Sunday, December 20, 2015

[Ended] Comet Lucifer


Pros: For the Genre archetype it channels, it does a great job
-Story is decent, if predictable
-Characters are not shallow
-Actions pretty good

Cons: It really didn't NEED to channel the Mech genre.
-Story is very predictable, just in small segments
-Characters aren't all that deep either

My Opinion: For a long time, I thought maybe I was over-reacting, branding this as a Mech anime. It kept feeling like there was...something off about just calling it that. Of course, the show then promptly broke out in what amounted to an all out Mech war, so that went right out the window. But I never did kick that feeling of something out of place, and now that the series has concluded, I know what it was, why I kept coming back to this, where I've dropped other Mech anime, especially the last two Gundams I was aware of and started watching.

This show didn't NEED Mechs. At all. In fact, there were any number of other ways they could have everything they wanted, and left the mechs behind. The mechs just add a layer of ridiculousness to the show that gets in the way. At one point, one of the characters even refers to the whole transforming mech thing as an Exoskeleton-something-or-other. That would have been totally better than giant mechs, a human-sized or just larger than human sized exosuit. It would have made more sense too, than tiny pebbles-snake to mega-mech. I never understood why the non-human-made mechs were a thing in this show, and it was never really explained either. Clearly, that's not their original or real form, they just present that way for...reasons. Mostly to appease some marketing studios demands that fans will absolutely love it more if there's giant robots in it.
...I wish I could say they were wrong, but they're probably right.

As far as the story goes, it was predictable, in segments. No, I couldn't see how the show ended coming from the start, but I did see pretty much every major plot development coming before it got there. The show's base ideas that are presented in the story are good, and interesting, if at least only to my tastes. But the show never really capitalizes on them. I suppose that's my biggest complaint about the show, other than the apparently need to have Giant Mechs: It never really dwells on things long enough, or explains things adequately enough.
Listen, I understand that a lengthy scientific explanation puts people off, but not explaining anything at all, just makes everything cheap. If you have no rules to restrict you and make you innovate, then you could pull a magic mc'guffin out of a hat at every turn to fix all your problems. The show does that. All the time. It's really annoying, because they could have done the exact same things, but if they hadn't just magically pulled them out of thin air, and had actually taken some time to do some setup and foreshadowing, or even just a brief explanation, it all wouldn't have left behind such a sour taste.

At the end of the day, the show does it's job. It's interesting, and it doesn't just focus on the Mechs and Mech battles like you'd typically see from a Gundam franchise show. It actually has characters with some depth, some backstory and personal motivations, and the story itself isn't bad. But beyond that, everything has this sort of...shallow feeling to it. Like it could have been so much more.
[Aside]
Come to think of it, they even ousted the end credits for some Slideshow stuff to show story developments after the last climactic battle...
I wonder if this show got budget cut at some point. Maybe there's a manga or some light novel or such out there somewhere, that actually took its time with things. At time of writing, I haven't been bothered enough to check.
[Aside end]
I'd like to think that we can aspire to greater lengths than just 'does the job, passes the time'. I was tempted at many times to say, 'good to check out if you wanted to see what it's like when mech anime actually have decent story and characters'. But that's the wrong idea isn't it? That implies that this show was held back by featuring mechs. It could have been magic, or focused more strongly on the stone/crystal based lifeforms idea, or advanced flipping dimensional technology. Why are the Mechs so bad?
The answer is as simple as this: When you feature the mechs, you are always and inevitably tempted to just throw them into a fight whenever things get tough with the plot and story, rather than properly sitting down and thinking out a good idea. It's far too easy to just say 'fuck it, MECH FIGHT'. That's the problem with Mechs. Mech fights inevitably get boring, because they are robots. They come to the table preset with what they can use, and inevitably use it up, if not in one battle, then in the next. Which means you constantly have to think up new things to put on the mechs, and reasons for those things to make sense. All of which could have just been hand-waved away with literally magic, and you could have focused instead on character or story development and motivations.
When you put the Giant Mech in the room, it sucks all the power out of everything else that is there, because it's just too impractically huge.

Impartial Opinion: The story could have been so much more. At the end of the show, it just feels like the whole plot was suddenly put on crack to make it wrap up in time, and so many things are just completely glossed over and never explained. The characters are all basically great ideas, but never fully fleshed out enough.
All told, this entire show feels like everything is suspended in some weird limbo between two states of completely great, and incredibly mediocre.
If there is an original source to this anime, I'd recommend checking that out, because if it goes past where this ends, it may end up being pretty great. If this show itself is original, then it's a resounding meh at the end of it.
There was a lot of good build up in the show, but the ending is just...very unsatisfactory. We don't get to spend any time with the resolutions of any characters arcs or personalities. Any of them. Everyone is either dead or severely glossed over.

Which reminds me, In case anyone thought from the massively colorful and playful art style of this show that it pulls punches with violence all the time...no. People die. In sometimes very bloody ways. It's just...most of the time everyone is crammed into a massive tin suit that COMPLETELY protects them from all harm, all the time. Either that, or people actually do die in those things and they never felt like telling us about it. Maybe I missed it. Eh.

Monday, November 2, 2015

[Ended] Monster Musume



Pros: It knows what it is, and it doesn't really pretend to be anything else. It has a good deal of sensibility in it, at least for what it is.

Cons: And what it is, is harem with a lot of erotic appeal, wrapped around a nice guy trying to do the right thing, prohibited by law from doing anything sexual with any of the entourage of women that all want to sex him up.

My Opinion: As the series went on, I started to notice a trend with me. Every single time, after I had finished and closed the tab, a minute or so later, if I remembered I didn't read the ending Species Info Page, I always went back and jumped the video to it so I could read it. Once, I went back and checked four episodes at once, just to be sure I didn't miss a single one. I really enjoyed reading those, and I think that is indicative of something about the show. I can't speak for anything but the anime, but I think the amount of thought that went into the info pages shows that there's a certain minimum intelligence in the show, even if the theme is by far and large one of the most shallow you can find in anime, the harem.

At the end of the day, the status quo hasn't moved anywhere when the series ends, but the journey there was actually fun, even for someone like me who finds harem and fan service grating and irritating, which is saying something.

Certainly, the show is shallow by nature, that's just how harem goes. But I'd like to make the point that, as far as harems go, Monster Musume seems to have their shallow bar set a good deal deeper than the average, and I will happily sing its praises if I think that will help, even in the slightest, increase that trend across all anime. Nothing pisses me off more than a Checklist anime, because I feel like it's a waste of the animators time to work on something with a story and characters that a cheap pseudo-AI could have spit out a hundred carbon copies of.

 [Spoilers] Highlight to see, if you've already seen the show.
I found it particularly interesting that at one point in the show, it is basically decided on that the main character needs to pick someone to marry, and he actually agrees, but for the sake of harem proceeds to hum and um about who. Most of the time you never get to the point where the center of the harem actually realizes anything close to choosing someone, until maybe the end of the show.
[End Spoilers]

The last point I want to draw attention to, is the depth of the characters. While I grant that every single one of them has some kind of Trope pinned to their back, and they display it every chance they get for comedic effect, they are surprisingly not ruled by their tropes. Hell, the show even has really good reasons why the characters have their tropes. They outright say in one episode that a character is bad at cooking because their species is primarily carnivorous, and carnivores have 1/25 - 1/50'th the sense of taste of humans. That impressed me.

Impartial Opinion: At the end of the day, this is still a Harem. A harem with a unique theme, and as far as characters+story+world go, a great deal more depth than any other harem that I've ever heard of. I guess if someone wanted to break a friend into the Harem genre, (I won't even pretend to understand why), this is the best bet? At the very minimum, pretty much anything to do with Harem and Fan Service annoys me, but I still enjoyed this show every week.
If you're looking for, or don't mind (especially if you simply don't mind), Harem and lots of Fan Service scenes, I suppose I recommend this show. There's a refreshing amount of intelligence in this show for it's genre slot. Taken out of the context of harem, this kind of story and setting would be immensely interesting to me in a slightly more serious tone. Especially if it had as well constructed of characters.

[New][October 2015] OwariMonogatari



Summary: During October of his third year in high school, Koyomi Araragi is introduced to a transfer student named Ougi Oshino by his underclassman Kanbaru Suruga. Ougi tells Koyomi that she has something she wishes to consult with him. When she draws the map of Naoestu High School, she finds something peculiar on the map of Naoetsu High School she draws. This discovery reveals a tale that wasn’t meant to be told, and this makes Koyomi’s high school life totally different. This is the story that brings to light “what” makes Koyomi Araragi. This is the story that reveals the “beginning” of everything.
-Quote provided as is, from the Crunchyroll.com summary-


First Impression: See Opinion. Also, Ougi Oshino is the Creepy. Any time it goes to a close up of her eyes...

At the same time though, there's something I just love about her character. Something is incredibly...off...about her, but I love the character. Those eyes though. Oooh, *shiver*.


My Opinion: It's more from the Monogatari series. That should be all you need to know. If you were already watching, continue to do so, if you haven't started watching, you need the previous seasons in your belt first.
No really, what the hell is wrong with you if you watch this first? You will understand literally nothing.

[New][October 2015] Utawarerumono-The False Faces (Itsuwari no Kamen)

I had a hard time picking an image...so I used both!

Summary: A nameless man wakes up in the middle of a vast, snowy plain he doesn’t recognize. Not only that, but he is suffering from amnesia and doesn’t even remember who he is. Suddenly, he gets attacked by an insect-like creature, but is saved by yet another strange creature attacking the insect, and a girl named Kuon... with animal ears and tail... dragging him away. Upon discovering his stranded state, she decides to look after him, and names him Haku. The story follows them as they travel, with Kuon haggling the easy-going-natured Haku every step of the way, that 'Those that don't Work, Don't Eat." But more is going on, not only all around them, but also with Haku.

First Impression: It's the second season of an old favorite of mine, you can't get more biased than that. A word of warning, so far the opinions I've read have all been you don't need to watch the first season for this one, but you're going to have a harder time with it if you don't.
In that regard, I highly recommend the first season, Utawarerumono, with one condition:

YOU WILL SKIP THE FIRST EPISODE OF THE FIRST SEASON
.
There is no debate here, you will do it.

It is the most garbage first episode I've ever had the misfortune to see, because not only is it completely asinine, completely removed in its own little bubble from the entire rest of the story, but it also is completely misleading about what the show is like and about, not to mention it contains spoilers! Just to stick an extra nail in the coffin.

Now, if you had told me it was an OVA included in a disc or something, I'd have given it high praise for probably being exactly what the fans wanted, because the thing is almost pure fan service from front to back. Which is precisely why it does the show such a disservice.
It scares away people that were looking for a show with more depth than cheap erotic appeal, and it instills a feeling of betrayal in the people that the first episode attracts because the rest of the show is extremely low-key on fan service. So low key, that when I was watching the second season, I remembered that I never cared about it in the first. They do fan service in a way that actually appeals to me, even if the erotic appeal still goes over my head. To summarize it as best I can, the fan service just sort of... naturally happens on screen, instead of the forces of the universe conspiring to put everyone in revealing poses, with revealing camera angles. It's also never cartoon'ishly over-dramatic. That alone appeals to me immensely.

My Opinion: Great. It's going to be great. It already is, and I have an entire first seasons worth of gold to back up my personal emotional sentiments with impartial evidence. (although technically the validity of said evidence is ALSO my opinion but give me something to work with here, m'kay?)

By the way, make sure to watch past the Ending Song in each episode, they have additional content at each episodes end. Not necessarily something you NEED to see, but you will appreciate doing so.

Monday, October 12, 2015

[New][October 2015] Comet Lucifer

Oh. It's a mech anime. goody.
Summary: Comet Lucifer is a fantasy set on the planet Gift, where precious crystals called Giftium are buried in the earth. The main character Sogo lives in a prosperous mining town, Garden Indigo, and loves to collect rare crystals. One day, he gets caught up in a dispute between his classmates, and somehow loses his way deep in the ruins of a mine. There, he discovers a blue-haired girl with red eyes named Felia, and his adventure begins. Also, Mechs.

First Impression: Oh. It's a Mech Anime. Well. Took them long enough to let on about that. Actually, took them long enough...oh wait. They NEVER told us ANYTHING about WHAT THE HELL IS EVEN GOING ON, ON MY SCREEN. Is this just a Mech thing? I seem to remember ... just about every? Gundam anime that I ever bothered to watch doing this. Just dropping us 'In Medias Res' style in the thick of it, and maybe eventually getting around to explaining just what is happening.

My Opinion: This was looking kind of promising, minus the 'I have no clue what is happening at all' thing, for most of the episode. I was just waiting for them to finally tell us something about the little red crystal thing Sogo was so flipping thrilled about. But no, they couldn't even give us some techno babble to partially slack our thirst of curiosity, and explain more later, they just...teased that they were about to tell us something, and then had him rushing off again. I swear I spent half the episode just watching Sogo run, climb, and hover board all over. Grant, the animation looks nice? I guess? Not that I was ever one to give a shit about how pretty the animation is. 

So yeah...my opinion? I don't farking have one yet besides that this is definitely a mech anime, and those tend to be mediocre at best, with a 1% chance of being good sometimes.
When just one giant robot type shows up on screen, particularly when it's just a work machine like it was here, it might not be a mech anime. But when they spend a full scene animating said robot running for a full minute and change, and then another kind of robot appears, and a fight happens, that is definitely a mech anime. Not an anime with giant robots in it, it is an anime about Mechs. There is a difference.

I mean really, I don't expect every show to immediately tell us everything that is going on right away, that's just bad design, but you can't tell us nothing. So far all we know is some very obscure and vague ideas about the relations of the first 4 main'ish characters. I have no opinion beyond stating basic facts. Maybe in another episode or two. Even then, it feels like the show is pulling me along by the nose to find out whether I will even care about it or not, trying to squeeze pennies out of my basic curiosity by pumping their initial view counts. Or however it is anime make money, I dunno.

[New][October 2015] Asterisk War


Summary: Invertia…an unprecedented disaster that struck the world during the 20th century.
Because of this disaster, numerous cities around the world were destroyed. However, this event
also gave rise to a new species of human born with unique skills: The Genestella.
The instability after the disaster saw the return of Monarchies in some countries in the wake of the declining power of the existing major nations, and a new united governing body, The Integrated Empire Foundation, came into power. Now, the best Genestella of various countries are sent to battle for supremacy in a Battle Entertainment Festival, "Festas", at Rikka, an academic city built on the water, and the winner is said to be granted any desire, so long as it can be accomplished in the world. The students are divided into six separated schools that host Festas once a year.
The story follows Ayato Amagiri, as he is chosen for the school that presently has the worst record in the recent Festas'.

First Impression: I don't know if you noticed, but this anime's summary literally sounded like someone hacked up random pieces from the last 2 years of anime's summaries and spit glued them together to make a new story. I don't even feel like bothering to point out any of them because it feels so obvious that this thing was, at the minimum, inspired by, and at the worst, plagiarizing story ideas. Grant, I don't think that it is inherently bad to do that, but the thicker the copy paste, the more indicative it is of low quality and corner cutting.
Having said all that, I walked up to this show actively looking to drop it, because it sounded so uninspired and being able to take a show off the list of things to juggle for potential posts sounded immensely tempting. I am however, keeping this one, and looking forward to it. Ever since Magic War (Mahou Sensou), I know better than to assign expectations, but still.

My Opinion: I'm just going to straight up raise my hand and say that I'm immediately biased on this show. Since it seems to be an industry standard now to bold-facedly swing a hook at the audience with an opening action scene, I'm giving this show points for said hook not being a poorly manufactured 'In Medias Res', or for it just spitting a protagonist into a fight before we even know for sure we're looking at the protagonist. Instead, we get a scene from the past, and the show quickly seeks to let us know that by mid episode. 


Additionally, they immediately pull a check-box standardized Fan-service scene out of their pocket and throw it onto the table, and not completely piss me off with it. Grant, I'm always going to argue that this shit is unnecessary, and can wait till later in to the series when we have proper attachments to characters, if not just outright never happening at all...but they handled this quite maturely. At the very least, the closest thing to maturely since Madan no Ou to Vanadis. She still ends up trying to punch him for ogling her, but the show itself doesn't try to pretend like she's doing it for any other reason than just because she's angry and it will make her feel better. Which is really the only reason any character ever does this tired token scene. Still, points for her actually giving him a chance to apologize, and thanking him for the reason he was even there in the first place being of good intention.

All in all, I like the world building they've done in the first episode. Which is another point, despite two fights in quick succession right at the start, the first episode is pretty much exclusively devoted to introducing and fleshing out characters, and their world. That is always a good sign, albeit not a guarantee of quality. Just the potential for it. So, I'd say keep your eye on this show at this point. If it seems like it's theme is to your tastes, it may very well shape up to be a great show. Hard to tell at this point.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

[New][October 2015] HackaDoll!

This looks so much like the MMDance Program it has to be intentional...or the Program.

Summary: The original HackaDoll app delivers a customized feed of news for each user. The user answers some simple questions when launching the app for the first time, and then the app will filter the news that caters to the user's personal interests: boys love, cosplay, anime, manga, games, light novels, voice cast members, etc. With daily use, the app automatically analyzes and learns which news articles the user reads and recommends to further personalize the feed. Much to the users surprise however, the app functions based on three physically manifested AI's suddenly popping into her room from her phone.

First Impression: Somehow I knew this was going to be comedy, despite its extraordinarily serious start. Like, it straight up is Perfect English in the beginning with Japanese subtitles quoting a very profound line. Grant, I'm inclined to think that it is wholesale quoting the line, not some voice actor reading it, but I don't recognize the quote nor who spoke it, and I'm not motivated enough to look it up. The second quote makes me doubt this, but it could also be from the same person, as the context, of technology's advancement, is the same.

Having said all that, this is a Comedy Show. Straight up, Comedy. Heart of the show is trying to make you laugh at its jokes. Also, a little bit of fan service. Not erotic fan service, which is kind of a nice change of pace, but rather the 'Moe' kind. Y'know, the one that's nigh impossible to explain. Never actually showing anything, but definitely showing it off. The kind in a run of the mill show that would be set up almost by fate itself. If the erotic equivalent is a gust of wind blowing a skirt, then the Moe side would be a protagonist walking in on someone secretly cosplaying as a maid in their room.

My Opinion: The comedy's pretty good, or at least, I think as much despite it not being to my tastes. While there's nothing at all wrong with the show, and it actually has a really interesting world setting, The core of it is comedy and I'm not really enjoying its particular variety. A lot of it in the first episode made me smile, but nothing really made me laugh or snicker. While I do plan to watch the second episode, I'm just going to go ahead and say that if you don't see another post on this one, assume I dropped it.

It's a good show from what I've seen so far, but it's just not to my tastes.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Plastic Memories: I F***ing knew it.


Last Seen: Episode 2

I knew. I just knew it. This show is the definition of an emotional roller coaster. It took me this long just to work up the gumption to try episode 2, and even then, it was only because a lot of the previous seasons anime are drying up, so I knew I'd need to find something to produce potential posts out of.

I had this on the list, and figured, yeah. This will do nicely.

THERE IS NOTHING NICE OR KIND ABOUT THIS SHOW.
This show will hurt you. Then it will keep on hurting you. I knew they were going to say what they said this episode eventually, and yet I came back just to let them re-attach me, and then stab me in the heart.

So yeah. I've come back to say that if by some miracle anyone was expecting an End post about this one, you won't get it, at least not from me. I doubt I'll have this finished anytime soon. Read that as, within maybe years. Maybe years.

Good show! Great Show so far!

Hurts too much to talk about it. That's all folks.
I'm going to go and beat some stuff up in Dark Souls 2 and get murdered a bunch. That feels better than letting this show touch my emotions again for a month.

Monday, September 21, 2015

[Ended] Rokka - Braves of the Six Flowers


The whole show is extremely careful

Pros: Good Marks all around
-The Plot is resolved by the end of the show, even though the story continues and they tease us with the new Plot.
-Despite my initial warning that Action wasn't the core of this show, it is good when it breaks out with the fights.
-The mystery is amazingly tightly woven. While I did suspect the eventual true suspect, I never was sure, and the show constantly made me doubt my guess. Every time they revealed another layer to the mystery, I had to suddenly re-do a process of elimination to make sure I didn't have a reason to suspect someone else now. In the end, they never even mentioned the reason I was suspecting them. I'd be lying if I didn't say that rubbed me the wrong way. I also never even came close to guessing the true suspects reasons. In my book, this show did amazingly with its intrigue

Cons: That 'cliffhanger' at the end and token trope was...very lack luster compared to the rest of it.
-If this show gets a second season, it's going to be a 50-50 in my book based on the 'cliffhanger' of sorts they have at the end of this one. They basically reset the status quo, but update the location.
-This is a mystery and intrigue based show. While the action is good, at least 70% of the show is spent with people just talking things out, and straining their brains. That's not what everyone wants to see so fair warning.

My Opinion: This was a great show, I looked forward to it every week. It's very rare for a Mystery show to keep me guessing when it presents its clues for the viewer to puzzle over. When it's just a mystery that is solvable exclusively through the abilities of the characters, and not reasoning, it's not a relevant point. In Rokka however, you are completely capable of solving who the true suspect is as they give you more and more information, before they outright tell you. You have to pay really close attention, and it requires you to reverse engineer something by logic, but it's doable. Unfortunately I wasn't trying to solve the 'how', but rather the 'who' first. While my first candidate ended up being right, I never was sure, right up until one episode before the reveal, and even then they threw a massive spice of doubt in my face. I don't often get that, and it delighted me. The whole point of a mystery is the suspense and curiosity of seeking the answer, so being able to guess it easily defeats the point, at least for me.

Impartial Opinion: If you like mystery, or even Human Intrigue, this show is for you and I recommend it. If you're looking for something more action oriented, or even just fast paced, look elsewhere. The pace always stays at about the same rate the entire show, it doesn't particularly accelerate even near the end. Sure, a few more fights break out, and for longer, but even during them the characters continue to talk, puzzle, and worry about what the truth is. That's not to some peoples tastes.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Rokka: Braves of the Six Flowers - Not an Action show.


Last Seen: Episode 8

Most of the time, I wouldn't have bothered to stop and say anything about something like this, as it's the kind of thing that tends to get spread around on it's own. However, thanks to reading some comments on a few of the earliest episodes, I feel like being on the safe side today.

Rokka is NOT an action show. That is to say, if you were to know anything about the show after it had completed and were learning about it, you wouldn't categorize it under the kinds of shows you watch just to see lots of flashy action combat.
What Rokka's specialty is: Intrigue.

...and roughly that's it. I mean, I could say mystery too, but that's really just part of intrigue anyway. As a show that's primary interest element for the viewer is intrigue among the characters and world, it is technically a division of human interest as well. I take the time to mention it right now, because last episode was the deal sealer for me on this show, it's going in a great direction so far, the pacing is excellent, (terrible if you thought it was an action/shounen show), and the characters, the all important part of an intrigue show, are slowly shaping up in an excellent way. The character I expected to be the weakest link, Hans, just got much better fleshed out this episode, so that's great in my opinion.
Last episode was when it became undeniable to me that the core of this show was Intrigue, suspicion, and tension between people with trust. Adlet's story about his past, and Flamie's feedback from it made this conclusion in my mind, and I have great confidence in it. Certainly, the show will have action and fighting in it, there has already been some, and it's been great as well, but I just wanted to take some time to point out to as many people as I can get it to reach that this is not an action-based show, and if you expect it to be, the slower pacing that is appropriate for what it is, is going to annoy you. Which will annoy me, if you then go about foaming at the mouth on the internet about how the show sucks because its pacing is crap.

Friday, August 21, 2015

[New][July 2015] Gatchaman Crowds: Insight

A poisonous question.

Last Seen: Episode 6

Summary: "Gatchaman" is the general term for those who wear special suits called 'NOTE', which are manifestations of special spiritual powers possessed by living beings. The Gatchaman force on Earth consists of aliens who have been dispatched by a council, and Earthlings who have been scouted for their latent abilities, all of whom work together to protect Earth's people and resources from alien criminals who have invaded the planet in violation of the probation enforced by the council.Insight: After the conflict in the first season is settled, and things begin to settle back into peaceful routine, trouble begins anew. Red Crowds appear and begin terrorist acts, and a new Alien arrives on earth.

First Impression: At first I wasn't sure how I felt about using the 'New' title on this, since it is from a month ago now. Really, I could just have posted and written about it as something I was watching rather than a featuring of it as a new release. Doubly so, because Insight is a second season to the original, not a stand alone. However, the fact that I had never heard of or watched the first season, but after starting it promptly burned through it and all of the current second season...well. I think that speaks loads for what my first impression of the show was. It was positive, to say the least, but I did almost drop it after the first episode. That's quite something for me to say, I usually like to have an ambiguous moral high ground all the time of: 'Everything deserves a chance, don't judge a book by its cover'.

My Opinion: So like I said, I almost dropped this after one episode. It just...seemed to be hopped up on way too many drugs at first. So that's my first opinion for you all: The animation is sometimes outright trippy in this show. It is however, extraordinarily misleading. I almost want to say that the tone of the show is way off, but somehow...it's not. It feels like it should be, but it is not. I suppose that's because while the entire atmosphere of the thing screams 'Shounen!' 'Magic!' 'Sci-Fi!' 'Aliens!', the show never really gets caught up in the stereotypes of those things. In fact, my highlight memories of the entire first season are almost exclusively of people (usually Hajime) just...talking. The show is very down-to-earth. It gets to talking about some deep shit, but my personal taste is for the primary topic in the second season. I fail to find a name for what it is, but a good reference would be a tangent of it, the " 2:6:2 " that it talks about in one episode. I've always had a keen interest in the heart of what everything the second season is working on is orbiting around. Perhaps...Human Disparity? would work as a temporary term.

Regardless. The show's amazing, but in a very...subtle way, despite its very flashy animation and fights at times. I almost want to say that it's better to be surprised by the show, by having low expectations for it. The design of the first episode seems like it uses the somewhat standard Hook technique I rant about all the time, just for that purpose. By baiting the hook with a misleading first impression of what the show is actually about, and then slowly working you in to what it really is about, without letting you realize you were initially mislead. Which is Human Interest, to use the broadest term. It's actually about Human Interest.

I give it a sound
Recommendation.
For great depth of story and great character depth.

Monday, July 20, 2015

GATE: Holy shit.


No images. You'll have to see this for yourself this time. Anything I showed would spoil it.
Last Seen: Episode 2

I mean goddammit it's exactly what I wanted but...
Wow. The ending on this show is way too happy for what it actually contains.
So take whatever lighthearted nature the show had in its first episode and stuff it. Can it. Pack it up. It's gone. You want to know what that is? That's coping mechanisms. Not for the characters yet, for you. The viewer. They are providing you hopes so you can use them as coping mechanisms. I have a pretty solid idea where this show is going, and it's going to drag anyone who comes along for the ride through the dirt and mud of humanities history.

People often fantasize about the middle ages, but few actually understand that human horror has existed in all ages and times. Some imagine magic to be the magical cure all, the way to empower everyone to make the world a better place. Nah brah, just one more toy for us to blow each other up with. That's the direction I get the feeling this show is going to go.

The most important thing to have with a show like that though, is a solid main cast to tie everything down. We have that with Itami, a down-to-earth otaku. You wouldn't think that would cut it, but the fact that he was devoted enough to his hobby to join the Military to fund it is itself the reason I trust the character to be well built. Someone thought him out really well, and he's performed admirably with what little screen time he had in the second episode.

I'm calling it here, I give GATE:
 
Zetro's Season Recommendation
for 'Must see Drama' in a fantasy setting. Magic and fantasy isn't the perfect cure, and this show seems to have a mission statement to try and prove its case.

[New][July 2015] Rokka - Braves of the Six Flowers



Summary: Legend says, when the Evil God awakens from the deepest of darkness, the god of fate will summon Six Braves and grant them with the power to save the world. Adlet, who claims to be the strongest on the face of this earth, is chosen as one of the “Brave Six Flowers,” and sets out on a battle to prevent the resurrection of the Evil God. However, it turns out that there are Seven Braves who gathered at the promised land...

First Impression: Good. I would describe the main character as Bold, without arrogance. He boldly decrees himself strongest in the world, but when questioned about it, doesn't present any reason beyond his own self confidence. He doesn't try to manufacture reasons, he simply says it, and sets out to prove it.

Opinion: This could be a good show. Simple, and good. I liked the first fight of Adlet's we got to see. He used a bunch of tools and tricks to win, so he isn't possessed of some arrogant pride in sole physical strength, which helps bring him down to reality. Additionally, it appears that the mob broke his arm when they set on him, so he's not magically invulnerable either. While nothing stands out as special about this show in just episode one, at the same time it doesn't make any mistakes either. I give it a good thumbs up to watch if you're interested in fantasy settings at all.

[New][July 2015] Actually I Am


Summary: Asahi Kuromine is a high school student who supposedly cannot keep a secret, given the nickname Leaky Basket for his inability to keep secrets. He has a crush on classmate Shiragami Youko, and after being encouraged to confess by his friends, he sets out to. However, before he can, he inadvertently discovers Shiragami's secret! Her fathers rule for her to attend school was that no one could find out, or she would have to leave school. Asahi, having watched her be alone the entire time, vows that he will keep her secret...He, the Leaky Basket.

First Impression: Pure comedy, no restraints. While there is a serious tone running somewhere in this shows musical notes, it's never the loudest note for more than about five seconds. In short, the serious is there to support the comedy, not the other way around.

My Opinion: This is going to be a great one if you want to just shut down some brain cells and laugh for a while. The core theme is romantic tension in the first episode, but I'm not sure if that is going to be the primary running gag of the show, since the focus seems to instead be on the comical pairings of radical character personalities. In short, I predict the show's primary trick will be throwing a bunch of extreme archetypes into a room, shaking it up, and seeing what comes out of the box when they open it, hopefully to hilarious effect. I haven't seen any particularly glaring errors, in terms of a comedy anime, but it's just episode one. I give it a Neutral Recommendation for Comedy at this point.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

[New][July 2015] GATE



Summary: On August 20XX, a gate suddenly appears in Tokyo's Ginza district, unleashing a portal where monsters, medieval knights and other fantasy beings come from another world and wreak havoc on Tokyo. The Japanese Defense Force take action against these monsters and push them back into the "Gate". Third Reconnaissance Team is dispatched to the "Special Region" lead by officer (and otaku) Youji Itami.

First Impression: It's hitting all the right notes. The main character isn't just magically ready for combat because 'reasons'. He has an actually sensible reason for being combat ready. I'm already giving this show a First Episode recommendation to watch, it looks very promising.

My Opinion: Excellent. There's not a lot of story in the first episode, but it lays the perfect ground work for the story to be superb. There's a lot of potential for an Otaku main character to fall flat, and just be grating on the nerves, but I already like this character. His mantra makes sense. No one should live for their job, unless their job is their hobby. Additionally, I thought the show was going to make the stupid call, and was trying to cut all blood out of the show, but when it came down to it they actually did show blood, and not a stupidly large amount, or a pathetically impractical small amount. Just enough, and not too much.

Which bears to the assumption that they're trying to avoid the show having an appeal point in violence and gore, which is always a plus in my book. Any show that makes the effort to appeal to violence as a reason to watch the show, however they rationalize it, tends to detract from whatever message it may try to convey. There are exceptions, such as something like Attack on Titan, where the violence is explicitly to underline the gloom everyone in that world lives under, and a few other shows, but without proper execution and restraint, it just risks being hypocritical.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Dungeon ni Deai: Archetypes of Awesome


Last Seen: Episode 6

I had SUCH a hard time picking a screenshot for this post. So many good scenes, so many good quotes, but almost all of them were too much of a risk for spoilers.

So. This story. Anime or manga irrelevant, I love this story, because I love Bell Kranel. He is the archetype I have always admired, since the days of Vash the Stampede. The idealist that is not delusional. So many times, characters with the 'dense' or 'ditzy' tag attached to their personality or role as a character fail so hard, because they miss that all important point: They must not be unaware. As a support or comedic character, a full on dense or ditzy role is fine, but it cannot permanently be the main character. If they do not grow through, or out of, their state as the 'dense' or 'ditzy', it's just horribly agonizing to watch, for me at least, because they always speak to me of this ideal that Vash and Bell embody.

[Aside]

It's not that being dense is bad. It's actually a fairly charming trait for a character to have. It's when someone makes it all consuming for a character. Dense, to the point of retardation. It literally feels like the character is just sticking their head in the sand and humming a tune to themselves, chanting 'I can't hear you!' over and over. The worst part is that, that isn't what they are actually doing. When it's actually a character trait that they turn their eyes away from the things they don't like, or that contradict what they believe, it makes for a dynamic character. But when fate itself conspires to keep a dense main character out of the loop, through no choice of the character themselves, that's agony to me. That's the kicker of it I suppose, whether or not the dense character is ever even offered a choice to see or to turn their eyes away, if they are ever even aware of what is going on around them. This is so important because, that's how it really is in life. That's what puts me out of touch with the dense-as-lead characters, that they are so completely unrealistic. As a comedy character, it's hilarious, but once or twice a main character has been that way and I just couldn't stand it. In real life, optimistic ideals will always meet crushingly tragic realities that either can't sustain them, or outright contradict them, and what you choose to do and believe about it, helps define who you are.
[Aside end]

In short, a Realistic Idealist. The ideal of a Hero, but one that is in touch with reality, and their own weaknesses, their own failings, one who is self-aware. Who know that their aspirations for good often fall short, go horribly wrong, or are just horribly outside of their reach. I suppose the reason it's so hard for a character with this typeset to be sustained, is that you can't plot armor, or magic maguffin them very easily, if at all, when a plot hole comes up. This character type's appeal lies in the struggle with their ideals, and if you just magic hand wave away any part of it, then it compromises the integrity of their whole struggle, and therefore, the characters themselves.

[Aside]

Off the top of my head, I feel like this was a big failing of the second season of Symphogear, way back. The second season had set up this big struggle for the protagonist, and then just kind of hand-waves it away right after finishing setting it up.
[Aside end]

What really impressed me, was that adding magic to the equation a few episodes ago didn't have this effect on Bell Kranel, what's more, it actually further emphasized him instead. This is probably just a result of the kind of world and rules Bell Kranel's setting is in, but I'd like to hope it was intentional all the same, until proven otherwise. For that reason alone, I will do something I pretty much as a personal rule never do:

I COMMAND YOU TO WATCH.

It's a personal rule for me not to do that, because everyone has their own tastes, but for this, I feel anyone can learn or appreciate this. Ignore or stomach whatever abrasive or outright obnoxious characters and settings the show has to you, and force it to episode five. For bonus points, see it actualized in episode 6. I just am completely charmed by how adding magic didn't flop hard, but also remained consistent with the character, adding to them instead of compromising a part of them. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dungeon ni Deai: Continuing nicely, and Observations


Last Seen:
Episode 3

Y'all see that armor the Silverback is wearing? Yeah. That's fresh, it was completely unarmored in the original design in the manga.

So, I finally made some time to sit down and watch a few more episodes of Dungeon Deai (I refuse to use the full name, or Crunchyrolls fabrication). I was intrigued enough to write a quick post about it. Ever since I started writing as a sub here, it has changed how I watch anime. The most noticeable on my side, is that occasionally I actually notice animation quality, but that's not what I'm here to talk about. Today I want to talk about expectations, particularly ones you didn't realize you had.

So there's this Silverback yeah? In the manga it wasn't armored. At all. It had the manacles around its wrists with the chains, but none of this armor the thing is wearing in the anime. I actually had an insight why they put armor on it though! For once, I see a change, and I understand it: It bought them a few more seconds of animation to fill out the episode, when they eventually had it shed that armor. Personally, I think that is a really clever way to buy time you need. It's an inevitable fact, that like wheat into flour, with manga into animation the massive amount you bring is always reduced to a much smaller output than you would have hoped for. In the first place, there isn't a massive amount in manga anyway, so I always try to sympathize a bit with animation studios trying to squeeze out as much time as they can from what they have to work with. (But not crappy filler. I hate crappy filler. Crappy filler is unforgivable).

Additionally, I wanted to talk about character personalities. It's something I've never thought about before, how when you're reading a manga or book, you fill in a characters personality based on context if the book/manga doesn't explicitly tell you what it is, or show you. I'm really impressed with the perfect fit they got for Bell and Hestia, so that's a null point. What I really want to talk about, is Loki and Hephaestus. I didn't even realize I had an image in my head of what I expected Loki to sound like, because she hasn't showed up much in the manga up to current translations, but her voice fit really well. Hephaestus though, is the big one. I did not expect Hephaestus to sound like she does. I mean, it fits really well, that's the part that's so interesting to me. It fits so well, it made me look back and realize I had incorrectly assumed things about the way her personality is, from how the manga portrayed her. I just found that amazing, personally, that the anime's choice in voice actor could cause a retrospective change in how I viewed and thought of a character.

[Aside]
 So in other news, I think I've finally found a job! Yay. There's still a chance for me to muck it up, (training yo), but hopefully this will finally be money coming in regularly. Of course, that means less time for other things, but I will still try to always have at least one post a month for here, no matter what. More, if I can swing it, or there's enough to actually talk about.
[Aside end]

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

[New] [April 2015] Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darou ka (Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?)


Summary: Really? Again Crunchyroll? They need to fire their translator, or get him some better training and pull the marketing departments fingers out of his ears. I'm going to include an unedited copy of their summary at the end of this post in the Aside. Here's (what better be) the Real summary of this show if it sticks to the original story:
The huge labyrinth city, Orario, is the gateway to the huge underground maze commonly known as the “Dungeon”. The story follows Bell Cranel, a new adventurer come to this city of Gods, Treasure, Fame and Glory, and the Dungeon, with high hopes. The God he forms a contract with has no other followers in her 'Familia' (family/followers/servants), and they both work to get by. What's worse, Bell's ambition is further crushed when his daydream of a romantic encounter rescuing a pretty girl, is reversed. He ends up over his head about to die when he delves too deep in the dungeon, and is instead himself saved by the pretty girl. The story follows his new ambition to become as great an adventurer as the one who saved him: the so-called 'Sword Princess'.

First Impression: Good. It's staying true to the good story. I'll never understand the thinking behind changing the story that was good enough for it to be worth animating, to animate it.

My Opinion: The new title is just Crunchyrolls choices in translation being stupid again, It's the original story, for however long they can keep that going. As per usual, I have no idea how far the manga I was reading actually has published, as translations are slow to roll out. Having said that, this is another one of those cases where even if the end deviates, in the mean time, the base material is great enough that you should watch it anyway.
Having said all that, I find the quirks of manga transitioned to anime to stand out in the first episode to me. The minotaur fight in particular. In a manga format, that was a very fast done deal, but obviously in consistent motion it takes longer and is more detailed. I just found it interesting how much it stood out to me for once. The manga made it seem much more like it was all over in a single blow, and I found it pleasant to see it carried out in more detail.


[Aside]
"Is It Wrong to Try and Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? is set in the world of Orario, where adventurers band together and look for treasures in an underground labyrinth known as Dungeon. However, for Bell Cranel, fame and riches are secondary to what he wants to find the most: girls. He soon finds out though, that anything can happen in Dungeon, and winds up being the damsel in distress instead!"

I paraphrased out the quip about it being made from a Light Novel by Fujino Omori, illustrated by
Suzuhito Yasuda, but you get the idea yeah? If this summary was to be believed, this show is about nothing more than some saps harem dream, and that couldn't be farther from the truth.
[Aside end]

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

My Teenage RomCom is SNAFU Too



Summary: Welcome back to season 2 of RomCom SNAFU.

First Impression: I actually had a hard time remembering this one. I remembered it was good, but aside from that I didn't get any highlights other than the three main characters...and the tennis game. Which is still one of the most hilariously awesome things. As soon as episode 1 got rolling though, I remembered why I loved this show. Hikigaya. That's it. Just, Hikigaya. I absolutely love this character, and anytime he opens his mouth, it is either solid gold, or a platform for him to raise solid gold out of. Interestingly enough, I also enjoy the ditzy character as well, mostly because unlike most carbon cutouts of this character type, she actually absorbs some of the 'Straight Characters' sense. Which in this case, even in small doses means a lot since it's Hikigaya we're talking about.

My Opinion: This requires the first season to watch and make any sense at all out of. However, if you've paid the price of entry, and you enjoyed it, this is going to be just as good the second time around. Of course, no promises on how it ends, anything romance related is a Russian Roulette filled with bullets that may just explode in the chamber when it comes to proper endings in anime. Never the less, I'm confident enough in this shows comedy to recommend the journey, regardless of the destination.

Monday, April 13, 2015

[New][April 2015] Plastic Memories


Summary: After failing his college entrance exams, 18 year-old Tsukasa Mizugaki is offered a position at the renowned SAI Corporation due to his father’s connections. SAI Corporation is known for its production and management of androids that possess human emotions, called Giftia. Tsukasa’s position is in the Terminal Service Department, where the main job is to recover Giftias that are close to their expiration, a graveyard department in every sense.

First Impression:
Soul Sucker.

My Opinion: Are you uncomfortable with your heart being tucked in all snug and lonely inside your chest? Well, step right up to this show here! Where it will tenderly wrap warm embracing hands around your heart...and then dig in its claws and rip it out.


Yeah. Welcome to a genre I haven't seen in a good long while. I call it the Soul Sucker. Standard name is probably Tragedy, but this show feels like it will fall into my special sub-division of tragedy: Soul Sucker. These shows are marked by my brains distinct refusal to retain them despite their amazing quality, until such time as something reminds me of them, and then it tries its best to give me an emotional break down with the full plots return all at once. Because, my brain, and plots, and the retaining. Sometimes not such a useful and pleasant skill.

This show is the kind of thing you get from probing the Human Experience without calm intellectualism or tense/exhilarating drama. When you just dive deep, and...then it takes you away without any supports or fall-backs.

Anywho, this show lays the story on thick in the first episode. They get that heart string tugger of theirs pulling on your heart strings full tilt just a few minutes in. They don't even stop to have an opening, just a brief few seconds of Title. Of course, they do stop to try and fish a hook of Romance into you with the first few seconds, but I somehow doubt that's going to be the core of this show. Just a feeling. A bad one.
...
It's starting to become a recurring theme in my life that I try to 'spot the hook', so to speak, in the first minute of the show. I understand the first impression can be everything...I just question a lot of the anime I've seen the Hook in...and their choice of hook. Like, this is clearly a Tragedy based anime...and they choose love interest as their hook? That just seems ridiculous to me. There is literally no other element of that in the rest of the first episode.

[Aside]
I just want to take a moment aside here to think aloud about a certain part of culture. Particularly, the almost bipolar nature of Television. One second, you could be watching the news and it's about Genocide somewhere in the world, and the next it's "Isn't that horrible? Yes, just. Now back to you, insert name, with the weather." Or the flitting completely random non-sequitur nature of commercials and product bombardment. I watched a fair bit of TV as a kid, but the older I got, the more of a gamer I became, and the less TV I cared about, till finally I just completely removed it from my life sometime before/during High School. It still remains an interest of mine, what kind of effects this particular cultural element can render on people. I mention all this, because the show has...not quite a grinding gear shift between tones I wouldn't say, but it is glaring. Mostly because you can just feel them trying to, almost, apologize for ripping your heart out with some light comedy. Like, "oh? Did we do that again? So sorry, here let us just...put that back in your chest. Sorry...we...might do it again. Sorry."
It just kind of makes me wonder if we'd be so receptive to this kind of thing in Anime if there wasn't a widespread cultural foundation for it born from the Golden Years of TV. Just idle thoughts.
[Aside end]

Friday, April 10, 2015

I can't Understand what my Husband is Saying 2



Summary: It's more of the original.

First Impression: I was a little surprised that they didn't pick up right where the last one left off. Interestingly enough, despite being a 3 minute purely comedic show, it did have a...arc of sorts. Mostly the two very peculiarly paired characters interacting and working things out is what happens every episode, but from a retrospective view, I can recognize now a sort of plot that slowly moves forward. Unfortunately, it's all so subtle that I'd ruin what the show concludes on in the first season if I said anything.

The reason I point all that out, is that they had a very strong place to resume the show on...and they kind of do...? I mean, they resume with the conclusion of an effort one of the characters was making near the end of the previous season, and it is kind of related to the main ending event...but it is no main event. Perhaps they just didn't want to immediately jump into it with the seasonal gap? Best guess I have. Second episode should show what direction they're moving with it.

My Opinion: I loved this show's first season. I think it's the first 3 minute show I've ever actually finished. I've started... four that I know of just off the top of my head, but only this fourth one have I finished. I just don't get into the short show style, but I loved this show anyway. I'd like to believe that's something to credit the show with as being impressive. Unfortunately, it is comedy, so everyone has different tastes. I quietly chuckled for most of the episode, but then at the end they use a gag-tap from the previous season, and I just heartily laughed out loud.

Long story short? I recommend this show, but it is comedy, so your mileage may vary.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

[Ended] Seiken Tsukai no World Break (World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman): Why did I finish this again?

*tap*

Pros: Cookie Cutter Shounen.
-If you have any kind of a checklist for Shounen, it's going to be mostly filled by the end of this series.
Yelling for power? Check.
Friendship is power/magic? Check.
Love Triangle/Quadrangle/Harem? Check.
This show aims to be as broad and flat as possible, and some people love that.
-Precisely because it is so spread out and flat, no one thing is ever especially annoying, despite frequently getting close.
-No cliffhanger ending, although they dropped a single seed to try.

Cons: Everything in the pros section.
-Flatter than a piece of paper.
-Did I mention yelling makes you stronger? Also, 'I remember' (Omoidashita). That works too. Plot armor? Check.
-'Moroha solves the world' would be just as good of a title.
-Plot holes. Plot holes everywhere.

My Opinion: This was...hard to remember why I bothered continuing to watch it each week. Then I realized: Of course. I can't remember it, so I can't remember how neutral it was. Therefore, I am not prevented from watching it by my negative memories of it.
Okay fine, to be fair, the action is okay. But that is essentially the only selling point of the show in my book. It's all flash, and it all falls flat after the adrenaline wears off. Comedy included. At first, things were pretty funny. Despite immediately drawing the 'Harem' card into its hand, it never really played it, right up until the end. I mean that. They flaunt the card in our faces, waving it all over the place, but literally every member of the Harem somehow settles into a slot and just...stays there. So the drama of that is also flat. Sister? Check. Passive-aggressive lover? Check. Living body-pillow? Check. New Sister? Check. I suppose it is also worth mentioning that I laughed my ass off at the 'overly adult themed' Vice-Captain of the Strikers squad. I suppose that was the only hook the show got in me. It was about the only thing that was fresh, everything else is done-before, or outright stagnant.

Impartial Opinion: It got me to watch it to the end. That doesn't get it any positive points, just a lack of negatives. That roughly sums up this show in a sentence: Nothing Gained, Nothing Lost. The actions flashy, if lack-luster in assembly and reasoning. Moroha solves everything, but friendship means everyone somehow contributes, even if it feels like Moroha could have figured it out on his own as well. Final Battle royale? Better use our patented version of the 'yelling makes you stronger' copyright to make Moroha save the day, (+friends, which was the one and only new thing) and make him remember something from his past life.

At the end of the day, all this show does is pass time. Nothing has changed by the end of episode 12, the status quo is merely maintained, and it didn't even fluctuate that much to begin with. You have way too much time on your hands? Maybe you just really love a piece of flashy action? Pick it up.

Otherwise, go somewhere else. You could be spending your time better.

[Ended] Log Horizon 2: THIS IS HOW YOU END A SHOW


Pros: More, and yet the same.
-The lore, plot, and story are all pulling aces
-There's more action this time around, while also not skimping on plot or story
-Shiroe is still a primary, but other characters are getting a lot more time, especially including the party of newbies
-A PROPER ending. This is the kind of ending that all anime should be envious of. Every relevant plot is resolved, but the story is left clear roads to continue expanding, we're given a taste of the seeds of the new plot lines, and most importantly, it feels satisfying. That's the part so many anime fail on while trying to 'cliff-hang' room for a new season. They make it so that the season we have is completely unsatisfying on its own. If Log Horizon 3 never comes? These two seasons will still be good on their own.

Cons: Nothing I can think of
-Just copy paste whatever I wrote about season 1 here and you're good. This is just Log Horizon++
(programming joke, sorry. Couldn't resist)

My Opinion: Welcome back to Log Horizon! No really. I loved Log Horizon, and the sequel did nothing to change my opinion about it. Which is a plus, because sooo many anime tend to have either one of the sequel outshining the first season, or making it look horrible in retrospect because you see what kind of a burning wreck it's going to crash into.

Impartial Judgement: This is Log Horizon, continued. It does bare mentioning however, that I came across more than a few opinions that the first season's action was underwhelming. Those opinions were mixed on it being because there was too little, or because it wasn't satisfying when it was there. The second season seems to have taken those opinions to heart, because it ramps the action up like there's no tomorrow. For once? I'm fine with that. They didn't skimp on the story or plot to pay for the increased action, and the lore is being woven in just as deeply as before, so it's all squared in my book. Additionally, Shiroe isn't the gravitational center of the majority of the story for once. Several other characters are given their own time to stand strongly in the spotlight. Emphasis on strongly, not any of this quick shuffling of people into and out of the spotlight like some shows fail at doing.

Long story short? If you liked Log Horizon 1, you'll like this.
If you didn't like Log Horizon 1? You may like this if the reason was lack of action...but you'll still have to have watched all of Season 1.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

[Ended] Parasyte -The Maxim-


Pros: If intellectual depth is what you're looking for in an anime, you'd be hard pressed to beat this without something like Serial Experiments Lain.
-Deep! Deeper! More Depth Required! I can't think of the last time anime tried to be so...down to earth. I mean, sure, everything's off the hinge surreal because Parasites but still it is a lot more grounded than anything that has been around lately. This show has a mission statement to crack open the human psyche and just keep digging.
-The animation is worthy of note, to me anyway, in how unique it was for the parasites. Not much to say on this point other than that, I'm not really the one to talk to about graphical fidelity.
-Actions worthy of mention. Ultimately, it's not what I was here for...strangely enough, given the fast start the show had, but when a fight does break out it is always the center of my attention, because it is always resolved practically. No plot armor here.

Cons: Depth. Yeah.
-I just know that somewhere out there, is someone who has taken great offense that anime would try to be at all psychological, but that's not what I'm talking about. For a lot of people, anime is a great way to unwind, to kick back and just mindlessly enjoy something fun. Personally, this anime still floats my boat on this point, but I like to think I'm at least kind of eccentric that brooding is a relaxing unwinding state.
-The ending is a little abrupt. At the same time, it feels like the kind of thing that may very well have happened in the original source material. There's more things to see and for the story to continue on with, but all relevant immediate plot points have been resolved in a very practical manner. It still is way too neatly cut for my tastes, but that's likely because I was really into this show.

My Opinion: This was an awesome show. Hands down, I loved it from start to finish. I may not have made any posts about it, but that was only because I was afraid of fangasm'ing all over EvilCat's blog. This show is just absurdly philosophical. You barely get a single episode to go by without Migi or Shinichi brooding on some question of humanity or morality. That said, there is always going to be that guy. You know, the never-happy-enough kook that will point out that "OH WELL NOW, the show hasn't REALLY talked about anything THAT deep! It could have talked about Philosophical Point A or Philosophical Point B, or ..." blah-dy blah blah nyeh. Whatever. They can go stuff it for all I care... okay I just got a bit strawman-fallacy'ish there. What I mean to say is, even if this wasn't taken in the context of it being an anime, and was just standing on its own, I feel the show would still be a good piece of deeper narrative than what you popularly get today. No one gets plot armor, things happen practically, and people react reasonably within expectations.

Impartial Judgement: Not for Everyone. Not by a long shot. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the things Migi and Shinichi brood on had never come anywhere close to some peoples worlds of thought. These days, we enjoy more than a little peace and prosperity...in most places. No where is perfect, but there is a bad case of 'The Bubble Worlds' that people sometimes live in, perfectly unaware of the terrible things that happen in the world. Me, I watch 'Criminal Minds' as entertainment, so I'm more than a little biased to enjoying a good moral gray and terrible happenings brooding about humanity and the human experience. If you want a solid deep story with a stable plot, Parasyte is for you. The action decreases in frequency as the show goes on, but interestingly enough gets more intricate in exchange. The plot however, isn't the deepest thing in the world. Unless you count the brooding as part of it, the plot is very face-value as Shinichi's motives for pretty much the entire show, and I suppose that could bug some people. He doesn't have a case of the Shinji's, he grows as a character, it's just very one sided most of the time.

Ultimately, I give this a full recommendation for anyone that doesn't feel squeamish around death and questioning humanity and morality.

[Aside]
Additionally, I have finally reached a conclusion about what to do for my own personal awards system. I just can't match EvilCat's system on a number of points, not the least of which being I hardly ever pay attention to animation or sound unless it is just so horrible you can't ignore it. By that point, it would be redundant of me to say anything. I've decided that I'm going to just file it down to the core essence:
Shows will either get a Recommended tag from my End posts, or not. Just because I wouldn't recommend a show doesn't mean it's bad. That's the part I've always wanted to avoid, inadvertantly labeling a show as 'bad' just because it wasn't something I myself would typically enjoy.
[Aside end]

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Wizard Barristers: A Farce. A fun Farce, but a Farce.

even the courtroom is flashy

Pros: Action. Lots and lots of flashily animated action.
-Did I mention action? And flashy animation? The 3D kind too. Lots of it. I know it was a looong time ago, but I commented on how ridiculously massive this studios budget for animation must have been.
-A mildly interesting plot, at first. Very law oriented, not something you commonly get out of anime.

Cons: Action Overload. No. Really. The show overloads itself with the action.
-They must have literally over-budgeted on the action animation, because right around episode 11 the rest of the animation just...literally dried up on screen. I thought the video was just bugging at first, but no. They seriously just start using still shots with sounds and talking happening behind them, and single frame/object animations. Yet, the 3D super robot fights still have full animation, even right after those stills. It is both sad, and hilarious. I've never had animation actually stick out as bad to me before without making effort to look.
-The law bit? Hope that wasn't what you wanted to watch the show for. Because it dries up as soon as the magic starts kicking in. Like, barren dry desert, no water to be seen, dries up.
-It just goes full on magical combat action. At least it isn't magical-girl 'I have power, it wins because it is just and Light attribute and friendship'. The robots still have to punch each other to pieces, and the one that's better made wins...grant that it is usually contrived to be made better because a plot-battery was freshly wired to someone. Still, the final battle is resolved with...scientific physics. That was interesting in its own right I suppose.
-The plot is full of holes. The story? It holds together alright, but the plot is just...full of coincidences and sometimes events border on some of the characters outright having plot-armor.

My Opinion: This show is waaay old on my list, but no where near as old as some other stuff I still just haven't gotten around to dropping. A project of mine has hit a bit of a short hiccup, so I had some free time to just sit and burn through something...and I chose this because it piqued my interest way back when. I was so hopeful for this show because it was fusing TV's Law&Order and CSI'ish law aspects and investigation with anime magic and human drama. Welp, expectations kind of crushed. The show starts to channel some serious coincidences and plot-armor level nonsense. I said out loud 'wow, what a ... coincidence', like, three times in a row in just one episode. I mean really, I'm one of the hardest people to break the suspension of disbelief, and I never just talk out loud while watching something. This was grating.

Impartial Judgement: When all is said and done though...the show was alright. It could have been a lot more than it is...ah well. I really do need to do something about my easily raised expectations when it comes to innovations. I really like shows like Criminal Minds, and I used to watch CSI, Law&Order, and one of the last I watched was NCIS (yay Gib-smack!). Back when I picked this show up... I think I was still watching NCIS. It felt like this show would fuse anime magic and real world law investigation with the practical fact, that if we actually had magic, it would just be one more way for us to muck everything up. Like every other powerful invention ever. Dynamite, Planes, Nuclear fission. First we make it as a tool...then we kill each other with it...then we utilize it as a tool. Fun cycle.
Still, aside from the ending feeling more rushed than anything else I've ever seen, the show holds together okay. I'm still annoyed by the plot holes, but for now I say it makes for a decent dose of action. Only action. Nothing else.

Monday, March 16, 2015

[Ended] When Supernatural Battles became Commonplace


Pros: Comedy, and unexpected coherence.
-It's Funny. That is always an opinion based thing, but it had me laughing all the time.
-The first time I've ever seen 'Chuunibyou' and not just 'ugh whatever' at it. Mostly because the character in question isn't completely in another world. He's actually paying attention to reality, he just likes to have his fun too.
-The presentation of the powers is...unique. I liked how they explained it, but talking about it would be spoiler'ish.

Cons: Short.
-The story literally starts to wind up into full gear, just as the anime ends. The most vexing of story and plot cliffhangers.
-Many of the reasons and situations for the worlds setting are either unexplained, or only briefly explained. I feel this is probably a side-effect of the short length of the anime, because what they do explain is well explained, if shallow. Again, spoilers, or I'd talk in more detail.

My Opinion: This was a wonderful little gem when I watched it. I was expecting it to be pure mindless comedy...but it actually wrapped the comedy package up nice and neat with a pretty bow of Plot on top. The story is clearly striving for a great deal of depth. It actively manipulates your perception of characters to hide or slip in subtle plot elements, which it later draws on. I love that kind of thing.

Impartial Judgement: If you want a strong dose of sensible surreal comedy, wrapped around a solid core plot, pick it up. If you can't stand cliffhangers, or actually like that solid plot and its story to resolve, maybe consider skipping this. I don't really get the impression this is the kind of show that would get a second season, but I've been surprised before.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Akatsuki no Yona: Redeemer of Adaptations

Everyone, allow me to introduce my Least Expected Favorite Character of All Time, 'Ao'.

Last Seen: Episode 17

A breath of fresh air. That's what Yona has been to me after saving it up and watching it in bulk. If any of you have read even one of the most recent posts I've wrote for anime adapted from Manga I've read, you've likely gotten more than two eye-fulls of my despair at their poor performance. It was getting to the point that I was sure I should just not bother with adaptations, after all, I've already read the story, why hear what I already know a second time? Why put up with worries and doubts that it will butcher the story to fit its limitations? Why see a story and characters I love made fools of with new plot holes and brutally cut short expectations? Sometimes even, (I'm looking at you Chaika), the complete fabrication of new characters to fit their new frankenstein'd plots?

Then, comes Akatsuki no Yona. Having already read the manga up to its latest translation, (I get email notifications when one is released), I knew that it was a slow build, and that 'Princess' Yona would be unbearably aggravating, so I put it in storage on hiatus until it had a lot more episodes for me to watch at once. I still watched up to episode 4 to scope out how the studio handling the adaptation was getting the job done, but after that I stopped keeping up with it week to week.

Well, I've just caught myself up in one massive bulk session, and suffice to say you can imagine how well it went since I'm writing a post about it. If I had to summarize in a phrase the essence of the manga's adaptation into anime, it would be 'The Breath of Life'. It earnestly feels like the studio breathed life into all of the scenes and characters, even some of them I hadn't realized were quite so wonderful, their presence fainter in the manga's stationary medium.
Yona has reminded me what a good adaptation is suppose to be. It's not suppose to be some cheap cash in, nor is it suppose to be a knee-jerk easy way to spread market awareness of the manga's story. What it is suppose to be, is a manga's story and characters brought to vibrant life, their struggles and stories made more vivid and relate-able through that wonderful medium we know and love as Anime. In the first place, if all an adaptation gets is a cheap cash in, or is only half-arsed because it's just to spread awareness, it backfires because the anime leaves a bad taste in the mouths of those who already know it, and another piece in the pile of mediocre is only going to make people less interested in something they might otherwise have liked and checked out.

I never even realized when I was reading the manga, just how many scenes the squirrel is in once he debuts. He is so adorable, and everywhere. Plus, Hak's mischievous nature is SO much more funny in motion with live responses. So far I've loved all of the characters castings, they're playing their roles well and bringing the characters of the manga to life, just as good, if not better than I'd imagined them.
[Aside]
Which is saying something, if you know anything at all about how reality almost never meets expectations. Nothing is as large or grand as the castle you build in your mind, especially not your best effort to build it, since no one sees somethings flaws better than the one that built it.
[Aside end]
I really must draw emphasis, again, to the studios great job at breathing life into scenes I never even realized I doubted could be animated with as much impact as when a set of still images completely controls the passage of time and emphasis. They've done a great job with detailing things that happen in split seconds.

Hm. If there was one thing I was to point out my disappointment in, it's the second Opening music. (Yes, there's already a new one within about 15 episodes). It has a great build up in the opening few seconds and then...not quite as grandiose a climax as it feels like it's building to. Could just be my personal tastes though, I love me some orchestral shakes-you-to-the-bone inspirational musical effects. The musics not bad, just...less than it feels like it's going to be in those first few seconds. The first Opening felt a bit more consistent on that part, the crescendo matched more closely with the build up, which is probably the only reason I drew attention to it. I really don't understand what makes or breaks the decisions to have a new Opening or Endings, and especially not when.

EDIT: Ah ha! I knew there was something oddly familiar about the second ending, but since I was bulking the episodes I'd been skipping the endings, because the first one didn't really stand out much. Not bad, but not Great either sort of thing, pretty, but forgettable. I figured since I was mentioning the music I should go take a closer listen to the new second one, and when I did, it instantly clicked: That sounds like Akiko Shikata! Akiko Shikata is an absolutely divine sounding japanese singer, with an often distinctive musical composition to go with her vocals. It was simple enough to confirm that she was in fact the singer, and I'm so very pleased at how good of a match she is to this story. Grant, this particular piece is very underwhelming when held up in the light next to her other works, but that could just be because her songs tend to be slow building great climaxes. I highly recommend you go look around youtube for one of her songs, "EXEC FLIP ARPHAGE". One of my all time favorite pieces of music.