Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Akatsuki no Yona: Redeemer of Adaptations

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

Last Seen: Episode 17

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, February 2, 2015

[New][January 2015] Isuca: You have got to be kidding me.

Pfffft, this is literally the last thing I was expecting

Summary: In Shinichi's world, Yoma are sneaking into the human world from their own world in greater numbers recently, and attacking people for their life force so that they can remain there. Shinichi is attacked by one of them, but then saved by someone with a bow and arrows. The next day in school, another attack occurs, and when he runs after it, he discovers that the one who saved him, was in fact a fellow student at his school, Shimazu Sakuya. As the story progresses, he comes to discover he has a special power related to 'Manna' or 'True Names' and their inherent ability to control the person whose True Name you learn.

First Impression: Are you F***ING KIDDING ME? This is getting animated? Like, really? How? How does this even come close to making the pass!? Okay, okay. Back up. Breath.
Okay, so. This is another one on the block from my manga list
Let's just cut straight to the chase. This manga, animated, would hands down be a Hentai without some serious trimming and censoring. The main character has had a naked women slammed into him, butt, boobs, and even crotch first, so many times it's ridiculous I'm even still reading the stupid manga. The girls in this show have more trouble keeping a shirt on than...well actually there isn't even anything on the scale to compare this to.

My Opinion: Having said all that, I doubt they're going for the full conversion. Hell, perfectly sanitary manga that the 'indecent exposure committee' has never even heard of hardly ever get a full uncut transition into anime. Medium transition just doesn't work that way. This things going to get a free pass to at least 4 episodes if nothing else so that I can scope out just how much they plan to leave in. As a manga, this story survives on my list through pure comedy alone, gently spiced with a mildly interesting plot. The stories hardly amazing, but the plot is the kind of thing that I feel could potentially go in interesting directions. The story couldn't be more cookie-cutter harem love drama if someone stamped it out with a factory machine.
I suppose I should also clarify that while this show is getting on my list just so I can confirm to myself that standards are being adjusted over the pond, it's not necessarily pornographic. Just lots and lots of nudity..and kissing. No sex though, duh. This is, theoretically, an anime and not a hentai.

Really all the show has going for it as edgy is a love of nudity. Just on the women, I might add, since I'm sure someone wants to know. Which brings me to my conclusion: This show doesn't have a very long life expectancy on my list. While it's funny enough as a manga, I somehow doubt that the same kind of in-your-face nudity humor will do anything but grate on me as cheap pandering in live motion, especially since I already know the story. On the topic of previously mentioned plot, it is passably interesting, but mediocre as a rule most of the time. I can recommend the plot, if nothing else I suppose, since it is basically all that holds the humor together for me in the manga. Personally I love the Cat. Tis hilarious. Just gonna throw that out there.
If you're not here for comedy though, in live motion, and inevitably cut short as I'm sure the anime will be, the plot won't be enough to sustain this show. It's too slow moving in the manga. Now, if you're here for sexually tense comedy, line up on the right and get'cher ticket stamped for the season pass because this show's going to have it in spades, and if you love Pandering and Fan Service...or hell anything even vaguely in the vicinity of suggested nudity, the contract to sell your soul is on the table to your left. I'm actually morbidly curious just how far this show's going to push the limits.

Final Word: ^See all that up there? I wrote it all before watching the first episode. I have now watched the first episode, obtained my screenshot within 17 seconds, and completely satisfied my curiosity. Somehow, the censor bar just escaped my mind. I haven't seen anything so blatantly unsubtle in forever. I actually laughed when I saw this, it just was that far out of my realm of expectations. Having said that, I'm officially dropping this show after episode one. My morbid curiosity of how they were going to get a greenlight for this much nudity in a manga as an anime has been answered, and I have no other reason to watch this show. It's very much a 'funny the first time, grating the second' kind of thing. If cheap pandering or fan service doesn't bother you, or you enjoy it, Season Pass and Contract are still where I left them.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

[New][January 2015] Seiken Tsukai no World Break

yes, that's a very shounen'esque action pose you have there

Summary: The story is set at a private school that brings together Saviors: students who have awakened memories of their past lives. These Saviors are able to manifest these in two ways, Light being able to create weapons from their past lives, and Dark being able to manipulate Mana. Moroha Haimura has just enrolled into the private school and is the first Savior in history who has awakened memories of being both.

First Impression:
This really feels like your standard cookie-cutter anime for Shounen. I saw so many check-box ticks flying past my face in just the first episode it was almost cringe-worthy. But, it got me to laugh, repeatedly, so I'm going to have it on my list despite the unoriginality. 

My Opinion: Did I say unoriginal yet? Okay, good. I don't expect anything amazing to come out of this show, just run-of-the-mill Shounen action and Shounen light-drama(Oh my! Kissing! I'm so flustered! Gag me with a spoon). It is however, funny. At least to me. I'd be lying if I said the past-lives thing wasn't interesting me. Personally, I find reincarnation to be a joke, it just keeps feeling like 'Recycling Souls' in my head whenever I think about it.

From a Narrative perspective though, this show is doing something interesting with it. Most of the time that it's a set piece, it's always very vague, and obscure in the story. Usually some trial or tribulation has to be passed to regain past life memories. In World Break however, it seems to be the everyday norm that people just remember past lives. They use this fast in the first few minutes of the show to instantly smash two characters together with some backstory, without actually having to give us the backstory. "These two know each other from their past lives, they are a thing now, okay? Okay. Moving on" is essentially how it rolls out. Having to endure said characters establishing backstory likely would have made me cringe, so I appreciate this.

They also go for the quick 'In Medias Res' hook in the first minute or so of the show, which I always hate. It feels like spoilers to me, all the time, and I hate spoilers. Why is it just standard form now that the industry is assuming we can't be bothered to pay attention if we aren't instantly doped up on action? Well, whatever, I'll just have to get used to it I guess. Not happy about it though.

In short I'll just be watching this because it's on Sunday, where I don't have anything else yet, and I can just turn my brain off and laugh at it.

Look, Crunchyroll, I understand translating is a complex thing but...really? Come on. "World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman"? What the actual fuck. This was just so stupid of a name that I had to go looking for the romanized translation on another website, only to find it's "Seiken Tsukai no World Break". I don't even know any Japanese and I could translate this better! It's "(Holy Sword) (User) no (World Break)". I don't know enough about the binding word 'no' to guess it, but I can do this much just having watched a ton of anime. How the hell does a translator working for Crunchyroll get Aria whateverthefuck out of that? Are we dropping down to the level of just trying to wow the mindless masses with really long names? Come on, get real fellas.
[Aside end]

[New][January 2015] Junketsu no Maria

Japanese title: 純潔のマリア
Genres: Action / Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A powerful virgin witch named Maria hates war, so she decide to interfere the war between France and England. But her display of power is going to attract attention of heaven and something bad is about to happen to her...
First impression score: 86 - Interesting character, interesting concept

Personal comments: For the most part, I liked what I've seen, though the first episode is just the build up, haven't even exactly reached the full introduction just yet. It's a somewhat intriguing concept, I'd be interested in seeing how they would spin it.

[New][January 2015] Absolute Duo

Japanese title: アブソリュート・デュオ
Genres: Action / Ecchi
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: In a school where kids are being trained to use Blaze which is a weapon formed using their soul, stuff happens...
First impression score: 70 - Cookie cutter ecchi + action

Personal comments: Honestly, I only watched this first episode to confirm this is as bad as I imagined. It is really as cookie cutter as it could be: a guy and a girl, in some kind of duo system, have to work together, but don't like each other that much initially, blah, blah blah... Sounds familiar? If you have seen one of these type (Freezing, Unbreakable Machine Doll, Hidan no Aria, etc.), in my opinion, there's really no need to watch another one because you almost know exactly how it's going to unfold. I'd be really really really surprised if it somehow didn't end in one of those prescribed scenarios. I, for one am not going to waste my time on this...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

[Ended] Sword Art Online II: Most of the same thing, with a bit new addition

As part of my return-to-anime rehab, I literally ran through the entire Sword Art Online II in several days. If an anime can keep me watching without having to take a break to go watch something else, I'd say it's at least a somewhat interesting series. However, I think SOA II stops not very far beyond that.

If you have seen the original SOA, you'd find it's really not much new in this second season. The series is actually made of several arcs, with the first one occupying the entire first half of the series and several smaller ones all stuffed into the second half.

Throughout the first half, I found myself keep asking questions like "Why don't they just..." and "How could they not know..." and "How come nobody see...", because even for the SOA world, some of the things they did are just a bit too farfetched to believe even though I was already in the willing suspension of disbelieve.

Each of the arc is more of less independent from each other, because the arcs that has plot dependencies from previous arcs has just as much of the tie-in as some of the random out of nowhere add-ons. So if you haven't seen the previous arc, you could just assume it's something they added for plot purpose without knowing the background of the add-on.

On a side note, if you feel like in need of a crying fest, you could jump directly over to the last arc of second half of the series. As someone who appreciate stories play out tragic plot lines without using cheap escapes to avoid them, I do like how that particular arc was developed into.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 83 (Depending on the arc)
Comedy: 85 (Some, but it's not the focus)
Action: 81 (Virtual reality = somewhat far-fetched) 
Art/Animation: 82 (Typical for this genre)
Sound/Music: 84 (Some emotionally fitting pieces)
Character: 81 (Not exactly cookie cutter, but close)

Plot: 80 (Become a bit repetitive)
Ending: 89 (A good emotion end)

Re-watch value: 70 - Not much to re-watch

Overall: 82 - A good enough follow up that didn't ruin the name of the franchise

Recommendation: If you have become somewhat emotionally attached to the characters from the first series, you'd probably want to follow up on this. Even though it doesn't add much more depth to character development, it is interesting to see what is the life after SOA is like for those characters. But if your opinion for the original series is "Meh", the it's safe to just let this one go, you probably won't get much more out of this franchise.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

[Ended] Madan to Ou to Vanadis

I'd like to put up a screenshot, but since my only source is Hulu, I'm going to shy away from that.
No clue how retarded their policies might be about this kind of thing.
Playing it safe.

Pros: Mature-natured characters, and a tight plot
-The first time I've ever had a bath scene make me think: "that...actually makes sense"
-The plot really feels like the kind of story and events that would be happening in a more Medieval setting, Mystical elements aside.

Cons: Cut Short, still a tiny bit of pandering.
-Despite my initial awe at the turn-me-on-my-head bathscene, the show does eventually push my patience with what can only be called pandering, not the least of which being a second bath scene (second verse, same as the first!), and a handful of other moments.
-The story clearly continues on from where the anime ends, but it's not a horribly butchered thing, at least that I can tell. It concisely wraps up relevant plot elements.
-Several characters have absurdly brief appearances and explanations, (looking at you whip lady), likely a side-effect of the story continuing past what we get.

My Opinion: I went a bit overboard with my expectations of this show after the initial showing that it could be intelligent in the presence of typically pure pandering material. A good heads-up that I was setting the bar too high should have been the bloody roulette wheel of women in the opening. I don't know where, but somewhere in this story is a harem, it just doesn't really show up in what we get in the anime. Maybe the source material lays it on thicker, (doubtful, but who knows?), maybe it just becomes thicker later on in the story. They certainly didn't even introduce everyone on the Wheel of Women, so that's a clue if nothing else.

Impartial Judgement: Aside from my raised expectations being shot down, this is a very good show. The plots wonderful in its coherence, even if it feels like some bits are a bit thin, like the explanation of Tigre's little trip to the temple-thing. I really do get the feeling that with more of the story, a lot of parts of this show may be woven together even tighter. I only mention said feeling in the impartial segment, because this kind of show, macro-drama, is my favorite. I give it a tentative recommendation, with the footnote that if it ever gets a second season, that could easy make or break this show into an epic saga, or a pathetic harem.

Personal examples of other macro-dramas would be Spice and Wolf, Baccano, Steins;Gate's early parts. I could list a few more, but they're more pure Drama with Macro-drama elements. Macro-drama is something I characterize as the drama being at its best delivered in the slow revelation of plot elements, and the plot elements interactions over time, rather than the emphasis being on the moment to moment actions in the story. Basically, the best part of the story is in its weaving of plot, rather than a bombastic battle, or a dramatic speech, etc. Basically when it feels like the shows best parts are the overall slowly delivered whole and conclusion.
[Aside end]

[Ended] I can't Understand why my Husband is Saying

I would have liked a Screenshot from ep13, but its mysteriously missing on CR, so meh

Pros: Fresh Older Audience Comedy
-Successfully achieves actual level-headed Mature comedy, without being that stupid brand of  cheap "I'm old enough to do ALL the forbidden things!" mature.
-The short episode lengths actually help underline the shows comedy, instead of feeling like it's cutting off the full impact

Cons: Kind short, not really deep
-While the show does conclude on a really mature note, (which I highly suspect is, in one form or another, responsible for the last episode suddenly being missing on CR), over-all there isn't much development or depth to the show. It is, quite simply, Comedy.

My Opinion: This was hilarious, to me at least. One thing you always have to be aware of, is that everyone has their own sense of humor, and you can't force them to laugh at something when they just don't like the comedy. Personally, I found this always made me laugh every episode, and sometimes was just outright hilarious. One or two jokes went over my head, probably lost in the translation, but all around good funnies. Additionally, the nature and genre of the comedy is completely fresh to me. I don't think I've ever watched an anime that had this level of mature comedy, and not annoyed me. Typically it just feels like a teenager trying to crack sex puns to sound "mature".
Going into this, I was feeling a bit wary of the short-length. The last time a comedy I liked rolled through with a short length, I ultimately lost consistent interest because of the short length, decided to just backlog it and steamroll it all at once, and then forgot about it. Trying to remember the name right now, and can't. (will probably randomly find it on my list one day and burn through it in about a half hour). For this anime, (I refuse to type that absurdly long name, its not even much shorter in Japanese), the length actually helped underline the comedy instead of cutting it off. It really feels like they always pick a good spot to end each skit(s), as if the comedy would start to feel like it was dragging on if it was much longer. Having said that, I do wish there were more episodes. I was loving this week to week.

Impartial Judgement: I think it's going to be standard format for people to say this anime is 'not for everyone'. Whether that's just because of the nature of the comedy, (raises hand), or because of the technical age-rating of the comedy. I recommend this show for some fresh comedy, and an insight on to how mature humor that actually feels like jokes adults would make. Not a lot to say after that.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

[New][January 2015] Durarara!!x2 Shou

Japanese title: デュラララ!!×2 承
Genres: Action / Drama / Suspense / Thriller / ... (what isn't it?!)
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The story of Dollars, Yellow Scarves, Headless Horsewoman, Russian Sushi Chef, ... continuous
First impression score: 91 - Still Brilliant

Personal comments: The Original Durarara was my pick of anime of the year for 2010. It combines action thriller, suspense, drama, and literally anything you can think of into one super package that fits perfectly well together. There are many animes out there people's opinions differ, but for Durarara!!, it's has been overwhelmingly positive. It was really brilliant in every single way imaginable, literally! 

For those who have seen Durarara!!, I don't think I need to recommend you to follow up on this sequel. For those who haven't seen the original Durarara!! (or Baccano!), where have you been?! Go watch it, and go watch it now.

p.s. I'm coming out of anime hibernation for a bit, but may soon go back into it. While I'm out here, I'll share as much of my opinion as possible. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

MekakuCity Actors: watched beginning to end in one day

Last Seen: All of them.

Ok so I'm going to break my own formula here, and just kind of wing this one, because I liked it that much. I've been feeling inspired all day on the adrenaline boost this find gave me, so bear with my rambling for a bit, it's what happens when I go off-structure. (well, okay, it just gets worse when I wing it, shush.)

First, a little back story. Way back in the day, I used to frequently scrounge through youtube for random Vocaloid songs. I still occasionally do, but not as often, or for as long. A bit of scale: I once had 12 tabs of them open and buffering, and was constantly refilling each tab with a new song as I listened to each one. The only thing that stopped be was a friend contacting me to play a game. So...take everything after this with a grain of salt to spice it that I'm predisposed to liking Vocaloid based songs, and that colors everything I'm saying.
I don't recall when, but I encountered one particular song, that included an AMV (animated music video). Most of the time, I was used to just staring at a backdrop of some fan-art of the vocaloid that was singing. Said AMV was off-the-walls-crazy. I couldn't understand a lick of what was going on, but it was perfectly obvious that someone was quite crazy in it, and they were wrecking shit up. I loved it, the music fit with it nicely. Of course, as I sit here typing, I can't for the life of me think of what the song was called, or the other songs that eventually accompanied it.

Now, I eventually was able to come across some comments discussing how it fit in with the rest of the songs...and I went looking for and found them. I can't remember if this was before, or after, the song or one of its siblings was subtitled with english. Since I vaguely recall being led onto the trail by youtube comments, I'm inclined to believe it was before, since they were trying to puzzle out to each other the songs meaning, and how it fit in with the rest. Before I had ever sat down to watch this anime after being pointed at it by an AMV I randomly picked to watch, I had already accumulated all of the sibling songs translated versions, and listened to and pieced them together. I'm not going to spoil anything, but the 'set' of this story seems to be cumulatively known as the Kagerou Project? I may be wrong but I took a quick look at said AMV's comments and they seemed to be referring to it as such. NOW WAIT! BEFORE YOU RUN OFF TO WATCH/LISTEN TO IT:
I'm not entirely sure which order is spoiler'ish. Time to get to the main point today-

I whole-heartedly recommend this Story.

However, I do not know which means of receiving it you would most enjoy. Said comments seemed to allude to there being Novels or Mangas of this Story as well? Which was news to me.
I have no idea what the proper order of existence is though, which medium came first and inspired the others, which were made by the original story creator, so on and so forth. Hell, from what I know of how pieced-together multiple vocaloid songs can occasionally do, there may not even be a unified single author. I've seen it happen that a popular song inspires another creator to make another song that is a sequel to it, and then another creator to make a sequel to that. *
Here's what I can tell you without spoiling anything: The Songs I listened to, (which I believe are collectively referred to as the Kagerou Project?), are chronologically before the Anime. Additionally, said anime is the end of the story. Now, that is not to say that the anime is unwatchable without the having previously received the rest of the material, the anime basically covers the full run of the story, but it only has 12 episodes.
time passes]
Ok so, I just googled 'Kagerou Project' and found a wiki article dedicated to the thing. So now I can speak with more authority. The original centralizing author is called Jin. He made a song, and the article seems to imply it was released simultaneously with a light novel, both of the same part of the story. So that's the proper order of things, I don't know if the animated MV (music video) I originally consumed was part of this or made for the song after by a fan, I've done enough studying for you now. So the proper order of things, if you are inclined to care, is songs/novels first, then anime. However, you could also just watch the anime if you feel so inclined. The comments (presumably by fans) were all grumbly about the anime because they felt it left out some of the impact of the story contained by songs/novels, since it could only cover the end of the story in its 12 episodes. Myself, I loved it, but here's the context to that:
Finding and watching this anime was basically the accumulation of ...what, more than one now? maybe three?.. years of working off and on to piece together the story around that first song I listened to. Keep in mind this included watching out for and finding translated subtitled versions of the songs, AND trying to figure out which order they were each in relation to each other. Most of the comments I was using to do so apparently were like me, and didn't know there was additional material to help with that(or no one felt the need to say what they all thought was obvious). So finding and watching this was basically an immense jackpot payout of a huge effort I poured into a hobby. I may be overly-invested and emotional about this. Regardless:
The story's end, which the anime is of, basically includes an inherent summary of itself by its nature. That's all the more I can say without spoiling on the topic, so after a huge ramble, a finally piece of structure to try and tie this all together:

Summary: The incidents which occur on August 14th and 15th bring a group of boys and girls together…they become members of a group and call themselves the “Meikakushi Dan” (Blindfold Organization) and each member possesses a strange power involving their eyes.

...Yeah that's kind of a bare-bones explanation, but I can't really say much more without spoiling something. It's not the deepest story...but it is very complexly woven together, which I love.

Long story short? I recommend finding a youtube playlist that has the Kagerou Project songs (with MVs) in chronological order. It will...torture you a bit more to do that before watching the anime, but it may make the anime more potent for you. It certainly did for me.
[Aside]Talk about the perfect thing to inspire me to come back into writing here full swing, eh?
Probably dropping off radar again, unless I'm right and one of the shows just ended, then you'll get an End post for it sometime after Saturday, before I go silent again for a bit.
Oh, and for reference, the song I encountered was quite out of chrono-order, and it was about the Yellow eyed guy. Again, that's as specific as I can be and remain spoiler free.
[aside end]

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

When Supernatural Battles became Commonplace, Not even remotely shallow now

Last Seen: episode 8

Talk about high speed U-turns. When this last episode opened in, I was having to rev my brain up a few gears to try and catch up. The first thought I had was that I missed an episode...or two, but thanks to how thickly I ward against this with a 'current episode' list, I was able to dismiss it. Having done so, just a little while after when Litia is introduced, the pieces fell in place.

This show just got Big points in my book. They've done something I like to refer to as 'In Medias Res Weaving'. To explain what I mean when I say that: When a show weaves subtle foreshadowing elements into itself without drawing attention to them, and then later calls upon them all at once for the story. Basically, it is something you can only do with a story if it has been well thought out and planned.
It's one of my favorite things to experience from a show, because it opens up the potential for the show to do it again. Not a guarantee mind you, but the potential of itself is enjoyable for me, because it gives me an excuse to pay closer attention, and try to see it coming next time.

In summary, without spoilers, this show is now officially Great in my book. No particular part of it stands out enough yet for awards, but it most certainly is not just a comedy show. Comedy is going to be a strong part of it going forward, certainly, but I'm now starting to doubt that it is the core of the show anymore. A bit too early for a verdict on that though, need more plot.

As much as I would like it to be otherwise, I'm afraid there is going to be a distinct absence of opinions from me on most of the anime I'm watching this season. So many of them are adaptations of Mangas I'm already reading, or second seasons, or long running anime, that there just isn't anything worthwhile to say. The only exception would be Parasyte the Maxim, but ... well. That would just be me vomiting fan-juice all over the blog and I won't stoop to that. It would literally be, 'Hey that was awesome wasn't it!? And that was awesome too right! and that other thing is awesome! Awesome-awesome! Woo hoo!' or some such nonsense. In short, the show's got action and drama in spades, and whoever planned up it's show-to-show cliffhangers needs to be hugged, and strangled, in the same breath.
When I have a more constructive thought to convey, I will, but as it stands, I'm having a hard time mustering enough enthusiasm to keep up with the rest of them. Not because they're bad, but because...well. I already know them. Literally all they can do is impress me with flashy moving pictures, or disappoint me by doing something stupid with a story I like.

So a short summary in absence of meaningful posts:
Shows I'm looking forward to, week-to-week:
-Parasyte the Maxim
-When Supernatural Battles become Commonplace
-Madan no Ou to Vanadis
-I can't Understand what my Husband is Saying
Shows I'm watching and plan to finish, but frequently miss
-Akatsuki no Yona
-Akame ga Kill
Long running anime
-Fairy Tail
-Log Horizon 2
-Sword Art Online 2

Such concludes the short summary. As always, said list of things I'm watching is absurdly long and cluttered with ancient things, some of which are probably at least 2 years old, and many of which I know are at least 4-5 years old. I really should trim the fat and just decide not to watch some of them, but eh. I still wanna know how things end. It's a thing for me.
[Aside end]

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

[New][October 2014] Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Last Seen: Episode 5

Summary: Set in a pseudo Western European medieval era during times of war. Eleanor Vertalia(?), one of the Vanadis of Zhcted, leads the battle into Brune. There are seven Vanadis, each having received a powerful weapon from the Black Dragon to reign over one of Zhcted's seven territories. The power of the Vanadis invokes dread and fear in their enemies.
An earl in the service of the country of Brune, a young archer by the name of Tigrevurmud Vorn, experiences the Vanadis's power firsthand after being defeated on the battlefield by Eleanor. However, she chooses to spare his life after witnessing his skills, but in exchange, he is asked to serve her...and then to cede his lands.

First Impression: This was a mixed bag right out of the gate. To start the ball rolling, I found this anime from, of all places, Imgur, one of its scenes being used in a .gif that made it to the front page.
[Aside] Reference [Aside end]
The poster was kind enough to cite the anime used for the gif, and I was interested by the scene so I went looking for it. Things got more interesting from there out. See, I was under the impression this was an old anime that had already completed. So I briefly checked Crunchyroll for it, (not expecting much, Crunchyroll basically purged their entire archive when they went Legal), and then started hunting the less official anime streaming websites for it. Short story? I didn't find it as easily as I was expecting. Finally, I just googled it, and of all places, it shows up on HULU. Hulu, the next thing to be TV, since TV. Then comes the next shock, when the first thing Hulu does is slap a big ole RATED M FOR MATURE in my face. That got a kind of 'Ehhh..?' from me. Hulu being very "TV'ish" their moral standards bar is set a lot higher than most things since they use the standardized maturity rating system TV and movies do(as far as I can tell). Never-the-less, that colored my opinion pretty darkly right away. As a point of reference, Hulu's summary is GARBAGE. It painted this in a very.. well. Hulu's summary + the other summary I read made this sound like a very clean fit for the Harem genre.
It's not
That is the standing I went into this anime with. Be aware, this is never the kind of opinion any anime wants me to start watching it in, it's a good way to get dropped within two episodes. Here I am however, having watched five episodes(the last of which was a pain in the arse to find, by the way).
It should go without saying that it impressed me, so far.

Personal Opinion: Two thumbs, WAY-way up. Is it mature? Yeah, I'll say it's mature. Except that it's mature as such that I wouldn't want children to watch it until they were older, not because I didn't want them to be poorly influenced by its content, but because I wanted to be sure they were mature enough to understand all of its content and appreciate it. I'm just going to put my best card on the table right away, and say that this anime had a bath scene within the first episode, and it impressed me. That sentence would have been a contradiction anywhere else in my life. The show got the ball rolling pretty fast out of the gate with how...human all of the characters were acting.
I'd use the word mature, but it has a similar connotation baggage the way 'Hard-boiled' used to. A specific check-list of things a trope tics off to fit into that description. The same kind of baggage that comes with the word 'Realism' in games lately meaning making it more Gritty and Edgy(and typically brown and grey, sometimes red).
In short, this show is mature in the way that Maturity should have always been. Intelligent self-controlled adult mature, not this puerile teenage 'mature' that seems to be the norm and expectation in anime lately.
[Aside end]

Then as things are picking up nicely, I see them rolling towards what I presumed to be a gaping chasm of a plot trope, a bath scene. Right as it's rolling up to it, my joy is slowly bleeding out of me, and I'm thinking, "ah great. Here comes the check box tic in 'generic bath-scene #264, complete with scream and slap' so the show is officially anime'ish."
He walks around the corner, there's the lady, my face is going for my palm....and then my jaw hits my palm instead. I'm gently pushing my jaw back up as the show soars over the chasm.
Four episodes later, and the show is rather keeping pace with that kind of scenario. After a scene with more of the Vanadis together interacting, and later when they introduce our main male lead to his second Vanadis, the show had the potential to be spinning a very strong Harem chord through everything...but it hasn't so far. Hell, there was even a second bath scene, as similarly impressive in maturity as the first. I still feel like that chord is looming somewhere in the atmosphere over the show, but I'm honestly not worried about it for once. Why? Because I trust the main characters so far to handle it in a mature manner.
God, that sounded really weird, but it's true. For the first time in a long time, I trust in the main characters to not suddenly have their brains short circuit and go full derp to appeal to some expectation of 'what the fans want'.

To wrap this overly long post up in summary, I found out this is an actively airing anime after the major pain in the arse it was to find the fifth episode since Hulu didn't have it. I only found out after watching the fifth episode and the auxiliary site I was using telling me episode 6 was not yet out that it was still being aired. So now this is on the list in a nice happy throne made of maturity, parked somewhere behind Parasyte the maxim, as the rest of the line up squabbles for the comedy seat, or lounges in their 'Second season pass' seats.