Saturday, October 18, 2014

[New][October 2014] When Supernatural Battles became Commonplace

Summary: Five students suddenly acquire supernatural powers...but soon realize that there are no wars, conspiracies, evils empires, nothing amazing at all, in their high school life. They instead decide to idly have fun by wasting their powers away.

First Impression: Comedy-Action. Whatever or wherever else this show tries to go, or feature, the core of this is definitely Comedy, plus action, in that order. After 'I Can't Understand my Husband' turning out to be a 3/5 minute anime, I suddenly was struck by the concern while re-reading this ones various summaries that it would also be a short-episode anime. Fortunately, it is not.

Personal Opinion: On account of it being a full episode anime, this is a show I'm going to look forward to week to week. From where they've started the show, the only place it can go is up. It either will maintain the status quo where it is, and stay comedy-action, or it will try to incorporate some depth with the comedy. If it succeeds or fails, ultimately the failure can only be entertaining, and the success intriguing.
To be straight-forward honest, I like the comedy in the show. At first I thought it was just going to be a 'Chunnibyou' (or however the roman'ization of that is spelled) centered story, which I personally don't find all that interesting, but instead it's straight up a fantasy/surreal story, and I've enjoyed just about the entire first episodes comedy, so I am pleased.

Pending additional episodes, I don't see this one becoming spectacularly amazing as far as plot-depth goes, I can already predict a handful of possible directions the story will go, and I'm not expecting any surprises from it. Regardless, I enjoyed it so far, and that's what counts in the end, right?

[New][October 2014] Parasyte -the maxim-

WELL NOW, that's one way to start the party

Summary: Aliens(?) arrive one night on earth, infecting life forms and developing off...or in them.

First Impression: This one's going to be a wild ride. Action seems to be a feature...but not the core? Which feels strange. The first episode spends most of its time world-weaving and fleshing out the characters a fair bit. 

Personal Opinion: I'm already deeply interested. This seems rather unique, not only in the realm of Aliens in anime, but also in feature parasites, and the way the main parasite behaves and acts. It leads me to suspect this is going to feature a very strong Human Interest element. Possibly intrigue but...this doesn't feel like the kind of show that would deviate to that, nor the kind that would reveal intrigue as one of its elements in the first episode. Despite featuring a rather well detailed action scene, it's presence almost at the end of the episode is very refreshing. I am ever so tired of the philosophy that we all need to be fish-hooked in the first 5 minutes with action or we can't be bothered to pay attention. I wish it would hurry up and die out, but ultimately, that's something that will only happen when a lot of people want it to. As it is, this show still played a Horror-hook in the opening scene. While rarer than an Action-hook, and as such a bit novel and interesting still, it's the same idea.

All in all though, I like everything I've seen so far. This is going high up on the weekly anticipation list inside my head. I give a whole-hearted Recommendation for this one,

Assuming gore doesn't bother you. It has a lot of that, it seems. Also, really really weird mutations and stuff all the time when the parasites are involved. If the 'Uncanny Valley' and it's effects bother you too much, this show is going to mess with you.

Monday, October 13, 2014

[Continued][October 2014] Log Horizon 2

Summary: This is Log Horizon, continued. It picks up where it left off.

First Impression: This is a Null value.

Personal Opinion: I've been looking forward to this. With Magic High Irregular ending recently, Shiroe will fill the niche that Tatsuya was occupying quite nicely. Somehow, the two seem similar to me, scheming their way through their problems while dealing with restrictions and consequences. (not as many consequences for Tatsuya, but you get the idea).
They start out right out of the gate with a few flash-forwards of upcoming scenes and action, before they play the opening. I'm not...fond of such things. I hate spoiling information with a passion, and I have been more than a little obsessed with avoiding it in the past. Likely onwards into the future as well. However, I remember commenting that the show felt like it had an underwhelming amount of action compared to what it seemed like it would give, and the flash-forwards may be a way to placate those who eagerly seek and await that action.
They also kept the old opening, with new scenes overlaid on the music. A mixed bag for me, I don't really like the first few lyrics sung in english, and it's only after them, about half way through the opening music, that it really kicks into music I like, but I don't outright hate it I suppose. Haven't skipped it yet, so I guess that's a plus for it. I am, however, saddened to see the outro go, and a new one brought in. I rather liked the old outro a lot. New one is okay, is good, but nostalgia blinds me from fully appreciating it.
Me? I just want to continue to watch Shiroe scheme and plan his way through things with the group of friends he's got. So...I'm not the best for an objective opinion at the moment.

I gave Log Horizon's first season my Best Story award when it finished before, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't expecting it to somehow live up to that again. Statistically, most anime don't do that, and I normally don't like expecting things, more disappointment. I like this show too well to stem that in though I suppose.

[Ended] The Irregular at Magic High School (Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei)

Mahesvara, huh? Let's see...ah, AKA Shiva. Gotcha.

Pros: Depth.
-Characters are human. Up until the last few episodes, no one is linear, most of the people have motivations for what they do, good or bad. Not just Evil for the sake of Evil.
-Interesting Magic. Perhaps a personal taste, but I found the way they physics'd up the magic in the show quite charming. It's not just magical farts from the ether, there are Laws, rules, and Limits, and people have to live with their consequences.

Cons: Complexity. This was apparent almost from episode one. The show is ridiculously technical with its magic, science, and physics. I know it had to have turned some people off when it boggled their brains.

-Despite appearances, the plot of the show basically stays the same from episode 1, all the way to 26. We follow the lives of the 'mysteriously unusual' siblings, as various things go wonky around them and they react. Grant, it doesn't need a hugely interesting over-plot since all the sub-plots make up for it, and maybe the overhead plot comes together better in the complete story, but that's not what we get, so it loses a few points.

My Opinion: A shame. The story clearly progresses past the last episode. After reflecting on it for about a minute after finishing the last episode, I realized I didn't really feel like putting this show into the 'Glory' section I reserve for my first and best recommendations to people. My first thought was that it might be the complexity, which was almost enough to make my head swim, and I know I have a high tolerance for the technical kinds of information they were using. I could sometimes follow what they were referring to, even if I didn't completely understand how it worked.
Ultimately though, it came down to the bad taste the cliff-hanger ending left in my mouth. I really F#$%ing wanted to know everything they did to Tatsuya, and it gets to the final episode, and they start peeling back the layers of mystery and! cliff-hanger. They really only reveal one secret of his, confirm the existence of another, and then completely ignore the one I wanted to know about the most. I would be lying if I said anything other than the truth, which is that I am personally emotionally annoyed by this.
The most impressive thing I noticed was consequences. No one just has something and that's it. The more power they have, the larger the consequences they have to live with. It seems to be a echoing repeat theme in the show, and is one of the last things they throw in our faces in the last episode. Paying a price for having or obtaining.
[Spoiler Warning]
WHY is Tatsuya chained to his sister? and How?
[Spoiler End]

Impartial Judgement: In short, excellent. In long hand, not for everyone. The complexity is what it is, and I've banged on about it long enough. You either don't mind it, or it puts you off. ..or you're a huge science-buff and you completely understand everything they say and criticize them for getting some parts incorrect. Ultimately I feel that it is irrelevant to the show, because when something is especially relevant they do try to explain it in more and simpler detail. Whether that is good enough or not will vary from person to person. The base characters are interesting and likable. I realized at one point that one of them..vaguely fit the tsundere trope, and that felt weird. The idea that a trope could be used subtly.
Then, I felt stupid. Of course a trope should be subtle. It's a part of a persons personality, it doesn't bloody define them. That's what is so grating about the Tsundere trope being over used. It becomes so disgustingly cartoon'ish.
[Aside End]

In summary, if the technicality of the shows magical terminology doesn't put you off, there's a lot to love in this show. And a great big fat Cliff-hanger at the end of it to slap you in the face. Hope you weren't really interested in the two central protagonists because it's definitely not going to finish telling you about them.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

[New][October 2014] I Can't Understand What My Husband Is Saying

you forgot the 'definitely' from "zettai"

Summary: "Kaoru is serious and works diligently, but her husband is a super otaku and more-or-less a NEET. She is caught up in one of her husband's whims one day or the subject of his concerns another, but the two are so close that it's embarrassing to even watch them!"
Basically a three minute comedy show.

First Impression: Oh. Another minutes-long show. Bummer.

Personal Opinion: I was interested right away just because it's about a couple that is already married. Which is unusual to say the least. I was then immediately let down when it turned out it was only 3 minutes long. 3 minutes, 30 seconds, to be specific, but at least 30 of that is the outro and probably 10-20 for the intro...well assuming it gets one.
Don't misunderstand, I'm fine with minutes-long shows, it's just not something I like well enough to put a lot of emphasis on in my 'huge list of crap I really should get around to finishing' that is my save file of show episodes and manga chapters. To be honest? I got a kick out of several of the jokes, so I will probably continue to watch this, but it's undeniably something with a high risk of being forgotten, and it certainly doesn't seem like it would make me laugh hard enough to make a post here.

All that aside, I was laughing within the first 10 seconds, so it definitely had that going for it.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Hamatora: Resurrected?

Last Seen: Re:Hamatora, episode 2

Heeey. You remember this little thing? From way back in January? Because I didn't. Apparently it got a second season, Re:Hamatora, in July.

I never finished the first season (until just now). I got up to episode 5, and then just...started watching other things and progressively forgetting it more and more. I think it came out roughly the same time as several 5 minute anime. It feels like I left it behind for roughly the same reason as those. Ya see, I have this problem...about leaving things alone. In particular, story and plot. The more I taste of it, the more tenacious I am to finish it...even if it sucks, just to confirm it will stink from start to finish.
Hamatora is by no means bad though, let's put that on the table now. In fact, it's very good. It does however, have a problem with presentation. literally 1-2 episodes after it faded from my scheduled watching, it went NUTS. The show comes off from the starting line looking very very shallow. They play a ton of trope cards, and play them straight. Which is usually obnoxious, and probably why I faded on this one so fast. What you don't pick up until later is that they're actually playing them straight, and then twisting them after the fact.

In my first post, I slotted this firmly into Shounen, plus cheap mystery. That would be a mistake on my part. The mystery was so pathetically weak, because it wasn't suppose to be an appeal point. A more proper assessment would be Human Interest, with Comedy and Drama. Not quite sure which is greater after human interest, the comedy or the drama, but the central theme is definitely conflicting philosophies. It takes a bunch of people with individualized personalities, throws them in a room, and then stirs with a few spices of minor characters. Comedies got a large overtone on everything in the show, but that feels more like them trying to give us a breather in between slapping us in the face repeatedly.

The central story isn't about the Hamatora ... detective agency? I dunno what it is, but the story is not about it. The center of the story is Minimum Holders and Humanity.

Long story short, this thing revived from the dead in force for me. I recommend it. For the second time now, I have no idea where the show is going. They're very fond of restoring the 'Status Quo' only to mess it up worse the next time. I literally feel like I'm being double slapped every time I try to guess what it's doing next, or what it will and won't do, has done, et c.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei: Value to Endure for

Oh, so that wasn't a graphical error...
You have some Creepy Cool eyes there old man.

Last Seen: episode 17

The last time I wrote about this particular anime, I was concerned about how deeply technical everything it weaves into the story was trending towards. My suspicions were correct, that you don't particularly need to understand all the technicalities, the show has made sure to explain in more detail anything that is relevant to the story and plot, as it comes up, sometimes sooner or later to try and build things up.
Grant, I still have concerns about whether their additional detail would be sufficient for anyone that would watch, but at that point it falls to a debate of how many resources the studio should use/have for long winded explanations, how flow breaking a longer explanation would be, and where the balance between the two is. You can't reasonably account for everyone, and so far I'm content with the shows extended explanations.
[Aside end]
I just wanted to stop to write that by this point, (to be honest, a lot earlier, but this episode was the easiest to draw attention to), the show is more than worth whatever amount of nuisance you may find the oft difficult to understand technicalities of the magic.

The longer the show goes, the deeper and deeper my interest in Tatsuya. Just what on earth was done to him? The show is so brilliantly, wonderfully, annoyingly aggravatingly coy with giving us clues about him, delicately waving it in front of our faces and laughing maniacally as we try to grasp it. I dare say it's the strongest hook in my brain at this point.

Not to say that the other characters are at all lacking, far from it. Most of the time, I'll have 1-3 characters in a show that I'm particularly interested in, but Magic High Irregular is pulling aces out of its pockets for the central cast, because I'm interested in basically all of the central characters around Tatsuya. Some of them sooner than others, but I'm curious to learn more about each of them now. The exceptions being the entire student council. Just personal lack of interest at this point, instead of any notable flaws.

I'm not granting any awards yet, but I'm giving this show a strong recommendation, if the technical nature of the magic isn't a put off for you.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

[New][July 2014] Tokyo ESP (a.k.a X-Men Japanese Edition)

Summary: People with ESP power took over the parliament, started an ESP revolt in Tokyo. But against the bad ESP'ers, there are those who rose to fight against them lead by the one people the White Girl.

First impression: Let's see, a group of bad people with special power doing bad things, at the same time a group of good people with special power trying to stop them. Hm...I think I've heard of this concept somewhere, except they're not called ESP'ers, they're called...Mutants!

I mean really, this anime should really be called "X-Men: Japanese Edition", because they're really literally the same.

Personal opinion: I've read some of the manga this anime is based off, but as far as I remember, it was nothing like this. My friend who read more into the manga told me the first episode of the anime actually is far down the road in the plot line where all hell have broken loose. That reminds me very much of Ga-Rei Zero which happens to be from the same original manga author. (Extra fun facts: the main characters as well as all the throw-away characters from episode 1 of Ga-Rei Zero made a cameo appearance). Knowing that, I think this is going to just as brutal of an anime as Ga-Rei Zero was (in terms of death toll among major characters).

If you have seen Ga-Rei Zero, you would know that the second episode is probably the actual beginning of the story. The pace is going to a lot different, and it may even feel like a completely different anime before it reconnects to episode one.

Knowing how much I looooooved Ga-Rei Zero (and Ga-Rei manga), to me, this is definitely a keeper, especially it has "Ga-Rei" written all over it. For those who have never seen Ga-Rei Zero nor read Ga-Rei, I'd recommend to give it a shot if you like action packed story with some very moving plot built in.

Monday, July 14, 2014

[New][July 2014] Akame ga Kill!

Sooner than he could ever imagine

Summary: Under the rule of a tyrannical empire, Tatsumi, a young swordsman, leaves his home to save his poverty stricken village. However, when he arrives in the capital and begins trying to join the military and looking for his friends that left the village with him, he becomes deeply entangled in the corruption of the Empire, and almost loses his life until he is saved by a member of Night Assassination group.

First Impression: I'm actually starting to get a bit sick of having to do first impressions for anime adaptations of manga I'm currently/have read. It poisons the whole point of me writing my first impression, but whatever, I still have something to use for this.

I've started to add in a new judgement point for what I think of the quality of a show, and I'm trying at the moment to adapt it outside of shows made from manga:
A) Do they balk from showing the truly Violent nature of scenes, and the Evil of Humanity? and
B) How do they display/frame it, and where is the emphasis?

It will take some additional work for me to figure out how to judge such things without the easy comparison I can make when it's an anime made from a manga, but I've encountered and remembered several shows that seemed like they would be so much better than they actually were, because I failed to notice that they were shying away from showing anything truly meaningful.

Previously I wouldn't have a great comparison to make, but the First Impression I get from this show feels like how people talk about George R. R. Martin's works. I haven't actually read anything from him despite it being on my to-do list, so that comparison may be poor, but it points you in the right direction.

First Opinion: I can say with some authority this is going to be an extraordinarily complicated show. Not speaking in technical means, or of the plot and story, but emotionally. You're going to want to stay on the tips of your toes with where you place your heart and bonding as this show moves forward, whether it will adhere to the manga or not. No character has impenetrable Plot Armor, no Villain is evil just for the sake of evil like some Cartoon Villain. Gray Morality will be a plot element, but not the focus. The focus will be more the duality of human morals, or that's the kind of feeling I get from Akame ga Kill with my knowledge from the Manga. I'm giving this a good strong recommendation, with a warning:

The first episode brings me both happiness in the studios methodology so far, and sorrow because of it. I actually have put off watching this show for a first because of concern that the studio animating it would botch and neuter it like they did Chaika but ... now because I'm not sure I want to watch it as it moves forward. You see, I already know what can happen ... and I'm not sure I want to see it brought to life and motion in my mind again. I'm happy that the studio remained completely true to the manga for the entire first episode ... even including the ending, which was basically my 'Trial by Fire' for this show in my mind. Things are going to get progressively worse from that point, either from the studio botching the staging and meaning despite trying to show it accurately, or from perfect execution making it all the more horrifying. The things this show will show you, are representations of things that ... well, unfortunately exist. Particularly the 'villain' at the end of the first episode. People that are like that actually exist, some have actually done bits and pieces of the things the show contains about them. All the show does is gather the bits all together and then string them up pretty to be a good story.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

[Ended] Chaika the Coffin Princess (Hitsugi no Chaika)

Simple Effective Comedy

Pros: Drama, Quality Action in small amounts

-The shows base story is sound, and Drama/Human-Interest focused
-While few, the action is of good quality, the Magic flashy
-As per the usual of having a strong element of Human Interest, the Characters are solidly interesting, even the somewhat minor ones

Cons: Simple, Cut short, and less than it could be

-The original story is much stronger, and much longer
-The Magic is a little ridiculous, even if soundly explained
-At the end of the day, Shallow. Although this could be explained by the promise of a second season

My Opinion: This should be fairly obvious if you've read any of my previous Chaika posts, but I was sorely disappointed by this show. I was fully expecting this to end in 12-13 episodes like it has...although the promise of a second season took me by surprise at first.

Once I shed my chains of expectations, and took the show as its own, instead of the telling of the original story, I enjoyed it (minus one volatile memory). I soundly believe that anyone who sees the anime before the manga will be much better off for it. The story, characters, and plot are all sound and well-knitted here, and you don't really appreciate Chaika's verbal tic by reading's just not as much as the original. Personally, I'm looking forward to the second season, if it actually comes. Having set themselves off from the original story, probably in a manner similar to the first Full Metal Alchemist anime, they can easily take the story and characters wherever they want in a second plot line. I speak with authoritative knowledge when I say, that the base material is strong enough to warrant a look even at a derivative like this.

Impartial Judgement: Quality story, characters that live up to it, and minus a few things, a very grounded and sensible plot. I think the term 'Anti-hero' applies nicely, although there might be a more specific term. Rather than the usual save the world story with a Hero, this show is about the dust settling, in the world after it has been saved. It's about the war-torn land and people, many of whom having lived their whole lives with war, no longer knowing how to live in this new peaceful world. I give it a good sound recommendation to anyone, with these caveats:

-Haven't read the Manga? Watch away, and wait for confirmation on the second season before even considering reading it. If the second season is canceled, consider picking the manga up then, but not before, if you're well interested in the story.

-Have read the Manga? Forget it. My expectations for the anime from the manga poisoned it for a good while. I'm strict enough with myself that I still enjoyed it anyway, but it may severely disappoint you if you let your expectations get in the way.

[Ended] No Game No Life

Let's begin the game!
A wild ride, from start to finish.

Pros: Story. Hands-down.
-Strong core plot, plus well fleshed out Story
-Highly individual characters, with strong motivations
-A vibrant world that we only scratch the surface of
-A unique and interesting color scheme

A bit difficult to step up to, and immerse in on Paper
-The summary's, even the best of them, cannot properly explain without spoiling. This is a hard show to explain and sell to people, because of how interwoven all the plot elements are, and especially for the central characters being shut-in gamers, most people wouldn't listen after that
-The color in this anime is...unique. Quite glaring and takes getting used to, could be a turn off for some
-Pure Fantasy, curbed to fuel a human-interest story. That could easily annoy either side; People here for the fantasy and surreal, and people here for the Dramatic Human-Interest. Each is tied into the other, so people who like their shows solidly grounded in realism, or completely light-hearted and whimsically fantastic may be annoyed.

My Opinion: This goes into my Glory section on my list. I keep a record of everything I've ever watched, and am watching, so that if something pops into my head, I can go find its name. I may never forget a story or plot after finishing it, but I rarely remember names. The Glory section is the top anime I've ever watched, the first of my recommendations to anyone looking for something to watch.
Counter to its appearance as a Magically Fantastical show, No Game No Life is centrally a Human-Interest driven show. From start to finish, the Characters and the plot they drive are what you're here to see, the fantastical colors and animation simply bring it to life. After having two...maybe three, curse my vague memory, anime recently promise a Second season right on the end of their first, I was greatly pained to not have that same promise for No Game No Life. This story isn't done yet, and I want the rest of it dammit! Even if the unfinished part is wholesome and complete within itself, who wouldn't want to complete the puzzle?

Impartial Judgement: Don't be put off by the summary description that the main characters are shut-in gamers, after establishing that as a character element, they quite literally throw them out of that trope into the middle of the story's new world. After that, you have to adapt to the glaring rainbow colors of the animation, while still soaking in the major plot elements that they casually drop here and there near the road. No Game No Life is a show that begs being paid attention to, down the the tiny details, and I'm informed that some people don't like that kind of show, and prefer something they can watch more casually. There's enough spontaneous vibrancy in the various scenarios Sora and Shiro get into on their path through the new world they land in, that it keeps the blood pumping. They don't drown you in important things, but it definitely adds to the shows appeal if you pick up on them.

All having been said and done, this show keeps:

Zetro's Must Watch of the Season Award
with an honorable mention to its Plot and Story. I'm tempted to give the show an award additionally for its Plot, but it is technically incomplete. The Story is a closer runner, because the story completes with the end of the anime, even though the Plot continues on past that...still, I'm not inclined to give an award to something incomplete. If this show ever gets a second season, it will be hard pressed not to receive an Award from me for Best Plot.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Hitsugi no Chaika: You have angered me again.

well at least you got this right
Last Seen: Episode 9

Y'know, Chaika, you were keeping me happy for a good while, I was really enjoying the show. Why did you have to aggravate me again?

Look, see, I understand that you can't freely convert everything, and I always look and judge with that in mind, but now you've just pissed me off. You've shown your true colors, and honestly, you didn't need to, you could have avoided it and kept me happily in the dark. With how completely 'safe' the stupid story is, they didn't even need to bother animating the scene, they could have just had Tooru say the story aloud, and it would have been just as frivolously ineffectual at making us care as much as we should have.
OH! But then you wouldn't have been able to completely fabricate a new character with the scenes!
Tooru's 'Mentor' never existed anywhere in the original story. I smell an end-card.

So the show finally got around to putting in Tooru talking about his memory of Hasumin. Her name isn't even the same. The featured sentence is one of the very few pieces of her story that remain, of the original lesson it conveyed. Perhaps I should say emotion, but the story's purpose, in manga and anime, is to teach us an important facet of Tooru's life. The problem is that the anime's lesson is completely wrong. The anime version of the story is much more sterile and 'safe' than the manga's story, revealing that the studio behind this is balking at featuring such critical material.

Y'know what, just, go read it for yourself. It saves me trying to dance around spoilers, and since the anime has forged a completely different story for themselves, knowing the original isn't going to spoil you for anything either. To reassure you even further, I also mention that this story was told before they even went into the first hero's mansion. You're not going to spoil yourself on anything. 

The story takes place near the end of Chapter 4, page 30'ish, and continues into Chapter 5.
I say 30'ish, because it will vary based on translators credit page sizes, and whether the hosting site numbers them. Some websites also include fan-art, so the number may vary, but close to the end of Chapter 4.

A word of caution. I meant it when I said the anime made the story much more 'sterile' and 'safe'. This story is a wrenchingly painful memory for Tooru. I don't think I'm ever going to get a better example for why these changes in the anime are so irritating for me, but this will be the last time I talk about it. I'm completely disenchanted with the anime as a telling of the powerful story the manga contained, and I'm going to watch the rest of it from here on out keeping in mind that the studio has opted not to risk offending anyone. I doubt anything amazing is ever going to happen.
Well, anything amazing that hasn't already been done before.

So in short, I now understand why this show is aggravating me so much more than any other anime ever has, when changing the source material. It's one thing to change material to make it fit better. It's another matter altogether to change it because you're afraid of attracting controversy with polarized material. If you were going to chicken out, you shouldn't have accepted to do it in the first place.