Thursday, December 29, 2011

[Ended] Mawaru Penguindrum: Beyond Imagination

Once a while, an anime series will appear out of nowhere and shocks everybody who watches it. It's actually quite a rarely occurring event, but this year, we are so fortunate that there are three such series: Madoka Magica, Steins;Gate, and lastly, Mawaru Penguindrum. Each of these would leave an impression in everybody that could forever change how people look at all animes in the future--they will become the new standards for all animes of similar type to try to match and beat.

Back to the anime itself, the core of the story revolves around the concept of "fate" and how everybody in the story tries to change it. It may sound like a simple idea, but the story writer manage to use it create an epic story filled with twists and turns that keeps the audiences guessing what's to come up till the very last minute of final resolution, literally.

At first, the story itself didn't really make much of an impression for me, but what did get me interested was the randomness and the whackiness of the series of events that no one could understand at the moment. Then, a small twist came out, then another one, and another one, and another one. Before I knew it, it has become a game of guessing what new twist is to come in the next episode. But I have to say that my success rate of that game was more or less zero.

In the past, even the most unpredictable series has a critical point that is usually 2 or 3 episodes away from the ending where all the fogs get blown away and everything becomes crystal clear. Then from that point on, it was just cruising towards the inevitable goal. In Penguindrum however, this critical point is about the half way through the final episode. Yes, it is that unpredictable.

Another thing about this series that I personally really like about is the fact even there are plenty chance to, the story itself never actually use the "miracle token" to try to save anybody. In fact, the story is so intricately written, there is no need for a miracle anywhere in the story to bail anything out of a plot hole. That, is some amazing story writing.

That brings up the topic of the series' ending. There has been many great series fell short in terms of ending the story properly. That is not the case here. The ending is so very fitting and drenched with strong emotions that I can say this is one of the best ending amongst all the animes I've ever seen. 

I can go on and on about what is so great about this series, but you still won't know the greatness of this series until you actually watch it. At this point, even though there still are unfinished series from October season, I already tell you Mawaru Penguindrum is the

2011 Anime of the Year

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 100 (Great twists and turns)
Comedy: 98 (Very very funny)
Action: 99 (Very well presented)
Art/Animation: 99 (Great effects)
Sound/Music: 100 (Amazing songs and BGMs)
Character: 100 (Intriguing)
Plot: 100 (Thoughts provoking)
Ending: 100 (Perfectly written)

Re-watch value: 90 (Still would be amazing)

Overall: 100 - Simply Amazing

Recommendation: There was a 4 years drought for an anime that earned my perfect score before Ano Hana finally did it in this spring. What I wasn't expecting, is that the next one came so quickly. If you only going to watch one anime from 2011, this is it. The anime of the year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

[Ended] C³: Dark and Twisted Comedies

Like many,, is a lightly couple series of short arcs that meant to be for both character development and tie-ins for the final battle. While this is a very typical in recent anime trends, added some extra dimension such as twisted people with twisted mind as well as some pretty graphical scenes that you wouldn't normally expect from the show after seeing the earlier episodes.

As a whole, I think it's one of the better series of the season. It achieved a good balance between what you would expect out of a typical series as well as a couple of surprise factors. Although from time to time, they drop in a big dose of fan service, it managed not to cross the line of excessiveness.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 80 (Ups and downs)
Comedy: 86 (done fairly well)
Action: 88 (Quite good)
Art/Animation: 89 (Pleasing)
Sound/Music: 90 (Good theme songs)
Character: 86 (Intriguing)
Plot: 80 (Loosely coupled)
Ending: 80 (Not quite)

Re-watch value: 60 (Not so sure why you would)

Overall: 82 - Twisted and Light

Recommendation: I think this series is not very well received by many, citing mediocrity in execution and plot distraction being the major disappointments. However, if you put the series into the context of light novel, which the originally was, those two problems would be irrelevant since they're seldom used to measure the quality of light novels. So in my opinion, as long as you've set you view correctly, this is actually quite an enjoyable series. Though not as a much watch recommendation, it's definitely amongst the better ones came out in October 2011 season. 

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

UN-GO: Quite Brilliant

Currently finished: Episode 9

While its core concept may somewhat looked like Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro, the story itself is actually quite different, in a very brilliant way. This latest arc had shown us how much potential would a hybrid environment where reality mixed in with just a tiny bit of supernatural could achieve. With only two episodes left to go, this story has silently reached its climax where you know something big, something really big is about to happen. UN-GO has definitely put itself up as a contender of anime of the season.

Monday, December 5, 2011

[Movie] Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo (Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below)

 Background Sky with Cloud seems to be a defining property of Shinkai Makoto's Films

Japanese Title: 星を追う子ども
Translated Title: Children who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below

This, is the director/producer/writer/art director Shinkai Makoto's (新海誠) latest film, whose portfolio include 5 Centermeters per Second, The Place Promised in our Earlier Days, Voice of the Distant Star, and both Ef series. As a producer/director/writer/art director, he is famous for combining beautiful background, intricately crafted stories, strong emotions, along with extraordinary background music into a single package to create an unforgettable experience. His latest work, is no exception.

Having said that, however, I have to say that I just can't help but notice that early on, there are some distinct similarities between this story and Princess Mononoke by the frontier of anime movie production, Studio Ghibli. The difference, is that Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo has a much greater depth and the line between good and evil is much more vague.

Since I'm on the topic, I'll expand a little about my opinions on Studio Ghibli's films vs. Shinkai Makoto's films:

If you have been following my blog for a while, you'd know I am a huge fan of Shinkai Makoto's work, but not so for Studio Ghibli's films. I know many people out there disagree with me and consider Ghibli one of the greatest anime production studio. While it is true that Studio Ghibli's films are pretty and usually contain some moral that is good for people at all age, my problem with Studio Ghibli's films is they lack of depth and dimensions. In another word, the stories from Studio Ghibli's film are very one-dimensional. The most recent example being Karigurashi no Arrietty where there isn't really much of anything that would leave you with a lasting impression other than the awe-inspiring art works and the strong and blatant environmental undertone.

On the other hand, Shinkai Makoto's Hoshi wo Ou Kodomo, even though it looked simple early on, as the story went on, more and more dimensions were added to the core storyline and eventually became something much more than what it started. Even when so many things from this story seemed borrowed, the depth and dimensionality of this story would make you agree that it far surpasses its concept origin, Princess Mononoke.

Another major difference between the two studios' approach to stories is that Studio Ghibli's stories almost always have a clear cut between good and evil--you can almost never misidentify the good from evil nor would you ever be able to take the side of evil while still stand on moral high ground. On Shinkai Makoto's side, however, it's much harder to judge the motives of a character to have it clearly placed in the land of good or evil--there are always much of the good intents that are being achieved by ways that people may perceive to be evil, and what are presented to be evil almost always have intents for greater good. This moral indistinguishability is part of the reason why I love Shinkai Makoto's work so much.

Anyway, back on the topic, in this film, you will see all that you would expect from any Shinkai Makoto's film: beautiful art works, an intriguing story, and spectacular background music by Tenmon that is always right on cue. But I have to say, as a personal preference, I think I like his works that are based on current world (or a world that isn't too far in the future) much better than his works that are based mostly on a pure imaginary fantasy like this one. I think his ability to make spectacular from real life is much more prominent than creating a completely new fantasy world. But nevertheless, this is still one good movie.

There really isn't much more I can say about this story without spoiling anything, I would recommend just go watch it. To some, it may look extremely like a Studio Ghibli's film. But if you look carefully, the extra depth and dimensions is how you can tell it isn't. Disagree with me all you want, but I maintain Shinkai Makoto Produced films are much finer pieces of arts than Studio Ghibli's.

Score: 88

Sunday, November 20, 2011

C³: Seeing Similarities

Currently finished: Episode 8

It may strike many as an odd connection, but the format and underlying plot of reminds me somewhat of Dantalian no Shoka, or rather, what Dantalian no Shoka could have been. I admit this claim sounds a bit outrageous, but let me explain a little.

While the presentations are vastly different, both stories revolve around a character (Dalian and Fear) that has some sort of special abilities where they would encounter strange things that their ability become handy. Even though they are usually in human form, both of them are inherently different than the normal human being, and usually accompanied by their human companion in most situations. Furthermore, the events in the stories mostly involve people that have similar abilities and most likely are enemies of the protagonist.

Yes, it is a bit stretch, but watching the recent episodes really got me thinking about it.

UN-GO: Compounding

Currently finished: Episode 6

The early episodes of UN-GO was interesting. But I wouldn't consider it as a "great" series, mostly because there has just been case after case and not much of continuities to speak of. The latest episode, however, has shown that the past seemingly unrelated episodes are actually building blocks for a bigger plot. All elements from past episodes has compounded to form a bigger core. On top of that, the end of this episode may have just revealed the beginning of the grand plot. So if for any reason you thought UN-GO didn't live up to your expectation, don't let it go just yet, it is definitely heading for the right direction.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam: Old Friends

Currently finished: Episode 4

It's kind of nice to see some familiar faces to show up in the new series. But, did Dio and Tatiana just not recognize each other or are they for some reason purposefully ignoring each other? I guess we'll eventually find out...

Sunday, November 6, 2011

[Movie] Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa

Disappointing. If you ask me to give you a one word impression about this second Macross Frontier movie, that's what I'll give you.

If all you're looking for some big CG flashes and bangs accompanies by pop musical, then you won't be disappointed, because there are plenty of that. However, if you're looking for anything beyond that, unfortunately, there isn't much. Simply put, while the first movie is somewhat acceptable as a story that went a bit too far towards the end, this second movie, not only did it not try to pull it back to make it a bit more sensible, it built upon it and went straight land of ludicrousness. The story went from silly to idiotic to outright insane in no time. It got so ridiculously ludicrous that it's not even laughable any more.

Like most theatrical anime release, the plot of the story has been re-written and re-arranged so it's not just a shortened version of TV series. But just as most TV to Movie anime, the shortened time frame restricts character development, especially for a project scale as big as this one. Even with almost 2 hours run time, many part of the plot still felt rushed to make time for lengthy space combat and musicals. In my opinion, it is totally worth spending the time to watch the original Macross Frontier TV series rather than watching this shorten version.

Score: 71

On a side note, I mentioned in my post about the previous movie that they literally modeled Macross Frontier City after San Francisco. In this episode, we see that not only they have the famous landmarks such as Lombard street and Golden Gate Bridge, they even modeled an Alcatraz!

Guilty Crown: Laughable Screen Writing

Currently finished: Episode 4

The art works are pretty, the fights are exciting, and the BGM is right on cue as well. But one thing it lacks is a good screen writing. Not to mention the idiotic choice certain person has been making, in the latest episode, "if you can't make up you mind, then put your trust in me", that ought to be one of the worst line I've heard given the situation it was spoken in. Seriously, couldn't they have come up with better line than that?!

Monday, October 31, 2011

UN-GO: Copycat! Copycat!

Currently finished: Episode 3

The first episode it wasn't very clear, but the next two episodes clearly indicated that this is literally a complete copy of the concept of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro: this supernatural creature is attached to the main character of the story who likes to solve puzzle. Seriously, they didn't even bother to try to make it look different aside from using a different background. Very unoriginal. My only hope at this moment is the story would creatively make use of its background to come up with something a bit more original...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Mawaru Pengiundrum: ...

Currently finished: Episode 15

A little late, but I caught up to episode 15. All I want to say is

Monday, October 24, 2011

[Dropped] Maken-Ki: Tasteless, Tasteless, Tasteless

Finished: Episode 3

This, is just plain tasteless. It's at par with High School of the Dead on the level of tastelessly inappropriate insertion of fan service. The worst of all, unlike series such as Aika R-16, or Seikon no Qwaser, where fan service actually adds amusement value, it's so poorly done here, instead of making it more amusing to watch, it disrupts the flow of the story and all you see a bags of meat swinging all over the place. I can't image anybody other than a horny 12-year old (or somebody who's mentally a horny 12-year old) would like this. Terrible.

Final Score: 33

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Chihayafuru: Not Selling Short

Currently finished: Episode 3

In a comment danchou posted earlier in response to my initial impression on Chihayafuru, he called me "selling this series short" because I only initial scored it a 79. I did so because for the most part, it reminded me too much of a typical sports anime opening episode without much indication on whether it's going to branch out. But after the two follow-up episodes, I realized it's not really going down the sports anime's route, rather, a side drama route much like Shion no Ou (which by the way is one great anime about shougi) where the main theme is merely the glue to tie the drama together.

So, if it pleases you, danchou, yes, you are right, I was "selling it short" when based on only one episode. The follow up episodes have changed my opinions significantly. As it is right now, I would give it a

Second look score: 87

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai: The Usual Twist

Currently finished: Episode 3

Like Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, in my opinion this series goes slightly too heavy on the fan service side, I think mostly has something to do with the original art works the story is based upon. But, unlike other fan service heavy series such as High School of the Dead, the fan service here doesn't really feel out of place. On top of that, they're really careful about only making it "heavy" without crossing the line over to the side of "excessive". That, is something I could appreciate.

Towards the end of the episode 3, it threw out a little twist that I didn't see it coming, which in my opinion is going to make this story much more interesting than it originally presented itself to be. But, if you think about it, this is really one of the most commonly used plot device for connecting certain people within a story. But even so, it still creates a very interesting situation that future plot could build upon.

Guilty Crown: Exciting, But...

Currently finished: Episode 2

The opening episode is interesting, this second episode is exciting. However, there are some symptoms showed up here in the second episode that concerns me a bit: the lack of originality. Beyond all the excitement in mecha fighting and laser shooting, it felt like a clone of Code Geass to the very tiny details. I think it's gonna be really difficult for most people to overlook that given the high profile status of Code Geass. At this point, I can only hope they'll do something drastic to detach themselves from it.

On a side note, if you haven't noticed, as far as voice goes, Tsugumi

= = =

Saturday, October 22, 2011

[Movie] Karigurashi no Arrietty

This is the latest film produced by studio Ghibli. It's a very pretty, very very pretty looking movie. It has the usual Ghibli touchs including the emotion swings and the blatant undertone about the environments.

It's quite enjoyable. But, that's about it. 

Personally, I was never a big fan of studio Ghibli's film. Reason being that even though each of them comes with a somewhat different theme, they more or less all have the same core. Basically, if you have seen one, you more or less have seen them all. Sure they're all pretty (and getting prettier dare I say) and got all the sad moments designed to make you cry and all, but, that's about all there is to it. They just don't seem to have much of anything beyond that. I have never come out of a studio Ghibli movie feeling "Wow, that was something!". As good as they all looked, there's just never a long lasting impression. It's like they have one deck of cards with movie elements, and every time they're trying to make a new movie, they simply shuffle them all and read them off to create a plot flow.

Anyway, Karigurashi no Arrietty is a good and interesting movie, but it's far from a great movie. If you want to see a pretty movie, it definitely won't disappoint you. But if you want to see something great, well, I think it falls quite a bit short.

Evil Cat's Score: 81

Friday, October 21, 2011

Danchou's Top 5 Pick of October 2011

As the Evil Cat has said, these last few seasons have been water to a rather dehydrated anime fan. Light shown to a person stuck in a Platonic cave. Even, dare I say it, an open bar to a college student! Regardless, I think I'll have a similar list to the Evil Cat's, but there will be some slight adjustments.

Fate/Zero: After a slightly disappointing adaptation of the excellent video novel labeled as Fate Stay/Night, TypeMoon is attempting to up what has been done with the first series. Not saying the first anime was bad, it just deviated so far from the source material, it left many wanting more. Regardless, this series is doing a good job showing the movements of all the different parties, building up well known characters of myth and history, and showing how so many well constructed schemes are slowly working towards one another. It started out quite slowly but seems to be gaining some steam. Anyways, if you are a fan of the series, Typemoon, the VN, or even just famous historical/mythical figures being used in zany (yes, zany) ways with cool powers, this is definitely going to end up high on your list. Since I fall into all of those categories, I'm hooked.
This series, with the exception of possibly Guilty Crown, has been the biggest surprise of the season for me. However, saying that, it also means that it has the biggest chance of letting me down. The first episode managed to portray many interesting looking characters, the possibility of some intriguing politics being played out, and what is needed for a mystery/detective series to go far. That being said, it could easily fall into some of the traps shows like Psychic Detective Yakumo did. Anyways, it has enough hope to make it on my list.
Guilty Crown:
This series had possibly the best directing of any series so far this season. The way the song was integrated into the episode was reminiscent of Star Drive (yes, that crazy show), the timing like the mixed action and strategy of Code Geass, and the pacing of Code Geass' first episodes as well. Drawn along for the ride, dazzled by the singing, and interested by the mixture of mecha, magic, and politics, you can count me in. I know I haven't said it enough, but this has the potential to be another Code Geass. Oh, yeah.... Code Geass.
Shakugan no Shana III:
Shakugan no Shana was the first series I ever watched subbed. I know I'm a fanboy of this title because of it. But, I would like to say that, despite this, I am quite reasonable in claiming that it deserves a spot in my top 5. This is because of the mystery between the seasons, the pseudo-political tensions that are sure to rise, and the pacing change. Obviously, a LOT happened between the seasons that needs to be explained. This mystery is one of the driving factors for the show thus far. Also, the new... erm... alignments will surely bring about a new dynamic that the show has left untouched for much of the earlier seasons. Finally, the pacing is completely different from either of the other seasons. Instead of throwing people into the fire, then easing up a little to explain things, this season is starting by explaining all the turmoil brewing throughout the world, showing how some of the characters are feeling and then going from there.
Mirai Nikki:
Although slightly saddened by the pacing of the first season, this series also has potential to go far. A wide range of characters, a good setting, and an interesting look at the psychological factors of many of the characters bodes well for this show. This, however, is definitely last on my list of 5 because of the pacing of the second episode. It wasn't as well done as the first and revealed WAYYY too much for the second episode of a long series. That being said, it still has hope.

There are a few honorable mentions on my list, just as the Evil Cat had on his. This would be made of
Ben-To, Bakuman 2, and Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!!. Bakuman and Ben-To are the two of these closet to making the top 5 (especially if Bakuman 2 is as good as 1), but they weren't quite there. Last Exile may eventually make the list as well, but, unfortunately, I have yet to watch it. Anyways, happy watching everyone, and I hope I can get some good comments :3

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere: Huh?

Currently finished: Episode 3

Can someone tell me what's going on here? Three episodes in, I still have not a clue what's going on. Sure I got some localized relationship charts going, but as far as the big picture goes, I'm still not getting any. It's in a way somewhat similar to Chrome Shelled Regios, except by episode three, I've already gotten a pretty firm grasp what's happening, and what's about to happen. Here, things are just flying over my head left and right and I'm just not connecting any dots anywhere, period.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Evil Cat's Top 5 Pick for October 2011

After such a long drought, recent seasons indicate that business (well, anime business that is) is booming again. Take this season for example, instead of having too few series to choose from, I have to figure out which ones I want to leave out of my top 5. Come to think of it, I haven't have to ponder over that question since January 2010.

My top 5 picks for October 2011 are:

Fate/Zero so far everything I'm seeing from this series is solid. Grant it that it's an established franchise with some very good series from the past, it has somewhat of an unfair advantage because of the exposures it had. But, even if this is the first time you heard about the its name, you'd probably still going to be impressed by what it has done.

Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing As the first real series (Nyanpire is not a real series) after GONZO re-emerged from bankruptcy, this story has a very explosive start. I think if GONZO is returning to the innovative storytelling that made them famous at first place, this is definitely one of the series to watch.

Mirai Nikki This, in my opinion, is definitely by far the best series of this season. The story is exciting and the characters are interesting. My only concern right now is that so far the character Yuki feels very much like Ganta from Deadman Wonderland. They think alike and they act alike. At some point Ganta turns into a completely crybaby and ruins the whole show. I just hope Yuki doesn't do the same.

UN-GO For the most part, I'm not exactly sure where this show is heading just yet, but, I'm very intrigued by what I've seen so far. There's some weird undertone in the story I haven't had a firm grasp on just yet, but it's all for the better.

Ben-to This, I have to say is the biggest surprise for me among all the new series from this season. It manages to mix a nearly perfect blend of subtlety and straight-faced silliness with some tropes that are designed to make fun of brawling animes such as Ikkitousen or Tenjou Tenge to form a one of kind comedy.

There are also a couple of other series that if the competition isn't so intense, would totally made into the top 5 as well: Shakugan no Shana III, Bakuman 2, Guilty Crown, and Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!!. It's actually pains me to leave them out of my top 5 because they all had a solid opening episodes. However, Shana III isn't captive enough in its opening run; Bakuman 2 is a slow starter; Guilty Crown doesn't feel very original; and Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!! is just slightly excessive on the fan service part. These, ultimately made my top 5 picks win over these guys.

I'm sure my co-host, danchou probably would post his top 5 pick soon as well. We'll see if he has any different opinions. ^_^

Monday, October 17, 2011

[New October 2011] Sengoku Paradise Kiwami

Genres: Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Warring period Japan, again.

First impression score: -- --

Personal comments: It's a 3-minute episode short short comedy based on...heroes from warring period Japan, again.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Mawaru Penguindrum: Spinning Out Of Control

Currently finished: Episode 14

For the last 6 episodes or so, my impression about this series is "Holy crap this is getting out of control!". Then I saw the latest episode (14), my impression is "HOLY CRAP THIS IS REALLY GETTING OUT OF CONTROL!!!"

After the twists and turns it took lately, it seems that the story finally entered a steady development phase, where instead of putting pieces on the chessboard, we'll see some movements on the chessboard. Just as I was focusing forward trying to figure the goal ahead, it pops out a curve ball and hit me right in the face. If I had any doubt this story is going to keep popping out stuff that would surprise me over and over until it's over, it's no longer there. From this point on I'm just getting ready to be surprised every time I tune into it.

C³: The Familiar Vibes

You know what this most recent episode's development reminds me of? Kore wa Zombie Desu ka. Not in a literal sense, but it's definitely giving out the same vibes. Maybe it's the quick shift from nonsense comedies to serious actions to some even more serious psycho showdown; maybe it's the atmosphere of the fight it creates; or maybe it's the randomness and mysterious nature of the story. Either way, this has just gotten very interesting.

[New October 2011] Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam

Genres: Fantasy / Action
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A new story from the Last Exile universe.     

First impression score: 92 - Exciting

Familiar voices: Aoi Yuuki (悠木碧) as Giselle. She's probably best know as "the other" famous loli voice, the voice behind the two recent "loli vampires", Princess Mina from Dance in the Vampire Bund and Sunako from Shiki, and the most recently as Victorique from GOSICK. Aki Toyosaki (豊崎愛生) as Fam. With that much playfulness in the voice, its pretty easy to recognize her as Yui from K-ON!.

Personal comments: Compare to the original Last Exile, this opening episode is a much faster paced and way less cryptic. I think GONZO Finally is taking a step towards the right direction by producing quality anime again.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

[New October 2011] UN-GO

Watch online:
Genres: Drama / Mystery
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: When murder occurs, Yuuki and his companion Inga is on the case.    

First impression score: 88 - Weird But Interesting

Familiar voices: I didn't recognize it first time through, but Inga's voice is done by Aki Toyosaki (豊崎愛生), the voice of Yui from K-ON!.

Personal comments: The build of this opening episode reminds me much of Majin Tantei Nougami Neuro, that too is a weird detective story. But being an Noitamina anime, nothing can be "too weird"--that's the programming block brought us [C], Mononoke and The Tatami Galaxy. At first glance, the background of the story is modern day Japan. However, as the case being investigated, it presents a picture of a society that is much different than today's world. So far it's giving me a good vibe, a vibe that is actually felt somewhat similar to Eden of the East (which by the way is also a Noitamina anime), if that means anything to you.

[New October 2011] Ben-to

Daily Grocery Store Bento Brawl

Genres: Drama / Action / Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A dude enters a boarding high school where all students are responsible for their own meal. He soon finds out it takes a brawl to get half-priced bentos at local grocery store.

First impression score: 91 - Action Packed Outrageously Ridiculous Straight-faced Comedy

Personal comments: Remember how ridiculous yet brilliantly refreshing it felt when we first encountered Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu? I am getting the exactly same vibe from this new outrageously ridiculous action packed straight-faced comedy. This is definitely the best comedy I've seen so far from this season. It's so subtle, yet outrageously ridiculous. If they keep it up, I'm positive this is going to come out to be the comedy of the season.

[New October 2011] Mashiro-iro Symphony

Genres: Gal-game / Drama / Harem
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A co-ed school is merging with an all girl school. At the beginning of the semester, a dude meets many girls...

First impression score: 72 - Typical

Personal comments: I think there is a quota each season to gal-game based anime each season. So far, it seems to be a very typical gal-game anime and there seems to be nothing special about it. When you've seen one gal game anime, you've seen all gal game anime, more or less. I'm probably gonna just give it another episode or so then drop it as I don't think there's a need for me to wasting my time on a typical gal game anime.

[New October 2011] Guilty Crown

Genres: Action / Drama / SciFi
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: In the future, the world was threatened by apocalyptic virus outbreak, GHQ took control of Japan. One day Ouma ran into a girl who is being chased by GHQ.

First impression score: 89 - Very Interesting

Personal comments: I think this is one of my most anticipated new series from this season. For one, I really do like its art work. But that alone wouldn't be enough to make it a good anime. The story, in my opinion isn't anything very original, but, there's potential.

[New October 2011] Maken-Ki

Genres: Harem / Ecchi / Action
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A dude just came from an all-boy junior high school to a regular high school, all the sudden, he is caught in the middle of three girls.

First impression score: 66 - Boobies and Panties

Personal comments: Clearly, to fill the quota, somebody has to release a harem-ecchi anime this season. Almost all girls has boobs about the size of their head and the story didn't bother to waste any time in constructing the harem three deep within the first episode. This, may just be the pointless ecchi anime of the season.

[New October 2011] Mirai Nikki

Genres: Action / Drama / Mystery
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Some dude who writes everything in his phone in forms of diary suddenly starts to get his diary from future on his phone. Then he's told that he has been chosen to be in a survival game where losing means death.

First impression score: 93 - Intense and Mysterious

Personal comments: This is definitely by far the best series I've seen from this season. I felt a very similar ring here as Deadman Wonderland gave me early on (when it was still good). If it keeps up with it, and not to turn to the suck like Deadman Wonderland did, I think this may well come out as anime of the season. Oh, and you so totally need to watch the part after the ending credit. That's some fun comic relief.

p.s. Since my friend danchou is joining force in this blog, we'll try to mark the authorship so it doesn't look like someone is constantly flip-flopping on their opinions. ^_^

Friday, October 14, 2011

[New October 2011] Shakugan no Shana III

Japanese title: 灼眼のシャナIII
Genres: Comedy / Action/ Shounen
I've watched: 2 episode

Summary: So, Shakugan no Shana is back for all its fans. It seems to have shifted gears in between the two season. I think they'll go on to explain more of what happened, but, even with out that, the series seems to be picking up steam.

First impression score: 92 - Slower, but more intense

Personal comments: Well, this is MY first post on this blog, so I figured I would save it for the continuation of one of my favorite titles. Yes, this is not the EvilCat, but his cohort, danchou. Regardless, Shana is one of my favorite series of all time (and the first series I ever watched subbed), so it hold a special place in my heart. Personally, I loved the first two seasons, but I realize that there are people out there that didn't. Anyways, I think the way the first two episodes have gone could easily fix many of their complaints. Either way, I think this will be a great way to end the series.

Intro: Well, I guess I can do an short intro, too. I'm a senior in college, currently applying for law school, so I'm not sure how often I'll really be posting... but I should get a few in before the end of the season. Anyways, I am a friend (RL) of the EvilCat, and will be aiding him from time to time over the next few months. Anyways, please be gentle :3

[New October 2011] Persona 4

Watch online:
Genres: Action / Drama / Mystery
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Some dude moved from a big city to a small town due to his parents' work. One day, he found out that he can go inside televisions. Then things start to get weird.    

First impression score: 81 - Mysterious

Personal comments: Personally, I've never played any of the Persona games, and my only previous encounter with Persona series was with Persona: Trinity Soul, which in my opinion isn't that good. But I know many people that claim Persona 4 is one of the best mystery/adventure game every made. So, I'm going to stay neutral for now and see how it develops.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

[New October 2011] Chihayafuru

Watch online:
Genres: Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Chihaya is a tomboy who find passion in the card game karuta tries to start a club in high school.    

First impression score: 78 - Is this a...sports anime?

Personal comments: Technically it's not a sports anime, but so far it exhibits all the same properties of a sports anime. Personally, I'm not very interested in "karuta", so, depending on how heavy it decides to go into the game, I may or may not be interested in watching the entire series.

[New October 2011] Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

Genres: Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A misunderstood transfer student, a girl who talks to "air friend" is starting the "neighbor's club" for people who in need of making friends.  

First impression score: 87 - Amusing

Personal comments: The scenario reminds me much of Toradora's setup: a misunderstood guy meets a bully girl. But that's probably as far as similarities goes. The original art work of the story is done by the same artist that did Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko. You can definitely tell the resemblance of the art work here right away.

[New October 2011] Kimi to Boku

Watch online:
Genres: Life
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The story of four childhood friends now in high school.   

First impression score: 80 - Slice of Life Comedy

Personal comments: This is a very very light comedy drama about four friends who grew up together since kindergarten. As far as I can tell, it's more or less the same style of storytelling as Usagi Drop: an aimless plot flow that is designed to be charming and funny at the same time.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

[New October 2011] Working'!!

Watch online:
Genres: Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The drama at Wagnaria diner continues.  

First impression score: 83 - Same ol' stuff

Personal comments: The sequel builds upon the same set of people and the same set of chemistry as previous season, which is still pretty fun. It would be nice to see something new though.

[New October 2011] Hunter x Hunter

Watch online:
Genres: Action / Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: 12 years old Gon follows his father's steps to become a Hunter.  

First impression score: 81 - Quick Start

Personal comments: This supposedly be the remake of 1999 version of Hunter x Hunter since the manga was stalled soon after the original series aired. Since I never actually saw the 1999 version, I really couldn't tell you which one is better. So far, it looks somewhat...average. But at least I get to see why this is such a hyped up series.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

[New October 2011] Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon

Japanese title: 境界線上のホライゾン
Genres: Comedy / Action
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: People...fighting...with some sort of super a futuristic world.

First impression score: 68 - Random Fights, with big Boobies

Personal comments: Can I just say, "I don't get it"? Nothing made any sense. Oh, and for whatever reason, to me, I can't tell exactly what, but it's giving me a distinctly similar ring as Infinite Stratos, which as far as preconceived notion goes, it's a bad thing since IS is just crap. I'll let it ride a bit more before I make a decision whether to drop it, but as it is right now, I don't think it's going to stay for long.

[New October 2011] Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle

Japanese title: ファイ・ブレイン 神のパズル
Genres: Puzzle / Action
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Some dude named Kaido is really good at solving puzzles. One day he received a quest to solve the most challenging puzzle of life, which could become the difference of life or death to him. 

First impression score: 83 - Interesting...for now

Personal comments: I think this is like one of those chess/shogi/mahjong anime where you just see the main character solving puzzles of the game at the same time making it as dramatic as possible.

Friday, October 7, 2011

[New October 2011] Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!

Japanese title: 真剣で私に恋しなさい!
Genres: Comedy / Action
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: This is a story about a school, where samurai style battle is the method use for resolving conflicts between classes.

First impression score: 88 - Highly Amusing

Personal comments: Once a while, there is a random anime that jumps out of nowhere and completely surprises me. Apparently, this is one of them. I found myself speechless, at the same time, highly amused by what I saw in this opener episode. In short, I would describe it as "Modern Sengoku Basara mixed in with Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu with Female Heavy Casts". I think that ought to give you a very clear overview what to expect from this series. Basically, as far as I can tell, it's a bit more serious version of Baka to Test, but instead of being a fighter based game system, it's a Dynasty's Warrior or an RTS game system where capturing the King is the eventual objective. While it's screaming plagiarism, I think with proper execution, it would become a very interesting piece of work that is unique to its own. I'm actually quite interested to see what's to come.

[New October 2011] Fate / Zero

Watch online:
Genres: Action / Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The long awaited Fate/Stay Night.

First impression score: 90 - Conversation Heavy Yet Very Intense

Personal comments: This opener episode is very, I mean very conversation heavy, takes quite a bit amount of concentration to keep track of everything they're talking about. On top of that, being a double length did not help in absorbing the amount of information it's trying to through at you at once. But, on the other hand, it's nice to gather all that prerequisite at once so we didn't have to recall what happened in the previous episode to be able to re-construct the entire picture.

[New October 2011] C³

Japanese title: シーキューブ
Genres: Comedy / Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A cube is delivered to this high school dude. Overnight, it turned into a girl named Fear Kubric (nice name).

Familiar voices: Yukari Tamura (田村ゆかり) as Fear Kubric. It didn't take long before I recognized her voice as Togame from Katanagatari, since I recently just heard her voice. Another famous role she played is Rika from Higurashi series. Minori Chihara (茅原実里) as Konoha. She's probably best known as Yuki Nagato from Suzumiya Haruhi series, 
First impression score: 80 - Not Sure What's Going On

Personal comments: I have not a clue what's happening here, so I'm going to hold my opinion until I do.

[New October 2011] Bakuman 2

Japanese title: バクマン。
Genres: Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The story of Saiko and Shujin continuing to pursue the dream of becoming the no. 1 manga artist in shounen jump.
First impression score: 90 - Still Interesting

Personal comments: The first season is great, I'm expecting the same or even better from this season.

[Ended] Blood-C: Not Up to Par

I have to say Blood-C turned out to be something I totally was not expecting.While the story more or less took a 180 degree turn half way through the series that made it go from school life with a little monster fighting to monster fighting with a little school life, a very graphical and brutal monster fighting nonetheless. At some point however, I felt the brutality and blood is only serving the purpose to get a more restrictive rating (I have no idea how Japan rate their TV program, but this would at least be a TV-MA if not worse), or it's possible that CLAMP has just gone nuts in trying to make everything as gory as possible.

The flow of the story felt kind of strange. It's got not much going on for the first half of the series, then all the sudden dumped everything they were trying to tell all at once in the most gory manner. It felt very...unnatural. The worst part is after the entire series, we still don't have a clue what's going on in the big picture and we're still not exactly sure about Saya's true identify and how she relate to Saya from previous Blood series. Overall, it's just one huge hunk of confusing block with some highly disturbing scenes that show how bloody a human can be killed and decapitated. I was expecting better than that from CLAMP...

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 70 (Not much)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 89 (Gory)
Art/Animation: 82 (Nothing special)
Sound/Music: 84 (Not bad songs)
Character: 72 (Very little development)
Plot: 72 (Pathetic)
Ending: 50 (What the crap is that?)

Re-watch value: 35 (Its all blood and gore.)

Overall: 71 -  Barely passing

Recommendation: I think it had some potential, but they way they handled the story is just plain horrible.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

[Ended] Dantalian no Shoka: Good Story, Bad Execution

I liked the story, I liked the characters, I even liked almost every single episode as an arc by themselves, but somehow I just couldn't bring myself to like the anime as a whole. There seems to be some critical component missing to bring all the well crafted pieces together to form a good story overall.

The entire story is rather cryptic, cryptically artistic, or at least it's the impression it's giving me. They never fully explained who yomihimes are and exactly how they relate to each other. On top of that, who exactly is the Dalian's "Other self" that lives inside her bookshelf? What exactly happened in the last episode where Hugh was going back and forth between the two Dalians? There are way too many unexplained things to have the series end here. 

Come to think of it, the way Dantanlian no Shoka ended is actually very similar to the way first season of Asura Cryin' ended: it got cut off right around the time the story got interesting. In case you're not aware, the original author of Dantalian no Shoka is also the author of Asura Cryin'. It may not mean much to many people, especially since Asura Cryin' was not very well received by the mass, but personally, I was very fond of it. So, if they are in fact planning for a second season, it may still have a chance to redeem itself.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 77 (Extremely slow)
Comedy: 74 (Not very funny even when it tries to be)
Action: 78 (Not much)
Art/Animation: 81 (I'm pretty fond of its style)
Sound/Music: 93 (Love the theme songs)
Character: 85 (Mysterious)
Plot: 70 (Incomplete)
Ending: 60 (Premature)

Re-watch value: 68 (Maybe catching more second round)

Overall: 76 - Far from complete

Recommendation: Dantalian no Shoka has a interesting concept, a pretty well constructed storyline, and some interesting characters. But it lacked greatly in terms of execution. If there is a second season to fill in what's missing, it may still turn out to be a decent series. As it is right now, C is the best grade I would give it.