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.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei: Drowning in Technical Terms

I understand what those words mean individually...

Last Seen: Episode 8

There appears to be what I think is going to be a recurring problem in this show, to drown the viewer in technical terms. In this last episode especially, where they repeatedly talk about flying magic:
Personally, I could just barely keep up with the general concepts of what they were talking about. I could do this because,

A) I best absorb information through reading it, rather than hearing it
B) Subtitles cater to point A beautifully
C) I've always enjoyed gently exploring multiple fields of study, Chemistry, Math, Biology, etc
D) I'd encountered most of the technical terms they'd used parts.

I highly doubt these forces will easily align for most other people. Even with all of this, I only vaguely understood the concepts they were alluding to. I didn't have the daftest idea what they were explicitly talking about unless they explained it in a simpler manner.

So far, this doesn't present an impasse for the show, mostly because of what I think is self-awareness of this problem. I think the show is doing this intentionally to try and build world detail and immersion. They risk breaking that immersion by just confusing viewers, but I give them points for the courage to try. Specifically, they are taking the time aside to explain parts that are important in more detail when it is relevant to the immediate story or plot. For instance, when they showed a visual representation with the 'Moving an Egg with Magic' clip. I was only vaguely understanding why the problem the characters were talking about, was a problem, up until that point. I'd have had to pause the show, or rewind it, and think on it to finish my understanding without that clip.
I don't think most people would have my patience and interest in trying to understand.

Which brings me beautifully to my next point: I now see the draw backs of 'Modern Magic' as a theme for a show, and why Mahou Sensou so wonderfully coped out on it three steps in. 'Modernizing' magic for the purpose of intrigue and immersion, risks sacrificing one of the principle benefits of including magic in a story in the first place:
Question: "Why this, that, or the other?"

Magic School Irregular is making a visible effort to counter this, and to be frank, we didn't need to understand what they were talking about with flying magic throughout the episode, we just needed to absorb the fact that it was really complicated and hard to do. Particularly, the issue became a lot easier to visualize(for me) once they talked about Layering Magic.

Personally I'm still really enjoying the show, and looking forward to it, week to week.
I can understand why someone would want to drop it at this point though, despite it not actually being a problem yet. It's the kind of thing that could easily become annoying.

No Game No Life: You have no right to ignore this show. None. It has been revoked.

Last Seen: Episode 8

I have, hereby from this date, revoked your right to ignore this show. If you have not yet begun to watch this show, it is now a criminal offense. Your right to ignore it will not be restored until a future point designated at this time as the termination of the show's story.

Get out of here, and go watch it. Right now.

I normally keep a broad spectrum of viewer interest when I watch anime, well before I started substituting for Evil Cat here on his blog. That is to say, I don't just watch for my own enjoyment, I also watch with the intent to be aware of what other people would like, that I don't. This started because I have to work extraordinarily hard where I live, to get anyone to so much as listen to the rest of the sentence when I mention anime, let alone listening to me talk about it, Consider watching it, and putting up with subtitles.
I got even better at it when I was exposed, via Extra Creditz(now based on youtube), to the idea of 'Playing from a Developer's Perspective' when playing a video game. When I started writing in earnest here on the blog, my brain clicked the two into a unified entity, plus one: 'Watching from an Anime Studio's Perspective', and 'Watching from Someone Else's Perspective'.
I vaguely alluded to this when I briefly mentioned that writing for the blog has made me watch anime in a new way, and that I was enjoying it.

I'm going to get to the point now. No Game No Life is a beautifully woven masterpiece. There's a plethora of things on display, and a great deal of quality being crammed into each part. Is there something for everyone in here? No. Is what's there so powerfully woven that everyone should appreciate it? Yes.
I want to step back a moment and point out the should in that sentence. I haven't sacrificed my awareness on the altar of enthusiasm just yet. People are prone to obsession over tiny details. We all have likely met, or know, at least one of these people.
The "What?! Her hair is pink?! Fuck this show, I have better things to do" kind of people.
The people that inflate a microbial element and make it the defining element, and then judge by it. My example is simple, the most insufferable part is when they seize on an element that is relatively significant, but not a core element.
To place a fitting example: when I mentioned that I hadn't placed much interest in this show from reading summaries, because it mentioned the main characters being NEET shut-ins. No one is immune to this kind of discrimination against things and people, myself included. Being self-aware is the only counter measure, such as my policy these days to never judge by the shitty summaries, and give every show at least a one episode chance if I have the time.

If someone proves to me at any point that this show is not a result of the story creator fully planning it out before they started writing it, I will put my right foot in my mouth and leave it there for a full minute. This shows tendency to drop tiny hints/clues/foreshadowing and then bring it fully to bare to smack us upside the head with it is absoballylutely redonkulous. I've only profited trying to match wits with it once so far, when the show revealed how Sora contacted the Eastern Ambassador. That's the only time I saw it coming. Eight episodes in, I've won only once. This is not a world I would want to compete in, I'd be a slave in two games.

The only thing that will knock this show off its high-seat from here on out for me, is whether or not the anime gets cut short when the actual story continues. That's about all I can think of that would ruin it. Well, that and some people may find the shows art style hard to put up with. I personally got to liking it by episode 2, after thinking it was really weird throughout episode 1.

I hereby Redact from Brynhildr and grant to No Game no Life:

Zetro's Must Watch of the Season Award

and to underline it, I wish to point out that the website I read Brynhildr's manga from suddenly surged in about 50 translated chapters, putting the Manga's story well ahead of the anime. I literally know how Brynhildr will end, and have no clue how No Game No Life will end, but I am still granting this Award to it.
The two (I believe)share the same methodology for their plots, having them fully constructed from the start and then filling in details as they go. Brynhildr opened the manga with a foreshadow scene from the future, that the anime (intelligently)had to cut.
(there was no way to render that scene in motion and sound that wouldn't ruin it).
I recognize between them similar methodologies for bringing the plot to bare in the story. With that assessment in my mind, I have judged No Game No Life's plot-weaving to be even tighter than Brynhildr's. Mostly because Brynhildr is much more...blatant with its humanity element. When it wants to make a point about humanity, it just bludgeons you over the head with it. No Game No Life is a fair deal more subtle, or inspiring, when it works with humanity.
Actually, there's a nice summary for why I'm moving the Award:

Brynhildr is an emotional roller-coaster.
No Game No Life is just a roller-coaster, Period.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

[Ended] Magi, Kingdom of Magic

I want to clarify, first and foremost, that I will be talking about both the first and second season at the same time here.

-Strong appeals to humanity. More on this later.
-In Fantasy Context, practical action combat. This is still a fantasy universe, but the paths of power tend to follow logical lines, and obey the rules. While the show more than loves to leave a massive I-can-be-the-most-powerful card hanging in some characters pocket, they enjoy surprising you several times with just how late in the game it actually gets played.
-Surprising amount of Gray Morality. This shows story core is Humanity. Say what you want, but as much blathering on as all of the characters do on the topic of good and evil, I can't say its about anything else at heart. Most of the show, especially in the second season, ends up being an exploration of the Gray Area between Good and Evil on the morality spectrum.

-Weird. While it can be an appealing thing, as it is more than proven that people love New and Novel ideas and things, it can also be off-putting. This universe is influenced not only by Japans culture, and the Anime culture, but very loosely by the Arabian Nights minor culture elements too.
-Endless appeals to humanity. If you absolutely have heard everything you ever want to hear about Good and Evil, and don't care to hear anymore harping about Morality, I guarantee some topic the show covers will annoy or outright anger you.
-Predictable Plot Outcomes, this show seemed to be taking several cards out of the Mainstream Anime hat, including "Previously on Magi..." and "Next time on Magi!" prefaces and Outros for the episodes. Some of the plots are even more predictable than the usual "The Good Guys Win", although I do grant that the show enjoys being ambiguous about who all is 'A Good Guy', (see previous Con again)
-Sinbad is literally the 4th wall breaking Plot-hole. That boggles my brain. No really, even the in-world Lore considers him a plot hole. He is literally addressed as a Singularity at one point.

My Opinion: To begin with so we're all on the same page, I liked it.
I not only just finished this now, I only just started it...what, a month ago now I suppose? I literally started on season 2, because of the peculiar way Crunchyroll formats its layouts for multi-season anime, and watched...13 or 14 episodes in before I realized I had missed an entire seasons worth of information and story. While that tripped my obsession with doing things in the proper order to go bat-shit crazy for a while, and I got royally pissed off at just about everything I set my eyes upon, or could lay my hands upon, it does say something about how well made the show is. If someone as obsessed with making sure they don't miss anything as I am can not notice until 14 episodes in, I begrudgingly have to grant them some credit for making a very air-tight sequel. I thought it was just using In Medias Res, starting in the middle, with characters based on Arabian Nights to save them having to create them from scratch. In fact, up until I realized I had missed an entire season worth of content, that was my biggest criticism of the show, excessive use of In Medias Res. As it turns out, it was just their good practice for sequel construction, using flash-backs to fill in info from the previous season as needed, to make sure the viewer hasn't forgotten(or had no idea what it was, because he hadn't seen the first season).
[Aside End]
The reason I never picked it up until recently, was because right around the time I laid my eyes in its direction to consider for adding to my list of anime to watch, the internet was flipping its shit about "BIG BLUE BOOBIES OMG YES/NO/HOW-COULD-YOU". Being less aware back then as I am today, I still gave it enough of the benefit of the doubt to go read some summaries. As always, summaries on most websites can go jump into a Black Plot Hole. The summaries made it sound like the worlds most shallow harem and pandering piece of garbage nonsense I'd ever heard summarized, and plagiarizing the Arabian Night tales to add to the shallowness. My thoughts at the time were roughly, "Most anime has pandering enough, I don't need to go out of my way to increase the headache for myself."
So I suppose it lends itself to being talked about, since checking the archives of the Blog leads me to see that Evil Cat probably dropped the anime roughly that, or there-abouts in episodes, since he never had an [End] post for it. To clarify, that scene occurs in the first season. To render my opinion about it, it's actually about the most mature handling of nudity I've seen in an anime for a while. I'm pretty sure I've seen a more explicitly mature handling of harsher material somewhere else, but vague brain memories. I don't work with my vague memories, because I don't trust them anymore. Evil Cat also appears to have taken note of her nipples being pierced, but honestly, if he hadn't included the scene as his screenshot, I wouldn't have even remembered it. I've seen so much messed up shit on the internet that something like that is well beneath my threshold of surprising or weird.
You should see some of the crazier shit people in real life get pierced. On second thought, no actually, you shouldn't. I don't enjoy having that knowledge.
[Aside End]

To get back on topic, it is more than worth mentioning that the show gets in more than its fair share of pandering elsewhere. They don't include Aladdin's love of breasts in almost every summary for no reason. To be frank though, it's roughly the most childish pandering I've seen yet. Most pandering is trying to be 'Politely Erotic', to coin a phrase. It's trying to pull at a mans pants, without explicitly earning the Evil Eye from the department that determines Mature, Explicit, and Sexual content in individual countries. The worst the show got from me on most occasions when Aladdin's booby-switch gets flipped was a sigh, most of the time I was just laughing instead of ... whatever it is that most of the anime fan base that enjoys pandering does with its pandering. I can guess, but honestly I don't know, and have no desire to know.
To talk about something else, the extent the show goes to with it's willingness to have nudity and strangeness, is present just about everywhere in the show. They literally have a scene in the second season where they peel off the skin of basically all of the protagonists on screen at one point. "Oh, this thing everyone's doing gets their skin peeled off. Let's rush in and have it happen to me too!" is roughly how the scene goes, because Angry about hurt comrades and such. It could probably turn someones stomach I suppose.
(see previous point about the me and the internet ruining my brain).
This, of course, also includes it's appeals to humanity. The show has a fascination with introducing a character that is absolutely insane/cruel/evil, and then just...rolling with them, molding and exposing more of their character, until eventually they somehow end up as protagonists or dead after repenting or cursing to their last moments.

Impartial Judgement: This show is all over the map. If it wasn't for an AMV I watched that had a lot of the choice scenes from the show spliced in, I never would have looked at this show again after my initial rejection of it. If you have been put off away from it for its summaries, its hype, or
"BIG BLUE BOOBIES"...I'm sorry I find that phrase really funny for some reason*, I'll stop.
Then I would advise you to turn around, and go back and pick it up. If, however, you dropped it for any reason, you are very likely well justified. The only thing that may not come across fast enough, is the shows exploration of Gray Morality. It's very 'hope', 'kindness', 'Good in Humanity' and so on focused, a bit thick early on. While the show does kill characters, it's undeniable that several of the main characters have border-line Plot Armor immunity to death. Roughly standard practice for Mainstream anime. In fact, that's how I'll describe this show:

Surprising in the context of Mainstream Anime.

If you put this show down for being weird, I shouldn't have convinced you with anything here that you need to pick it back up. It's still very proud of its uncanny. If you like a good story about Good, Evil, and everything in between, it will suit you just fine. Off the top of my head,
[Spoiler Warning, Highlight to See]
[a Mother gets murdered in front of her children. ]
[Spoiler Warning End]
If that doesn't give some kind of scope of the morality spectrum this show covers, my headache drowning brain doesn't know what will.
Oh hey, I found a way to hide spoilers. My headache appears to have produced at least one good thing this morning.
Did I mention I have a headache? I had a headache start about one paragraph into writing this post, and steadily get worse. I need to start going to bed at a decent time, this staying up late thing is probably killing me on some level.
[Aside End]

Friday, May 9, 2014

Black Bullet: Did they just...end an arc?

Never in my life, has so small and simple a number been so evil
Last Seen: Episode 4

Dare...dare I hope...that this is a new trend in the anime industry? A trend of not dragging out juicy story tricks until they rot? There was soo much potential in just this episode, for dragging things out for several episodes. So many pieces of story they could have hung out to dry with long monologues and flashy 10 minute battles. No. Instead, we're four episodes into this show, and it's already finished a complete story arc. Not to mention, dropping some major foreshadowing bombs on us for the upcoming arc(s). AND THAT ENDING.

urrrrggghhh AAAHHHHHH
I already had far too much emotional burnout from Chaika to stand up to something like that. I may not have cried, just because I'm not the type, but I haven't had my chest wrench like it did for that ... that numerical abomination, since my 17 year old cat died.

I do have enough of my objectivity left to comment this though:
Before any of you start cheering for 'Just tame/control the Gastrea mutation! Best of both worlds!'
-I want you to try a little experiment. I want you to place your hand on a surface in front of you, palm up.
-Then, I want you to look at the most calloused part of your hand. Perhaps you should consider the bottom of your feet instead if you don't have them on your palms. The next step remains the same.
-Now, I want you to look at it, feel it, and command it to do something it has done before: Shed dead skin.
It's done it a hundred times, exponentially, for dead cells since you've been alive. It'll do it billions more times as your life goes on. It's nothing new.
Go on. WILL it to just do it now. Right in front of you. Blistering is a similar activity, and it happens just as fast, for more anatomical resources. This is much simpler and easier. Make your own body do what you want on a cellular level. Go on.

What's wrong? Having troubles? But it's so simple and easy.

Get my point yet?
If you can't even do that, how do you expect someone else to just instantly control thousands of screaming-painful, dieing, regenerating, mutating cells to just chill out, be cool, do what they want. You're conscious control isn't that finely wired to your body. Stop thinking it's such a simple solution. It's not.
Having said all that, it's still a story end I frequently root for. I'm all for the adaptation and integration methodology for dealing with new challenges in life.

Also, I'm racist against Racists. I think the abominable little ignorance singularities could all drop dead right this instant, and the world wouldn't so much as blink at their passing after about 3 days. If they want to single out so singularly foolish an element of the human experience to discriminate about and hate for, they can't be that smart, or responsible decision makers.


Have I mentioned Chaika messed with my anger locks? Chaika messed with my anger locks.
I'm not going to watch the rest of the episodes I lined up for myself after this. I already thought it was a bad idea to watch so personally polarizing of a show to right a post for.
I'm...I'm going to bed. I should have done that before writing this.
I'm going to go to sleep, and wake up a better person, not so eager to commission the death of my fellow kin of humanity.

Chaika the Coffin Princess (Hitsugi no Chaika): How can things go so Horribly wrong? So fast?

Last Seen: Episode 4

I don't from...?
Just... No.
I have Never seen an anime derail so fast or so hard from its derived source. When this episode first began rolling in, it was completely in sync with the manga, as of last episode moving into this one. Sure, my brain was niggling at me that maybe her armor design was a touch different, but after a week I'd more than easily forgotten about it, and they're free to improvise and improve things like that in the work of adapting into the anime from the manga.
[EDIT]: In fact, I like the new armor design more than the original. [EDIT END]
But it all went downhill from the first statue of Dominca. Cliff-face-vertical-drop down, downhill.
*Takes a step back to breath*

Ok, let me just take a moment to clarify that I'm not some sort of fanatic "IT MUST ALWAYS ADHERE TO THE MANGA" nutcase. I'm all for improvising, adapting, and attempting to improve when changing mediums, its a necessary thing. But! As I have repeatedly said, and beat into the ground, that does not include the plot and story core. Change a few elements of the story to make it come across better in the anime? Fine. Fabricate something to end it before its time? Poor taste, but fine, I understand not every anime can be a long runner.
WHAT THE HELL! know what. I need to go review the manga to clearly define the limits of my annoyance. I'll be right back.
Alright. So. They converted 13 chapters into 3 episodes. That's fairly fast considering the first episode trimmed out some of Tooru's character building.
They just converted 11+ chapters into 1 episode. (some manga untranslated at time of writing)
Does that give you an idea of the scale? Even contained to just this anime? I've honestly never bothered to do this comparison before for any other anime, so I have no example cases to give, but I think my point has come across just fine.
They have literally ripped, like, 4 bones out of Dominca's story, maybe a 5th I can't be sure about since the manga still hasn't been translated for the rest of this arc of the story.
They have taken those bones, and jammed them into the dirt to grow like flowers for this new story.
That is not how bones work.
Ok, I'm done with the analogies now, sorry. I'm not joking though, they pulled four plot bones out, and completely repurposed them for this new story. That projector in the courtyard? That's an original plot element. What it's projecting however, is not even remotely related to what it does or means in the manga. That fourth bone? Fredrica. That name is significant from the manga, but to save spoilers for both the anime and manga, I can't say why or how. Just know that if they don't make a point of it having a meaning next episode, they're never going to. It will just be a random bone from the manga.
Now I want to take a moment for something:
*Click* Ranting Mode Off
This episode was a good episode. As a contained unit, and a piece of the anime, it was good. Nothing mechanically wrong here. As a figurehead of what the studio adapting this manga is doing, it may as well be a gravemarker for the original story. This anime is only (super)loosely going to follow the manga. The new story they're telling, is alright in my opinion. After I calmed down a bit, I assessed it and decided I liked the new Dominica story they told. Too short, but it's alright. If you really like this anime by the time it ends, which I can't imagine being much further than 12-13 at this point, (unless they do a complete spin-off) then go get the manga, because it's going to have a lot more story.
The Manga tells a very Humanity strong story. The anime is aiming its sights at Action as best I can tell.
Alright, now that that's out of the way.
*Click* Ranting Mode On
I feel like, specifically on the Fredrica topic, that they even bothered to include the name means they have an option of retroactively imposing a heart of Dominca's story into the anime, but since they haven't retro'd in Tooru's laziness...or even bothered to emphasis it at all, and instead are weaving a new element of 'I just had no purpose in life before this, when the war ended', I'm not inclined to believe they will do any catch up.
I want to take a moment to emphasis this point:

I was very attached to Domica's original story. It has not finished being translated in the manga, but I like it very much so far. My anger and annoyance is very likely 50% fueled by my personal fondness for the original story. You are now an informed audience.

I haven't seen anything to undermine the quality of the anime, objectively, up to this point. I now have very little trust in whatever studio it is that did this adaptation, so much so that I'm genuinely afraid to look and find out who, because I might let my personal feelings bleed into my judgement in the future, and prevent me from watching another of their works that by all means could be a perfect masterpiece.

I'd cook up some sort of 'Biggest Let-down of the Season' award for this, but only four episodes in is far too soon for me to let myself judge this show so harshly...also I don't want to keep track of so abstract an Award. To be perfectly honest with myself as well, it's not the anime that's a let down either, as much as it is the adaptation and studio working on it. If they didn't have the time/resources to make an anime that could be truer to the original Plot, if nothing else, I don't even know why they decided to make it in the first place. Popularity maybe? I'm not sure. It's one thing to clip story and characters, like how I don't mind much that they trimmed Tooru's introduction paper-thin, but you don't hacksaw the plot like this without major consequences to quality. That's the way I think about this, anyway. I'm a little too emotionally-fueled right now to have confidence in my objectivity, even calmed down as I am now.
[Aside]Completely unrelated to any of this though, I've found that I quite enjoy re-reading Manga. I have such a powerful memory for Plot and Story, that I usually don't get much out of re-reading books, or re-watching movies and Anime, but somehow I really enjoyed re-reading the manga for this. I wasn't predicting or instantly remembering every next step of the story and plot as I read. It was a rather liberating experience. So at least I got that from this endeavor.
(and no, it is not a Perfect Memory. I just don't forget plot and story easily, and instantly remember with the smallest of pieces. Works almost as well for music, too. Or would, if I ever bothered to remember the names of songs, or composers/muscians. [which I don't] )
[Aside End]