Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dungeon ni Deai: Archetypes of Awesome

Last Seen: Episode 6

I had SUCH a hard time picking a screenshot for this post. So many good scenes, so many good quotes, but almost all of them were too much of a risk for spoilers.

So. This story. Anime or manga irrelevant, I love this story, because I love Bell Kranel. He is the archetype I have always admired, since the days of Vash the Stampede. The idealist that is not delusional. So many times, characters with the 'dense' or 'ditzy' tag attached to their personality or role as a character fail so hard, because they miss that all important point: They must not be unaware. As a support or comedic character, a full on dense or ditzy role is fine, but it cannot permanently be the main character. If they do not grow through, or out of, their state as the 'dense' or 'ditzy', it's just horribly agonizing to watch, for me at least, because they always speak to me of this ideal that Vash and Bell embody.


It's not that being dense is bad. It's actually a fairly charming trait for a character to have. It's when someone makes it all consuming for a character. Dense, to the point of retardation. It literally feels like the character is just sticking their head in the sand and humming a tune to themselves, chanting 'I can't hear you!' over and over. The worst part is that, that isn't what they are actually doing. When it's actually a character trait that they turn their eyes away from the things they don't like, or that contradict what they believe, it makes for a dynamic character. But when fate itself conspires to keep a dense main character out of the loop, through no choice of the character themselves, that's agony to me. That's the kicker of it I suppose, whether or not the dense character is ever even offered a choice to see or to turn their eyes away, if they are ever even aware of what is going on around them. This is so important because, that's how it really is in life. That's what puts me out of touch with the dense-as-lead characters, that they are so completely unrealistic. As a comedy character, it's hilarious, but once or twice a main character has been that way and I just couldn't stand it. In real life, optimistic ideals will always meet crushingly tragic realities that either can't sustain them, or outright contradict them, and what you choose to do and believe about it, helps define who you are.
[Aside end]

In short, a Realistic Idealist. The ideal of a Hero, but one that is in touch with reality, and their own weaknesses, their own failings, one who is self-aware. Who know that their aspirations for good often fall short, go horribly wrong, or are just horribly outside of their reach. I suppose the reason it's so hard for a character with this typeset to be sustained, is that you can't plot armor, or magic maguffin them very easily, if at all, when a plot hole comes up. This character type's appeal lies in the struggle with their ideals, and if you just magic hand wave away any part of it, then it compromises the integrity of their whole struggle, and therefore, the characters themselves.


Off the top of my head, I feel like this was a big failing of the second season of Symphogear, way back. The second season had set up this big struggle for the protagonist, and then just kind of hand-waves it away right after finishing setting it up.
[Aside end]

What really impressed me, was that adding magic to the equation a few episodes ago didn't have this effect on Bell Kranel, what's more, it actually further emphasized him instead. This is probably just a result of the kind of world and rules Bell Kranel's setting is in, but I'd like to hope it was intentional all the same, until proven otherwise. For that reason alone, I will do something I pretty much as a personal rule never do:


It's a personal rule for me not to do that, because everyone has their own tastes, but for this, I feel anyone can learn or appreciate this. Ignore or stomach whatever abrasive or outright obnoxious characters and settings the show has to you, and force it to episode five. For bonus points, see it actualized in episode 6. I just am completely charmed by how adding magic didn't flop hard, but also remained consistent with the character, adding to them instead of compromising a part of them. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dungeon ni Deai: Continuing nicely, and Observations

Last Seen:
Episode 3

Y'all see that armor the Silverback is wearing? Yeah. That's fresh, it was completely unarmored in the original design in the manga.

So, I finally made some time to sit down and watch a few more episodes of Dungeon Deai (I refuse to use the full name, or Crunchyrolls fabrication). I was intrigued enough to write a quick post about it. Ever since I started writing as a sub here, it has changed how I watch anime. The most noticeable on my side, is that occasionally I actually notice animation quality, but that's not what I'm here to talk about. Today I want to talk about expectations, particularly ones you didn't realize you had.

So there's this Silverback yeah? In the manga it wasn't armored. At all. It had the manacles around its wrists with the chains, but none of this armor the thing is wearing in the anime. I actually had an insight why they put armor on it though! For once, I see a change, and I understand it: It bought them a few more seconds of animation to fill out the episode, when they eventually had it shed that armor. Personally, I think that is a really clever way to buy time you need. It's an inevitable fact, that like wheat into flour, with manga into animation the massive amount you bring is always reduced to a much smaller output than you would have hoped for. In the first place, there isn't a massive amount in manga anyway, so I always try to sympathize a bit with animation studios trying to squeeze out as much time as they can from what they have to work with. (But not crappy filler. I hate crappy filler. Crappy filler is unforgivable).

Additionally, I wanted to talk about character personalities. It's something I've never thought about before, how when you're reading a manga or book, you fill in a characters personality based on context if the book/manga doesn't explicitly tell you what it is, or show you. I'm really impressed with the perfect fit they got for Bell and Hestia, so that's a null point. What I really want to talk about, is Loki and Hephaestus. I didn't even realize I had an image in my head of what I expected Loki to sound like, because she hasn't showed up much in the manga up to current translations, but her voice fit really well. Hephaestus though, is the big one. I did not expect Hephaestus to sound like she does. I mean, it fits really well, that's the part that's so interesting to me. It fits so well, it made me look back and realize I had incorrectly assumed things about the way her personality is, from how the manga portrayed her. I just found that amazing, personally, that the anime's choice in voice actor could cause a retrospective change in how I viewed and thought of a character.

 So in other news, I think I've finally found a job! Yay. There's still a chance for me to muck it up, (training yo), but hopefully this will finally be money coming in regularly. Of course, that means less time for other things, but I will still try to always have at least one post a month for here, no matter what. More, if I can swing it, or there's enough to actually talk about.
[Aside end]

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

[New] [April 2015] Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka (Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?)

Summary: Really? Again Crunchyroll? They need to fire their translator, or get him some better training and pull the marketing departments fingers out of his ears. I'm going to include an unedited copy of their summary at the end of this post in the Aside. Here's (what better be) the Real summary of this show if it sticks to the original story:
The huge labyrinth city, Orario, is the gateway to the huge underground maze commonly known as the “Dungeon”. The story follows Bell Cranel, a new adventurer come to this city of Gods, Treasure, Fame and Glory, and the Dungeon, with high hopes. The God he forms a contract with has no other followers in her 'Familia' (family/followers/servants), and they both work to get by. What's worse, Bell's ambition is further crushed when his daydream of a romantic encounter rescuing a pretty girl, is reversed. He ends up over his head about to die when he delves too deep in the dungeon, and is instead himself saved by the pretty girl. The story follows his new ambition to become as great an adventurer as the one who saved him: the so-called 'Sword Princess'.

First Impression: Good. It's staying true to the good story. I'll never understand the thinking behind changing the story that was good enough for it to be worth animating, to animate it.

My Opinion: The new title is just Crunchyrolls choices in translation being stupid again, It's the original story, for however long they can keep that going. As per usual, I have no idea how far the manga I was reading actually has published, as translations are slow to roll out. Having said that, this is another one of those cases where even if the end deviates, in the mean time, the base material is great enough that you should watch it anyway.
Having said all that, I find the quirks of manga transitioned to anime to stand out in the first episode to me. The minotaur fight in particular. In a manga format, that was a very fast done deal, but obviously in consistent motion it takes longer and is more detailed. I just found it interesting how much it stood out to me for once. The manga made it seem much more like it was all over in a single blow, and I found it pleasant to see it carried out in more detail.

"Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is set in the world of Orario, where adventurers band together and look for treasures in an underground labyrinth known as Dungeon. However, for Bell Cranel, fame and riches are secondary to what he wants to find the most: girls. He soon finds out though, that anything can happen in Dungeon, and winds up being the damsel in distress instead!"

I paraphrased out the quip about it being made from a Light Novel by Fujino Omori, illustrated by
Suzuhito Yasuda, but you get the idea yeah? If this summary was to be believed, this show is about nothing more than some saps harem dream, and that couldn't be farther from the truth.
[Aside end]

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Teenage RomCom is SNAFU Too

Summary: Welcome back to season 2 of RomCom SNAFU.

First Impression: I actually had a hard time remembering this one. I remembered it was good, but aside from that I didn't get any highlights other than the three main characters...and the tennis game. Which is still one of the most hilariously awesome things. As soon as episode 1 got rolling though, I remembered why I loved this show. Hikigaya. That's it. Just, Hikigaya. I absolutely love this character, and anytime he opens his mouth, it is either solid gold, or a platform for him to raise solid gold out of. Interestingly enough, I also enjoy the ditzy character as well, mostly because unlike most carbon cutouts of this character type, she actually absorbs some of the 'Straight Characters' sense. Which in this case, even in small doses means a lot since it's Hikigaya we're talking about.

My Opinion: This requires the first season to watch and make any sense at all out of. However, if you've paid the price of entry, and you enjoyed it, this is going to be just as good the second time around. Of course, no promises on how it ends, anything romance related is a Russian Roulette filled with bullets that may just explode in the chamber when it comes to proper endings in anime. Never the less, I'm confident enough in this shows comedy to recommend the journey, regardless of the destination.

Monday, April 13, 2015

[New][April 2015] Plastic Memories

Summary: After failing his college entrance exams, 18 year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki is offered a position at the renowned SAI Corporation due to his father’s connections. SAI Corporation is known for its production and management of androids that possess human emotions, called Giftia. Tsukasa’s position is in the Terminal Service Department, where the main job is to recover Giftias that are close to their expiration, a graveyard department in every sense.

First Impression:
Soul Sucker.

My Opinion: Are you uncomfortable with your heart being tucked in all snug and lonely inside your chest? Well, step right up to this show here! Where it will tenderly wrap warm embracing hands around your heart...and then dig in its claws and rip it out.

Yeah. Welcome to a genre I haven't seen in a good long while. I call it the Soul Sucker. Standard name is probably Tragedy, but this show feels like it will fall into my special sub-division of tragedy: Soul Sucker. These shows are marked by my brains distinct refusal to retain them despite their amazing quality, until such time as something reminds me of them, and then it tries its best to give me an emotional break down with the full plots return all at once. Because, my brain, and plots, and the retaining. Sometimes not such a useful and pleasant skill.

This show is the kind of thing you get from probing the Human Experience without calm intellectualism or tense/exhilarating drama. When you just dive deep, and...then it takes you away without any supports or fall-backs.

Anywho, this show lays the story on thick in the first episode. They get that heart string tugger of theirs pulling on your heart strings full tilt just a few minutes in. They don't even stop to have an opening, just a brief few seconds of Title. Of course, they do stop to try and fish a hook of Romance into you with the first few seconds, but I somehow doubt that's going to be the core of this show. Just a feeling. A bad one.
It's starting to become a recurring theme in my life that I try to 'spot the hook', so to speak, in the first minute of the show. I understand the first impression can be everything...I just question a lot of the anime I've seen the Hook in...and their choice of hook. Like, this is clearly a Tragedy based anime...and they choose love interest as their hook? That just seems ridiculous to me. There is literally no other element of that in the rest of the first episode.

I just want to take a moment aside here to think aloud about a certain part of culture. Particularly, the almost bipolar nature of Television. One second, you could be watching the news and it's about Genocide somewhere in the world, and the next it's "Isn't that horrible? Yes, just. Now back to you, insert name, with the weather." Or the flitting completely random non-sequitur nature of commercials and product bombardment. I watched a fair bit of TV as a kid, but the older I got, the more of a gamer I became, and the less TV I cared about, till finally I just completely removed it from my life sometime before/during High School. It still remains an interest of mine, what kind of effects this particular cultural element can render on people. I mention all this, because the show has...not quite a grinding gear shift between tones I wouldn't say, but it is glaring. Mostly because you can just feel them trying to, almost, apologize for ripping your heart out with some light comedy. Like, "oh? Did we do that again? So sorry, here let us just...put that back in your chest. Sorry...we...might do it again. Sorry."
It just kind of makes me wonder if we'd be so receptive to this kind of thing in Anime if there wasn't a widespread cultural foundation for it born from the Golden Years of TV. Just idle thoughts.
[Aside end]

Friday, April 10, 2015

I can't Understand what my Husband is Saying 2

Summary: It's more of the original.

First Impression: I was a little surprised that they didn't pick up right where the last one left off. Interestingly enough, despite being a 3 minute purely comedic show, it did have a...arc of sorts. Mostly the two very peculiarly paired characters interacting and working things out is what happens every episode, but from a retrospective view, I can recognize now a sort of plot that slowly moves forward. Unfortunately, it's all so subtle that I'd ruin what the show concludes on in the first season if I said anything.

The reason I point all that out, is that they had a very strong place to resume the show on...and they kind of do...? I mean, they resume with the conclusion of an effort one of the characters was making near the end of the previous season, and it is kind of related to the main ending event...but it is no main event. Perhaps they just didn't want to immediately jump into it with the seasonal gap? Best guess I have. Second episode should show what direction they're moving with it.

My Opinion: I loved this show's first season. I think it's the first 3 minute show I've ever actually finished. I've started... four that I know of just off the top of my head, but only this fourth one have I finished. I just don't get into the short show style, but I loved this show anyway. I'd like to believe that's something to credit the show with as being impressive. Unfortunately, it is comedy, so everyone has different tastes. I quietly chuckled for most of the episode, but then at the end they use a gag-tap from the previous season, and I just heartily laughed out loud.

Long story short? I recommend this show, but it is comedy, so your mileage may vary.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

[Ended] Seiken Tsukai no World Break (World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman): Why did I finish this again?


Pros: Cookie Cutter Shounen.
-If you have any kind of a checklist for Shounen, it's going to be mostly filled by the end of this series.
Yelling for power? Check.
Friendship is power/magic? Check.
Love Triangle/Quadrangle/Harem? Check.
This show aims to be as broad and flat as possible, and some people love that.
-Precisely because it is so spread out and flat, no one thing is ever especially annoying, despite frequently getting close.
-No cliffhanger ending, although they dropped a single seed to try.

Cons: Everything in the pros section.
-Flatter than a piece of paper.
-Did I mention yelling makes you stronger? Also, 'I remember' (Omoidashita). That works too. Plot armor? Check.
-'Moroha solves the world' would be just as good of a title.
-Plot holes. Plot holes everywhere.

My Opinion: This was...hard to remember why I bothered continuing to watch it each week. Then I realized: Of course. I can't remember it, so I can't remember how neutral it was. Therefore, I am not prevented from watching it by my negative memories of it.
Okay fine, to be fair, the action is okay. But that is essentially the only selling point of the show in my book. It's all flash, and it all falls flat after the adrenaline wears off. Comedy included. At first, things were pretty funny. Despite immediately drawing the 'Harem' card into its hand, it never really played it, right up until the end. I mean that. They flaunt the card in our faces, waving it all over the place, but literally every member of the Harem somehow settles into a slot and just...stays there. So the drama of that is also flat. Sister? Check. Passive-aggressive lover? Check. Living body-pillow? Check. New Sister? Check. I suppose it is also worth mentioning that I laughed my ass off at the 'overly adult themed' Vice-Captain of the Strikers squad. I suppose that was the only hook the show got in me. It was about the only thing that was fresh, everything else is done-before, or outright stagnant.

Impartial Opinion: It got me to watch it to the end. That doesn't get it any positive points, just a lack of negatives. That roughly sums up this show in a sentence: Nothing Gained, Nothing Lost. The actions flashy, if lack-luster in assembly and reasoning. Moroha solves everything, but friendship means everyone somehow contributes, even if it feels like Moroha could have figured it out on his own as well. Final Battle royale? Better use our patented version of the 'yelling makes you stronger' copyright to make Moroha save the day, (+friends, which was the one and only new thing) and make him remember something from his past life.

At the end of the day, all this show does is pass time. Nothing has changed by the end of episode 12, the status quo is merely maintained, and it didn't even fluctuate that much to begin with. You have way too much time on your hands? Maybe you just really love a piece of flashy action? Pick it up.

Otherwise, go somewhere else. You could be spending your time better.

[Ended] Log Horizon 2: THIS IS HOW YOU END A SHOW

Pros: More, and yet the same.
-The lore, plot, and story are all pulling aces
-There's more action this time around, while also not skimping on plot or story
-Shiroe is still a primary, but other characters are getting a lot more time, especially including the party of newbies
-A PROPER ending. This is the kind of ending that all anime should be envious of. Every relevant plot is resolved, but the story is left clear roads to continue expanding, we're given a taste of the seeds of the new plot lines, and most importantly, it feels satisfying. That's the part so many anime fail on while trying to 'cliff-hang' room for a new season. They make it so that the season we have is completely unsatisfying on its own. If Log Horizon 3 never comes? These two seasons will still be good on their own.

Cons: Nothing I can think of
-Just copy paste whatever I wrote about season 1 here and you're good. This is just Log Horizon++
(programming joke, sorry. Couldn't resist)

My Opinion: Welcome back to Log Horizon! No really. I loved Log Horizon, and the sequel did nothing to change my opinion about it. Which is a plus, because sooo many anime tend to have either one of the sequel outshining the first season, or making it look horrible in retrospect because you see what kind of a burning wreck it's going to crash into.

Impartial Judgement: This is Log Horizon, continued. It does bare mentioning however, that I came across more than a few opinions that the first season's action was underwhelming. Those opinions were mixed on it being because there was too little, or because it wasn't satisfying when it was there. The second season seems to have taken those opinions to heart, because it ramps the action up like there's no tomorrow. For once? I'm fine with that. They didn't skimp on the story or plot to pay for the increased action, and the lore is being woven in just as deeply as before, so it's all squared in my book. Additionally, Shiroe isn't the gravitational center of the majority of the story for once. Several other characters are given their own time to stand strongly in the spotlight. Emphasis on strongly, not any of this quick shuffling of people into and out of the spotlight like some shows fail at doing.

Long story short? If you liked Log Horizon 1, you'll like this.
If you didn't like Log Horizon 1? You may like this if the reason was lack of action...but you'll still have to have watched all of Season 1.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

[Ended] Parasyte -The Maxim-

Pros: If intellectual depth is what you're looking for in an anime, you'd be hard pressed to beat this without something like Serial Experiments Lain.
-Deep! Deeper! More Depth Required! I can't think of the last time anime tried to be so...down to earth. I mean, sure, everything's off the hinge surreal because Parasites but still it is a lot more grounded than anything that has been around lately. This show has a mission statement to crack open the human psyche and just keep digging.
-The animation is worthy of note, to me anyway, in how unique it was for the parasites. Not much to say on this point other than that, I'm not really the one to talk to about graphical fidelity.
-Actions worthy of mention. Ultimately, it's not what I was here for...strangely enough, given the fast start the show had, but when a fight does break out it is always the center of my attention, because it is always resolved practically. No plot armor here.

Cons: Depth. Yeah.
-I just know that somewhere out there, is someone who has taken great offense that anime would try to be at all psychological, but that's not what I'm talking about. For a lot of people, anime is a great way to unwind, to kick back and just mindlessly enjoy something fun. Personally, this anime still floats my boat on this point, but I like to think I'm at least kind of eccentric that brooding is a relaxing unwinding state.
-The ending is a little abrupt. At the same time, it feels like the kind of thing that may very well have happened in the original source material. There's more things to see and for the story to continue on with, but all relevant immediate plot points have been resolved in a very practical manner. It still is way too neatly cut for my tastes, but that's likely because I was really into this show.

My Opinion: This was an awesome show. Hands down, I loved it from start to finish. I may not have made any posts about it, but that was only because I was afraid of fangasm'ing all over EvilCat's blog. This show is just absurdly philosophical. You barely get a single episode to go by without Migi or Shinichi brooding on some question of humanity or morality. That said, there is always going to be that guy. You know, the never-happy-enough kook that will point out that "OH WELL NOW, the show hasn't REALLY talked about anything THAT deep! It could have talked about Philosophical Point A or Philosophical Point B, or ..." blah-dy blah blah nyeh. Whatever. They can go stuff it for all I care... okay I just got a bit strawman-fallacy'ish there. What I mean to say is, even if this wasn't taken in the context of it being an anime, and was just standing on its own, I feel the show would still be a good piece of deeper narrative than what you popularly get today. No one gets plot armor, things happen practically, and people react reasonably within expectations.

Impartial Judgement: Not for Everyone. Not by a long shot. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the things Migi and Shinichi brood on had never come anywhere close to some peoples worlds of thought. These days, we enjoy more than a little peace and most places. No where is perfect, but there is a bad case of 'The Bubble Worlds' that people sometimes live in, perfectly unaware of the terrible things that happen in the world. Me, I watch 'Criminal Minds' as entertainment, so I'm more than a little biased to enjoying a good moral gray and terrible happenings brooding about humanity and the human experience. If you want a solid deep story with a stable plot, Parasyte is for you. The action decreases in frequency as the show goes on, but interestingly enough gets more intricate in exchange. The plot however, isn't the deepest thing in the world. Unless you count the brooding as part of it, the plot is very face-value as Shinichi's motives for pretty much the entire show, and I suppose that could bug some people. He doesn't have a case of the Shinji's, he grows as a character, it's just very one sided most of the time.

Ultimately, I give this a full recommendation for anyone that doesn't feel squeamish around death and questioning humanity and morality.

Additionally, I have finally reached a conclusion about what to do for my own personal awards system. I just can't match EvilCat's system on a number of points, not the least of which being I hardly ever pay attention to animation or sound unless it is just so horrible you can't ignore it. By that point, it would be redundant of me to say anything. I've decided that I'm going to just file it down to the core essence:
Shows will either get a Recommended tag from my End posts, or not. Just because I wouldn't recommend a show doesn't mean it's bad. That's the part I've always wanted to avoid, inadvertantly labeling a show as 'bad' just because it wasn't something I myself would typically enjoy.
[Aside end]

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Wizard Barristers: A Farce. A fun Farce, but a Farce.

even the courtroom is flashy

Pros: Action. Lots and lots of flashily animated action.
-Did I mention action? And flashy animation? The 3D kind too. Lots of it. I know it was a looong time ago, but I commented on how ridiculously massive this studios budget for animation must have been.
-A mildly interesting plot, at first. Very law oriented, not something you commonly get out of anime.

Cons: Action Overload. No. Really. The show overloads itself with the action.
-They must have literally over-budgeted on the action animation, because right around episode 11 the rest of the animation just...literally dried up on screen. I thought the video was just bugging at first, but no. They seriously just start using still shots with sounds and talking happening behind them, and single frame/object animations. Yet, the 3D super robot fights still have full animation, even right after those stills. It is both sad, and hilarious. I've never had animation actually stick out as bad to me before without making effort to look.
-The law bit? Hope that wasn't what you wanted to watch the show for. Because it dries up as soon as the magic starts kicking in. Like, barren dry desert, no water to be seen, dries up.
-It just goes full on magical combat action. At least it isn't magical-girl 'I have power, it wins because it is just and Light attribute and friendship'. The robots still have to punch each other to pieces, and the one that's better made wins...grant that it is usually contrived to be made better because a plot-battery was freshly wired to someone. Still, the final battle is resolved with...scientific physics. That was interesting in its own right I suppose.
-The plot is full of holes. The story? It holds together alright, but the plot is just...full of coincidences and sometimes events border on some of the characters outright having plot-armor.

My Opinion: This show is waaay old on my list, but no where near as old as some other stuff I still just haven't gotten around to dropping. A project of mine has hit a bit of a short hiccup, so I had some free time to just sit and burn through something...and I chose this because it piqued my interest way back when. I was so hopeful for this show because it was fusing TV's Law&Order and CSI'ish law aspects and investigation with anime magic and human drama. Welp, expectations kind of crushed. The show starts to channel some serious coincidences and plot-armor level nonsense. I said out loud 'wow, what a ... coincidence', like, three times in a row in just one episode. I mean really, I'm one of the hardest people to break the suspension of disbelief, and I never just talk out loud while watching something. This was grating.

Impartial Judgement: When all is said and done though...the show was alright. It could have been a lot more than it is...ah well. I really do need to do something about my easily raised expectations when it comes to innovations. I really like shows like Criminal Minds, and I used to watch CSI, Law&Order, and one of the last I watched was NCIS (yay Gib-smack!). Back when I picked this show up... I think I was still watching NCIS. It felt like this show would fuse anime magic and real world law investigation with the practical fact, that if we actually had magic, it would just be one more way for us to muck everything up. Like every other powerful invention ever. Dynamite, Planes, Nuclear fission. First we make it as a tool...then we kill each other with it...then we utilize it as a tool. Fun cycle.
Still, aside from the ending feeling more rushed than anything else I've ever seen, the show holds together okay. I'm still annoyed by the plot holes, but for now I say it makes for a decent dose of action. Only action. Nothing else.

Monday, March 16, 2015

[Ended] When Supernatural Battles became Commonplace

Pros: Comedy, and unexpected coherence.
-It's Funny. That is always an opinion based thing, but it had me laughing all the time.
-The first time I've ever seen 'Chuunibyou' and not just 'ugh whatever' at it. Mostly because the character in question isn't completely in another world. He's actually paying attention to reality, he just likes to have his fun too.
-The presentation of the powers is...unique. I liked how they explained it, but talking about it would be spoiler'ish.

Cons: Short.
-The story literally starts to wind up into full gear, just as the anime ends. The most vexing of story and plot cliffhangers.
-Many of the reasons and situations for the worlds setting are either unexplained, or only briefly explained. I feel this is probably a side-effect of the short length of the anime, because what they do explain is well explained, if shallow. Again, spoilers, or I'd talk in more detail.

My Opinion: This was a wonderful little gem when I watched it. I was expecting it to be pure mindless comedy...but it actually wrapped the comedy package up nice and neat with a pretty bow of Plot on top. The story is clearly striving for a great deal of depth. It actively manipulates your perception of characters to hide or slip in subtle plot elements, which it later draws on. I love that kind of thing.

Impartial Judgement: If you want a strong dose of sensible surreal comedy, wrapped around a solid core plot, pick it up. If you can't stand cliffhangers, or actually like that solid plot and its story to resolve, maybe consider skipping this. I don't really get the impression this is the kind of show that would get a second season, but I've been surprised before.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Akatsuki no Yona: Redeemer of Adaptations

Everyone, allow me to introduce my Least Expected Favorite Character of All Time, 'Ao'.

Last Seen: Episode 17

A breath of fresh air. That's what Yona has been to me after saving it up and watching it in bulk. If any of you have read even one of the most recent posts I've wrote for anime adapted from Manga I've read, you've likely gotten more than two eye-fulls of my despair at their poor performance. It was getting to the point that I was sure I should just not bother with adaptations, after all, I've already read the story, why hear what I already know a second time? Why put up with worries and doubts that it will butcher the story to fit its limitations? Why see a story and characters I love made fools of with new plot holes and brutally cut short expectations? Sometimes even, (I'm looking at you Chaika), the complete fabrication of new characters to fit their new frankenstein'd plots?

Then, comes Akatsuki no Yona. Having already read the manga up to its latest translation, (I get email notifications when one is released), I knew that it was a slow build, and that 'Princess' Yona would be unbearably aggravating, so I put it in storage on hiatus until it had a lot more episodes for me to watch at once. I still watched up to episode 4 to scope out how the studio handling the adaptation was getting the job done, but after that I stopped keeping up with it week to week.

Well, I've just caught myself up in one massive bulk session, and suffice to say you can imagine how well it went since I'm writing a post about it. If I had to summarize in a phrase the essence of the manga's adaptation into anime, it would be 'The Breath of Life'. It earnestly feels like the studio breathed life into all of the scenes and characters, even some of them I hadn't realized were quite so wonderful, their presence fainter in the manga's stationary medium.
Yona has reminded me what a good adaptation is suppose to be. It's not suppose to be some cheap cash in, nor is it suppose to be a knee-jerk easy way to spread market awareness of the manga's story. What it is suppose to be, is a manga's story and characters brought to vibrant life, their struggles and stories made more vivid and relate-able through that wonderful medium we know and love as Anime. In the first place, if all an adaptation gets is a cheap cash in, or is only half-arsed because it's just to spread awareness, it backfires because the anime leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who already know it, and another piece in the pile of mediocre is only going to make people less interested in something they might otherwise have liked and checked out.

I never even realized when I was reading the manga, just how many scenes the squirrel is in once he debuts. He is so adorable, and everywhere. Plus, Hak's mischievous nature is SO much more funny in motion with live responses. So far I've loved all of the characters castings, they're playing their roles well and bringing the characters of the manga to life, just as good, if not better than I'd imagined them.
Which is saying something, if you know anything at all about how reality almost never meets expectations. Nothing is as large or grand as the castle you build in your mind, especially not your best effort to build it, since no one sees somethings flaws better than the one that built it.
[Aside end]
I really must draw emphasis, again, to the studios great job at breathing life into scenes I never even realized I doubted could be animated with as much impact as when a set of still images completely controls the passage of time and emphasis. They've done a great job with detailing things that happen in split seconds.

Hm. If there was one thing I was to point out my disappointment in, it's the second Opening music. (Yes, there's already a new one within about 15 episodes). It has a great build up in the opening few seconds and then...not quite as grandiose a climax as it feels like it's building to. Could just be my personal tastes though, I love me some orchestral shakes-you-to-the-bone inspirational musical effects. The musics not bad, just...less than it feels like it's going to be in those first few seconds. The first Opening felt a bit more consistent on that part, the crescendo matched more closely with the build up, which is probably the only reason I drew attention to it. I really don't understand what makes or breaks the decisions to have a new Opening or Endings, and especially not when.

EDIT: Ah ha! I knew there was something oddly familiar about the second ending, but since I was bulking the episodes I'd been skipping the endings, because the first one didn't really stand out much. Not bad, but not Great either sort of thing, pretty, but forgettable. I figured since I was mentioning the music I should go take a closer listen to the new second one, and when I did, it instantly clicked: That sounds like Akiko Shikata! Akiko Shikata is an absolutely divine sounding japanese singer, with an often distinctive musical composition to go with her vocals. It was simple enough to confirm that she was in fact the singer, and I'm so very pleased at how good of a match she is to this story. Grant, this particular piece is very underwhelming when held up in the light next to her other works, but that could just be because her songs tend to be slow building great climaxes. I highly recommend you go look around youtube for one of her songs, "EXEC FLIP ARPHAGE". One of my all time favorite pieces of music.