2017
10.16

Dies Irae

The common plebeians reaction to seeing cute anime nazi's

The common plebeians reaction to seeing cute anime nazi’s

Welcome to the real premiere of Dies Irae! You’re probably asking yourself “What’s the deal? Why are we dealing with high school shenanigans? Where are the Nazi’s?” Well as you could probably tell by now, episode 0 was supposed to be an appetizer meant to show off the villains and entice people into the show. Yeah, general reception by fans and non-fans alike should tell you how well that worked out. I myself didn’t watch it because the episode itself was adapted from a side story in the VN you’re not recommended reading until you’ve done at least 2 specific routes first. Basically; they fucked up right out of the gate. Can’t you tell we’re already off to a great start? Before we delve in to the proper first episode, let’s go into the history of this crowd funded adaptations real quick. Initially pitched as an “anime pilot”, the campaign did so well that they decided to do a full blown adaptation instead. Unfortunately the results so far leave much do be desired.

The proper first episode adapts the second half of the VN’s prologue and its entire first chapter. As mentioned before most of the episode is high school shenanigans and getting a taste of Ren’s “normal life” he claims to value so much while building up the larger plot. While I can appreciate taking time to build things up, I can’t help but feel that things went by a tad too fast to the point where things felt disjointed. In fact, most of the time I felt that the only reason I knew what was going on was because I read the VN, I can only imagine how bored or confused newcomers must be by all of this. I know condensing roughly 2 hours’ worth of reading into a single 20 minute episode is nothing new for VN adaptations, but the way the Dies anime went about it was poor, almost as poor as its animation. There were a few things I appreciated like music from the VN being used, and the quick flashes of the disembodied souls inside the LDO members’ (aka those “Nazi” guys from the last episode) bodies, but those would only mean something to VN readers.

Now as of this writing I’m only 15 hours into the VN, so I can’t claim to be a superfan or anything, but I would of rather the studio went with the original OVA plans and use that extra crowdfunded money to improve on the animation and pacing in a way that would of at least pleased VN readers instead of going for a TV anime that’s pleasing nobody. Anyone who’s interested in checking out Dies Irae is better off reading the visual novel itself, which is worth a read if you’re interested in over-the-top fights, characters, and Nazi shenanigans. There’s really no reason not to read it if you’re interested because the first 7 chapters are in fact free on Steam, which just calls into question why this needed to be a televised anime to begin with. As of now, the only thing this adaptation has going for it is the ED sung by Junichi Suwabe and Kousuke Toriumi. – CrimsonRynnec

Girl’s Last Tour

War has changed.

War has changed.

I’m not sure how they made an anime about child soldiers dealing with life immediately after a horrific war so chill. I read the synopsis to the show and expected something more grim, but this is more cute and fluffy than another Now and Then, Here and There. Not to say it goes with that tone throughout the episode. There’s times where crucial moments like being able to shoot on target and getting food to stave off hunger are presented in such a humdrum way that it’s as if the characters have gotten used to living like this. They might treat their routines like a highschooler in a slice of life show would treat theirs, but their background gives their actions a starker atmosphere. When thinking about it, these soldiers’ lives are tragic and hopeless, but the premiere doesn’t seem to dwell on that, instead looking at the glass half full.

Not sure if that’s a good thing though. This show takes it sweet time going to places, with a bit of dead air that leaves little to discuss without drawing a blank. What am I supposed to get from this? “War is bad?” I’ve had dozens of shows drill that into my skull already. I know war’s a hellhole that cruelly judges people without a single hint of mercy, and even kids who should be out playing are sent to fight in the battlegrounds. I do like this show doesn’t make that the entire message. It shows that just because you’re in the middle of a war doesn’t mean you can’t have a cup of cocoa with your friends. And I guess that’s a good message to add on. Gives some levity to a show with a grim aftertaste.

Could do without the faces though. When I think the ravages of combat and bloodshed, I don’t think Hidamari Sketch. – BloodyMarquis

Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World- The Animated Series

Barry the Slinger's sister, Mary the Chopper

Barry the Slinger’s sister, Mary the Chopper

Before I befriended the Animation Revelation crew, I was part of a different crowd of cartoon and comic nerds. In this group, we tried making a podcast called “Notaku Diaries” in which both the anime lovers and the anime newcomers in our circle watched and discussed shows and films recommended to us by our friends. This project didn’t last more than a few months, due to occasional in-fighting and me utterly failing as a project manager, but I remember it fondly, as it introduced me to works that quickly became some of my favourite pieces of animation. One of these works being the 2003 adaptation of “Kino’s Journey.” The phrase “The world is not beautiful, therefore it is” quickly became a personal motto throughout my remaining years of high school; a bittersweet mantra that helped me cope just a little bit more with my social anxiety issues and allowed me make better sense of the world. Kino’s thoughtful and meditative vibe was refreshing to me, and I relished in a show that took me to new locations every week and asked me to think about the ideas and philosophies just expressed. It was a great experience, and I find myself going back every once in awhile to re-watch episodes like “The Land of Visible Pain” or “A Tale of Mechanical Dolls”. So when I heard that another adaptation was in the works, I was filled with both excitement and dread. Would this show be as good as the last, or would it somehow fail to recapture the atmosphere I loved so much? From the first episode, I can’t say I’m quite sure yet.

The first episode of “Kino’s Journey -the Beautiful World-” hits all the beats long-time fans expect to see in one of these stories, which should have been comforting. Kino and Hermes ride into a quirky country for a three day stay, with said quirks mirroring some greater philosophical or societal struggle or idea. They then proceed to make nice with some of the locals and learn about how said quirk affects life there, not casting too much judgement in the process. The episode finally ends with the duo leaving the country and Hermes asking Kino a question as they head off to their next destination. Roll credits. Yes, the execution was there, but the problem for me was the chosen story. “The Country Where People Can Kill Others” was a fine reintroduction to the world our protagonists inhabit, but compared to the stories told in the first show, it was weak. Not bad mind you, as the story was executed just fine and got its message across well enough, despite straight-up having a character plainly state the “not prohibited ≠ permitted” message. I’m just saying that it didn’t start with its best foot forward, as this episode was severely lacking in the type of interesting characters that Kino often interacts with and the pacing felt a bit off, as though it was speed walking towards its conclusion. It was good enough to keep me engaged, but I’m ultimately forced to look towards future episodes to see if the current crew truly have the idea behind “Kino’s Journey” down and that this was just a case of them choosing what I personally saw as a boring tale rather than them botching what may have been a perfectly great story in the original light novels by Keiichi Sigsawa. With the next episode set to re-tackle “Coliseum”, a story that the previous adaptation did as well (and as a two-parter no less), perhaps we’ll see if it is indeed worth continuing on this journey. I certainly hope it is, but I do find myself worried about whether or not the first adaptation already took all the best stories that the light novels told, and if now we’re stuck with mostly doing B-grade material rather than the A+ stuff with which became enamored by. I’m sure that’s not the case, but I’ll be crossing my fingers regardless. – RacattackForce

Pingu in the City

Frustratingly every copy of this episode was a raw.

We did Pingu. Top that Theron Martin!

Your eyes are not deceiving you, this is indeed Pingu. Its made in Japan now and CGI instead of the original stop motion plasticine but Pingu it remains. So what the hell happened since the days of when Pingu pissed on his dad’s rug (REAL EPISODE NOT KIDDING)? Well apparently the family got kicked out of their igloo by that scary sea lion and now Pingu has to support them at some jerkwad’s restaurant. He fucks up a soup, then makes it better, then gets fired, because Pingu sucks, we’ve known that for 30+ years.

So in conclusion….Pingu. – Lord Dalek

Wake Up, Girls! New Chapter

In memoriam: September 11, 2001. NEVER FORGET.

In memoriam: September 11, 2001. NEVER FORGET.

Oh WUG… the saddest sack fake idol group of all…played by the saddest sack real idol group of all. Its been three long years since they got their asses kicked by that army of idolmaster robots in that 9/11 tribute show. Since then, they were dumped by their anime director/founder Yamakan after his vanity studio went belly up and have been forced to subside on whatever they could scrounge on the street, an anime where they dressed up as animals, and weird theme song gigs (seriously? Love Tyrant?). But I guess somebody really wanted a season 2 so here it is from a different studio looking nothing like the first season. I take it that makes this the Weiss Kreuz (WUG Kreuz?) Gluhen of Wake Up, Girls.

So yeah, unlike the real Wake, Up Girls, the fake anime WUG has actually succeeded! In 2015, they beat those robots in the I-1 cult to become Japan’s new top idol group and not have to work at stripjoints and various houses of ill repute (thanks a lot Yamakan!) Unfortunately, that success was short lived and now they’re back to preforming fur piles for the entertainment of bored Sendai housewives. However hard times have hit every idol group as even I-1 has been forced to close their billion yen theater. But WUG, which has no money, no studio, and no corporate office, has nothing to lose and that means recording an album as opposed to the limited exposure singles they’ve been doing. Getting an album deal means going on national television and that means…awful LFR CGI dancing….yay.

The theme of this season of WUG is noone knows who WUG is and that includes me. I actually watched the entirety of WUG season 1 when it aired in the winter of 2004 and I don’t remember who the hell any of these characters are, no doubt due to the new look character designs. It is still the same old group made up of the same old voice actresses so I guess the short haired one was that one fallen idol veteran girl. Hard to tell, the WUGs have no individual personality now that they’ve been together both in this anime and real life for a while so it could be the plain one. Music wise (this is an idol show, so it has to come up) WUG’s repertoire hasn’t grown much since we last saw them as both OPs from season 1 make an appearance as diagetic music in this episode. Guess we couldn’t use that Love Tyrant! OP after all.

Basically if you want 30 minutes of idol misery like the first season this will deliver somewhat as WUG is not quite in the toilet as they once were. Not much left to be said. – Lord Dalek

2017
10.09

Dies Irae

Gesundheit.

Gesundheit.

Let it be known that in an era marked by social strife and the rise of fascism I am watching an anime about bishounen nazis.

BISHOUNEN NAAAAAZEEEEEEEEES.

Not only that but a show about Bishounen nazis funded entirely with kickstarter money. Somebody gave up their hard earned cash to see a show about bishounen Nazis. This is flat out appauling but not surprising considering Japan gave us Tanya The Evil earlier this year. And wasn’t Tanya the Evil just greeeeeaaaat?

Now I know what you’re going to say: “But Dalek! Hetalia!” Well Hetalia was a stupid comedy about buffoonish country people. This is played deathly straight. Dies Irae wants me to root for Bishounen Nazis unironically. That is unacceptable

On top of that its also Fate/Stay Night with Nazis and the whole episode is just background filler. Three strikes, we’re done. – Lord Dalek

Schindler’s Opinion

"Why don't you read visual novels, Marquis? They've got some great prose!"

“Why don’t you read visual novels, Marquis? They’ve got some great prose!”

This was a kickstarter-funded anime, right? Implying the guys who made this show didn’t want to do this out of money but out of sheer ambition, like they were absolutely determined to make Dies Irae into a show? So why does this look as well-animated as a 2003 anime? This was apparently a big deal for the visual novel’s fans, enough that the funding exceeded expectations, so why doesn’t this show have the care put into it that Ufotable adds into their Type/Moon installments? Those have some beautiful animation, while this has off-model Germans performing acrobatics at each other. I couldn’t even tell who I was supposed to root for or even sympathize with. We get scattered scenes of this albino guy fighting an albino crossdresser, and then Reinhard’s forces show up to fight them. And the premiere focuses on Reinhard enough that you’re led to believe he must be the main character, but then he promotes his weird beliefs while nonchalantly smacking his female lieutenants. Then there are hints it might be a yaoi, and something about a golden fortress that gets its power from dead souls the Nazis kill. I had no clue what was going on.

I know it’s episode 0 and we’ll probably get the real protagonist next week, but then what is this supposed to be? An appetizer to show how badass the villains are? Maybe I was expected to read the entire 50-hour visual novel to appreciate this, but is the rest of the audience meant to do that too? Was there a large enough fanbase that they could adapt an out-of-sequence chapter and expect everybody to get it? Outside of seeing guys argue about power levels, I hadn’t seen anybody else mention Dies Irae until this month. I’m only expecting another Grisaia fiasco, where some guys rage over how they ruined the source material while I sit and watch the show in complete shock as to what’s occurring. This is already “Nazis with Bankais” stupid, so I can only imagine how it can increase the scale. – BloodyMarquis

Infini-T Force

No its Shibuya. Superhero Time is up the road in Yokohama.

No its Shibuya. Superhero Time is up the road in Yokohama.

Once in a blue moon there comes a show that defies description. A show so inept and so baffling dumb that you can’t help but say… well that was a thing. Because we’ve all watched bad anime. We all know what its like. Its badly written, its disgusting, it leaves you emotionally bereft and angry and wondering what kind of lousy people do those trolls at certain websites who praise this hot crap have to be in real life to like it.

And then…you get a show like Inifi-T Force, and it all makes sense.

Admittedly the concept, a Crisis On Infinite Earths-style crossover between a slew of old Tatusnoko super heroes from their Ippei Kuri heyday (Eagle Ken, Polymar, Tekkaman, and Casshern), sounds brilliant on paper. However those geniuses at Tatsunoko never knew a reboot they couldn’t fuck up and so somebody decided “Hey! Lets do it entirely in CGI, and make the protagonist a girl who wears an Italian restaurant tablecloth to school and owns a magic pencil! What a horrible idea! That’ll teach ’em for throwing up over Gatchaman Crowds!”

And yet…some how… they made it work, probably by accident.

Let it be known that Inifini-T force is this season’s Springtime for Hitler. A show so amazingly bad you can’t help but love it. It commits every sin in the book: looking like Final Fantasy, having a script full of philosophy so cringeworthy it would make Nasu blush, getting performances out of its cast so wooden you could build a house out of em, etc. But that’s the charm of Infini-T Force. When you do so much wrong it becomes so laughable that you get into and enjoy it. Its probably the same reason all those creepers love that weird animal loli show from last Winter. It did nothing right, except existing.

And that my friends, is a triumph, it still sucks but its a triumph none the less. – Lord Dalek

Just Because

*applause* *rolls credits by Miller-Boyett Productions*

*applause* *rolls credits by Miller-Boyett Productions*

Oh joy, another romance show where a boy falls in love with a girl and he’s unable to confess. After making a surprisingly okay show with Gamers, Studio Pine Jam is stepping into PA Works’ territory and proving to us that newcomers like them can be as good as any other studio, by producing the same shit as any other studio. Now we can see their take on the “boring guy falls in love with boring girl over more interesting girls while annoying friend of boring guy makes stupid jokes” genre. As we’ve seen again and again and again. Not like audiences will actually remember these shows after they ended, so we have to keep pumping out new ones to briefly capture their attention. It’s as if anime studios have invented their own Mari Okada script generators. I mean, she’s going into directing now, so something has to take her place.

Too bad it’s harder to replicate the animation of her shows than the writing, as the art quality and movement of this show leave much to desire. Characters regularly have one eye larger than the other eye, or pencil scribbles for knees. Take Senpai Club, but remove all the jokes. That’s what the overall design resembled. The landscape and backgrounds are so lifeless and gray that I initially assumed this was a post-apocalyptic anime. During one elongated scene of baseball, I could have sworn the main characters were playing in the middle of a dust bowl.

I don’t know. Maybe I need more time to ponder the romantic lives of Recoome and that one blue-haired guy from Chaika. Could this show possibly be a reflection of our high school lives, how grey and lifeless they were that even a simple game of baseball was the highlight of our day? Or is this show so dull that my mind wanders into Brendan Fraser memes instead of focusing? All I know is that one girl with the camera who took pictures of everybody is a fucking creep and doesn’t deserve anybody, not even Recoome. – BloodyMarquis

Junni Taisen: Zodiac War

Rabbit is a victim of racial profiling.

Rabbit is a victim of racial profiling.

Before anything, I have to say that I don’t care much for the palindrome that is Nisio Isin. At the very least, I don’t care for the adaptations of his light novels, though the feeling I get watching the “Monogatari Series” alerts me that his work would probably too verbose for my liking. Akiyuki Shinbou’s directing of that anime delivers the equivalent of watching random experimental animation being showcased while listening to an unrelated audiobook. I don’t doubt that there is a clever narrative connection between the visuals and dialogue that’s just going over my head, but the story doesn’t entice me enough to dig for and dissect it, causing the entire work to fall apart in my eyes. But maybe something aiming to be less cerebral might do it for me. An ultraviolent action series utilizing the deadly survival game trope, following twelve characters that each represent parts of the Chinese Zodiac, perhaps? With a more grounded animation style in lieu of grandiose experimentation? Hmm. Maybe that could turn me around on Nisio Isin…unfortunately, it didn’t do too much in that regard.

Watching “Junni Taisen” reminded me about that time back in high school where I was trying to write a black comedy/urban fantasy about a teenage serial killer: silly bordering on the absurd, riddled with clichés, and trying a bit too hard to hit every desired beat. From the ridiculous flashback scenes that detail how the Boar manipulated her little sister into committing suicide, to the unexplained and glossed over existence of magic, to the barebones premise, “Junni Taisen” strikes me as a bit juvenile at its worst. At best, it comes across as a small project that was written to relax and cool down between the crafting of larger and more important stories, rather than an earnest attempt to bring a unique take on a popular genre. Which is a bit of a shame, since Isin obviously enjoys playing with harem tropes with the “Monogatari” books. Seeing not even a little hint of that in the first episode of “Junni Taisen” disappoints me. Eh, in any case, I hope the Monkey wins. – RacattackForce

King’s Game

Asu...ka...

Asu…ka…

King’s Game begins with our protagonist finding himself on what appears to be the set of The End of Evangelion. Considering he bares a resemblance to Shinji if Shinji was older and a lot taller, I’d expect him to proceed to find the nearest red-haired tsundere with one eye and start strangling her. But alas… this is actually not Evangelion but just another rehash of Danganronpa, making our hero less Shinji Ikari and more Makoto Naegi.

…wait a minute…Shinji and Naegi had the same VA in Japan…Oh crap! Danganronpa was Evangelion the whole time! GODDAMMIT!

Well anyway back to King’s Game, the saga of death, murder, and various humiliating tasks. Our “hero” has already been subjected to and been the sole survivor of the King’s Game once before, to the point of actually having to rape his old girlfriend shortly before her limbs exploded….because clearly Danganronpa and SAO weren’t horrible enough. Things get even more real when one of sad-sack loser kid’s classmates dies horribly in front of him and the rest of the class when his bodily fluids literally erupt out of his own skin. Clearly King’s Game knows no bottom it won’t scrape and oh boy has it scrapped a lot already.

In a way King’s Game is the ultimate distilation of everything wrong with the anime of 2017. Its badly written, the characters are either 2D cut outs or just completely unlikable, and its gross for the sake of being gross. And the sad part is I can’t even call it the worst show of the fall when we had Neo Yokio two weeks ago! …how the fuck does that work???

On the other hand, we may have found a show this year worse than Hand Shakers. And that is a feat unto itself. – Lord Dalek

A Sister’s All You Need

"They taste almost as good as her cloaca."

“They taste almost as good as her cloaca.”

I’m actually quite sad the first minute, where a young man chews on his little sister’s freshly worn panties from another dimension, wasn’t the real show. By all standards, it was awful and would’ve been a complete and utter scorn on Japanese culture as a whole, but I wanted to see how it could get worse. A naked girl laid eggs and fried them for her big brother, for God’s sake. And because it’s incestuous, those eggs were probably fertilized with his own seed, and he was ready to eat his own unborn fetus children. Yet it was all portrayed like a romantic fantasy, and it’s sad that level of black comedy faded away in favor of Eromanga-sensei but without an actual imouto.

Coming from the author of…sigh… Haganai, we get more of our favorite harem cliches. Reverse-reverse-double-quadruple-agent traps who are not related by blood but still a sibling to a character. Albino teenage girls who thirst for dick and aren’t afraid to admit it in every sentence they utter. MC who desperately wants to fuck little girls, yet is too beta to bone the girl in front of him, and will probably take the rest of the season until he actually holds hands or kisses somebody. If I were writing one of these, I’d have the main character fuck somebody by the first episode and call that the official couple. Sure, it’ll alienate and scare people who want their waifus to be pure, but fuck ‘em. Fuck ’em where their imaginary little sisters never would.

Besides all else that happened was some Phoenix Wright bullshit where the characters debate about potential LN plots. And a sobstory about a lonely teenage girl who was so inspired by a young writer’s work that she became an inexplicably young author herself to chase the man of her dreams. Wah-wah-wah. It’s another LN adaptation that indulges in dumb smut, but uses the excuse of metafiction to justify its skeeviness. It’s not an anime where a guy wants to fuck his sister. It’s an anime that “satirizes” the concept of guys wanting to fuck their sisters. Because it worked so well for Oreimo.

This show does have some good reaction pictures though. Can’t deny that. – BloodyMarquis

Yuki Yuna is a Hero – Washio Sumi Chapter

Yuki Yuna.png

Yuki Yuna.png

Ohhhhh YuYuYu… the show that went from being on the top of everyone’s 10 best lists to the bottom of everyone’s 10 worst lists within a matter of weeks. I had actually forgotten what this show was supposed to be about again until I noticed the entire run was on Netflix. Remembering that it was getting a long delayed 2nd season this month, I decided to refresh my memory…and it all came flooding back. The shameless Madoka thievery, the bs ableist pandering, the shoehorned out-of-left-field Post Apocalypse angle, the Sword Art Online-reject character designs, etc. etc. This show was just as awful as I remembered it. And now, here we are again. More depressing lamb to the slaughter magical girl bullshit courtesy of the Sage Quiche, Akame ga Kill creator Takahiro and famed light novel illustrator abe-I MEAN BUN-BUN! I… just… can’t… wait…. –_–

Anyway this arc of Yuki Yuna is actually a chopped up version of a series of movies released earlier this year and is a prequel. The real sequel isn’t airing for another 7 weeks. That should give the production team ample enough time to produce a horribly rushed epilogue that will be just as bad as the first season. But until then, we have the saga of Sumi Washio, a well bred girl from an elite private school who will eventually lose the ability to use her legs and her memory to become Mimori Togo, the lame Homura clone from season 1; Sonoko Nogi, who ends up bid ridden, with half her face and most of her body horribly burned, praying for a death that will never come; and the previously unseen Gin Minowa whose absence suggests she either didn’t make it or something far worse (translation: stupid). And if you’re going to complain about me spoiling all that… well that show aired back in 2014. We’re well past the sell-by date for spoilers here especially for a tragedy where we already know the outcome. Its like watching the Star Wars prequels and complaining about Darth Vader being a spoiler.

So ultimately I’m not exactly sure what was the point of doing the show this way. We know these girls are all going to end up badly so there’s no dramatic impetus for the story to proceed. We’re just killing time before the inevitable lame ass finale. On the other hand, if there’s anything worthwhile to come out of this, its once again the soundtrack done by Keiichi Okabe and his collaborators at MONACA. And if Season 1’s ost sounded like leftovers from Drakengard 3, these must be leftovers from NieR Automata. That’s not a bad thing at all. But you know what is a bad thing? Watching another boring ass episode of YuCubed and wondering what the point was. Thanks a lot, Sage Quiche. – Lord Dalek

2017
10.05

Hello, scoundrels. Hope you’ve been well, and watching good Christian entertainment like Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party. As a reward for your good behavior, here is the new clusterfuck. Disobey in the future, and charlatans will lick your eyeballs clean.

The Ancient Magus’ Bride

Boy does this look familiar. So familiar that I feel like wrote it up LAST YEAR.

Whoops. – Lord Dalek

Black Clover

*Loads barrel with five bullets. Pulls Trigger.*

*Loads barrel with five bullets. Pulls Trigger.*

Oh boy, more shonen shit! More obnoxious, irritating, generic pablum destined to be “highly requested” for a certain tirefire of a late night cable animation block where it will fail miserably! Just like all the others that came and flopped before it (still salty aren’t we eh #onepiecesailson?). I can see it now: 659,000 viewers a week for this…. this awful thing….why I wonder…

Well anyway, Black Clover is the crap story of a crap protagonist with a crap voice who is crap at everything. However unlike a certain other crap protagonist from last year (cough)DEKU(cough), young Asta here has NOTHING going for him. Asta is so unlikable that he makes Bort’s Dad look like Joseph Joestar. Yeah…I went there. Fight me.

Actually though, it does seem the makers of this show kinda knew that when they made this as they do try to play off how rubbish Asta is. However the character is so awful that when the payoff finally comes…I don’t care. I just don’t care.

Yeah I know what you’re gonna say: “read the manga”. Here’s a better idea… READ A FUCKING BOOK! – Lord Dalek

Gintama -Porori Arc-

 He's made of shit! How did that happen? Yo ho ho he took a bite of crap crap!


He’s made of shit! How did that happen? Yo ho ho he took a bite of crap crap!

As they lampshaded in this episode’s opening sketch, I think Bandai Namco expected that the Gintama manga would have ended by now. It hasn’t, and with the ways things are going it’ll probably be a while yet. Luckily, they have at least a cour’s worth of unadapted mini-arcs from the manga to tide them over, which is a treat for fans like me who wanted to see them animated! Gintama never took its continuity that seriously, so just take this short break between the final arcs for what it is, though canonically all of these story arcs do take place between the Courtesan of a Nation and Shogun Assassination arcs.

The show itself looks as great as ever and is funny as ever. The best part of this opener was easily the sketch at the beginning, lampooning long anime recaps and timeskips and parodying everything from One Piece to Kemono Friends. They even manage to squeeze in some gags about the live-action movie! It’s also clever choice of them to begin this cour adapting the Kagura’s Boyfriend arc, considering the Rakuyou arc was a fairly serious storyline about Kagura’s family. Here we get to see Umibozu’s last comedic storyline in the show animated and it’s a reminder of how funny the dirty old man is. Most of the humor in this plot comes from Umibozu and Gintoki acting like intrusively overprotective dads, and taking “growing up” a little bit too literally. Yet the episode also sneaks in a genuinely thoughtful conversation between them about forgetting how watching the kids grow up used to make them happy, and realizing they need to let them become adults, and need to start being adults themselves. It’s a thematically important message that was reflected in Kagura coming into her own in the Rakuyo arc, and presented here it’s a great bit of introspection as to her and Umibozu’s character development.

The material doesn’t necessitate grand gestures of animation, but what’s there is enough to sell every scene, and the comedic timing is solid. This cour of Gintama will be back-to-basics hilarious hijinks. Regardless of how impatient you might be to see the final arc animated, Gintama at its funniest is the best anime comedy ever made and getting any more of it should be treasured. It’s certainly more accessible to watch for those who aren’t caught up with the plot, and I can assure you there won’t be many continuity-heavy episodes in this cour (with one exception). That said, the opening definitely implies they will get to everything they haven’t done yet, so this is the last hurrah for purely comedic Gintama. The next season is where it’ll all end, so you’d better enjoy the show while it lasts. – LumRanmaYasha

Konohana Kitan

You scream and everybody comes a running. Take a run and hide yourself away.

You scream and everybody comes a running. Take a run and hide yourself away.

A couple of weeks ago, that great source for intellectual discourse in animation news, “Anime Now!”, described Konohana Kitan as being “kind of like Spirited Away, but with 600% more Fox Girls(!)”

….

If that’s not a selling point I don’t know what is. Unfortunately as we all know however, Anime Now is actually a steaming crap hole of Kotaku rejects (Richard Eisenbeis, ’nuff said), and anything they say must be taken with less of a grain of salt and more of the entire shaker. This is not to say Konohana Kitan is a bad show, in fact its perfectly ok, kinda forgetable actually. Its just you can’t liken anything to Miyazaki without illiciting some sort of spit take. That’s like saying Yuri on Ice is “like Spirited Away but with 1000% more gay sakuga figure skating” because its set in a bathhouse. You just. don’t. do. that.

Well anyway what was this supposed to be about again? Oh yeah, um…fox girls. There’s absoulutely nothing to be said about this show whatsoever, a fact which is quickly becoming a common problem with me and these so-called “healing shows”. There’s nothing to hate so I can’t hate it like you expect me to, but there’s also nothing to like either so I can’t say I like at all. Same problem I have with a show like Aria. I don’t hate Aria but I don’t really feel like there’s any real emotional attachment to continue watching it. Likewise I feel inert to this slice-of-life-as-fuck saga of an insecure (and probably underage) fox girl who is dumped at a remote sauna run by fellow fox girls and repeatedly pistol whipped by her tsundere sempai. Whatever. Ye are a show with nothing notable to say for it.

… other than the fact that the proprietress of the bath house is literally just a retrace of Saber mashed up with Yukikaze from Dog Days. Oh fuck this show just reminded of that show. The flashbacks THE FLASSSSSSSHBAAAAAACKS!!!!!!1312!!@!!!!!!@!@#$!@#$!@$!@$!@$!! – Lord Dalek

Mr. Osomatsu Season 2

 Some things never change..and sometimes that's a good thing!


Some things never change..and sometimes that’s a good thing!

After a year and a half of waiting, our favorite trashy sextuplet NEETS are back! Studio Pierrot’s satirical reimagining of the classic Showa-era gag comedy was a surprising hit with fujoshi and comedy anime fans across the world, and against all odds we’ve been graced with a second season. One might be concerned that the first season was a fluke, and the second wouldn’t live up to it. Certainly, the premiere of the second season couldn’t live up to the first, which was so outrageous that it was banned from every being aired or legally distributed ever again! So does Mr. Osomatsu’s second season premiere recapture the magic?

You can put those worries to bed friends! This premiere delivers a hilariously insane satire of its own success, showing the Matsuno siblings becoming fat, grotesque money-grubbing scumbags that do nothing but laze around and shake the hands of their blindly-passionate fujoshi fans. The show not only mocks how fans have fallen in love with the Matsunos in spite of how disgusting they are, but also how they’ve become such a lucrative franchise that even crappy products can be pedaled to the masses at the highest prices because the fans will but it anyway. The Akira-esque monstrosity that Jyushimatsu has become even devours his own fan, expressing how fans’ love for the franchise is being consumed and exploited for the production committee’s benefit. The show holds nothing back in its honestly cynical meta-commentary of the show’s success and how ridiculous its popularity is, poking fun at both itself and the fans for the situation they’ve found themselves.

If that’s not enough, they also throw in some Go Nagai-esque jabs at the PTA, which storm into the Matsuno house to beat them up for being trashy bad influences. And if that’s not enough, this is only THE FIRST HALF of the episode! The second half gets even crazier, as the past versions of the Matsunos resolve to become a “proper anime,” which apparently involves doing a Your Name. ripoff with a 90’s shoujo aesthetic, Iyami becoming Crystal Boy from Space Adventure Cobra, and a CGI Jyushimatsu. And it all ends with the Matsunos realizing they’ll always be trash not matter what they do. It’s a great commentary on the burlesque nature of the show’s comedy, and a hilarious reassurance of its creative integrity!

So yes, Mr. Osomatsu recaptures the magic of the first season and then some. This was an ingenious premiere that demonstrates the staff is self-aware about why this show is popular and what makes it good, while they give the middle finger to commercial interests and the PTA by saying “fuck you, we’ll do what we want!” Mr. Osomatsu is among the few anime comedies analogous to western animated fare like Ricky and Morty in their defiance of authority and penchant for deliberately political satire and satirical parody. It’s this anarchic spirit that makes it so refreshing in the very homogenous landscape of mundane anime comedies, of which its only real compatriot is Gintama (which happily enough is also airing this season!) So if anything, expect this season to be more bizarre, more offensive, raunchier, and even weirder – because with this show they are no sacred cows, not even the audience. – LumRanmaYasha

Neo Yokio

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE! (also this was the best gag in the whole episode)

HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE!
(Author’s Note: If you were expecting the Toblerone, the reason why its not here is    I only watched the first episode of Neo Yokio and it didn’t come up)                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      ***                                                                     (Author’s Note Addendum: Asking me to post the Toblerone would require me    to watch more episodes of Neo Yokio. In which case… go fuck yourself.)

In case you missed my round of Twitter primal scream therapy over the apocalyptic death mass that is Neo Yokio let me summarize for you. I literally turned off my tv only five seconds in to the episode. FIVE. FUCKING. SECONDS. What made me do it? Was it the awful animation? The Deviantart grade character designs? The awful writing that is literally two Jaden Smiths talking to himself? NOPE! It was the random fucking usage of Johnny Hawksworth’s classic ITV ident jingle “Salute to Thames”. Now for some casuals out there, this would be a minor formality, but that was enough for me to walk away.

…five minutes later I turned it back on. It should have stayed off.

In a year that has given us hot garbage like Hand Shakers and Isekai Smartphone, Neo Yokio is the ultimate insult. A bad brew of insufferable characters engaged in nonsensical activities with the soul purpose of being GQ worthy. There’s no plot here. No structure. No development. Everything is a series of bullet points and lulz parody, like a slightly more expensive episode of Kappa Mikey. If you were to ask the writers of Anime Swag to come up with an actual anime it would be Neo Yokio. The difference being this animu wasn’t devised by Soulja Boy but instead that guy from Vampire Weekend who you think is related to Chekov from Star Trek but probably isn’t. I’d say there is a difference but I am too tired and emotionally dead to care. Such is the long night of the soul that is Neo Yokio

Adding to this is the most eggregiously all-star cast ever wasted on a mindless vanity project since the first season of Captain Planet. Don’t Richard Ayoade, Jude Law, Jason Schwartzman, and Steve Buscemi have something better to do than star in Neo Yokio? What did NoRelationtoChekov give them? Was it a high price? Would that explain why this show was made by Deen? Its just doesn’t make any sense…except for Jaden Smith, he’s garbage and deserves to be the lead. Asshole.

By the end of it I didn’t want to write up Neo Yokio. I wanted to bury myself in my yard and hope I decomposed instead. Neo Yokio was so bad I strongly considered simply copying and pasting Harlan Ellison’s “Hate!” speech from “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” and calling that a review. Alas Marquis talked me out of it. Shame really. It would have been a lot shorter, a lot more entertaining and far more than this dumpster fire deserves. – Lord Dalek

UQ Holder!: Magister Negi Magi Negima! 2

He slices! He dices!

Well well well… look who came crawling back. Ken Akamatsu, my friend, its been….soooo long.

UQ Holder! is the sequel to Negima!, Akamatsu’s fondly remembered attempt to get out of the title of “King of Harems” by writing an action fantasy shonen intstead. It was also a manga that crashed and burned not once but twice in anime form due to a half-assed treatment from those sad basement dwellers at Xebec and subsequent subjection to the early pre-Monogatari days of SHAFT’s art animu obssession. Both of these adaptations petered out before the manga dumped its original harem shit pretense and went full on battle shonen. So instead we have the battle shonen Negima was allegedly supposed to be in the first place…albeit with shit harem antics shoved in. Grreaaat.

80 years after two years worth of Negi’s semen flowed endlessly into Asuna, we have the product of the product of that semen: young Tota. His whole family’s kinda dead though thanks to a nasty car accident. As a result, Tota’s been forced him to live with the rather well endowed (well it is Akamatsu) Yukihime. But surprise, Yukihime’s actually that one vampire from the previous series and is being chased after by nasty salaryman bountyhunters. And then… it gets a little violent. As in limbs flying all over the place. …yay.

Ultimately this is just your bare bones battle shonen introduction episode. We have two characters and a quest, to get to the top of a tower where Tota hopes to find some meaning to a series of visions he keeps having of Grandpa Negi. They don’t actually set out on that quest until the very end and no other characters are introduced so we don’t know what the conflict is exactly. Not surprising for a pretty run of the mill shonen. On a technical scale, UQ Holder! is probably the best looking anime ever produced from an Akamatsu work but then again Akamatsu’s previous sorties into animation were done in the early to mid-2000s when noone gave a crap about frame rates and expressive visuals.

I honestly can’t say much more about UQ Holder! If you’re a fan of Akamatsu and/or every shonen ever made you’ll probably like it. Otherwise its just harmless. – Lord Dalek

Urahara

Using child support for your dose of krokodil.

Using child support for your prescription of krokodil.

Normally, an anime like this should be lauded. It’s an anime original project directed by a relative newcomer, with few other credits. Experimentation in casting is utilized by having the singer of the second Sword Art Online ED (the one that goes ‘Takakuuuu~) play a main character. And instead of just licensing this anime, Crunchyroll is also directly involved in the production. A mixture of subversions that should make for an interesting show, one that can stand out beyond the isekai light novel adaptations and be remembered outside of the season it aired. But something doesn’t click with this series. What should be trendsetting feels decadent. What should aim for the bizarre instead hits the target of mild confusion. Like a fancy, multicolored balloon that pops faster than the plainer red ones. Maybe it’s because it was yet another show that glorified Akihabara, like we needed another after several anime and even a Super Sentai parody indulging in that setting.

But it isn’t bad if you view it from another light. The hallucination-inducing colors and odd character designs beg for a completely different interpretation from what the studio probably intended. For it was at the sight of everybody’s sleepy faces and bushy eyelashes, that I quickly interpreted this show as the main characters’ LSD fantasy. I didn’t care that this show was a weird celebration of Harajuku culture anymore. Instead, it became the sensationalist exploits of drugged-up teenage girls without adult supervision, thinking they’re going on Sid and Marty Krofft adventures when they’re wandering in the middle of the street. That pink girl they befriend? She’s actually a random tourist they kidnap. The UFOs that show up the sky? They’re just the police trying to apprehend them for public indecency and child abduction. Nothing feels quite right in this first episode, making it easy to suspect there’s more going on than what we’re presented. The post-credit scene even supports this theory, as the conscious shrimp tempura the girls were talking to makes a live-action appearance. Perhaps the finale will break the fantasy, and this anime turned out to be a J-Drama in disguise. – BloodyMarquis

2017
08.26

deathnotenatwolff

At last, after over a decade of production talks and Zac Efron scented rumors, we finally have our American Death Note movie. Precious years have been spent to calculate the absolute best way to adapt the series into a film, and all those mountains of research have resulted in a movie where the blind guy from The Fault in Our Stars screams like a little girl for twenty-five seconds. Bask in this new picture, now that the pathos of Death Note has been translated into over the top death scenes worthy of a Final Destination sequel. Where the once genius Light now reveals his Death Note to a girl he only casually knows all so he can get laid. And a climactic series of events that ends with a shop owner smacking L across the back of his head so he can save Kira from the blast of L’s space gun. All those billions of dollars of debt Netflix is currently in was money well spent for this masterpiece of cinema.

Leave it to brilliant director Adam Wingard, creator of such treasured films like that one Blair Witch sequel from last year that everybody forgot, to subvert and mix the familiar tropes we’ve grown tired in Death Note. No longer is Light a young prodigy who could have been destined for greatness, but now a lanky Elliot Rodger wannabe who has no idea how to hide a notebook from anybody. Misa has thrown away her idol trappings to become Mia, an assertive and manipulative young woman who inconsistently switches back to her source material’s personality at inopportune times. And notice how Mia is brunette and Light is blonde, suggesting that the genders and roles have been switched in the relationship between their original counterparts. Or possibly the make up artist fucked up. I dunno. What used to be an aspiring god and his psychotic follower have now become a gaggle of sexually-charged teenagers who use reddit. Truly Wingard’s penchant for modern culture has helped shape Death Note to match our current times. Perhaps in the potential sequel, we will witness Light using tumblr and doxxing tactics to find guilty names to kill.

But let’s not forget about the main villain of our story, Ryuk. Gone is the amoral, but not evil Death God who stayed in the sidelines and watched as Light made a mess out of his godhood. Now he steps forth and takes an active role, alluded to killing federal agents and police officers so the movie doesn’t end at forty or so minutes, until we find out at the last minute that Mia did it all for some reason. As Light’s intelligence has been hampered to reflect Wingard’s view of the modern twenty-one-year teenager, Ryuk and Mia are now our protagonist’s crutch. They are the cane that holds this story from tripping more than it already has. Now, Ryuk has all this cool powers, like the ability to destroy a ferris wheel simply through a wave of his arm. And for that, we must thank Willem Dafoe for what must have been a couple days of voice recording. Not since Marlon Brando’s iconic Superman speech that he refused to memorize and instead read off of a baby’s diaper have we heard such an impassioned performance from a class actor, one that utterly dwarfs his supporting cast and makes them look as qualified as Nickelodeon child stars.

That’s not to besmirch actors such as L’s though, for he makes a grand performance as he fumbles his way to Light during a chase scene almost reminiscent of great works such as Heavy Rain. Focus as L goes out of his way to attack random bystanders during his pursuit for Light, adding some much needed slapstick like shoving a man’s face into a bowl of soup so we as an audience can taste the chaos that is L Lawl—whatever his last name is in this movie. Have a feast for the ears as the movie’s soundtrack switches back and forth from Celine Dion songs to the soundtrack for a future Stranger Things season. Wingard has taken a boy’s adventure comic and turned it into cinema that must be viewed not twice, not thrice, but dozens of time to attain pure enjoyment. With this centerpiece, he has attained quality not seen since the likes of Neil Breen or Len Kabasinski. Make haste with your neighbor’s Netflix password and experience this film as early as you can.

2017
07.31
She's here

I can help!

I don’t like the Avatar comics. Everyone I read had so many large issues and little nitpicks that made Book 2 of Korra look pleasant by comparison. The Search was so bad that I wished they kept the story of Zuko’s mom an unanswered riddle if this was going to be their explanation. I could forgive them if they were just regular tie-in comics written by nobodies I had never heard of, but these were written by Gene Luen Yang, a comic writer whose works I’ve enjoyed. Were The Last Airbender comics just a years-long accident that not even an award-winning author could make readable? Because by comparison, Turf Wars wasn’t that bad. Doesn’t mean it’s great. If you hated the storytelling in Legend of Korra, this won’t change your minds one bit. But Turf Wars at least felt more like Korra than The Search or The Promise felt like the first series. I could at least recognize character interactions as natural progressions from the show, instead of weird dialogue written by people who had seemingly never heard of the Avatar franchise before starting their script.

And I suppose that’s damning with faint praise when it’s Bryan and Mike writing this comic. I will commend them for building a couple character moments for Korra and Asami at the beginning, making their relationship look more fluid than the last-minute hookup in The Last Stand. But immediately after when Korra breaks the news to her parents, well at least they still remember Korra’s headstrong personality. Her calling out Tonraq as narrow-minded and unaccepting just for telling her to watch out for people who might not approve of her relationship and nothing more was aggravating, but predictable. Yeah, another scene where Korra’s an asshole to one of her loved ones just because they’re advising her on what to do. That’s our Korra! But after over five years of plotting and figuring out how to pin down her character, Mike and Bryan seem like they’re still on step one. She’s still this headstrong idiot who jumps to conclusions and constantly has to fix problems she caused herself. If they don’t know what else to do with Korra’s character beyond that, then what’s the point of this comic beyond keeping a franchise from complete dormancy?

Not even the new villains have that same spark that Amon or Zaheer had. Like Wongyong Keum, the capitalist business tycoon who wants to turn the spirit-inhabited parts of Republic City into an amusement park so he can bilk money from tourists. He’s that corrupt business villain you’ve seen in hundreds of other cartoons, except you can’t even get the joy of hearing a voice actor give a smarmy, over the top performance. Even when Asami chews him out for walking out on a deal with her father years ago, he doesn’t even have the sense to remark that her father was a terrorist at the time. He’s just a bad guy we’re supposed to boo because he likes money more than others’ well-being, and does nothing to justify his behavior or actions. I liked him better when he was Book 2 Varrick.

Then we have Tokuga, the ruthless young upstart who’s taking over the gangs in Republic City. He has those curved swords that Jet used back in the day, so maybe the next issue will say he’s his great-great nephew or something. And he’s a chi blocker too, in case you missed Ty Lee or the Equalists too. You might be thinking “But neither Jet nor Ty Lee were serious threats by themselves. What does Tokuga have that they don’t?” Cunning? Savvy that previous Avatar villains lacked? Well guess what? He gets infected by a spirit and grows a tentacle arm and a fish face. And his fish face looks a little like burn scars, so he’s Zuko too! That’s your new main villain of the story. Fuck you. Be happy he doesn’t have some secret fifth bending ability that’s never been seen before. At least, I hope not.

Oh yeah, Zhu Li is hinted to be running against Raiko for Republic City president. I assume Bryan and Mike will find a way for him to say “Make Republic City Great Again” or “bigly” or some other wink to the readers. Perhaps he’ll literally drain the Swamp? I’m sure we’ll all remember this subplot when the next part comes out six months from now. On the kind of bright side, at least Bolin joins the police? Depends on what you think of Bolin though. Even if you liked Bolin, his bit in this comic isn’t much. They could have said he was away trying to resurrect his film career and no one would have noticed he was gone. Ditto for Mako. He was a nonentity too, and I wonder what place he has in the series anymore. Book 1 painted him as Korra’s central love interest, but that’s completely gone now, and he hasn’t any real character arc since then. We already have Lin if we want a crime subplot, so what can you do with Mako? For all its worth, at least the comic treats him better than Tenzin, whose role as Korra’s mentor dissipated early into the show and never resolidified since. They don’t even need him as an airbending master now that Jinora and Zaheer are around. He may as well have died during that fight with the Red Lotus in Book 3. I would have preferred that since it would have drastically increased the emotional stakes in that season.

But let’s get to the main point, and the reason why anybody’s talking about this comic: Korra and Asami’s relationship. While I like that the comic gives them some relationship moments, many other scenes feel too on the nose. The first nine pages are dedicated to reminding us that Korra and Asami are in love, and then we’re treated to exposition regarding the Avatar world’s stance on gay rights that feel dissonant in light of Korra’s relationship with Asami back in the show. I liked how subtle that last scene in the series where Korra and Asami express their feelings to each other was, and Turf Wars feels like it wasn’t to 180 and make it as obnoxious to watch as Korra’s previous bouts with love. Like the writers want to make up for lost time by shoving in as much relationship drama as there was for Korra and Mako back in the show. Romantic subplots have never been Bryan and Mike’s strong suit. Maybe if they made some strides in furthering Korra and Asami’s individual personalities first, so when they’re together it creates all sorts of chemistry. But for now, it just feels like the book congratulating itself for making Korra and Asami a couple instead of showing why they’re in love and how this changes them both as people. As if the comic itself were a gold star the show patched onto a paper because it was so proud of its efforts. But in doing that, the story itself feels like it’s retreading old ground instead of going to new journeys. If this is what we’re going to get from Korra, maybe Bryan and Mike should have started an entirely new comic about an Earth Kingdom Avatar to let some new air flow in.

2017
07.16

Battle Girl High School: Battle Girl Project

The next generation of Wake Up Girls, where they bring up the Srebrenica Massacre instead of 9/11.

The next generation of Wake Up Girls, where they bring up the Srebrenica Massacre instead of 9/11.

BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

…Pfft, okay. What’s the real name of this show?

Wait, this show is seriously called “Battle Girl High School: Battle Girl Project”?

…BWHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Okay, so, BGHS:BSP is exactly what you think it is. It’s an anime about a bunch of girls who fight battles in futuristic armor against some alien threat while also going to a high school where they learn how to fight battles. It’s painfully dull and I found myself resisting the urge to open up another tab and just scroll through Tumblr on multiple occasions. No, scratch that. I gave into that urge about halfway through the first episode because everything was such a slog. One big problem is that the first episode quickly introduces us to about twenty girls and makes it impossible to learn anything about a single one of them outside an archetype such as “gamer” girl or “slightly cuter than the other girls” girl. Another is that the episode doesn’t give us anything to latch onto and care about as an audience. Oh, the girls are fighting worse than they usually do? But they still beat the threat in a curbstomp battle, so why should we care? Oh, these two girls are going to get their respective clubs shut down by the school? Wait, nevermind, a friend is going to pull some strings for them. Oh, the episode ends on the shock reveal of another battle girl? I certainly can’t recall the names of any of the girls as it is, so why are you giving me another one?

“Battle Girl High School: Battle Girl Project” is nothing but a commercial for a smartphone game. It’s not a good show. It’s not even bad in a humourous way. It’s a lame show that’s exactly what it says on the tin. Most of you have probably been ignoring this show or weren’t aware of its existence. You may continue doing that. Those that are contemplating watching it right now? Do what you like, but trust me when I say your time is better spent elsewhere. – RacattackForce

In Another World With My Smartphone

There is no way out of here. It will be dark soon.

There is no way out of here. It will be dark soon.

As you can surmise from the obscenely long (but not as long as that forgettable WorldEnd garbage from last season) title, this is based off a light novel. A light novel where a dorky NEET dies in a freak accident and then gets reincarnated in a fantasy land where a bunch of women immediately fall for him and RPG cliché parody hijinx ensue. In other words….. its Konosuba….again.

What’s worse…its the BAD version of Konosuba…

.

..

HOW IS THAT EVEN POSSIBLE??? KONOSUBA WAS ALREADY THE BAD VERSION OF KONOSUBA!!! WHAT DOES THAT MAKE THE GOOD VERSION?!? TANYA THE EVIL??? PLEASE DON’T SAY YES. FOR THE LOVE OF GOD…

(ahem)

Well anyway, normal guy gets sent to magic land with one request, to be able to use his phone despite having no coverage whatsoever (surprisingly despite being in the title, that fact barely comes up in the plot at all). He quickly shacks up with a pair of Rem/Ram clones and goes into freelance monster hunting because isn’t that what you’re supposed to do RPG-pastiche lands like this. Infodumps and moe follow punctuated by absolutely awful eyecatch-esque transition cards. Splendid.

There is nothing worth watching here and I say that as somebody who tried to watch Konosuba past the first episode and crawled into a fetal position as a result. Its like somebody read Konosuba, said “Hey you know what this needs to be more like? Sword Art Online!”, and this was the result. Take out the blatant sexism and cringecom and replace it with a bland overpowered protagonist and a bland overpowered battle harem (as opposed to the underpowered, mentally challenged harem of that other show). And just for zest give main dude Kirito’s coat but flip the colors because we don’t want to give it away ahahahahahahaha…Yeah no. – Lord Dalek

Koi to Uso

But they're like an open book.

But they’re like an open book.

What if, to fight declining birth rates, the Japanese government assigned everyone a marriage partner as soon as they turn sixteen by way of genetic matching? And what if two teenagers who are in love with each other find themselves matched with other people? Well, you’ll get an interesting wrapper for your love triangle story.

I’m a bit weird when it comes to romance works in that I have yet to nail down what elements I’m fine with been added on top of the story. It’s the reason why while everyone else was heaping praise upon “Your Name” last year, I was sitting there wondering why the hell they added time travel to body swap romance story. I’m not sure how I feel about the inciting incident for story being the result of government mandated marriage (something which actually leaves a lot of plot issues up in the air all on its own). But that might actually be secondary to the fact that this first episode didn’t do much for me in wanting to see Nejima and Takasaki become a couple. I’m not saying that they don’t have chemistry, but I am saying that the show’s introductory episode failed to let us know enough about these two for me to actively root for their attempt to get past some asinine babymaking system. They may look cute together, but they developed crushes on each other because Nejima gave our main heroine half an eraser several years back. I need a bit more than that before you can tell me that these two are meant to be.

But at the same time, I can’t be too hasty here. Romance stories are slow burns by their very nature of needing such relationships to develop over the course of weeks and months within the narrative. If you rush it, then it doesn’t feel as real as it should be. And so I hesitate on passing substantial judgement on “Love and Lies” right now. Especially since, despite what I’ve said about not feeling invested, I don’t think the show has a bad start. Just an average one that is a bit hampered by a silly premise. Maybe things pick up in the second episode? Maybe not. All I know is that the government marriage thing just sounds like eugenics. I mean, the show itself even says that part of the goal is to increase overall IQ. That should probably be acknowledged by someone in the show, just saying. – RacattackForce

Made in Abyss

Rude.

Rude.

One of the things that I pay close attention to when reading, watching or playing fantasy or science-fiction works is how they go about explaining the nature of their world within the first five minutes, and how well they accomplish such a task. After all, these are genres that not only have the task of establishing the tone of the piece and introducing us to the current situation, but also relaying what makes this world so different from ours. It’s a huge task that can be easy to screw up, resulting in our audience losing interest. Too much explaining and you’ll find your reader/viewer/player bored out of their minds. Too little, and they’re confused. Finding out how much you need to immediately make clear, and the proper method to give this information, is a difficult tightrope act. And considering how “Made in Abyss” was the only show this season whose description piqued my interest, I’m happy that it manages to pull it off.

“Made in Abyss” takes place in an alternate world where exists an island in the South Sea that hosts a kilometer-wide pit that goes only-God-knows how deep into the Earth. The characters reside in a town on the edge of this hole known as the Abyss, with the sides of said pit being host to a beautiful forest world that’s full of ancient treasure to discover and monsters to encounter as you go deeper down. It’s an enticing call to adventure that’s tinged by the fact that this is also a world where stringing up naked children at the top of a building for disobedience and forcing the more rowdy ones to live in actual torture chambers. In this way, the world of “Made in Abyss” is at once alluring yet fills you with a sense of apprehension, immediately priming the viewer to expect the narrative to become darker and more serious as things progress. It is a welcome warning that is communicated well and makes me curious as to what exactly will be happening as we uncover the mystery of what this hole in the ground is, where Regu the robot boy came from, and just what happened to Riko’s mother.

The skill with which the tone of the series is established extends to other aspects of the universe as well. Terminology is dropped with just the right context such that the audience can understand what the characters are talking about. Characters are introduced to the audience in a natural, low-key way, either through simple conversation or short actions that perfectly communicate who these people are and the history they have with each other. Any questions raised as you watch the program are either answered in short measure or are mysteries that the characters themselves are searching for the answers to. Oh, and this isn’t a narrative thing, but this is almost worth watching just for the visual design alone, with background and character designs that wouldn’t look out of place in a book of fairy tales. Watching the first episode of “Made in Abyss” was an incredibly pleasant experience, especially in comparison to some of the show this anime season, and I happily recommend you check it out. – RacattackForce

Mahoujin Guru Guru

3rd Gig still never happening. ;-;

3rd Gig still never happening. ;-;

(my apologies to Italian weeaboos who grew up with this show)

No, seriously. Someone stop with these time slips. I already had to deal with early 2000s softcore yaoi, now I have to go through pre-Pokemon 90s children’s anime that spoofs Super Famicom JRPGs? I can’t wait for what next season of anime unfolds. Maybe a mecha show that hearkens back to the Voltes V and Daimos, or a Rose of Versailles pastiche, or perhaps that Gridman show can come out early? Just something else that captures that memory of going to a Chinese supermarket and finding VCDs of anime I had never heard of, alongside those used copies of Dragonball GT where Baby Vegeta looks off model on the cover, and the Mandarin subtitles are burned in.

Anyway, about this show? They keep saying “yuusha” over and over again, almost as if it was a verbal tic, or they were begging for that Maoyu Mao Yuusha show to come back. They say it in almost every sentence, and I almost wanted to mute the audio so I didn’t have to hear them say it again. Maybe it’s meant for the kid audience who won’t get what this show’s about unless you repeat it a hundred times. Or some in-joke to some early internet meme I was never made privy to. But it’s probably the former, since they rush shit so hard in this show. I can’t help but think this was an entire season of that old 90s show adapted into a single episode, because this show needs to sit down for a time out, possibly get some Ritalin or some other bootleg medication to that effect. It’s annoying, candy-colored, loud, and makes me want to hide in a corner until some brave dubbing company gives it a gag dub like that Shin-chan thing from a decade ago. Because this is giving me back a couple childhood memories I didn’t want back. Now please go away. – BloodyMarquis

My First Girlfriend is a Gal

Now its dark.

Now its dark.

When shows are “highly anticipated”, its usually due to a lot pre-existing hype. Either because its an adaptation of a very popular work, its a sequel to something that did rediculously well in its last go around, or it has a bunch of all-star names working on it. In this case, its an apparently very popular manga. I wouldn’t know. I’ve never heard of Hajimete no Gal until it got announced a couple months ago. So I’m out of the loop here and have to go on what I see before me. And what I see…is complete garbage.

I’m going to be perfectly honest here. HnG is the second coming of Eiken. Oh sure its not over the top disgusting as Eiken but its Eiken none the less. Boobs! Pervs! Skanks! Torture! Shame! Indifference! Its like a death march through an endless oppai gauntlet. Only television censorship of the quality seen in another piece ecchi hell I remember from years past called “Imoucho” keeps me from feeling like I’m going to jail for creeper bait.

I have therefore come to the conclusion that this is supposed to be some sort of prequel to Prison School. This is the only way to explain the hellish depravity on display here. I can only take solace in the idea that the male protagonists are going to end up getting whipped to death by women with bigger cup sizes than this horrific lot. Now somebody out there fly to Japan and throw this show into the same furnace that Doraemon ’71 ended up in. It would be a fitting punishment. – Lord Dalek

 

Princess Principal

THE OMELET WAS A LIE.

THE OMELET WAS A LIE.

THE HORROR. THE HORROR.

I knew nothing of what it is was that I had I clicked on. All I had was a title: “Princess Principal”, clearly an adaptation of some dating sim. I bet they were all the player character’s sister or something. But then a single name came on the screen and my face became pale and numb. I could not feel a single bone in my body for the amount of terror had canceled out every nerve and every neuron in my body. It was a name I had seen many years before. The first time was on a show where a very thin man did some sort of hand trick and made his eye glow, it had been very popular but its fans contracted conjunctivitis some time later and all died. Then there was a show about a guy named Shoe who’s pop idol girlfriend was actually his sister leading to Oedipus complex or something. And then there was this show about giant robot vampires who had to rape each other to survive because amnesia or something. This last show was the one. The one that made me want to die most of all. And he wrote it. This man…this “Ichirou Ohkuchi” was one of the banes of my existance. Only Reki Kawahara and Nisio Isin had caused more emotional distress and feelings of guilt and self-loathing. Knowing this I wanted to turn away, but I had to press on and for my sins I did.

The show was set in a steampunk world not too disimilar from that of the author’s earlier work involving codes and gasses. Little girls from a Black Lizard Planet (a scary sounding place as any) were trying to escort a man in a bowler hat out of the country. Actually they were all just spies, exactly for whom I did not know. It was ultimately just a harem show with thick bodices and goth lolitas. People talked and talked but nothing made sense. Nevertheless there was an eye condition causing mental instability so it clearly fit in with the writer’s previous works. The outcome too was predetermined, the little girls killed everyone and I felt nothing. I am no fan of loli assassins, and this example was one of the more…how would you say… “half-assed”.

Princess Principal was bland, drab, and soulless. It was nothing more than a stream of half-baked cliches I had seen in other works. I found myself unable to write much on it so the only way was to do some sort of Conrad/Lovecraftian pastiche on the matter. I had reached that level of uncreativity that the show itself was already existing on. It was only a matter of time that I would want to watch something like Unbreakable Machine-Doll again. And that thought was the one that made me wretch.

THE HORROR. THE HORROR. – Lord Dalek

2017
07.09

18if

18if.png

18if.png

This is perhaps the single most bizarre show I have yet done in the five years since I’ve started writing articles for the seasonal clusterfuck. Watching I had absolutely no idea what was going on, who any of the characters were, or where the hell it was supposed to be going And yet… I simply couldn’t take my eyes off of it. That is how utterly absurd 18if really is. It simply dares you to look away and not in the car accident in progress style of Hand Shakers or something of that ilk. No this is just…what?

Sooo this is about an asshole who gets stuck in a dream world dominated by witches who come out of his cellphone. Said witches are really just tsunderes who wish to punish him for his lack of sincerity. Killing the witch kicks them out of the dream world and our jerkface keeps repeating the process until…I don’t know…SOMETHING! Also there’s a talking cat played by Koyasu that the Tsundere Witch of the Week ™ turns into a cake and eats.

If I were to be offered a guess, I would think this was Gonzo’s attempt at a Modoka/Date-A-Live hybrid with a little Persona thrown in for zest. That makes it far from the most original show around and yet it kinda feels a bit refreshing. It seems to me that this is largely due to the OTT presentation and not its rather limpid production values (of course it looks like crap, its Gonzo!) I cannot say for the life of me if this was a good show (leaning towards “It was ok”) but I am vaguely intrigued enough to come back.

Also Theron hates it. It must be good! – Lord Dalek

Akumajou Dorakyura

1387574288552

Wow this is the moe hit of the season! A gender flipped tsundere named Vorado Tepeshu isn’t too happy when his wife gets burned at the stake! A bara named Rarufu Shi-Berumondo is hired to make friends with him because Vorado’s temper tantrums are turning the sky red! However a yandere named Cipher Farnandez wants to date Rarufu too! And what’s this? Vorardo has a hot son?!? OOOOOH LOVE TRIANGLE!!!

This is apparently an adaption of an old Family Computer vidcon from the 1940s or something. I’ve never heard of it! And who the heck is Ko-nami? I though they only made pachinko! Why can’t they make an animu of my favorite pachinko game Metaru Geah? Everybody knows that game didn’t get good until they added ZOOOMMMBIES! Hur hur hur!

I don’t know why its in English though. Who are those people?!? Why is that guy played by a dwarf? Definitely 10/10 show will watch again! Now why do none of the buttons on my tv work?!? DO YOU HAVE TO EXPLOIT A FLAW IN THE SYSTEM!?!? — DarkSydePhivator

But seriously folks…

Castlevania is FUCKING AWESOME. Its written by Warren Ellis and stars Richard Armitage as the coolest Tevor Belmont ever. In fact the whole cast is awesome. Kinda makes me sad this is just animated as it would be the best video game movie of all time. Only drawback is that its only four episodes long and doesn’t even get very far into the plot of Castlevania III which this is an adaption of. But hey! Netflix liked what they saw and have already greenlit a second season. Best anime of the season and I don’t care if it was actually made in Texas. — Lord Dalek

Convenience Store Boyfriends

Episode didn't load. So fuck you, here's a poem.

Episode didn’t load. So fuck you, here’s a poem.

Pry open the doors, and I enter my
Oral Sanctuary.
O, Convenience Store.
Full of chips, drinks, and wings.
Lukewarm pizza, stale nachos.
Makes my arteries sing.
And my blood into gazpacho.
Cashier looks at me like a dog looks at its master.
I wish to pet him, but my hands are only for buffalo, not for dogs.
I demand this wage slave give me wings.
Wings by the dozen. Wings by the barrel.
I am beyond a mortal man. I am a god of wings.
I stare as he places each wing into a box.
Each treasure into a chest.
But then he gives me one extra wing.
One extra wing.
One extra wing.
Insert verse that vaguely involves politics.
One extra wing.
My feelings change. He is no longer a dog.
He is now my lust.
I move to give him a kiss.
But his soft lips reply to me,
“What the fuck are you doing, you freak?”
He smacks me, pushes security alarm on the back.
My hands grab the box. My mind steals the wings.
But he has stolen my heart.
His anger. Only a delay in my path. Only a delay.
Soon, cashier will be as easy to chew as a wing.
When I have him as my wing,
I can finally fly
Flexing my wings, buff and low.
– Nozomi

Fate/Apocrypha

Twin Peaks: "The Return Part 8" Director: David Lynch, 2017

Twin Peaks — “The Return: Part VIII” Dir.: David Lynch, 2017

As I write this I’m already hard at work on another one of my semi-monthly editorials about what grinds my gears about the anime biz at home and abroad for Geek Soul Brother. This month’s subject is about what I perceive to be how various streaming companies are, in their effort to clamp down on various fansub groups and 5th market streaming sites, basically shooting themselves in the foot through egomania and baffling decisions as to when and where you’ll be able to watch shows legally. Case in point: Fate/Apocrypha, the latest installment in Kinoko Nasu’s ever popular waifu-bait franchise which will be hitting our shores… IN NOVEMBER from Netflix. And what has this managed to accomplish? Why dragging an officially dead subgroup out of the crypt in the shape of UTW of course! Great job Netflix, you’ve brought us back to the good ol days of 2004. No wonder Saiyuki got a new season!

Well might as well get it out of the way I guess. In an alternate universe where Indiana Jones is apparently canon, the Holy Grail War ended when the Nazis stole the bloody thing in the Third War back in the 40s. That hasn’t stopped various factions to stage their own sad pathetic knockoff Grail Wars for…honestly I’m not sure. However, a nefarious organization called Yggdillennia led by the now-immortal nazi responsible for the Grail’s initial disappearance has arisen and challenged the forces of good to a seven on seven Grail War for control of the genuine article. To make matters worse, said Nazi has surrounded himself with an army of off-brand Trade Federation battle droids and poor schlubs stuck in bacta tubes for easy mana. Ultimately though its just an excuse to introduce our new Saber, now commanded by some burly dude who seems to have had a run in with Wolverine or something. Hint hint, she kinda killed her mom.

If that description seems sketchy at best its because literally nothing happened in this episode. And by that, I mean nothing but infodumps. We’re introduced to several characters we know next to nothing about except for one dude who I think is Waver and a priest who bares a very strong resemblance to Shirou Emiya…albeit with Kotomine’s hair cut. Hmmmm. Otherwise its basically the first episode of Fate/Zero again albeit with one major drawback…its half as long. While Zero had a whole hour to develop the various factions descending on Fuyuki City, this show throws us in head first requiring either a viewing of any of the previous tv series (well except Prisma Ilya) or suffering through the actual game. Its disorienting to say the least.

Production wise, Apocrypha is a big, and I mean BIG, drop from Unlimited Blade Works. With Ufotable still making their Heaven’s Feel movies, Type-Moon had to farm this one off to A-1 and the results are not pretty. Remember that dynamic feature film quality animation? Well its gone now. In its place is the usual stiff low frame rate crap we’ve come to expect from the perpetually overrated A-1. And while never quite reaching the abyss that was Deen’s work on the franchise you’d be compelled not to think this wasn’t some cheap Hong Kong knockoff of Fate, maybe made by Tencent.

When it comes down to it though, the main problem with Fate/Apocrypha is right there in its title. Its simply aprocryphal. In no way are you getting a decent Fate experience out of this episode. Maybe that’s why it won’t be available legally until November. Aniplex didn’t want you to complain about having to wait 7 days for another half hour of nothing. Sounds like a plan. – Lord Dalek

Dive!!

Don't get your hopes up.

Don’t get your hopes up.

Dive!! is this season’s noitaminA show. Remember noitaminA? That awful fake-artsy josei block that we all kinda forgot about after Ranpo Kitan? Well now they’ve dumped the fake-artsy part and gone full on fujoshit. And what better way to do it than ripping off the most popular piece of fujoshit around, Free! I mean its so timely, everybody loves Fre-

…I’m sorry, I’ve just been informed Free! hasn’t been popular in over five years and we’ve all moved on from gay swimmers to gay figure skaters. Smooth Fuji TV, real smooth.

Well anyway… here’s a show about gay platform divers! Local Shota Tomoki wants to get it on with his sempai Youichi but he’s got a problem. The diving club both are members of has hit rock bottom in both finance and morale. But Tomoki’s too busy moping over his memories of when Youichi’s pecks gave him the courage to jump into their amazingly badly done CGI pool. There’s also some girl who’s trying to cock block that yaoi but like any of that matters.

This show is bad. Very, very bad. The animation (by Zero-G, whoever the hell they are) is stiff and lifeless, proving KyoAni really are the masters of hot pecks hitting cool water in anime. But then again KyoAni actually animated their water. The entire platform is CGI and terrible CGI at that. It reminded me of that Alice & Zouroku show from last year and you all remember how greeaaaaaaaat the CGI was in that show. But the main problem with this episode is its pretty painfully dull. Nothing really happens until the last 30 seconds and by then I have completely checked out from Tomoki staring at Youichi with his drippy blue eyes. And that reminds me of another major problem with this show, the character designs. They’re butt ugly! There hasn’t been a cast of disfigured creeps this bad since Ping Pong I swear.

Come back Pimp-Kun, all is forgiven! – Lord Dalek

SAIYUKI RELOAD BLAST

YOUR CHILDHOOD SUCKED.

Saiyuki enters the Post Attack on Titan-era

Well well well, look who came crawling back. You know honestly, I cannot believe I’m actually writing up a season of fucking Saiyuki. You know how long ago the last one was? 2003! I WAS A FRESHMAN IN COLLEGE! Marquis was probably learning arithmetic! Lum was probably still sucking off his mother’s tit! FIFTEEN FUCKING YEARS! Hell both companies that released this shit went out of business and one of them almost killed the industry altogether! That’s how far apart we are from the awful anime of that era. Therefore the only way to crown this awful era is to make brand spankin new Saiyuki Reload!

So in case you’ve banished this chapter of your Anime Club life to the back of your memory, a brief refresher. Gensoumaden Saiyuki is a very loose retelling of Journey to the West set in a vaguely modern day world and replacing the three anthropomorphic animals with pretty boys, and the pretty boy priest with a not-so pretty boy who smokes too much. Also they now drive a hummer instead of riding horses because horses are shit now. To be fair the show recaps all of that because again ITS BEEN FIFTEEN FUCKING YEARS, but as there’s hardly anything else to talk about I needed the filler.

So Priest Sanzo, Son Goku (yes THAT Son Goku), Hakkai, and Gojyo are still hunting demons, unable to go back to Shang-ri-la until they’re all dead. This clearly hasn’t been working out for them though as they’re currently starving to death and forced to depend on the “hospitality” of yet another dumpy village with a deep dark secret(tm)…which really doesn’t matter because they quickly split after killing some demons. Shaky cam! Grainy effects! Blood splatters! Butt rock! Its like the Bush years never ended!!!

If I can say anything at all about this show, its that its a pretty textbook reintroduction episode. No plot, basic characterization, enough to give you a basic taste of a standard Saiyuki episode without dumping the baggage of Saiyuki’s ongoing storyline on top of you. In that regard its a roaring success with one small problem…this is Saiyuki and Saiyuki was NEVER GOOD. The Sanzo party is a bunch of unlikable ciphers who either crack crappy jokes or argue insistently with each other. The village is just as forgettable, a mere pit stop that the gang has to visit in order to wash up for their new tv contract. No better is this illustrated than in the reaction of one of the town elders going “WTF was that about” as they drive off into the sunset. I feel his pain. I really do. – Lord Dalek

Vatican Kiseki Chousakan

CORRECTION: You can show that in a Christian manga!

CORRECTION: You can show that in a Christian manga!

Did I wander into a time portal again? Because this feels so early 2000s, I felt as if I was watching this on the AZN Network. Flashy art. Obsessive subtitle naming of every character (except some of the women). Unsubtle yaoi subtext. Christianity allusions that are well researched but still feel off somehow. Angsty shower scenes where somebody flashes back to their ailing little brother. I know some of those tropes aren’t confined to that specific time period, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen them all at once like this. Maybe it’s meant to be a throwback, to appeal to older disillusioned anime fans. But they couldn’t think of anything actually interesting, so they just made what was popular back over a decade ago and expected people to latch on purely through indirect nostalgia. To the kind of people who made Trinity Blood AMVs with whatever Evanescence song they had in their folder.

Just like that Altair show airing on the same day. Even though they look completely different, they blur together for me. Mostly because nothing really stands out in either of these shows, besides the occasional fanservice, phallic imagery, or odd animation. They’re the hot pockets of pretty boy anime, not even actual hot pockets, but the knockoff hot pockets you buy at a 7/11 because you want to pretend that you’re living dangerously when in fact you’re giving yourself stomach pain for no good reason. Ironically fitting that a Christian anime is as boring as actually going to church. You’d probably find more amusement from those cartoons Christians make that rerun alongside Bibleman and Gina D’s Kids Club.

I guess give it a watch if you want something that makes Catholicism less interesting than an episode of Mother Angelica. Or if you’re really horny but also patient horny so you can wait 12 weeks for potential gayness, then be disappointed that it’s just implied instead of outright there so you feel like you wasted your life on an anime about gay priests. – BloodyMarquis

2017
07.05

Sup, NEETs? We're back for more.

Sup, NEETs? We’re back for more.

Aho-Girl

You can't even get out of bed on your own, you'll forgive us for being skeptical that you can wipe yourself.

You can’t even get out of bed on your own, you’ll forgive us for being skeptical that you can wipe yourself.

Aho-Girl succeeds where Aoyama-kun fails. It takes a character defined by their exaggerated quirk and pushes the limits of what you can do with them in creative and unpredictable ways. Maybe it’s helped by its 11-minute runtime, but I didn’t tire of the comedy even though there’s a clear formula: Yoshiko does or says something stupid, there’s a banana joke or sexual harassment or both, and then Akkun hits her. It’s a really obvious formulaic structure that they just repeat a few times throughout the episode, but each time they execute it in a way where the repetitiveness doesn’t distract.

Yoshiko is such a larger than life idiot that everything she does defies common sense and your expectations of how dumb she can get. Poorly pasting her face onto pictures of models in a porn mag so Akkun will get aroused? It’s just so dumb, but her honest enthusiasm in everything she says and does, no matter how inane or mean-spirited, somehow makes her more endearing than obnoxious. It helps that she receives regular comeuppance from Akkun’s physical and verbal put-downs. These admittedly tip-toe the line into uncomfortable domestic abuse territory, but here it always feels justified and was hilarious in how over-the-top and dramatic they’d be.

Aho-Girl is the kind of mean-spirited one-joke comedy that you’re either going to find hilarious or horrendous. I like my comedy a little mean and love seeing sociopaths screw around, so I fall on the former side. I got some real great belly laughs out of this episode and love the kind of kooky character Yoshiko is and the great sarcastic sardonic contrast provided by Akkun. It might wear out it’s welcome in a marathon, but a short weekly 11-minute dose of it stands to be a great pick-me up after a grueling Tuesday workday. Aho-Girl is good dumb fun, and while it’s no Konosuba, we can always use one of those kind of shows every season. – LumRanmaYasha

Clean Freak! Aoyama-kun

Aoyama-kun either must have a really dirty ass, or really like it up his.

Aoyama-kun either must have a really dirty ass, or really like it up his.

Aoyama-kun is trying to take a Sakamoto-esque inhumanly “perfect” character and make him the lead of a shonen sports comedy. It’d be interesting if it committed to one direction, because the execution flounders on both fronts. Aoyama-kun’s jokes are predictable and repetitive series of Aoyama obsessively cleaning things, people over-reacting and yelling really loud, and devolving into a super-deformed chibi-style. The latter is usually a pretty good sign that a series’ sense of humor is pretty unoriginal, because it’s banking on the fact that the audience will find chibi sequences inherently cute and humorous simply from the aesthetic. Instead it just feels trite, and the series overuses these moments to the point of formula. Even the episode’s punchline, where it’s revealed that Aoyama only attended the school because their toilets had bidets, is so obvious that it just doesn’t land. The series seems really fond of taking one joke based around a character’s quirk, like Aoyama’s obsession with cleanliness or the rival’s obsession with his pecs, and running that joke into the ground with incessant repetition. Aoyama-kun’s jokes are rarely funny the first time, and far less every time they’re repeated.

It doesn’t work as a compelling sports narrative either. While Aoyama proves he’s dedicated to playing soccer by the episode’s end, most of the runtime is him either being literally untouchably perfect or frustratingly immobile, so he’s not a particularly compelling protagonist. Maybe we’ll learn why he’s even playing soccer when he’s such a germaphobe in the future, for the moment he just doesn’t seem dedicated or motivated enough in a way that a sports series protagonist really needs to be.

Aoyama-kun could’ve worked if it committed to its comedic angle and took Aoyama-kun’s obsession with cleanliness to absurd extremes. But the series breaks its commitment to its premise by the end of the first episode, showing that Aoyama is capable of getting dirty when he needs to. That really removes the only thing providing a sense of stakes to the sports aspect of the series and mitigates the grounding of the comedy. It’s not unwatchable, and you might get something out of it if you really like chibi-style comedy and shirtless dudes. But I was actually in the mood to watch a soccer anime after reading Shudan!, and it wouldn’t have taken much to get me on board for one. If Aoyama-kun couldn’t endear me, it’s unlikely to impress anyone else.

I do like the ED, which plays homage to classic sports anime aesthetic. If the show was centered around that gimmick, then maybe it’d at least have more charm. – LumRanmaYasha

Fate/Apocrypha

Well, be careful what you wish for...

Well, be careful what you wish for…

This sure was the first episode of a Fate show. Lots of exposition, over explaining the grail war, a needless convoluted conflict between multiple factions, all ending with the summoning of the servants with the final shot being, of course, Saber showing up. Except she’s not the same Saber, but her descendant Mordred, who’s apparently more of a tomboyish shonen character I guess. Honestly, whatever. I liked Fate/Zero and all, but everything else related to the Fate franchise hasn’t impressed me, and I find it hard to believe an A-1 pictures adaptation of a light novel spinoff of the series is going to win me over. At least not in the first episode, which again, is literally just the first episode of every Fate show ever. Hopefully future episodes will make me start caring about the characters and what’s at stake, because right now this just feels like a less visually impressive re-tread of the same story again. – LumRanmaYasha

Fox Spirit Matchmaker

BLAH BLAH BLAH JOKE.

BLAH BLAH BLAH JOKE.

BLAH BLAH BLAH TENCENT

BLAH BLAH BLAH MANHUA

BLAH BLAH BLAH FOX DEITIES

BLAH BLAH BLAH ARRANGED MARRIAGES

BLAH BLAH BLAH FORCED COMEDY

BLAH BLAH BLAH ITS JUST SPIRIT PACT

BLAH BLAH BLAH……………………….AGAIN — Bob Loblaw

Kakegurui

Would you fuck me?

Would you fuck me?

Oh shit, a first episode that I liked! I was genuinely not expecting to enjoy this so much. So Kakegurui, or Compulsive Gambling, is a high school show all about the machinations and agonies of gambling huge amounts of money. People who seem sweet at first become utterly demonic when playing cards, sacrificing millions of yen just to have a chance to mentally break their enemy. Nobody’s really your friend. The caste system is in full effect. Money and the ability to own other people is so important that it goes beyond the evils of regular capitalism and right into old school feudalism. Your future and your debt can rely entirely on underestimating a situation. And the only things that can save you are luck and a miraculously good poker face. In other words, a metaphor for regular high school.

I was astounded by how this episode made a game of rock, paper, scissors horrifying. Every move was treated like a nuclear ultimatum. And what’s worse, the characters enjoy it. They make these disgusting faces, and voice actors normally known for cutesy little sister roles are now hamming it up as megalomaniacs. Hearing Saori Hayami go from sweet sounding to crazed when she gushes over how great it is to gamble away fortunes for the mere thrill. Crazed, calculating, but not exactly yandere so you’re not sure where you stand with her. Kudos to the direction. It felt like one of those wrong hentais but with the sex scenes replaced with card games. Honestly makes me wish more anime took some lessons from porn like Euphoria. I’m not even trying to be facetious. A show that can make children’s games resemble sexual assault in tone knows its influences well.

Oh yeah, the opening and ending are great too, along with the soundtrack. The jazzy undertones and Shinbo-ish imagery really strike at you to show what kind of series this is. – Bloody Marquis

Double Tap

Case in point: Kaiji, Akagi, early Yu-Gi-Oh!, Stardust Crusaders episode 35, and now this show.

Case in point: Kaiji, Akagi, early Yu-Gi-Oh!, Stardust Crusaders episode 35, and now this show.

I’m a sucker for crazy girls who make grotesque faces and over-the-top battles of wit and strategy, so Kakegurui perfectly caters to my tastes. Set in a high school where the social hierarchy is centered around gambling, and you become a slave if you lose all your money, you can either win big or lose big. I love how the main character, Jabami, presents herself as this passive-aggressively polite person even when she’s lost millions of yen, gets off on the thrill of the game, and can bluff her way out of a desperate situation in a way that’d make Jotaro Kujo blush. The antagonist Mary is also such a wonderfully disgusting bitch who’s an unabashed cheater and the faces she makes are just as delightfully disgusting as her personality. This show really feels like if you took the D’Arby poker game in JoJo’s, mixed it with the early parts of Yu-Gi-Oh!, and had Chiaki Kon draw all the faces. It’s a great combination of stylish visuals, great voice acting, snazzy music, and a dark atmosphere that makes this show such great trashy fun. The opening directed by Sayo Yamamoto is the perfect encapsulation of it’s sexy, seductive style. Man, why did Netflix have to pick this up? This is the one show this season that perfectly enraptured me in the thrill of it’s game, one that I highly recommend you give a play. – LumRanmaYasha

Katsugeki! Touken Ranbu

Hasn't Flashpoint taught you that it'll just lead to a really shitty story?

Hasn’t Flashpoint taught you that it’ll just lead to a really shitty story?

This is probably going to be one of the go-to action shows of the season. Ufotable delivers on exciting, visceral action choreography. The actual premise of the show doesn’t matter. Basically sword-wielding time-travelers fight against creepy, crappy CGI monsters interfering with the past. One of the leads is an optimistic altruistic shonen hero and the other is a seasoned badass. There’s a conflict between the two leads in the middle of the episode when a fire threatens to incinerate a village whether they should do something to help, and then they do something to help. Again, the plot doesn’t matter as much as the spectacle does, and for what it’s worth this show is some pretty fine action eye-candy. There’s not much of substance, but it’ll definitely satiate any cravings for over-the-top action schlock you’d want to watch this season. And it’s a hella of a lot better than that other Touken Ranbu show from last year too. – LumRanmaYasha

Knight’s & Magic

Don't be easy, or your beau'll be squeezy.

Don’t be easy, or your abuser be squeezy.

A Japanese geek gets killed by a car. Check.
Japanese guy gets reincarnated into a fantasy society. Check.
He grows up into a cute trap. Check.
His society has giant robots that conveniently look like the ones he obsessed over in his past life for some reason. Check.
Because of his skills as a Japanese man, he has a leg up on the competition. Check.
He’s so skilled that he can invent new forms of magic while he’s still a kid. Check.
Best friends are bastard children from a royal bloodline. Check.
The phrase “I have a bad feeling about this.” is uttered. Check.

Why is it called Knight’s & Magic, as if & Magic was something said Knight owned? Like it was a restaurant chain or a hick shop like Sneed’s Feed & Seed? Oh yeah, grammatically incorrect title. Check.

But besides naming the cliches this show produces faster than most A-1 Pictures factories, this show doesn’t leave much of an impression. It feels like we’ve adapted all the good light novels, then all the legendarily bad light novels, and now we’re stuck with the bad but unremarkable books stuck on the bottom shelf and labeled for clearance. The kind you would use as paperweights instead of actual items worth reading. Besides making some mecha toys to sell, why even make this? There’s no conflict whatsoever. The main character’s born in royalty, has trusted friends, is a genius, and his main dream to ride a robot is near his hands by the first episode. What’s the hook? It’s also weird to see him on the cusp of improving society with his Japanese programming skills, like the mighty white savior trope but it’s now a Japanese guy using his superior knowledge to improve a faux-European society. I can’t tell if that’s better or worse. But given how immature the rest of the writing is, maybe I can count on this show to become as woefully bullheaded as GATE. – BloodyMarquis

Restaurant to Another World

Who knew Smaug really loved beef stew? Maybe if Bilbo had brought him a pot he wouldn't have tried to incinerate him.

Who knew Smaug really loved beef stew? Maybe if Bilbo had brought him a pot he wouldn’t have tried to incinerate him.

I can’t say this slice-of-life fantasy cooking show is as fun as its premise suggests. The concept of fantasy world inhabitants visiting a restaurant in the real world whose door mysteriously appears invites boundless opportunities for fun hijinks. We do kinda see that in the opening sequence where a wizard, two muscly dudes, a lion-man, and a lizard guy start arguing over what goes best with rice. But the series is really laid back, so the comedy never elicits big laughs and the cooking/eating scenes don’t salivate as much as they should. There’s a decent thematic center about food bringing people together and the pleasure of sharing a meal in company, but if that’s all there is to the series then I could point to plenty of better fantasy cooking shows that say the same things in more interesting ways.

I do like the heroine, though it’s kinda cheating since a starving outcast is nearly always sympathetic. Her genuine appreciation of the chef’s kindness and his restaurant’s food might add some more flavor and heart to the show. Not to mention that there’s this Smaug-esque dragon lady who considers the restaurant her “treasure” because they make great beef stew, and her overprotectiveness of it might cause some actual conflict to happen later down the line. So there’s potential here, and even though very little happened in this episode, the show’s laid-back atmosphere and charm was the kind of iyashikei I could see myself relaxing to. If you just want a show that you can just sit down and relax while watching, then this show promises to be satisfying enough option. – LumRanmaYasha

Tsurezure Children

Something tells me you won't have to...

Something tells me you won’t have to…

Tsurezure Children is a breath of fresh air as a rom-com. Rather than focus on frustratingly dense people who can never seem to express their true feelings, it presents a series of vignettes about actual couples. This first episode features not just one, but several couples actually getting together, a step that takes most anime an entire series to do. This show promises to actually explore the awkward in’s-and-out’s of dating from several perspectives and multiple couples. These characters’ feelings feel genuine and seem like good matches for one another, making you want to see how their relationships develop. The show is just infectiously adorable, and I’d bet these sweet series of romances will put a smile to even the most aromantic of souls. Without a doubt, this will be the go-to romance anime of the season, and even with its short-form format it might very well have the potential to go down as one of the best overall. – LumRanmaYasha

2017
05.30

ashirip

The smoke is still billowing from the Samurai Jack finale, and it will take a while for some opinions on the season to solidify. But one major part of these last episodes will surely be a subject of debate, and by part, I mean Ashi. Ever since she was first introduced, fans were polarized at the thought of a new character taking some of the spotlight from Jack. Some were happy and pretended she was the new Ilana. Many were worried she would become Jack’s love interest, with such fears realized. Others pondered just how much of the plot was spent on her when it could have been used to further Jack’s struggle. Sure, she was a great factor in Jack’s character development, giving him someone to talk to in a major change from his loner demeanor from previous seasons, but how much of a unique flavor did she offer the show?

Ashi’s initial position in the show was that of an audience surrogate of sorts, for the people who didn’t watch the past seasons and tuned in to see what older fans are making a fuss about. She was the newcomer to the world of Samurai Jack, and when she learned new information, so did those new viewers. Jack was too muddled with fatalism and anger at himself, so it made a little sense to introduce someone younger and less miserable for the show’s grand return. It’s not a movie after all, and the Adult Swim execs and Genndy probably thought spending ten episodes on Jack alone would be too much of a risk. Meaning that while Jack was still the title character, it could be suggested that Ashi was indeed the focal point of season five. After all, she’s the one who relieves Jack of his depression, helps him bring back his sword, and creates the time portal that leads to Aku’s defeat. She was important, perhaps too much if you ask certain fans.

Instead of defeating Aku through the efforts of himself and his long-time allies, Jack’s major trials are also taken by this new character in his life. And in a way, it could be distracting. This was Jack’s final round against Aku, so seeing it all lead up to Ashi discovering she has Aku’s powers and sending Jack back to quickly kill her father was underwhelming. But to be charitable, perhaps Ashi’s meant to symbolize all the friends Jack acquired in his journey. She was freed from tyranny like the Woolies, able to fight on par with Jack like the Scotsman, purified from evil like the Archers, and had a nature similar to whatever good parts of Ikra that Jack might still remember. She was a symbol of all the good Jack did in Aku’s future, as she attested when she fought the Omen.

And as I said about her replacing Jack as the audience’s eye and ears, she follows a darker, yet similar path that Jack did when he first found himself in the future back in season one. She was a child soldier trained to kill a sworn enemy. When facing said sworn enemy, she falls victim to traps and can only flail helplessly. And this setback leads her to adapt her ways, going outside of her comfort zone and seeing all the quirks and entities in Aku’s society. Sort of like what Jack’s character is in the pilot movie. So spiritually, Ashi was like the season one Jack telling season five Jack to get back on his feet and fight for the future. Something that has odd implications when you factor in their romance, unless people were actually into Jack selfcest all along.

So was her romance with Jack a good idea? Or would the father-daughter aspect been an improvement? I’ve previously praised and criticized Genndy for using other works as reference for his own, and for all the action and suspense, Samurai Jack is not a cartoon that goes out of the way to subvert story cliches. Which means we would have either went full Gurren Lagann, or the sad, old warrior dad route explored by Nier/Logan/Berserk/Angel/Grant Morrison Batman/Unforgiven/Countless other Clint Eastwood movies/etc. Or a compromise between the two and just rip off Venom Snake’s relationship with Quiet. Whatever the case, it definitely could have been explored better. Instead, it felt like another story where a hero slowly converts a female villain to the side of good while making out with her after. More episodes wouldn’t have alleviated that, because some movies can tell perfectly good relationships in under ninety minutes. And it felt like Genndy wasn’t properly using his run time after the third episode. I mean, I’m not exactly expecting Tarkovsky from Tartakovsky, but sometimes you just have to jump through the rings instead of taking the shortcut.

Then we have to wonder if Ashi’s death should have been. It works if you wanted Jack to have this one extra gut punch before he think he can relax from Aku’s tyranny. Not so much if you were invested in Ashi’s personality and didn’t want her to just become another female lead killed to give the male hero more drama in his life. Just as she’s the one who breathes new life into Jack’s mission, she’s also the one who puts up the chairs and turns off the lights. I’m sure another writer will have an essay all about how Ashi’s fate is emblematic of Genndy’s casual misogyny or some other controversial statement, but Ashi as a character was often spent playing hopscotch on Jack and Aku’s shadows. Her own wants beyond freedom from her parents’ bonds weren’t illustrated well enough, and you get the sense that her in-universe existence is simply a means to an end rather than a natural character arc. Shamefully ironic for someone introduced as the inquisitive one out of her sisters.

2017
05.21

samuraijack1011

It’s finally the end, and I can finally stop doing these. This final ride for Jack’s been an intriguing one ever since it was first announced. That first teaser of the new season, where Jack’s silhouette made him look like Galactus, felt like ages ago. But now, it’s over. The sword’s sheathed for good. And we can finally relax until Cartoon Network makes a final season to something else. I don’t know. Maybe Squirrel Boy? Or perhaps the Class of 3000? Something that will make CN audiences blurt out a flat what and a blank stare.

As for the episode itself, it puts many cards on the table but doesn’t do much with them. Having an Aku versus everybody fight should be epic. They brought the Scots, the Jumpers, the Woolies, the Archers, the Ravers, the Dogs, and that giant robot samurai back to fight Aku, but they mostly amount to fodder to distract him until Ashi comes to her senses. And they just fight smaller Akus, instead of Beetle Drones or robots, leading to little variety in the action. I did like the cavalry doing some damage to Aku by focusing on his eyes, to show they were at least doing something to challenge him. Whereas on Aku’s part, he didn’t display his full array of powers here. Okay, some of the tiny Akus grow bat wings. But other than that, chocolate rain, and turning his hands into blades, Genndy doesn’t show off anything we haven’t seen before. And a character known for imaginative fight scenes and imagery feels by-the-numbers in his swan song.

Something that’s only slightly rectified when Jack and Ashi fight him. Jack doesn’t even fight him in the future time, that’s mostly reserved for Ashi going on a mirror match with Aku. It’s not even a particularlyl long or visually exciting one. As soon as Ashi figures out she has all of Aku’s powers, she goes for the time portal move. Maybe they should’ve killed this Aku before going to the past in case time travel worked under multiverse theory. It apparently didn’t, so they guessed right, but it all happens so quickly without emotion or thrill to it. There are no scenes of Ashi learning how to use Aku’s powers more effectively when fighting him, and the ages-long rivalry between Jack and this Aku never pays off. Instead, we get Jack slashing the shit out of past Aku without so much as a struggle. Yeah, Aku’s weakened at this point in time, but the episode almost seems fatigued at this point. Like Genndy just wanted to get to these scenes as fast as possible and finish this show already. So I agree with what everybody’s been saying: That the last episode was just too short to cover everything so far. Maybe they should’ve made some earlier episodes quicker paced so they could have made this battle take stage in the ninth and tenth episodes.

But yeah, Jack goes back to the past, kills Aku, then copies the ending to another show that aired on Toonami and made viewers go wet in the pantaloons. Because Genndy didn’t rip off enough by getting a half-demon girl played by Tara Strong who was conceived by a cult and only recently learned how to emote while rebelling against her antlered anti-Christ father, he has to make her ignorant of the outside world, rise the character back from his depression, have an evil costume that’s skintight and based on the villain’s aesthetic, help slay the villain even though she needs their existence to continue living, and fade away during the main character’s wedding. I know I praised Genndy before for taking heavy influence from other shows and movies, but because he used them to branch out and create new ideas and renditions with these influences. But here, it turns out that all those influences ultimately led up to a callback to other shows rather than something the series could invent or define as its own. If you want a positive evaluation, I could say Samurai Jack’s ending was a collection of thousands of experiences coalescing into one. But it could’ve been better than that.

For this season as a whole, it was an interesting experiment that slowly lost its steam with each episode. The first three entries were superb, and the rest except for the eighth have some thing enjoyable to them. I guess it’s nice we finally get an ending to the show, and maybe I would be more forgiving if this season aired shortly after the others, or if this was a movie instead of ten episodes, but I can’t help but think there was a missed opportunity here. It’s a little like how Gravity Falls and Korra had some cool things going on, but there were too many flaws and unlikable characters that kept me from wanting to revisit those shows.