the girls. Either ways, Basara kind of wins this over for me. Looking into the LN, this show is pretty much will turn into a soft-core p*rno at points. But if they can keep the story and fanservice up at appropriate levels the it’ll be another guilty pleasure for this season (next to the magical boy one).

    I kind of hope they don’t pull a 2nd season DxD and sacrifice practically all of the fanservice for plot (not saying that was a bad thing but there would be points they would put below average fanservice in it to just remind people that it’s still technically an ecchi show and guys would still be easily aroused. Because people, seeing Rias sit and do nothing but talk naked in a sauna for 2 eps in a row is not good/creative fanservice(IMO). It seems I’m in the minority when it comes to comparing the red-haired demon girl harem shows because Shinmai (so-far) and Dakara Boku stand way above DXD for me (post season 1 and OAV DxD).

    • January 8, 2015 at 11:17 amStilts

      I never did finish Boku-H. I’d say maybe I’ll go back and finish it sometime, but my backlist, she is crowded.

  • January 8, 2015 at 11:26 amDuzz

    So is the concept similar to High School DXD? Redhead ruler of hell? CHeck. Loli companion? Check. Hero that can shoot out some kind of weapon from his right hand? Check. Fan service out the ass? Check.

    • January 8, 2015 at 11:39 amRyan Ashfyre

      Similar? Yeah, though in all fairness, High School DxD takes itself a lot less seriously than Shinmai.

    • January 9, 2015 at 3:09 amOwaranai

      Well, ruler in the sense of title, yes, but there’s a significant difference. You’ll see, or perhaps you can deduce that difference from episode 1 itself already.

  • January 8, 2015 at 6:35 pmWanderer

    You know, prior to the season airing, if I’d been asked to choose between this and Absolute Duo as to which looked more interesting based on the information we had, I’d have said Absolute Duo without question. Odd.

  • January 8, 2015 at 7:30 pmSalbazier

    Bah, I’m going to contrary here and say I prefer Absolute Duo to this. I guess that’s make sense, I dont’ enjoy DxD either.

    Things being different that AD with this show, I have to admit that’s a valid point. Still it doesn’t appeal to me. Partly maybe because I have read the source material (twice over! the manga and the LN) so there’s no sense of discovery of something new. Partly because, well, I don’t feel anything special about those things at all. I dunno, maybe because those things are actually pretty common already, maybe because it just feel like it was nothing substantial? *shrug*

    These are things that Absolute Duo didn’t take care of, so when a girl flashes panties in the middle of a battle, it seems exploitative and crash.

    What? I really don’t see how this series can be [i]less[/i] crass than AD. Those fanservice scenes are as crass as it can be (well, okay it can be worse but it would hentai level of badness for that) In fact, I don’t got your logic at all. You said fanservice is like ice cream that we would get sick if too much and stories etc need to taken care off … except that we are first introduce to Mio by way of toilet! And her third scene is completely for fanservice purpose. Alright, they are for humor as well but where is this ‘have all the meat and vegetables before the sweet desert’.

    You are right, it is easier to go along the flow and accept fanservice when the show has establshed itself as fanservice galore … but it doesn’t make it any less crass or exploitable, just more tolerable.

    Another smart thing Shinmai did was use technobabble we’re familiar with. [...] , if it’s not broke, why fix it? The answer is that you can (and should) break it if you think you can do better, but it’s not necessary.

    I have to strongly disagree here. Using neologism can help to distuingish your fantasy/SF setting and inject flavor to it. Do you read Brandon Sanderson’s works? He almost use always neologism to describe magic systems in his works, combined with the uniqueness of each magic system, it helps to build unique flavor to his works. For other example, Fate/Stay Night woulb be [i]very different[/i] without its magobabble.

    Other than that some things do not have readily established term. What you would have called AD’s Blaze? Magic weapon?

    What I’m trying to say is that it is neither smarter nor stupider to use either established term or neologism. Both are valid approach depends on what the writer want to achieve.

    To comment on the actual show itself, it just me or the animation quality for adaptation of like this got worse nowadays? I mean, I understand they cannot have a big budget and shows like this generally doesn’t got great animation to begin with, but it seems things got worse lately.

  • January 10, 2015 at 10:38 amTMH

    The first half honestly worried me. I’m really burnt out over the whole “Let’s put the protagonist into as many compromising situations as possible, then punish him for it” type of harem shows. I’m honestly glad I stuck through it, because the second half proved to be infinitely more interesting. I’m really hoping for more of that.

    I enjoyed High School DxD because while yes, it is completely shameless fanservice, it actually has enough character and plot to match its “plot”. Considering the comparisons I’ve seen to that, a question for those who have read the source material: Does this show prove to be more than just “torture the MC while throwing boobs in our face”?

    • January 11, 2015 at 12:33 amOwaranai

      Show Spoiler ▼

      It really boils down to personal preference and tolerance level, really.

  • January 10, 2015 at 3:03 pmPlayer

    Normally, I like this kind of series (Oreimo, DxD). But the first 8 minutes made me cringe a little. However, I decided to stick it out for the rest of the episode (in part thanks to a brief glance at this post to find out what Stilts thought of it) and I’m glad I did.

    The animation isn’t great and the characterization seems fairly bland. But the protagonist is refreshing (I noticed this even in the first half), the rest of the characters seem like they’ll grow on me, and I can sympathize with what’s been revealed about the characters’ pasts.

    The silver-haired loli named Maria reminds me of the one in Haganai. (Not sure what to think of ‘nurashite’ though? Is this one of those times the author will imply a character has some fetish but never be able to directly explain it because it’s too 18+ for a LN, like the exhibitionist in Oretwi?) The father somehow reminds me of Orito (spikey head pseudo-friend character) from Korezon…

  • January 12, 2015 at 8:46 amdrzero7

    This one will probably be the best among the ecchi-fantasy-LN that turned into an anime this season (That’s not saying much actually…) I was kinda hoping Satomi Arai voiced the loli. (i.e. Kuroko from Index/Railgun) Oh well.

  • January 15, 2015 at 1:09 pmWorldwideDepp

    I think, i found the “Today Script of the Anmie” out. 1 halt Ecchi nearly the border of Hentai, and the rest Talking…

    Dunno, did Highschool DxD “prostitute” their MC Femals in that kind? Then my Memories are really broken