Thursday, September 29, 2011

[Ended] Uta no Prince Sama Maji Love 1000%: Reverse Harem 1000%

Uta no Prince Sama is a very very very typical reverse harem anime. In fact, its dating sim game origin can be seen clearly throughout the series. But, since reverse harem anime is such a rare breed,  when you do spot one, it tends to be much higher quality than its counter part (harem animes, that is).

Being a music themed and reverse harem anime at the same time, you just can't help to remember the best (possibly the only till now) reverse harem music themed anime of all time, Kiniro no Corda: Primo Passo. In fact, as I mentioned in previous posts, the early part of the series literally felt like an reincarnation of Kiniro no Corda.

While the reverse harem may be its rise to fame, it also ultimately became one of its pitfalls: being a short season in the reverse harem realm, the focus of the story is almost entirely on the princes. The main heroin was only barely touched in terms of character development. You can argue the emphasis of the story is really on the harem princes, but as the central role that supposed to tie everything in, the presence of Nanami felt extremely weak. I think it has more to do with the length of the series--if it were a long series, they probably could have done a much better job than this.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 82 (Reverse Harem Drama)
Comedy: 81 (For the little it had, it was pretty good)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 78 (Nanami's creepy eyes...)
Sound/Music: 90 (I do like their songs)
Character: 82 (All developed well except Nanami)
Plot: 80 (Typical reverse harem)
Ending: 80 (...)

Re-watch value: 20 (I wouldn't)

Overall: 81 -  Reverse Harem Musical

Recommendation: On one hand, I think it's a decent reverse harem story that is done relatively well. On the other hand, it really offers nothing beyond that. So, it's really a tough call whether I would recommend this.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

[Ended] Kamisama no Memochou: The Darker Side of Student Detective

The series started off feeling like just another Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi or Sket Dance where a group of amature student detective/freelancer helps out other people however they can. But soon, you'd realize that Kamisama no Memochou is not nearly as simple or, more importantly, as innocent as the previous two.

While the moral it tries present doesn't have a particular negative ring to it, the presentation it chose, however, is somewhat perturbingly dark and twisted. I think the author actually intended to use this story to indirectly reflect upon the problems exists in the current society, in a very clear and blatant manner. That's something I can always appreciate.

The whole NEET concept Alice was trying to pass to the audience towards the end was interesting, but I just don't think it's likely that majority of NEETs fall under that description. But again, I never lived in Japan, and completely unaware of current situation of their social environment, so I could be completely wrong about that.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 91 (Very dramatic)
Comedy: 85 (For the little it had, it was pretty good)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 84 (Typical)
Sound/Music: 88 (Average)
Character: 92 (The main ones are well done, but sidekicks are still 2-D)
Plot: 94 (Dark and twisted)
Ending: 93 (Well built climax)

Re-watch value: 60 (Could still be interesting)

Overall: 91 -  Perturbingly Blatant

Recommendation: Personally, I really like this blatantly straightforward approach this story took. But I'm not sure other people would see it the same way. But if you like a darker version of slice of life anime, you definitely don't want to miss this. It's a bit stretch, but I think I'll hand it

Drama of the season for July 2011 Season

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

[Ended] Nekogami Yaoyorozu: Not Much in It

Honestly, I think the only reason I stuck around for this series is the fact my no.1 favorite voice actress, Haruka Tomatsu (戸松遥) plays the lead role. In fact, hearing her voice is actually soothing enough to allow me to overlook all the short comings of the series while I'm watching it. However, that does not mean I'll just blindly give it a high score on everything, because as I see it, there really isn't anything exceptional (or even above average) worth mentioning in this anime. So, let me waste no time and proceed to the scoreboard.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 71 (Little bit)
Comedy: 70 (More fart jokes than anything else)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 74 (Simple)
Sound/Music: 82 (I like the ending song)
Character: 77 (Interesting, but no depth)
Plot: N/A
Ending: 70 (Not really)

Re-watch value: 20 (No need to)

Overall: 72 -  You are not missing anything

Recommendation: Basically, unless you're a fan of Haruka Tomatsu (戸松遥), I'd say you should go ahead skip it.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

[Ended] Ikoku Meiro no Croisee: Nice and Slow

Many animes, in order for you to like it, you have to allow it to "grow" on you. Ikoku Meiro no Croisee is one of them. I may feel a bit slow and uneventful, but it if you allow it to "grow" on you, you'd start to appreciate the story more and more especially when you get a bit attached to the characters.

The core of the story is about how a girl would deal with culture shock in an age that global travel is not that common yet. In the process, she not only have her own feeling dealt with, she also reached out and helped out those surround her that are facing difficult issues.

The bottom line is, this is one of those "feel good" stories that there's almost nothing but calm water. Even though there are some melancholic moments from time to time, for the most part, the story is designed to make you feel good and happy. There really isn't any of a plot to speak of. But, like I said, if you allow it to grow on you, you'll still like this plotless story.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 80 (Very calm drama)
Comedy: N/A
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 88 (Cute)
Sound/Music: 82 (Calming)
Character: 87 (Let it grow on you)
Plot: N/A
Ending: 80 (Somewhat closure)

Re-watch value: 40 (It'll be a drag)

Overall: 84 -  Nice and Slow

Recommendation: If you're in need of a general "feel good" story, this probably provides it, given that you'd allow it grow on you slowly.

[Ended] Sacred Seven: Bad Guys, They're always Illogical

One of the most common and convenient plot device many anime tend to use is the "forgetful people" technique. We have seen this countless time even in great series such as Kanon and Clannad. Still, it feels a bit lame when it's revealed.

One thing bothers me a lot about stories like this is that even though the bad guy supposedly is fighting against the ultimate power to gain the ultimate power, not once has he considered that there is a chance he might actually lose. I mean, seriously, if you don't have the ultimate power, and fighting someone who does, wouldn't you at least consider there might be a chance you're not going win?!

Put that aside, Sacred Seven is a very typical hack and slash -ish anime. It has more or less everything a typical hack and slash anime has. While it's interesting from time to time, I don't think it worth the 5 hours I invested in it.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 81 (Super-powered dramas)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 80 (Eh...)
Art/Animation: 84 (Typical)
Sound/Music: 88 (Not bad)
Character: 80 (Kind of interesting)
Plot: 78 (Stereotypical)
Ending: 80 (Very predictable)

Re-watch value: 30 (There is no need)

Overall: 80 - B- 

Recommendation: If you ask me, I'd say it's not worth your time. But if you really have too much free time, this is also not the worst thing from this season.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

[Ended] Tiger & Bunny: Uniquely Brilliant

Unique and brilliant, those are the words I would use to describe Tiger & Bunny.

Superhero appears in animes quite often, especially those fights crime selflessly. But corporate sponsored superhero fights crime as a reality show to gain popularity? This is just completely unheard of.

Tiger & Bunny covers more or less everything in terms of fundamental elements that an excellent anime (or any story in general) ought to have: a creative concept, a complex plot, realistic characters with in-depth development, a well executed directing, and some rolling on the floor laughing moments. The only thing in my opinion that fell short is the ending--it's way too...perfect. While I am not a fan of that ending, I have to admit it's reasonable, meaning there isn't the "unnecessary" divine intervention caused it to happen. But they did try to deceive the audience by intentionally concealing certain facts. 

Another thing about this story, is the fact they actually dedicated time to development every single supporting character, so that when the ultimate showdown comes, you understand how and why each of the did what they did. Understanding and feeling compassionate towards the supporting crew ultimately helped in making Tiger and Bunny feel more realistic.

Another interesting thing about this anime is that in my opinion it also reflects upon the current state of our society quite well. In fact, you can draw almost a direct comparison between the fictional heros, "Next" with today's big name athletes: it's all about corporate sponsorship. Big corporations are in support of everything they do, so they can get the branding recognition. One wrong step (Tiger Woods, Michael Phelps) would cause your sponsors to drop you like a hot potato. Then there's the whole "Heroes Care" thing. I was laughing so hard when that first showed up because I have just recently watched a commercial on TV about "NBA Cares".

While the intricacy of Steins;Gate eventually propelled it to become the long series anime of the season, I still maintain that Tiger & Bunny is the next in line to receive the award if S;G had taken a misstep. When it comes to animation, the 2D and 3D blending could really use a lot more work, but I still think Tiger & Bunny is worthy receiving:

Action-Drama of the Season for April 2011 Season

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 94 (Super-powered dramas)
Comedy: 97 (Brilliant moments)
Action: 90 (Exciting)
Art/Animation: 88 (Could use better 2D and 3D blending)
Sound/Music: 91 (Great)
Character: 100 (In-depth development)
Plot: 92 (Complex)
Ending: 88 (Ended well, too well)

Re-watch value: 70 (Could still be interesting)

Overall: 96 - Product Placement Power

Recommendation: In my opinion, this needs to go on the "must-watch" anime of 2011 list. If you haven't seen it, you should start. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

[Preview] Coming this October

Bakuman 2
Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai
Guilty Crown
Hunter X Hunter
Kimi to Boku
Horizon on the middle of nowhere
Last Exile: Fam the Silver Wing
Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai!!
Mashiro-Iro Symphony - The color of lovers
Mirai Nikki
Persona 4
Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle
Sengoku Paradise Kiwami
Shakugan no Shana III Final
Shimanchu MiRiKa
Shinryaku!? Ika Musume
Tamayura - Hitotose

[Ended] No.6: I've seen this somewhere...

The story of Shangri-La, no I mean, Fractale, no I mean, No.6 is a concept we've seen quite a few incarnations lately, each with a different theme. In the case of No.6, it's the theme of yoai.

Really, if you think about it, the three animes I listed above really have more or less the same story line of how someone is trying to tear down and rebuild a broken and corrupted post-apocalyptic society. The core of all these stories, always involves some sort of supernatural divine power that mankind tries to control and use for their own benefit. But eventually the greediness would backfire and disasters loom. But one that manages to convince or become of the divine power, saves the day (and sometime the divine power would return the favor by saving them as well).

But the heritage of this story doesn't stop there. If you trace it back far enough, you'd realized that all of them, and other similar works, are really more or less the modified version of their earliest ancestor, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, created by no other then the legendary director himself, Miyazaki Hayao.

While they all tried to make an modified version of the story, sadly, none of them (that includes No.6) had made enough change to make the concept refreshing again, nor have they done enough to make them not to be recognized as a direct ascendent Nausicaa's concept.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 71 (Not significant)
Comedy: N/A
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 71 (Nothing special)
Sound/Music: 75 (So so)
Character: 70 (One dimensional)
Plot: 70 (Over used concept with nothing new)
Ending: 61 (Saw that coming miles away)

Re-watch value: 0 (Absolutely none)

Overall: 68 - Nothing new

There's nothing special in the story, nor was there any exceptional character development. All there is just a plain flat story slowly (sloooooowly) inches forward until it hits the inevitable end which you can see miles ahead. In my opinion, there's nothing here worth wasting your time on.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

[Ended] Usagi Drop: Life, Sliced

Prior to the start of the season, if you had asked me based on the previews I saw for the season, I would never have picked this to be in the top three from this season. But as it turned out, even if other series from this season end in some dramatic fashion that makes a significantly better impression than they currently are, they'll be at best sharing the top spot with Usagi Drop. Yes, it is that good.

Having said that, however, I'd say only people that appreciates a well made slice of life story would hold same opinions as I do--I personally know people that does not enjoy any slice of life story, period. But I think those kind of people are few and far between. I think a good point of reference would be Honey x Clover. If you enjoyed Honey x Clover, you'd probably agree with me--they're quite similar, in many ways.

Another anime it reminds me of, is Aishiteruze Baby (which by the way is an anime I'm very very fond of). While the story is not quite the same, neither were their central focuses, but they both have a similar ring when it comes to how two almost unrelated persons, one old, one young, stuck together due to some inconvenient event, overcame the difficulties life threw at them and worked together to build a better tomorrow.

The story itself is actually quite simple. There are not many mysteries or difficult problem to figure out. But it's this simplicity, combine with great character development and excellent voice acting (especially Rin), fabricated this remarkable anime.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 98 (Light, but good)
Comedy: 94 (Funny yet adorable)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 98 (Intriguing style)
Sound/Music: 97 (Excellent)
Character: 100 (Adorable)
Plot: 93 (Life)
Ending: 90 (Life moves on)

Re-watch value: 80 (Still adorable)

Overall: 97 - It's Life

The bottom line is, if you're fond of this type of slice of life story, then you may well be in complete agreement with me that this is the best anime of the season. However, I do personally know people that would completely dismiss any slice of life anime just because they have no desire to see anything based on the current reality they're living in. If you are one of those people, then don't bother. But you'll missing out a lot of great animes.

One last thing, before I forget, in my opinion, Usage Drop is

Anime of the season for July 2011 Season

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

[Ended] Steins; Gate: Hey Mister, I am A Mad Scientist, Sunuvabich

Before Steins;Gate came out, despite all the hypes around it, I was highly skeptical about the series mostly because 5pb's previous anime adaptation, Chaos;Head in my opinion was highly disappointing. In fact, I retained the same opinion early during the series because both Steins;Gate and Chaos;Head started almost in almost same mysterious fashion.

Fortunately, the similarities of the two series stopped there. On top of that, since my expectation was so low, I was completely unprepared for the amazing journey that was about to embark.

It's really hard to describe or even express any opinions about this series without spoiling anything. So I'm not even going to try. But just to give an overall feel, it is like the movie the Butterfly Effect on steroid.

As the series actually tries to be somewhat scientific about the concept of time travel, it manages to avoid most paradox which are created by time travel. However, the very last time traveling event of the series has a hug gaping whole that is fairly easy to notice. But I'd give them a free pass on that since it's somewhat difficult to tie up all loose ends without it. Overall, the space-time continuity is rather a difficult topic to build a story upon, and they did quite a good job with.

Aside from not having too much big gaping holes on the technical side, there are quite a few other things it has done well. For any story, the top two factors that would sway my opinion the most is plot construction and character development. Steins;Gate managed to do an excellent job in both. Like most time travel themed story, the constant struggle between the desire to change the past and what that change may bring in the future is the center of everything. During the course of this struggle, we see some in-depth development of characters, even those of very minor roles. In fact, after finishing the entire series, you'd realize the plot is rather simple. It's the characters that made the biggest impact.

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 95 (In dramatic fashion)
Comedy: 90 (I am a mad scientist, sunuvabich)
Action: 90 (For what it had)
Art/Animation: 88 (good, but a bit plain)
Sound/Music: 92 (Good music)
Character: 98 (Very well done)
Plot: 91 (Simple yet effective)
Ending: 90 (Steins;Gate)

Re-watch value: 60 (Loses surprise factor, but may pick up more details)

Overall: 92 - I am a mad scientist, it's so cooooool, Sunuvabich

Every year/season, there will have some truly exceptional animes that I would consider "must-watch". This is one of them. On top of that, I would hand it

Long Season Anime of the Season for April 2011 Season

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kamisama Dolls: Old Enemy, New Enemy

Currently finished: Episode 10

I find it very interesting that the story keep introducing new villains, at the same time, explaining how and why an existing villain became a villain, on top of that, he/she really isn't that bad and there is a reason he/she acts the way he/she did. Basically, it's a self-nullifying process where it first makes think how "bad" the current villain is by showing you what he/she has done, then go back and explain the back story in a way that there's no way you don't feel sympathy for him/her. 

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni: Serialized and Dramatized

Currently finished: Episode 10

While this second installment of the outrageously ridiculous beast summoning battle school's earlier episodes weren't nearly as impressive as the the first installment due to the lack of shock factor, the recent arcs has stepped up and filled in the void with some serious brilliant dramatizations. If season one is a must watch for its freshness, then this second season is a must watch for its genius plot construction and directing of this highly overly dramatized story of (seemingly) smart things done by mostly...dumb people (LOL).

At this point, it's pretty clear that it is going to be the clear winner for

Comedy of the Season

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

[Preview] Working'!!

After a year, our beloved diner crew is finally making a return with Working'!! (That's Working!! with an apostrophe!)

Working!! in my opinion is one of the best sitcom style anime in recent years. It blends a very rich set of personalities in a very interesting situation where constant clashes are guaranteed.

While this preview of second season is not nearly as refreshing as the original, it nevertheless provides a nice continuation of the interesting plot. I think this may well ends up in the same situation K-ON! was.

All in all, I am quite excited that starting October 1st, we get to see more of this highly energetic comedy.

[Movie] Mardock Scramble: The First Compression

Mardock Scramble: The First Compression is the first installment of a series of three Mardock Scramble movies.

The background of the story is Mardock City, where due to high crime rate, implemented a law called "Scramble 09" that allows the usage of forbidden technology (which they never really made clear what it is) to revive victims so crime can be solved. The story, revolves around a girl named Rune, who was a victim of a murder that was revived using Scramble 09.

In my opinion, the entire story is rather confusing, especially when they chose to use certain plot devices that is just assumed to be there with no explanations. Grant it this is only the first of three parts, but somehow I doubt they'll bother to explain them in the next two installments.

The story by design is graphical and explicit, even with that in mind, I still think they went just a little bit overboard on it. At the same time, there are also some really bizarre yet intriguing concept that you just can't ignore. In fact, when I think about it, this movie is like a strange mixture of all the Stanley Kubrick's film concept, from futuristic world to behavior modification, from extreme violence to bizarre sexual fantasies.

I've read online that this anime has something to do with human's dark side of sexual desire, I can see that. But personally, I'm not ready to read that deep into it just yet, especially this is only the first of three installments.

Overall, it's an interesting movie, but I'm not quite ready to call it good or bad just yet before I can see to what it's trying to be in the end.

Score: 81