Wednesday, January 21, 2015

[New][January 2015] Seiken Tsukai no World Break

yes, that's a very shounen'esque action pose you have there

Summary: The story is set at a private school that brings together Saviors: students who have awakened memories of their past lives. These Saviors are able to manifest these in two ways, Light being able to create weapons from their past lives, and Dark being able to manipulate Mana. Moroha Haimura has just enrolled into the private school and is the first Savior in history who has awakened memories of being both.

First Impression:
This really feels like your standard cookie-cutter anime for Shounen. I saw so many check-box ticks flying past my face in just the first episode it was almost cringe-worthy. But, it got me to laugh, repeatedly, so I'm going to have it on my list despite the unoriginality. 

My Opinion: Did I say unoriginal yet? Okay, good. I don't expect anything amazing to come out of this show, just run-of-the-mill Shounen action and Shounen light-drama(Oh my! Kissing! I'm so flustered! Gag me with a spoon). It is however, funny. At least to me. I'd be lying if I said the past-lives thing wasn't interesting me. Personally, I find reincarnation to be a joke, it just keeps feeling like 'Recycling Souls' in my head whenever I think about it.

From a Narrative perspective though, this show is doing something interesting with it. Most of the time that it's a set piece, it's always very vague, and obscure in the story. Usually some trial or tribulation has to be passed to regain past life memories. In World Break however, it seems to be the everyday norm that people just remember past lives. They use this fast in the first few minutes of the show to instantly smash two characters together with some backstory, without actually having to give us the backstory. "These two know each other from their past lives, they are a thing now, okay? Okay. Moving on" is essentially how it rolls out. Having to endure said characters establishing backstory likely would have made me cringe, so I appreciate this.

They also go for the quick 'In Medias Res' hook in the first minute or so of the show, which I always hate. It feels like spoilers to me, all the time, and I hate spoilers. Why is it just standard form now that the industry is assuming we can't be bothered to pay attention if we aren't instantly doped up on action? Well, whatever, I'll just have to get used to it I guess. Not happy about it though.

In short I'll just be watching this because it's on Sunday, where I don't have anything else yet, and I can just turn my brain off and laugh at it.

Look, Crunchyroll, I understand translating is a complex thing but...really? Come on. "World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman"? What the actual fuck. This was just so stupid of a name that I had to go looking for the romanized translation on another website, only to find it's "Seiken Tsukai no World Break". I don't even know any Japanese and I could translate this better! It's "(Holy Sword) (User) no (World Break)". I don't know enough about the binding word 'no' to guess it, but I can do this much just having watched a ton of anime. How the hell does a translator working for Crunchyroll get Aria whateverthefuck out of that? Are we dropping down to the level of just trying to wow the mindless masses with really long names? Come on, get real fellas.
[Aside end]

[New][January 2015] Junketsu no Maria

Japanese title: 純潔のマリア
Genres: Action / Drama
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: A powerful virgin witch named Maria hates war, so she decide to interfere the war between France and England. But her display of power is going to attract attention of heaven and something bad is about to happen to her...
First impression score: 86 - Interesting character, interesting concept

Personal comments: For the most part, I liked what I've seen, though the first episode is just the build up, haven't even exactly reached the full introduction just yet. It's a somewhat intriguing concept, I'd be interested in seeing how they would spin it.

[New][January 2015] Absolute Duo

Japanese title: アブソリュート・デュオ
Genres: Action / Ecchi
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: In a school where kids are being trained to use Blaze which is a weapon formed using their soul, stuff happens...
First impression score: 70 - Cookie cutter ecchi + action

Personal comments: Honestly, I only watched this first episode to confirm this is as bad as I imagined. It is really as cookie cutter as it could be: a guy and a girl, in some kind of duo system, have to work together, but don't like each other that much initially, blah, blah blah... Sounds familiar? If you have seen one of these type (Freezing, Unbreakable Machine Doll, Hidan no Aria, etc.), in my opinion, there's really no need to watch another one because you almost know exactly how it's going to unfold. I'd be really really really surprised if it somehow didn't end in one of those prescribed scenarios. I, for one am not going to waste my time on this...

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

[Ended] Sword Art Online II: Most of the same thing, with a bit new addition

As part of my return-to-anime rehab, I literally ran through the entire Sword Art Online II in several days. If an anime can keep me watching without having to take a break to go watch something else, I'd say it's at least a somewhat interesting series. However, I think SOA II stops not very far beyond that.

If you have seen the original SOA, you'd find it's really not much new in this second season. The series is actually made of several arcs, with the first one occupying the entire first half of the series and several smaller ones all stuffed into the second half.

Throughout the first half, I found myself keep asking questions like "Why don't they just..." and "How could they not know..." and "How come nobody see...", because even for the SOA world, some of the things they did are just a bit too farfetched to believe even though I was already in the willing suspension of disbelieve.

Each of the arc is more of less independent from each other, because the arcs that has plot dependencies from previous arcs has just as much of the tie-in as some of the random out of nowhere add-ons. So if you haven't seen the previous arc, you could just assume it's something they added for plot purpose without knowing the background of the add-on.

On a side note, if you feel like in need of a crying fest, you could jump directly over to the last arc of second half of the series. As someone who appreciate stories play out tragic plot lines without using cheap escapes to avoid them, I do like how that particular arc was developed into.

Final Scoreboard:

Drama: 83 (Depending on the arc)
Comedy: 85 (Some, but it's not the focus)
Action: 81 (Virtual reality = somewhat far-fetched) 
Art/Animation: 82 (Typical for this genre)
Sound/Music: 84 (Some emotionally fitting pieces)
Character: 81 (Not exactly cookie cutter, but close)

Plot: 80 (Become a bit repetitive)
Ending: 89 (A good emotion end)

Re-watch value: 70 - Not much to re-watch

Overall: 82 - A good enough follow up that didn't ruin the name of the franchise

Recommendation: If you have become somewhat emotionally attached to the characters from the first series, you'd probably want to follow up on this. Even though it doesn't add much more depth to character development, it is interesting to see what is the life after SOA is like for those characters. But if your opinion for the original series is "Meh", the it's safe to just let this one go, you probably won't get much more out of this franchise.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

[Ended] Madan to Ou to Vanadis

I'd like to put up a screenshot, but since my only source is Hulu, I'm going to shy away from that.
No clue how retarded their policies might be about this kind of thing.
Playing it safe.

Pros: Mature-natured characters, and a tight plot
-The first time I've ever had a bath scene make me think: "that...actually makes sense"
-The plot really feels like the kind of story and events that would be happening in a more Medieval setting, Mystical elements aside.

Cons: Cut Short, still a tiny bit of pandering.
-Despite my initial awe at the turn-me-on-my-head bathscene, the show does eventually push my patience with what can only be called pandering, not the least of which being a second bath scene (second verse, same as the first!), and a handful of other moments.
-The story clearly continues on from where the anime ends, but it's not a horribly butchered thing, at least that I can tell. It concisely wraps up relevant plot elements.
-Several characters have absurdly brief appearances and explanations, (looking at you whip lady), likely a side-effect of the story continuing past what we get.

My Opinion: I went a bit overboard with my expectations of this show after the initial showing that it could be intelligent in the presence of typically pure pandering material. A good heads-up that I was setting the bar too high should have been the bloody roulette wheel of women in the opening. I don't know where, but somewhere in this story is a harem, it just doesn't really show up in what we get in the anime. Maybe the source material lays it on thicker, (doubtful, but who knows?), maybe it just becomes thicker later on in the story. They certainly didn't even introduce everyone on the Wheel of Women, so that's a clue if nothing else.

Impartial Judgement: Aside from my raised expectations being shot down, this is a very good show. The plots wonderful in its coherence, even if it feels like some bits are a bit thin, like the explanation of Tigre's little trip to the temple-thing. I really do get the feeling that with more of the story, a lot of parts of this show may be woven together even tighter. I only mention said feeling in the impartial segment, because this kind of show, macro-drama, is my favorite. I give it a tentative recommendation, with the footnote that if it ever gets a second season, that could easy make or break this show into an epic saga, or a pathetic harem.

Personal examples of other macro-dramas would be Spice and Wolf, Baccano, Steins;Gate's early parts. I could list a few more, but they're more pure Drama with Macro-drama elements. Macro-drama is something I characterize as the drama being at its best delivered in the slow revelation of plot elements, and the plot elements interactions over time, rather than the emphasis being on the moment to moment actions in the story. Basically, the best part of the story is in its weaving of plot, rather than a bombastic battle, or a dramatic speech, etc. Basically when it feels like the shows best parts are the overall slowly delivered whole and conclusion.
[Aside end]

[Ended] I can't Understand why my Husband is Saying

I would have liked a Screenshot from ep13, but its mysteriously missing on CR, so meh

Pros: Fresh Older Audience Comedy
-Successfully achieves actual level-headed Mature comedy, without being that stupid brand of  cheap "I'm old enough to do ALL the forbidden things!" mature.
-The short episode lengths actually help underline the shows comedy, instead of feeling like it's cutting off the full impact

Cons: Kind short, not really deep
-While the show does conclude on a really mature note, (which I highly suspect is, in one form or another, responsible for the last episode suddenly being missing on CR), over-all there isn't much development or depth to the show. It is, quite simply, Comedy.

My Opinion: This was hilarious, to me at least. One thing you always have to be aware of, is that everyone has their own sense of humor, and you can't force them to laugh at something when they just don't like the comedy. Personally, I found this always made me laugh every episode, and sometimes was just outright hilarious. One or two jokes went over my head, probably lost in the translation, but all around good funnies. Additionally, the nature and genre of the comedy is completely fresh to me. I don't think I've ever watched an anime that had this level of mature comedy, and not annoyed me. Typically it just feels like a teenager trying to crack sex puns to sound "mature".
Going into this, I was feeling a bit wary of the short-length. The last time a comedy I liked rolled through with a short length, I ultimately lost consistent interest because of the short length, decided to just backlog it and steamroll it all at once, and then forgot about it. Trying to remember the name right now, and can't. (will probably randomly find it on my list one day and burn through it in about a half hour). For this anime, (I refuse to type that absurdly long name, its not even much shorter in Japanese), the length actually helped underline the comedy instead of cutting it off. It really feels like they always pick a good spot to end each skit(s), as if the comedy would start to feel like it was dragging on if it was much longer. Having said that, I do wish there were more episodes. I was loving this week to week.

Impartial Judgement: I think it's going to be standard format for people to say this anime is 'not for everyone'. Whether that's just because of the nature of the comedy, (raises hand), or because of the technical age-rating of the comedy. I recommend this show for some fresh comedy, and an insight on to how mature humor that actually feels like jokes adults would make. Not a lot to say after that.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

[New][January 2015] Durarara!!x2 Shou

Japanese title: デュラララ!!×2 承
Genres: Action / Drama / Suspense / Thriller / ... (what isn't it?!)
I've watched: 1 episode

Summary: The story of Dollars, Yellow Scarves, Headless Horsewoman, Russian Sushi Chef, ... continuous
First impression score: 91 - Still Brilliant

Personal comments: The Original Durarara was my pick of anime of the year for 2010. It combines action thriller, suspense, drama, and literally anything you can think of into one super package that fits perfectly well together. There are many animes out there people's opinions differ, but for Durarara!!, it's has been overwhelmingly positive. It was really brilliant in every single way imaginable, literally! 

For those who have seen Durarara!!, I don't think I need to recommend you to follow up on this sequel. For those who haven't seen the original Durarara!! (or Baccano!), where have you been?! Go watch it, and go watch it now.

p.s. I'm coming out of anime hibernation for a bit, but may soon go back into it. While I'm out here, I'll share as much of my opinion as possible. 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

MekakuCity Actors: watched beginning to end in one day

Last Seen: All of them.

Ok so I'm going to break my own formula here, and just kind of wing this one, because I liked it that much. I've been feeling inspired all day on the adrenaline boost this find gave me, so bear with my rambling for a bit, it's what happens when I go off-structure. (well, okay, it just gets worse when I wing it, shush.)

First, a little back story. Way back in the day, I used to frequently scrounge through youtube for random Vocaloid songs. I still occasionally do, but not as often, or for as long. A bit of scale: I once had 12 tabs of them open and buffering, and was constantly refilling each tab with a new song as I listened to each one. The only thing that stopped be was a friend contacting me to play a game. So...take everything after this with a grain of salt to spice it that I'm predisposed to liking Vocaloid based songs, and that colors everything I'm saying.
I don't recall when, but I encountered one particular song, that included an AMV (animated music video). Most of the time, I was used to just staring at a backdrop of some fan-art of the vocaloid that was singing. Said AMV was off-the-walls-crazy. I couldn't understand a lick of what was going on, but it was perfectly obvious that someone was quite crazy in it, and they were wrecking shit up. I loved it, the music fit with it nicely. Of course, as I sit here typing, I can't for the life of me think of what the song was called, or the other songs that eventually accompanied it.

Now, I eventually was able to come across some comments discussing how it fit in with the rest of the songs...and I went looking for and found them. I can't remember if this was before, or after, the song or one of its siblings was subtitled with english. Since I vaguely recall being led onto the trail by youtube comments, I'm inclined to believe it was before, since they were trying to puzzle out to each other the songs meaning, and how it fit in with the rest. Before I had ever sat down to watch this anime after being pointed at it by an AMV I randomly picked to watch, I had already accumulated all of the sibling songs translated versions, and listened to and pieced them together. I'm not going to spoil anything, but the 'set' of this story seems to be cumulatively known as the Kagerou Project? I may be wrong but I took a quick look at said AMV's comments and they seemed to be referring to it as such. NOW WAIT! BEFORE YOU RUN OFF TO WATCH/LISTEN TO IT:
I'm not entirely sure which order is spoiler'ish. Time to get to the main point today-

I whole-heartedly recommend this Story.

However, I do not know which means of receiving it you would most enjoy. Said comments seemed to allude to there being Novels or Mangas of this Story as well? Which was news to me.
I have no idea what the proper order of existence is though, which medium came first and inspired the others, which were made by the original story creator, so on and so forth. Hell, from what I know of how pieced-together multiple vocaloid songs can occasionally do, there may not even be a unified single author. I've seen it happen that a popular song inspires another creator to make another song that is a sequel to it, and then another creator to make a sequel to that. *
Here's what I can tell you without spoiling anything: The Songs I listened to, (which I believe are collectively referred to as the Kagerou Project?), are chronologically before the Anime. Additionally, said anime is the end of the story. Now, that is not to say that the anime is unwatchable without the having previously received the rest of the material, the anime basically covers the full run of the story, but it only has 12 episodes.
time passes]
Ok so, I just googled 'Kagerou Project' and found a wiki article dedicated to the thing. So now I can speak with more authority. The original centralizing author is called Jin. He made a song, and the article seems to imply it was released simultaneously with a light novel, both of the same part of the story. So that's the proper order of things, I don't know if the animated MV (music video) I originally consumed was part of this or made for the song after by a fan, I've done enough studying for you now. So the proper order of things, if you are inclined to care, is songs/novels first, then anime. However, you could also just watch the anime if you feel so inclined. The comments (presumably by fans) were all grumbly about the anime because they felt it left out some of the impact of the story contained by songs/novels, since it could only cover the end of the story in its 12 episodes. Myself, I loved it, but here's the context to that:
Finding and watching this anime was basically the accumulation of ...what, more than one now? maybe three?.. years of working off and on to piece together the story around that first song I listened to. Keep in mind this included watching out for and finding translated subtitled versions of the songs, AND trying to figure out which order they were each in relation to each other. Most of the comments I was using to do so apparently were like me, and didn't know there was additional material to help with that(or no one felt the need to say what they all thought was obvious). So finding and watching this was basically an immense jackpot payout of a huge effort I poured into a hobby. I may be overly-invested and emotional about this. Regardless:
The story's end, which the anime is of, basically includes an inherent summary of itself by its nature. That's all the more I can say without spoiling on the topic, so after a huge ramble, a finally piece of structure to try and tie this all together:

Summary: The incidents which occur on August 14th and 15th bring a group of boys and girls together…they become members of a group and call themselves the “Meikakushi Dan” (Blindfold Organization) and each member possesses a strange power involving their eyes.

...Yeah that's kind of a bare-bones explanation, but I can't really say much more without spoiling something. It's not the deepest story...but it is very complexly woven together, which I love.

Long story short? I recommend finding a youtube playlist that has the Kagerou Project songs (with MVs) in chronological order. It will...torture you a bit more to do that before watching the anime, but it may make the anime more potent for you. It certainly did for me.
[Aside]Talk about the perfect thing to inspire me to come back into writing here full swing, eh?
Probably dropping off radar again, unless I'm right and one of the shows just ended, then you'll get an End post for it sometime after Saturday, before I go silent again for a bit.
Oh, and for reference, the song I encountered was quite out of chrono-order, and it was about the Yellow eyed guy. Again, that's as specific as I can be and remain spoiler free.
[aside end]