Saturday, June 25, 2016

[Ended] Big Order - A Flop of an Ending



Pros: Flashy
-Lots of Pretty Animation
-Pretty good fight scenes
-Characters have at least plausible, if not explicitly interesting Motivations

Cons: That Ending.
-Insanity. It's around. I can't tell if it's deliberate, or something being mishandled.
-The story wound itself up like it was all that, then flopped like a fish at the end.
-Main character wasn't as whiny as the one from Mirai Nikki, and does improve over the course of the show, but still is far too incompetent a lot of the time.

My Opinion: Meh. It tried at least. I give this show a rating of
Bad
Because it flopped hard at the end, but at least it feels like it was trying to be unique and interesting...albeit maybe trying a bit too hard, to the point where it feels like the show was constantly trying to be edgy.
I think that may be my major complaint for this one, that it all feels so edgy. We've got incest implications, a character who's conflicted about liking and hating someone at the same time, a big ole pile of regrets for every character, the innocent hostage, and a third wheel love interest just so we can have a love triangle. Although, I do want to credit them on that last part, because I have never seen an anime's third wheel actually show some fucking initiative, like they actually were trying to get someone to love them. Credits for a lot of things in this show, for trying, but not quite making the cut. I'd like to talk about more of them, but that would be spoiling a lot of things. The show does try to be vaguely mysterious and have a bunch of dramatic reveals, although most of them are lackluster.

The ending though. We need to talk about it a bit. That was the most rushed thing I have seen, since Evangelion. There was definitely a budget cut somewhere on this anime. Either that, or the studio or producers or something, saw something coming up that they refused to actually animate and publicly air, so the show got the knife. The story apparently is from the same person who made Mirai Nikki, but I don't myself know whether Mirai Nikki or this show were made from light novels, mangas, or were just original scripts for animation by the author, I just know that both are sourced to him. I'm vaguely interested in if Big Order has a source material, but at the same time, I don't really know that I'm interested in reading it. I don't dig the Eiji and Sena thing. I don't mean that in a 'ooh incest is bad' sort of idiocy, I mean in the actual characters themselves getting together, as the show portrayed them. Eiji seemed to get on a lot better with either 'Not-Gasai-Yuuno, no-really' and bunny girl. Eiji and Sena really were portrayed as just brother and sister, for all the edgy'ness that was around them. Also, a lot of comments that I was reading seemed to be saying something about Eiji pledging himself to his sister in a romantic way? I never saw that. Maybe they were quoting the source material, and the anime rubbed that out. All I ever saw was the one scene in the opening music and animation, and hell, that things 100% tripping, so that doesn't mean squat.

Impartial Opinion: For all that the ending flopped hard, it really feels like it flopped because it was rushed, to me at least. I thought that the big reveal about what Sena's wish would be was done spectacularly, both in lead up, twist, and actual execution and how Eiji reacted. It was just ... everything else falling apart. The big bad turned over like a piece of paper, none of the 'Elite Squad' that was gotten together to face him down in the first place really amounted to jack shit in the ending, and so on. Plus that last dramatic fight...talk about reaching for a climax. The ending after it? Also completely unsatisfying. How many times do I have to say it, you can't just magic hand wave something important away, and expect everything to be fine. 'A contradiction cannot exist in reality, neither in part, nor in whole'. If you leave a contradiction in the weaving of your story or plot, and especially in the world both of those contain, it's going to taint the experience. To me, the biggest contradiction was always 'Why doesn't Eiji just use his fucking power more'. I mean, the show did make a point of Daisy sealing his power to puny levels, but still, he showed several times that he could be clever and innovative with it, but a bunch of other times, he basically just curls up in a ball and starts crying. Also, they never really used his special trick that he did with the bunny girl again, right until the ending. I was expecting more out of that special trick. Ah well.

At the end of the day, I think you should watch this show. Just, don't put your expectations anywhere above mid-level, and definitely turn most of your brain off and just go with the flow. It's a pretty enjoyable show for flash, and it definitely tried to have depth, even if it didn't succeed in actually getting it.

Over all, the show just feels like what you might get if you only watched half the episodes of Mirai Nikki. Like a helluva lot is missing.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

[New][April 2016] Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World-

Out of all the scenes, I chose this one.
because it was a really pretty scene.
...
bite me. It was really pretty.

Last Seen: Episode 7

Summary: Natsuki Subaru, an ordinary high school student, is on his way home from the convenience store when he finds himself transported to another world. As he's lost and confused in a new world where he doesn't even know left from right, the only person to reach out to him was a beautiful girl with silver hair. Determined to repay her somehow for saving him from his own despair, not to mention getting mugged in a back alley, Subaru agrees to help the girl find something she's looking for that was stolen from her.

First Impression: This is amazing! The core idea is not new, but it is being used in a fresh way. Which is to say, that while previously this ability was the core of the show, the thing that the story was mainly about, here it just seems to be a ... 'Feature' shall we say, of the main character, and the core of the story is the actual Plot of the world around him, or at the very least of the people close to him as he tries to figure everything that is going on out.

My Opinion: I think this one is going to be amazing, and you should pick it up. Like, Right Now.

...Why are you still here?
 Oh, right, because some stranger walking up to you, and yelling in your face to do something, just makes you feel like calling the police, not doing what they say.
The main character is a buffoon. He himself, is aware he is a buffoon, but it's just how he's chosen to live his life, like how some people just choose to be optimistic all the time. He's chosen to always try to enjoy the moment, and to simply go with his first thoughts most of the time. Thrown into a new world, he finds he can understand, and is understood by, the local populace, but can't actually read anything, and his money is worthless. To top that off, he sees Demi-humans walking about, and eventually finds out magic is around as well, plus a load of other fantasy set pieces.
The real core of the story however, is when he finally finds what is essentially the only significant thing about him in this world...that when he dies, he moves back in time to a fixed point. He understands very little about this effect, and has absolutely no idea what he is suppose to be using it for. He can find no reason why he was pulled to this world, no person who caused it, and has no idea how he suddenly has this ability. He can't read or write the language, has no marketable skills, and wasn't particularly strong or smart to begin with.
Ultimately, after he is murdered the first time and doesn't really comprehend whats happening, as time has reset around him...he simply decides to try to save everyone that is being killed in the small slums pawn shop where he first died. As the story unfolds, he finds out that one of them is in fact a very important person in this world...

There. That's a bit more detailed of a summary, albeit a little bit spoilery. Still, nothing you wouldn't have gotten out of the first half or so, of the first episode. Yes, that's right, first half. The first episode is twice as long as usual, with an A and a B part. For me, the glory of the show is the characters so far, and especially the main characters struggle to determine his course in this strange new world. Especially since time keeps resetting...He may remember the people he meets, and the things they did together, but for them, it never happened. The whole show is wonderfully dramatic, but at the same time, it never goes over the top. After all, he's just ... normal. Other than resetting everything when he dies, he has no outstanding characteristics, and that helps keep the show very well grounded.
I highly recommend this show, again.
Seriously go watch it.

[New][April 2016] BIG ORDER


Last Seen: Episode 5

Summary: This is a story that begins after the world ends.Ten years ago, A Great Destruction occurred in the world. Around that time, "Orders" began appearing. Orders are people whose wishes have been turned into supernatural power. It is generally believed that one of these Orders caused the Great Destruction. In fact, the one who confesses to having wished for world destruction is Hoshimiya Eiji. Except...today, 'Daisy' as he calls her, the being that grants peoples wishes and makes them 'Orders', appears before him again, and says that his wish was not for World Destruction...and that she looks forward to finally seeing him use his powers. Events begin to spiral out of his control, as a beautiful girl, Kurenai Rin, transfers into his school... then professes to be an assassin sent to kill him, for causing the Great Destruction, and for killing her parents! After she stabs his sister in her wheelchair to take her hostage, the story follows Eiji as he proceeds from there towards a path of World Domination...just like the hero, Evil Ranger, in his favorite show he used to love as a child...as he tries to remember how he caused the World Destruction ten years ago with his wish.

First Impression: This feels like Mirai Nikki, with a far less annoying main character. As a matter of fact, he's developing wonderfully by the fifth episode.

My Opinion: This is going to be Mirai Nikki all over again, only better because the main character isn't a bloody crybaby. Yes, he's scared, and fearful, but he grows a fucking spine when his sister is threatened, and he stands up when things need to be done.
On the other hand, there's a strange kinky streak in the show. The first episode deliberately ends with Rin making "suggestive" noises, despite that nothing of the sort is going on. Later on, we get a character that is obsessed with fondling people's boobs. I get the feeling this is just a quirk of the original author, this time around. The same author from Mirai Nikki.
Over all, this looks like it's going to be great, if a bit strange at times. (Those Mysterious Bunny Ears...)
You should have a pretty good idea of whether you want to watch this show or not already, but if not, I recommend watching at least 2 episodes, if not 3. The Plot seems to actually be moving at a fairly slow pace, despite the story thundering forward like it's on crack.

I recommend it so far.

[Ended] Active Raid

last of the bulk endings, now to do the backlogged New series

Pros: Good action that never feels mindless.
-An interesting insight into Japanese standards for Police conduct and law enforcement, as much as I'm sure the show takes liberties with what the reality may actually be
-The tech on display always manages to feel realistic, albeit some more than others

Cons: It comes off feeling very...out of place
-None of the characters are particularly deep
-The Plot is also quite shallow
-For all that it tries to present like things are always moving for good reasons, a lot of the shows direction still feels very...arbitrary?

My Opinion: This show is definitely either parodying, or taking heavy inspiration from the Kamen Rider/Power Ranger style. That is literally what the main cast of characters are in their world, for all that the show seems to be trying to be subtle about it.
Despite all of the cons, and the huge hard time I had trying to think up those 3 pros, I rather liked this show a great deal. I don't feel particularly awe inspired or amazed about it now, several weeks after the end of it, but while it was airing, I looked forward to it every week. I have to underline, again, that I really enjoyed considering this show an insight into how the Japanese police may likely conduct themselves. Sure, it has to be divergent from reality to some degree, but just the base line of all of the characters actions and the laws in the show is an amazingly unique perspective compared to everything I've ever seen of American law enforcement.
Even though I say the characters and plot are all quite shallow, and I do sincerely believe the show would have benefited from spending some more time fleshing them and the world out, still none of them feel particularly held back by this. It's not so much that there's a problem with how much development everything has, as much as it is that I simply would have liked to have gotten more of it.
I also want to point out that you should watch the opening music and animation every episode, and the ending as well. They do some subtle (and not so subtle) things with them, that I found very charming.

Impartial Opinion: The whole show feels like what you would get if you asked the Anime industry to make a show like Law and Order, or CSI. That's the majority of what I can say about the show, I'm afraid. I really should have wrote and completed this ending review as soon as I completed the show, because I feel like I had more to say about it back then. They do say hindsight is 20/20, I suppose.

Regardless, I give this show a rating of:
Good 

I enjoyed it, and I think others may as well. Watch 1-4 of the opening episodes to get a taste. While the show will try to have a bit more depth than what happens in those episodes, really, it doesn't succeed in getting very deep. It did move in some unexpected ways near the end, but ultimately nothing hugely amazing happens. It was just a good show.

[Ended] GATE

still hammering out these end posts, sorry if you really like the images

Pros: Tech meets Magic, but not in the usual way
-The characters are well fleshed out, with good distinguishing features and motivations
-The story moves in an amazingly realistic manner
-For all that magic exists in this world, nothing is ever hand-waved away with it
-The show has very little in the way of Erotic fan service, focusing more on...shall we say 'Personality Fan-service'

Cons: Some typical anime industry stereotypes are here
-The main character is clearly collecting a harem, albeit a Stereotype one instead of a Fan service one
-The show relies heavily on you supporting and liking the main character Itami, I have a hard time imagining someone who doesn't like him enjoying the show
-As much as the show does do amazing things, at the end of it, it still feels like it's moving incredibly slowly, for all that it may just be my opinion

My Opinion: This show gets a rating of:
Great
That's my opinion, Deal with it, because I'm about to explain it.
Yes, the show is filled to the gills with industry stereotypes, but in my opinion, the characters that hold them are never dominated by them. Remember, a stereotype is an amazing tool to quickly build a character, but the reason why they have become so tiresome and annoying, is because too many times the creators fail to develop the character past or out of the stereotype. To paraphrase the effect in a way, I could say "Once a tsundere, always a tsundere". The stereotype literally becomes the only defining feature of the character, it overpowers their personality and any traits they might otherwise have.
This show on the other hand, is so self-aware of each of the characters stereotypes, that a character comments on how Itami's group(/harem) is each individually appealing to him. Hell, while shows that have harem'esque features or groups to them have previously always had them competing with each other to get the main character, I've never seen a group compete in such diverse ways. Rory is literally trying to get into his pants, and probably wants a relationship with him as well, but very much so is making a higher priority of seducing him and getting into his pants. Tuka, on the other hand, is borderline hysterical about simply not losing him, rather than explicitly trying to have a relationship with him, even though as the show progresses it clearly presents her as wanting one. Finally, while Lelei clearly has feelings for Itami, she's putting them aside for the most part to continue pursuing her life's goals that she was working on before the entire Gate fiasco happened in their world, even using everything she learns from our world to further her endeavors.
I want you to really focus in on and pay attention to that last one. A member of a harem'esque collection NOT having their entire life rewritten by the appearance of the harem center character. Hell, I'm not even comfortable using the term 'harem' to reference Itami gathering all three of these characters together, for all that the eventual fourth one does feel more fitting with the term. Can't really talk about that one without spoilers.

Additionally, I love the action in this show. With a passion. I will never get over how hard I laughed at and loved it when they started playing Ride of the Valkyries when sending out the choppers. Never.
Since it's predominantly based on modern technology, it's kind of hard to describe it in some manner of appealing way. I just really, really, like it when they find a reason to ship out the soldiers to go fuck somethings shit up.

Impartial Opinion: This show is amazing, and I think everyone should try it. You can't please all of the people, all of the time, so if you don't like it that's fine. There are certainly plenty of things in the show that could be irritating or downright off-putting. However, the potential gain for liking the show massively outweighs those, in my opinion. The Modern-setting is something we rarely see presented in shows, especially not in shows that have magic. Typically, whenever magic shows up, our modern worlds characteristics are drastically rewritten, if not completely erased. Yet here, we have a show that seems to have a mission statement of trying to accurately, even if entertainingly, present what it would be like for our modern world to suddenly happen upon fantasy and magic. We wouldn't just have millennia of our history and culture rewritten in an instant, hell, most of the average populace of the planet either wouldn't give a shit, or wouldn't have the means to care or do anything about it anyway.
In fact, that's part of the appeal of the show to me; Showing how we would bring all of our bloody history to bare against an underdeveloped world, and how absolutely alien and strange the way we conduct ourselves would seem, especially that we wouldn't just immediately start conquering and pillaging. For all of the embarrassment it brings me to be related to someone who's legitimately wishing for Trump to be elected president here, because they're joining the army and want him to start a war so they can earn glory...as a whole, our world has in the majority gotten over the idea of the Glory of War, and instead acknowledges it as the massive tragedy and waste of life and resources that it is. Albeit at the cost of several instances of Nuclear Devastation...
This show does good job of not only having all of the characters from our world conduct themselves in a reasonable manner, but also of presenting the reasons and motivations behind their conduct.
If I had to condense what this show feels like to me, I would say:
"Realistic Surreal Happenings."

[Ended] Utawarerumono - The False Faces

In the interest of getting a few of these end posts hammered out that have been collecting dust
in draft form, I'm going to skip the quick image cuts of the shows, and shall resume again after.


Pros: Great Characters
-Characters don't always get a lot of time to develop, but they rarely feel like they needed more
-The world is amazingly deep
-The Story has the power to stand on its own without the previous season

Cons: Years divided seasons
-Several characters make cameos from the first season, and the show doesn't really seem to bother trying to fill in the new viewers about those characters beyond what they immediately need to know to make them function where they show up. As a result, I expect many people to see them as kind of Flat, uninteresting characters, or to feel like they're magic mc'guffins to advance the plot/story
-You're only going to see one-half of the true depth of the world from the second season. The two season basically exist in such a way that they are telling a story from two different opposing view points, but you wouldn't be able to tell this without seeing both seasons, and it would spoil things greatly to try to explain what those opposing views are in any detail
-For all that the story stands on its own, the plot is clearly a continuation of the first seasons plot, and I don't think a lot of people are going to even realize that there is more to the plot, without being told by someone that knows

My Opinion: This was a splendid ride from the start...but not quite to the finish. There is so much that is going to be happening right after the show ends, yet still, there it ends. As I understand it, this show is being adapted from some form of either Visual Novel/Game. I don't remember the specifics, and I don't particularly care about them either, but I think it's safe to say that this show is a strong candidate for getting another season...but...
The last time it took what, Years? How long are fans suppose to wait? Whatever, the show is good enough to wait for, I just find myself thinking, 'how would you pitch this to your source of funds', whatever that may be, publisher, company, EtC.

It's not quite a 'wild ride', like you may get from other shows. Here, the action takes place as a reinforcement of the ebb and flow of the story and world, rather than as a set piece to dominate the scenery. In fact, most of the time the 'action' is just brief flashes of pawns killing each other for a few seconds, before flashing to a more developed character who will actually show something worth seeing. Even then though, the show enjoys underlining that for all their power, still that character affects only a small part of the battlefield. The grand movement of the battlefield seems to be treated as far more important to the show. I like that myself, and the action and fighting of those main characters, in addition to the characters themselves, are superb in my opinion.

Impartial Opinion: This is a good enough show on its own, but until/unless it gets a continuation, I don't really feel comfortable recommending it, especially since if you want to understand the true grand over-arching plot of the show, you have to devour the entire previous Utawarerumono show.
Still, it can be said that you don't need to do that, I suppose. However, you'll miss several subtle cues and foreshadowing moments, or may not even understand at all why things suddenly happen in one or two points of the show. Over all, you will still understand everything you need to. The deeper meaning and plot will potentially evade you though, and you may not understand as much of the direction the show aims itself in at the end. With the previous season in your pocket, you will fully understand what the show is hinting at that it is going to do if it gets another season. You may still have a vague idea of that hinting, but not as much.

I give this show a rating of:
Good

Whether you decide to watch it should be decided within about 3 episodes, but I would also underline that you should really watch the first season before this one, for all that I'm sure a newcomer could still enjoy this season on its own.
However, you cannot tell the worth of the first season on it's first few episodes, as it takes a much longer time to develop everything. I view this as a shortcoming while trying to sell people on the show as a whole, but in the long run it's probably what made that first season great.

[Aside]
Y'know, the one time I decide, "eh, let's just assume crunchyrolls paid(I assume) translators know something I don't, and not heckle about this ones title. It probably can mean that too."
...the one time. Bah. KAMEN RIDERS ANYONE? I haven't even SEEN that ancient as dust show and that's all I need, to know that Kamen means mask. How did they...oh who cares.
Mask not Faces. Whatever. Yes it makes a lot better sense, from a translation point AND from the plot.
[Aside end]

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

[New][April 2016] Bungo Stray Dogs


Last Seen: Episode 2

Summary: Kicked out of his orphanage after its supplies are ravaged by a wild tiger, and on the verge of starving to death, as well as having recently ran for his life from that same Tiger in the middle of a city...Nakajima Atsushi meets some strange men. One of them, Dazai Osamu, is a suicidal man attempting to drown himself in broad daylight. The other, Kunikida Doppo, nervously stands by obsessively flipping through a notepad, and trying to keep tabs on Dazai. Both are members of the "Armed Detective Agency" said to solve incidents that even the military and police won't touch. Atsushi ends up accompanying them on their mission to eliminate the tiger that's been terrorizing the population, as they take a keen interest in noting that the Tiger is following him, even though he himself hasn't noticed it yet.

First Impression: Comedy. I have seen nothing but comedy. Even when it tried to get properly serious in the second episode, I saw through it for what it actually was. Still, it tried.

My Opinion: Well. Right now it's still just introducing its main cast, and it has several more characters and powers to make a show of based on the lineup presented in the first episode. Interestingly enough, the show enjoys taking a moment to flash on screen every characters power when they are introduced, but...only the name. I...actually kind of like this. The name implies a vague idea of what the power might do, but it still leaves it up to the viewer to try and guess what it will actually be like.
Over all, the show has a very strange feel to it. I can't really grasp what the core of the show is going to be. Certainly, there's a hefty dose of comedy, and even some...mystery? But it doesn't really seem to focus on that. Also, for all the large flashy animations attached to the powers, the actual use of them is...extremely brief. Same for the action scenes. Maybe it's just because the show is still introducing everyone, and trying to get the viewer to connect to them. For now, the show has my curiosity well in hand, despite that nothing has really stuck to me, other than how weird they're making their characters out to be, psychologically.
That's something I want to point out, the show makes a point of explicitly saying something along the lines of, "all power holders have something twisted in their minds/personalities". I think more than anything else, that got my curiosity the most, the promise of an entire main cast with psychological issues to define their characters and personalities, instead of the usual checklist of anime character tropes. But, well, it could still just become that in the end. We shall see.

[New][April 2016] Twin Star Exorcists

annnnd I hate everything about you

Last Seen: Episode 2

Summary: Monsters known as Impurities reside in Magano, a realm parallel to the present day. Exorcists purify these evil apparitions to protect the people. Rokuro Enmado is opposed to becoming an exorcist, even though he has the talent to be one, after a tragedy in his past that killed all of his friends and cost him an arm. Benio Adashino, a girl from a highly influential/rich family of exorcists, is determined to exorcise all the Kegare, or Impurities, in the world. A pledge Rokuro once believed in as well, and which inspires him to fight just once to rescue her. However, afterwards, even though he tries to continue to refuse being an exorcist, the Oracle calls a meeting of all Exorcists, and proclaims a vision that Benio and Rokuro are the path to the 'Miko', the person who will destroy all Impurities forever, coming to the world. He therefore declares them engaged to be married.

First Impression: It's...shounen. That's...about it. A bit edgier than what I typically think of in shounen, but that seems to be the rolling trend these days. More edge and blood and such.

My Opinion: Eh, it could be good. Honestly, for all that it makes out to have an edge on it, (it doesn't really try to draw attention to it, it's just something I picked up on), what with the scene where Rokuro's arm is gone and all of his friends are scattered around him, bloody and dead in a burning building... it all still feels fairly...shounen. Maybe that's just the Fox familiar who in precisely ONE scene, managed to make me utterly hate him as soon as he opened his mouth. Or the 'friend' of Rokuro's who the show clearly lines up as a potential romantic interest... Or hey, how he actually hesitated for a moment before refuting his non-exorcist vow and flaunting his overwhelming power. A brief moment of humanity before total inhumanity. For all that it seems to want you to think it has deep parts in its story or plot, it still comes off feeling shallow somehow, somewhere. Regardless, it's interesting enough that I'm going to watch it, and who knows but that it might be good in the end? For now though, I see nothing amazing or out of the ordinary to recommend it, unless you just want something flashy, a bit funny, and with a few deep emotional points, to add to your roster to fill time.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

[Ended] Myriad Colors Phantom World: Shallow to the last

we already knew that...YOU told us several episodes ago. Thanks for the recap.

Pros: Like the title says, it is colorful
-The actions okay
-Several of the abilities and phantoms are quite interesting
-The core concepts of the World setting are quite good, in my opinion

Cons: Just about everything else
-The main cast especially, but everyone in general, is archetypical(I just made that up) and trope'y.
-The plot is full of holes
-They magic handwave for several of those holes. Poorly. (yes you can skillfully handwave things away)
-The individual stories are tiresomely done before, and the only time they're interesting is scaled directly to what amount the phantoms play a role

My Opinion: This kind of show has been bugging me for a long time. Not any of the genres it tries to fit, the setting, plot, or characters none of that. I mean how I feel about the show, the kind of feeling this show invokes that others have as well. This...brooding dissatisfaction. This lack of anyone one true flaw to point at and criticize, while also lacking any one true redeeming or remarkable feature to laud about.
So.
I'm going to take a page out of a favorite critic of mines book, from Yahtzee's Zero Punctuation series, and imbibe unto myself a new way of 'ranking' shows that I watch and cover for Evil Cat's blog. Henceforth, in the My Opinion segment I will grant a show I watch my opinion crystallized into one of these four:
Great=Because some shows, even if they are completely outside of your tastes, will display quality above and beyond the norm. Shows worthy of being praised in pieces and parts, even if you hate the general sum.
Good=For shows that are quite nice, something worth enough to pass the time, to shut your brain off and laugh, mindlessly root for screaming teenagers to beat up bad guys in flashy fights with flashy powers, to brood, but not too deeply, Et Cetera. Possessed of flaws, but not held down by them.
Bad=Because some shows are just falling apart at the seams. Errors, mistakes, poor decisions. Completely unredeemable characters or story, or just so horribly contradictory or aimless that whatever they planned to do, it never comes across or falls apart.
Mediocre=For when a show truly aspired to nothing at all. A bad show at least tried to be more than its other peers, and if nothing else, is valuable to watch for other animators, authors, or studios to learn from on what not to do, or how great plans and materials can be brought to ruin. Some shows just find a rut, and not only sit in it, but take root and fossilize in it. For where the overwhelming majority of the show is drowning in the works of yesteryear, completely unchallenged, innovated on, or at all presenting any sign of effort to even just improve what things were already doing.
This one is overwhelmingly a

Mediocre show.
That first episode is still great. I went back and watched it again, and I still like it. But the rest of it? Gag me with a spoon, seen it, done it before, done it BETTER before. The show descends from its pedestal of interesting intelligent main character, a snarky joke on fan service that I rather liked, and an absolutely (still) wonderfully interesting concept for the World and powers...
and just shuffles its feet back onto the railroad tracks of tropes and standards. Fan Service, while not frequent, is still standard fair. The Main character goes on a harem'esque collection of girls for his party, all of the characters fit into a small pool of tropes that don't see any innovation for being smashed together, and the Phantoms seem to always take a backseat when push comes to shove against the oh-so-wonderfully bland main cast. 
Hey, maybe this is spoilers, but in case none of you had noticed, lets run down a summary and see if you can spot the trope's owner eh?
[Spoilers(sort-of)]
Spunky Athlete.
Tsundere.
Noble/Aristocratic.
Loli.
Cripplingly Shy becomes Permanently Courageous.
A Magical Girl sequence.

Big Eater.
Big Boobs-vs-Little Boobs.
Mascot.
The Chew Toy [L].
Punches when Touched.

[Spoilers End]
Look, I'm not saying tropes are bad. Tropes are building blocks, you start with them, and should rise up from them. This show just stacks the blocks together into a square and calls it done. Here, let me quote myself from the Comet Lucifer end post:
"If you have no rules to restrict you and make you innovate, then you could pull a magic mc'guffin out of a hat at every turn to fix all your problems. The show does that. All the time. It's really annoying, because they could have done the exact same things, but if they hadn't just magically pulled them out of thin air, and had actually taken some time to do some setup and foreshadowing, or even just a brief explanation, it all wouldn't have left behind such a sour taste."
Literally the only thing they don't magic Mc'guffin is the remote that gives them access to the Big-Brother-Gov'ner baddies servers, and still they have to magic Mc'guffin TWO MORE THINGS from thin air to make it work. Why? Because they left it alone until the LAST episode. I'm serious. The main character pokes it a few times at random disconnected flashes in the show, but never actually makes more than that single bit of progress that throws a big foreshadow in our faces and then...quietly poofs from existence. I had serious hopes for that remote redeeming this show, and it just ended up getting beaten down by everything around it.
Finally, I want to just point out that the Main Characters great power-up at the end is a complete contradiction to everything around it, as the show portrays it. They totally could have made it legit in a good handful of ways, I'm sure, for I can think of at least two, but the way they actually explain it? As far as I understood it, it contradicted itself.
[Spoilers]They say he can recover his power(s?) by basically taking it/them from Ruru because she's some kind of early highly-connected locus of his power and memories, and has been growing with him all this time because he >summoned< her so early in his life. Bullshit. So if he had just kept his other two summons around all the time, (in fact why does he ever unsummon them), then they too wouldn't have disappeared when he had his power(s) taken? If they tried to say that she was some kind of external informational backup of all his memories because he shares them all with her, that would have made some sense. ESPECIALLY since she starts acting like Haruhiko after his power(s?) are taken. Another matter. The hell was taken from him? Solomon's Finger? The ability to draw things to seal them? The general ability to summon things? All of the above? It's implied that she takes everything. When the other people had their powers taken, most especially the one with the water staff, the act of taking unsummoned the power. So, if Haruhiko created/summoned Ruru with his power, ostensibly inspired by the old book his mother had, why wasn't she unsummoned? Her just having her personality cleaved makes no sense. How everything plays out seems to imply that all Enigma was really doing was draining some of peoples powers off the top down to a level so weak they couldn't manifest, and then Haruhiko just uses Ruru as an external battery to recharge that little bit that was left. But that's not how the rest of the context says it. If they wanted to play this out, they shouldn't have brought that stupid book in, or at the very least, made it not pertain or suggest it was the source of Ruru. If they wanted her to be an external backup/battery of his memories/abilities, then they should have pushed the idea that he was either born with her, or that shortly after his birth/gaining his ability, he randomly and unknowingly created her before he understood anything at all. It still falls under my criticism that Ruru should have been unsummoned, but at least it has a slightly more tenable reason why she might be a strong enough force unto herself to exist without Haruhikos power feeding into her. Hell, just underlining a difference like that between her and his other two summons would have been good. In general, just not saying that she was summoned by him like the other two, just she was done when he was really young, would have been better. At least then it could have at least tried to hand wave it away with, "oh she's a force unto herself because Haruhiko never really bound her to him, because he created her unintentionally, so she exists on her own power, and was just still feeding off of some of his." See? It at least is a little harder to immediately tear into than "he summoned her from a books inspiration when he was really young, so she's different."
[Spoilers End]

Impartial Opinion: Too Shallow.
That first episode? Great. Should have kept rolling like that. Instead, the show seems to reel from how amazing it just was, and decides to dial everything back five notches. If the show had tried to push the boundaries of even a handful of the wonderful potential gems they had, it would have been great.
On the risk of spoilers, here's some examples of things I think were really well done, or at least worthy of mention, but are examples of things that never really developed as much as they could have:
[Spoilers]
Connecting Reina's appetite versus fit figure to her Ability, and then also having her able to heal with her mouth. Was that scene clearly fan service? Yes. Was it still fluent with the world and story? Absolutely. I'm quite amazed they never used this healing power of hers ever again in the show. They did a good job of focusing all of her ability around her mouth, and then finding an interesting innovation for it.

Mai's ability. No. Really. This was clearly thought up as fan service, but the idea itself was really interesting. Unfortunately, Mai and Koito are the only two who never saw any kind of innovation with their abilities. Maybe because they were already stronger than the others on the starting line, but that's just making excuses. They literally never used Reina's new ability again, so clearly they had the means and precedent to at least have them develop a little bit.
Ruru's build up. No, not the character herself, nor the eventual unveiling of her...(well sort of hers?) great power, because those are respectively the-most-annoying-thing-since-I-can-remember, and the most overwhelmingly obvious reveal ever. They spent so long teasing and hinting at her being super relevant to Haruhiko, that I was lead to expect a hell of a lot more then literally the most obvious part of it being the big power itself. The actual build up though? Amazing. Mostly because every ounce of my organic matter wanted to end her.

[Spoilers End]
Now. About whether you should watch this. Sure. There is a whole bunch of really shiny gems scattered about in the show, it's just...they never really make a lovely piece of jewelry out of it. Heck, they just barely super glue all of it into a big gooey rock pile by those last two episodes. The whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth, but I get the strong impression that I set too high of expectations, and then was let down. If you approach with moderate-to-zero expectations, this would probably be quite enjoyable.

On the whole though, I feel like so much of this was rushed, and like there really should have been not only more to ...everything, but also a slower and more intricate build up for everything. Honestly I'm not inspired enough to see if/what source material exists, but if it is out there, I get the feeling it might be better. Or the most depressing thing ever if it's exactly the same.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Myriad Colors Phantom World: Just...not going anywhere.


Last Seen: Episode 11

I waited it out to give it a chance, but really, I think I give things too much leeway a lot of the time. Certainly now that I'm spending more time around people I keep getting complimented on my patience for putting up with really stupid shit.

This show had a really promising first episode, and I still think that. It was really well laid-out and executed but...that was about it. After that, the show just gets so...un-amazing. I mean that there isn't anything particularly bad about the show, it's just there isn't anything spectacular or amazing, or even just interesting about it after that one great introduction. I suppose I kept holding out, because they keep waving these shiny things in front of the audience, promising that they may just do something amazing, but then they don't. The stupid remote, Haruhiko's ability never going anywhere, the harem'esque collection of new girls for the party...hell the general atmosphere of the show feels like a slice of life all the time, instead of what I thought it was promising with a really interesting surreal world to explore. For crying out loud, they didn't even use that really neat animation they had at the start of the episode when Haruhiko is waking up EVER again and I really thought that it had some kind of meaning about how Haruhiko perceives the world.

Hell, I think the only thing I truly enjoyed every episode was the one thing the show constantly seems to feel ashamed of, the opening sequence when Haruhiko just sits down with the audience and talks really deeply about some random piece of trivial knowledge. Ostensibly, that piece of knowledge is suppose to be relevant to that episode, but only ever so tangentially.
By all that is unholy and evil, that stupid floating elf is more annoying than any character I have ever seen yet. She constantly interrupts whenever something really intelligent is being said, even in the part of the show devoted to talking that way, evidencing that the studio behind this really was afraid we are all to stupid to pay attention if we aren't flashed a pair of tits every other minute. She contributes nothing to the story despite her constantly being around Haruhiko for no explicable reason, and she is just always doing something stupid. Having a prat-fall character in a show for comedic effect is fine, but having one that never amounts to anything but prat-falls is just annoying.

Don't get me wrong, the show's by no means completely terrible or a waste of time. In fact, it's a pretty good time killer. But that's all it is. There isn't anything deep about the show, at all. Not the characters, not the world, not the story. I'm not even sure there is a plot anymore outside that remote which gets shown maybe once every 3 episodes.

I waited till this long because I'm not sure how long this anime is running. If it's the short-season anime that I feel like it's going to be, they only have 1-2 episodes left to wrap things up. On the other hand, if this runs it out twice the current length, maybe they have some room to impress me, but I doubt it. At this point, I'm at about 90% certainty that everything about the show that I thought was really promising, was just me reading too deeply into things. The stupid fairy, that opening animation, and a few other things that I'm just going to go ahead and write-off as wastes of my time and attention.

In short? If you picked this show up because of my recommendation, I'm sorry, but really I only ever did recommend just that first episode, even in the post itself. Maybe I had my misgivings even back then...ah well, hind-sight 20/20 eh?
If you haven't picked this show up, know that there really isn't any reason for you to do so unless you just want to turn your brain off for a while, laugh, and kill some time.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Utawarerumono - The False Masks: How to Defy all Plot Pacing Standards


Last Seen: Episode 17

I've seen plots move in unusual directions before, I mean, that's kind of one of the core sources of gimmicks for stories...
But I have never seen a Plot just go for a jet-speed nosedive for the heart of the story like this! This is amazing. I knew that they would eventually bring to full baring the story from the first season, once Tusukuru was mentioned, that was basically set in stone but...wow. I did not expect it to be so suddenly and forcefully brought to bare. The simple way they went about this, everything they explained in this episode and how they explained it, and then the foreshadowing at the end of the episode, is just too much. I hereby give this a

Recommendation: for one of the most unrestrained breaks from industry standards I've ever seen. Never before have I seen a plot with amnesia and a loaded backstory not get drawn out tortuously slow as the amnesia character slowly picks pieces of memories out and puts them together...or for them to just immediately obtain the memories that make the backstory completely clear. 
[Aside]You may be wondering, "17 episodes in? That's super slow...", but understand that they don't feature the mains amnesia at all until this point. It's all world and character building.
[Aside end]

HOWEVER:

CONDITIONS FOR RECOMMENDATION:
You cannot escape it anymore, if you really want to understand the things that are about to happen in this show, you will need the first season/series' story in its whole. Just as I said before as well, if you go to watch the first part, THOU SHALT SKIP THE FIRST EPISODE, if it begins with anything other than the Masked Man waking up. You can watch it after you finish the series, it literally is an OVA for all intents and purposes for how removed from the rest of it that it is.

Additionally, thanks to a comment in Crunchyroll, I am informed that Funimation is providing the Subtitled version on their website, and have confirmed with my own eyes. Even better, they don't have that retarded first episode, they actually start where the show is suppose to start. Which makes me wonder...if the streaming site I originally watched this on was just straight up stupid and made an actual OVA the first episode because they couldn't tell any better...
If that is the case, I apologize for raving like a lunatic about something completely false for so long.
For convenience sake, despite not knowing if Evil Cat has any particular preferences about not using links in his blog...
Funimations episodes for streaming:
Utawarerumono Season 1

A note about Funimation though: Their stream seems a little slow, so if you plan to watch several episodes at once, I recommend starting the buffer, going to get something for snakes, or doing chores or what not, and then when you come back to it fully buffered, opening the next episode to buffer as you start to watch the first.
Also, if I recall correctly, Funimation tends to lock their Dubbed episodes behind their premium wall after a handful of episodes for each Series, so I recommend just sticking with the Subtitled version.

Friday, January 15, 2016

[New][January 2016] Myriad Colors Phantom World



Summary: In the near future, monstrous creatures called “phantoms” descend upon the world when an explosion at a Biology facility releases a virus that alters humanity, making them able to see the 'Myths' and 'Legends' that had been merely that for so long. As the virus spreads through second hand exposure, people also begin to develop abilities to combat and seal the Phantoms. Haruhiko Ichijo is a student at Hosea Academy, along with Mai Kawakami, Reina Izumi, and Koito Minase. All four of them have abilities against phantoms, and are part of the schools Phantom-Hunting Club. The story follows them as they become a team in this new world of Humanity and Phantoms, for not all phantoms are of ill-intentions. 

First Impression: Very silly right out of the gate, but at the same time, practical and down-to-earth. I'm quite interested in that precious balance they've struck.

My Opinion: This was exceptionally interesting as a first episode, and as a show. I think it's the first time in a long while I've felt like the first episode gave me a solid grasp of the nature of the show. I suppose that may be in part due to the fact that the first episode is basically trying to do just that, show you the nature of the show, with little restraint, or the usual sleight of hand tricks the industry typically goes about. Like, Ichijo literally sits down and says to someone, "now, I know you probably already know this, but just to be sure *world backstory*." I think that's amazing. It has been a long time since I saw a show just unabashedly sit and explain something...and not monologue for half an episode. I'm serious, its always been pretty polarized before this, even in good shows.
This first episode never really stops to linger on any one thing for too long, it feels like it has an agenda, a checklist of things it wants to be sure you've seen from its story and world.
For instance, its style of fan service. I'm just...wow. I'm super impressed with it.
[Aside]
If anyone has any doubts about how serious a statement that is, just search this blog for any post by me with 'fan service' in it, and you will probably find a paragraph long rant about how I think the industry is over-saturated with it.
[Aside end]
That's about all I can say about that though, "I'm super impressed with it", without being super spoiler'y. Well, okay, I can say that what is super impressive is that it doesn't break the flow of the show at all. Not even a little bit. It's so flush with the rest of the story and show that I just...I suddenly realize that's one of the primary reasons I hate fan service so much: Most of the time, the entire world slows down, bullet-time style, and zooms in, just to feature fan service, and the gravity of the whole situation seems to bend the forces of the universe in on the fan service to make it possible. It has always been just so token and tiresome to me. I still grant that the nature of how Mai uses her ability was probably(gets to the Ki of Metal scene) definitely thought up exclusively to provide Fan Service, but it still fits into the world naturally, and they don't overly linger on it like literally any other show would while it's on scene.
Meanwhile, I was getting to genuinely laugh at Phantom Worlds service. Which, I grant, probably isn't the intended effect 99% of the time, but I will give a standing ovation to anyone that fluently allows both parties to be pleased on this.

So, I give this show a Recommendation for the first episode, if nothing else, as an example of what I think fan service should be like, since we clearly aren't going anywhere in this industry without it.