Monday, April 21, 2014

[New][April 2014] No Game No Life

Summary: The story of No Game No Life centers around Sora and Shiro, a brother and sister whose reputations as abnormally brilliant Hikikomori(shut-in) NEET gamers have spawned urban legends all over the Internet. One day, they are summoned by a boy named Tet to an alternate world. There, God has declared Ten absolute pledges summarized: "Everything is decided by games.". Kings, Wealth, Ownership, and even national borders are decided by a game. Humanity has been driven back into one remaining city by the other races. The story follows them as they set forth in this new world.

First Impression: Once more, the show I expected the least of from summaries, has become one of the top interesting shows in my lineup. This one feels like the absurdity of Kill la Kill, run through the tone and pace of Spice and Wolf.

First Opinion: Hoo boy. How to talk about that first episode and do it justice without To be up front, as a start, I was expecting this to just be a cheap bandwagon level show on the back of 'Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai'. It sounded exactly like it. In central theme, I suppose it is. A world ruled by games. Only this time, it is actually games, and not super powers filtered through and wagered on games. If I had to summarize the first impression that made me realize this was going to be worthily different from Mondaiji-tachi, the first thought that occurred to me was 'Detail'. Specifically, Depth of Detail. Just in one episode, they have achieved a world that feels much more deep and detailed than Mondaiji-tachi did.
Mmm...what else to say. Ah yes, the main characters, contrary to what summaries made me think, are very interesting. They aren't just Hikikomori NEETs for the sake of being them, in just one episode they feel like they have sound reasons for their life style. Like it was something they chose for themselves, rather than just a role they arbitrarily filled for the sake of character traits. All this, despite them never explicitly stating the reasons why they think and live this way, just the general philosophies that they presently hold. As an added bonus, they feel like the genuinely bonded siblings, rather than like two people slotted into the siblings role to create shallow romantic tension. They had several opportunities to play shallow comedy tropes with the siblings, but instead they come across as mutually devoted siblings, two people who have lived their lives together and become accustomed to one another. Typically, I have no interest in characters labeled by or tagged as NEETs, and I'm somewhat less stigmatized on shut-ins but feel unfavorably towards them. The reason being, the tag of NEET tends to confine and define a character branded with it. The first instance of characters breaking away from this for me, was Kami-sama no Memochou, where NEET was an element of the character, instead of the character trait that defined and shaped everything about them.

Finally, the world itself is interesting in its own right, visually and by principle. In Mondaiji-tachi, (does it feel like I'm beating the dead horse yet?), the world was interesting more as a colorfully useful stage for interesting events to happen to the main characters, rather than being interesting in its own right. On our present hand however, I am genuinely interested in seeing how this world has been shaped by the Ten Pledges, how they affect everything in it, and how the main characters will explore, discover, and utilize this new world.

TL;DRSummaries are as useless as ever, and you still can't get the best information without watching the first episode for yourself. If it sounds super bad in the summary, its usually because the summary itself is super bad.


Friday, April 18, 2014

[New][April 2014] Black Bullet about..."No."?

Summary: In the year 2021, mankind was defeated by Gastrea, a parasitical virus, and is forced to live within a wall made of Varanium Monoliths, a metal that is able to subdue Gastrea. Recently the "Cursed Children", children born with the Gastrea virus who are able to control it giving them superhuman abilities were discovered. Due to the Gastrea virus' intervention, the Cursed Children could only be female, and have red eyes. They are now humanities only hope of fighting back against the Gastrea. Civil Securities are formed to specialize in fighting against Gastrea, operating with a pair consisting of an Initiator: who are cursed children, and a Promoter: who serve to lead the cursed children.

First Impression: Clock this one up for the Horror-Drama-Hope department. Characters are going to die, probably in bloody ways, and they're going to be pulling at our heart strings with bloody fingers.

First Opinion: To be honest up front, I'm always partial to a story that promises to have the capacity for discrimination in it. I get a cheap adrenaline kick out of envisioning how the random racist designated character is going to die, or just out right lusting to cave their skull in myself. Racism is the utmost peak of stupidity. No I'm not going to add 'In my opinion' to that. It simply is.
Right, moving on.
The story just screams "we're going to pick on the cursed children, k?", in addition to being the kind of setting that will probably call into question the limits of humanity. "What is and is not human?", the things desperate people will stoop or resort to, and so on. If that isn't your preference for a story, be my guest, you don't have to like it. I find that it tends to have a higher minimum level of interest for me, but that hasn't stopped me from dropping the boring ones that just rely on that to carry all of their entertainment and interest. Usually that shallower kind of show will spend forever circling the issue without ever saying anything significant one way or the other about it. We'll see how Black Bullet turns out.
I haven't seen much one way or the other for the show from just episode one. Nothing amazing, but nothing boring either. They were very in-your-face about the mutation scene though, so maybe they're going to make a running theme out of the gruesome aspect of the show? A little hard to say at this point in time.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

[New][April 2014] Chaika - The Coffin Princess

Summary: On the continent of Verbist, an age of war lasting for three generations finally ended with the fall of the northern nation, the Gaz Empire. In addition to legitimate knights and soldiers, the militant forces sent to battle included wizards, saboteurs, and mercenaries, totaling 620,000. What's more, three airborne strongholds and massive numbers of magical weapons plus beast and dragon cavalries were added to the ranks, ending in the annihilation of the Gaz Empire, which had been deemed "the root of all evil." Enter Toru Acura a 20-year-old retired soldier, meandering through life now that the war has ended. He encounters Chaika Trabant, a 'Wizard' carrying a coffin, and a 'Gundo' for using her magic, and follows her in hopes of finding meaning to his life again.

First Impression: Another anime from a manga I'm following, this one's a lot harder to summarize. Not for lack of things to say, but for figuring out what is a spoiler. There's a lot of detail in this story, but I'm not sure how much of it is making deep complexity or just decoration. It's going to be a lively anime to watch, and they appear to want to capitalize on this because they clipped out a large section of the manga emphasizing how much of a lazy layabout Acura is.

First Opinion: What's with all the anime from my manga reading list? The Manga is "Hitsugime no Chaika", for those interested. Mostly I've been writing off my knowledge from reading the manga, but trying to keep it tied down to what they've shown so far in the first episode, and what the websites are writing in their summaries. The history lesson is much more slowly delivered in bits throughout the manga, so the dumps not a spoiler, as much as a light introduction that normally takes too long to get, not that you need it. It is, mostly, irrelevant information outside of the fact there was a war with the Gaz Empire, Gaz has been defeated, and labeled the root of all evil. My best advice is 1: try to keep this one, whatever your first impression, at least 2-3 episodes because the manga, and the anime so far, winds up to top speed slow. 2: Don't turn your brain off for this one, at least not as much as you might otherwise think you should be. You very well should be asking questions about how fast things are moving in this first episode. The manga gets a bit more freedom to draw attention to this, but thinking on it for myself, it probably would have been a lot more dull to watch the first dump of information in the siblings living conditions in the town.
Of course, I'm still annoyed by the trending implication these last few anime have had, that we can't be bothered to be interested in an anime if it doesn't explode and dazzle us at the door from episode 1. Ah well, It's not like I have a degree in anime consumerism or whatever. Maybe they do need to do this to sell it well, and I should knock a few more points off my trust in humanity. Or just not care, but that's basically the same thing.

[Ended] Strike the Blood

what a perfectly Kojou'ish sentence

Well that was...both interesting and completely expected in turns. This is a good show for ... well. Hm. Well, it's got a great plot spanning the entirety of it, which as I started to expect about episode 12, has been cut short by the anime's end. It feels like they didn't change or add frivolous bits to help with that though, so maybe this will get another season?
I dunno.

Pros: Action'y cathartic good times with a strong plot to back up the catharsis.
-The fights in this show are always a good time, and ultimately what I was there for as it continued on.
-The characters...sometimes are trope'y, but when they aren't they're well made and interesting. I love Natsuki, myself. I need a gif of when she double fan slaps two people for addressing her as Chan.
-The plots sound, well made. Maybe a little bit obvious, but I don't consider that a bad, or boring, thing.

Cons: I, personally, feel unexpectedly underwhelmed.
-When a character is set to fit into a trope, that trope never goes away. Kirasaka is slotted for the Tsundere trope, and while she acts outside of it in interesting ways frequently, I came to realize they were only interesting because she was the tsundere card. That's fairly annoying. Only a few other characters fit into this problem, but a problem it still is.
-Things...are often very agonizing to watch play out, because they fit so obviously into a scenario you've already seen before and know how it goes, and ends. While it's interesting when the show breaks free from what they make you expect, they frequently just carry on regardless. Maybe most people won't even notice, and this is just a product of how much anime I watch, and the particular way I absorb the things I watch and read.
-Don't expect anything phenomenally ground-breaking from the story. Particularly with the last arc, this show goes exactly how I imagined it would eventually end up, mostly from all the clues being dropped all over the place by various characters acting privately and in secret. This is very much one of those shows where you have a really good idea how it's going to end, but you watch it anyway because its still interesting to see how they'll do it differently from other people.

My Opinion: It's a good show, I enjoyed it, and looked forward to it from week to week. Unfortunately, nothing I'd ever go back and re-watch, but if they make a second season, definitely something I'd pick up to watch, for sure.

Impartial Judgement: This is a ... very "Anime'ish" show. The kind of thing that you see a lot of from the industry, and that tends to be the defining overall spirit of the vast majority that the anime industry puts out. It gives off the same feeling as things like Trigun, Dragonball Z, Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, those sorts of things. Ah, that's the word, Mainstream. It feels very mainstream. The kind of thing you'd have no qualms about passing down to the next generation of anime lovers, but that you'd only rewatch on a personal opinion basis. While I may have enjoyed all of the shows I listed, I personally, for instance, would be far more inclined to rewatch Trigun, Bleach, or DBZ, than One Piece or Naruto, even though I would still recommend them for watching to other people(except for naruto's fillers, which are usually garbage and agony to watch). I feel like, while it does do interesting things a lot of the time, Strike the Blood still feels to mainstream'y to me, for me to otherwise be glowing about it. I get that feeling really, that I should have been more glowing about this show than I actually am, having just finished it. Usually, when I have a conflict of internal opinion-feelings like this, it means that most people will have much more polarized reactions. So this gets a Medium-Strength recommendation to watch. I won't harp about it to most people I greet, but I won't easily back down from supporting it either.

At the end of the day, I watched this show more for the action, and Kojou showing off as the fairly dense but strongly moral main character. I watched it as an action anime. If you're at all interested, or completely put off, by an Action Anime, decide accordingly whether to watch this show or not.

[New][April 2014] Seikoku no Dragonar

who the hell are you?

Summary: Learning to ride and tame dragons comes easy to most students at Ansarivan Dragonar Academy, except for first-year student Ash Blake, who is known as the "Number One Problem Child." Ash is the laughing stock at school because despite his large star-shaped brand that marks him as a future dragon master, he has nothing to show for it. His dragon has not appeared despite his making it to Senios at the academy. Until now. One day, Ash's dragon awakes in full glory, but appears different from any dragon ever seen before: in the form of a human girl! What's more, Ash soon discovers that this new dragon has attitude to spare, as she promptly informs him that she is the Master, and he the servant. Ashs problems with dragon riding have only just begun, while the peace treaty with the Empire looms over the academy.

First Impression: It's fairly interesting, but it likes its ecchi-styled humor...alot. The manga's an eye opener for just what is allowed over in Japan as the minimum line. You get a nice full facial exposure to this in the first episode during the dream sequence.

First Opinion: I've been keeping up with the Manga this is made from, 'Seikoku No Ryuu Kishi'. You either have, or will notice that there is a handful of the manga I keep up with being made into anime this season. Some, I'm more enthusiastic about than others. Not precisely this one to be sure. Oh, yes, certainly it's going to be a fair anime, and it will be nice to see some of the scenes from the manga animated, I grant that. But this story has an issue with...exposure. If the first episodes to be believed, then they're going to try and stay true to that with the anime, in as much as they can. Normally I would be fine, if not thrilled to watch the absurdity of this unfold, but I've never quite been able to decide in my mind whether Dragonar is, or is not, a Harem style manga, and now, anime. Certainly there's ecchi-edged stuff all over the Manga, and from the first impression of the first episode, the anime as a follow up, but that doesn't inherently make it number among the shallow Harem genre. Having been keeping up with the manga, I can promise all of you that read this, Dragonar does in fact have an interesting story and plot in it. Maybe you won't feel it's the most original plot you've ever heard, but it is still well made, and personally I stopped caring about originality a few years ago, I grade by interest and entertainment these days. What additionally kills my interest, is the first scene of the anime that we're given. I don't know who the hell that dragon/lady/glowy-whatever is, because I've never seen either of her forms in the manga. As a matter of fact, we've not been shown Blake's, or anyone else's for that matter, ceremony for receiving a dragon. Maybe this is accurate to the story. Maybe it's from a part of the manga that just hasn't been translated yet. Maybe not. Either way, I always take points away for animes adding additional fluff to a story, because it's almost always for clipping the story short in some contrived way. Some anime are shorter than others, that's fine. They don't need to shoot themselves in the foot by manipulating the story to cut it short faster.
Making a manga into an anime involves changing many things, because of the transition from one medium to another. That's fine, I've seen such things add to the anime. (note how I said I was going to read Noragami's manga? I did. All the way up to where the translations are still being worked on. I loved some of the changes the anime made to the manga, it made the phantoms a lot creepier than they were in the manga). Changing visuals, actions, and minor events is fine. Shoehorning in characters and story events is not, that's suspicious as all hell.

In short, there is going to be a lot of pandering in this show, some of it's...meh, kind of explainable, with the whole "I'm a dragon, not a human" thin-as-paper reasoning, and in the manga later on they even get off some absolutely hilarious jokes with it, that I'm looking forward to in the anime...but most of it felt like cheap pandering in the manga, and I have a feeling its going to be even more insufferable for me in the anime.
By all rights though, if pandering is your cup-of-tea, line up and get ready for your good time with this one. There's going to be an, at minimum, interesting story in here, if not outright great for you, depending on your tastes and interest.
Just be prepared for maximum pandering, and a show that seems to have a mission statement of pushing the limits of what Japans industry will allow on the topic of nudity and exposure.

On a more positive note, off the top of my head, I don't recall any of it being very sexual in nature. So at least there's that.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

[Ended] Noragami

Just got around to finishing this one, was quite worth it.

Pros: Simple, but effective
-A comedic main character, who isn't one-dimensional
-Almost all of the characters are constantly smiling, but it never feels forced or stupid. They come across well as smiling for authentic reasons, with authentic feeling. Impressive for so short a show.
-A strong plead to Humanity as a theme

Cons: Short...and Simple
-Only 12 episodes long, perhaps too short for some people to consider worth the time.
-Simplicity can be potent, but is still simple. Even Kill la Kill, while it came roughly after this show, managed to be more complex, even within the same time frame of 12 episodes. Hell, it was already more complex than Noragami, about 6 episodes in. A lot of people may be bored by things not being complex or fast enough
-Looking backwards in retrospect with the full show completed, it comes across as leaning too strongly on its touching or powerful moments of Humanity, instead of a strong or interesting story or plot. Definitely not something everyone would love

My Opinion: I actually feel like it was better to seat this one in a corner, and then pick it up later when I could finish it all in one sitting. The episode methodology actually harms this show a bit, its a short anime with only 12 episodes, and nevertheless it still takes about 5 episodes for it to wind up into its quality stuff. I still loved it, it is a great example of simplicity executed with depth. Nothing ever needs to be frivolously shallow, and this is a good example of that. Nothing particularly complex ever happens in the show, despite how much could be explained in complex ways, or actually is complex(Why do phantoms explode into that weird 3D Japanese character bomb? They never really explained, but it does look nice). Things could have very easily been made more complicated, but they didn't make it so, and it doesn't become a shallow show for staying simple. I definately liked this show as a whole, and I'm interested in where it continues after the anime, which the anime actually drops a seed for, with Nora's last lines, in addition to some other elements I shall not mention, because spoilers. I recall seeing a Manga by the same name back when this first started airing, I think I'll go pick that up.

Impartial Judgement: Simple. I consider that a good thing in the context that it didn't sacrifice depth of characters, emotions, or reasoning to achieve it, but I know there are people who just are not interested in shows that are too simple, and I've heard their reasoning and found it to be sound. Noragami is short, but it has strong Human Interest elements. Characters will often do spontaneous tangent things, like mood swings, but it never feels like they're doing it just for the sake of doing it, like other shows have similarly suffered from in the past, when doing something like it. From other shows, I felt more like it, shock value, I suppose is the closest term. It felt like the characters were doing it for the sake of an interesting show, rather than it just being an interesting character doing something interesting. Still, Noragami's characters are not especially deep. Well built, well reasoned, yes, but not complex enough to deeply love. I liked the show, but I have no delusions that I will have forgotten it a month from now, if not within the week. If you've seen the show, you'll find that sardonically amusing, given one of the shows plot elements. I still fell good about the show, and I do recommend it, but reason tempers me to not go vomiting enthusiasm on people about it, because they will then be underwhelmed. In particular, I feel like the show left a lot unsaid and undone with Hiyori, the female lead for all intents and purposes. In the face of other characters who got a lot more interesting, even in the shows short episode count, she never really developed as much. She didn't particularly need to, she developed enough certainly, but it contributed to the shows primary weakness of being underwhelming at the end of the day.

I soundly Recommend this show, with a touch of underwhelming warning.

Monday, April 14, 2014

[New][April 2014] Gokukoku no Brynhildr

Last Seen: Episode 1

Summary: When he was a child, Murakami was infatuated with a girl he called Kuroneko. She insisted on knowing about aliens and having met one, but no one believed her, even young Murakami was skeptical. One day, she decides to show him the alien, but an accident occurs and Kuroneko dies while Murakami is left seriously wounded in the hospital. Years go by and Murakami obsesses on finding proof of the existence of aliens because of a promise he had made with Kuroneko. Then, one day, a new transfer student comes to his class, who not only looks a lot like Kuroneko, but is named Kuroha Neko. 

First Impression: Good things in the future. Starting off right, and I've got everything that can be in its future in my pocket as long as they follow the script.

First Opinion: Think Madoka Magicka, to the power of 10, if it's going to be anything like its manga, Kiwaguro no Brynhildr. It says something about its quality that as soon as I saw 'Brynhildr' I immediately jumped into every websites summary of it that I could find, and Fist Pumped when I knew it was based on what is one of my favorite mangas being translated right now. I've only seen episode one, but it follows the manga exactly. Now, if any of you read my first post about Golden Time, you may recall they did the same thing, but eventually changed things down the line. So why am I still so thrilled about Brynhildr? Because when you change plot elements in a romance/drama based story, you run a very high risk of diluting, weakening, or outright ruining the impact and quality of the story. In a story like this... as long as they're planning to stay the course for the essence of the story, (and the opening gives me great confidence they at least plan to), it doesn't matter how many minor plot or story elements you change, or how fast you clip the story down to size, it's still going to be a great show to watch. Obviously, anything can be ruined past the point of no return, but I have great hopes for this show.

Now, something a bit more objective. Whenever 'Magic' pops up in anime, it tends to immediately trigger the 'Magical Girl Show' stereotype in peoples brains. While that may not as be as deep of a stigma as it used to be post-Madoka Magicka, it still brings to mind the childish and shallow essence of the original stereotype, just slightly tempered. I've raved about this in a post before, only more generally on the topic of Fantasy, but to sum up fast: Fantasy(Magic) gives great power of reach and depth to a story and plot, but if applied too strongly, weakens it and makes it shallow. Why? When everything is solved in a one sided manner with 'The Power of Love/Friendship/Peace/Happiness' or other such nonsense, or the main characters have the power to reshape a quarter of the planet with a thought, but the fights still take 2-3 episodes, things get to feeling too absurd, even for animes powerful 'suspension of disbelief'. Enter the (I hope) upcoming trend I've likened to calling 'Modern Magic', and you have a potential solution. The basic essence of the idea, is that even Magic, if it existed in our world, would have its own Principles, Laws, and Physics that ruled it, even as it itself reshaped our vanilla Physics and Laws. In other words, its a higher minimum expectation of Fantasy(magic) as an enriching element, instead of a diluting one.
Brynhildr may not quite fit into a 'Modern Magic' slot by technicalities, but if it plays its cards in the pattern of the manga, the rest of its world is going to fit into it perfectly even if the magic doesn't do so 100%.

I hereby award this show:

Zetro's Preemptive Must Watch of the Season Award. [Redacted]
For a opening and first episode that promises to be true to the manga in spirit.
Oh, and a word of warning: The squeamish may want to have a bucket nearby to lose their lunch in if the show doesn't pull any of its punches at all with the story.
You have been warned.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

[New][April2014] Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei

I'd been thinking that, too

Summary: In a world where magic has become a technology of reality for over a century, various countries are in a race to nurture modern magic users. In Japan, 'First High', the prestigious first Magic High School of its kind in the country is where the most excellent magicians are sent. Two-hundred students there are divided into Course 1 and Course 2, where Course 1 students are those who excel in magic, and Course 2 students are viewed as merely 'reserves', replacements to fill in for the first 100. This results in severe discrimination between the two courses, embodied in how the students frequently refer to each other, as 'Blooms' and 'Weeds'. In this environment, Tatsuya and Miyuki Shiba are enrolled in First High. Tatsuya barely manages to place in course 2, while his sister places as the top freshman of Course 1. 

First Impression: Everything's looking good so far. There were plenty of chances for them to trip up or do something stupid, but they nicely side step the prat-falls. 

First Opinion: This suddenly feels like the promise to be everything I had expected of Mahou Sensou, and never received. Mahou Sensou lined up to be a 'Modern Magic' technological marvel with its poster, but performed as an old fashioned magical brawl out. Meanwhile, in Koukou no Rettousei's camp, we have very pleasingly technical levels of detail and interest. I'm giving this one a nice happy seat in my list, and taking note of its release day. Mostly I'm just impressed with all the chances they had to fall into stereotypical tropes or idiocy, and how neatly they side stepped all of it. As an additional bonus, I found the hand-to-hand fighting that broke out to be very well made, in my own opinion. No promise about what an actual martial arts enthusiast would say, but it did look very nice and fluid. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

[New][April 2014] Fairy Tail 2014 (Fairy Tail Season 2)

Summary: This is the continuation of the first season of Fairy Tail. Picking up, right where they left off.

First Impression: At first, it seemed like they have a slightly different animation team on this. Just some fringe things niggling at the back of my brain. I adapt to graphical shifts too fast to notice or care, but maybe it will bug someone else? Or it might just be my imagination.

First Opinion: This is Fairy Tale. ... That's about it. They start off strong with a little slap in the face of ... future premonition? Possibility? Parallel universe again? The hell if I know, and you probably won't either until they tell you. (or maybe if the manga's ahead, which it likely is, if you read that). I liked Fairy Tale, and this is exactly the continuation of it. Kind of hard to go wrong from there. This isn't a sequel, it's a second season. Sequels are made to pump out more money, Second Seasons come into being to finish the story.

Having said all that, I really got a nostalgia trip during the show when they had a sign with Plu (I have no idea how to spell his name) on it. No clue what relevance it was, even in context, but it reminded me that the old show Rave Master also featured him, and I one day looked it up and found out its a character the creator uses across several of his works. After that, my usual brain fade kicks in and it would be foolish of me to continue saying[typing technically] anything after that, I'd just be putting my foot in my mouth[or...on...the...keyboard...?] and making myself sound stupid by saying something false. Interested? Watched that old show? Look it up. You may find something you like.

Friday, April 11, 2014

[New][April 2014] Blade and Soul

that says more about you, than it does her

Summary: A skilled sword-woman, Alka, travels in pursuit of vengeance for her masters death, as required by her clans rules.

First Impression: Cheap Action-shock appeal right out of the gate. A very flat main(?) character, and a relentless slaughter of basically every character that is introduced.

First Opinion: I'm reminded of Tokyo Ravens and Wizard Barristers high speed openings...only both of them did it a hell of a lot better than this. Almost everything about this first episode felt forced, and completely unexplained. They throw a slap-dash of random events at us, explain nothing, and proceed ahead with more action. I honestly have no idea if the viewer is expected to get any kind of attachment to the first set of characters we're introduced to, or if they're just there to set the tone and pace of the world. Not a single one of them seemed at all interesting, and all of them felt like they were forcing themselves onto the screen and the main character. Unfortunately I'm running out of spoiler free things to talk about, so lets clock up to something strange I saw. NC Soft's name, and what I assume is their Japan equivalent, were the first on the opening credits. "Now wait," I thought to myself, "isn't that a game company...yes, yes I'm quite sure it is, their game eXteel was fairly fun while it lasted, and I'm sure that was the name of the company on that one."
Suddenly, while following this train of thought, I recalled reading and googling a bit about a game that was being hyped up in its development...with the same name as this anime.
Oh hohoho. Now I get it.
This is basically just an expensive bid to attract attention to the game by proxy, isn't it? It certainly explains the characters all feeling very flat and forced.

I'm still going to give this one the benefit of the doubt, and hold it for a bit, but I'm putting my usually low expectations even lower, and right now this is first on the list to be dropped if it can't get at least a little more interesting with something more to offer than just action scenes.

Friday, April 4, 2014

[Ended] Senki Zesshou Symphogear

HOLY SHIT THIS THING IS LATEI'm so sorry...I can't believe I never published this post. This was suppose to be posted October 5th, 2013. woops...

Now where have I seen this fabulous scene before
Too much. This, was too much. This last episode was the back breaker. Just one episode before this, I would have believed someone telling me they wrap everything together for a solid, coherent ending with a feeling of satisfaction. This show almost deserves a reward for how fast and hard it spontaneously combusts and spirals out of control.

When you pick up and wield the power of Fantasy for your story, in whatever medium you choose, animation, movie, book, it's the same: You greatly increase the reach and depth of your story and its message. You allow it to touch many more ideas and topics, and quickly plumb their depths than you otherwise would. But, if you use too much Fantasy, then you Trivialize the message. If you pump too much fantasy in, then you make everything it touches so disconnected from reality that anything you were trying to say is 'lost in the magic', so to speak.
Senki Zesshou's final episode is going to be my Go-To for showing this idea off for the next few months, maybe year. I don't know if this shit happened because they ran out of time, or they just had to clip it short and ad-lib to make it fit into 13 episodes, but that was the largest amount of bullshit pulled out of an ass plothole power in my memory. There have certainly been singularly worse plothole powers before this, but Symphogear takes the award for sheer quantity of bullshit.

They've been pushing the 'Unity and Friendship' message hard since day one, and that's a dead horse that's already been beaten well past the 'pulp' stage into the 'now you're just beating on the dirt the horse was laying on' stage. People have heard this message from anime from any vast number of other sources. Previously, Symphogear stood out from the crowd because it did a very good job of putting a lot of very solid emotional weight behind its reasoning and scenarios. The main heroines ideals and endeavors have always been way out of touch of the harsh reality of the world around her, but she was always reacting to and affected by it. She was worth caring about because she struggled to reconcile her ideals with her surroundings. Previous to this last episodes train-wreck, the powers in this show bordered on science-fiction, rather than fantasy. Now, they've just pulled out all the stops and summoned up full blooded God Damned Magical Girl Transformations. Doing things had consequences before. Now: Just because we need to, we can, and without a problem.
I'm going to stop myself here, but if anyone is unconcerned with spoilers, or wants to team up and share in beating the piss out of this seasons finale, feel free to leave a comment, and we can have some fun blowing off steam on this.

Because I was somewhat enthusiastic about the first season, and foolishly allowed some of that to carry over to this season, I could reason out how they could do what they did, and I even started to mid-episode. But, ya know what? To hell with that. When you need an invested fans enthusiasm and knowledge to explain how things are happening, you're fucking doing it wrong. It's even worse when just a few episodes ago, you proved you knew how to do it right, executing things with coherent cause, effect, and reasoning.

Pros: Music and Action
-Musics obviously always been key for this show, and they certainly haven't started shirking on it yet
-For all I've said, everything has at least been very spectacular to watch, nice fights, animation, Et C.
-Plot. Even if the story tellers voice could kill a deaf person, that doesn't mean the story he has is bad. The ending is crap, but up to that point the plot was well made.

Cons: Finale, Tone, and Execution
-Massive. Tone. Shift. It goes from believable and reasoned, to off the wall nonsense so fast heads spin clean off necks.
 -Lots of plotholes, the worst kind: Unnecessary Plotholes. There were more than enough plot elements in place for them to have done the same thing, but had it explainable or understandable.
-Plagiarism. I heard bloody Mortal Combat energy sounds, and one of the characters spontaneously curves a bulletshot. I'm not even going to try to go into detail about the number of times I've seen the unified-rainbow-of-power sequence before in anime. They may be fully authorized to use all of this, but it's still bad taste to do so. Any one of them wouldn't have mattered as much and would have been tasteful if it wasn't for the massive lineup of unoriginality it takes place in.

My Opinion: If you enjoyed Senki Zesshou Symphogears first season, at all, you should strongly consider watching it. It's not bad, just very very stupid. At the minimum the musics awesome in my opinion. I'd say 'just don't watch the last episode, anything you could imagine up would be better than that nonsense', but the visuals at least were great. Even if they were visualizing the embodiment of homicidal plot negligence. Take everything I've said with a grain of salt to tone it back a bit, and then weigh it against your opinion of the first season, and the two kinds of show in play here.
Impartial Judgement:  Ugh...Good. I guess. It annoyed me royally, and left me very unsatisfied, but it was from a technical view, well made. I cannot deny that I really enjoyed watching some of the action scenes during this season, and even if it was bullshit that they existed, I like several of the final forms they flaunt in the finale. The show is overall still very enjoyable this season, just expect the ending to leave you unsatisfied, if not with an outright bad taste in your mouth.

BUT BY THE POWERS THAT BE, if they presume to try and make a third season of this, I will ignore that thing so hard it will cease to exist in my universe.

[Ended] Log Horizon (Season 1)

This was easily my most enjoyed anime this season, more so even than Kill la Kill. Now grant, Kill la Kill is right on Log Horizons toes, and I'll be writing its end post tomorrow...*cough* ok maybe today is technically more accurate and I should start going to bed...more than once every two days. Kill la Kill probably has a higher enjoyment rate on an individual episode-by-episode comparsion, but the sum totals of the two shows aren't a competition at all, for me anyway.

The end episode of Log Horizon boldly announces that season 2 is already coming. I want to take a moment to reflect on that. Right there, at the end of the show, they pledge a season two. I can't honestly think of a time I've seen this before. I have the vague impression I have, but I don't put stock in those kinds of memories anymore now that I know I have a habit of manufacturing them.
It may sound corny, but this bold declaration *sigh* restores my faith in humanity, particularly in the anime lovers community. Log Horizon came out the same time as Kill la Kill, Strike the Blood, and two magically themed shows. It says a great deal that in the face of so much competition from popular genres, Log Horizon secured enough popularity for them to have already gotten whatever it is they need over there to declare it worthy of a second season, in time to announce it at the first seasons end.

Think about that. The glorious gem that is Spice and Wolf, (which, by the way, gives off the same kind of impression as Log Horizon...Just saying), had an aggravatingly effervescent information trickle about its second season, or if there even would be one, for someone like me who doesn't dig deep in the anime news, and just skims the headlines. Perhaps, (I'm beginning to notice that I start alot of self-detrimental brooding with perhaps), I simply don't know enough about how the anime industry judges what's worth additions. Maybe I'm just reading too deep. Regardless, the observation is still a useful one, think about it.

Pros: A Mighty story
-Strong Characters
-Strong World
-World Fitting and interesting Action scenes
-Solid Plot
-Avoids 1-Dimensional Characters. Anyone with a Troupe attached to them has an additional character element to prevent that Troupe defining them
-Weight. Log Horizon often skims, if not outright features, subject matter that is quite deep, and never trivializes the discussion of it, although sometimes it's brutally shortened into a summarized format.

Cons:  For many, but not all(unfortunately)
-The World presented has great potential for action, but other than one major fight near the end, the action tends to be somewhat underwhelming to the feeling the show presents of what it could be. The preview scenes of the second season seem to promise more action.

-It has come to my attention that some people judge anime based on romance. Romance is a sub-element in Log Horizon. It's there, and it's not weak, but it is definitely not the focus. I don't mind or care, but some people might.
-If you take a disliking to Shiroe, for whatever reason, the show may be a poor experience for you. While he's not the exclusive focus of the show, and everyone gets great development, he is definitely the primary amongst the leads. You spend alot of time focused on him throughout the show. I doubt there should be many people that would be so unhappy with him, but fair warning, I guess.

My Opinion: Watch it. NOW. I'm giving this show:

Zetro's Best Story
of the Season

It is not my place to hand out Evil Cat's Awards, but that's not going to stop me from having my own set of them to pass out.
(and no, there will probably never be a comeback gem award ever again, that was mostly a joke. mostly).
Everything, even down to the name, is tight and well fitted in Log Horizons world. How can I give out this award, you might ask, when the show has a second season lined up? When it should be incomplete with just one season? Simple, the plot isn't finished, but this story arc is. Just because there's more or another story to tell, to continue the plot, doesn't mean you can't finish a season or show without plot holes. Plot holes are never good, and with proper planning and work, never necessary. Yes, the ending may still be bad if it's forced to end an anime, when the original story continues, but that does not mean plot holes. An ending can be whole, and still bad.
Log Horizon could have a second season never come, and it would still be a complete story, and well worth reshowing.

Impartial Judgement:  Perhaps a deep story, plot, or well detailed world isn't the taste you're after. To each their own, after all. Not everyone likes books, not everyone likes movies, not everyone likes video games. Some people like action, some romance, some intrigue, and so on. Log Horizon is more about its interesting story, world, characters, and the intrigue between them all, than it is about anything else. There's alot of 'anything else' in there as a result, comedy, romance, action, but the focus is definitely more intrigue, drama, and human interest than anything else. That's not all of it, and it's not even the majority of it, (that would be the most boring anime, lecture ever), but it is the core. If you put Log Horizon, and Sword Art Online up on a pedestal with each other, you get a nice contrast. While both feature human interest, SAO is more about drama, romance, and action, while Log Horizion is more about Intrigue, Humanity, and drama.

Log Horizon may not be THE BEST THING EVAHHH *cough*, but what it is, is solidly made, presented, and executed as an anime. If the second season doesn't end the plot, I'm going to be looking for the original story source, if there is one.

I'd love to tell everyone 'you need to watch this!', and the rapid promise of a second season encourages it...but I know better, not everything is for everyone. Never-the-less, Log Horizons a good interesting show, and you should at least try it.