Saturday, April 30, 2011

[Poll] Top 5 from April 2011 Season

Historically, April and October have been the bigger and better seasons than January and July season. Meaning we usually see more and better anime released during April and October. But I don't think there has been one that has such a big discrepancy between two consecutive season as this year.

Last season, the new releases are so horrible that I actually consider not to even fill my top 5 spot. I thought for sure the economic downturn has been affecting anime industry and we'll be seeing a steadily decrease in quality of new animes. Then April 2011 season came out, I realized my concern is somewhat unwarranted, because I for one, am again having trouble picking my top 5 for this season because there are too many good animes, not too few.

Ok, enough said, let's go into the real stuff, my pick for top 5 animes for April 2011 season are:
  1. Tiger & Bunny
  2. [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
  3. Deadman Wonderland
  4. Ao no Exorcist
  5. Denpa Onno to Seishun Otoko
Let's go down the list real quick, because I have a feeling that there are quite few people would disagree with me, not necessarily on the top 5 pick, rather, the order of top 5.

No. 1, Tiger & Bunny. I chose it to be in the top spot partially due to its quality, more importantly, unlike the others, this is some extremely creative concept. Think about it, we've seen battle in alternate worlds that linked to the real world; we've seen weird psycho conspiracy to force people to fight; we've see the son of devil rises up to defy the devil himself; and we've seen stories about weird people imaging stuff because they lost their memory. But superheros sponsored by corporations and make crime fighting a showbiz? That's some brilliant concept. While I'm optimistic about this anime, I think in order for it to come out on top in the season ending review, this brilliant concept alone would not be enough, there needs to be a good underlying plot like a conspiracy or something. We'll see.

No. 2, [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control is just an interesting concept to begin with, especially it started off with a mystery that we all eagerly want to find out what's behind it. Even though Deadman Wonderland is the same way, [C] somehow just attracts me more.

No. 3, Deadman Wonderland, well, I think everybody would agree this one belongs to top 5.

No. 4, Ao no Exorcist, same here, an excellent manga with excellent adaptation, definitely top 5 material.

No. 5, Denpa Onno to Seishun Otoko, I actually went back and forth among this, 
Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai, Hidan no Aria, but ultimately chose Denpa because it's somewhat strange and unique, and there's a mystery to be figured out.

One anime that many would ask why I don't mention anywhere near top 5 is Steins; Gate. I think many think it deserves a spot in top 5. The reason I'm skeptical about this anime actually has something to do with a different anime that is related to it, Chaos; Head. It felt just as suspenseful or even more early on in the series, but it eventually turned into something that I would say is mediocre at best. So far it seems that Steins; Gate is just tracing the same route Chaos; Head took. So I'm afraid it too will turn out to be something not nearly as good as early on.

[New April 2011] Kaiji 2

Japanese title: 逆境無頼カイジ 破戒録篇
Genres: Gamble / Psychological
I've watched: 3 episode

Summary: Kaiji once again got into trouble and forced to gamble.

First impression score: 81 - More Gambling Psychology

Personal comments: While there are still some psychology involved, in my opinion, it's not nearly as interesting as the first part of season one. Mostly because instead game strategy, which I'm more interested in, they're playing a game that does not involve any strategy. It's mostly about people's mental activities rather than how to craft a strategy to win the game. But nevertheless, psychology is still somewhat interesting.

[New April 2011] Moshidora

Japanese title: もしドラ
Genres: Drama / Sports
I've watched: 3 episode

Summary: A girl became the manager of her high school's baseball team. She accidentally bought Peter Drucker's (who's considered as the father of management theory) management book. So she decide to use Drucker's book to manage the baseball team aiming to win the national championship.

First impression score: 88 - Different

Familiar Voices: Kana Hanazawa (花澤香菜) as Yuuki Miyata. She's the voice behind "Angel" Kanade from Angel Beats! and "Kuroneko" from Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai. Also Youko Hikasa (日笠陽子), best know as Mio for K-ON!

Personal comments: Generally, I'm not too fond of baseball anime. Actually, I think I'm not fond of base in general, because in my opinion, that's one of the laziest sports with most overpaid players. I don't understand why people find baseball interesting. But that's a different topic we don't need to discuss here. At any rate, even though i have this profound feeling against baseball, I nevertheless find this anime somewhat interesting, due to the fact the story is not really about baseball, rather, about how to apply Drucker's management theory to managing a baseball team. That is very interesting.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

[Ended] Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica: Amazing!!

Take a seemingly innocent topic, use it to tell a dark and twisted tale. This is such a simple concept, yet in my opinion, no anime in the past has ever achieved anything near what Madoka Magica did.

The brilliance of Madoka Magica lies in which it extracted a very basis of a dark human desire, a desire that is so fundamental that it governs day-to-day life of almost every human being, yet most of us chose to simply look the other way because we are not willing to acknowledge the monsters we are, then twisted them around and presented back to us in the cruelest possible way. The result, is something so shocking, that it makes us want to start question the very basis of human moral value.

Towards the end, while it seems to suffer a slight arrogant brat syndrome, I do like that they actually address the "syndrome" directly by showing she did what she did with the full understanding of the fact her life isn't the only one here at stake by her chosen action. This, in my opinion, is a much better plot device for someone to break the plan and do something unthinkable than a simply being stupid and hot-headed brat.

It is not difficult to predict the story's ending involves someone being in the "God Mode". But this is not the ordinary random "God Mode" most other stories pull. They actually explained fully why or how this "God Mode" could exist. This is indeed a very well thought out plot that is executed perfectly.

Then underneath all these brilliant concept, there's the SHAFT style animation--a very visually intriguing style resembles a piece of abstractionism art. I probably don't have the background qualification to actually comment on how well it's done. But personally, it intrigues me in a very pleasant way.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 97 (Highly Dramatic)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 97 (Interesting)
Art/Animation: 98 (SHAFT Style)
Sound/Music: 95 (Good)
Character: 98 (Very Interesting)
Plot: 100 (Great)
Ending: 97 (Very reasonable)

Re-watch value: 80 - It may still be intriguing

Overall: 98 - Best of the Season

Recommendation: With a score like that, you know this is something you must watch, period. While in someone's book, it may deserve to be the sole possessor of the Anime of the Season Award, in my opinion, Madoka Magica and Level E differs fundamentally in its nature. After much thoughts, rather than having one over take the other, I'm simply calling it a tie, which means Madoka Magica too gets the

Anime of the Season for January 2011 Season
award. But don't worry, if it does come down to pick a winner from these two for anime of the year, I will choose one. Because only one could be the anime of the year.

[Ended][OVA] .hack//Quantum: Back to the Winning Formula

The .hack franchise has been fallen ever since the original //sign series. So when I saw .hack//Quantum, it was almost shocking because it was not utterly crap.

Ok, that may be a bit harsh, but you have to admit, both .hack//Legend of Twilight and .hack//Roots sucked quite badly. I think the problems might lie in the fact they spent too much time on overemphasizing the made-to-believe game play mechanics, which eventually dilutes the impact the actual story and its characters had on the audiences. 

.hack//Quantum, on the other hand, being a short OVA series, have to compact everything down to fit an entire story in only three normal-sized episodes. So they didn't really bother with any of those lousy explanations for game mechanics and focus solely on the plot and character development. Add in the fact the story is actually semi-decent (for an old and beat up concept), and characters are very interesting and lively (I think much of it has to do with the well-done job by the voice actors/actresses), this has come to be quite a pleasant surprise this once prominent concept/franchise is renewed once again with fresh liveliness.

The story itself actually feels like a mix between .hack//sign and .hack//Liminality, where it took a balanced approach between finding the conspiracy in the real world and trying to save the trapped consciousnesses from the virtual reality. So I think if you ever liked either //sign or //Liminality, you'd probably like .hack//Quantum.

Score: 89

Sunday, April 24, 2011

[New April 2011] Deadman Wonderland

Japanese title: デッドマンワンダーランド
Watch online:
Genres: Action / Supernatural
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A boy who is accused to a hideous crime of senselessly slaughtering 29 classmates which he did not commit is sentenced to death. He's then sent to a place called Deadman Wonderland special prison where inmates are used for entertainment purpose. 

First impression score: 90 - Interesting

Familiar Voices: Kana Hanazawa (花澤香菜) as Shiro. She's the voice behind "Angel" Kanade from Angel Beats! and "Kuroneko" from Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai. But here, she sounds nothing like any of those.

Personal comments: This is another heavy hitter from this season because of its manga's successes. This opening episode is definitely a good start.

[New April 2011] Ao no Exorcist

Japanese title: 青の祓魔師
Watch online:
Genres: Action / Supernatural
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Rin is the son of a priest. One day, he found out he has the ability to see strange creatures. Furthermore, he manages to burst into blue flame himself. 

First impression score: 90 - Intense

Personal comments: This is another one of my highly anticipated series from this season because I was fond of the manga it's adapted from. I can say they've done a real good job on adapting it to anime, at least for this opening episode.

[New April 2011] Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai

Japanese Title: あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。
Genres: Super natural / Drama

I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A childhood friend of Jinta passed away when they were very young. Now nobody but Jinta could see a ghost of hers. Now he tries to pull everything together to find out why he is the only one could see her. 

First impression score: 88 - Light yet Heavy...

Familiar voices: Haruka Tomatsu (戸松遥) as Naruko. Even though I didn't quite recognize her character's voice right away, I recognized her singing voice towards the end of episode 1, which sounded very similar to her singing as the Northern Maiden "Fish Girl" from Star Driver

Personal comments: I think most of you already know by now that I heavily favor stories with dark and heavy tones, and usually biased toward it when it comes to scoring. But I do think this anime is very successful using a very playful and lighthearted character to create a very contrast for the very heavy atmosphere the story is surrounded with. While it's not hyped up and well known like many other high profile series from this season, I think this one holds great potential.

[New April 2011] Tiger & Bunny

Watch online:
Genres: Action / Drama / Supernatural / Comedy?
I've watched: 3 episode

Summary: In a city where crime fighting superheros are paid and sponsored by corporations and their heroic actions are broadcasted on TV channel called "Hero TV", being a superhero is more than simply bringing peace and justice to the citizens, it's crime fighting with styles.

First impression score: 95 - Weird, Brilliant, Hilarious, and Heart Warming

Personal comments: This is what I would call creative concept meets brilliant execution. I think this is probably the most refreshing concept I've seen this year. If Justice League is a show about how superheros can run as a non-profit organization, this is a show about how superheros can be run as a commercial organization. On top of that, not only it provides this weird comedic shock value upfront, deep down, it's not all that mindless either--from time to time, it breaks out some heart-warming moments as well. Furthermore, it is just amusing to see how the premise of the show just allows them blatantly do product placements without the "out-of-place" feeling you usually get. This is simply brilliant! I'm awarding it
Best First Impression for April 2011 Season

Friday, April 22, 2011

[New April 2011] C The Money of Soul and Possibility Control

Genres: Scifi? / Supernatural?

I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A mysterious person from a place called Midas bank offers a young man money. In exchange he has to mortgage his "future" to the bank. (huh?!)

First impression score: 90 - Weird and Mysterious...

Familiar voices: Haruka Tomatsu (戸松遥) as Mashu. Although she only had one line in the entire episode, her voice is distinct enough that I immediately recognized that's the voice of Lala from ToLoveRu

Personal comments: I have no clue what's going on at the moment. Grant it it's a Noitamina anime, which being a little strange is quite normal. I think this one has potential.

[New April 2011] Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

Japanese title: 電波女と青春男
Genres: Drama / WTF?

I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A dude came to a city where he'll be going to high school and live with his aunt, who seems to have some weird stuff going on...

First impression score: 89 - Huh?! WTF?!...

Personal comments: This is just...weird. I really don't know what to say at the moment, but it does want to make me watch more to get to the bottom of the mystery. I guess they (story writers) got what they wished for...

[New April 2011][Dropped] Shouwa Monogatari

Japanese title: 昭和物語
Download: ???
Genres: Historic Drama

I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Life of people in Japan during 1964, when Tokyo hosted Olympic Games.

First impression score: 70 - Boring...

Personal comments: It's too historical and ordinary. I think its target audience might be old Japanese people...

[New April 2011] Hidan no Aria

Japanese title: 緋弾のアリア
Genres: Action / Drama / Loli

I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A dude who studies in an armed detective academy got dragged in a terrorist incident that targets students from armed detective academy. Under extreme pressure, he has the ability to turn  Because of that, he ends up teaming with a female student who came to recuse him.

 First impression score: 88 - Well done

Familiar Voices: When there is a strong loli role, it is almost guaranteed it'll be played by Rie Kugimiya. She is just perfect for the role.

Personal comments: This is one of my most anticipated series from this season because I'm actually following its manga quite closely. I'm very glad they manage to pull Rie Kugimiya for the role of Aria, because, really, I can't image anybody else does her voice.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

[New April 2011] Seikon no Qwaser II (Censored/Uncensored)

Japanese title: 聖痕のクェイサー II
Genres: &%$#*^!!*&%$*#!!!!!!!!!

I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The quest for the ultimate holy breast milk continues.

First impression score: 80 - Sucking Sound...

Personal comments: Right off the back, the censored and uncensored version differs by whether it starts the episode one with 5 seconds of bouncing boobs. I think the the success (well, I wouldn't call it success, rather lack of overwhelming criticism) it has gotten from season one prompted them to go even wilder with this bizarre fetish concept. At this point, I want to say that I almost don't care about where the story is heading any more. I'm more interested in just seeing how crazy and creative can this boobs sucking business get.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

[New April 2011] Softenni

Japanese title: そふてにっ
Genres: Sports / Ecchi
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Stories about girls soft tennis (huh?) team.

First impression score: 70 - Huh?

Personal comments: I'm not quite understanding what this anime trying to get at. Whatever it is, it's not all that interesting. I'm gonna give it another episode, if it doesn't interest me by then, it's going to the trash.

[New April 2011] Astarotte no Omocha

Japanese title: アスタロッテのおもちゃ!
Watch online:
Genres: Comedy / Drama / Loli
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Astarotte is the princess of succubus. In order to survive, she has to consume certain liquid from males... but she hates men.

First impression score: 88 - Bizarre, weird, but interesting, in a subtle way

Familiar voices: Who else, aside from Rie Kugimiya (釘宮理恵) could possibly bring the role of a 10 years old spoiled princess to life?!!

Personal comments: The principle underneath just sounds...extremely perverted, but when it comes to it, it's actually not as bad as I thought it is. On top of that, having Rie Kugimiya playing the lead role makes any anime a notch better.

[New April 2011][Dropped] Hen Zemi

Japanese title: 変ゼミ
Genres: Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A girl joined the Abnormal Physiology seminar. There she meets some extremely weird people.

First impression score: 68 - Errr...Gross...

Personal comments: This anime is just...gross.

[New April 2011] Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II

Japanese title: 神のみぞ知るセカイ II
Watch online:
Genres: Comedy / Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Continues from season one, Keima continues to catch escaped evil spirit for Elsea.

First impression score: 84 - Same Ol'...

Personal comments: Towards the end of season one, it's getting a bit ridiculous and repetitive. I hope there are something new start to develop in this new season. So far...I can't quite tell.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

[New April 2011] Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi

Japanese title: 星空へ架かる橋
Watch online:
Genres: Harem
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Some guy and his brother come back to the little village he used to grow up in. (Like we haven't heard of a lead-in like this before...)

First impression score: 70 - Very Typical Start of a Harem Anime

Personal comments: According to myanimelist, it's somehow related to Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka, which aside from accidentally kissing a girl he just met, there's nothing they have in common. But if that's any indication, this is going to be another worthless harem anime.

[New April 2011] Oretachi Ni Tsubasa wa Nai

Japanese title: 俺たちに翼はない
Watch online:
Genres: School life / Ecchi
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A bunch of dudes talk about girls in a bar...

First impression score: 60 - WTH?

Personal comments: I think this ought to be the cheapest anime this season, it literally is a whole bunch of guys keep talking about meeting girls. There are literally some minute long conversation that the camera just slowly pan through a table with a paper crane. Oh, and occasionally they just randomly show girl's panties. The entire show is just dumb. I think the pretty art work is about the only thing preventing me from giving it a failing grade. However, I'm kind of interested in finding out what that TV thing is about, also what does it mean when that guy claim he's not from this world. I do hope there are something intelligent hidden in this, so it doesn't end up being a complete waste of time for me.

[New April 2011] Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox

Japanese title: 戦国乙女~桃色パラドックス~
Watch online:
Genres: Fantasy / History?
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A clumsy girl accidentally fall into some kind of time portal end up in the past. 

First impression score: 85 - Weird

Familiar Voices: Megumi Toyoguchi (豊口めぐみ) as Oda Nobunaga. While she's no devil king, I think the voice of Revy from Black Lagoon is as close as we can get for a female version of Oda.

Personal comments: It is just me or this concept feels too much like Samurai Girls, less the boobies show, that is.

Monday, April 18, 2011

[New April 2011] Toriko

Japanese title: トリコ
Watch online:
Genres: Food / WTF?!
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Some dude named Toriko is looking for the ultimate food island?

First impression score: WTF?

Personal comments: Um...I don't quite get it...It feels like a weird and extreme version of Willy Wonka's chocolate factory...on an island. Also, the first episode is the crossover called Toriko X One Piece, which hulu does not show. You'd probably have to find it elsewhere.

[New April 2011] Maria Holic Alive

Japanese title: まりあ†ほりっく あらいぶ
Watch/Download: Unknown
Genres: Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Continue from season one, perverted yuri girl meets cross dressing guy that disguise as a girl attending a all girl school..

First impression score: 84 ~ Still Hilarious

Personal comments: Done in typical Shaft style, it's still weird and random and funny as ever. The problem is that I think they're getting a bit repetitive and might be slowly starting to suffer the Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei syndrome. But in the meanwhile, it is still quite enjoyable. It's highly recommended to watch season one if you haven't seen it yet, because you'd be a bit lost if you don't.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

[New April 2011] A Channel

Japanese title: Aチャンネル
Genres: Comedy / School Live / Moe Explosion
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Stories about 4 female high school students with 4 distinct personalities.

First impression score: 82 ~ Moe

Familiar Voices: Kaori Fukuhara (福原香織) as Run. Best known as "Mugi"-chan from K-ON!, she sounds exactly the same here. Aoi Yuuki (悠木碧) as Tooru. Famous for her loli vampire roles: Princess Mina from Dance in the Vampire Bund and Sunako from Shiki. She's also responsible for some recent loli roles such as Victoria from GOSICK, and Madoka from Madoka Magica.
Personal comments: The style has a very similar feeling to Lucky Star, but the format is not quite the same. One thing for sure is that this is going to be one of the extremely "Moe" anime for this season. Every single character and everything they do has "Moe" written all over it.

Friday, April 15, 2011

[New April 2011] Sket Dance

Japanese title: スケットダンス
Watch online:
Genres: Drama / SciFi / Mystery?
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Some dude transfers to a new high school. There he got dragged into a student organization called SKET, a club that suppose to help out other students. He soon finds out they are such a weird bunch.

First impression score: 80 ~ Copy cat?

Personal comments: Is it just me or does the setting feels extremely similar to Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi?

Thursday, April 14, 2011

[New April 2011] Steins; Gate

Japanese title: シュタインズ ゲート
Watch online:
Genres: Drama / SciFi / Mystery?
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: Some strange time hopping things is happening around a dude...and I'm still confused about the rest...

First impression score: 83 ~ Mysterious

Personal comments: I thought this series is kind of interesting so far, mostly due to the mysterious events, until I read this series actually shares the same universe as Chaos; Head does and could be potentially related to Chaos; Head, I start to getting concerned: Come to think of it, Chaos; Head was kind of interesting in the beginning just like this, but it ended up being something terrible. I'll try to watch it without the preconceived prejudice against it, but at some point, I won't be able to help but comparing it agaisnt Chaos; Head. 

[New April 2011] Hanasaku Iroha

Japanese title: 花咲くいろは
Watch online:

Genres: Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A girl who lived with her mother moved to a hot spring hotel by herself. Even though the hotel is owned by her grandmother, she is not the kindest person in the world. 

First impression score: 88 ~ Strangely Attractive

Personal comments: If you ask me, this feels like a dark and twisted version of Love Hina with a female lead. Also, there is something strangely attractive about this series that I haven't exactly figured out yet. But I do like the opening episode never the less.

[New April 2011] Nichijou

Japanese title: 日常
Genres: Comedy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: It's the daily life of a group of students.

First impression score: 80 ~Funny... kind of

Personal comments: It's one of those Lucky Star or Azumanga Daioh series where things in daily life makes up the entire series. From past experience, this type of series is always hit or miss. It all have to do with their target demographic audience and whether you're in it.

[New April 2011] X-Men

Info/Download: N/A
Genres: Fantasy
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: X-Men just lost Jean Grey. Now they're facing new challenges.

First impression score: 73 ~ Something does not look right...

Personal comments: You'd assume that when one character crosses multiple series that is produced by the same studio, they'd at least have some of the resemblance of each other, right? Well, it's not the case here. Even though Wolverine looked the same from both Iron Man and Wolverine, and Cyclops looked the same from Wolverine transition to X-Men, Wolverine looked nothing like the one appeared in the previous series. Grant it this is how Wolverine supposed to look  like, but since you've already decided to make him look a Japanese pretty boy reincarnation of him, why all the sudden change?!

[Ended] Level E: WOW!!! BRILLIANT!!!

If you ask me now to pick one series from January to watch, I would not think twice before pointing you to Level E. (Note the keyword is "now", since Madoka Magica is stalled at the moment and we won't see the end of it until late this month). There is no other word than "brilliant" would I use to describe the entire series. From the beginning to the end, it is filled with very crafty fast flying curve-balls. It doesn't matter how hard you try to dodge them all, you are bound to be hit by a couple of them.

On the surface, the story may seemed chaotic and disjoint, but underneath, it is so highly intricately connected that all seemingly unrelated events start to feed on each other to form something much bigger (well, kind of, depending how you define "big"). On top of that, unlike many comedy series nowadays, who mostly rely on to low level fart jokes, stuff here made me rolling on the floor laughing are some of the most intelligent ones I've seen lately. Although some of them are a bit overly perverted, they at least don't resort to be funny by acting dumb. In my opinion, that's the best kind of comedy.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 97 (Brilliant!!)
Comedy: 96 (Intelligent)
Action: 92 (Fun)
Art/Animation: 91 (Very Good)
Sound/Music: 91 (Interesting)
Character: 92 (Great!)
Plot: 95 (Chaotic yet intricately organized)
Ending: 93 (Perfect)

Re-watch value: 70 - I think it'll still be funny

Overall: 95 - Best of the Season

Recommendation: Since Madoka Magica is finishing late, I don't even have to think twice before handing it

Anime of the Season for January 2011 Season

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

[Ended] Yumekui Merry: The Critical Divine Intervention

When a story corners itself, the most uncreative tool of all for any story writer to resort to is the "love and hope conquers them all" solution where pure will power for no reason would just influence and change the laws of universe in their own favor. As soon as any story starts doing that, all my respect for that story is gone.

Grant it this is some story about dreams, something that pure will power might actually be able to change. But throughout the series, they've been adamant on reenforcing the concept of how rules in this dream universe just doesn't bend. So when it became clear that the final strike is to be done by the strong will power of someone wishing something into existence, I almost just turned it off and tossed it away right there right then.

As much as I like the early part of Yumekui Merry, it fell out of my favor fairly quickly, mostly due to the slow development of...anything. It literally felt like a battery ran out of juice after the first couple of episodes that the rest of the series is just barely hanging on for dear life.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 79 (So so)
Comedy: 73 (Not that great)
Action: 80 (Mediocre)
Art/Animation: 85 (Good)
Sound/Music: 81 (Eh...)
Character: 76 (Typical)
Plot: 79 (The force of pure will power)
Ending: 80 (Doesn't feel like an ending)

Re-watch value: 20 - No reason to

Overall: 79 - Mediocre all the way

Recommendation: Even though Yumekui Merry got some favorable opinion early in the season, it vanished fairly quickly. If you ask me, I'd say it's probably not worth your time unless you're out of stuff to watch.

[Ended] Bakuman: Amazing

Before I watched Bakuman, I would never have thought that an anime about people trying to become manga authors would be an interesting or exciting topic. But Bakuman had shown me otherwise because this is one of the most exciting anime I've seen lately.

The core of this anime is driven by the dream of two people who wants to become manga authors. With such a simple idea, the story then explores the inner structure of a manga publishing company, which gives an in-depth look of what it takes to become a manga author. Although I have no idea how much of the supposed "process" is fact and how much of them is fiction, they sure all felt very real. Along with some great character development and many very unique and interesting personality clashes, I would award it

Best Long Season Drama for October 2010 Season

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 97 (Intense)
Comedy: N/A
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 91 (Well made)
Sound/Music: 89 (Like the theme song)
Character: 94 (Very well developed)
Plot: 92 (Insightful)
Ending: 90 (Terminated on a good note)

Re-watch value: 70 -Loses the intensity, but still interesting

Overall: 93 - The Best of the Season

Recommendation: Bakuman is an excellent anime that is difficult to describe using words. You really have to just watch it to understand why it is such a great anime.

Monday, April 11, 2011

[Ended] Freezing: Side Branch Heavy (Including Boobs)

Looking back at Freezing as a whole, you'd realize that the series spent about 80% of its time or more on how these Pandora soldiers tries to kill each other instead of how hard they work to fight against aliens. Maybe the idea they try to pass out is that as much as people try to kill each other nowadays, when external threat appears, they'd still unite and try to survive as an species. But I have to say this boobies fight is a terrible way to express this concept because I think more people watch this series for the boobs than anything else. (No, I didn't watch it for the boobies. Seriously, I didn't, I promise.)

The ending indicates that there are more stories to come. But you know what, I'm fine with not seeing them.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 80 (Boobies drama)
Comedy: 85 (Boobies jokes)
Action: 77 (Exploding clothes)
Art/Animation: 72 (Huge boobs)
Sound/Music: -- (eh~)
Character: 70 (Very one dimensional)
Plot: 70 (Not much)
Ending: 80 (Acceptable)

Re-watch value: 30 - Maybe if you like to see more anime boobs?

Overall: 72 - Boobs are big

Recommendation: To me, I see no reason what so ever to recommend this series. But if you're really really really really bored and feel like watching some bouncy boobies, I guess you could try this.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

[Ended] Toaru Majutsu no Index II: Still not Over yet

While we have seen some important building block for the overarching storyline, two seasons have gone by, we are not anywhere close in figuring out what's the ultimate central plot. Although each arc within the story is almost completely self-contained, in my opinion, so far the story really haven't had a clear or good cut-off point. Meaning it would probably be far more effective and efficient if they had made this into an ongoing long series instead of this however many segmented short seasons they're planning to have. At this point, it literally starts to feel like they're doing so just to bank some more cash before it's finally run out of juice.

On the positive side, we saw a couple of big building block for the potential overarching plot, and more and more  people from behind the scenes start to make appearances. It does feel like we're getting closer and closer on reaching the main event. On top of that, the plot is also getting more and more explosive. But I hope we don't get into the ultimate power up problem where we eventually become desensitized about their power level which renders the final fight completely wimpy even though it is as explosive as ever.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 90 (Interesting)
Comedy: 95 (Getting a little old, but still somewhat funny)
Action: 87 (Explosive)
Art/Animation: 91 (Well done)
Sound/Music: 88 (I'd say season one's theme song is better)
Character: 88 (More and more)
Plot: 87 (Getting more interesting)
Ending: 70 (A pretty rough cutoff)

Re-watch value: 60 - Maybe You'll catch more details?

Overall: 88 - Still Good, but I was expecting more

Recommendation: If you've watched season one, you are probably gonna watch this second series, the third, the fourth, and so on. But I think everybody would have a threshold on how long he or she is willing to follow an empty promise of a highly dramatic showdown before finally giving up.

[Ended] Star Driver: Amusing, But...

I have to say, this is one of the most amusing anime I've seen for a while. Right off the back, before anybody could get a firm grasp of the nature of the series, they introduce the main hero's alter ego as "Galactic Pretty Boy", intentionally pin themselves up as an object of ridicule. From that point on, it's been a super charged mixture of plot events and pure stupidity, which, in my opinion is pretty effective in moving the story forward in a steady pace.

Even though the ideas in this story are somewhat creative, I wish they have spent more time on the presentation: almost every single episode has the exact same format of "drop a clue and start a fight". Each episode is so identical in format, that you can just start to save some time by completely ignore everything after "Galactic Pretty Boy" enters the scene.

Also, the development of the story is very linear. You literally don't need to use any brain aside from remember who is who because the story laid every piece of the puzzle out in the order one piece at a time. All you have to do is pick them up. The problem, is the fact along with the repetitive "plot+fight" format, I almost felt there is no need to spend 25 minutes a week to watch it any more, I could simply get the same experience by recalling the first episode or two and applying newly found information to them.

When it comes to the ending, I think everybody have seen that coming miles away. In fact, there are only two possible ways it could end. But guess what, it's partially both! So regardless how you've guessed it, you are all partially correct!

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 81 (Some, but predictable)
Comedy: 83 (Simply for being silly)
Action: 88 (Interesting, but gets a bit repetitive)
Art/Animation: 89 (Weird mecha, but well drawn)
Sound/Music: 87 (Good music)
Character: 80 (Very one dimensional)
Plot: 80 (Intriguing, but too straight forward)
Ending: 80 (Highly, highly predictable)

Re-watch value: 20 - I see no need

Overall: 80 - Amusing, but that's about it

Recommendation: Yes it is very amusing. If it were just a short series, I'd totally recommend it for the shock value. But being a long series, I'm really not sure what it actually worth the time you have to commit. It's a toss-up.

Friday, April 8, 2011

[New April 2011] Dog Days

Japanese title: DOG DAYS
Genres: Comedy / Action / Children's?
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A boy is summoned to a fantasy land as a warrior to help the kingdom of "dogs" (appears to be) to fight the kingdom of "cats". The battle is fought though...series of acrobatics competitions?!!

First impression score: 79 ~

Familiar voices: In first 5 seconds of the episode, I manages to recognize two voices right off the back: Ami Koshimizu (小清水亜美) as Leonmitchelli, who's most famous for her voice as the wise wolf Horo from Spice and Wolf; Norio Wakamoto (若本規夫) as Godwin, who is probably best known as the "Devil King" Oda from Sengoku Basara. But that's only the "cat" side of the war. The "dog" side, is covered by no other than Mamoru Miyano (宮野真守), famous for the voice of Zero Kiryuu from Vampire Knight, along with Yui Horie (堀江由衣), famous for the voice of Yuki Cross, also from Vampire Knight.

Personal comments: I don't know if I want to laugh or cry, at one point in the middle of the episode, I literally could not believe what is happening on the screen. It's just so...cheesy. I'm not sure how the story would come out. In my opinion is most likely to be a bust. But, having the voice "Wise Wolf" Horo team up with the "Devil King" Oda, go head to head against the voice of the pure blood vampire pair Zero Kiryuu and Yuki Cross, is nevertheless intriguing.

[Ended] Hourou Musuko: That's...just...weird

Compare to Fractale, this is a much worthy anime for earning a slot in Noitamina program. Even though I'm not fond of this gender swapping stories like this at all, the story is so extremely intriguing, I just can't help but to keep wanting more.

Like I said in my last post, one of the biggest "specialty" of this anime is the ability to serve up a huge dose of brain fuck with a completely normal setting in a completely casual manner. If anime like Star Driver or FLCL is like a potent poison that screws up your brain in matters of seconds, Hourou Musuko is like an undetectable slow poison that slowly eats your brain away until it's in a fucked up state.

Aside from that, the story is just completely unpredictable, yet still makes perfect logical sense, if you can put yourself into the proper mentality. I've been hit by so many curve balls throughout the series I might as well hang my jaw open while watching it. This is definitely one of the most intriguing anime I've seen in a while.

One complain I have against this series is the fact everybody is drawn almost identical. I had a very difficult time in identifying who is who and often have to jump back and forth between episodes just to figure out who the person is.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 90 (Weird)
Comedy: N/A
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 90 (Not bad)
Sound/Music: 89 (I like the music)
Character: 95 (Unique, very unique)
Plot:94 (Curve ball)
Ending: 92 (Resolution and new beginning)

Re-watch value: 60 - Still intriguing

Overall: 90 - Extremely Weird yet Intriguing

Recommendation: Like I said last time, I don't think this is something that everybody could enjoy. But nevertheless, you should give it a try. You need to keep an open mind, and expect the unexpected. In fact, I'm going to go ahead hand it:

Weirdest Anime of the Season

for January 2011 anime season.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

[Ended] Infinite Stratos: What?

I waited, and waited, and waited, till the very end, still nobody answered the foremost important question of all: why would anybody be interested in such expensive technology when all they use it for is the Ultimate Mecha Fighting Champion game?! On top of that, for what reason only females could operate IS?

There are just far too many questions in this story that doesn't logically make sense. Their answer? Oh, there is this magical "black box" thingy IS runs on and nobody know how it works. Personally, if I were the president of a country and someone pitches to sale me some magnificent technology like this but refuse to release any information on how it works, I'd shut my door and tell them to f*ck off.

Then there's that cryptic dream encounter of Ichika, could anybody make any sense out of that? I would like to know. Because it literally feels like they need 5 minutes of the show to be filled along with an excuse to send the girls out so he could come back in a convenient time to be a hero.

As I see it, IS is a chaotic cluster of ideas the author wants to make a story out of, but couldn't find a way to make the required setting to make sense. So, instead of trying harder, he simply hide them all in this is supposed "black box" that nobody know how IS really works, and completely avoided answering the question why IS is the hottest thing since sliced bread.

Take away the mysterious "black box" unexplained IS technology, IS in its core, is nothing more than a steadily speed harem building process, averages about two episode per concubine. Pretty much all the dramas are generated by either concubines fighting the man, or concubines fighting each other for the man.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 78 (Harem drama)
Comedy: 80 (Gets me laughing from time to time)
Action: 80 (Unexplained mecha power)
Art/Animation: 84 (Got some pretty art)
Sound/Music: 83 (Not bad)
Character: 74 (Nothing but harem)
Plot:60 (Too many unexplained)
Ending: 70 (That's jut dumb)

Re-watch value: 0 - Nope, nope, nope

Overall: 71

Recommendation: I can go on and on about what's wrong with this series, but that's just total wast of my time. I wish I had dropped it long time ago, it's 5 hours of my life I'll never get back.

[Ended] Fractale: Not Up to the Standards

If you judge Fractale with normal standards, you'd say this is a piece of work probably could earn an above average rating. However, Fractale is not supposed to be just a normal anime, it's an anime that occupies the Noitamina program block, which has since become the birthplace of countless great animes. Compare it to other series aired in the past in this programming slot, such as Honey and Clover, Nodame Cantabile, Eden of the East, etc., you'd realize Fractale is far inferior than most anime they've aired. It really didn't live up for being in the Noitamina block.

About the story, while I personally not fond of its underlying ideology it tries to pass on, I think it's nevertheless an intriguing concept. It's just terribly executed, in my opinion. I think they're going after something but never quite made it, because throughout the series, you can sort of feel there's a underlying push for a certain climax, but it never got there. You feel you should be excited for the final showdown, but you can't. I think it has the same symptoms Letter Bee Reverse had: instead of over-dramatize, it under dramatized the critical scenes. After spending 5 hour of your life caring (or trying to care) about what happened to the characters in the story, you return empty handed, without much to be remembered.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 81 (Not that gread)
Comedy: 80 (Acceptable)
Action: 80 (Nothing spectacular)
Art/Animation: 80 (Mediocre at best)
Sound/Music: 85 (Ok I guess)
Character: 80 (Something missing)
Plot:80 (Not that great)
Ending: 78 (Unexciting)

Re-watch value: 30 - Nothing to gain

Overall: 80 - B, Barely

Recommendation: Before the season begin, I honestly thought this is the most intriguing one among all and had really high expectations for it. As it turned out, it's the biggest disappointment. Just like what they say, higher you go, harder you fall; higher the expectation is, bigger the disappointment will be.

Monday, April 4, 2011

[Ended] Kore wa Zombie Desu ka: All About the Moments

Once a while, you get an anime there is no way in a conventional sense you would call it "good", but it's so different and refreshing, you can't help but to tag it as "awesome".  

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka is one of those.

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka is an anime all about the "moments". In fact, you can describe the entire anime as a series of "moments"--they are what really makes this anime. But that's not to say the rest is unimportant. All the seemingly stupid day-to-day action actually servers as a foil to the "moments"--without having made the entire series seem like a completely stupid make-no-sense show, when the "moment" comes around, it probably won't have nearly as much impact as it did.

So you ask, what is this "moment" thing you keep talking about? Well, to put it plainly, they are sequences of events that suddenly changes the mood of the story which in turn creates a sudden shock in emotion. Here in Kore wa Zombie Desu ka, it was very well made, very well timed. Add in the strong contrast to rest of the series, which is so ridiculous (yet so hilarious), when such a sudden change of mood occurs, it feels so much more powerful.

But it doesn't stop there. Just as they don't think there's not enough shock value for these mood switching moments, they decide to throw something the other direction: as you are being drenched full of sorrow by the heart wrenching moment, some humor just pops out of nowhere and you almost can't help yourself but to laugh while with the tears from the sadness are still trying to squeeze their way out of your eyes. This is some really brilliant play in human emotion.

While some part of the plot feels somewhat "bolted on", especially when they decide to end the series one episode early, and have the infamous "hot spring" filler episode at the end of the series instead of the traditional midway break point, the flow of the story is generally fluent. Many of the character introductions felt pretty random, but they'd surprise you when they become a key personnel at the least expected moments.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 90 (Emotional)
Comedy: 91 (Great)
Action: 87 (Magical Girl Man)
Art/Animation: 84(Not bad)
Sound/Music: 88 (So so)
Character: 95 (Hilarious)
Plot:90 (Expect the unexpected)
Ending: 92 (Well terminated)

Re-watch value: 60 - Could still be interesting

Overall: 90 - Surprisingly Good

Recommendation: This is quite an interesting piece of work. There's no stunning art, nor complex story. What this anime possess is something strange, unconventional, yet stunning. I would not have thought early in the season an anime involves a zombie guy that transforms into a magical girl would ever have any emotional impact on anybody. But I was wrong. This may not fit the taste of many, but for those who are willing to give this seemingly outrageously ridiculous anime a try, I think you won't be disappointed.