I'm not even going to waste my time with this review so lets get into this. Its a waste of time writing a review on this but I have time to spare and to waste.
I had thought that Kanokon ~Manatsu no Daishunikusai~ would be the most lackluster anime that I'd see during 2009. Given that Kouta and Chizuru graced our screens in November, that assertion seemed likely to hold. Oh, how wrong I was. After the delicious melancholy of Blue Drop, I fired up Itsudatte My Santa! looking for something short and funny with a slight zest of holiday cheer. Unfortunately, however, it proved
too long on stupid and too short on functioning humor for my needs. Good thing it was a mere two episodes, as otherwise I might have set fire to my monitor in disgust.
Much like Mai, Itsudatte My Santa!'s overenthusiastic protagonist, the OVA tries too hard to please. Straight from a melodramatic voice-over wherein Santa (yes, you heard that right) muses on how children come to stop believing in Santa Claus, the story jumps right into a trainee-Santa Claus attempting to cram happiness down the poor boy's throat. At this moment, any sense of pacing flies out the window, and the "story" careens from gag to gag without pausing to reflect on whether or not anything works. The rest of the uninspired episode consists of an off-brand imitation of A Christmas Carol cheaply bolted onto a half-formed love story. The second portion jumps forward into summertime to provide one of the worst beach sequences in the history of anime: little or no fan-service, a weak riff on Mai's "I can only create things with 'san' in their names" power, and jerky animations of the gang eating watermelon, and finishing off with a montage of Shirley trying to orchestrate some alone time for the two hopeless lovers. That this segment derives most of its humor from Maimai biting Shirley's backside demonstrates the series' puerile wit at its finest.
Of course the OVA wraps up nice-and-neat in the finale, but the fact that the narrative never goes to any length to introduce significant tension or conflict makes the whole thing seem frivolous. However, since Itsudatte My Santa! isn't strange enough to elicit a massive "WTH?" (think Puni Puni Poemy). I--like most viewers I imagine--have to ask, "Ken Akamatsu took time off writing manga for THIS?"
Itsudatte My Santa! has to be one of the most cursorily animated OVAs out there. For most of the two episodes, viewers can feast their eyes on boring pans, nearly-still shots of people talking in front of static backgrounds, and action scenes that play out like flip-books written in the corner of high school texts. In 54 minutes of video, only one scene has any kind of visual flair and the director uses it TO END BOTH EPISODES. Famed moe champion Ken Akamatsu CLEARLY intended these two scenes to be identical. The repeated actions and events serve to reinforce the unchanging and therefore nonthreatening nature of Santa and Mai's relationshi... No. Reusing footage is just plain lazy, and placing it at the end of the boring second episode feels more like a slap in the face than an inspiring end to the story.
No, this OVA doesn't ear-rape you, but it sure-as-hell tries. While Santa, Shirley, and Maimai all have bland, reasonable voicing, Mai bounces immediately into the high-obnoxious register and stays there so long as she's not in Santa Claus mode. Whiny, shrill, and always shouting, her voice actor, the talented Aya Hirano, should be ashamed of this performance, deeply ashamed. Luckily, Mai's magical girl transformation into a holiday avatar lowers the pitch of her voice, and this, coupled with the spare minutes when the character keeps her mouth shut offer some respite.
Underneath all the action, an innocuous score wends its way through the anime. A standard synth affair blends in bells and faux-choral themes to enhance the anime's "Christmas" feel, but the music's low volume means it serves more as layer of frost atop the more offensive aural elements than an active participant in any scene; this is unfortunate, as louder music might have drowned out Mai's grating exhortations.
A foursome of cardboard cut-outs forms the main cast of the anime. Santa himself starts out interesting, but the OVA wastes no time in reducing him to a shallow romantic stand-in by the second episode. But of course, this is a Ken Akamatsu anime, so it's the girls that are interesting, right? Nope. Mai shows less depth of character than your grandmother's silver and nowhere near as much history. She flits between mopey, bubbly, and confrontational with no apparent motivation, which further damages the already frayed plot. Add to the mix her loli sister imaginatively named Maimai and a non-descript rival in the form of Shirley and you get... Well, I've seen mad-libs with more personality.
I know what you're going to say. "DeSwitch! You scored less than the sum of its parts!" to which I have to reply that this anime is the single most insulting thing I have EVER watched. The short OVA tries far too hard to make the most of its meager content and comes across as scattershot, insincere, and rushed. This drivel wears its three jokes thin within the first ten minutes and then follows up with a tired attempt at romance in its second installment--should you care to stick around that long. The fact that Ken Akamatsu believes you'll watch this or that this is what you're WAITING to see it is tantamount to violence against his fan-base in my mind. Do yourself a favor and skip this one. Also, consider burning your Negima collection in revenge.
"Always My Santa!" is an odd duck of an Anime if there ever was one, thats for sure. Starting with the story then. In some respects, its a standard romance and is handled well by Akamatsu-sensei, as usual. There are some odd elements to the story as well though, the magic and Santa Claus and how that all works together. In that respect, it feels like the audience is only witnessing a small piece of a larger story. That being said, however, it doesn't complete mar the experience, one just feels as though these are just two episodes of a larger series - and they
are not. Further enhancing this sensation is the shear speed at which the plot seems to move - seems like the whole mess is on fast-forward. Overall, it feels like these two OVA episodes are a condensation of a long manga or somesuch. There are some comedic touches at play here, typical for Akamatsu-sensei, and mostly the comedy works well, for what there is. However, the primary showcase here is the romance drama - and there is it. Because of the show's frantic pacing, or perhaps despite it, there is a great deal of monologue-ing going on. While this does heighten the tensity of the drama, I do feel that it detracts from the feature in way. That is, long sequences of a character chattering to herself are not exactly exciting. I can't help but think that if the OVA was a little longer, the characters could gab to themselves less and the feature whould be enlivened somehow. The magic and transformation sequences, while the source of comedy and nudity, seem a little out of place at times. In the large part, this OVA shades on the more dramatic and serious side so the magic and, especially, the transformation sequence seem to not really match the whole (admitted entertainment value notwithstanding). The art is standard Akamatsu fare here, and looks good for all that - clean and nice. The characters look good, if not familiar in some respects. I think the art style here is closer to Negima than Love Hina, if I may say so. The music is an interesting element in this OVA, as well. Nice, if slightly bland, pop tunes and light instrumental themes that work well but don't quite function in the OVA itself. One gets the impression that the soundtrack whould be nice to own and listen to in isolation from the OVA, but it doesn't quite work in the animation. It always seems like the music is being talked over or otherwise not meshing properly. So while the music itself is pretty good, putting it in the OVA how it was is a small misstep. The characters are very standard, in large part - nothing too unusual or unexpected, actually. This is both good and bad. As an admitted fan of Akamatsu-sensei, the character designs are enjoyable to me, others may find them to be a retread though (as they are to some extent). Thankfully, no characters stand out as particularly irritating. This is an enjoyable OVA in spite of its flaws. Its unfortunate that there isn't more of it.
This is a rather… odd show. It’s about a boy named Santa who has always been alone every Christmas and yet because he was born on the Eve of Christmas, he is given the name Santa. Who in their right mind would call their son Santa? Well, his neglectful parents it looks like. Then suddenly, out of know where (like almost every other romance anime out there) this girl shows up and asks him ‘want to spend the night with me?’ And thus begins are strange and odd show. Its not that this show is bad, more like predictable.
Santa sounds rather whinny and annoying but
because of Mai, I wouldn’t be surprised. Mai is extremely crazy and overly energetic. She can only create things that start with ‘San’ because she is in training. Now this doesn’t work well because in the dub, the items are not called the same in Japanese and so changes that. She can’t cook, goes overboard at times, and is rather stupid as well. At least Naru had brains, this girl doesn’t seen to have an ounce of smarts in many areas. All she really seems to know is how to be a Santa.
In the first episode is about there first meeting, as well as them talking about Christmas and fun. Sadly, it feels very, very bland. It’s got cheesy written all over the script. It would actually be fine if they ended it there but they actually have a second episode. The second episode though… its just a excuse to see the girls in swimsuits. There was no real reason for them to have a second episode. It’s even cheesier then the first!
The animation is rather good, though it does end up having scenes that are reused so many times. A lot of the animation is rather standard and bland half the time. Luckily, they don’t go out of their way to show breasts but they hint a lot about panty shots.
Oh god, we get to the voices now… Although Chris Burnett is a rather nice voice and fits the character of Santa well, Brittney Karbowski is so not the part I would of picked for Mai. Her voice tends to get way to whinny and annoying the more she talks and it turns into a high pitched squeal when she’s talking to long.
To be honest, the only reason I checked Itsudatte My Santa out was because I watched a really hilarious review that slammed it, and I wanted to make a similar one. So, I went into this show with low expectations, and was actually rather surprised to find that this anime actually isn't a massive pile of dog crap. That said, Itsudatte My Santa still isn't very good.
Our story is about Santa. No, not the jolly, fat, Santa Claus, but an angsty teenage boy named Santa because he was born on Christmas Eve. However, that all changes when he meets Mai, a teenage girl who
is a "Santa-in-training" who promises to spend the entire night with him to "bring him happiness," which Santa does not want because he hates Christmas since his parents are never home. Thus, hilarity ensues.
The beginning is full of crazy slapstick humor where Mai uses her special Santa magic to summon all sorts of things that begin with "san." She then proceeds to beat up yakuza, take a shower, and beat up Santa for looking at her naked. I actually found the humor in this show quite funny. I literally laughed out loud when she summons a Samba line. It reminded me a bit of FLCL, with the sheer amount of randomness that was going on in the beggining.
However, once all the comedy ends, we're suddenly given a series of melodramatic scenes where Santa rants about how he has no friends, Mai ends up falling in love with Santa, Santa actually admits he doesn't think Mai is actually Santa (gasp! :O) and Mai runs off crying.
The main issue here is that there is no transition between comedy and drama. Mai and Santa will be fighting about Mai's breast size. Then someone will mention something and the mood will instantly change. It's hard to take the drama seriously when it's right after Mai dumping fish on yakuza.
The writing is only makes it worse. "This is our star. The star that will never die. Because it is the star of Christmas." Characters will try to explain simple things by spouting never ending lines of dialogue. Everything about the romance is dragged out in this show.
Despite that, this anime does have that same Christmas-y feeling you get by watching those old Rankin Bass stop motion specials. It has the same sugary, happy theme that Christmas is magical and you need to believe in Santa. Had it ended here, I probably would've given Itsudatte My Santa's story a slightly higher mark.
But that's only the first episode.
Pretty much every problem the first episode had the second episode quadruples. Suddenly, we're on a beach repeating the same jokes from the beginning of the last episode. None of the new characters the second episode introduces are even slightly likable. Mai's sister MaiMai does nothing but act like a retard. Mai's rival Sharry has an awful habit of going on and on and on and on about pretty much nothing.
But don't get me started on the drama. Holy crap. I don't want to describe it beyond how I already did, but what makes it even worse is how it's literally right after Mai and Sharry comically battling with their Santa powers.
The voice acting is awful in both Japanese and English. Everything is way over-the-top. It's depressing how both languages manage to ruin great voice talents like Aya Hirano and Britney Karbowski with their mangled script. The sound isn't much better. Nothing about it is memorable and that "MYYYYYYYYYYYYY SANTAAAAAAAAAAAAAA" between parts is ear-raping.
The animation isn't very good. It's not Mars of Destruction, but it's definitely below average. The art is very wishy-washy. At it's best, it's fine enough. At it's worst, mouths are all over the place, anatomy is disproportionate, and the eyes are apparently in front of the hair. (I HATE it when anime does this! Learn to Japan.)
Itsudatte My Santa had potential, and admittedly, the first episode is surprisingly decent. However, the second episode pretty much kills everything about this anime. That said, it still turned out much better than I thought it would be.
Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas! The holidays are getting closer and closer, which means that it is time to check out some good winter-related anime series to guarantee you a heartwarming holiday experience! Let's take a look at 20 of the best Christmas anime available that even Santa would approve of!