Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Dawn of the Third Week: Haiyore! Nyarlko-san (part 1)

As we are now three weeks (or more) into the current season of anime, I plan to start doing more in-depth reviews of the series that I'm watching.  These review will consist of three parts:
  1. A Summary of the episodes that have come out so far
  2. Two bulleted lists, one of the show's "Pros" and another for the "Khan" "Cons"
  3. Actual post-like content where I talk about my reactions to the episodes in more detail.
The first series up for review is Haiyore! Nyarlko-san.

(edit from later: Since these posts have taken longer than I'd initially expected, I'll be most of them as individual episode summaries rather than in the groups of three that I'd planned on earlier.  In later seasons I may start drafting these posts earlier so that I can get them done as intended)

Episode Summary

Episode I: Like a Close Encounter of the Third Kind

Our first episode opens up with boy running through alleyways.  It may be nighttime, but it's rather hard to say for sure, because the sky is full of eerie-looking red clouds.  Possibly related to these red clouds are the ominous chanting music playing in the background, and the monster with the vagina-face that seems intent on eating the boy.  Given these occurrences and the usual conventions of stories that open with monster attacks, one would assume that by the end of the episode, he will either be revealed to be the Main Character, who must deal with the horrors of the supernatural throughout the rest of the story; or, he will be dead, and the paranormal perils will become somebody else's problem.

Fortunately for this boy, rescue arrives in the form of a silver-haired, green-eyed girl who drops out of the sky to karate-chop the monster in two, relieving the boy of his troubles but presumably causing many more for whoever's job it is to clean up bloodstains from public streets.  As the boy stares in amazement, the girl introduces herself: "I'm the chaos that always crawls up to you with a smile, Nyarlarthotep!"

  At this point, we take a break for the opening credits.  Clashing with the tone from the first minute of the episode, our OP is a bubbly, energetic piece which is possibly sung by Asumi Kana.  Scenes from the opening inform us that, in addition to the boy and girl from the first scene, the cast will also consist of a twin-tailed redhead whose outfit seems to vary between school uniform, casual outfit, nothing, and nothing except fire (Somehow, I don't see it inspiring many trends in the world of fashion); A kid in yellow who is too androgynous to nail down into a specific gender just yet (but who will probably turn out to be female, because otherwise the cast would be much to close to having an even gender ratio); another boy and girl in school uniforms; and some random women who don't really appear much in the credits themselves, but are nonetheless in the final shot.
Following the opening sequence, we now arrive at wonderful-happy exposition time!  Actually, that's a lie: we get a scene in which the boy and girl from earlier are sitting in the boy's living room.  Said boy tries to get an explanation as to what is going on, but the girl, being voiced by Asumi Kana, is much too energetic for that shit.  Frustrated by his inability to understand the plot of his own show (and the fact that this girl seems intent on eating all of his food), our hero loses his temper and violates the First Law of Anime Hospitality towards people whom you've just met (but decided to let into your house anyway): Thou shalt not skewer your guest's hand with a dinner fork.
Having been threatened with her show being prematurely cancelled, the silver-haired girl decides that some explanations might be in order.  Her name is Nyarlko, and she is a Nyarlarthotep (a race of alien beings which inspired the deity in H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos).  She is also a member of the Space Police, and has been sent to Earth to prevent the other aliens from trafficking in human slaves, a mission which she apparently plans to accomplish by placing a 24-hour guard on Yasaka Mahiro (our Main Character) and doing squat to protect the 6 Billion other people who qualify for the classification "Human".
Nyarlko's Data on Mahiro.  Alternatively, a description of the male lead from every "Fantastic Harem" show', ever
Having reassured Mahiro that she's not a creepy monster and that while protecting him she'll stop being such a creepy stalker, Nyarlko then drags him off to Akihabara, where she shows him that she's also a creepy otaku.  She explains that all aliens are otaku who love Japan's anime, and that her organization works to prevent materials (and people) from being smuggled off of Earth to get around import quotas and taxes.  This explanation is given while Nyarlko is stuffing a basket full of items to buy while she's on Earth (and thus doesn't have to deal with import quotas or taxes), thus displaying how little commitment Nyarlko has toward her job.  However!  Nyarlko's lack of enthusiasm for her job is more than made up for by her love-at-first-sight attraction towards Mahiro, probably caused by how plain and boring (read: Main Character-like) he is.
Nyarlko and Mahiro are then attacked by another monster like the one from before.  Nyarlko puts up a barrier, something that wouldn't usually need to be noted here, but since Nyarlko mentioned the barrier twice and then mentioned the fact that she'd mentioned it twice, it just might be something important later.  Nyarlko defeats the monster with her Space CQC, which seems to be alien speak for "Kick it in the groin, then cave its skull in by bashing it with a rock".  Mahiro briefly notes that Nyarlko is a horrifying person, then decides to completely forget about it (I'll chalk this one up to severe SAN damage).

Commercial Break! Right before the eyecatch, we see a brief scene of the red-haired girl from the opening standing amidst a field of flames while ominous chanting plays in the background.  Who could this mysterious girl be?  Sephiroth, perhaps? (I kid, of course.  She's not remotely girly-looking enough)  When I say that she's positively flaming, what exactly do I mean?

As our show resumes, Mahiro leaves Nyarlko to go to school.  Nyarlko assures him that she'll be able to protect him even if he goes to school, which is foreshadowing for the scene thirty-one seconds later when she transfers into Mahiro's class. (Note: If you did not see this coming, you probably have not seen any other Supernatural Harem shows before).  She explains her acquaintance with Mahiro by claiming that she is a relative of his from abroad (once again, like every Supernatural Harem ever).  Nyarlko immediately becomes popular among the girls of the class, who are all supportive of Nyarlko's desire to be in a relationship with Mahiro, probably because he's so generic that none of them would have wanted to date him themselves, anyway.

At lunch, Nyarlko provides Mahiro with a delicious home-cooked lunch, made with ingredients which are most likely non-euclidean in nature.  Later that afternoon, another monster of the same type as the two earlier ones (identified by Nyarlko as "Nightgaunts") appears outside of the school.  Being too bored to fight it herself, Nyarlko releases a Pokemon Capsule Monster (fuck that, I'm calling it a Pokemon anyways).  Unfortunately, the Pokemon (Shantak-kun)  immediately loses, so Nyarlko ends up fighting it anyways, using her Space CQC: Part 2 (translation: Cave in its skull with a crowbar).  Later that night, Nyarlko decides to join Mahiro in the bath.

Brief Points

The Good:

  •  Surprisingly good animation quality, considering the type of show this is
  • Rather generic plot, but self-aware of how generic it is (Though not quite a full-out parody)
  • As a possible corollary to the first item: This is probably the best-explained "love-at-first-sight attraction to the male main character" that I've seen: Nyarlko likes the generic guy because he's the "ideal" main character in the anime she watches (which is also the type of anime this is)
  • While the regular soundtrack is merely so-so, the chanting music that plays during the first Nightgaunt and mysterious fire girl scenes is excellent.
  • I will never get bored of seeing Asumi Kana struggle to pronounce "Nyarlarthotep"  

The Bad:

  • As mentioned before, the plot isn't anything particularly new, even if they do manage to make it amusing.

    Blog-like Writing

    I'll include these in the third-episode post.

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