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 somehow...it'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
Recommendation.
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.

[New][July 2015] Actually I Am


Summary: Asahi Kuromine is a high school student who supposedly cannot keep a secret, given the nickname Leaky Basket for his inability to keep secrets. He has a crush on classmate Shiragami Youko, and after being encouraged to confess by his friends, he sets out to. However, before he can, he inadvertently discovers Shiragami's secret! Her fathers rule for her to attend school was that no one could find out, or she would have to leave school. Asahi, having watched her be alone the entire time, vows that he will keep her secret...He, the Leaky Basket.

First Impression: Pure comedy, no restraints. While there is a serious tone running somewhere in this shows musical notes, it's never the loudest note for more than about five seconds. In short, the serious is there to support the comedy, not the other way around.

My Opinion: This is going to be a great one if you want to just shut down some brain cells and laugh for a while. The core theme is romantic tension in the first episode, but I'm not sure if that is going to be the primary running gag of the show, since the focus seems to instead be on the comical pairings of radical character personalities. In short, I predict the show's primary trick will be throwing a bunch of extreme archetypes into a room, shaking it up, and seeing what comes out of the box when they open it, hopefully to hilarious effect. I haven't seen any particularly glaring errors, in terms of a comedy anime, but it's just episode one. I give it a Neutral Recommendation for Comedy at this point.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

[New][July 2015] GATE



Summary: On August 20XX, a gate suddenly appears in Tokyo's Ginza district, unleashing a portal where monsters, medieval knights and other fantasy beings come from another world and wreak havoc on Tokyo. The Japanese Defense Force take action against these monsters and push them back into the "Gate". Third Reconnaissance Team is dispatched to the "Special Region" lead by officer (and otaku) Youji Itami.

First Impression: It's hitting all the right notes. The main character isn't just magically ready for combat because 'reasons'. He has an actually sensible reason for being combat ready. I'm already giving this show a First Episode recommendation to watch, it looks very promising.

My Opinion: Excellent. There's not a lot of story in the first episode, but it lays the perfect ground work for the story to be superb. There's a lot of potential for an Otaku main character to fall flat, and just be grating on the nerves, but I already like this character. His mantra makes sense. No one should live for their job, unless their job is their hobby. Additionally, I thought the show was going to make the stupid call, and was trying to cut all blood out of the show, but when it came down to it they actually did show blood, and not a stupidly large amount, or a pathetically impractical small amount. Just enough, and not too much.

Which bears to the assumption that they're trying to avoid the show having an appeal point in violence and gore, which is always a plus in my book. Any show that makes the effort to appeal to violence as a reason to watch the show, however they rationalize it, tends to detract from whatever message it may try to convey. There are exceptions, such as something like Attack on Titan, where the violence is explicitly to underline the gloom everyone in that world lives under, and a few other shows, but without proper execution and restraint, it just risks being hypocritical.

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.

[Aside]

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.

[Aside]

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:

I COMMAND YOU TO WATCH.

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.

[Aside]
 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.


[Aside]
"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.

[Aside]
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.