I like what I see, and I’ll watch the next episode, but that’s about it. I thought Yoshitaka Ushiki + IOSYS + J.C.Staff would be awesome for sure, but nothing is sure these days, it seems.
I couldn’t find anything particularly impressive about this first episode. It certainly didn’t have the impact of Shana or even Index’s opening, and the production values were on the low side. The 3D elements in the backgrounds stuck out too much, and the action scenes were so full of shortcuts that even I was bothered by them. The still images and backgrounds looked fine though.
The main plot is unchanged from the manga: Denizens of the dream world are trying to invade the human world by possessing the bodies of humans. Merry is from the dream world, but somehow is trapped in the human world without having possessed anyone. I think the first episode did a good job of explaining the fantasy world without people talking too much, although I knew the setup already from the manga.
There were a lot of small changes from the manga.
Merry’s tsundere seems to be toned down; she doesn’t go “I don’t need friends” when she first runs into Yumeji, and she doesn’t slap him after the two of them get dumped back into the real world after Chaser leaves.
Because the first chapter of the manga was rather short to be a single anime episode, they used a school scene that was longer than the home scene that was in the manga and ended the episode after the fight with Chaser. The anime had Yumeji and his friends on the way to school, and after the club meeting in school is when he encountered Merry. In the manga there was instead a scene in Isana’s house where she blackmailed him into going to buy something for her, and Merry fell on him on the way to the store.
These changes are rather minor, and none of them changes the fact that the first episode was somewhat lacking in awesome. Even the IOSYS songs didn’t leave an impression – I guess when they’re not building off of ZUN’s incredible composition skills and my familiarity with Toho music, I have to let the songs grow on me.
I think Yumekui Merry is not quite the “legendary” show I expected, but I also think it will get better once we have enough episodes to flesh out the world and show what the bad guys are really capable of. Sort of like in Shana.
Come to think of it, when does the Yumekui Merry manga start to get awesome? When Yumeji and Merry save Minato? I guess that was pretty cool, but that was still part of the “world introduction”. When Yumeji finds out his friend is the next target of the dreamworld invaders? That was the first time I felt that the story was going somewhere, but that’s not until the end of Chapter 5.
My enthusiasm has somewhat lessened, but my hope remains.