Monday, November 2, 2015

[Ended] Monster Musume

Pros: It knows what it is, and it doesn't really pretend to be anything else. It has a good deal of sensibility in it, at least for what it is.

Cons: And what it is, is harem with a lot of erotic appeal, wrapped around a nice guy trying to do the right thing, prohibited by law from doing anything sexual with any of the entourage of women that all want to sex him up.

My Opinion: As the series went on, I started to notice a trend with me. Every single time, after I had finished and closed the tab, a minute or so later, if I remembered I didn't read the ending Species Info Page, I always went back and jumped the video to it so I could read it. Once, I went back and checked four episodes at once, just to be sure I didn't miss a single one. I really enjoyed reading those, and I think that is indicative of something about the show. I can't speak for anything but the anime, but I think the amount of thought that went into the info pages shows that there's a certain minimum intelligence in the show, even if the theme is by far and large one of the most shallow you can find in anime, the harem.

At the end of the day, the status quo hasn't moved anywhere when the series ends, but the journey there was actually fun, even for someone like me who finds harem and fan service grating and irritating, which is saying something.

Certainly, the show is shallow by nature, that's just how harem goes. But I'd like to make the point that, as far as harems go, Monster Musume seems to have their shallow bar set a good deal deeper than the average, and I will happily sing its praises if I think that will help, even in the slightest, increase that trend across all anime. Nothing pisses me off more than a Checklist anime, because I feel like it's a waste of the animators time to work on something with a story and characters that a cheap pseudo-AI could have spit out a hundred carbon copies of.

 [Spoilers] Highlight to see, if you've already seen the show.
I found it particularly interesting that at one point in the show, it is basically decided on that the main character needs to pick someone to marry, and he actually agrees, but for the sake of harem proceeds to hum and um about who. Most of the time you never get to the point where the center of the harem actually realizes anything close to choosing someone, until maybe the end of the show.
[End Spoilers]

The last point I want to draw attention to, is the depth of the characters. While I grant that every single one of them has some kind of Trope pinned to their back, and they display it every chance they get for comedic effect, they are surprisingly not ruled by their tropes. Hell, the show even has really good reasons why the characters have their tropes. They outright say in one episode that a character is bad at cooking because their species is primarily carnivorous, and carnivores have 1/25 - 1/50'th the sense of taste of humans. That impressed me.

Impartial Opinion: At the end of the day, this is still a Harem. A harem with a unique theme, and as far as characters+story+world go, a great deal more depth than any other harem that I've ever heard of. I guess if someone wanted to break a friend into the Harem genre, (I won't even pretend to understand why), this is the best bet? At the very minimum, pretty much anything to do with Harem and Fan Service annoys me, but I still enjoyed this show every week.
If you're looking for, or don't mind (especially if you simply don't mind), Harem and lots of Fan Service scenes, I suppose I recommend this show. There's a refreshing amount of intelligence in this show for it's genre slot. Taken out of the context of harem, this kind of story and setting would be immensely interesting to me in a slightly more serious tone. Especially if it had as well constructed of characters.

[New][October 2015] OwariMonogatari

Summary: During October of his third year in high school, Koyomi Araragi is introduced to a transfer student named Ougi Oshino by his underclassman Kanbaru Suruga. Ougi tells Koyomi that she has something she wishes to consult with him. When she draws the map of Naoestu High School, she finds something peculiar on the map of Naoetsu High School she draws. This discovery reveals a tale that wasn’t meant to be told, and this makes Koyomi’s high school life totally different. This is the story that brings to light “what” makes Koyomi Araragi. This is the story that reveals the “beginning” of everything.
-Quote provided as is, from the summary-

First Impression: See Opinion. Also, Ougi Oshino is the Creepy. Any time it goes to a close up of her eyes...

At the same time though, there's something I just love about her character. Something is her, but I love the character. Those eyes though. Oooh, *shiver*.

My Opinion: It's more from the Monogatari series. That should be all you need to know. If you were already watching, continue to do so, if you haven't started watching, you need the previous seasons in your belt first.
No really, what the hell is wrong with you if you watch this first? You will understand literally nothing.

[New][October 2015] Utawarerumono-The False Faces (Itsuwari no Kamen)

I had a hard time picking an I used both!

Summary: A nameless man wakes up in the middle of a vast, snowy plain he doesn’t recognize. Not only that, but he is suffering from amnesia and doesn’t even remember who he is. Suddenly, he gets attacked by an insect-like creature, but is saved by yet another strange creature attacking the insect, and a girl named Kuon... with animal ears and tail... dragging him away. Upon discovering his stranded state, she decides to look after him, and names him Haku. The story follows them as they travel, with Kuon haggling the easy-going-natured Haku every step of the way, that 'Those that don't Work, Don't Eat." But more is going on, not only all around them, but also with Haku.

First Impression: It's the second season of an old favorite of mine, you can't get more biased than that. A word of warning, so far the opinions I've read have all been you don't need to watch the first season for this one, but you're going to have a harder time with it if you don't.
In that regard, I highly recommend the first season, Utawarerumono, with one condition:

There is no debate here, you will do it.

It is the most garbage first episode I've ever had the misfortune to see, because not only is it completely asinine, completely removed in its own little bubble from the entire rest of the story, but it also is completely misleading about what the show is like and about, not to mention it contains spoilers! Just to stick an extra nail in the coffin.

Now, if you had told me it was an OVA included in a disc or something, I'd have given it high praise for probably being exactly what the fans wanted, because the thing is almost pure fan service from front to back. Which is precisely why it does the show such a disservice.
It scares away people that were looking for a show with more depth than cheap erotic appeal, and it instills a feeling of betrayal in the people that the first episode attracts because the rest of the show is extremely low-key on fan service. So low key, that when I was watching the second season, I remembered that I never cared about it in the first. They do fan service in a way that actually appeals to me, even if the erotic appeal still goes over my head. To summarize it as best I can, the fan service just sort of... naturally happens on screen, instead of the forces of the universe conspiring to put everyone in revealing poses, with revealing camera angles. It's also never cartoon'ishly over-dramatic. That alone appeals to me immensely.

My Opinion: Great. It's going to be great. It already is, and I have an entire first seasons worth of gold to back up my personal emotional sentiments with impartial evidence. (although technically the validity of said evidence is ALSO my opinion but give me something to work with here, m'kay?)

By the way, make sure to watch past the Ending Song in each episode, they have additional content at each episodes end. Not necessarily something you NEED to see, but you will appreciate doing so.

Monday, October 12, 2015

[New][October 2015] Comet Lucifer

Oh. It's a mech anime. goody.
Summary: Comet Lucifer is a fantasy set on the planet Gift, where precious crystals called Giftium are buried in the earth. The main character Sogo lives in a prosperous mining town, Garden Indigo, and loves to collect rare crystals. One day, he gets caught up in a dispute between his classmates, and somehow loses his way deep in the ruins of a mine. There, he discovers a blue-haired girl with red eyes named Felia, and his adventure begins. Also, Mechs.

First Impression: Oh. It's a Mech Anime. Well. Took them long enough to let on about that. Actually, took them long enough...oh wait. They NEVER told us ANYTHING about WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN GOING ON, ON MY SCREEN. Is this just a Mech thing? I seem to remember ... just about every? Gundam anime that I ever bothered to watch doing this. Just dropping us 'In Medias Res' style in the thick of it, and maybe eventually getting around to explaining just what is happening.

My Opinion: This was looking kind of promising, minus the 'I have no clue what is happening at all' thing, for most of the episode. I was just waiting for them to finally tell us something about the little red crystal thing Sogo was so flipping thrilled about. But no, they couldn't even give us some techno babble to partially slack our thirst of curiosity, and explain more later, they just...teased that they were about to tell us something, and then had him rushing off again. I swear I spent half the episode just watching Sogo run, climb, and hover board all over. Grant, the animation looks nice? I guess? Not that I was ever one to give a shit about how pretty the animation is. 

So opinion? I don't farking have one yet besides that this is definitely a mech anime, and those tend to be mediocre at best, with a 1% chance of being good sometimes.
When just one giant robot type shows up on screen, particularly when it's just a work machine like it was here, it might not be a mech anime. But when they spend a full scene animating said robot running for a full minute and change, and then another kind of robot appears, and a fight happens, that is definitely a mech anime. Not an anime with giant robots in it, it is an anime about Mechs. There is a difference.

I mean really, I don't expect every show to immediately tell us everything that is going on right away, that's just bad design, but you can't tell us nothing. So far all we know is some very obscure and vague ideas about the relations of the first 4 main'ish characters. I have no opinion beyond stating basic facts. Maybe in another episode or two. Even then, it feels like the show is pulling me along by the nose to find out whether I will even care about it or not, trying to squeeze pennies out of my basic curiosity by pumping their initial view counts. Or however it is anime make money, I dunno.

[New][October 2015] Asterisk War

Summary: Invertia…an unprecedented disaster that struck the world during the 20th century.
Because of this disaster, numerous cities around the world were destroyed. However, this event
also gave rise to a new species of human born with unique skills: The Genestella.
The instability after the disaster saw the return of Monarchies in some countries in the wake of the declining power of the existing major nations, and a new united governing body, The Integrated Empire Foundation, came into power. Now, the best Genestella of various countries are sent to battle for supremacy in a Battle Entertainment Festival, "Festas", at Rikka, an academic city built on the water, and the winner is said to be granted any desire, so long as it can be accomplished in the world. The students are divided into six separated schools that host Festas once a year.
The story follows Ayato Amagiri, as he is chosen for the school that presently has the worst record in the recent Festas'.

First Impression: I don't know if you noticed, but this anime's summary literally sounded like someone hacked up random pieces from the last 2 years of anime's summaries and spit glued them together to make a new story. I don't even feel like bothering to point out any of them because it feels so obvious that this thing was, at the minimum, inspired by, and at the worst, plagiarizing story ideas. Grant, I don't think that it is inherently bad to do that, but the thicker the copy paste, the more indicative it is of low quality and corner cutting.
Having said all that, I walked up to this show actively looking to drop it, because it sounded so uninspired and being able to take a show off the list of things to juggle for potential posts sounded immensely tempting. I am however, keeping this one, and looking forward to it. Ever since Magic War (Mahou Sensou), I know better than to assign expectations, but still.

My Opinion: I'm just going to straight up raise my hand and say that I'm immediately biased on this show. Since it seems to be an industry standard now to bold-facedly swing a hook at the audience with an opening action scene, I'm giving this show points for said hook not being a poorly manufactured 'In Medias Res', or for it just spitting a protagonist into a fight before we even know for sure we're looking at the protagonist. Instead, we get a scene from the past, and the show quickly seeks to let us know that by mid episode. 

Additionally, they immediately pull a check-box standardized Fan-service scene out of their pocket and throw it onto the table, and not completely piss me off with it. Grant, I'm always going to argue that this shit is unnecessary, and can wait till later in to the series when we have proper attachments to characters, if not just outright never happening at all...but they handled this quite maturely. At the very least, the closest thing to maturely since Madan no Ou to Vanadis. She still ends up trying to punch him for ogling her, but the show itself doesn't try to pretend like she's doing it for any other reason than just because she's angry and it will make her feel better. Which is really the only reason any character ever does this tired token scene. Still, points for her actually giving him a chance to apologize, and thanking him for the reason he was even there in the first place being of good intention.

All in all, I like the world building they've done in the first episode. Which is another point, despite two fights in quick succession right at the start, the first episode is pretty much exclusively devoted to introducing and fleshing out characters, and their world. That is always a good sign, albeit not a guarantee of quality. Just the potential for it. So, I'd say keep your eye on this show at this point. If it seems like it's theme is to your tastes, it may very well shape up to be a great show. Hard to tell at this point.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

[New][October 2015] HackaDoll!

This looks so much like the MMDance Program it has to be intentional...or the Program.

Summary: The original HackaDoll app delivers a customized feed of news for each user. The user answers some simple questions when launching the app for the first time, and then the app will filter the news that caters to the user's personal interests: boys love, cosplay, anime, manga, games, light novels, voice cast members, etc. With daily use, the app automatically analyzes and learns which news articles the user reads and recommends to further personalize the feed. Much to the users surprise however, the app functions based on three physically manifested AI's suddenly popping into her room from her phone.

First Impression: Somehow I knew this was going to be comedy, despite its extraordinarily serious start. Like, it straight up is Perfect English in the beginning with Japanese subtitles quoting a very profound line. Grant, I'm inclined to think that it is wholesale quoting the line, not some voice actor reading it, but I don't recognize the quote nor who spoke it, and I'm not motivated enough to look it up. The second quote makes me doubt this, but it could also be from the same person, as the context, of technology's advancement, is the same.

Having said all that, this is a Comedy Show. Straight up, Comedy. Heart of the show is trying to make you laugh at its jokes. Also, a little bit of fan service. Not erotic fan service, which is kind of a nice change of pace, but rather the 'Moe' kind. Y'know, the one that's nigh impossible to explain. Never actually showing anything, but definitely showing it off. The kind in a run of the mill show that would be set up almost by fate itself. If the erotic equivalent is a gust of wind blowing a skirt, then the Moe side would be a protagonist walking in on someone secretly cosplaying as a maid in their room.

My Opinion: The comedy's pretty good, or at least, I think as much despite it not being to my tastes. While there's nothing at all wrong with the show, and it actually has a really interesting world setting, The core of it is comedy and I'm not really enjoying its particular variety. A lot of it in the first episode made me smile, but nothing really made me laugh or snicker. While I do plan to watch the second episode, I'm just going to go ahead and say that if you don't see another post on this one, assume I dropped it.

It's a good show from what I've seen so far, but it's just not to my tastes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Plastic Memories: I F***ing knew it.

Last Seen: Episode 2

I knew. I just knew it. This show is the definition of an emotional roller coaster. It took me this long just to work up the gumption to try episode 2, and even then, it was only because a lot of the previous seasons anime are drying up, so I knew I'd need to find something to produce potential posts out of.

I had this on the list, and figured, yeah. This will do nicely.

This show will hurt you. Then it will keep on hurting you. I knew they were going to say what they said this episode eventually, and yet I came back just to let them re-attach me, and then stab me in the heart.

So yeah. I've come back to say that if by some miracle anyone was expecting an End post about this one, you won't get it, at least not from me. I doubt I'll have this finished anytime soon. Read that as, within maybe years. Maybe years.

Good show! Great Show so far!

Hurts too much to talk about it. That's all folks.
I'm going to go and beat some stuff up in Dark Souls 2 and get murdered a bunch. That feels better than letting this show touch my emotions again for a month.

Monday, September 21, 2015

[Ended] Rokka - Braves of the Six Flowers

The whole show is extremely careful

Pros: Good Marks all around
-The Plot is resolved by the end of the show, even though the story continues and they tease us with the new Plot.
-Despite my initial warning that Action wasn't the core of this show, it is good when it breaks out with the fights.
-The mystery is amazingly tightly woven. While I did suspect the eventual true suspect, I never was sure, and the show constantly made me doubt my guess. Every time they revealed another layer to the mystery, I had to suddenly re-do a process of elimination to make sure I didn't have a reason to suspect someone else now. In the end, they never even mentioned the reason I was suspecting them. I'd be lying if I didn't say that rubbed me the wrong way. I also never even came close to guessing the true suspects reasons. In my book, this show did amazingly with its intrigue

Cons: That 'cliffhanger' at the end and token trope was...very lack luster compared to the rest of it.
-If this show gets a second season, it's going to be a 50-50 in my book based on the 'cliffhanger' of sorts they have at the end of this one. They basically reset the status quo, but update the location.
-This is a mystery and intrigue based show. While the action is good, at least 70% of the show is spent with people just talking things out, and straining their brains. That's not what everyone wants to see so fair warning.

My Opinion: This was a great show, I looked forward to it every week. It's very rare for a Mystery show to keep me guessing when it presents its clues for the viewer to puzzle over. When it's just a mystery that is solvable exclusively through the abilities of the characters, and not reasoning, it's not a relevant point. In Rokka however, you are completely capable of solving who the true suspect is as they give you more and more information, before they outright tell you. You have to pay really close attention, and it requires you to reverse engineer something by logic, but it's doable. Unfortunately I wasn't trying to solve the 'how', but rather the 'who' first. While my first candidate ended up being right, I never was sure, right up until one episode before the reveal, and even then they threw a massive spice of doubt in my face. I don't often get that, and it delighted me. The whole point of a mystery is the suspense and curiosity of seeking the answer, so being able to guess it easily defeats the point, at least for me.

Impartial Opinion: If you like mystery, or even Human Intrigue, this show is for you and I recommend it. If you're looking for something more action oriented, or even just fast paced, look elsewhere. The pace always stays at about the same rate the entire show, it doesn't particularly accelerate even near the end. Sure, a few more fights break out, and for longer, but even during them the characters continue to talk, puzzle, and worry about what the truth is. That's not to some peoples tastes.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers - Not an Action show.

Last Seen: Episode 8

Most of the time, I wouldn't have bothered to stop and say anything about something like this, as it's the kind of thing that tends to get spread around on it's own. However, thanks to reading some comments on a few of the earliest episodes, I feel like being on the safe side today.

Rokka is NOT an action show. That is to say, if you were to know anything about the show after it had completed and were learning about it, you wouldn't categorize it under the kinds of shows you watch just to see lots of flashy action combat.
What Rokka's specialty is: Intrigue.

...and roughly that's it. I mean, I could say mystery too, but that's really just part of intrigue anyway. As a show that's primary interest element for the viewer is intrigue among the characters and world, it is technically a division of human interest as well. I take the time to mention it right now, because last episode was the deal sealer for me on this show, it's going in a great direction so far, the pacing is excellent, (terrible if you thought it was an action/shounen show), and the characters, the all important part of an intrigue show, are slowly shaping up in an excellent way. The character I expected to be the weakest link, Hans, just got much better fleshed out this episode, so that's great in my opinion.
Last episode was when it became undeniable to me that the core of this show was Intrigue, suspicion, and tension between people with trust. Adlet's story about his past, and Flamie's feedback from it made this conclusion in my mind, and I have great confidence in it. Certainly, the show will have action and fighting in it, there has already been some, and it's been great as well, but I just wanted to take some time to point out to as many people as I can get it to reach that this is not an action-based show, and if you expect it to be, the slower pacing that is appropriate for what it is, is going to annoy you. Which will annoy me, if you then go about foaming at the mouth on the internet about how the show sucks because its pacing is crap.

Friday, August 21, 2015

[New][July 2015] Gatchaman Crowds: Insight

A poisonous question.

Last Seen: Episode 6

Summary: "Gatchaman" is the general term for those who wear special suits called 'NOTE', which are manifestations of special spiritual powers possessed by living beings. The Gatchaman force on Earth consists of aliens who have been dispatched by a council, and Earthlings who have been scouted for their latent abilities, all of whom work together to protect Earth's people and resources from alien criminals who have invaded the planet in violation of the probation enforced by the council.Insight: After the conflict in the first season is settled, and things begin to settle back into peaceful routine, trouble begins anew. Red Crowds appear and begin terrorist acts, and a new Alien arrives on earth.

First Impression: At first I wasn't sure how I felt about using the 'New' title on this, since it is from a month ago now. Really, I could just have posted and written about it as something I was watching rather than a featuring of it as a new release. Doubly so, because Insight is a second season to the original, not a stand alone. However, the fact that I had never heard of or watched the first season, but after starting it promptly burned through it and all of the current second season...well. I think that speaks loads for what my first impression of the show was. It was positive, to say the least, but I did almost drop it after the first episode. That's quite something for me to say, I usually like to have an ambiguous moral high ground all the time of: 'Everything deserves a chance, don't judge a book by its cover'.

My Opinion: So like I said, I almost dropped this after one episode. It just...seemed to be hopped up on way too many drugs at first. So that's my first opinion for you all: The animation is sometimes outright trippy in this show. It is however, extraordinarily misleading. I almost want to say that the tone of the show is way off, but's not. It feels like it should be, but it is not. I suppose that's because while the entire atmosphere of the thing screams 'Shounen!' 'Magic!' 'Sci-Fi!' 'Aliens!', the show never really gets caught up in the stereotypes of those things. In fact, my highlight memories of the entire first season are almost exclusively of people (usually Hajime) just...talking. The show is very down-to-earth. It gets to talking about some deep shit, but my personal taste is for the primary topic in the second season. I fail to find a name for what it is, but a good reference would be a tangent of it, the " 2:6:2 " that it talks about in one episode. I've always had a keen interest in the heart of what everything the second season is working on is orbiting around. Perhaps...Human Disparity? would work as a temporary term.

Regardless. The show's amazing, but in a very...subtle way, despite its very flashy animation and fights at times. I almost want to say that it's better to be surprised by the show, by having low expectations for it. The design of the first episode seems like it uses the somewhat standard Hook technique I rant about all the time, just for that purpose. By baiting the hook with a misleading first impression of what the show is actually about, and then slowly working you in to what it really is about, without letting you realize you were initially mislead. Which is Human Interest, to use the broadest term. It's actually about Human Interest.

I give it a sound
For great depth of story and great character depth.

Monday, July 20, 2015

GATE: Holy shit.

No images. You'll have to see this for yourself this time. Anything I showed would spoil it.
Last Seen: Episode 2

I mean goddammit it's exactly what I wanted but...
Wow. The ending on this show is way too happy for what it actually contains.
So take whatever lighthearted nature the show had in its first episode and stuff it. Can it. Pack it up. It's gone. You want to know what that is? That's coping mechanisms. Not for the characters yet, for you. The viewer. They are providing you hopes so you can use them as coping mechanisms. I have a pretty solid idea where this show is going, and it's going to drag anyone who comes along for the ride through the dirt and mud of humanities history.

People often fantasize about the middle ages, but few actually understand that human horror has existed in all ages and times. Some imagine magic to be the magical cure all, the way to empower everyone to make the world a better place. Nah brah, just one more toy for us to blow each other up with. That's the direction I get the feeling this show is going to go.

The most important thing to have with a show like that though, is a solid main cast to tie everything down. We have that with Itami, a down-to-earth otaku. You wouldn't think that would cut it, but the fact that he was devoted enough to his hobby to join the Military to fund it is itself the reason I trust the character to be well built. Someone thought him out really well, and he's performed admirably with what little screen time he had in the second episode.

I'm calling it here, I give GATE:
Zetro's Season Recommendation
for 'Must see Drama' in a fantasy setting. Magic and fantasy isn't the perfect cure, and this show seems to have a mission statement to try and prove its case.

[New][July 2015] Rokka - Braves of the Six Flowers

Summary: Legend says, when the Evil God awakens from the deepest of darkness, the god of fate will summon Six Braves and grant them with the power to save the world. Adlet, who claims to be the strongest on the face of this earth, is chosen as one of the “Brave Six Flowers,” and sets out on a battle to prevent the resurrection of the Evil God. However, it turns out that there are Seven Braves who gathered at the promised land...

First Impression: Good. I would describe the main character as Bold, without arrogance. He boldly decrees himself strongest in the world, but when questioned about it, doesn't present any reason beyond his own self confidence. He doesn't try to manufacture reasons, he simply says it, and sets out to prove it.

Opinion: This could be a good show. Simple, and good. I liked the first fight of Adlet's we got to see. He used a bunch of tools and tricks to win, so he isn't possessed of some arrogant pride in sole physical strength, which helps bring him down to reality. Additionally, it appears that the mob broke his arm when they set on him, so he's not magically invulnerable either. While nothing stands out as special about this show in just episode one, at the same time it doesn't make any mistakes either. I give it a good thumbs up to watch if you're interested in fantasy settings at all.