Thursday, July 28, 2016

[New][July 2016] Rewrite

Last Seen: Episode 4

Summary: Green City Kazamatsuri, is a city built on the ideal of a harmonious relationship between civilization and environment.. However, the peaceful Kazamatsuri will soon be faced with its annual commotion, the Harvest Festa at the turn of the year. Our main character, Tennouji Kotaro, is suddenly struck with the feeling that he's been wasting his life. He tries to seize his youth, by joining the Occult Club. However, the first reason he sought out the club's President, known as 'The Witch' of the school, to begin with:
A Ghost Girl with Ribbons, that he first meets in a dream of a ruined city; She then instantly murders him. The Occult Club President gives him 3 'Shikigami' to help when he first meets her, but as he later discovers, she doesn't actually believe in anything supernatural, and was actually mocking him...despite them actually working. While he concedes to the "Witch" that he's unsure about other oddities, he's oddly insistent that  people with Supernatural
Powers exist. What he does know, is she keeps coming back every night to bite him, and that the bite mark is definitely real, so he insists the president keep giving him charms to keep the ghost away, despite her continually mocking him as she does. He makes a bet with her that he can find proof of Supernatural Phenomena, and invites the people around him that seem alone, to join as well, thus trying to seize his youth at the same time.

First Impression: Mkay, More high school, like we don't have enough of.......okay then. I don't think 'all hell broke loose' had a faster application... and then we're back to more High School. This feels very...Visual Novel'y.

My Opinion: Like I said, it feels like a visual novel adaptation. I'm fairly confident in that assessment despite knowing nothing about this shows history. Regardless, you wouldn't guess this is a supernatural show until well into the first episodes last half. By last half, I mean last 40 minutes. Because the first episode is twice as long as the norm. Just the first episode though.
Despite that, the first episode doesn't really showcase much, except for the shows amazing ability to never settle for having just one tone. It's got slice of life elements when it's in High School mode, and it's got crazy insane fantasy nonsense going when it's in Supernatural mode. Come to think of it, that's actually a thing. It's like the show has this switch it's just waiting to flip at any moment, it can change tones and setting at the flip of a coin. I suppose it would be exceptionally jarring for most people, but I'm so used to just 'going with it', to see where things are trying to take me, it doesn't bother me. That's not a plus by the way.
Anywho, as far as the High School setting goes, it is passably worthy of note that they don't seem to be pushing any romance. Yet. Maybe that's just me, but ... it really feels weird in that respect, if for no other reason than because I'm so used to the token, trite, love and romance undertone in everything in most anime High School settings. There is always the main character, and then the potential love interest(s), and everything seems to revolve around those chosen two/few. Meanwhile, here, none of the girls in the show seem particularly interested in him, or in getting close to him, that way. Not even the Childhood Friend, which is one of the first three characters we're introduced to. Later on, a few characters start laying down foundations to move in that direction, ala Visual Novel'y pick your love interest sorts of ways, and I can just about see the multiple button prompts at key moments.

Back to that Childhood friend though. When she was introduced as such, I cringed, hard. I am so sick to death of the High School Token Childhood Friend Love Interest. FFS, we should all just marry the first kid of the opposite gender we meet as children, shouldn't we? Save a lot of trouble down the road.
The show...doesn't really seem to have that in mind though. In fact, that's one of the things (besides the off-the-walls-bonkers supernatural events), that I'm most interested in right now. She's so...out of place a lot of the time. Not so much in-world, as to explain. I keep expecting her to act a certain way, or do certain things, and then she...doesn't. It keeps making me realize how stupid the things I'm expecting are, because they're the childhood friend tropes, but I keep expecting them anyway. While that makes my skin crawl that the anime industry has been successfully making me adapt to its bullshit and eat it...
It also makes me keenly interested in this particular character. I'm not sure how much of that is just me personally reading into things too much, (which I do alot), and how much is the character actually being unusual. While there are some things the show certainly seems to underline for certain, like how it's being really vague about a few things between her and Kotaro, despite vaguely foreshadowing it a couple of times.
*snaps fingers*That's what it is. Despite there being several elements of tropes, and commonly trodden ground in the High School setting, still, all of the characters feel very...human. They feel and act like actual people might act, if they were in the anime High School setting, and had the Personality quirks we're so used to seeing. So far, as of the fourth episode, we've only taken the time to flesh out just one of the bevy of characters we've had introduced rapid fire. That one however, was quite amazing. She has a personality quirk, a relatively common one, but the show takes the time to properly lay out and explain why she's like that. She also doesn't act exclusively with that one personality trait. In fact, none of the characters do. As I sit here thinking about it, I can vaguely list off the tropes that several of the characters are packing in their pockets, but they don't really let those tropes define them. They're features of those characters personalities, not the definition of them.

Anyway, if the several paragraphs of ranting weren't tell enough, I'm quite interested in this show so far. I'm enjoying it a lot.
However, I'm not going to recommend it.
Certainly, the Supernatural parts are very flashy and enjoyable,
and the High School bit is very interesting in the subtly off ways its moving things (to me at least),
but the fact that the show is trying to juggle both of these at the same time is a bit off putting I bet.
Give it a shot, see if you'll like it. I do, but I don't really feel like this is a widely appealing balancing act they have going right now.

[Aside]Also really weird: The absurdly short and simple title. Like, when was the last time we had a title that wasn't at least three words? Or else had a subtitle?
One word, No subtitle. God that's refreshing.
And also really petty of me to be liking, but whatever. Small pleasures.
[Aside end]

Saturday, July 23, 2016

[New][July 2016] Amanchu

What goes up...
Last Seen: Episode 2

Summary: It is spring, the season of great changes. Hikari Kohinata is an overwhelmingly cheerful and outgoing 15-year-old girl who has spent all her life in a small and beautiful seaside town on the Izu peninsula. On the first day of high school, she meets Futaba Oki, a slightly introverted girl who has just moved from Tokyo. Before she knows it, Futaba gets dragged along into Hikari's passion for scuba diving. And from there, Futaba gradually starts to come out of her shell, and learns how to take challenges and dive into the ocean of life. (text quoted Verbatim from Crunchyroll)
First Impression: Charming. Very, very, charming.

My Opinion: I wasn't quite sold on this one at the first episode. I bumped into this show, which I had otherwise scratched off my list, thanks to a video on youtube by the channel Digibro.
It was an hours long video of him and some of his friends just skimming through all of the new anime that have come out, and I'm going to try a few that I had otherwise ignored thanks to the Video. (My, aren't I the link happy one today?)
[Aside end]
Anyway, this one sounded charming and light-hearted, and I needed one of those in my roster so far for this season. (If for no other reason than to cool my jets from all the adrenaline ReZero keeps pumping into my veins.)

For the first episode, my original fear for this show never really went away, that it could be primarily about the diving. Like a sports show, is about the sport. I don't like that in a show, especially not anime. If I enjoy some kind of activity, I go do it. I don't sit around watching it. If I'm watching someone do an activity I would otherwise be enjoying myself, it's because I'm watching it for them doing it, not because of what they're doing. This is also traditionally to this day, the only time I've ever enjoyed shows that strongly featured a sport or game as one of its central foci of activity. They have to be more about the characters doing the thing, than the thing itself.
Amanchu has this in spades. The two main characters are essentially the only ones we've seen getting screen time for the first two episodes, and they are worth it. There's nothing particularly amazing about them in terms of stereotypes, tropes, or characteristics, but they are very charming, and they have an amazing synergy for just being entertaining to watch. The kind of 'what are they going to do next' excitement type.
Hikari is energetic and optimistic, and while she strikes as an air-head at first appearance, I don't think she actually is. Certainly she's missing ... all...of the social cues, but she's having fun with it the entire time. Meanwhile, our second main, Ooki, is introverted, without that being the only thing that defines her. Which is great. I've had it up to here(hand way above head) with characters that are completely defined by their introversion. They're almost always boring outside of pure comedy sketches. Ooki has just moved to what can only be described as a backwater town to her, after having lived in a huge city, and she's left all her friends and connections behind. Hell, I'm even willing to say she's probably left behind her style of living too. She has a penchant for calling everything 'an unfamiliar world'. Someone did a great job not only drawing up this character, but the animators also did a good job bringing her to life. This is the first time in a good while I've found a character who was introverted charming in an anime. Usually it's just an irritating feature that drags out plot events much longer than they should have been, like it's the only thing holding the drama up. 

Long story short, the two main characters are wonderful, they have great synergy, and the show appears to be primarily about them and their interactions instead of primarily being about diving. I think Hikari is hilarious, even though I know her over-the-top almost childish behavior would be annoying to some.
Comedy and Charm are dependent to each individuals tastes, but I heartily give this show a
for this season, for slice of life charm and light-hearted comedy.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

[Ended] Bungo Stray Dogs - Far Too Short

Pros: Amazing Characters
-Each of the characters has their own, shall we say, twists? Inside and out.
-While there isn't a grand plot stretching over it all, the story progresses nicely in a fluent manner.

Cons: Far too short!
-Difficult to understand in the beginning, very meandering
-Doesn't really have an easy to summarize core theme. It's not quite Slice of Life, it's not quite drama, its definitely not mystery...

My Opinion: Despite having no idea what this show was, or was about, as it started and for several episodes, I ended up really liking this show. The main character has a really impressive arc to his personality as the series progresses, he actually grows and matures in a realistic manner, instead of the usual 180 switchback from zero to hero.
Having said that, this show was WAY TOO SHORT.
Seriously, if I wasn't looking directly at the screen already when I noticed that there wasn't going to be a 13th episode, I would have done a double take. I did not expect that. In fact, the moment I realized it, I thought to myself, "that was the last episode? ... what even happened in it? Did something climax-worthy happen...? Well okay, we revealed a potential really big bad, but the previous one was still lurking about, and...end? There?!"
I had just sat down to watch this then, and now I'm all sad because there isn't any more of it.
I mean, I'm also kind of glad, because it means the show didn't get milked at all. I get the feeling this is absolutely not the kind of show that would have tolerated filler and milking well. The balance between the absurdity and practicality of the characters is a per-episode daily maintenance, especially as they keep adding them.

Aside from the length, I want to point at the characters again. I've never seen a more realistically developed arch-nemesis, as far as emotions and motivations go, in a long time. Akutagawa was quite impressive as the show unfolded. Amazingly unapproachable and so impervious by appearance, and quite insane from action and portrayal. Yet, as it goes on, the show slowly unwinds the layers of who he is, and more importantly How he became, who he is.
A further special mention for some very flashy special abilities and powers, that are actually used and applied practically. The flash never really gets in the way, it really almost feels like the extra special effects were added for the benefit of the audience, rather than as a natural part of the abilities, with how swiftly and practically the characters use them. Maybe it's just me, but I found it very charming.

Impartial Opinion: A vague, but great show. Nothing immensely amazing, not with this short length, but definitely worth your time to watch. I would absolutely love a second season to this, as it leaves off with the potential to go in a huge variety of amazing directions.

[New][July 2016] Mob Psycho 100

Last Seen: Episode 1

Summary: Kageyama Shigeo, "Mob," is a boy who has trouble expressing himself, but who happens to be an extremely powerful Esper. Mob is determined to live a normal life and keeps his ESP suppressed, but when his emotions surge to a level of 100%, something terrible happens to him! As he's surrounded by false Espers, evil spirits, and mysterious organizations, what will Mob think? What choices will he make?

First Impression: Waaay over the top. I immensely enjoyed One Punch Man, but I didn't really get into this first episode as much as I did One Punch's first episode.

My Opinion: As much as I lack the enthusiasm One Punch inspired, I do think this show will be quite amusing. Watching Arataka try to lie his way through an entire series should always be novel. It's just...I don't really like Mob's powers. With Saitama, the fight itself, even if it was going to end the same way every time, with one punch, was always fun to see. The enemies always put a lot of effort in, and that was fun to watch. Every time Mob solves a problem though, visually it's about the same as if he snapped his fingers while some firecrackers went off. Colorful? Yes. Amusing? Not quite so much. But hey, it is just the first episode, and that Percentage Counter slowly ticking up is definitely interesting.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

[New][July 2016] Taboo Tattoo

Summary: "Tattoos" : weapons that drastically enhance the physical abilities of their users, known as the "Sealed," allowing them to bring forth supernatural phenomena when activated through the charging of the user's own unique "Trigger." When 'Justice' Akatsuka Seigi saves a man from some street punks, the man gives him a strange stone as a token of gratitude. The moment Seigi accepts it, a mysterious tattoo appears on his palm. Shortly after, he runs into another person who has one, who then steals his phone to lure him out, and then attacks him, overwhelming him and could easily have killed him. She holds back, interested that he doesn't seem to know what he's obtained, or understand anything about it. She informs him that they are stolen secret weapons from America, and she is part of a group in charge of recovering them.

First Impression: It seems to always be inevitable that an action shows characters tend to be a lot more shallow than other genres, but it doesn't help with it at all, if you take several scenes to have absolutely ridiculous comedy sketches in the show. Why can't we just have a serious show? I know that there is such a thing as overly serious, but I don't really think this show was getting anywhere near it, especially not to have so many 'comic relief' moments.

My Opinion: It's action'y, it's flashy, and I think that's all it really needs. It seems very well made, from just the first episode. Nothing seems horribly out of place, and things flowed nicely, although I found the comedy skits rather jarring. Easy to get used to, but very jarring at first. I feel like the change in animation style to a less detailed, more comedic style, wasn't entirely necessary, but hey, I'm not an animator so what do I know.
I'll be watching it, because it's not entirely brainless so far, and I like my action shows that way. Things are very practical, (within action show standards anyway), until just about the end when the main character just happens to figure out how to work his power to save himself. A bit of an over done thing. Really, why do so many technological super weapons have systems so fucking basic, you can just steal it and throw it at a (high school?) student, and the first time they need to, they can use it? How about some security locks or something eh?
But hey, I'm nitpicking logic on a fight show. We're here to see the fights, not philosophize, and I think the fights are going to be really good. It's not magic, at least as far as they've explained so far. The fact that the Lieutenant was carrying around a whole case full of her 'Trigger' means that these super weapons have a finite amount of run time, requiring ammo. That's a nice touch of practicality in my opinion. Also the whole 'I'm a lot older than I look', may mean some fairly dark implications about possible consequences for using it.
Things are up in the air at this point, but it all seems quite interesting right now.

[New][July 2016] Orange

Summary: During the spring of her second year of high school, Naho receives a letter. Its sender is herself from ten years in the future. Naho thinks it's a prank at first, but when the things written in the letter start to come true one by one, she realizes that the letter is telling her events that will happen in her future. It tells her that she'll fall in love with Kakeru, a new student who transfers to her school, and that he'll die in the winter of his 17th year. After learning the regrets and wishes of the 26-year-old Naho following Kakeru's death, what can the 16-year-old Naho do differently?

First Impression: Simple. I would describe this show, as simple. It has a very simple premise, and even though the plot features a rather amazingly complicated thing, time travel, they do not give any shits about explaining that. It is literally a plot piece at this point, and everything is about the characters, and y'know what? I like that. It's a plot piece that enables the story to exist and move forward in an interesting way, in what is by far and large the dead pulped horse of a drowning setting, yet more fuggin' high school romance.

My Opinion: I'm going to watch this one. It's really mellow, and peaceful, with nothing over dramatic in tone. Certainly, a dramatic occurrence is revealed at the end of this first episode, but over all, the tone of the show has a very calming effect on me. I really needed that, after my first proper day off in ~2 months got screwed over real hard. So hey, I have a bias.
Never-the-less, as long as you can get past the fact that it is yet more high school romance, (and I think you deserve a solid gold badge for being able to do that, if you've been in the anime scene any length of time at all),
the whole 'letter from the future' thing, should keep this really fresh, and also prevent the show from meandering around, humming and hawing and delaying things from actually moving forward.
Additionally, I find it very interesting that the first thing they do, is have her ignore an instruction from the letter, and that over all, the letter doesn't really seem to be saying there is a way she can save him from dying, at least not yet. If that's actually a thing, then I think it should make this show very interesting. Y'know. For a high school romance anime.
Of which we have dozens.