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Second Impressions Digest – Ikebukuro West Gate Park, Noblesse, Kami-tachi ni Hirowareta Otoko


Ikebukuro West Gate Park – 02

I’m not sure what I was expecting from Ikebukuro West Gate Park, exactly, but it was something different from what it seems to be.  It reminds me of an “ABC Afterschool Special” with more violence, or something like that.  I know this is based on a work from 20 years ago, but the extent to which it feels dated – and not in a good way – is really striking.  The first episode had everything but an appearance by Nancy Reagan.

Moralizing pretty much never works as a driving force behind a narrative.  And while this episode was better than the premiere – black companies make a more compelling (and relevant) target in modern Japan than cartoon drug dealers – it was treated in the same ham-handed sort of way.  The writing here has no subtlety or nuance at all, and it’s hard to tell a convincing story under those circumstances.  I don’t know if this is endemic to the franchise – maybe the novels, drama, and manga are better, maybe not – but the anime has to stand or fall on its own merits anyway.

So in light of all that I don’t really care about the G-Boys or the Red Angels and their ballet-dancing leader, or anyone who’s involved with them.  The characters are as flat and two-dimensional as the plotting is broad.  The setting itself is sort of interesting, but it was more interesting in Durarara.  I’ll give IWGP one more week but I’ll be resoundingly surprised if it has the several higher gears it’s going to need to stay relevant to my interests.

 

Noblesse – 02

I gotta say, after two episodes I kind of like Noblesse.  I’s probably the worst-looking Production I.G. show I can remember, but apart from that it’s mostly positives for me.  Despite being adapted from a manhwa, in some ways this seems like a classic Weekly Shounen Jump series (with all that implies).  There was something to Kami no Tou that made it feel distinctly different from a Japanese manga (or anime) but Noblesse – so far at least – seems much more familiar.

The reason this show works so far is that likability question.  The characters all have a certain goofy charm to them, and that the tone of the series leans towards the whimsical seems to work to its benefit.  The latest additions to the pile are Seira and Regis, a pair of blonde noblesse who show up at the school looking for the coffin (and investigating the bloodbath from the OVA).  The suss out M-21 for what he is immediately, but oddly make no such connection with Frankie or Rai, who they assume to be normal humans (and Frankenstein isn’t dissuading them).

Tashiro (the actors are using the Japanese names so I’ll switch to those) is a beast by human standards, sort of the typical WSJ protagonist except he’s not really in the protag role.  He’s loyal, fierce when defending his friends (Manabu is a good kid but no fighter), and a very winning personality.  Everyone more or less dog-piles at Frankie’s house, where Tashiro decides unilaterally that Regis and Seira will move in too.  Their sniping – especially Regis and M-21 – is fairly amusing, at least for me.  We’ll see how Noblesse holds up when it starts to seriously weave in the plot, but while it’s in slice-of-life mode it’s working rather well for me.

 

Kami-tachi ni Hirowareta Otoko – 02

I can’t really dislike Kami-tachi ni Hirowareta Otoko, because it’s such a cuddly-bear of a show.  But it is pretty generic – maybe not by isekai standards, where generic is the norm, but in the big picture.  It’s cute, it’s friendly, it’s relaxing.  But it’s also very predictable and very one-note, at least so far.

Things may change when Ryouma moves to town and some new characters make their appearance – the Jamil family didn’t add much, to be honest.  I’d like to see some tonal diversity here because all this niceness is kind of saccharine, and frankly slimes just aren’t all that interesting.  So far I’d place Kami-tachi a notch behind Ascendance of a Bookworm and The Day I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, which are probably the most interesting isekai adaptations over the past year or two.  And even those lost me before the end of a cour, so I’m not super-optimistic here.  But hope springs eternal, and since this show isn’t offensive in any way there’s no real downside in sticking with it for a while.

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Guardian Enzo

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