2013
09.28

The start of season two gets off to one doozy of a beginning as Ayumu breaks Haruna’s magic chainsaw which could previous transform him into a magical girl who could conjure massive amounts of magic and exposes his fondness for pretty pink dresses to the entire school of students! Next, there’s an incident with a dreadful dance of doom that turns out to be an unfortunate curse – and an embarrassing trip which does Ayumu no positive favors at all to a maid café where all the undead zombie’s live-in roommates work! But the silly shenanigans take a backseat to bigger problems when Ayumu’s mysterious drinking buddy who we seldom know about turns out to be the most powerful magical girl of them all! To save his friends and defeat this adorable new menace, the undead zombie boy must do the unthinkable: throw a mixer for his own deadly murderer! With a little help from his loyal harem of vampires, female magical girls with vaginas, and the world’s cutest necromancer, Ayumu just might survive to rot another day!

For a story that was 12 episodes and 1 OVA, Kore wa Zombie Desu Ka? had done a pretty good job of keeping a story arc well paced when absolutely necessary. The Season Two DVD set tosses that unbreakable record out the window by making a gold standard that puts the first season to shame and probable seppuku. The set’s first episode is entirely dedicated to Ayumu talking to a girl with a multilayered personality you wouldn’t find in those Yankee cartoons, while eventually becoming the subject of scorn from a discriminating crowd. The second episode has the wonderful character Ariel confronting Kyoko with something that’s too rich for my American brain to understand. The third and fourth episodes deal with dancing and Ayumu learning how to get the “dere” side out of his lovely harem that I wish I could at least fondle. These first four episodes are too original with multiple subplots running into each other at regular speeds, causing a plot resembling Dickens, except Dickens wrote for lowbrow English audiences, while the lovely Kimura Shinichi writes for the elite of otaku such as myself-dono.

Alas, the titular zombie-ness that only happens sparingly in the show is not the shit in the shitake mushrooms. Eucliwood-kun comes down with a fever and needs Ayumu’s help to aid her. But after realizing that Eu-chan’s been eating too much Tangerine pith—which I assume you Americans don’t even know about—Ayumu must help Euc-senpai get the cure so that Eucli-san can get better. This episode has the hook of a crescendo worthy of Hisaishi Jou. Am I right?

Due to a desire to sell Blu-Rays, the real episode one is an OVA, so only the truest of fans can get the full narrative that is Kore wa Zombie desu ka? It’s a surreal experience suddenly getting a first episode coming from a season premiere. The stark contrast between the premiere and the OVA—which was definitely not a way to increase sales—both rattles and fascinates. A welcomed lack of any real depth in the OVA spares those silly Yankees any sense of loss. To the American’s credit, they have opposable thumbs. So they can fulfill the role of clicking the button on their remote for a sudden and brief stretch before laying a sofa and eating their chipotle vegan hot dogs.

Many notable pieces of animation occur in this set of episodes. Esteemed animator Kanasaki Takaomi provides many points where characters reveal their true demonic nature by shapeshifting at random. Sometimes, Ayumu doesn’t even resemble a human being even by anime standards. The blobby expression Kanasaki-san brings to Eucliwood-hime are a treat for the eye, providing a welcome fresh of air after I finish quickly from staring at Haruna’s jugglies. Prized animation company DEEN contributes their all to the Kore wa Zombie desu ka? television series throughout by animating the frills on Ayumu’s dress with loving detail, kindly giving the animation aficionado a reprieve from vomiting at the details from DEEN’s other work.
The extra content in this set contains the usual FUNimation fare of English subtitles to go along with the episodes, an English dub, an English title, English words on the back of the set, an English FBI warning, and personal shame. It also includes an episode 04 and 10 commentary along with an episode 01 video commentary, but I don’t think you’d be interested in hearing Americans speak American when failing to comprehend a Japanese anime.

Despite only having a handful of episodes, Kore wa Zombie desu ka? is a work rivaling the greats like Kurosawa and Murakami. If Season Three doesn’t get greenlighted soon, I’ll have to go to bed with a clean pair of pants.

2013
09.28

Korra gives Naga head.

At least Bryke didn’t prolong the Unalaq charade for half of the season. We still don’t see much motive for being a backstabber other than how he wants power over all of the Water Tribe. What’s he up to? Why’s he evil? Why does he let his daughter claim ownership over Bolin? Those are things the show should be in the cusp of uncovering. Also, why did he want Korra to stay by his side while admitting a few minutes later that he didn’t have any use for her after the last two episodes? I guess good PR is a reason, but he seemed quick to throw her aside instead of manipulating her further when she decided to go with her parents.

For Korra, she’s still really bull-headed. But the show is slowly starting to realize that by having her contemplate murdering the Judge to break her dad out of jail. And she almost acts on that. I can see how the show is trying to make her the Anti-Aang—where Aang tries to see reason and refuses to kill, Korra uses brute force when things don’t go her way—which would work well if done correctly. So far, Korra just seems single-minded in this. With the season focused on spiritual themes, this brash nature should contrast with how she starts to learn how to think before acting. Seriously, when is Korra going to develop as a character? What’s she done this week sounds absolutely like something she would’ve done early on last season.

But to stop ranting for once and say something nice, Varrick’s my favorite character so far. He’s what Bolin’s antics could be if done correctly. Who doesn’t like an entrepreneur wearing a Platypus Bear suit while riding a boat away from the Northern Water Tribe feds? He’s so outlandish that I wish the season was about him instead of spiritualism. Especially now that Hiroshi’s out of the picture, the second season should’ve been how his absence led to a power vacuum by other tycoons looking to make millions in the Avatar world. That would’ve connected to the first season’s events as well as given Asami a reason to be on the show. And include Korra by asking the question of how bending has a place in a continuously industrialized society. Speaking of industrialization, whatever happened to those mechs from last season?

Hopefully, that’ll lead to something interesting later on. Maybe Bryan and Mike can step up their game, especially since this episode was a decent improvement over last week’s. It had much more plot development and less moments where characters acted stupid. Now that the show isn’t wandering in circles with Korra for now, I can definitely see some focus happening. I still don’t see much of a need for Desna and Eska though. They haven’t contributed anything to the plot, especially for the kids of the apparent lead villain. Maybe one of them will do something interesting next week. Like kill Mako.

And anybody who doesn’t think Sky Bisons are the cutest shit needs to seek Jesus. Or a shrink. Or Shrinky Jesus: The Inch-High Wonder Christ.

2013
09.27

Well folks, this is it. The final episode of Gatchaman Crowds and the penultimate edition of Crowds-Sourcing. Its being a bumpy three months for me and this show but its my hope that Crowds ends on a high note…

Alas.

Sick em Katze!

With the new, additional Crowds only managing to cause a minor raucus and not doing anything productive, it looks like Katze’s finally won… until he gets called out by his old nemesis O.D. Yes we finally get to see O.D in the G-Suit and… its not very interesting. For all the threats about how transforming would cause the world to be destroyed, O.D’s sole appearance in the suit is kind of an afterthought. It does look bitchin though. In the end though, while O.D sucessfully wails on Katze (who gets his own rather familiar looking G-suit akin to the appearance of the original Berg Katze), the latter manages to successfully destroy O.D’s NOTE, causing his eventual death but not before he can pass it off to Rui (nothing happens though).

Shame we only get to see this suit for thirty seconds.

MEANWHILE… Gatchaman is having a bitch of a time keeping the Neo Hundred Crowds at bey and the other new Crowds aren’t helping any matters. Rui (who actually has the most screen time in this episode) decides to use GALAX to help convince the new Crowds users to utilize them for a far more beneficial reason by playing the… wait for it… “Tachikawa Crowds Game”. A series of social networking activites where the Crowds basically come the equivalent of digital pets and perform goals like rescuing people and delivering supplies. In the end Katze wakes up from his beat down and sees that people are having fun with the Crowds, which pisses him off and he leaves. Credits Roll. Thats it.

O.Dead.

OR IS IT?!?

We time skip ahead to the following summer. The news media is wondering when the government is going to end the Crowds Game but they’ll have to ask President X. The surviving Gatchamen (or at least Sugane and Paiman since they and Hajime were the only ones with speaking parts this week) are still active and Hajime has a new bandana… which is red… and actually Berg Katze. Wait what?

This was basically how the show ended.

This… this was a bad finale, and most of the fault can be lain at the feet of last week’s waste of time. Nobody really got time to shine. Of all the Gatchaman, only Sugane and O.D get some decent action with Hajime spending the entire episode out of suit and the rest amounting to blink and you’ll miss it cameos. The idea that Facebook games are what really saves the world does fit into the theme of the show about social networking and its effects on society, but it ultimately once again diminishes the main characters of this show. I can’t believe I’m actually writing about a Gatchaman show that had barely any actual Gatchaman-ing in it. Its a disappointment. Might as well call it Kamen Rider instead.

I know... but you weren't making it easy.

Structurally the episode somehow managed to feel even more rushed than the half-recap last week and its non-ending felt well… incomplete. With half the cast reduced to virtually non speaking cameos, and too much time being spent on the Crowds, there just wasn’t enough time to give them a proper send-off. And why is Katze a trash talking hankerchief? You know what… fuck it…

No comment.

2/10

We’ll wrap things up next week with my final thoughts on the show and the final average grades. Its been fun I guess….

2013
09.21

We've got bottled water, and we're not afraid to use it!

So this week gives us yelling. Kya calls out Tenzin. Mako calls out Bolin. The twins reveal why expressing positive emotions can be a bad thing. On top of that, the Korra family’s inability to communicate properly has led to a whole mess of misunderstandings between everyone. Also, Northern and Southern Water Tribes are now at odds with each other. With the Northerners stepping on the South’s turf like it’s their neighborhood. And you can’t step on someone else’s territory and look like a king. That’s gang code 101 right there, especially when both sides have the power to drown each other with water. Make one move, and you’re sleeping with the fishes.

Seriously, the Northern Water Tribe is painted to be so ludicrously evil. They march through the land just like the Fire Nation. Unalaq’s making arrests like nobody business. Even kids are getting involved in the occupation. By all standards, these are pretty unambiguously bad actions. If the writers reveal that these guys are the heroes all along, these prior actions will come off as pretty awkward and mishandled. What is the staff trying to prove if Unalaq’s not supposed to be the mustache-twirling villain he’s been portrayed as for these past few episodes? There’s not even a mere hint that maybe the Northerners are the good guys. We only have Unalaq’s word and some raging spirits that only appeared around the time he appeared? How do we know Unalaq didn’t release the spirits during that incident with Tonraq then as well? How do we know he didn’t just hire kidnappers to act as if they were abducting him to give Korra the wrong idea? It’s a lose-lose situation for the show if both endpoints are either portraying a one-note zealot as a hero or story twists that could be predicted from the first episode. Instead of establishing some gray conflict, the only potential theories are that both sides are bastards or the season will be another standard good versus evil plot. Maybe Bryke can pull off a third option, but Korra’s not that kind of show.

Unalaq’s portrayal just sounds like Professor Snape done wrong. While Snape was a sadist to Harry on a regular basis, there were multiple times throughout the series where Rowling made it pretty clear that Snape was looking out for Harry’s back. Anything he did that could be construed as evil gets explained early on as part of his backstory and personality, so we could get a glimpse as to how he could be a hero on the inside despite all the trappings of a villain. Rowling portrayed the issue ambiguously, making the audience constantly guess whether Snape was for or against the side of good. Other than wrangling a couple spirits, Unalaq hasn’t revealed any of that uncertainty. There’s nothing that makes you think he might be a good guy.

On the plus side, at least the show portrays Korra as probably not being in the right this time. I liked that scene where the little girl calls Korra the worst Avatar to contrast with how Unalaq tells Korra she’ll be the most admired. But that moment only develops how the characters see Korra instead of Korra herself. She’s still bull-headed and thinks with her heart throughout the episode. At one point, she apparently confuses a masked man for her own father despite only having the vaguest evidence to support her case. I know Korra’s not exactly intelligent, but when the character who’s supposed to be the latest in a long line of elemental sages does something like that… yeah.

Despite that, I like the idea of making the Avatar flawed such as how Kya and Bumi complained that Aang never let them go on trips. While it goes against prior characterization where Aang was so pure that fighting Ozai was something he took an entire episode to meditate on, establishing that kind of conflict is an interesting idea if not a bit out of place. Once again, I can tell the writers are trying to do something new, but what they’re doing seems inconsistent with what was previously laid down in the show. A lot of the gains that could be made are up in the air, so the payoff in the matter is far from being set in stone. Shows like Young Justice have tried and failed with that concept. Maybe we won’t see a redo of that plunder, maybe we will. It’s all cloudy from here on out.

2013
09.20

You're a looney!

Well here we are with the penultimate episode of Gatchaman Crowds. Boy am I excited after last week! Hope it gets off to a great start with…. nothing. No cold opening this week huh? Maybe they don’t want to break up the action this week? Or maybe they want to show off the changes they made to the op (which are far more significant than usual)? Well anyway… lets get this show on the road with… narration over footage from previous episodes.

…………………….

its a fucking recap show.

No sign of Y yet...

I hate recaps. They’re the essence of lazy storytelling caveats in anime. Run out of money or time, just throw out 23 minutes of stock footage. Now in this recap, we do get some noticable character development for the other five Gatchaman as they share their thoughts on Hajime, but the problem with this is they could have allocated this material to the actual episodes that came before instead of this clipshow.

Go Go Utsutsu Rangers!

BUT WAIT! All is not lost! After the eyecatches we get our proper episode (finally). Rui finally regains access to X by getting caught on a security camera. The Prime Minister goes on the Gatchannel to try to reassure the population only to get quickly chewed out by NicoNico commenters and take charge. A government initiative to send cellphones to the entire city is established only to go nowhere when Katze hijacks the stream. Then Rui ends up in an unpleasant situation… then the episode ends…because its only nine minutes long…. SERIOUSLY WHO THE FUCK DOES SOMETHING LIKE THAT??!?!

Well somebody's getting a tax hike!

I honestly don’t know what to say about this episode. The fact that they couldn’t even do a proper recap show and then crammed an episode into 9 minutes is about as inept as they come. I can’t tell if Nakamura simply ran out of money or workable plot. There is some pretty good Gatchaman action here however and we get to see some new abilities for the team… which we should have seen last month. Well next week we can put this show (and myself) out of its misery. Its been… something Crowds.

5/10

2013
09.17

This show aired early for some reason. And that means I have to write about it early.

I’ve invented a new drink. One part lemon juice, two parts Budweiser, and one part Robitussin (the kids’ cough syrup shit), topped off with some bleach for a little extra kick; Clorox, usually. I call it the White Devil. I mostly ingest White Devils only before heading down to the corner of 6th and Stetson to work the dirty midnight streets — a man’s gotta’ pay for web hosting and figmas somehow — but this time I decided to have one before watching anime. I’m glad I did.

Diabolik Lovers is a classic tale of girl meets boy and boy and boy and boy and boy and boy and the latter six decide it’d be fun to rape and possibly eat the former. Much like every other book targeted at young adults written in the past five years, the boys are vampires — sexy vampires. Okay, well, the sexy part is debatable. I mean, they’re honestly kind of gross-looking. Appearances suggest that they might be a bit greasy, if not entirely unwashed. Plus, one of them wears a fedora. Fedoras are only acceptable when worn by old-school mafiosi or Humphrey Bogart. And, of course, there’s also the whole rape thing. That’s a bit of a mood-killer.

So yeah, Yui shows up at the mansion from Resident Evil (seriously, look at that foyer!) [from the outside it looks more like the one from Pigeon Blood — LD], where she is to live from now on because who knows. Her father is a terrible, terrible man? She accidentally read the map wrong? She had too many White Devils before getting behind the wheel? I know I’ve made that mistake before. (My bail is currently set at $10,000 if you’re feeling philanthropic.) Once inside, she meets a living corpse who immediately attempts to force himself on her. Thankfully, he ends up being stopped by his brother; unthankfully, one can only assume that this is because he wants to be the one to forcefully take her virginity.

Yui is thus taken to the vampires’ nest living room, where they introduce themselves and make thinly veiled threats about penetrating her vagina and/or anus against her will. They lick her face. They steal and break her cell phone so she can’t call for help. One of them refers to her solely as “Little Bitch.” I found it highly uncomfortable to watch, though that might have just been the brew talking at this point. In a rare moment of clarity, she decides it would be a good idea to run away from the crazy vamrapires, but she finds herself unable to leave. Then she retreats to the attic and unearths her father’s diary, in which it is revealed that her dad was not actually her dad, and also that he played with everyone today. He had fun.

The vampires suddenly show up in the attic, surrounding her. Yui is informed that she is their prey and will never be able to escape. The episode ends abruptly, and presumably the next three hours of her miserable existence are spent being gang raped by these unhygienic bishounens. Fun stuff.

I can only assume Diabolik Lovers was written by a woman with a rape fetish who read Twilight and said, “I can do way better than that!” Unless you think the works of E. L. James and Cassandra Clare are the absolute pinnacle of literature, there is really no reason to watch this anime. It’s creepy, unnerving, and downright revolting, but not in the good, Silent Hill way; it’s more like the feeling you’d get attending a r/MensRights rally. I understand that there are people who find this kind of thing arousing, but then I must question why they are watching a television series to get their jollies. The sad panda picture is not exactly difficult to bypass.

2013
09.14

Do the monkey with me.

Well over a year after a season finale that satisfied no one, Korra’s back. Can the show do better than Amon’s reveal? Will Mako be more than a bit of a douche? Hopefully and probably not.

Unlike Young Justice, the gap between seasons doesn’t give us a load of already-developed plot lines. Asami still has trouble reconstructing Future Industries. Korra’s still training. Bolin is a pro-bending captain for some rookies. And Mako is still a douche, but he’s now a detective douche. While more than a few of the team seem comfortable, you can see the gang’s more than willing to reunite to deal with some new concerns. Korra and the crew’s skills haven’t atrophied or anything, so this new direction with the spirits promises to be a challenge.

Meanwhile, the show introduces the Northern Water Tribe chief as well as Korra’s uncle, Unalaq. Unalaq is a hardcore spiritualist and thinks that culture has become too corrupted by material fantasies. He sneers at the notion of festivals and wonders why the people aren’t fasting to purify their bodies. To him, Korra is uneducated and in desperate help of a new mentor to strengthen her status as the Avatar. While another show would’ve painted him to be obviously wrong, Avatar is the series where giant spirits wreak havoc if something’s amiss. And considering how Korra’s been more into the physical side of bending than the other, she’s a bit screwed.

Not literally.

I like how the show’s trying to go into a new direction, with some promises of returning characters like Wong Shi Tong. The progress is slow, but noticeable. Still, the show seems to be aiming at being comfortable where it is at the moment than going somewhere else. Throughout the premiere, I could describe many moments as “nice” or “decent” instead of “amazing”. That scene where Bolin finds out about films being invented is nice. The dancing penguins were neat. Seeing Korra’s parents back was kind of cool. The fights with the spirits were interesting enough. Then there’s the feeling in the back of your head where thinking things were all right, but could’ve been better. Like how Unalaq just bends spirits to incapacitate them while Korra can’t use tactics or anything to win her way through them. The premiere doesn’t say “They’re back!” so much as “Oh hey, they’re back.” There aren’t any explicit flaws, but nothing to make you think back to how wonderful watching it was. It all felt like the season three premiere back in the original show where the characters are moving, but the plot is only starting to walk.

Speaking of, there’s no way that Unalaq isn’t the main villain for this season. From the way he acted like how he separated Korra from her other mentors; I wouldn’t be surprised in the least if he pulls a betrayal somewhere down the line. Like who ever heard of a non-evil uncle who convinces his niece to go on his side instead of her loving parents? It doesn’t help how the show already pulled that idea with Tarrlok last season. If the show can actually portray him as an honest-to-goodness hero who just has a really bad of communicating his actions, then I’ll be impressed. The show can be many things, but being unpredictable is not one of them.

2013
09.13

So yeah since the last edition of Crowds-Sourcing, my computer’s hard drive died a slow painful death so I’m without the ability to provide you with my usual 1080 screenshots of this week’s episode at the moment. I should have it fixed by next week, in which case I may update this week’s installment (EDIT… and done!). In fact I’m actually quite surprised to be writing this right now since I announced earlier that Crowds-Sourcing X would be delayed and it took a stroke of sheer luck to make it happen. Now that that’s out of the way…

They should learn to play mahjong... LIKE A REAL MAN

The Neo Hundred continue their reign of terror in Tokyo, destroying building after building. Umeda finds his leadership skills as a terrorist figurehead leader quickly compromised as the CROWDS begin their assault on the government’s temporary HQ in Tachikawa. With conventional weapons useless against them (because of that whole coma thing), Gatchaman steps in and proceeds to turn all the crowds into small cubes for orderly disposal without killing the controlling hosts. Yeah, some actual ACTION in this show for once.

Utsutsu suru...

Sugane and Hajime attack the blobs with their sword/scissors skills and we FINALLY get to see Utsutsu’s suit form, even if it comes off as an anti-climax after a few months of buildup (its also more fucking ugly than Hajime’s somehow). Meanwhile Jou continues to act all depressed about his inability to fight Katze, and Paiman has an incredibly boring conversation with the Prime Minister about the use of politics in crisis management that sticks out like a sore thumb, suggesting this episode had some major script issues.

That Jou is so dreamy!

Ultimately the main focus of this episode becomes less about the usual pair of Hajime and Sugane and on the two most emotionally crippled Gatchaman, Jou and Paiman and how they end up growing a pair (or whatever Paiman calls a pair). There’s also a surprisingly good arc for Umeda who goes from being frustrated to paranoid to absolutely terrified after Berg Katze throws him out to dry, leaking his personal information out onto the internets. The episode concludes with five of the six Gatchaman transformed and working together for the first time (we’ll probably see O.D. next week). It’s a shame it just took this long to do it.

This will be the day we've waited for...

This is probably the best episode of Crowds to date… but that being said it still had a big problem (the Prime Minister stuff). I’m not going to lie, if Nakamura had paced that better than this would have been the first time Crowds got a 10 from me, unfortunately he didn’t. There’s also the feeling that Crowds is finally going somewhere with its storyline. Unfortunately, there are only two episodes left and that brings up the show’s overall horrible plot progression again. If only the last 9 or so episodes could have been more like this, but too little too late I’m affraid… 9/10

2013
09.06

The show is now speaking for me.

Welcome back to the first post-license edition of Crowds-Sourcing, where Sentai Filmworks decides that they can still spend some money on that gun they shot themselves in the foot over Flowers of Evil with! Last time… Rui got fucked over by Katze and Gatchaman wasted all their time at a kindergarten! What goofy misadventures will our team of neon striped Super Sentamen Raidas get into this week?!

Still got nothin.

Gatchaman (more precisely Hajime) takes in and heals Rui at their dorm. The new group checks out the reactions to Gatchaman’s PR event only to find the bulk of GALAX slamming them all in a ridiculously meta scene that describes simple description. Anyway, a terrorist group calling themselves the Neo Hundred and led by that asshole Umeda begins blowing up the diet and ministry of defense using the CROWDS now under Katze’s control. So you’d think Hajime and Sugane would just run off to destroy the things right?

…hahahahahaha you wish.

...he's a man of his words

Yup its time for another public relations campaign event! With the Neo Hundred spreading their terrorist screed all over NicoNico, Hajime creates the Gatchaman Channel, where Gatchaman reveals to the public their intent to defeat Katze (who is basically just laughing at them behind the scenes) and Rui apologizes to the public over his hubris and abuse of the CROWDS system to do good. As usual, the only guy who doesn’t show up is Gai Yuuk-er Jou Hibiki, because Jou is a dick and now probably the worst character in the show (don’t ask me how that happened).

Your saviors ladies and gentlemen

All of this is building up to one scene at the end where one of our Gatchaman finally has the balls to tell J.J. Robinson off. And if you think its Paiman (because that would make sense), you would be absolutely wrong. Its Sugane! See… that doesn’t make any sense. If anything Sugane should be chewing out Jou for still doing that cold drunk loner deal but maybe they’re saving that for next week. Who knows. Who cares.

"THIS... THIS IS FOR AMERICA!" - John Ledford

So… a lot happened but Gatchaman did nothing about it. Wow, story of this show isn’t it? In all seriousness, this episode was just more social networking satire and if Crowds does one thing well, its that. Even if it kinda feels this week that some American staffer tipped Kenji Nakamura off to my reviews of his shows and they’re taking the piss on me. Otherwise, just really not much to say this week, other than the crippling feeling that any energy this plot might have is being drained by endless scenes of people having group conversations and nothing happening as a result.

6/10

2013
09.01

Art anime. Love it or hate it, its here to stay. For every mainstream populist director like Goro Taniguchi or Mamoru Hosoda; there’s an Akiyuki Shinbo, Kenji Nakamura, or Makoto Shinkai making plotless, often pointless, tripe hidden under some nifty, if rather infrequent, animation (then again… Shinkai’s stuff is barely animated isn’t it?). Occasionally you get a genius like Satoshi Kon who was able to stand in both fields at once, but he’s dead now so the world is one less brilliant man and stuck with a bunch of idiot hipsters. I mean art anime was fine and dandy back in the 80s and 90s when it was just Oshii and Anno trolling everybody but now its just getting tiresome. This brings us to the subject of this article: Masaaki Yuaasa and his short film “Kick-Heart”.

Ladies and gentlemen... Deviantart The Anime.

Yuaasa is best known as of late for the tv series Tatami Galaxy, where all the characters are in monochrome against flat primary colored backgrounds. However, “Kick-Heart” is a return to his old style of distorted ugly overweight people drawn with harsh pen lines (think Madoka if they were grown up and not moe) and weird fish eye lens shots as seen in such great anime as “Mind Game” and Kemonozumi… which are still unlicensed because they’re nightmare fuel. Basically if you’ve seen the “Vomiting Point” episode of Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, then you’ll know that this is the guy they were taking the piss on that week. As you can see from the pictures here, the look of the film is pretty damn fugly (especially when blown up to 1080p and blu-ray), with its jagged line work and felt-tip pen aesthetic. I’m not sure how it appeals to some people (yes Yuaasa has a surpringly vocal fanbase here in the states), especially considering this was financed entirely by… wait for it… Kickstarter!

Gotta keep the customer satisfied!

I have a love/hate relationship with Kickstarter. While there are many worthy causes that have been successfully crowdsourced (case in point Little Witch Academia), when something like “Kick-Heart” comes along you gotta wonder what was the point? The plot is one of those old boxer needs to win one more fight to help the orphans type of stories they’ve been kicking around since the 1950s. Its the tale of one Romeo Maki, AKA Masked Man M, a down on his luck masked wrestler who has no eyes apparently (they’re hidden behind a censor bar throughout most of the film), who is coaxed into a big match with the champ Lady S (whom he has become smitten with) for 50 Grand that he can use to save the local nunnery. Ultimately he loses (or the fight is rigged, it matters not), Lady S turns out to be a moonlighting nun (a twist they spoiled in the kickstarter page for this) who spends the money on the orphanage anyway, and then the film just ends. If this sounds familiar, it should be, it was also the plot of that legendary classic of the golden age of Hollywood… “Nacho Libre”.

Your 30 bucks at work.

This is all told in a structure of weirdly animated wrestling match → interlude → weirdly animated wrestling match → epilogue. As for the love story angle that the press release people played up? Well the film doesn’t really develop it that much, pulling the plug abruptly at the 12 minute mark as if Yuaasa and Production IG ran out of their precious gaijin cash. When your crux is basically a punchline for a joke then that’s simply bad storytelling.  In the end “Kick-Heart” feels less like a interesting experiment in style and exectution, and instead like something destined to play in endless rotation at various Spike and Mike Sick and Twisted festivals around the country. Hell if you cut out the opening and closing titles, you could easily mistaken “Kick-Heart” for a National Film Board of Canada short, except those didn’t make me feel like I wanted to vomit in the end.

Only Toonami!

Ultimately “Kick-Heart” will probably be regarded as an experiment that didn’t quite work. It definitely blazed a trail for future production companies like Trigger to go to the people to fund stuff but the final product was far less the sum of its parts. I’m surprised Toonami decided to run it though (even if, allegedly, they didn’t watch it first), and it was a gutsy move for them considering it doesn’t really fit the format all that well. That being said, the general reaction I’ve been seeing of cold bafflement is completely understandable. Which brings up the question… what kind of hypocritcal douchenozzle would blow a wad of cash on this crap?

Pfft. Figures.