Wednesday, March 28, 2012

[Ended] Zero Tsukaima Final: Light, with Mood Swings

The first series is pretty good, the second one was alright due to the shift to its tone, the third series, in my opinion just spiraled downwards made me wish it didn't exist. This final series, however, managed to redeem itself just so enough to end entire story on a good note.

While the mood swing is not nearly as extreme as the third installment, there are a few ups and down through out the series. For the most part, the early part of the series is a lot more lighthearted than the final arc which in my opinion makes the grand finale much more memorable because of the polar opposite moods contrast to each other. To be honest, the mood swing actually got me a little bit: I actually felt sad towards the end of episode 11 even deep down below I know there's no way they're going to let the series end like that.

While the series ended in a rather good note (in my opinion, too good), the last step that got everybody there, is a bit laughable, almost comparable to the conclusion of Battlefield Earth. On top of that, I don't think I'm the only person here that saw it coming miles away about how "well" they are going "package" up the end of the series--having seen how lighthearted the rest of the series has been, even with the somewhat heavy toned arcs scattered around, it's more or less impossible for the entire series to come to an tragic conclusion. If I have to mark any points off this final installment of Zero Tsukaima, that's probably among the biggest ones.

p.s. I said the same thing during season 3, didn't they already officially get married at the end of season 2?!

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 86 (Ups and downs)
Comedy: 82 (Acceptable)
Action: 85 (For what it has)
Art/Animation: 81 (Not bad, nothing amazing either)
Sound/Music: 87 (Rather fond of its music)
Character: 90 (Interesting)
Plot: 80 (good, only to certain extend)
Ending: 76 (Too predictable)

Re-watch value: 70 (Loses some mystery, but still interesting)

Overall: 82 - Good Enough Conclusion

Recommendation: The way they concluded the series, if the author wants to write more sequels in the future, there's really nothing from the plot stand point prevent him to do so. However, there'll be a lot less tension between the major characters and it'll be a lot less interesting to watch. So in my opinion, this series IS OVER. If you actually like the first two series (even if you hated the third one), I'd recommend you to watch this series just so you could see the grand conclusion. But if you decide to skip, I'm not going to try to convince you to watch it, either.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

[Ended] Another: Amazingly Ride

If you have been to my blog in, say last 3 months, you'd notice that even I've been lagging behind on many other series, there is one series, regardless how busy I was, I always, always allocate my Monday night to see the newest episode of Another.

Simply put, Another is about the most amazing suspense horror anime series I have seen for years.

The approach of the series is rather traditional. It lays out the puzzle one piece at a time while the solution plays catch-up. As I said in earlier posts, for a good suspense series, you'll need some good tension to pull the audience along, but too much tension would just make people feel like being teased unreasonably. This puzzle solution seesaw game allows the story to keep a nice balance to keep the tension just right.

As far as plot goes, it uses some classic techniques such as hidden clues like those you've seen in movies like the Six Sense (which in my opinion is the only good movie  Shyamalan made) which cleverly drops clue everywhere but nobody would understand the significance of its meaning until the very end. For the most part, the plot is pretty consistent. There isn't any obvious plot hole I could spot aside from the little attempt that tries to extend the series for one episode without having to reveal the key answer as I noted in the previous post. But even that was mostly address in the last episode so it is somewhat understandable.

While the plot is good, alone it won't be able to propel the series to where it stands right now. The music and art work, especially the background art are just down right amazing. What's really noticeable is the usage of rust everywhere in the background to render a very creepy atmosphere no matter where they go.

Even though I think there's a bit lack of "spectacular-ness" in the grand finale, but as a whole, this is just an amazing ride from the beginning. As you may have guessed, I am just in love with this series, and I'm going to hand it

Short Season Anime of the Season for January 2012 Season

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 97 (Very interesting)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 92 (Death and destruction)
Art/Animation: 98 (Amazing background art)
Sound/Music: 97 (Great BGM)
Character: 90 (Colorful, though short-lived)
Plot: 98 (Simply great)
Ending: 90 (Slightly lack of octane)

Re-watch value: 70 (Loses some mystery, but still interesting)

Overall: 96 - Amazingly Suspenseful

Recommendation: If you like suspense horror, then you definitely don't want to miss this one. This is just about the best horror series I've seen in years.

p.s. I am now in love with Misaki's voice. The calmness and the unique tone is just one of a kind that I don't think I've heard anything similar before. It's a pretty safe bet that in the future I'd be totally watching everything she's a main cast. (^_^)b

Monday, March 26, 2012

[Ended] Shakugan no Shana III: Spectacular Conclusion

Rarely a good series has a great sequel. Even more rarely, a second sequel manage to surpass both previous series become the most spectacular of them all. Of course, I think the it probably has more to do with the book that the series is based off. Nevertheless, without a good execution, even a great story could be ruined. J.C.Staff has indeed done a superb job in bringing the story to the screen.

About the series itself, while it started off a little slow, once it picked up the pace, not only it didn't slow down, it managed to get faster and more explosive all the way till the end. Being in such a fast pace, however does have its negative sides: because of the scale this final series is covering--a war between all Flame Haze and Crimson Denizen, there are just way too many characters involved in the story that if it were to cover the background and ability of each character, they could expand the series for an entire long season. What they chose to do, is just dropping characters in the middle of the story out of blue and hoping the audience could understand by using the context of the story flow. For the most part, it worked. But from time to time, I find it a bit irritating when some random people just shows up and somehow become one of those key people that could swing the war one way or the other. You pretty much have no clue why, you just have to take their words for it.

Aside from that little down side, this series is full of excitements and spectacular battles. In fact, I'd give it

Long Season Action Anime of the Season for October 2011 Season

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 92 (On and on)
Comedy: N/A
Action: 98 (Spectacular and explosive)
Art/Animation: 90 (Still as good)
Sound/Music: 93 (Love the music)
Character: 84 (Good character building, but too many are missing the background)
Plot: 90 (Great series finale)
Ending: 97 (Wraps up really well)

Re-watch value: 80 (Lots of information, might be able to pick up more details)

Overall: 93 - Spectacular Conclusion

Recommendation:If you liked the previous Shana season at all, you ought to love this one. Endless excitements, guaranteed.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

[Ended] Guilty Crown: Pretty and Full of Holes

If you draw an analogy between animes and Hollywood movies, Guilty Crown is more or less equivalent to big Michael Bay style action movies: it got all the right actions and explosions to make it a very exciting to watch; at the same time, leaving plot holes everywhere that are large enough to drive two 18-wheelers through side by side.

Don't get me wrong, I liked this series, it's just every once a while, decisions a character made, an action a character took just makes me hang my head side and think "seriously? you could have just solved the problem right there and right then, why you have to go take the long way?!"

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 81 (Good, but a little excessive)
Comedy: 80 (Little, and not that great)
Action: 90 (Everywhere)
Art/Animation: 91 (Very pretty artwork)
Sound/Music: 92 (Very good)
Character: 81 (Somewhat flawed)
Plot: 68 (Holes, giant holes)
Ending: 87 (Ok)

Re-watch value: 30 (Once is more than enough)

Overall: 83 - Pretty, with bad plots 

Recommendation: This is one of those series that I'm on the fence about. It's a decent enough series I think it's worth watching, yet there are so many huge plot holes that I don't really want to recommend it to anybody.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Another: One, Only One More To Go!!!

Currently finished: Episode 11

For those who's already tired of my endless praise for Another, I do apologize. But at least you only have to put up with me for only one more time.

If the series up to episode 10 is a steel cable being stretched tighter and tighter each episode, then this episode 11 is the rupture that is sending pieces of steel cable filament flying everywhere. But this, is only the precursor of what to come in the grand finale--even though the filament started to fly, the core is still hanging on. It is the last episode where we would see the end of all. This is indeed the big excitement we've all been waiting for.

I do, however, as a fair critic, like to point out a minor problem I noticed: in an attempt to push the plot one episode further, they decided to conceal the most important piece of clue when they had plenty of chances to reveal it. Even with all the disruption, I don't see why couldn't they just spill the name when they have all the time to stare and awe for seconds even minutes. I can see how traumatizing those sudden events could be, but as calm as they are, especially when they have the will to go finish what's needed to be done, I don't see why wouldn't they just spill what they know so more supports could be gained in the process so the job could be done easier.

Put that aside, this has been indeed an amazing ride thus far. At this point, I don't think there's anything they can possibly mess up in the last episode that could derail the greatness of the show. For now, I'll just keep my finger crossed and hope there isn't any Nice Boat event to disrupt one of my most anticipated series finale, ever.

Monday, March 19, 2012

[Ended] Nisemonogatari: Still Intriguing

To be honest, I really wasn't impressed by this sequel of the highly acclaimed Bakemonogatari series. While everything is still typical SHAFT style, it seemed they pushed the envelope on ecchi content a bit too much. Every corner it turns, they tried to stuff more ecchi scenes. It was amusing in the beginning, but half way through the series, when they keep doing the same thing over and over again, you'd stop and say, "seriously? again?" While the story is indeed very clever, this excessive ecchi'ness in my opinion serves as more of a distraction than anything else. I think at some point people at studio SHAFT need to pull back a bit on their greediness and get a bit more realistic on what they're trying to do.

Aside from that, however, I would say the series average. I'd probably give it an over "B" grade, that is until I watched the final episode. That episode, in my opinion, was enough to propel it to an "A" grade anime. But I think it has more to do with how the story wrapped up rather than the episode quality itself. It actually managed to fill all pretty much all the blanks of the story, (except for the part about what's going on between Hanekawa and Senjougahara, which I think we'll probably see in its OVA release, just like Bakemonogatari) and explained in depth the meaning of its title. (p.s. while it's not really necessary, I think a little understanding of kanji would help out quite some in the last episode when they explained the word "Nise" in the title, the philosophy in my opinion part of what made this final episode so good).

Final scoreboard:

Drama: 94 (Intriguing)
Comedy: 90 (Amusing)
Action: 90 (SHAFT style)
Art/Animation: 88 (Overly ecchi but interesting)
Sound/Music: 90 (Very good)
Character: 92 (The sisters)
Plot: 92 (Final episode makes it)
Ending: 96 (Great finish)

Re-watch value: 80 (Would be interesting to catch more details)

Overall: 91 - Not as great as Bake, but still very good

Recommendation: All in all, Nisemonogatari inherited most good things that Bakemonogatari brought to the world of anime. While the overly excessive ecchi content was a bit more disruptive to the plot flow than I would like, you would slowly get used to it after a couple of episodes. As of now, I haven't met anybody who watched and didn't like Bakemonogatari, but I wouldn't deny the possibility of existence of such people. So unless you are among those few individuals, you should be able to thoroughly enjoy Nisemonogatari, given you've already seen Bakemonogatari and a little excessive ecchi'ness doesn't bother you too much.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Inu x Boku SS: Different than Expected

Currently finished: Episode 8

Since I was busy with other matters in life, I was a bit behind on a couple of series, and this, is among those that I really haven't watched anything past episode 2....

My friend danchou (who has made couple of guest posting here a while back) told me among the new releases of this season, this one really isn't any good. Having only seen one episode at the time that had given me a rather good initial impression, I said, it had a rather interesting setting and introduction, I don't see how bad could it be. Well, now I have to eat my own words

For the most part, I think it has more to do with not meeting the expectation the first episode had put me up to: it painted a picture that it's going to be something similar to Kuroshitsuji or Natsume Yuujichou. But instead, as the series progresses, it became something more like a weird version of Love Hina blended with Fruits Basket. On an absolute scale, I don't think it's bad, rather, it's the fact that it took on a direction that is completely different than it initially made out to be left a rather unsatisfactory feel.

At this point, while I don't think it's bad enough to drop it right here right now, I have to say it has become largely a "background noise" anime where its purpose has largely become to occupy my idle brain cycle while working on some other stuff.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Another: Suspenseful

Currently finished: Episode 9

Soon enough, I think people going to start calling my blog "praising everything about Another" blog.

Well, I guess that isn't really an understatement--Another is the most blogged anime from this season (not that there are much posts for this season, I'm working on it...). But it is so for a good reason: for one, I am a HUGE fan of well made horror series (psychological horrors, not gory horror, I hate those so called horror where more blood means more horrifying), and so far this is about the best horror series I've seen in two years.

Two, everything I've seen so far is just so well crafted: while being suspenseful is one of the biggest selling point for psychological horror series, there's also a need for keeping a good balance--if it puts too much tension on the string it's pulling, people might start to feel they're just being teased unreasonably. Another manages to slowly but surely feed clues to audience, yet it still manages to keep the critical piece of puzzle hidden. That is indeed very crafty story writing.

So the bottom line is, regardless how it turns out in the end, this series in my opinion is already worth a while just to experience everything it creates up to this point. If you haven't picked it up, you should, unless you're just not into suspenseful horror at all. And if possible, you too should watch it in a proper environment: late at night, alone, with all lights off, surround yourself with complete darkness, and have the volume up to maximum acceptable level. It's an amazing experience.