First I watched the first episode of Negima: Magister Negi Magi. How was it? Think of softcore porn. Imagine something softer. Now imagine something softer than that. Keep going. Keep going . . . and . . . there. Now you've got it. Now insert a main character who's a copy of Asuka from Evangelion named Asuna and another who may be a copy of Harry Potter.
The story takes place at a girls' high school. We follow a single class taught by a ten year old boy and filled with an array of distinctive, beautiful, homogenous girls. Dull hijinks ensue, and Asuna overreacts.
I next watched the first episode of Elfen Lied, a somewhat more daring programme featuring lots of blood, decapitations, and nudity--although Japanese censorship, in its wisdom, does not allow the existence of female genitalia to be publicly acknowledged, so the ladies get a depressing blank space of flesh between their legs.
The episode opening credit sequence is a series of reproduced Gustav Klimt paintings with Elfen Lied's main character, Nyuu, inserted as the subject. After the credits, we're in a normal anime underground military facility where we see the pretty naked red head escape from confinement, albeit with a restrictive metal helmet obscuring her features.
Which made me laugh out loud because this is one of those anime series where all the main characters look exactly alike, but for their hair. When the helmet does finally come off, the "big reveal" felt more like a "big joke."
Aside from that, the show is also a clone of Chobits. Nyuu's hair ornaments are almost identical to Chi's and Nyuu gets her nickname in exactly the same way--when she's brought home by the young man who found her, naked and derelict, all she could say was "Nyuu." Of course, in Chobits, Chi is a persocom, a common robot servant the boy found in a dumpster. In Elfen Lied, the boy assumes Nyuu's human, and there's no explanation as to why he and his female cousin casually take the stray naked girl home like she's a new pet.
Finally, though, I came across an actually good series on the disk; Gunbuster 2: Aim For the Top.
The original Gunbuster was one of Gainax's first series' and was directed by Evangelion's Hideaki Anno in the late 1980s. I've never seen it, although Tim is a big fan, despite apparently never having been able to find a decent copy. Gunbuster 2, however, seems to be a very different series.
This one was from the creative team of FLCL and is more of a comedy than the original. It follows a clumsy young woman and her enthusiastic attempts to become some sort of space pilot and/or warrior.
Sounds simple enough but, oh, what a breath of fresh air after Negima and Elfen Lied! Gunbuster 2 has dynamically stylistic animation, wonderful character designs (people who'd look different even if their heads were shaved!), and atmosphere that's absorbing and amusing. Now, of course, I really wanna see the original series . . .
What else . . . ? Oh, I've been hopelessly addicted to Maison Ikkoku manga lately, but that's just sad, and the less said about it, the better.