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Triskaidekaphobia And Other Madness

The number 13 is considered unlucky amongst many superstitious individuals.  I would not consider myself particularly superstitious but, as pertains to 2013, I'd have a hard time arguing my luck has been going particularly well:
  • I rung in the new year not with a bang nor a song, but rather a heave: a stomach flu (or possibly food poisoning) had convinced my digestive system that it was time to hastily liquidate all assets, and never had I witnessed it so relentless in this pursuit.
  • Fresh on the cusp of recovering from my illness, I'm now encountering Blue Screens Of Death as I try to boot up into Windows 7, despite having my OS installed on a properly-functioning RAID1.   I'm hoping it's merely a problem caused by having my iPad plugged into a USB port.
  • Finally, this morning I received an email from my sister that she bumped her head on a fire hose nozzle and wants us to call her in the morning just in case she develops a nasty blood clot that requires we rescue her orphaned children from her apartment.   Well, that probably won't happen, looks like just a flesh wound to me and she's demonstrated no signs of concussion, but you have to admire a mother's care for taking that precaution.
3 days down, 362 to go.

As far as entertainment concerns go, I'm having a hard time getting myself to engage in any interactive media (read: computer games) at the moment, so I've turned to the old standby of animation.

Omamori Himari - Another shonen harem anime from our friends across the pond

I noticed a well-drawn, but rather risque-looking, manga up on the shelf of the library in which I worked and decided to investigate further.  It turns out that the manga, Omamori Himari, is yet-another-adolescent-harem-supernatural-fighter manga.  Considering it has been in production since 2006, and is ongoing, I think it qualifies as a success among such mangas.  As coincidence would have it, Crunchyroll is carrying the series and, well before I had finished watching the 12 episode miniseries, I have to say I'm thoroughly bored of looking at panties.
Is that... is that camel toe... or perhaps just very suggestive panty wrinkles?
That ambiguity is probably exactly what they were going for.
Yes, this is one of those animes which runs rather heavy on the fanservice but, as it is based on a shonen manga demographic, it's actually intended for adolescent boys (probably on the older end of the demographic) and while the girls may act as loose and receptive as a well-oiled satellite dish, our well-meaning male protagonist wouldn't think of taking advantage of them, so the scenario is perfect for the mangaka to play with scenarios involving sexualization without any chance of intercourse.  This is the shonen harem comedy in a nutshell, and this show gets so wild with it that it's slightly nauseating, perhaps not to the level of Good Luck! Ninomaya-Kun or Girls Bravo, but close.

Omamori Himari is the story about a modern-day boy, 16-year-old Yuto, suddenly discovering he's a descendant of demon hunters who has all of demon-kind out for his blood.  All, that is, except for a cat demon named Himari whose ancestors were spared by his ancestors and pledged to protect them ever since.  Yuto has no memory of Himari, because he has been unwittingly carrying powerful anti-demonic charms for most of his life that rendered his childhood memories to mush, and this doubles as a convenient plot mechanism to introduce a forgotten childhood history with whatever girl as needed.  Apparently being unable to remember her is not enough to daunt Himari's affections for Yuto's kind nature, as she's pretty much ready to have his kittens from the first scene she appears in the anime.

Of course, there's other girls rapidly thrown into Yuto's harem, but they're all one-trick cardboard cutouts whose every attempt at being interesting falls flat on its face as they simply roll back into their designated tropes.  Ineffectual-childhood-friend-normal-girl.  Bubble-brained-giant-boobed-maid-cafe-worker.  Demon-assassin-that-becomes-curious-admirer.  Forgotten-planned-marriage-diva.  There's precisely only one thing each of these characters can do in a given situation, and they do it as regular as clockwork.
The problem extends even to our main protagonist.  Boy-discovers-he-has-mysterious-power-but-he's-terrible-at-using-it-and-now-suddenly-has-a-harem-of-ridiculously-bodacious-girls-to-defend-and-he's-too-much-a-spineless-coward-to-let-any-of-them-down-lightly, a trope as dated as Tenchi Muyo, the 20-year-old anime that probably begun this whole harem genre.  In any given conflict, Yuto mostly just blusters ineffectually about how he does not want to fight and has to be rescued or have his powers accidentally go off.  Afterward, he's constantly fawned over by girl and villain alike for being so darn nice that his behavior may seal the strife between demon and demon hunter.  Yuto is not quite to Siena levels of rewarded uselessness but he's pretty damn close to it.

This leaves Himari, the smoking hot catgirl samurai protector, as the only reason to watch at all, not only for a great graphical design but also for actually endeavoring to take care of the conflicts Yuto refuses to face (often shaming him into trying to act, only so he can fail his way into success once again).  It's little wonder the show is named after her: Himari is the real main character of the show!

So centric is Himari, I would say that hers is the only genuine romance going on in the show, and the rest of the leading ladies' are just a distraction.  This relationship between kind, naive master and devoted catgirl protector is actually quite a touching arc where both participants are engaged in acts of self-sacrifice to protect the other.  (When Himari fights, she risks succumbing to demonic bloodlust.  When Yuto fights so Himari does not have to, he'll probably just get hurt.)  The scenes that focus on this are probably the best scenes of the entire anime and made me feel as though I did not completely lose my time watching it.

Amongst the animes I've seen of this genre, I would say that Omamori Himari is not fabulous, but not terrible, actually slightly better than average.  The story mostly just adheres to a comfortable baseline, and so holds itself back from greatness.  I've seen it done better, for example, in Maburaho where the characters' motivations are a lot more believable, the protagonist actually does things worthy of admiration, and the punchlines (both comic and romantic) are more consistently hit.  Ultimately, when I rate Omamori Himari as, "Good" (a 7/11 on the Anime News Network scale) it's mostly the technical aspects of the presentation that push it slightly above its deliberately average story.

Me and animation in general.

Perhaps my feelings about Omamori Himari are less a fault of the anime and more the fault of the audience that ended up watching it.  While I endeavor to remain young at heart, I am not so "shonen" anymore, and so not as captivated by sex appeal or fighting as I used to be.  You can keep the cute girls, they're nice to have about, but spare me the violence or gratuitous fanservice. 
The brilliance that is My Ordinary Life may be hard to surpass by anyone.

These days, I think I prefer straight-up slice of life comedies.  Hidimari Sketch, Lucky Star, My Ordinary Life, and Azumanga Daioh are good examples.  I still think Hayate The Combat Butler is marvelous as well and, while it may look like a harem anime or a fighting anime sometimes, it's actually a rather clever slice-of-life comedy parody of those genres.

For my next bout of procrastination, I'm thinking perhaps I might give SatAM Sonic The Hedgehog a good watch, as I've heard from a great many sources (including the generally negative Nostalgia Critic) that it's one of the best American-made serialized adventure cartoons ever.

One episode in, I have to say I'm having a hard time getting into it wholly because it's just a little too kiddy for my liking.  I guess modern cartoons are easier for an adult to get into because 1990s kids sensibilities are a lot different than 2013's, at least in terms of how animators create their cartoons, which can be downright cynical sometimes.

Considering what I've seen on the Internet, maybe kids really are more cynical these days.  Try writing a theme song about how Sonic "can really move" and "has an attitude" to a 2013 audience and you'd probably hear, "no fuck" inside five seconds.  If you end that theme song on a refrain about how he's the "fastest thing alive," you'll not have to wait long until you see this reinterpretation.

I can probably enjoy SatAM Sonic The Hedgehog if I watch a few more episodes.  It wouldn't be the first time I got over my machismo to enjoy a good show lately.  Friendship Is Magic is just the tip of the iceberg: what excuse have I for enjoying Shugo Chara?  My man card wasn't stolen by quality entertainment; I disavow all knowledge of every having one the very moment it may impede even slight amusement!
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