Monday, November 19, 2012

Zetsuen no Tempest: Interesting Twists

Currently finished: Episode 7

Among all the over-hyped series of this season, Zetsuen no Tempest has largely gone unnoticed. But from what I've seen so far, this is probably one of my top three series of the season.

The first two episodes are somewhat weird and confusing, especially when it's accompanied strangely by some rather depressing background music throughout almost the entire episode. But once everything is settled in and the story itself starts to unfold, I found this is highly interesting, in many ways. The action scenes aren't stellar, but it's cued in right and pretty exciting. What I found most interesting, though, is the constantly changing plot line. There has been some major twists and turns so far and I'm really interested in how all the hidden agenda and conflicting information would play out.

I think I'd even go as far as saying this is one of the most underrated series of the season. I highly recommend you to pick this up if you can.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

[Ended] Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere II: Coherence On Top of Nonsense

Though  it was actually among the first several series from last season I finished watching, it ended up being the last series in the end-of-season review block--it took me quite some time to write up a review that in my opinion is worthy of the series it's reviewing. On top of that, save the best for the last, right? So here comes:

Even towards the end of the second series, I still find myself asking the same question once a while: "What is this I am watching?!! It looks like a bunch of nonsense!" Yet at the same time, lack of coherence is never an issue, throughout the story. That may sound a bit contradicting, but it really isn't. Let me tell you why:

As I said during season one's review, in order to understand and appreciate this story, you have to wipe your mind clear of the realm you currently exist in, i.e. throw away everything you know as "common sense" or "indisputable fact" in the universe you live in, and then rebuild a new one from scratch with whatever this story gives you, at its face value. Then you'll have an universe that everything in this story just makes complete sense, period.

No doubt, denying everything you know since birth as the truth is a bit difficult to do. That may be one contributing factor that Horizon does not have as many stellar reviews as it deserves. But if you manage to do so successfully, you're bound for a wild ride with some amazingly interesting characters and lots of massively complex plots. I know this may come out sounding a bit, um, arrogant, but I'll say it anyway: don't hate the anime, hate yourself for not understanding it.

From time to time, I did forget to tune out of our reality. Those are the times I would roll my head side way and think "WTF am I watching?" But it usually wouldn't take too long before I was able to snap out of it and enjoy what to come.

Now I'm finished ranting about how you should prepare yourself for the series, let's talk about this second season. While it feels very much like the first season, the elements they decide impose emphasis upon has shifted slightly--during season one, due to the fact the audiences were forcefully thrown into an unknown universe, they placed more emphasis on character development, especially on the main group, so that audience would have something familiar they can feel attached to while desperately trying to not drown in the flood of unfamiliar building blocks for this new universe. In this second season, however, since those who are continuing on most likely already have a pretty good grasp of the settings, the story branched into a bigger scope where you see a larger number of additional characters come into play in a much more complicated political situation, which in my opinion, is the sweet spot of this series at.

If you honestly tried, but still have trouble getting everything, then I would recommend you to go through the "Preface" and "Glossary" of the novel (which, unlike normal novels, they are at the beginning of the book) that is available in fan translation by baka-tsuki (though it's a bit difficult to resist the temptation in continuing reading the rest of the novel once you're there :-)

One thing did bother me a bit during this season, is that either the animator or the author of the story up-played a bit too much on the "naked Tori". As I see it, aside from a very few situation that his "naked-ness" actually contributed to resolving certain situation (yeah, surprisingly), for the most part, it's just down right unnecessary.

Though there's no clear announcement like it had in the end of season one, the final moments of this season two showed some new characters that are relevant in the future story. It's possible they simply pulled them directly from the novel's original artwork, but I do hope they keep make more.

All in all, if you can shift your mind into the universe, this is one amazing story, even though it still gets my

WTF of the Year for 2012


[Edit 11/14/12] One thing I forgot to mention because I was a bit too absorbed in recalling the story of Horizon, is that there's an anime that came out in 2009 that is equally amazing in terms of building a completely coherent story with elements that you couldn't make any sense of. It's called "Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo" (US release translates it to Girl who Leapt through Space, not to confuse it with Girl who Leapt through Time which is a completely different anime has nothing to do with each other). If you liked Horizon, you would like it equally.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 92 (Quite dramatic)

Comedy: 90 (No lack of that)
Action: 93 (Over the top, hilarious, and exciting) 
Art/Animation: 88 (Original design from the novel)
Sound/Music: 90 (Quite good)
Character: 93 (Lots of interesting ones)
Plot: 97 (Wild ride)
Ending: 92 (Good wrap up point for the moment)

Re-watch value: 80 - You might need to do that to wrap your brain around it

Overall: 92 - Get ready to be Blown Away

Recommendation: If you get it, you'll love it. If not, well, sorry, you're missing out on one amazing story.

Monday, November 12, 2012

MAGI: They are...Um...Pierced...

Let me just say I was a bit surprised when they just popped up uncensored, front center shots, repeatedly. Consider how aggressively they're censoring ToLoveRu Darkness, I'm a little puzzled about the standards for censoring for broadcast animes. If it's because blue genie is not human, well, neither is Lala. But I guess being blue-skinned makes a difference as far as censoring concern...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

[Ended] Kokoro Connect: Twisted People with Twisted Problems

Kokoro Connect really is just another coming to age story that several friends, each has some personal problems as well as some problematic pasts come together helping each other out in time of their most desperate needs. What's unique about this story is how their problems surfaced: if they had gone on with their daily lives as normal, their problems probably would never be seen by others. It is when they were put through some strange phenomenons, their problems were discovered, some in rather brutal manners.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 86 (Problems after problems)

Comedy: 83 (For what it had)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 82 (Looks like K-ON)
Sound/Music: 84 (Average)
Character: 90 (Well developed)
Plot: 90 (Unique)
Ending: 87 (All problem solved?)

Re-watch value: 60 - Wouldn't be necessary

Overall: 88 - Unique Story on a Common Subject

Recommendation: In my opinion the story itself is pretty flat, though there's certain degree of creative uniqueness to it. I have to say it's one of the better anime of the season, if you have time, you should make an effort to watch it.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

[Ended] Binbogami Ga!: Typical

Honestly, I don't really know why everybody thinks so highly about this anime. In my opinion, it's really just another typical in-your-face style comedy that isn't much different than the rest. And this growing out of an irresponsible brat thing, that's only been used like a thousand other animes... Don't get me wrong, by no means this is a bad anime, it's just in my opinion overrated.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 82 (So so)

Comedy: 82 (In-your-face style)
Action: 82 (Exaggerated)
Art/Animation: 82 (Typical)
Sound/Music: 84 (Not bad)
Character: 81 (Interesting)
Plot: 80 (Flat)
Ending: 86 (Not bad)

Re-watch value: 20 - Not really 

Overall: 81 - Interesting, but a bit overrated

Recommendation: If you like anime of this style, go right ahead, you'd probably enjoy it. If you just want something to watch, it's not a bad choice either. But if time is a precious commodity for you, I think you can leave it off your list without missing too much.

Monday, November 5, 2012

[Ended] Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate: Building Excitement, One Block at a Time

Honestly, I never had much expectation for this series. But turns out, this is a very interesting story, built one block at a time. It actually feels like a twisted Japanese version of the Chris Rock's movie, Head of State, where someone started to run for office for the wrong reason, but ends up becoming a real candidate for the right reason.

Like most game adapted anime, almost every single side character has a problem, and the whole show is about how the main character helps them solve their personal problems while slowly grow into a worthy candidate with his own ideas about what leadership is.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 88 (Politics)

Comedy: 86 (Pretty interesting)
Action: N/A
Art/Animation: 88 (Typical)
Sound/Music: 84 (So so)
Character: 86 (Growing up)
Plot: 80 (Rather predictable)
Ending: 89 (Highly predictable)

Re-watch value: 50 - Maybe

Overall: 84 - Intriguing, but highly predictable

Recommendation: It's good, but it's not great. The plot, you can see both problems and solutions coming miles away. So there isn't really much of a twist and turn, it's just people solving problems, straight up. Nevertheless, it's still an interesting story. If you have extra time, it may worth your time.