2012
10.31

Greetings everyone! I am Count Foggula, Foggle’s 70% eviler and 100% more sparkly great uncle. It is on the day of this year’s glorious All Hallow’s Eve celebration that I have been asked to bring you some holiday-themed editorials, straight from the bowels of Hell itself. Penned by the eternally damned souls of several Animation Revelation forum members, this feature covers three pieces of horror animation in shocking 2D! What could possibly be more terrifying?

Please enjoy reading their thoughts on an undisputed classic, a cult classic, and… whatever that second one is.

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

You can’t get your Halloween right without some Charlie Brown, or so says popular culture. Poorly animated, badly acted, and should not be able to stand the test of time, yet Great Pumpkin somehow manages. How? Well to start, this isn’t a Charlie Brown special. The kid’s in the sidelines getting free rocks. This is a Lucy & Linus Van Pelt special, detailing the contrasts between their ideologies in a pseudo-contest to see who stands. Lucy goes with cold desire for corporate treats that will do nothing but clog her stomach, while Linus goes for the spiritual side of Halloween through the belief in the titular Great Pumpkin. Neither one’s the A plot or the B plot, but more intertwined into Schulz’s message. A bad writer would’ve focused on one or colored the other with a rose tint, but Schulz is not one to pick sides. He illustrates both with scorn and affection.

Though the story’s on equal terms with the two, Linus definitely gets the spotlight here. After all, he’s the reason for the title. From seeing a pumpkin get hollowed like an autopsy, to yelling his creed right at Charlie Brown, Linus gets so much characterization here. Sure, you can say that his whimsy contrasts with his rationality and intellect in the Christmas special, but this adds another layer. Even with all that wisdom, he’s still the kid of the group. As such, Linus will always be looked down by the rest of the kids as the load. Combined with having a haughty sister, no wonder will he look to a higher source for guidance when life goes against him. Of course, as the special shows, belief is the virtue of the young.

By all means, the message that spirituality gets overshadowed by commercialism is prevalent in Peanuts. But this is where the aesop becomes bleak. Instead of having the spirit affirmed with the gang all together, Linus stands alone in his idea. And outside the universe, the context becomes darker in how Linus will be forever doomed to defend his belief in the Great Pumpkin only to have his hopes dashed each and every Halloween. Entire generations of trick-or-treaters weren’t conceived when the problem of Linus started. I don’t know if the producers even knew if the special would be repeated to this day, but whether it be intentional or not, Great Pumpkin showcases the withstanding of faith in the face of materialism. No matter how many times disbelief gets thrown, there will be one lonely light to carry on and make Halloween something other than an excuse to get fat on chocolate. Even if promises prove fruitless, you got to hold out hope and fulfill traditions not for others, but for yourself. And that’s what people all over the country do when turning on ABC every late October, watching a little kid with a blanket waiting in the night for a pumpkin that will never appear.

— Dr. Insomniac

Midori: Shoujo Tsubaki

A typical reaction to viewing this film.

Perhaps you’ve heard of Midori. Adapted from a manga by ero guro (don’t ask) artist Maruo Suehiro, this 1992 anime was written, directed, drawn, animated, and produced all by one man: Harada Hiroshi. Unable to receive funding for his movie due to the fact that nobody wanted to touch the subject matter with a ten foot pole, he spent his entire life savings and five years seeing his vision through to completion. Banned and seized by Japanese authorities upon release, about three minutes of footage were lost forever, and the original print has since been destroyed. Currently it is only available in France on a 2006 DVD released by Ciné Malta; how they were able to obtain a copy of the surviving video is anyone’s guess.

Shrouded in mystery by its interesting production process and turbulent history, Midori has become somewhat infamous among a rather niche group of anime fans due to its content, and understandably so. It’s a hard film to watch and an even harder one to critique. Is there a method to the madness? Does the grotesque dog stomping scene contain some sort of deeper meaning? Does the coiling snake that is the transsexual’s penis mask any kind of brilliant subtext? Or did Maruo and Harada intend only to shock audiences with scenes featuring creatively depraved imagery?

Young Midori’s story is a depressing one, to say the least. Her mother dead and father gone, she visits the friendly-seeming manager of a traveling freak show in hopes that he will help her through this rough patch in her life… and then she gets raped. A lot. Early and often. While never explicitly shown to the audience, what the other carneys do to her is obvious, prominent, and very uncomfortable. She is also beaten by the manager for reasons unexplained, other than perhaps that he is a sadist. And she encounters more than just physical and sexual assault; early on, Midori is seen feeding some cute puppies — immediately afterward, one of her antagonizers proceeds to kill them in a particularly graphic scene. Her life becomes a living hell with no escape and no solace.

At times, Shoujo Tsubaki tries to make you feel sorry not only for the title character, but for the “freaks” as well, particularly in the latter half. While it doesn’t really succeed in doing so, the twisted thing is that their motivation does make sense, though of course absolutely nothing can justify their actions. Society looks down on the man who can only move like a caterpillar, society ridicules the girl with a penis, society made the man with no arms and a messed up face feel like he didn’t deserve to live — so they lash out at Midori because they know they can get away with it. They attack her because she’s “normal”, and they feel as if they need no other reason. This isn’t groundbreaking territory by any means, but it gives context to the film’s disturbing nature outside of “let’s see just how sick we can make this scene!”.

Truth be told, outside of the bit with the puppies and one other scene later on, very little of the more gruesome stuff is shown on-screen. You know it’s happening, and you might witness the build up or the aftermath, but you don’t see it. This is a very intelligent stylistic choice, as not only does it actually serve to make certain events more horrifying, it lends further credence to the idea that this was intended as a piece of art rather than as a “shock” film. Of course, there’s a lot of weird and sickening imagery spread throughout, mostly near the beginning, but it’s more depressing (and perhaps even allegorical) than it is exploitative.

Eventually, a dwarf magician specializing in western magic joins the freak show. He begins to steal the limelight from the older mainstays, and is actually nice to Midori to boot! The manager finally gets back in the black with his help, and due to his protection, the protagonist begins to feel as if life might not be so bad after all. They fall in love, and suddenly the film’s tone noticeably lightens up. The disturbing imagery and themes all but cease, though quickly the magician is shown to be very possessive of the poor girl. The theme here is that it’s still quite possible to hurt even those you love the most, and even without violence. Midori eventually returns to feeling distraught, this time from being trapped emotionally by someone she holds dear.

What’s interesting is that the magician eventually realizes how he’s hurting Midori, but not until after he, in a fit of anger, uses his magic to deform and murder an entire crowd of people attending his performance. This scene is extremely bizarre — like something out of an ultra-violent Dumbo — and appears to lack a purpose at first… but upon further examination, it can actually be taken as the major turning point of the film. Publicly speaking out against those who would deem him and the other carneys as humanity’s dregs, the magician develops more respect for himself and his peers, including Midori. When he decides to leave the freak show with her, the atmosphere is calm and peaceful for the first time. The manager (who runs out on them after the incident) aside, all of the characters finally view each other as equals and begin to actively try making things better for themselves instead of wallowing forever in anger and self-pity.

This would be an uncharacteristically happy and hopeful ending for such a disturbing and depressing piece… if it were actually the ending. Indeed, life is cruel, and thus dictates that the magician must be killed by a random criminal as soon as he and Midori reach the city together. The film then ends with a cryptic scene in which the protagonist presumably goes insane from all the built up pain she’s held inside of her for so long.

This is clearly a very personal piece for Harada. You don’t just give up five years and all of your money for a movie you know will get banned on a whim, after all. Perhaps, upon reading Maruo’s original work, he found himself connecting with the title character on some sort of personal level… in that regard, no one but he will probably ever know the reason why this move exists. He truly poured his heart into its production; the visuals and their movements are far from fantastic, but it’s clear that a lot of love and dedication went into crafting the over 5000 sheets of hand drawn animation that comprise this anime. This is something he created specifically for himself, and while I am uncertain as to why, I do hope that he found it at least somewhat therapeutic for the pain he was no doubt experiencing when he made it.

Midori: Shoujo Tsubaki is a film I’ve wanted to tackle for a long time, and I’m both disappointed and relieved to find that it didn’t live up to the legends describing it as “the most disturbing anime ever”. As it stands, this movie is little more than a testament to one man’s dedication and inner suffering, but I’m glad for Harada — not only that he was able to complete his work, but that it still exists to this day. Hopefully his story will have a more uplifting conclusion than Midori’s.

— Foggle

Vampire Hunter D

Vampire Hunter D. Chances are that if you’re an anime fan, then you’ve heard this title several times before in your life, or have even watched it. Hell, you’ve probably at least heard this title even if you aren’t an anime fan. For you see, Vampire Hunter D  was one of the first anime movies to be released outside of Japan, along with other films such as Akira, Ninja Scroll, and Ghost in the Shell. Like the aforementioned movies, it’s also credited for introducing older audiences to the medium, a “Gateway Anime” if you will. Sure there were other anime like Speed Racer, Voltron, and Robotech that had aired on TV previously, but they were for the most part heavily edited and altered for U.S broadcast, and with the exception of the last one, weren’t really any different from most other kids shows airing at the time. What anime like Vampire Hunter D did was show audiences what the medium can be like at its best without heavy editing and alteration, and yes, that anime isn’t “just for kids”. Now with all this recognition it’s gotten, you may be asking yourself “is the movie itself really that good?”, to which I’ll say: “Let’s find out!”

Based on a series of novels by Hideyuki Kikuchi, Vampire Hunter D tells the story of a wandering Vampire Hunter, named “D” (shocker I know),  a human/vampire hybrid otherwise known as a “Dhampir” , or “Dunpeal” as they’re called in this movie, (which I find to be quite a ridiculous term, not like Dhampir was any better) with a parasitic left hand and a mechanical horse for transportation, in the year 12090 A.D, a post-apocalyptic world filled with  Mutants, Demons, and Vampires. (now that’s my kind of Apocalypse!) This particular venture has D being hired by 17-year old Doris Lang to protect her from the Vampire Count Magnus Lee, who intends to make her his bride. Also involved is Dan, Doris’ younger brother, Dr. Fehring, who provides support for the siblings, and Greco Roman, the Mayor’s annoying son who wants to get into Doris’ pants and generally just causes more trouble for our heroes. Also causing trouble for D is the Counts daughter, Lamika, and Rei Ginsei, the Counts Mutant servant.

I won’t spoil anything, but the plot is pretty straightforward, and the characters rather generic. With the possible exception of Lamika, they never really grow beyond their respective archetypes. This movie quite clearly puts style over substance, and it pulls off that style wonderfully, and whatever substance is there is serviceable enough. There are quite a few deviations from the book though, and while I’ll be noting some of them here, if you want a full list, you’re going to have to look them up yourself.

D himself is your standard Drifter archetype; stoic, mysterious, speaks very little, and pulls off acts of heroism whenever he can. His personality is contrasted with his morbid, symbiotic left hand, who constantly taunts him about his half-breed nature, while still being useful in certain situations. All of this combined with his striking Zorro-esque design, and an effective (albeit, somewhat predictable) plot twist near the end of the movie make D a pretty effective lead.  Meanwhile Big Bad Magnus Lee has that charismatic air about him most Dracula-based vampiric villains have, and his seemingly genuine care about his daughter prevents him from being too one-dimensional, as the movies villain, he manages to be pretty entertaining. Female lead Doris Lang starts off as a capable warrior, but predictably turns into Damsel-in-distress as the movie goes on, while this fact is irritating, it’s not enough to sour the movie as a whole. Dan, Fehring, and Greco aren’t particularly noteworthy, while Lamika and Rei compliment Count Magnus rather well. Interestingly enough, I’ve read that the movie changes Rei’s characterization drastically, changing him from an attempted rapist, to a more noble villain, the English dub makes him more immature and bloodthirsty.

Art & Animation-wise, while there isn’t anything quite on the level of Akira’s animation, it still manages to hold its own.  The film really succeeds in creating a haunting, dark atmosphere that sets the mood and tone of the film and really draws you in. The music didn’t sound like anything noteworthy, but once again, it succeeds in setting the appropriate mood for scenes in the movie, so it definitely does its job. The character designs all look good as well, from D’s flowing blue/black-ish cape, to the grotesque monsters that pop up throughout. Another interesting change from book to movie is that Doris and Lamika’s hair colour’s were reversed in the movie (black to blond, and vice versa), Doris also wore more modern-ish clothing in the novel, in contrast to her fantasy-like attire in the film. I do have an issue with the movie though; I’m not sure if it was because of the fact that it was on YouTube or what, but I had a hard time making out what was going on at certain points in the movie, it got so bad that I had to switch to a video of the 2003 film transfer to properly see what the hell was going on. Once again, not sure if it was the fault of the video upload, or the video source that it came from, but I feel like it’s a problem that should be noted.

As far as action goes, VHD is relatively tame. While there are a decent amount of fight scenes, they aren’t that over-the-top and violent as one would expect from a movie like this, while there is gore, and plenty of blood, the film never really indulges in it. So if you were expecting an action filled gore-fest, then you’re going to be disappointed.

Now on to the voice-acting, as of this review, I’ve only seen the English dub of the film, so this section of the review will be focusing on that version. Being an early 90’s Streamline dub, the voice acting is decent enough, while there a few lines of dialogue with deadpan and unintentionally hilarious delivery, the actors still manage to do a fine job for the most part, thanks to some strong talent. We have Michael McConnohie (Azulongmon in Digimon Tamers, the Narrator from Bobobo-bobobo) is the leading man as the voice of D,  who does a  decent job as the eponymous character, Kirk Thornton (Gabumon and his evolutions from Digimon, Jubei from Blazblue, and the current voice of Shadow the Hedgehog) turns in a good performance as D’s left hand, Barbara Goodson (Rita Repulsa from Power Rangers) as Doris Lang, who’s joined by fellow future Power Rangers voice actor Kerrigan Mahan (Goldar and the Magna Defender) as Rei Ginsei, but the best performance for me personally goes to the late Jeff Winkles as Count Magnus Lee, who’s enjoyable performance is a big reason why the Count is so entertaining as a villain. Other notable voice talent includes Edie Mirman (Gatomon from Digimon) as Lamika, and Steve Kramer (Bleach’s Shunsui Kyoraku, and Naruto’s Third Hokage) as Dr. Fehring. On the Japanese side of the pond, we have the late Kaneto Shiozawa (the original voice of Rei in Fist of the North Star, and Gray Fox in Metal Gear Solid) as D, Ichiro Nagai (Dragonball’s Karin) as D’s left hand, Michie Tomizawa (Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon) as Doris, and Motomu Kiyokawa (Walter from Hellsing, and Valkenhayn from Blazblue) as Dr. Fehring.

Overall, despite its flaws, VHD is an enjoyable ride from start to finish, with hardly a dull moment to be found. Whether you’re an anime fan, a vampire fan, or a fan of the supernatural in general, this movie is definitely a must see.

— Rynnec

2012
10.30

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Foggle
Email: CBostic@gmail.com

ANIMATION REVELATION ANNOUNCES PARTNERSHIP WITH THE OOO TRAVEL GUIDE
Hold Your Applause, Please

It is my pleasure to announce that, as of 10:45 PM Central Time on October 30, 2012, (un)acclaimed internet-based cartoon forum Animation Revelation has begun hosting episodes of BlackCatula’s popular “The Ooo Travel Guide” podcast alongside its own “Thaumatropy: An Animation DogmeCast”.

As stated by its illustrious host, “The Ooo Travel Guide is a fan-driven podcast that takes a deep, introspective look into Adventure Time, analyzing the episodes and offering character insight, speculations about future episodes, headcanons, etc. We attempt in no way to offer basic information like the show’s history, episode production guides, or “advice to beginners”. We jump straight into the heart of the show, demon’s blood sword at the ready. Join us for crazy analysis and headcanon times!”. Logos provided courtesy of Fauxboy.

We of The Epic Trinity hope that this shall usher in a new, more lucrative age for your favorite animation message board, especially when we change into a paysite within the coming months. A gold membership can be yours for only $74.99/year, granting access to all four(4) episodes of Thaumatropy, the ability to post more than five(5) times per day, and entry into an archive of commissioned pornography drawn by Avaitor.

# # #

No, but seriously, let’s all warmly welcome TOTG to the AR family!

Check out the archive here: http://animationrevelation.com/ooocast.html

2012
10.29

Hey guys, Foggle here! This season’s installment of the clusterfuck is a bit late (my bad on that!), but hopefully you’ll still enjoy reading our opinions on some of this fall’s shows. And sorry about missing summer 2012… it won’t happen again (as far as you know)!

Btooom!

I believe Light Yagami has grounds to sue....

No, this isn’t the synopsis to the next Michael Bay movie. Instead, its the title of yet another anime series about people getting trapped in an online game having their lives affected by it for real. BTOOM! itself is the title of this fictionally popular MMO action game which seems to be some weird combination of a Call of Duty game mixed in with Bomberman, but in case I gave you the mistaken impression of something that sounds awesome, think more along the lines of Bomberman: Act Zero….yeah, that’s supposed to be the hugely successful game that apparently every gamer in this world is hooked on.

The main character of this series that I guess we’re supposed to identify with and care about is, Ryo-ta Sakamoto, a self-proclaimed expert at this game who isn’t the slightest bit shy to brag about how awesome he thinks he is. After successfully leading his team to victory in an online match, we suddenly flash to Ryo-ta dangling off a tree in a jungle-like area, attached to a parachute. This is done without much of any transitional effect at all so there really isn’t any dramatic impact to this scene, and it plays out pretty much how you would expect. Sakamato gets himself loose, questions just how the hell he got to where he currently is, stumbles about and starts trying to look for other human contact. After arriving at a beach he inspects his bag and finds that bombs have mysterious been placed inside it, and recalls a bit of what happened between the last time we saw him in the real world and his present situation. In this scene we get something that’s actually remotely interesting in telling us something unique about this character, when he scolds his mother for sending his resume to a grocery store which he has no interest of working at, claiming that he is already trying out for another job of his own interest. This at least shows some dynamic to his character in the real world, and it would be nice if this anime could break common molds and genre conventions and try to actually let us know about the personal issues of this character, but this is quickly forgotten as we go straight back into the virtual world where things just play out by the standard guidelines.

Ryo-ta discovers that he has bombs in his bag, and is then attacked by bombs from another player. Rather than having some interesting interaction between Ryo-ta and his first human contact, the encounter just plays out like you’d expect. The attacker is some generic bad guy who laughs maniacally as he throws bombs at Ryo-ta and misses countless times. At one point he even corners Ryo-ta by having a bomb in each hand so that he can throw one at Ryo-ta and the other at the only place that he can evade to….but then he announces his plan to Ryo-ta and as you can expect, falls into a predictable trap and dies. Ryo-ta vomits after realizing that he’s just killed another human being for real (though I could’ve certainly been fooled as the guy acts as 1-dimensional as any generic enemy in a video game would), and then the end credits role.

You want to know the fucked up thing?….That’s not even the end of the episode. There’s more stuff after the end credits, and I don’t just mean like a few seconds leading up to the next episode. I mean like 5 fucking minutes of more material past the end credits. And you want to know what else? These few minutes contain the most essential scenes of the episode. We get to learn more about just what kind of job Ryo-ta was trying to get, we gain more insight about his relationship with his mother, and we see some actual analysis of his character in real life. Unfortunately the majority of this episode is just a “by the book” follow-through of what you’d expect of a series of this genre. Its the most generic anime of this sort that I have seen, and while it does have a few hints of having more than just a 2-dimensional main character, it opts out to go the predictable and conventional route whenever you get close to giving two-shits about Ryo-ta (after all, he’s only the main fucking character).

Really, with a title like BTOOOM!, you’d expect something that goes all out and extreme. It’d probably be something goofy or absurdly stupid, but the last thing you’d expect it to be is flat out boring. If its extreme at anything, then it would be the art of being mediocre. Yes, I could indeed say that this is an anime that takes blandness to the extreme. That isn’t to say that anything about it is particularly bad, but for the life of me I can’t find a single thing I saw in it that I’d find memorable enough for me to even recall by tomorrow morning.

Unless you REALLY just love this sort of “kids getting stuck in a game and killing other people in the game for real scenario,” and don’t want to see any new takes on this pretty tired genre, I’d say that this one is a definite pass.

4/10 – Ensatsu-ken

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai!

Farscape: The Anime took some liberties, didn't they?

Well, Kyoto Animation realized it was too good to animate Key works, only to make a show about some schmuck who doesn’t know how to make friends. Complete with wavy fingers, ass shots, blank stares, Sailor Moon poses, and the rest of that shit cute girls do. They clearly made an improvement here, didn’t they?

Like a certain other anime about kids who don’t know how to make friends, Yuuta kind of sucks when it comes to being sociable. Not because of a being a douche, but more out of an inability to see the world as normal no matter how hard he tries. The characters bask in fantasy while talking about Dark Flame Masters and Wicked Eyes, while the Yuuta is still self-aware enough to know how silly it is to say it out loud. Of course, the girl has to act like a goddamn loon akin to those John Titor-obsessed bastards unable to recognize a joke for what it is. At least the show has the right mind not to treat a girl with all-but-stated mental disorders as some fetish, by portraying her as bizarre and not particularly liked even in-universe. Alas, the episode obsesses over how many weird things this girl can do in less than twenty minutes. It doesn’t feel witty, but more like something were expected to point and laugh at. It’s still a step up from expecting the audience to masturbate to this, but the idea that eccentricity should be mocked and treated as just some childish trend that will fade away soon just seems kind of cruel on KyoAni’s part.

To be more redeeming, the show can be seen as how teenagers desperately try to abandon fantasy in favor of just living among the normal. And in the cases of the cast, this desire fails because of their inherent nostalgia for being wild and dreaming of swords and sorcery. The desire to be wanted in society contrasts with the need to be one’s self, and KyoAni brings an interesting topic to the foray: Is it better to laugh alone or be miserable among many? While it’s probable that the show will devolve into another moefest, Chuunibyou has that subtle wit unable to be found in other slice-of-life works. And for that, I salute them.

8/10 – Dr. Insomniac

Ixion Saga DT

A graceful entrance.

What’s with all these (not)hack//ANIME as of late? Is the idea of getting trapped inside a video game really all that interesting? Nevertheless, Ixion Saga appears to be a slightly fresher take on the overall concept than its contemporaries… meaning that it’s a lighthearted, campy comedy. It’s not a particularly funny or creative comedy, but at least it doesn’t try to use RPG mechanics as a means for creating drama.

Hokaze Kon is a major Monster Hunter fan who gets sucked into the world of a role-playing video game office chair first after a flirtatious encounter with a buxom bimbo. Landing on a bad guy’s head during a rather anticlimactic encounter, he parties up with Steel Sainglain and Mariandale, who are out to help eight-year-old princess St. Piria get married so as to promote peace and prosperity and blah blah blah. The plot is more of an excuse to send the protagonist off on an adventure and tell some cheap jokes than anything else, as to be expected of an anime based on a video game (Capcom’s Ixion Saga, apparently).

Perhaps the most extraordinary thing about this series is how it proves that Brains Base is actually capable of producing something with absolutely awful animation and only mediocre artwork; I honestly thought this was a JC Staff or Studio DEEN production at first. The characters all look marginally good, if generic (the antagonists are very Team Rocket-esque), and no one ever goes off-model from what I can tell, so at least BB can say they have a one-up on DEEN there.

While the animation is horrible, the characters aren’t very well written, and the humor isn’t at all smart, DT has a certain air about it that makes it hard to outright dislike. Maybe because it knows it’s bad and is obviously trying its damnedest to be as campy as possible, this first episode is fun enough to sit through without hating yourself for it. You’ll probably laugh at least once, but you’ll have no interest whatsoever in watching another episode, so it’s a pretty safe time-killer.

And hey, there are worse ways to spend 24 minutes… a certain other “trapped in a video game” show, for example. 4.5/10 – Foggle

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

The title doesn’t lie.

For a manga series that has been in serialization since before I was even born, its curious as to how little attention it has received in the form of anime adaptations (the only one that I’m aware of was a 13 episode OVA series that was released around the early 90’s). The series itself started out as a serialized manga in none other than the incredibly popular Weekly Shonen Jump in 1987, and since then has jumped to another manga magazine (a seinen magazine at that), and has undergone various different title iterations which I assume continue the story further along. Collectively the series has released 107 volumes making it one of the longest running manga serializations out there in Japan, with only a few series surpassing its record. Of course, if you wanted a history lesson you could just go look up most of the background info of this series on Wikipedia. The real question you must be asking his, how is this anime, or at least its first episode?

Well, having never read any of the manga, nor having seen any of the OVAs, I went into this feature blind, so I can’t judge this series in comparison to its manga or OVA counterpart, but rather only on its own merits. Being a complete sucker for old-school shonen series, though, I can tell you right off the bat that this series knows how to hook my type and what I saw of this first episode was highly enjoyable. However I must go into more detail about just what I enjoyed about it, but also point out the things that bugged me.

Now, being that this series starts out this story from the very beginning (which I assume is the starting point of the manga serial), it is essentially adapting relatively old source material with a very different art and story-telling style than what most shonen-happy fans are used to seeing these days. The staff that worked on this production is clearly aware of this, and rather than try to mask that they are adapting a decades’ old work, they fully embrace it and effectively stylize this anime around that fact. This is completely showcased in the animation, in which much like an old-school late 80’s or early 90’s feature, characters in this series will over-emote every kind of expression from anger to laughter, and the mood and tone of a scene will be futher emphasized through the use of bizarre color-palettes overlaying the imagery combined with very stylish manga-like sound effect texts being displayed on a moments notice whenever a big punch or kick is thrown, or some dramatic physical effect takes place.

The main indication that reveals the intention of this anime, though, lies in the characters. From start to finish all of these characters are 100% archetypes, and to the anime staff’s credit they know this very well, and in a very clever way manage to play this element out to its extreme. The story itself starts with the sleeziest, ugliest possible old guy you could think of, going by the name of Dario Brando, coming across a wrecked carriage with 2 dead passengers, one of them being a mother with her baby still alive and crying, and the only other survivor is the boy’s father, George Joestar. The first thing the guy can think to do is loot the carriage and scram, but In a delusional state George Joestar stirs, and somehow believes this man to have rescued him and promises him that he will return the favor one day. Dario of course does not deny anything in hopes of taking full advantage of this scenario at some point in the future. After this opening scene, a dozen years pass and Dario looks even more pathetic before as he is slowly laying to waste on his deathbed in a ratty, broken-down town. It is at this point that he reveals to his teenage son Dio Brando that the very wealth George Joestar owes him a favor (why he never captialized on this before is never explained, but perhaps the guy has enough of a heart to put his young son’s interests over his own for all I know), and tells him to go to him in hopes that his son can use his power and intelligence to inherit all of Joestar’s fortune. Dio decides to honor his father’s request….in a scene where he stands at his grave, spits on it, and kicks some dirt at it. Right from the get-go this series makes it completely clear that Dio is going to be the main antagonist of this story, and I can’t think of a more appropriate way to portray that fact.

George Joestar welcomes Dio to his family with open arms, of course. Now, the problem for Dio is that he has some competition in the form of George’s now grown son, Jonathan Joestar, who is around the same age as Dio. Upon the introduction of his character, the story makes it clear that while Dio is basically being geared up to be the ultimate evil of the series, Jonathan is the pure, chivalrous good-guy. He fights to protect a woman when he sees her being bullied by a couple of punks (albeit in an effort that gets him roughed up, as it is indicated that he is not very strong as this point in the series), and just about everything this character says or does indicates you that he’s a goody-goody to the extreme. Essentially, this show is setting up the inevitable rivalry between Jonathan and Dio to be the ultimate battle of good vs evil. And surely enough, upon Dio’s arrival, he makes it abundantly clear that he is not there to make friends with Jonathan, but rather to take his place and become the true inheritor of George’s wealth and prestige.

This is where the episode, while still good, begins to falter a bit for me. The second half of the episode really rushes things (I would assume it inevitably cuts out several scenes from the manga), and chronicles the growing antagonism between these 2 very opposite entities. Dio basically does everything in his power to make Jonathan’s life a living hell. At first he starts out with small things like belittling Jonathan by doing far better than him in his studies and showing far more sophistication and manners expected of a noble, which George has no problem pointing out to Jonathan with phrases such as “Why can’t you be more like Dio?” After a little while, this doesn’t seem to be enough for Dio and he ends up going a step further by humiliating Jonathan in a public fist-fight and by spreading dirty rumors about him. As time passes by, this even further escalates to Dio forcefully kissing Jonathan’s girlfriend and then assaulting her with a hard punch to her face after she tries to wash her lips from the disgust of coming into contact with him. This of course was going too far which finally provokes Jonathan to assault Dio, only for Dio to make himself look innocent and get Jonathan punished by his father. As if that weren’t enough, he then proceeds to BURN JONATHAN’S DOG ALIVE! And its at this point that you can tell that their rivalry has culminated into pure hatred for one another, and you can only expect epic battles from them in the future. The episodes ends after this point by indicating a 7-year time-skip signifying the adulthood of these 2 adversaries.

These highly emphasized, yet essentially 1-dimensional, characters are handled by some excellent voice-acting talent. The Seiyuu do a great job of capturing the stone and mood that this anime is going for, playing lines straight most of the time but not shying away from the over-emoting when the series calls for it, and they do so in such a way that it really made me feel like I was watching something straight out of the 80’s at certain points in time. Dio in particular has a suitably deep and threatening tone, but also one with some clear intellect behind it which suits his character, who aside from being all-out evil is also smart enough to analyze that his weakness is his temper and his lack of ability to control his emotions, whereas Jonathan’s strength is in how he becomes stronger after every time he’s knocked down (which is an archetype that nearly every single shonen protagonist in existence follows).

Overall it was an enjoyable if somewhat static first episode. In this regard, though, the show is clearly meant to be black and white and it certainly doesn’t shy away from presenting its material in that manner. That said, it could perhaps be a little bit too stylistic for its own good. I thoroughly enjoyed what I saw, but the over-emphasis on some of these shallow elements can be a bit overbearing and actually mark them out more as flaws than intentional design at some instances. Even so, if you like the idea of a classic good and evil story-line with the elements of good and evil and everything surrounding those archetypes stretched out to their most extreme, than you can be sure that you will find something to like about this series, or at least this premiere episode. JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: The Animation is clearly an anime that’s not intended for everyone, but if you consider yourself a fan of a old-school shonen series, then this series is definitely worth giving a look.

8/10 – Ensatsu-Ken

Second Opinion!

There’s really nothing else quite like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. A shounen action epic that simultaneously appeals to both diehard shounen action fans and unflinching shounen action haters, this unique behemoth of a manga has been going strong for 25 years and attracted many fans. Even in the first episode of this inevitable anime adaptation, it’s not hard to see why.

A silly prologue sets up the story, and within minutes the wheels are already turning with full force; Dio Brando moves in with Jonathan “JoJo” Joestar and his father, and proceeds to make JoJo’s life hell… all for the sake of cash. Dio’s plan is to completely ruin JoJo emotionally, thereby making him appear weak, so that he can inherit the Joestars’ rather large sum of money. The breakneck pacing, goofy plot points, and over the top action sequences never miss a beat, ensuring that viewers’ eyes stay glued to the screen at all times. The smooth animation and zany visual effects truly are bizarre and heighten the experience even further. Better still is the hilarious voice acting that will no doubt make you laugh on at least one occasion.

E-K already did a much better job describing this first episode than I ever could, so there isn’t much else I can say except that it’s awesome. If you like your ultra-manliness with a generous side of insanity, this’ll be right up your alley. 9/10 – Foggle

K

K.

What the fuck is this? No, seriously, what the heck did I just watch? Between the nonsensical magic fights, the fujoshi-pandering character designs, and lack of explanation for any of the major plot points or backstory, I found myself lost and confused throughout roughly 70% of this first episode. Perhaps this is for the best, as the plot so far seems to be naught more than an excuse for hot guys to get into slightly compromising and oftentimes violent situations by whatever means necessary.

The episode begins with a group of teenagers breaking into a (presumably American) businessman’s high-rise apartment and beating him up, then questioning him about… something… in decently constructed Engrish. An 8 year old girl in gothic lolita clothing stares intently at a marble and they leave. An army of cops are waiting for them in the lobby, so they decide to fight. The gang leader glows with a red aura while the cops glow with a blue one, and then it cuts to the OP.

Commencing with the obligatory high school slice of life setup, the rest of the episode follows lighthearted protagonist’s Isana Yashiro’s adventures in bumming food off of his classmates and napping on the roof of a large building. Androgynous character design aside, I actually kind of liked this guy, as he seems to be a pretty okay dude. Eventually, he is sent to the store by the student council, and that’s where things get weird again. The guys from the opening segment try to kill him, but he’s saved by an even more androgynous man in a scene definitely intended as ship bait, who then also tries to kill him not minutes later. The reasoning behind this is revealed as cryptically as possible, and apparently that’s a wrap. Maybe this is the intended effect, but the majority of this first episode is downright incomprehensible as of right now.

Now, say what you will about its confusing storytelling and interesting manner of pandering, but one thing about K is undeniable: it’s damn stylish. The backgrounds are beautifully drawn, and the sweeping vistas scattered throughout the episode will make you gaze in awe. At times, some kind of blue filter appears to have been applied over the artwork, giving the visuals a nice cool feeling. And the music – vocals in the OP aside – is fantastic and easily the highlight of the entire episode. The show itself may be nothing special so far, but it sure looks pretty and the OST is nothing short of excellent. The animation is also quite fluid, though several pieces of dialogue are noticeably missing mouth movements.

My thoughts on K can be adequately summed up by my reaction to the unexplained naked chick floating around a staircase halfway through the episode: a blank look on my face and a simple “what.” 5/10 – Foggle

Little Busters!

The finest in biological warfare.

I have seen nearly every Key anime, and hated all of them. I can’t understand the appeal behind Clannad, and Angel Beats! is one of the most abominable things I’ve ever witnessed. So it may come as a shock to you that I actually did not despise the first episode of Little Busters! – in fact, I quite liked it.

Let’s just get this out of the way first. Yes, the main character is a man voiced by Yui Horie (seriously, WHAT?). Yes, it features some of that cringeworthy female-on-male violence = comedy nonsense. Yes, an early flashback scene is saccharine enough to cause diabetes. Yes, the music sounds like it was ripped directly from the Nintendo eShop. And yet, unlike Key’s previous works, there’s actually more to Little Busters! than that… or, at least, the first episode creates the illusion of such.

This first installment serves mostly to introduce us to the five primary characters. A bit of a mixed bag, as Rin is exactly the kind of person I hate in shows like this and Riki I couldn’t bring myself to care about, but I quite enjoyed the personalities of Masato, Kengo, and especially Kyousuke. A huge problem I have with this kind of series is unrealistic characters, but I actually knew a guy in high school who was almost exactly like Kyousuke, which brings about fond memories of days (not so) long past. While a lot of the jokes are fairly obvious, the character interactions were quite fun throughout, though I can’t help but think that it would have been far better had a larger focus been placed on the bromance.

The pacing is fast and sharp. Not a lot happens in Little Busters’ first outing, but almost none of the 24 minute runtime feels wasted on lingering shots or unnecessary dialogue. The initial scenes are attention-grabbing and expertly used to the episode’s advantage, successfully capturing the interest of even someone like me who went into the show fully expecting to hate it. Music aside, JC Staff’s production on this title is quite admirable and unusually high quality by their standards. The voice acting and aforementioned direction are great, while the art and animation remain above average at all times (believe me, that’s high praise for something by JC Staff).

In spite of some shaky moments – the final scene unfortunately makes it look like the next installment might head into some familiar and awful territory – this first episode managed to impress me. Not enough to heap praise upon it or forgive Key for 2002’s Kanon anime, but certainly enough for me to recommend their latest foray into the medium of animation. Maybe I’m going crazy. Maybe my expectations were just so low that anything would have exceeded them. Maybe Key fans will hate this series as much as I hated Air. Or maybe, just maybe, Little Busters! really is as good as I’ve heard.

Only time will tell. 8/10 – Foggle

Medaka Box Abnormal

Balls of steel.

I didn’t think it was possible, but somehow Medaka Box has managed to become worse over time. While the first season was a bad comedy with an occasional actually humorous joke lifted from other, better anime, season two is a bad action show with almost no jokes in it. Unless I missed something, it takes roughly nine minutes of the 23 minute runtime for the first bit even resembling humor to pop up, and by that point I had almost fallen asleep. Medaka Box Abnormal is dreadfully boring even by generic shounen action standards, and too devoid of laughs to even be considered a parody like the first season ostensibly was.

This episode opens with some exposition explaining why Medaka is so good at everything she does. Then there’s some more exposition setting up the central conflict that will likely be present for the rest of the season. This drones on for an eternity, to the point where episode one is almost halfway over by the time anything actually happens. And what actually happens? The hero gets her ass kicked by an incredibly annoying loli character who speaks in random strings of numbers because why not? This “gag” wears out its welcome 15 seconds in, so of course it persists throughout the next ten minutes, delivering a grand total of zero laughs overall.

In fact, outside of one fairly obvious joke near the end, this episode never so much as made me grin. The action is horrible, the humor is nonexistent, and the audience is given no reason whatsoever to care about the characters. There’s still a large amount of fanservice, and the music still sounds like a Pokemon OST, but the art and animation have taken a complete nose dive since Medaka’s previous outing. The animation and colors are nowhere near as vibrant or eye-popping as they once were, and the character designs have become absolutely awful. They’re clearly over the top on purpose in an attempt to parody various popular shounen action series, but that doesn’t stop them from being downright ugly. Of course, it would probably help if this show was anywhere near as good as any of the anime it’s making fun of, but it’s really not. Yes, even Naruto and Bleach are far superior to Medaka Box.

The only thing abnormal about this show is just how uninteresting Gainax has managed to make an action-comedy. 3/10 – Foggle

Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne (OniAi)

The exact opposite of my reaction to this episode.

The title of this anime roughly translates to As Long As There’s Love, It Doesn’t Matter If He’s My Brother, Right?. 1/10 – Foggle

 

Ahem. OniAi is a show about a 16-year-old girl who wants to fuck her brother. In a shocking twist of fate, they actually are blood-related, and he doesn’t want the sex, nor does he have any perverse inclinations toward the concept. It’s also a harem and (relatively mild) ecchi series, as if the core concept wasn’t brain-bleedingly terrible enough. In the end, it’s not funny, the girls are all obnoxious, only one of them isn’t a total creep, and the art is often ugly.

OniAi’s writing makes Baka to Test look like Fumoffu. The one-note jokes are all boring, lacking in wit, timing, or originality. The girls are all the exact opposite of who you’d want in your harem. The male protagonist barely qualifies as a character. There really is nothing to like about this series unless you have a sister complex or prefer your girls on the “I sacrifice live goats in your honor every weekend” side of weird. Seriously, Ana’s dialogue and vocal tone borderline on serial killer territory at times. When the various love interests aren’t acting deranged, they’re being obscenely annoying, screaming their lines into the microphone in an attempt to imitate a Butch Hartman cartoon. Akiko, sister to Akito (the titular onii-chan), is the worst offender in this regard. She yells at least half of her dialogue, almost all of which is related to being wet for her big bro in some way.

The art ain’t so hot either. While the target audience is likely expected to use OniAi as wank material, it’s hard to imagine anyone masturbating to these character designs, especially when so many of their facial expressions are outright horrible to look at. See that image of Akiko up top? She wears that same godawful smile for roughly 70% of this episode. Be still my beating heart.

Do yourself a favor and stay away from this show. If you were planning on watching it at all in the first place, please just stop lying to yourself… you know you’re only in this shit for the doujins. 1/10 – Foggle

Psycho-Pass

Like you'll ever get biceps like these.

Over a year ago, a man made an odd magical girl show that somehow sold gangbusters. With clout and the phone number of the woman who makes Hitman Reborn in hand, he decided to make his own cyberpunk anime, otherwise known as PSYCHO-PASS. Unlike his previous shot on TV, he makes no illusions about what it’s really like: A grim and cerebral cop drama walking in the footsteps of Stand Alone Complex.

In all honesty, it owes quite a bit to Ghost in the Shell. The CG vehicles, oblique exposition, and overall morally ambiguous feel definitely pay tribute. There are even a few shots that look ripped right off of Blade Runner and Minority Report. That might be a point off for unoriginality, but it still shows promise to portray a genre long thought to be in autopsy. Really, it’s even a bit flattering to see a Japanese show pay tribute to work from our side of the coast.

However, there’s an extra spanner in the works, as the protagonists have to utilize a gadget that aims based on the personality of the one they’re gunning for. And even the cops themselves can be targets ready for the kill, whether or not they even know it.

However, the aforementioned writer isn’t really known for distinct characterization. There isn’t much yet to differentiate the characters from other archetypes. You get the naive newcomer, the battle-scarred veteran, and so on, but will they have potential to grow into something greater? Whatever gray resolution to bleak executions such as the one portrayed in this episode has been done before, and the show definitely hasn’t broken new ground from the start. But then again, it’s only at the start. As its predecessor has shown, there’s plenty of room to utilize the potential that it’s laid out for us.

9/10 – Dr. Insomniac

Resident Evil: Damnation

Survival horror at its finest.

“Wait, what?” you exclaim. “Reviewing a movie for the clusterfuck? Preposterous!” Indeed, we are breaking new ground this season! This is mostly due to the fact that I just watched Damnation the other day, realized how it’s technically a Fall 2012 anime, and don’t have enough to say about it to write a full review.

Something of a follow-up to 2008’s godawful Resident Evil: Degeneration, Damnation goes for a much less serious overall tone, letting protagonist Leon S. Kennedy characteristically crack a bunch of goofy one-liners instead of forcing him to behave like an emotionless robot the entire time. Such silliness goes a long way toward making this pseudo-sequel more enjoyable, as it – like any good b-movie – rarely takes itself seriously. There isn’t much plot to speak of, but the film is absolutely jam-packed with over the top action scenes and bad jokes; enough to keep it entertaining all the way through its 100 minute runtime.

That said, it’s not exactly a “good” movie. The CG looks really weird at times (Ada’s face is particularly horrifying), the story is paper thin even by video game standards, and a couple of fights drag on forever. Resident Evil fans will definitely get a kick out of Damnation, as it’s by far one of the all-time best attempts at actually making a video game movie, but it doesn’t transcend its own franchise and thus the uninitiated need not apply.

It’s certainly a damn sight better than I expected. 6/10 – Foggle

Robotics;Notes

That feeling when you realize this will have two seasons.

Once upon a time, there was an anime called Chaos;Head. It sucked. After that, there was an anime called Steins;Gate. It was all right. Now, the producers of those two have made the next installment in the semicolon trilogy, otherwise known as Robotics;Notes.

Unlike the hard science and gray atmosphere in the previous installment, we’re getting nothing but light-hearted mecha action, with robots that make the ones from Star Driver look realistic. Be reminded that this apparently takes place in the same universe as Steins;Gate. You know, all that work trying to make a show that wasn’t too out there gets thrown out in favor of zany visual novel hijinks. Congratulations, viewers. This is what all those figmas and Kurisu body pillows have gotten for you.

But really, nobody liked Steins;Gate for the interesting utilization of time-travel or its eccentric yet relatable main character. They loved it for the otaku hijinks, which is what Robotics;Notes has in bloody barrels. Even before the show’s halfway done, we get a main character in a maid outfit and cat ears galore. And if that isn’t enough, we find out that this is yet another goddamn show about a kid who is an ace at video games. Because BTOOOM! and Sword Art Online weren’t enough. And clearly, having an actual robot in your show clearly can’t harness enough plot for your series.

Obviously, you have been completely duped if you were expecting Steins;Gate 2. Maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on the show. After all, the first episode of Steins;Gate was nothing to clap for, but it’s just so bloody banal. That show set up mysteries and a unique tone right from the start, while Robotics;Notes just looks like any other anime this season.

Hell, the show even knows that it’s not original. The plot even consists of one of the main characters fantasizing over a mecha anime she saw over four years ago. It would be nice if it was meta about it, but Robotics;Notes doesn’t even succeed there. This series is shameless when it comes to utilizing its bottomless pit of anime tropes.

Still, I’ll give the show credit for having a female protagonist with an actual personality, though it comes with having a male protagonist with the depth of a piss stain. Gains don’t come without sacrifices, I guess. But alas, it can’t mask how this is just a way to grab more cash for Nitroplus. While Robotics;Notes’ running mate in Noitamina isn’t original either, at least it carries a point right from the first episode. Here, I just see more of the same. Maybe it’ll get better, but I doubt it.

3/10 – Dr. Insomniac

Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

Haru is a slippery snake.

Oh look, another anime high school romantic comedy with archetypical jerk characters.

The main difference between Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun and other series of its ilk is that this one is actually kind of funny and endearing. Sure, it’s nothing special so far, but to give credit where it’s due, I somehow found myself enjoying this first episode a bit in spite of its banality. This is most likely the result of Brains Base’s usual charms; the colorfully vibrant character designs and background art, coupled with some speedy animation, result in something that is definitely fun to watch even if it is lacking a bit in substance. I am also under the impression that this show takes place in the same universe as Ed, Edd n Eddy, since apparently Rolf’s chickens are running wild everywhere.

Assuming the diabetes-inducing OP does not send you into a coma, in this first episode you will be introduced to protagonist Mizutani Shizuku and love interest Yoshida Haru. Shizuku is exceptionally cold and seems to only care about herself, while Haru comes across as abrasive but turns out to be quite sweet under it all. This is, of course, groundbreaking territory for a romance – an anime one especially. They do play off of each other well enough, though, so if you’re a fan of romantic comedies, you’ll probably want to give this a watch.

The humor is hit and miss – more hits than misses, for what it’s worth – but I was somewhat taken aback by a creepy off-the-cuff rape joke halfway through that doesn’t appear to disturb Shizuku in the slightest. Lines such as these seem to pop up quite often in shoujo, which I find shocking since I doubt the target audience wants to see the male love interest make “witty” remarks about sex crimes.

Around the 20 minute mark, I began to question whether or not I was liking what I’d seen so far. And I think that’s the biggest problem with Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun’s first episode… it doesn’t really leave an impression, good or bad. It just exists. You can watch it, or maybe not, whatever.

But seriously, what’s up with the chickens? 6/10 – Foggle

Zetsuen no Tempest

Actually, that’s an island. *rimshot*

Zetsuen no Tempest is nothing if not atmospheric. It’s a show with a few glaring flaws, the most obvious of which being the occasional groan-inducing, ham-fisted Shakespeare reference, but even with its problems laid out front and center, Tempest’s audio-visual design goes a long way toward making its world feel real and characters compelling. On the surface, there is a lot to dislike here, and almost immediately I concluded that this would not be a series I’d appreciate – however, my thoughts on it changed drastically over the course of the first episode’s 24 minute runtime.

Episode 1 is a bit hard to follow at first, though mercifully almost everything becomes clear by the time the credits roll. Zetsuen no Tempest follows the exploits of androgynous high-schooler Takigawa Yoshino, a seemingly normal guy with a couple of complex relationships and a knack for various forms of manipulative trickery (basically, he’s really good at lying); a more interesting protagonist than many of his analogues, to be sure. Revealing any actual plot details would spoil the numerous developments and twists of this first installment, but suffice it to say that the typical tropes of fantasy anime come into play here before too long. There’s some magic usage, some time skips, some sea monsters, a secret agent wearing a short skirt in winter… pretty much everything we’ve come to expect from show like this. Of course, what Tempest lacks in originality, it makes up for in presentation. The action is crisp, the music enjoyable, and the environments (cold open aside) sublime.

Initially, I felt that the supernatural elements detracted from the overall story, but they grew on me before too long. I’m still not sure whether or not they add anything to it, as certain situations would have been made more interesting without teleportation or forcefields, but they don’t really hurt the concept at all in the long run. At the same time, I do feel that – if written well – Yoshino and his interactions with other characters alone could have successfully carried a more down-to-earth series, though that is neither here nor there.

Many of my problems with Tempest stem from the dialogue feeling unnatural. The Shakespeare references are completely out of place and seem to have been inserted for the sole purpose of attempting to appear intelligent. Certain other lines also try to come across as “deep”, only to sound either bizarre or just plain stupid. Meanwhile, the underlying plot about an evil mage trying to kill one more powerful than himself is not exactly enticing (yet) and leaves me with little reason to care about what happens next. That said, this series has left a good enough first impression for me to want to check out the next episode… eventually.

Zetsuen no Tempest isn’t something I’d wholeheartedly recommend, but it’s certainly much better than appearances suggest and just might be worth watching. 7/10 – Foggle

TL;DR

YOU’LL LOVE IT
Psycho-Pass – 9/10
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure – 8.5/10
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! – 8/10
Little Busters! – 8/10

DEFINITELY MAYBE
Zetsuen no Tempest – 7/10
Resident Evil: Damnation – 6/10
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun – 6/10
K – 5/10
Ixion Saga DT – 4.5/10

DON’T BOTHER
Btooom! – 4/10
Medaka Box Abnormal – 3/10
Robotics;Notes – 3/10
Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankeinai yo ne (OniAi) – 1/10

———

Our Rating Scale

Many websites rate shows on a scale of 7-10, with the other 6 numbers on there simply for posterity’s sake. That’s fucking stupid. We here at AR proudly use roughly 250% as many numbers as IGN when scoring anime!

10 – Masterpiece
9 – Superb
8 – Great
7 – Good
6 – Above Average
5 – Average
4 – Below Average
3 – Bad
2 – Terrible
1 – Unwatchable

2012
10.26

Okay, so I wasn’t sure what to do on the blog for Cartoon Network’s 20th anniversary.

Should I write about the golden days of Toonami, before it ended with a whimper and Naruto fillers and came back as a substitute for [adult swim]’s Saturday night anime block? I could, but it’d sound like a whiny post for the fans that stick around with the new Toonami, the ones who are interested in most of the series currently airing (my personal interest in the newer series is moot), and the even fewer who just like to hear Steve Blum’s voice as TOM again.

How about a post dedicated to some of my favorite memories from the network over the years? I have a lot of them, and surprisingly a decent amount of which did occur when I was no longer a child. That’s a nice idea, but maybe just a bit too personal for this blog.

One thing I nearly did was do a First Impressions Are Key article on some of the pilots of the network’s programming. A three-parter, in fact, but I couldn’t muster up the motivation to write paragraphs on end about certain shorts.

But then I remembered one idea I had a long time ago- I’ve always wanted to do a weekly, semi-weekly or recurring series of articles where I sit back and watch four of the classic Cartoon Network series that I adore all over again, one episode at a time, and go into detail on why I and so many others like these so much. Now seems like as good of a time as ever to introduce them.

The four I picked are four of the most admired among fans of Cartoon Network in the 90’s and early-mid 00’s- Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, The Powerpuff Girls, and Ed, Edd n’ Eddy. Each are great for their own reasons, and had and still have fans well outside of their target demographics. What’s not to love about them?

And I plan to watch the first episode of each show again, and write a little piece on each of them, hopefully each Friday, in synch with the glory days of Cartoon Cartoon Fridays. Thankfully, the first seasons of all 4 shows are out on DVD if you want to find them and watch along with me, and while the rest of the series are on iTunes, that’s unfortunately it for Dexter and Johnny (PPG got a complete series set for its 10th anniversary, while the Ed boys lucked out and got a second set as well).

And I’ll go in order or premiere for these articles, so here’s the first fully original CN series, premiering in April 1996, Dexter’s Laboratory!

Dexter’s Laboratory:

Dee-Deemensional

The first short of the series to air (but not the first one made!) starts with Dexter, boy genius(!) being sucked up by a giant gelation monster. While he’s about to be consumed by the monster, he writes a note to his oafish sister Dee Dee to send to himself in the past so they can avoid the scenario. A fine idea… except the Dexter of the past doesn’t believe her.

The meat of the episode comes from Dee Dee of the future talking to Dee Dee of the past and the two teaming up. Check out the little birdy watching them converse and freak out. A great series of reaction shots! Dexter walks out to see the Dee Dees together, and realizes that his sister’s plea is legit. The rest leads up to fun cartoon hijinks and a depressing ending for the boy genius. Without spoiling the end results, Dexter doesn’t learn his lesson, and life goes on for the poor kid.

It’s a tad predictable, but a decent start to the first short made for this new series. Besides the bird, highlights include a recreation of The Nutcracker and the aforementioned ending.

Magmanamus

Something about Dexter’s first season- only the first and third segments are Dexter stories. The middle one always contained a follow-up series in between. The first half of the season mostly contained Dial M for Monkey, which I’ll focus on for now.

This Monkey short has a giant volcanic monster live underneath downtown Dexter’s hometown. The funny thing is, this monster hates noise, but lives right below what might be the busiest, loudest town in this cartoon world. When he finally snaps in hope of getting some silence, the people freak out, only causing more noise, and forcing the monster to snap.

Monkey, which is connected to Dexter’s Laboratory in that he happens to be Dexter’s pet monkey, the subject of extreme testing, only to prove negative in enhanced strength and ability. However, that isn’t the case at all. Monkey can kick ass! And he takes on the monster himself.

I’ve never been much of a fan of Dial M for Monkey. While I respect the shorts for introducing Tartakovsky into the world of action, they always felt flat and unfunny to me. This is a decent one, though. It’s always fun to hear Brad Garrett voice act before Raymond, and Monkey’s methods of winning is cute, as well as the ending. It’s also interesting to see Monkey without his agency or cohort Agent Honeydew (despite appearing in the opening credits), who’d be introduced later on.

Maternal Combat

And now we’re back to Dexter. When Dexter and Dee Dee’s mom gets sick, the kids take care of things by themselves. When their incompetence becomes too apparent (but fun, if nothing else), Dexter takes matters into his own hands and creates a Momdroid.

All goes well with the Momdroid, until Dee Dee ends up sniping the controls away from her brother and use them for her own gain. Dexter makes another, superior Momdroid 1000 (guess which movie this is referencing) to take care of Dee Dee and her actions. The titular maternal combat occurs now, and we end with some more great gags, especially when their dad comes home.

And here we come to the first episode of Dexter’s Laboratory. How does it hold up? Decently. I always have maintained that the best part of the show was the sibling rivalry between Dexter and Dee Dee, and that holds true to the two shorts here. The earliest episodes are a little slower paced than the rest, but it will become a lot more clever and fun as it goes along, but there isn’t a weak link between the three shorts. Not even Monkey, which was a fun episode.

Also, “You fool! Mothers do not get sick.”= highlight of the entire episode

Now let’s move onto the next show. Cow & Chicken and Johnny Bravo premiered around the same time, in July 1997. While I really enjoyed both shows, I always thought that the latter was way better than C&C, and watching some of both now, that belief holds true. How does the first episode stand up now? Let’s see.

Johnny Bravo:

Johnny Bravo

Of the 3 shows here to have one or more pilots made for What-a-Cartoon (Ed, Edd n’ Eddy was the first Cartoon Cartoon to not have been a part of the WAC series, which exempts it from this statistic), Johnny Bravo was the only to have its pilot air in its freshman episode. While we will eventually get to Dexter’s pilots  (Powerpuff’s never made it on the show, mostly due to a change in length between the original shorts and the series’ episodes), JB shows us the first taste of its titular lead the world had experienced again right off the bat.

The funny thing is that the self-titled pilot isn’t too far off from how the show turned out, weird narration from a Ron Pearlman knock-off aside.

Well, besides one other thing. The first girl our womanizing Johnny interacts with is a little younger than his usual target. A lot younger.

Granted, Johnny doesn’t hit on her, but he does make reference to how awkward the age gap would make their dating. This alone freaked out the censors at Cartoon Network so much that they made creator Van Partible promise that he’d never talk like this to a young girl ever again. (well, we’ll see about that…)

The plot is minimal. Johnny’s out looking for some action at the zoo, when a (hot red-headed) keeper runs out in hopes of finding an army or super hero to help her catch an escaped gorilla. It just so happens that Super Bravo (he didn’t name himself here, but let’s be real, you were totally thinking of that title) is here to save the day with his “black belts in every form of martial arts” (although he’s still studying sumo wrestling).

Turns out, this gorilla is quite articulate, with a sassy attitude to boot, and able to match wits with the witless Johnny. The whole short ends up formulating a classic Hanna-Barbera cartoon (not a surprising comparison, given who made this), and has the gorilla mess around with Johnny, right down to his hopeless ending.

Not bad stuff for a pilot. I referenced one or two of the both lines, but I try to not mention all of the great gags in these shorts. Trust me when I say there are some great ones, and promises more for the show.

Jungle Boy in “Mr. Monkeyman

Jungle Boy? Who’s Jungle Boy?

“Johnny Bravo” wasn’t the only short Partible made for What-a-Cartoon. He also made this short staring what could be assumed to be Boy from the Tarzan films in his own adventures.

Back in the day, Cartoon Network wanted an accompanying series of shorts to go with their main series. This is why Dexter’s Lab had Dial M for Monkey and later the Justice Friends, and Cow & Chicken would share fame with I Am Weasel. Presumably, Jungle Boy was going to be Johnny’s paired series.

By the time Dexter was working on its second season and Johnny was picked up, CN decided to drop this practice. This made Monkey and the Justice Friends occasionally become integrated in Dexter’s shorts during the show’s second season. While Cartoon Network ended up liking Weasel too much to have David Feiss drop it from Cow & Chicken, Partible wasn’t required to keep Jungle Boy as a regular part of JB.

While the character will appear again later this season, this is the only solo Jungle Boy short in existence. From what I understand, CN wanted a pilot episode for their shows to be made, which explains why this short stuck around. CN and Partible thought that Jungle Boy was going to stick around, but even after this ended up not being the case, there wasn’t enough time to make a bonus Johnny short, so they kept it in.

Maurice LaMarche, presumably keeping up a Ron Pearlman impression, narrates the opening of this short, selling Jungle Boy to be a little messiah, a cross between Tarzan’s unfortunately named son, Superman, and a high-profile child star, and loved by all.

Except for the same pink gorilla from Johnny’s pilot short, who is now king of the jungle, and afraid that Jungle Boy is taking away his popularity among his people. King Raymond takes it upon himself to dress up as Jungle Boy (how he pulls it off, don’t ask me), as to lower the opinion of the kid to the inhabitants of the jungle.

Of course, Jungle Boy saves his honor, and balance is restored in the jungle. It’s a cute short, but I could see this concept become tiresome if this was picked up as its own show, or even stuck around as a companion to Johnny Bravo. Jungle Boy doesn’t have much of a character besides being a nice kid, and if they stuck to a formula of King Raymond trying to one-up JB (heh, notice how both of Partible’s lead characters have the same initials), the show could have become very tiresome. The supporting animals seem likable enough though, possibly to the point that they could save the show.

Not bad, but I think it’s not the worst thing in the world that Jungle Boy only had one short of his own.

Before we go to the last short of the episode, though, I must ask you- did you see any rhinos around here?

Johnny Bravo and the Amazon Women

And here is the first original short made for the show, I believe as a second test for CN to see if the show was worth buying. This proved to the network that… it was worth another shot.

Johnny is on a boat long before Andy Samberg and crew would have made you groan at hearing those words, as he attempts to hit on a chick, only to be pepper sprayed so hard that he falls out of the boat and gets kicked by a whale into an island… full of giant amazon women.

The there’s some good gags here, but the whole thing runs so fast that it’s hard to really appreciate the humor. I’m pretty sure that this is the shortest of the three segments, since the other two were extended a little for the sake of What-a-Cartoon’s necessity. Because of that, there’s little breathing room and it all ends so soon. But at least the ending is a classic, if perhaps a bit risqué. But hell, that’s why we love it.

The first episode of Johnny Bravo is pretty okay, all things considered. The main concept of Johnny trying and failing to hit on women, while being totally oblivious to not only how he repulses his targets, but the rest of the world around him. There’s a lot of groundwork to be done though, as the two JB segments feel as unpolished as any other show’s first couple of episodes would.

It’s also a bit strange to see Johnny be the only main character used so far. While these wouldn’t be the only time we see the show done without Mama or Suzy, the first supporting roles to show up alongside Johnny, you can still feel like their presence has hardly been thought of by the time this was made, This will change though, as Johnny Bravo will soon develop to be the show it’s remembered as today.

The highlight of all of these shorts comes from a sight gag in the first short, when a Christ-like figure stands in a “Stop cartoon violence!” sign, which contrasts to the short, but is still a nice idea.

Now The Powerpuff Girls is a bit special to me. While I was watching Cartoon Network for at least a year or so prior to it’s airing, this is the first show I remembered the premiere of, all the way back in November 1998. I was never one to dismiss programming with female leads despite having a Y chromosome, so I had no problem becoming a fan of the show. And I’m not the only boy who can safely say this, which explains its massive appeal.

The Powerpuff Girls:

Monkey See, Doggie Do

Note: If you go by production and DVD order, you’d find that “Insect Inside”/”Powerpuff Bluff” was the first episode of Powerpuff to air. But by checking scheduling, you’d find that “Monkey See, Doggie Do”/”Mommy Fearest” aired first on the network. Since I so clearly remember the latter being my first taste of the show beyond the What-a-Cartoon shorts, I’m going to review those first, and I’ll tackle the actual first episode next time.

The story of the episode is that Mojo Jojo, primate wonder, steals a jeweled Egyptian artifact that gives him the power to turn people into dogs. Why? Why not? If everyone else is a dog, then Mojo can easily take over the world

Of course Mojo succeeds at first, and turns most everyone in the city of Townsville into a pup, including the Mayor, Miss Bellum, Professor Utonium, and eventually, even the girls! And of course, they end up saving the day.

First or not, you can tell that this is an earlier episode based on how raw the girl’s interaction with each other seem to be. The police are extremely inept, and while the force were never particularly bright in the rest of the show, hot damn, do these cops seem dim.

There aren’t that many strong gags here, unfortunately. Turning most of your main characters into dogs in one of your earliest episodes will cause that, but even the dialogue with the girls and Mojo is meh. A couple of weak puns seem to be all we really get.

Mommy Fearest

TV PUPPET PALS! Who doesn’t love these guys from Dexter’s Lab? Since Powerpuff shares a lot of creative forces from that series, it’s not surprising to get a shout-out from the CN original that started it all here.

After watching their favorite program, the Professor decides that it’s time for his girls to go to bed, make sure they brush their teeth, get dressed, even if they don’t want to (this is one of the few times you’ll see a girl in her panties, animated or not, in a kids show, so yeah), and go to bed. But only if the door is creaked open a little for Bubbles.

Professor Utonium is a great dad. His girls mean the world to him, and while they constantly make him proud by saving the world, his work is nowhere near done. The only weak point of the job is. How lonely he is, which this episode indicates. The Professor wouldn’t have had to make the girls if he could find a woman of his own. But he’s just not a smooth operator.

Until he meets Imma. Imma Goodlady, to be exact (sheesh). The two hit it right off, and they get a date, Friday at 7. Thanks to the girls, of course, because the Professor just couldn’t hit a girl up on his own.

The Professor and Imma hit it off. Way off. So much so, that after their first date, she moves in with the Utonium clan. It’s around this time that Imma shows her true colors and becomes a monster. Is she actually a monster, though? I won’t say, but this will contain the first appearance of a memorable villain on the show.

I didn’t want this one to go on overlong, so I cut my retrospective on the second episode short. It’s a step-up from the previous short, but isn’t extremely funny, either. Both episodes are okay, but that’s about it. The show will get better as it goes along.

I’ll have to give the highlight to the beginning of when the girls help the Professor get ready for his date. Bubbles puts a tie on his head, only for Buttercup to drop it to the top of his chest, right where it belongs. Bubbles replies “Oh. I guess that looks good, too.” The best part? Professor U just stands there, smiling, completely trusting of his girls.

Premiering only a couple of months later, in January 1999, Ed, Edd n’ Eddy was unlike anything on the network before, original or not. That proved to be a good thing, as even though it was never marketed as well as The Powerpuff Girls or even Dexter’s Laboratory, EEnE was about as big as both of them, and continues to be one of the most iconic programs in the network’s history.

Also, my personal favorite, something everyone that knows me is grudgingly aware of. Does the first episode hold up now? Let’s see.

Ed, Edd n’ Eddy:

The Ed-Touchables

Note: Just like how the first episode aired of Powerpuff isn’t the first on its DVD, the first episode of Ed, Edd n’ Eddy is put as the second on the DVD. While it is possible that “Pop Goes the Ed”/”Over Your Ed” might have been produced first, I’m going with “The Ed-Touchables”/”Nagged to Ed” here, not only since it’s the first that aired, but also because it properly introduces some of the most infamous characters in the latter short, which also happens to appear in the other eligible episode.

Anyway, the first scene of the episode contains a great introduction to Edd, or Double D if you prefer (tee hee!).  We get to see the hypochondriac, obsessive-compulsive little genius organize every little thing in his room just so, only to be bothered by a constant doorbell ringing.

Who’s the door? Why, it’s Eddy, the conceiving liar and head honcho of the trio. He comes in to hang out with one of his two best (and really, only) friends, only for him to be cleaned up nice and tightly by Double D, which reinstates Edd’s obsession with cleaniness. But hey, all is well… until Double D finds out that his fabled magnifying glass is missing.

Before the two Ed’s try to crack the code, they go over to the house of the show’s other Ed to meet with him. This Ed is dimwitted, but bright-hearted and dead set in his ways, helping to round out the three main characters. He’s watching a monster movie on TV but pauses to give his best friends a noogie, only to cause more roughhousing.

Now it’s time for Sarah, Ed’s vindictive little sister, to come out and give the Ed’s hell. Like how Double D is missing his magnifying glass, Sarah is distraught from her missing dolly. This is done in a somewhat creepy scene, implying that Edd has a crush on Sarah despite their massive age gap. Thankfully this was dropped after this episode, but soon the opposite will become a semi-recurring point on the show.

Eddy decides to put these two unfortunate coincides together and calls it an epidemic of the serial toucher. He plans on having his buddies solve these heinous crimes, and here come the Ed-Touchables.

We get a chance to introduce the rest of the Cul-De-Sac kids in the rest of this episode as Eddy warns them to “Hide your stuff” (and presumably your kids and wife as well). Kevin and Johnny 2×4, along with his buddy Plank, get decent introductions, and we get a decent idea of Jimmy’s weird fascination for Sarah, but we’ll have to wait to become more acquainted with Nazz, and Rolf.

Do we find the serial toucher? You’ll have to see for yourself. This short definitely feels rough around the edges, but there’s a lot of iconic material for the show in here. We get a good view of Ed and Double D’s room, along with a classic scene of the Eds walking and hiding behind a pole in (near) unison, and the Ed’s even get a brief taste of their beloved jawbreakers. There’s a lot of better stuff to come along, but this is one of the better shorts I’ve seen this week.

Nagged to Ed

Double D has Ed and Eddy begin an expedition to discover more about some of his beloved bugs, despite the lack of interest from Eddy. Their plan is to head off into the woods, until they get lost.

Ed then gets stuck on a spider web, and as his buddies attempt to pull him out, they hear a disturbing rhyme- “Ed, Edd and Eddy, sitting in a tree- K-I-S-S-I-N-G”. Who can this be? In somewhat of a recreation of the scary wilderness scene from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, they try to not find out. Which would work out, if they weren’t stuck in mud.

They wake up in the trailer of the Kanker sisters- May, Marie and Lee, wearing nothing but the bathrobes of these girl’s different fathers. We never learn too much about their family life, but we can safely assume that they must at least have the same mom, even if we don’t know the exact ages of each of them. Or maybe they’re just metaphorical sisters, not biological. Oh well, doesn’t matter. They’re weird and this is our proper introduction to them.

The Kankers give the Ed’s some humble hospitality, in hopes that the boys would fall in love with them, with typical mixed results. Like, who the hell puts a tire wheel inside of a burger?

When the Ed’s reject them, the Kankers forcefully turn on the boys and have them do their husbandly duties. They comply for a while, until Eddy snaps and makes the girls cry. Does this mean that the Ed’s can leave on their own good time? Yes, but not in the way they’d want to.

So, are the Kankers PMSing? Beats me, but I don’t ever really recall the girls being this sporadic. But it’s not a bad introduction to them. While the show would occasionally bring the girls in just to give the Ed’s hell as a sign of laziness, there are just as many, if not more, times when their usage was beneficial to the show. This only gives us a taste of the sisters at their best/worst.

The first episode of Ed, Edd n’ Eddy is just fine. I remember watching this as it premiered and knowing right away that this show would become something special, and I was right. I just had no idea HOW special it was going to be, and as much as I liked this episode, it doesn’t fully give you the idea of how great it will become. But there’s plenty of classic moments nonetheless.

Nothing like seeing Eddy smash Double D with a couch in the first episode. The show’s love for cartoon physics helps to make for an early series highlight.

Overall:

The first episodes of each of these shows all range from decent to merely good. I don’t think that there’s a particular weak point this week, although some shorts are definitely better than others. I’d probably say that “The Ed-Touchables” is my favorite of the week, but I can certainly say that it gets better from here for each show.

Welp, there goes the first step of a potentially huge labor of love. If I bail out, I’ll just add a caption making this a First impressions Are Key article, but I want to go through the whole run of these four brilliant, creative shows.

2012
10.22

Even germs are able to beat up Superman this season.

A long wait for a horrible episodes, dears. After dealing with monkeys and Greek mythology, Justice League now believes that feminism can be handled correctly. Of course, the show has been able to deal with female characters without demonizing them. And after all, Superman’s been more of a punching bag on the show than Wonder Woman or Hawkgirl ever are. So the episode can’t be that bad, right?

With a male production staff, and a female writer not to been until the second season of Unlimited, the idea of a balanced view towards feminism wasn’t going to happen in this episode. Instead, we see the typical man-hating psychopath whose slimmest of motives get thrown out in favor of pure, unbridled rage. She can kick Batman’s ass. She can kick Superman’s ass. She can even make the Injustice League think she’s a better villain than Luthor, and yet our dear Aresia doesn’t have the personality to show it. There’s no depth or realistic motivation behind that stoic demeanor. For all her supposed intelligence and strength shown in the story, Aresia lacks the reason. Don’t talk about how she came from a war-torn country, because women can commit war crimes too. Women can be murderous pirates too. But no, Aresia happens to get everything bad handed to her by men. And even that gets taken away when we’re told how she thanks her life to a captain. With that, Aresia is literally without a cause.

But then, Justice League hasn’t had a particularly good track record with positive or even layered depiction of women. For instance, the first story had Themyscira refusing to help save the Earth from White Martians, despite how they’ll clearly attack the island once they’re done. When we see them again, they all end up petrified by a single man with only decades of knowledge in comparison to Hippolyta’s centuries. Last episode had a villainess who was only motivated for Love out of Grodd (who happens to never be mentioned again). Then, there’s how Batman faked a romance with Cheetah in order to take advantage of her and screw with the Injustice League. These examples may seem like nitpicking, but they show a clear problem in Justice League’s stance towards gender.

And dear Themyscira becomes the resident village of idiots throughout the season. Combined with the examples listed above, more Themysciran incompetence resonates in how they couldn’t figure out that Aresia escaped the island even though she was away for weeks despite being known to be a possible danger among other Amazonians. Hell, Hippolyta doesn’t even think until the climax to tell Aresia that a man saved her life. Her indirect ignorance was why the world almost ended in this story. Once again, feminism gets knocked down due to the idea that global anarchy and ruin almost happened just because a woman couldn’t bother to tell someone the straight facts. You could explain this conundrum due to Themyscira obviously being an island based on female supremacy with no mention of men, but there lies in how male gods are rooted into their Greek mythology. Figures like Hermes even appear later in the show without causing a major issue among the Amazonians. Hippolyta even had a relationship with Hades, for crying out loud. She holds not only ignorance, but complete and utter stupidity for not being able to even educate our main villain on how the male gender works besides “they are bad”.

While misogyny does get made fun of in the next story, the show still features one decade’s worth of biases and values complaining about another era’s. While superheroines no longer have to be the damsels in distress or the subservient sidekick, they still get treated badly enough for this to be an actual issue. Essentially, one prejudice has been traded for another. The show preaches balance between genders for this story, but this carries a bad undertone from the very structure of a 28% amount of representation at the least for one gender, which becomes an overestimate due to Hawkgirl’s lack of a focus story this season.

And implications don’t just get played for the villains. Hilarity is made out of how Wonder Woman still doesn’t understand Earth culture. However, the sad side-effect shows in how Wonder Woman becomes a mouthpiece for how women shouldn’t wear makeup or perfume. Diana is speaking with a man’s voice here, standing on a little soapbox and using some cheap jokes to make a point before the games begin on this episode. But even during the action scenes, does the idea of gender equality become questionable within the show. The idea that Diana and Shayera can be independent female characters gets heavily downplayed by how Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman need Star Sapphire’s help to do so much as rescue people. And even then whatever characterization Star Sapphire gets from that betrayal is rendered a ruse, allowing her to sit back down as a generic henchman among cardboard antagonists.

So here we have it, a message for gender equality heavily brought down by poor hindsight and little thought put forward. This episode is the equivalent of a man who voluntarily defecates himself telling you to learn your manners. And of course, the episode ends with Wonder Woman offering her praises towards the male gender. If this were any other show, that would be followed up with the entire cast laughing while the credits roll. But as we know, the show goes on…

2012
10.03


Equipped some nice earrings for your day off with a special someone, Asuna? I’m gonna go ahead and assume the type of item equipped is of the type that doesn’t really have all that big of an effect on the user when equipped a la bracelets and the like in the Persona games? It makes sense and all, but I always found those kinds of items useless… or at the least I didn’t swap them out as often as I did with other equippable things. Yes, if you didn’t find out already, I’m using my SAO reviews as my opportunity to gripe about the handful of RPGs I’ve played.


I always wondered what it would be like if shopkeepers in games had a bit more personality outside of “lemme sell you this” and “lemme rip you off when I buy your stuff for half the price you got it for.” Though talk of legendary dragons guarding rare items seems a bit too cliché for my liking.


Midway through the episode and Lisbeth is coming off as essentially a one-episode version of Winry minus the backstory. Though I guess you could say she makes up for that by having the show’s Ed continue to speak down to her even though she clearly has some experience on her, which is a bit annoying. She’s been trapped in the game the same amount of time as you have and was able to not only make it to the higher level floors, but also make a nice li’l sword shop, too. Give her some credit, Kirito.


With the tone of the last couple episodes, I was expecting some kind of twist with the dragon actually being some dude hoarding the crystals for himself, but instead we get a Blue Eyes White dragon. Okay.


…followed by another scene of Kirito insisting that he is on par with any main character in a Persona game. I wouldn’t mind, but 1) we already had a similar scene to this before and 2) there’s been enough tension built between him and Asuna to warrant not putting the show in the direction of a harem. And a love triangle just doesn’t feel right for this show. Kirito doesn’t need this many ladies around him and honestly, 7 episodes in, I was hoping there’d be a larger focus on the guilds teaming up to charge through the latter floors of the game. How far behind episode-wise am I? *checks Wikipedia* Ugh, if it’s aiming for 26 episodes, I hope they make more in the vein of 5 and 6 soon.