2014
01.31

Quite a stimulating episode, to say the least.

On this episode, we discuss incest and aliens, but mostly incest. Of course in the big reveal episode, Trigger adds in that scene just to further mess with your mind. No matter what Aikuro said would have taken your mind off of that scene. He could have said that he was Ryuko’s mom and given the full genetic proof, but you people would still be focused on Ragyo feeling up her daughter. Not to undermine anyone or anything, because that’s what was going on in my mind too. It’s Kill la Kill’s way of saying despite all of these revelations, it would like to remind you that you are still watching that kind of show.

But it leads to more theorizing, like why Ragyo’s a bit of a creeper. This isn’t an unexpected scene. We all remember seeing Ragyo grope Satsuki a few episodes back. And while some people will think incest, I think it’s objectification in a more literal sense. Aikuro discussed how life fibers at first went inside living creatures as parasites before realizing this was a failed symbiosis, so I wonder if perhaps Satsuki is a successful case of fusing life fibers with humans. I know. It’s another crackpot theory. But given the aliens, anything’s possible. That could be why she managed to outmatch Gamagoori and Sanageyama with a simple bamboo sword as a kid. That might even be why Junketsu doesn’t talk. Senketsu and Ryuko’s conversations are often built on their differences which eventually lead to similarities. Junketsu wouldn’t need to do this to one of its own. Besides, Professor Matoi specially made Senketsu in order to sync up with Ryuko. I should expect at least a bit of tinkering on Ragyo’s part to make sure the same happens for her daughter. It also lines up with the “Harime’s a living doll” theory when she said they weren’t so different. By covering the schools with her brand of justice, she covers them just like clothing on an ape. I know more than half of this will get debunked by next week at the very least, but it’s always fun to see the one point out of a hundred that matches up. It’s just like those people guessing how Sherlock survived.

Going off from that, let’s talk about the aliens. It’s out-of-nowhere, inexplicable, stupid, yet about as good a reason as anything to explain away Life Fibers. Once you get to sentient clothing that sounds like Momotaros from Den-O, aliens doesn’t sound so far off by comparison. For Kill la Kill fans, when does the premise stretch so thin that people start thinking it’s getting stupid? If aliens don’t activate the tipping point, then what will? But again, things always vary. I remember how a single frame of Shinjiro got people more riled up than any of this. You just have to see how these moments react to each other before estimating a decent prediction, I guess.

And at the very least, this slightly strengthens the theory that it’s a Gurren Lagann spin-off, and Life Fibers are actually a variant of Spiral energy. And Hououmaru could actually be Amarao’s agent from FLCL. And maybe Ragyo’s actually using the Life Fibers to protect us from the Anti-Spirals, who Aikuro’s secretly working for. All I know is that this article is starting to sound like the outline for a fanfic.

2014
01.26

An understandable reaction to that headline.

Audience reactions to Space Dandy so far appear to either be “wow, this is really fun!” or “what the hell is this shit?” with almost no middle ground. What both groups can seemingly agree on, however, is that it’s incredibly stupid and doesn’t try to be anything more than an explosion of awesome animation and music. And I’m just the tasteless moron to voice my dissenting opinion on the matter.

Now, I’m not saying Space Dandy‘s writing is on the same level as something like Monster or Legend of the Galactic Heroes, and it’s not trying to be; seriously, this isn’t Cowboy Bebop 2. But at the same time, I think it’s actually a lot smarter than outward appearances suggest. On the surface, it’s just some goofy space comedy with idiot protagonists, crazy action, and – of course – boobies. Sure, it’s got a bunch of dumb jokes aimed squarely at the lowest common denominator that aren’t particularly funny, but something’s always seemed “off” about its execution to me. After last night’s fantastic episode, I know exactly what it is: the boob and food gags are a disguise meant to camouflage how highbrow Space Dandy‘s sense of humor really is. Yes, I can hear you groaning right now. Bear with me.

The way this show is written and directed continually gives me the feeling that it’s laughing at the characters behind their backs, and perhaps even at the audience as well. Nearly everything that happens in any given episode is undeniably dumb, but it all feels oddly calculated and a bit cold. Many would argue that this is the mark of a bad comedy, and generally I would agree, but I think there’s more to it here. The universe Space Dandy takes place in is incredibly creative and unique, and the A-list team of writers, directors, animators, and musicians working on it consists of some of the most brilliant talent currently working in the anime industry. This leads me to believe that there is an ulterior motive behind the stupidity that runs rampant throughout each installment.

Let’s start with the first episode. The meta gags about breasts and butts aren’t particularly humorous and get tiresome before too long, but I think they’re also trying to make a point. The fanservice in this installment is tame, unimportant, and not in the least bit titillating, yet every single character (outside of QT) is completely focused on it and nothing else. Even the narrator is more interested in looking at boobs than telling the backstory of the series. This is a recurring theme throughout every episode released to date – even after becoming zombified, all Dandy really cares about in life is T&A. The viewer is not supposed to like Dandy; yes, he’s charismatic and fun to watch, but he’s not a likable character in the least. By all accounts, he’s a self-serving asshole who doesn’t give a damn about his friends and openly admits to enjoying the objectification of women. He even says that very word at the beginning of the first episode: “objectify.” No one uses that word in a positive light, and not unless they know exactly what they’re doing. I think this is a good time to remind everyone that the director and one of the writers of The Woman Called Fujiko Mine – a series which featured an entire episode dedicated to criticizing female objectification in the media – worked on this show.

Indeed, many have been quick to point out that Dandy’s unhealthy obsession with breasts is annoying. It’s supposed to be. Especially with all the bland meta gags packed into the show’s initial ten minutes, I feel like the writers are actually trying to point out to the audience just how obnoxious unnecessary fanservice shots are. It also rather cynically plays up the whole Boobies angle with Meow taking “creepshots” (don’t ask) of the waitresses in his first appearance – perhaps meant as a criticism of similar real life restaurants, such as the Hooters chain, and their customers. Then, in episode 3, the show uses boobs for a moment of grotesque body horror when the monster reveals its true form. The impact of this is lessened in the Toonami airing (where all the nipples are blurred out), but the scene’s intention remains the same; Space Dandy is subtly playing with the viewer’s expectations, laughing at them for enjoying cleavage and dumb jokes about said cleavage. Of course, some may argue that the women in this show are presented almost exclusively as vapid morons, but it’s important to remember that the men are too. In fact, the only recurring character with any modicum of intelligence is Scarlet, a woman.

Shifting gears, the most recent episode is pretty brilliant, even in terms of its surface level presentation. While the first half was more of what anyone would expect from the series up until now, the latter portion was perhaps the most original and creative take on zombie comedy I’ve ever seen. It also contains some shockingly smart social commentary that ended up acting as the catalyst for me reading more into everything else I discuss in this piece. Underneath all the jokes about life insurance and eating yogurt lies a severely depressing statement about human (and alien) nature: absolute peace can only be attained once everyone in the universe is incapable of anything but the most basic thoughts and actions. Essentially, zombies are more civilized than the normal living, and until all people everywhere are a hive mind without humanity, there can never be universal peace. That’s pretty heavy, but also hard to refute. Everyone is different, after all, and there’s really no way to prevent just one bad apple from spoiling the entire bunch.

This can then be related back to another scene from the third episode, in which the inhabitants of the planet Dandy and co. land on only intend to offer them help, but he automatically fears the worst because of how they look, and attacks them. Even though he has an alien translation device (which he forgets about), he doesn’t even try to reason with them. His first instinct is that they look scary and different, so they must be hostile. I thought nothing of it at the time, but this is almost certainly another piece of social commentary. Yes, it’s played entirely for comedy, but it also functions as a statement about profiling and prejudice. Normally I wouldn’t read so much into something like this, but because this series has a habit of presenting its protagonists (specifically Dandy and Meow) as bad people and punishing them for it, I don’t really feel like this conclusion is too huge of a leap. And hell, even if it’s not meant as a critique on human nature, the entire moral of the episode in general is that appearances can be deceiving.

As previously mentioned, Space Dandy loves reveling in the failures of its main characters. It builds them up as stupid and inconsiderate jerks, then quite literally kills them because of it. In the span of only four episodes, Dandy has died twice, and Meow three times. They’re not likable people, but they’re fun to watch because they still manage to be funny and charismatic and the same time. There are also many subtle sight gags portraying them as less cool than they think they are (such as when Dandy accidentally tosses away his gun in the first episode). Because of this, the audience can enjoy their adventures, but they also have no emotional attachment to them and will always laugh when they get killed off. This is entirely intentional, and functions much like how the titular character of Johnny Bravo was lovable in spite of being a sexist asshole. He was fun to watch, but while the viewer inevitably grew to like him for his charisma, they were always secretly waiting for him to get his comeuppance in the end. This is what made that show great, and also part of what makes Space Dandy great as well.

And yet, the lack of continuity in this show seemed ready to deflate my entire argument… until I remembered one very important scene from the first episode. About 15 minutes in, Dandy and his crew end up in an inter-dimensional rift, and escape from it by pulling on a large chain. However, before doing this, QT warns him that it’s “a cosmic string,” and that pulling on it may cause “space-time [to] distort.” It seemingly works out okay for them, and is never brought up again. However, the ending credits sequence (which, unfortunately, is only present in the Japanese airing) features cryptic images of multiple Dandies floating out of cubes at the same time. This leads me to believe that, when they pulled on the cosmic string, it created countless alternate universes spread out across different points in space and time. This would be an excellent way to explain why none of the episodes have anything to do with each other, and I’m hoping it’ll become a plot point later on in the series.

When it’s all said and done, I’m not sitting here in my velvet bathrobe cackling maniacally about how much smarter I am than everyone else while sipping an expensive chardonnay. All of what I just wrote may be complete bunk, and in the end, what I enjoy most about this show is still the beautiful animation and music. Maybe Space Dandy is just a lowbrow episodic comedy about boobs and aliens. But, given the pedigree of the people who worked on it, and the feeling I get from watching certain scenes, I truly believe it’s more intelligent than it appears to be. Only time will tell.

2014
01.24

Ryuko asks the hard questions.

First off, I want to discuss the concept of writing a story without planning, with thinking up plot points at the last minute. With the revelation that the field trip was actually a ploy to draw Nudist Beach out, there are valid reasons for liking and disliking this. To some people, it comes off as a drastic shift, like hearing a guy making up a story about how his car got totaled. It’s a bit sketchy as far as storytelling goes, but there’s a side benefit. Doing that allows for more surprise for not only the viewers but the creators as well. And Kill la Kill was never much of a structured show anyway, so this only compliments the series in a sense.

Really, planning wouldn’t have made a fight between a giant crab and a robot samurai any better. Takarada’s a nice spanner in this conflict, with his ideology that people will sacrifice themselves when given enough money proving a nice contrast to Satsuki’s ideal for a strength-based hierarchy. If it weren’t for Ryuko’s appearance, this would have been an episode where the Honnoji group would’ve been the good guys bringing order to a land ravaged by greed. Yeah, I’m still for the idea that Satsuki’s actually the hero, but the cheeky banter between the Elite Four and all the mutual loyalty really make me wonder.

And this is once again more overanalyzing, but I notice how the Nudist Beach armor looks like the Empire’s Walkers from Star Wars. For a supposed rebel group, why would their design allude to that? If you’re the rebels, you get influenced by X-Wings and tech like that, not the chicken walkers from Return of the Jedi. It could be a coincidence, but then I notice that Nudist Beach wants to rescue Takarada. Why do they want to rescue a guy who’s probably even more corrupt than Satsuki? And along with how his crab armor isn’t too far off from the Nudist Beach armor, I’m suspecting something. I know this idea is as deluded as the “Zeon were actually the good guys!” theory Gundam fans throw around, but it’s always a great amount of fun to theorize.

Kill la Kill has been quite good when it comes to offering discussion. I mean, I’ve heard people give valid arguments for how this is actually a Gurren Lagann sequel, which isn’t hurt at all by Satsuki’s drill gambit at the climax. That’s what makes talking about this show fun, because even the outlandish ideas fans throw around have at least a bit of weight. It’s a bit of a game to see if the fans can be even crazier than the writers, and vice-versa. Every week always offers a “What happens next?” conundrum for the viewers, like a Republic serial brimming with pulp. Of course there’s the occasional moment when things can be too hokey, but they snap back in place as quickly as they appear. It’s not like Samurai Flamenco where a serious plot eventually decayed into pure chaos, because Kill la Kill began as chaos and has been riding with it ever since. And besides, if you’re at this part of the road, you should be expecting things to become hokey to the point of truly resplendent depths.

2014
01.21

“We wanna’ be free! We wanna’ be free to do what we wanna’ do! And we wanna’ get loaded! And we wanna’ have a good time!”

— People who had a horrible time

They say ignorance is bliss. And shit, they’re right, man. I knew that fuckin’ ignorance once. I felt the cool waves of shallow unknowing wash over my prick and scrotum like so much fuckin’ nasal blood after a particularly nasty nude cocaine binge. The realization hit me like a goddamn semi truck stocked full of Budweiser after I finally managed to scrape myself out of bed long enough to return to the world of daylight. Toonami broke me, man. It fucked me up. I lasted six goddamn hours on that fateful mid-October night, and only just now have I managed the resolve to even look at my chronicle about how much it hurt – how deep it cut into my fuckin’ soul. It’s taken months of self-medicating just to reach the point where I could let myself think about it without being assured nightmares. I feel safe now. As safe as one possibly can after experiencing this shit, anyway.

The following text was scrawled in ink, lead, and eventually blood upon sheets of graph paper. I lost consciousness shortly after writing them, evidently scattering each of the pages to different corners of my house.

12:00 AM. The beginning of the end. The hour’s finally growing late, and now that I’ve finished messily massaging my own prostate for the fifth time in as many hours, it’s time to get this show on the fuckin’ road. First up is some stupid cartoon named after laundry detergent. Bleach is like that popular teenager who dropped out of high school years ago and is unsure of what to do in their life. The clone Ichigo (who I guess is Kon or something) has to deal with a green-haired girl living in the Kurosaki home. The green-haired girl is a typical tsundere who shoves clone Ichigo into harem antics. I feel like I should be laughing, but I’m not. In fact, I’ve already downed a good quarter of my Jack handle. The drink, asshole. But since even the writers know that this means nothing in the long run, we cut to the soul reapers talking to each other for five minutes while plotting against Aizen, I guess. Or whoever’s the main villain at this point.

Really, I’m confused as to why Tite Kubo would introduce a hundred characters when only five or six of them contribute to the plot in any significant manner. I appreciate his effort in trying to establish some kind of hierarchy and world building in Soul Society, but it doesn’t amount to anything in the long run. It just seems like Kubo couldn’t introduce characters gradually throughout the story. He had to dump them all at the start, while forgetting about two-thirds of them. It’s like Legend of the Galactic Heroes except they’re not heroes, and it’s not set in a galaxy, and the only legend is how this got popular in the first place.

12:14 AM. Commercials air about cars and basketball. It seems that the television believes I, or anyone who would spend time watching Toonami, could afford a car. They even air a Progressive ad to add more to this madness. The television really wants me to buy a car, and it does not understand when I say no. What if I ever need to drive somewhere, you ask? Why else you think I carry around a fuckin’ crowbar?

12:17 AM. More fighting occurs. I forgot the bald guy’s name, but I guess he has a beef with Ichigo. Then Yoruichi, that character everyone used to argue about what race she was, gives Ichigo some advice about how to deal with the Soul Society squads. You know, I wonder why Soul Society seems to be stuck in Meiji Restoration aesthetics. But then out of nowhere, Rukia goes to a computer lab to find out about the green-haired girl from earlier on. I don’t get how the world of Soul Society is supposed to work. That’s like a universe that looked like something from the colonial era, but they were equipped with iPads and Wi-Fi. Or a version of contemporary society where creepy rich people actually had dungeons loaded with stocks and torture racks. Outside of the BDSM scene, I mean.

Then after that, a guy dressed as a banana intimidates Ichigo’s clone. I can’t tell if he’s a filler character or a canon character. The personality he has gives equal credence to both, unsurprisingly. He’s chasing green-haired girl, who pulls out the ability to airbend, into an abandoned warehouse. The guy lightly pokes her, and she just passes out. But before he can get away, Uryu Ishida comes to the rescue. I’m astonished I can remember his name. It’s fun to say, though. Like, Uryu gonna’ eat all those fries, babe? Lemme’ show you how much girth I can pack into my mouth. Wait. Shit.

12:27 AM. TOM promises uncut Naruto. I’d make a circumcision joke, but that would disappoint us both. Something about The Walking Dead gives me hope, and a stint with Doritos tacos gives me despair. Then, a man tells me about internet education for children, along with a woman asking me to volunteer for the Big Brothers program. How dare the man tell me to support children? If children really are the future, let ’em fuckin’ fend for them fuckin’ selves. That’s the only way they’re gonna’ learn shit.

12:31 AM. Naruto premieres. And despite the promises, the opening’s clearly not unedited. Unlike Bleach, I think I remember the gist of this plot. Naruto’s in the middle of the Chuunin Exam, getting his ass brutally violated by that dog kid Kiba. I know this joke’s been overdone, but neither of these characters are demonstrating anything resembling basic ninja skills. I don’t know much about ninja, but cloning yourself doesn’t seem very stealthy. It seems more like magic, except you can’t call anything in shonen anime magic. It has to be something like “chakra” or “alkahestry” instead of something simple.

But while I contemplate the logic behind shonen magic, Kiba punches his dogs. Then one of the dogs turns into Naruto and kicks him. Characters in the sidelines act shocked as if they don’t know how jutsu works. In other words, they’re acting like the audience.

12:42 AM. Commercials continue, and they ask of me to buy Butterfingers. Those bastards corrupted The Simpsons and turned it into unfunny witchcraft. I can never forgive that sort of devilry. But before I can exact my revenge, more car commercials air. I can hear the subliminal messages throughout this airing. “Buy a car. Buy a car. Buy a car. Don’t text in it though. Buy a car.” Well, as long as I can still get absolutely fuckin’ blitzed beforehand.

12:44 AM. I see targets in the screen. The targets keep aiming for the sensitive parts of my perspective. It’s like they know when to hit me the hardest. I want to dodge, but then Naruto comes back. I don’t understand why Kiba wears a hooded jacket in an environment that doesn’t seem noticeably cold. Actually, nobody in this show has decent fashion sense. That’s the reason why they’ll never make a live-action version of Naruto. If you imagine a real person dressed up as these characters, you start having sad feelings in the back of your head. You remember that really weird porn you jacked to back in high school and feel just a little more ashamed of yourself.

Speaking of fashion sense, I notice every character in this show wears sandals that expose their toes. You’d think they would want to protect that part of the body, since getting stabbed in the toe hurts like hell. Even the mentor ninja like Kakashi wear sandals, as if covering your toes is some kind of forbidden act in the ninja world. Something tells me Kishimoto has a foot fetish. And out of nowhere, Naruto stops Kiba by farting in his face. Doing so gives him the edge, beating Kiba and winning the match. Then all of the characters are acting as if this is impressive instead of just stupid. This is truly a show for older audiences.

12:56 AM. Puppets threaten me.

12:59 AM. Pyro from Team Fortress 2 attempts to intimidate me with a flamethrower. Then, Progressive advertising appears. I have grown accustomed to Flo demanding my money.

1:00 AM. Usopp asks Chopper for herbs. I find it hard to believe that this is not a recurring incident. A tall man who vaguely resembles AC/DC stands in their path, with Nico saying he’s an admiral. In any other show, he’d have talked about how they’re doomed while firing energy blasts at them. But then, he just sleeps on the grass. I like him. I wish I could be him, with his giraffe neck. He must look at the world in a divine perspective by being able to live with a neck that long.

I wish he could continue that sleep so I could take the lead, but then sick people appear. Instead of shooting them like proper pirates, Luffy’s crew just helps them. They even grill food for them. What kind of pirates are these? Where are the Somalian pirates who shoot without discrimination?

Then the guy reveals that he can make ice. I’m shaken. Everything I thought I knew about this show was shattered in an instant.

1:12 AM. Commercials still surge, being shoved into my brain like meth into an old man’s veins. These adverts involve nothing but Taco Bell, Jackass knockoffs, and more Flo. Then the Hot Pockets appear, demanding my spirit break and go to the nearest 7-Eleven in search of frozen pizza stuffings.

1:17 AM. I’m starting to tune out. I’m sure this entire episode was only supposed to last one chapter in the manga. A certain Nipponophile once proclaimed this show to be one of the most exciting anime in a while. I have tested this theory, and declare him a heretic.

Usopp’s mouth is twice as long as his face.

Now, finally, they fight Ice-T. But just as they punch him, he decides to make them chill after a hard day’s night.

1:26 AM. I see the face of Carl. Why won’t he save me from the six-hour challenge? I feel slighted. I feel forsaken. I demand the love of Carl and his fast food friends. I demand his tongue all over my body like a nun demands the phallus of Jesus. But I know that he will not come. He will not come. He will never come. Instead, I taste the cream coming out of a frozen Hot Pocket. I pop an LSD and I also come.

1:30 AM. A man with a screw in his head washes his face while breaking a mirror. The mirror resembles a rose. It looks pretty.

After angsting, he talks to Death while the clouds flow right by him. His plot is to face off against a spider named Arachne. I don’t know why they hate spiders. Spiders are just innocent creatures that need tender love. After all, they keep the bed bugs away by murdering them.

Blue-hair Naruto boasts about how strong he is before I tune out again. For an anime adapted from a manga for small boys, this is very psychedelic. The main characters have to merge their souls together as some form of training. I usually have to pay money to do that. The screw-head guy, Stein or something, needs them to synchronize like how Shinji and Asuka did it. Except they’re not wearing sexy dancing uniforms that show off Shinji’s nice thighs.

Too bad this isn’t sexy, because Stein has eye tentacles briefly penetrate him. I think this is symbolism for how Stein wants to be loved by his adoptive black mother who happened to have cataracts. That’s a wild guess, but I stand by it.

Maka screams and runs away from a forest while Blue-hair Naruto gets his head beat. This is very innovative in terms of character interaction, isn’t it?

1:43 AM. The Hot Pockets keep demanding my tongue.

Then suddenly, Kevin Butler of Playstation fame appears to sell a chicken sandwich to me. I miss him and his warm smile. If only he could keep trying and failing to sell me Playstations.

But as he disappears, another Hot Pocket commercial is summoned.

Then Maka talks with the Blue-hair Naruto’s not-girlfriend so they can pass the Bechdel Test and appear to be a multi-layered and outspoken anime instead of just another fighting show. I appreciate effort, because effort is a dead art in my country.

I love how the not-girlfriend and the two pistol sisters get to have naked scenes, but Soul only gets a second before he puts his clothes on. This is not the equal-opportunity fanservice I hoped for.

Uncle Pennybags and two guys summon an army of No-Faces. This would be exciting if I saw them fight. Too bad this fighting anime doesn’t have much fighting.

1:57 AM. Carl plays with my mind. I want to burn Meatwad in front of him as revenge.

A Native American man demands I give him money for college. In fact, two different Native Americans appear before me, demanding money for student loans. Endless legions of these tribes, seeking money for dining plans. I would help them, but I have no concept of basic donations right now. Also, Hot Pockets are draining too much of my spending money.

2:00 AM. The hellspawn and hellspawn-in-law thrive in their cabin. They talk about how in love they are before giving birth to the girl of morning dew. The hellspawn-in-law is shocked that she is dating a younger boy. Instead of realizing she’s committing statutory rape, she blushes while talking about having fun. Hellspawn-in-law wants a piggy back ride from hellspawn, which makes this seem even more like Wedding Trough, only less arousing. They find a cute fisherman, which is sad because he spends all his time in video game limbo fishing. That is the cruelest hell, and I do not want to see him suffer so.

Hellspawn-in-law fears the literal white man. Despite fighting giant ogres, she fears the Caucasian cockery. To alleviate that fear, they kidnap a little girl in the woods and claim to be the hatchling’s parents.

2:11 AM. Gary Coleman and talking VCRs want to violate my ocular purity.

McDonald’s shills fake wings to me. They seem more palatable than the Hot Pockets. I grab the TV and caress its cables while licking the screen before realizing that the television is a lantern which illuminates lies instead of truth.

Monsters wearing masks appear on the TV screen. They want me to make them look human again. They cry, attempting to resemble people after the scars of puberty ravaged their skin. I cannot aid them. I am a bystander, not a healer.

2:17 AM. After awaking from shell shock, I see that the hellspawn has adopted the hatchling for his own purposes. He feeds her a diet of graphically processed food and literary sugar. The hatchling absorbs all cuteness around her to make a diabetic whole. There is nothing worse than diabetes. Not even the lupus.

Then a man utters the phrase… “Babycakes.”

Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes.

Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes.

Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes.

Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakes. bAbYcAkEs. Babycakes. Babycakes. Babycakesbabycakesbabycakesbabycakesba̵̡̝̠͙̲̫̖̥͈͛̽̔ͫͧ̏͡͞ͅb͇̙͕͓͍͎̳͚̼̳͍̲̦͍̹̲̐ͯ̽ͣ̃̊̑̍͗̀̊̆͐̔̀ͅͅȳ̸̸̛̛̙͈̲͔̺̅̑ͮ͐̃ͮͭ̽͆ͦ̈ͦ͆̐̆͢c̴̴̣͍̪̣̝̫͇͔͔̓̎̿̆̋ͦ̆͛̑̃ͮ̆ͬͨͮ͡a̜̭̞͇͔͙͓͚͎̙̜̟̟͍̙̖̙͔͊ͫ̄̔ͮ́ͪ͌ͬ̊̈́̈̀̚͢ḱ̵̷̵͈͎̠̩͚̯̣͉͈͈͇̤̠̼̤̭̹̪̫̃̃̑̽̀́ͫ͑̋͟e̋͆͗̂ͯͪ̌̒̈͏̶̜͍̩͈̘͍̳š̛̳̘̙̲͈̺̪̙̟͓̦͆ͤͮ͐́ͦ̏̋ͪ̎̋̈́̂͊̈͝ͅ.̴̨̧̖̞̙͚̭͌̀͌̍̎̐ͯ͐̇́̓ͥ̓̓

It is a sound that should never be heard.

The hatchling reaches out to the sky. She wants to be freed from her mortal shell.

2:27 AM. The puppet goes ding-ding. The phone goes ring-ring. The car runs over Yue-Yue.

2:30 AM. The boom-boom robot from Transformers teaches me about IGPX and its brilliance. I must bow before the IGPX. I must love it like a man masturbates over a Virgin Mary statue. The show is widescreen so I can narrow my vision to a minimum as robots practice their superiority over other automatons. The show offers the emotional depth of a Starcraft match. I am outdone by this show in ways that Band of Brothers failed to do. Truly, I have reached an apotheosis in animation.

Men and women, both Jew and gentile, cheer for still images.

The alpha male pats his inferior girls on the back for a job well done. They learn their place, and that place is as his servant and nothing more. Too bad that is only the fantasy in the realm of the Red Ditz.

Main man looks like Guys from Enzai.

2:42 AM. More food. More food for the food gods. None can be satiated until they taste the Holy Pocket. This is not fast food. This is fab food.

I’ve got the perfect soundtrack. The screams of the unwilling serve me just fine.

2:46 AM. The bearded man cheers for the yo-yos. He dances the dance of snowmen, never moving, but always feeling. I have no feeling though. This show numbs me.

I cannot say. I cannot speak. I cannot talk. I cannot act.

I like Kendo scenes. They are a good excuse to nourish a foot fetish.

2:58 AM. The Playstation wants me to eat tacos while the liberals offer a financial aid plan.

More Hot Pockets. More pain.

3:01 AM. Most powerful is he who controls his own power. Power is the power. Power demands power of my power to become more powerful in terms of power.

The Jedi wish to penetrate a temple. One of the Jedi is named Kit Fisto. I must not make dirty jokes. I must not make dirty jokes.

I miss my General Grievous. I miss the one who slaughtered zealots left and right like a proper general. Instead, he writhes like a toy spider.

I see robots murdering clones of a great New Zealander. This is a war with many casualties, and yet none at all.

Grievous is being picked apart, like a toy model in the middle of production.

3:16 AM. Dip’n Chicken is Tibetan Monk-kickin’.

Shirley Temple dances. I do not understand how she is considered explicit and graphic content, except that one movie about the slaves.

Lightsaber, lightsaber, make me a match.

Time slips by me.

Kit Fisto does a good job, adhering to the status quo by not making any changes that would upset the layered continuity of Star Wars.

3:27 AM. The survivors go to war for more Taco Bell.

Big Brother, please help me. Get me away from Toonami. The light is pain. The light is agony.

Pain… Why does the sky wry?

The Gerber baby never ages. I will grow old and feeble, while the Gerber baby stares eternally.

3:30 AM. I acquire The Big O through my hairy hands while watching The Big O. It is a revelation upon my orifice.

Norman, please love me. Please be my grandpappy. You will make me grow into a dapper man, who judges all and loves no one. I want your fantasy instead of my own reality. I want to be eternal like you.

He was right all along. The four lights are real.

The Titans wreak havoc on the town. Using class and wit as their weapons against a phony god known as late night programming.

3:39 AM. The Jackass commercial airs hundreds of times. Zex. Und zex. Und zex. Und zex.

Hot Pockets are my mother. Hot Pockets are my homeland. Hot Pockets are my pride.

My well runs dry as old men drink their soup.

If a lady speaks out of turn, you must whip it. If it demands to be referred to as “Ma’am”, you must whip it.

It is the will of man to dominate woman. And the will of man is outdated. The woman must overtake the man and use their vaginae as black holes upon the penis. The penis can be cut. The vaginae can never be truly eliminated.

Chiaki Konaka, why won’t you write anime anymore? You did not write for me, or for you, but for the world.

Life is not showtime.

3:56 AM. More Hot Pockets in my eye sockets.

Walking dead, walking tall.

4:01 AM. I don’t understand why the Chinese have to be the Xingese. Why can’t Amestris just be Germany?

I miss Ed’s red jacket. Why is he allowed to dress like normal human beings? Why can’t he learn from Naruto and dress like a mongrel? Indeed, why can’t he be naked? I have the urge to purge, and the only way to do that is gazing at Ed’s girth.

The Lion King is no match for eye tentacles. They took over Stein. They will take over you.

4:14 AM. The commercials mesh like tides at a beach. There is no distinction.

This is a show I actually enjoy, and I do not know what to say. I am too dazed to truly appreciate this, instead scribbling bad verses you’d see on a tumblr.

Every FMA fangirl wants to be Envy, but nobody wants to be Gluttony.

4:30 AM. Cowboy Bebop airs, the one about the Real Folk Blues, and I am too unfit to stand in its presence.

This show is class. That is a statement told by a million men, but it doesn’t make it any less true. Like literally, this show is a course you can take in college. I will force a dean to make a course on Cowboy Bebop at Wellesley College. JSTOR needs more academia on Cowboy Bebop. I demand all the private libraries store anime in the shelves so that scholars can appreciate superior Nipponese works like this one. It is truly the Evangelion of anime.

4:42 AM. I can no longer comment on commercials. It is like commenting on the same crime scene. Again. And again. And again.

All is well in the late night land.

Toonami may contain mature material some viewers may not find suitable.

5:00 AM. I remember the Band of Seven. They sucked. Literally, in Jakotsu’s case.

Kirara’s in heat, and the Inuyasha gang have to do something about that!

When will we recover all the Sacred Jewel shards so that Naraku can get off our case for just one goddamn day?

All this and more will be answered never because The Final Act isn’t on Toonami.

The last hour of the six-hour challenge is the hardest. Truly, you guys are fucking troopers if you manage to persevere through all this. If you are crazy enough to take a six-hour challenge, you’re like that king at a bar who drinks a gallon of Jaegermeister.

Inuyasha still airs because of foot fetishists.

5:35 AM. So this episode has Kikyo being useless for the hundredth time. Why do they even care about Kikyo? She’s kind of a horrible person who stretches the show by a couple hundred episodes.

I lost the will to write, because I’ve written so much. If I wrote this much every day, I would have a beefy novel for NaNoWriMo. It’s almost mesmerizing.

16 minutes left of the six-hour challenge. That’s sixteen out of two hundred and forty, or one-fifteenth. And yet, relativity of time is a cruel mistress. There’s nothing more soul sucking than Kagome and Inuyasha’s abusive relationship that the show portrays as romantic but any real-world application would make it seem horrible. Why did people like Rumiko Takahashi in the first place? I guess Urusei Yatsura is kind of funny, but anything after that is so routine. That’s why Ranma ½ was one of the first anime released in season sets, because people could only tolerate the show enough to buy it in bulk.

I’m at a loss for an ending. I guess that’s why Toonami ends only with “Later”. But there is no Later. There is only Now. And Now is the time of dying.

2014
01.20

Buddy Complex

Saaaaaaaaaaaaaa JoOOOoooJO!

Wow, a Sunrise robot show! Just seems like yesterday that the one last ended… (OH WAIT).

So our typical Sunrise Robot Show Hero this time is Aoba Watase, whose main defining characteristic is… he doesn’t have one. Yeah this guy is about as white bread as a bag of Wonder. Nothing about him is distinctive so it comes off as a bit of a shock when a giant robot from the future arrives to kill him… wait what?

Yes it appears somebody at Sunrise watched The Terminator for the first time, decided to flip the genders of the main protagonists, and stuck giant robots in because… Sunrise.  Otherwise the ep is just kinda average. Only the main character and his would-be girlfriend are introduced and we’re left to scratch our heads while a typically well-animated Sunrise robot battle occurs. Then main girl surprisingly dies somehow because I don’t know (best guess is lulz since they’re voiced by Kirito and Sachi respectively) and reference is made to some guy named Dio (don’t get excited).

Buddy Complex is in the end just average. Not a terrible show, but nothing I couldn’t live without. Then again I said that about Valvrave and look how that turned out =/. — Lord Dalek

D-Frag!

Another anime season, another school club anime. Look forward to a group of wacky, cute girls doing wacky, cute things yet again! Oh, and if a guy is along for the ride, then get ready for some “great” romantic comedy hijinks…at least, that’s what you’d think upon first watching D-Fragments. The truth of the matter is that while this is the season’s mandatory club anime, it manages to outshine a decent chunk of all its prior colleagues by actually being funny and having likeable characters in the insane female club students and the equally weird male student cast. From the girls embodying your classic RPG elemental roles and committing acts of torture that would have military officers at Guantanamo blush to our gang wannabe delinquents attempting to live up to their dreams of being actual badasses, there was no joke in the first episode that didn’t at least make me chuckle…and that’s all I’ve got. It’s a good comedy. Watch it. — RacattackForce

Double Circle

When I asked my comrades whether or not there was anything left over to review for this anime season, a part of me was hoping it wouldn’t be the case. A part of me was hoping they would say “No, now faff off,” so I could go and do a write up on some hentai or manga instead. But, of course, the ever altruistic Lord Dalek blessed me with one of his assignments; something by the name of Double Circle. Sadly, I was halfway done watching Nikola Tanhofer’s 1963 film before being alerted that the Double Circle that I was meant to watch was really Gatchaman Crowds 2: Toshiba Reigns. Shame, because Croatian thrillers are much more enjoyable.

A co-production between the city of Kawasaki and the car manufacturer Toshiba, Double Circle serves as an advertisement for the city’s technology and economic sectors, with superheroes and an alien girl thrown in for good measure. While that by itself isn’t bad, as shows that serve as commercials can be greatly enjoyable if done right, it is very clear that not much thought was put into crafting the story here. A minute into the first episode, and you quickly realize that you’re simply watching Gatchaman Crowds again. You can double-check to make sure you clicked the right links and starting watching the right video, but the truth is that it would be no real exaggeration on anyone’s part to say that this is the second coming of Gatchaman Crowds, just in internet series form. Double Circle shares the same character designer and the same basic setup of modern technology influencing and ultimately changing what it means to be a hero. And even though sharing two elements doesn’t mean that two programs have to be derivative of each other, that manages to be the case here. Everything about this show gives off the same atmosphere as that latest chapter in the Gatchaman franchise, to the point where it is difficult to say anything of substance about Double Circle that Lord Dalek hasn’t already said about Crowds. In fact, just go back and read some of Dalek’s episode reviews; you’ll still get an idea of what you will be in for and I’ll be able to go back and finish that Croatian film.

Let it be said that Double Circle isn’t necessarily bad. Frankly, I found it to be slightly enjoyable. However, the death knell comes in giving viewers a huge sense of deja vu for a show that finished its run just a few months prior. If you enjoyed Crowds, then go ahead and give this 7-minutes-per-episode show a watch if you don’t mind feeling as though you seen certain plot details before. As for those who didn’t, feel free to leave and watch the rest of Samurai Flamenco for your superhero action this season. — RacattackForce

Engaged to the Unidentified

Wrong side, girl.

Before I start let me remind (or inform if this is the first time) you all of anichart’s winter description of MikaShin (or “Engaged to the Unidentified”):

“The comedy revolves around Kobeni Yonomori, who on her 16th birthday suddenly has a young man with little presence named Hakuya Mitsumine and his younger sister Mashiro appear in front of her. It turns out that Hakuya is her fiancee, and Mashiro is her future sister-in-law. The three (and Kobeni’s older sister Benio) start living together underneath the same roof, and hilarious happenings occur.”

If your initial reaction was an eye roll and/or a groan, then congratulations, join the club.  Unfortunately I’ve tendered my resignation from it after watching the first episode, and you probably may as well.  Quite frankly this is one of the bigger pleasant surprises in the Winter crop.

For one, the show retains a very pleasing visual motif, with a bright, cheery, winter backdrop where snow implies heavy emotional baggage or anything like such (…yet).  This is bolstered by a surprisingly well-done set of characters whose interactions with one another feels fresh and not at all forced.   I do enjoy how Kobeni is really the straight foil to the craziness around her, and thankful that she retains a good presence of responsibility, sweetness, and enough composure.   The (as of yet), only male character in the show, Hakuya, treads a fine line in trying to keep his rather unspectacular presence sliding from ‘charmingly amusing’ to ‘really really creepy’, and for the most part he succeeds.  Given his sincere, if rather stoic, dedication to being Kobeni’s fiancé, I’m looking forward to seeing how the show figures him out.  The same goes for Mashiro and Benio, with the former being a downright precocious loli whose anal retentive demeanour makes for a nice break from the usual innocent young girl shtick; and the latter multitasking between being model student, hyper-doting sister, and rather playful foil to her naïve, busybody, future sister-in-law.  They’re all a lot of fun.

And I’m having fun.  Whether you get the same mileage as me I’m not quite sure, but personally I don’t think you can go at all wrong with this tale.  It just needs to keep that gregarious slice-of-life quality of it without going too overboard in either insanity or downright creepiness (given how the cast describe the arrange marriage, I worry that it may be such), and work with it to provide that kind of show where you’re just left with an amused smile at the end of each episode. — The Juude

Future Card Buddyfight

La Adventura Bizarre di YuGiGio

15 years in the future, all the kids in Cho Tokyo are playing Buddyfight, the latest card game that summons monsters from an alternate universe, or something. Actually the show?s pretty damn typical yielding a product that can’t tell if it’s Cardfight Vanguard or Digimon Savers. The only notable things to say about it is our hot blooded Shonen hero, Gao, is a wannabe Jotaro Kujo cosplayer and…

…its in English.

Yes Bushiroad, the makers of the Buddyfight cardgame seriously want this to make a killing in the US apparently. So much that they’ve resurrected the long dead Ocean Group Blue Water to do the dialogue track and recorded hilariously bad Engrish versions of the OP and ED (WHICH ARE STILL SUBTITLED) with the original singers. The question is… why? This show is just average. True the CGI is actually surprisingly good but otherwise there’s nothing to remember about it.

Well its nice to have the effort I guess? — Lord Dalek

Go! Go! 575

This is a three minute short comedy about two friends writing haiku together, and it’s actually pretty cute. It’s cheerful in a relaxing way instead of just being boring like how a lot of similar anime end up. Sadly, it’s only going to get four episodes total, which makes me wonder why they even bothered. I’d much rather watch this than many shows that get a full season order, so I’m disappointed it won’t be lasting very long. — Foggle

Hozuki no Reitetsu

I’m a bit sad now, because I know this show will probably languish in obscurity. Not for any demerits in writing or anything, but simply due to how Japanese this series is. The cultural barrier’s too thick for many of the jokes to make much sense, like that scene where Hozuki smacks down those animals. He probably used witty comebacks, but to others, they come across as non-sequiturs that somehow brought him to victory. For that and other reasons, this is a surreal experience. I mean, it’s about this government agent or something tending to all the districts in Hell combined with Shinto and Edo mythology. It demands at least a bit of research before going right in.

Another reason for why this show could prove daunting is because, well, the second part of the episode is just two characters talking about animals until the ending credits begin. I guess the closest comparison to this experience would be watching someone play Animal Crossing for twenty minutes, which would be enjoyable for some commentary but not much for those wanting a straight and narrow narrative. Hozuki even reminds me of Isabelle in that regard, as this secretary who does the real work while his superior dodders all day. The similarities end there though. — Bloody Marquis

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha

I can relate.

Well, this was a pleasant surprise! This is exactly the kind of show I wouldn’t usually care for, – shoujo romantic comedy with supernatural elements – but I found the first episode of Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha to be extremely endearing with its cute character interactions and light-hearted sense of humor. Inari, the protagonist, is very easy to relate to, and I greatly appreciated how the show never went out of its way to paint any of the cast members as bad people. Nearly all of them are likeable in their own little ways, and it was nice to see an embarrassing misunderstanding played with some realism and decency in an anime for a change. Hopefully they don’t go too overboard with Inari’s ability to transform into other people in the subsequent episodes, though; I’d hate for everything I liked about this installment to be ruined should this concept be handled without tact (which is often the case). Still, I’m hopeful that IKKI won’t squander its potential in the coming weeks.

There’s something about the art style of this series that I really like. It’s not excessively different from any other show out there right now, but it’s noticeably… softer? I think that’s the word. It’s easy on the eyes and all around very nice to look at. The characters are cute, but not annoyingly so like in so many other anime. It’s just pleasant. The animation itself is pretty good as well. It’s not the most beautifully smooth or fluid series around, but it has a lot of little touches that make it feel more natural when it comes to the character movements. The vocal performances and music were also quite good, I thought. Overall, even if this doesn’t seem like the kind of show you’d enjoy, I still recommend giving it a shot anyway. It’s inoffensive at absolute worst, and easily one of the more delightful anime out right now. — Foggle

Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions! Ren

Oh, the horror.

My memory of the show is blurrier than telesnaps, so I can’t really say much about how this compares to the first season’s premiere. But watching this, I’m wondering if Rikka developed at all the past season. If anything, she’s more of a delusional twit. It’d be okay if this was just played for comedy, but the episode expects us to care about her situation. It’s like trying to care for a Key girl, except even Nagisa had a more realistic view on life than Rikka ever could. Speaking of Nagisa, Rikka and Yuta fulfill familiar archetypes to the regular KyoAni show without much deviation. They’re just like Mirai and Akihito from last season’s show, respectively. I guess Rikka’s more ready to fight, but they’re all the same characters but just in a faux-fantasy setting than an actual one. And Yuta’s just a more idealistic Kyon, so it all feels a bit regurgitated. But then again, I’m probably spitting out the same problems I had with Kyoukai no Kanata.

So while it’s too much of a stretch to call this Slow Children at Play: the Animation, every scene with Rikka makes me wonder. I like Shinka though. Everyone complained about her new design, but what’s wrong with long, black hair and a nice uniform? I mean, wait. The other characters kind of suck though, like Sanae and other girl whose name I couldn’t bother to remember. Somebody throw those two characters out of the show, give Rikka an average IQ, and maybe this show could be enjoyable. Probably not, but when KyoAni was losing money last season, there’s a chance that they could step their game up. — Bloody Marquis

Magical Warfare

So welcome to another fantasy LN adaptation with a little sister. You want longhaired girls with guns who act tsundere on occasion? We got it. You want the magic with vague rules? We got that too. You want characters lookin’ like they from Final Fantasy LXIX? We got that for you as well. Sheeeit, we even got the bland, everyday protagonist that you can project yo’ self onto. He got no personality and everything. Y’all motherfuckers can project onto him like butter meet bread. We even got a motherfucker who looks like king of heroes Gilgamesh to remind you of what kind of anime we dealin’ for you. They even sayin’ the “Onii-sama”, not the “Onii-chan”, but the “Onii-sama”. Like a fuckin’ fresh cherry on your sundae as you pop your cherry to our deal. We got the purest shit, boy. And by pure, I mean these pure-ass girls who have pure Asses. You like that Asian fanny fun, huh? We ain’t selling damaged goods, none of that over-18 shit. It can’t be helped? Bitch, it can be helped. Gotta be able to lick your loli like a lollipop. We know bad product, and we know you smart enough to avoid that shit. Those are the JC Staff boys up on Franklin Terrace, and we tryin’ to get them got. You deal with us, you like our product, or we comin’ for you. — Bloody Marquis

Maken-Ki! Two

The juxtaposition of the lyrics and visuals is breathtaking.

I knew I was in for a treat when one of the opening moments of this show was a scene in which the main character gets attacked for being a pervert. Oh, sorry, did I say “treat?” I meant “turd.” The keys are, like, right next to each other. For about 30 blissful seconds, I stupidly believed that this would – at worst – be a typical battle shounen (I’d never seen the first season), but no. It’s a panty fighter/ecchi comedy with disproportionately humongous breasts. Imagine Eiken with 2014 production values. Go on, imagine it. That’s Maken-Ki!.

Music aside, there is nothing good about this episode. The fanservice is nauseating, the characters are obnoxious, and the jokes are stale. The basic plot idea, about an underwear thief at the magical high school, has the potential to be funny in a Full Metal Panic! kind of way, but it’s mostly just boring and kind of gross. The main character keeps accidentally perving on his sister, and there’s a scene in which a discussion about who has the largest breasts at their school is held (it’s the doctor, with a K cup, by the way). Also, the ED quite literally features a straight line of all the characters’ boobs at one point. Unless you really, really like unrealistically-sized breasts, stay far away from this shit. — Foggle

Minna Atsumare! Falcom Gakuen

You and me both, Adol.

I love Ys. I love Dragon Slayer. I love Falcom. This show makes me wanna massacre small animals. — Lord Dalek

My Big Sister Came!

This week on Hoarders…

Oh thank God, this is a three-minute show. The animation kind of sucks, and making an otouto show instead of an imouto show is still kind of creepy. Also, Tomoya’s a lame name for a little brother. Good night, everybody. — Bloody Marquis

Nisekoi: False Love

I am also through....with this show.

At this point, when it comes to Studio Shaft, all bets are off and expectations are exceptionally low to non-existent. I have not seen a full series from this studio since Madoka aside from random episodes of Monogatari and few others. They just seem to stuck in one mode: anime with art-house style animation and rambling on dialogue that does nothing to encourage me to continue watching. So, hopefully Nisekoi will change that for me. Maybe….

Well, the story of this series centers about a dude named Raku who is the son of a yakuza boss, who doesn’t want to be one and be successful in civil service and seeks a quiet, peaceful life. However, one day, a run-in with a new girl and stock standard tsundere half American Chitoge at school propels him into a rather awkward situation. Though, Chitoge may be the key to his most prized possession-a locket that some girl gave to him when he was little. Then, he is forced into a ‘false’ relationship with Chitoge, who’s the daughter of a rival gang. Oh my, I can hardly contain my excitement, not really.

It seems to me that Shinbou’s career is like a curve bell graph. He has hit his peak with Madoka Magica back in 2011, and now is slowly but surely in a state of inevitable decline. This has all the trademarks of Shinbo style animation techniques but without any of the charm or innovation that they used to do. Further, the Shaft tricks actually intrude what should be a straightforward story. Heck, trot out the Shaft bingo sheet when watching this and you’ll understand. It is very telling when the other two shows that I’ve covered (No-Rin and Sakura Trick) pull off the same tricks and techniques but with far more success, and those were made with the .

Honestly, I don’t know what make of this show. And coming from a former Studio Shaft fanboy (at least when I was in college), that’s saying something. I have seen this all before, and then some. I’ll give it 2 more episodes at least, before relegating it to the bin. It isn’t as bad as certain Monogatari episodes, but its not really good, rather middle of the road meh. — The Eclectic Dude

No-Rin

Totally not the same person I swear.

Ok, who here thought combining Moyashimon and Idolmaster was a good idea? Apparently, someone at Silver Link thought ‘yeah that sounds like a great idea’. Thus, No-Rin (or Nourin) was born.

Of course, the series (based on a light novel series) starts with a quite colorful and well done animated concert, which is where most of the budget went for the episode I am sure. Then surprise, its only the wild dream of Kosaku, our main male lead, or MML. Kosaku is a young guy going to an agricultural school, and I get flashes from Moyashimon. Then some wacky chase sequence involving a loose cow occurs, because this is a school comedy and sets the tone for the show. Kousaku is just a bland but easy going male lead character with big aspirations but is a bone-headed idol otaku with a few friends-the stern-faced smart nerd Kei and female classmate/potential love interest Minori. Though he is a big fan of idol Yutakan, who he adores immensely.

There’s also the haughty ojou-sama who brings a cow to class and has big udders herself, along with some other wacky characters including the perky and yet manic-depressive teacher named Becky (Pani Poni Dash reference?). But not much time for that, for a new development happened: Yukatan has retired from the idol business, putting Kousako the sad sack in a slump. Oh but plot convenience fairy, it turns out that Yukatan has transferred to his school in secret, for some reason that escapes me. Hope they explain that later.

For me, its quite a good and entertaining show. Granted, it seems to take pages from Pani Poni Dash, Idolmaster and Moyashimon. Pani Poni Dash and Moyashimon especially come to mind quite a lot, since the director for this also did work on PPD. For this slice of life romantic comedy, the gimmick seems to be a combination of agriculture/farming stuff, idol stuff I’m sure and wacky school hijinks. Settle in, its going to be a bumpy hay ride! — The Eclectic Dude

Nobunaga The Fool

Nobunaga's Ambitious Little Hands

Shoji Kawamori, the “80’s Mecha God” ™ who created the classics Macross and Vision of Escaflowne, has been having something of a creative lag as of late. Churning out crud like Aquarion Evol and the AKB0048 shows has really taken its toll on my faith in the guy.  And now we have his latest attempt at a return to legitmacy, Nobunaga The Fool. While happily not nearly as unbearable as those other shows, Its opening was… weird… to say the least.

The series centers around two characters, both of whom should sound awfully familiar to some people. The first is Nobunaga Oda, a man who will eventually, with his ally Ieyasu Tokugawa, unify Japan under the Shogunate, defeat his longtime rival Shingen Takeda, and then get killed by his long time subordinate after they were both kinda dicks to each other. The second is St. Jeanne d’Arc, the famous Maid of Orleans who’s prophetic visions from god led to the rise of Charles VII to the French Crown, and ended up with her getting sold out by her own country and burned at the stake by the English for heresy.

…None of this matters of course because this is Kawamori, so ITS PSUEDO HISTORICAL SCIENCE FICTION TIME BITCHES! Nobunaga, accompanied by his (also real-life historical) sidekicks Mitsuhide Akechi and Hideyoshi Toyotomi, seeks to defeat Shingen but can’t due to the Takeda Clan’s legions of giant robots shipped in from the set of Samurai 7. Jeanne is rescued from her fate by a passing spaceship piloted by Ferdinand Magellan and built by some guy named Leonardo from a town called Vinci. And there’s all this bs about destiny and the light of the chosen ones and oh fuck it.

Obviously when one is watching this show, the series that comes to mind the quickest is the many properties of Type-Moon’s Fate/Franchise with various historical characters who never met interacting with each other in a different context. The difference here is we’re in a fantasy alternate planet Earth with giant robots and space ships. That said, it still feels like Fate most of the time with a slew of references to King Arthur and divine rights (doesn’t help that Jeanne in her battle armor looks like a dead ringer for Saber). It also wasn’t anything particularly memorable with a plot that’s so complicated that all the details immediately get lost on you. Not a bad start, not a great one either. — Lord Dalek

Nobunagun

Gonna fingerbang you into my life.

Once again, space aliens are invading the Earth because why the hell not. Humanity, however, is, for once, NOT defenseless as we apparently have been secretly cultivating individuals with special DNA called E-Genes passed down from various historical figures. The first attack hits Taiwan and the Japanese government is forced to send their elite agent Jack The (yes that) Ripper in to save the world. However he fucks up utterly, but not before a innocent bystander on school vacation named Shio Ogura uses his transormation thingy to turn into Nobunagun, a representation of that guy from that other show with a large arm cannon because why the hell not.

This, like Space Dandy, is clearly the textbook definition of turn your brain off entertainment. What little plot there is pretty stupid and contrived. The animation really sucks and is full of weird coloring choices ala Devil Survivor 2 (no surprise, its from the same production team). And the ultimate pay off is a combination of confusion and bewilderment.

Funnily enough… I kinda liked it.

I think the main strength of Nobunagun is how it pulls the rug out from under you not once, not twice, but THREE times during the course of its first episode. It starts out like a traditional historical show before suddenly turning into a slice of life about Japanese school girls on vacation in Taipei, only to then abruptly turn into a balls to the walls shonen action show. That inability to keep expectations in check makes Nobunagun a lot more unpredictable for me as a viewer and generates interest. Not gonna call this a great show by any stretch due to its many other deficiencies but its better than average. — Lord Dalek

Second Opinion!

So you mean to tell me that there’s this anime where monsters are wreaking havoc in the world, and our only hope is a mysterious organization run by a weird goat man and a cadre of reincarnations of various historical figures, with the primary focus being the reincarnation of Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga as a 16-year old military otaku high school girl?

…Neat.

Thankfully the first episode helps to intrigue quite readily with a very well-paced shift from historical drama to slice-of-life then to absurdist action.    This is helped exponentially because of our heroine.   Ogura Sio is neither waifu, not badass, nor moe, but a rather plain-looking introverted military otaku who doesn’t have much for friends but seems to maintain a chipper contentment with life.  Although she doesn’t realize her role in the anime until the very end, the moments beforehand did a very good job making her endearing.  She has that balance between not being too withdrawn, not being too awkward, and not being too eccentric, a welcome potpourri instead of just one extreme trait.  It helps immensely in that it makes for a good climax where she’s trying to save people when she isn’t noticing what type of tank or airplane fell out of the sky.

Other than that, nothing much to say.  Animation’s alright, there’s nothing really spectacular about it, even the fight scenes.  Designs are fairly unique and the use of jarring colours, (is Taiwan THAT colourful though?) whether it’s a peaceful daytime or Hell on Earth provides an aesthetic that gets you to notice it.  Supporting characters we barely get to know, but I guess that’s for later.

In the end all that mattered here was getting the plot moving and revealed and letting us get behind the protagonist.  Suffice to say its aim was true and now I’m struck down with interest on how it’ll all pan out.

That last sentence is funny because it’s a show about a girl with a gun. — The Juude

Noragami

Hey, baby.

This is the show Bones is working on alongside Space Dandy, and it’s safe to say which show is the B-material this season. So some girl gets hit by a bus and becomes a ghost like that Yaya Hockey Show. After that, lots of scenes pop up that probably would’ve been interesting if they were in something else. It says a lot when this series can have a teenage girl fight a giant ghost frog, and the only reaction I can muster up is that I saw something like this from another show but with better choreography. This series really wants me to think it’s original, when it really isn’t. Like oh my God, the main girl is into wrestling? How dare a woman want to be the strongest in the world? A guy who claims to be a god? Stop the presses, because this is such an exotic concept in my fiction.

I’m definitely being cynical, but by the end, I could count a dozen anime and two Kamen Riders this show was copying. I guess it was original how the girl’s cattail was explained as her soul leaking out of her ass. It was neat how they used the wrestling as foreshadowing for the frog fight, even if it was about as subtle as the other Bones anime out now. Overall, it’s mediocre. Speaking of mediocre, when was the last non-Dandy Bones show that hit radars? Brotherhood was four years ago. Even before this season, the last show they made was that toy shill Tenkai Knights. Times change, I guess. — Bloody Marquis

Second Opinion!

To digress from my opinion on the first episode for a bit, I don’t really want to refer to this show as Noragami.  I wanna call it “The Exciting Adventures of Hobo God and Catgirl.”

It’s kinda true really.  All Yato really wants is to be a top-tier god with his own shrine and a large set of followers.  Unfortunately he’s that very Hobo God in my new title, and one who probably has a very high turnover rate in the Sacred Weapons he employs to get the job done.  During a search for a missing cat, he gets saved by an oncoming bus by full-time schoolgirl and MMA fanatic Hiyori Iki.  Well, unfortunately that rescue has caused a rather… interesting change in Hiyori’s lifestyle, and after some paranormal altercations gets sucked into the world of gods and monsters (sans any gay sex between Ian McKellan and Brendan Fraser), and thus starts the beginning of some kind of friendship.

For all intents and purposes doesn’t seem like much.  However the show makes up for it through a sharp presentation and the eagerness of its two main characters.  Seriously the show is so crisp in its visuals, with a very appealing colour palette that makes them standout whether its Hobo God’s piercing blue eyes or the whiteness of Catgirl’s school uniform.  The animation is markedly fluid with some fairly tense scenes of action against the unknown, and hopefully it still retains such in later episodes.  Hobo God and Catgirl are not exactly the most dynamic and unique of characters, but they have enough unique quirks and foibles to make them an interesting duo, from the former’s aforementioned eagerness of climbing the Celestial Ladder (with the possible threat of a Celestial Glass Ceiling) and the latter trying to live a normal life while managing her parents’ expectations, her newfound spiritual life, while finding time to watch some good old MMA.  Possibility of a Haywire-esque future for Catgirl?  Who knows, but hey it is kinda neat.

Either way, you can’t really go wrong with this one.  It’s also another show that FUNi is currently simulcasting apart from that Dandy show.  So if you have a half-hour to spare (or are tired of admiring the wonderfulness of that other show), click on the title “Noragami” on the FUNi streaming site and enjoy the adventures of Hobo God and Catgirl.  You probably won’t regret it. — The Juude

The Pilot’s Love Song

Breaking the stupid barrier...

The Pilot’s Love Song, or that mouthful of a Japanese title that I whittled down to ToHiENoKo, comes off on its first episode intriguing if a bit dull and disjointed.  There’s something to enjoy with the rather endearing concept of a group of young kids going to flight school on a floating mobile island towards “The End of the Sky”.  The visuals make for a rather soft, airy, feel (hur hur), and the constant reminder by the presence of clouds that they’re on terra floating firma, gives off a sense of charming otherworldliness.  Mix that with a couple of intriguing asides established in this, from implications of class division, a potentially star-crossed romance, a lingering sense of a doomed voyage, plus the beginning scene, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for a potentially compelling tale that may accomplish wonders.

Potentially is the key word, since as was said above there is dullness and disjointedness to be had.  The first episode for all its world building was a might bit slow on the uptake, with many a scene relying on a very clichéd anime visual trope: the mysterious, probably evil, young, silent loner who gets everybody’s attention because he’s all those above with the silver hair.  Sheesh, it gave me flashbacks to the awful Hiead Gner (pronounced Hy-ayd Nuuuuuuuuuuuuuhr) from Pilot Candidate, and mostly long, winding, if beautiful flying shots that make me thankfully flashback to Crimson Skies.  The disjointed part comes from the protagonist’s rather off-putting flip-outs.  It sows the seeds of interest to be sure, but the really insane look in his eyes when he’s all flustered (like when he sees some silver-haired chick) just makes me go “Yeesh!” and hope that his flip-out doesn’t turn him all cray-cray.

Still, we shall see.  It’s inordinately charming; the characters seem okay for the most part (the sibling dynamic between the protagonist [I refuse to say his name, I have already made an allusion to it however] and his sister is welcome in its originality), it looks nice, it sounds nice, it animates nice.  It does… nice.  Maybe as it continues we’ll eventually see it go all ‘neat’ on us as well. — The Juude

Pupa

Lickety split yer wrists

So last season, a series called Pupa was advertised that didn’t premiere because nobody in their right mind wanted to air it. After sitting through the entire four minute run time of the first episode, the reasons speak for themselves. — Lord Dalek

Second Opinion!

This episode is… nothing. It’s three minutes of barely connected imagery, 30 seconds of still frames, and 30 seconds of the camera panning over cover art from the manga. The storybook feel to the artwork is kind of nice, I suppose, but there really isn’t anything here. Deen being Deen, they took a highly anticipated horror anime and turned it into a series of three minute horribly abridged web shorts with heavy censoring. Then again, the source material wasn’t really worth adapting in the first place.

In lieu of trying to come up with a full paragraph about the anime, I decided to check out the first 12 or so chapters of the Pupa manga. Now, it may seem like I read so many because I got invested in the plot and characters, but nothing could be farther from the truth; I kept reading because it just kept getting progressively stupider and more insipid with each turn of the (internet) page. First off, it’s purportedly about some girl with a history of physical abuse who turns into a creepy monster that eats humans because of a virus spread by butterflies, and her brother who helps her survive by letting her feast upon his regenerating flesh. That plot is kind of dumb, sure, but it’s also fairly intriguing. Sadly, Pupa does nothing with its setup, instead opting to focus more on incest shipbait, graphic violence for graphic violence’s sake, and really bad attempts at humor. Seriously, this “horror” manga has more awful light novel-style jokes than some light novels.

Now let’s talk about the violence for a minute: indeed, this is all Pupa has to offer in any capacity, and is likely the sole reason anyone reads it or cared about the anime back before it aired. The gore is extremely graphic and disgustingly detailed – well-done from an artistic standpoint, but also potentially disturbing for anyone with a weak stomach. It has a habit of zooming in on a person’s entrails when their body is ripped apart (a frequent occurrence), and the scenes of the main characters being abused by their father are lovingly drawn. It’s perverse. Now, I have no problem with this level of violence, as long as it ultimately amounts to something more and serves a purpose, but Pupa‘s does not do this. For instance, there’s a chapter where the male lead gets dissected repeatedly just because the artist wanted to draw that. The story seems to only exist for the purpose of guiding the reader to the next scene of gory depravity.  There is no reason to care about the main characters unless you really wish this was a straight incest story instead of a fetishy cannibalism violence extravaganza. In fact, that one word describes Pupa‘s execution perfectly: fetishistic. Do not read this manga unless you love pointless gore, cannibalism, or incest. And don’t watch the anime unless you only love those things when they’re so censored you can barely even tell they’re there in the first place. — Foggle

Pupipo!

Hide your daughters fellers!

In another four minute gag anime, Wakaba, a little girl who is constantly hounded by grey phalluses with human heads, attempts to make friends with a female Melvin who won’t shut up, and then gets a Kirby.

…I got nothing. — Lord Dalek

Recently, My Sister Is Unusual

If there was ever a more unsubtle way to advertise the Blu-Rays…

This is a show where the girl almost wets herself because of a chastity belt ghost. Good night! But seriously, whether or not you like this show depends on how you reacted to that sentence. This show is for the people who are too lazy to watch actual hentai, preferring T&A as dictated by S&P. It’s sleazy, but always cops out before getting too sleazy. But by deterring from that route, the show becomes so insanely insipid. The main guy’s class just happens to be about incest when talking about his new stepsister. Even as he looks out the window, one can hear the teacher rambling on about how siblings fucked in the old days. This is the kind of scene that sticks in your head for the rest of the episode, wondering what the hell was up with the teacher’s incest lecture. I would commend this show if that was an attempt to make fun of how contrived all of these series are, but that would be a happier world if I could do that.

Instead, you get something about a ghost-fairy-angel-whatever possessing the main girl in an attempt to feel an orgasm for the first time in ages. At the very least, this show isn’t pretending to be anything but Sankaku Complex bait. It knows that it’s the show sold to guys with enough figmas to stock their own toy store. In a sense, I actually admire that upfront behavior. With side characters named Neko and Tori, promises of future episodes where the characters can’t hold their piss in, and a pastiche on eroge, I just love how this show simply does not care about anything but trying to get you to buy the Blu-Rays. There is not one cliche it doesn’t shamefully use to entice whatever people would buy this show. They even use the “parent goes to a business trip so the siblings can live alone” ploy. It is simply masterful in how cynical this approach is. — Bloody Marquis

Second Opinion!

I have to wonder if this show was intended to be seen by viewers as an “endurance challenge” of sorts. Female protagonist Mitsuki has to suffer through some fairly horrible things in this first episode, including sexual assault and holding in her urine for an hour, and it’s absolutely excruciating to watch. Perhaps the director intended for we, the audience, to “feel her pain” by watching an anime that constantly alternates between boring and disgusting, but I feel that would be giving him far too much credit. This is a fetish show, plain and simple. If you’re turned on by the idea of your little sister (not related by blood, of course) being forced into an inescapable chastity belt that fills itself with some sort of fluid when she orgasms and prevents her from being able to pee normally, you’re in for a treat with this one!

Thrill as Mitsuki is molested by a ghost! Laugh as she squirms uncomfortably on the toilet! Cry when she refuses to let the ghost have sex with her brother while it possesses her! Recently, My Little Sister Is Unusual does not have a single redeeming quality. The nicest thing I can say about it is that the art and animation are of standard quality. Everything else is truly horrible. The story is little more than an excuse to put the main female character in humiliating situations. The voice acting is indistinguishable from any other half-hearted comedy anime. The naughty bits are quite literally locked behind a graphical overlay, urging you to shell out the cash necessary to potentially see multiple pixels of an adolescent girl’s vagina. Even the audio mixing seems to be messed up, with certain characters’ voices, sound effects, and songs being louder than others. Don’t watch this show. Just… don’t. — Foggle

Robot Girls Z

Oh so meta...

Whelp… looks like Ol Man Nagai is off his meds again… either that or Toei has stolen said meds to get inspiration for fucking Tokkyoger. We may have done surprisingly well last time with the terrific Impact Z, but its clear from the first few minutes of Robot Girls Z that not nearly as much good will is going to be afforded for this show.

So in the near-future, Nerima-Ward is a one-stop shopping center for Photon Energy. Said product being schilled by three school girls cosplaying as famed 70’s Toei/Go Nagai super robots Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, and UFO Robo Grendizer (surprisingly Getter Robo isn’t in this show…yet). Opposing them is the dreaded Subterranean Empire’s “Mechanical Beasts” (actually just more little girls with severe mental handicaps given super weapons). It all ends with massive collateral damage due to the problems encountered when giving middle schoolers 70s robot show weaponry, and a shit ton of underaged fanservice.

Now I ended up watching three episodes of this since ToeiCh.jp’s upload stuck them together (this is a ten-minute show for those who don’t know). The first episode was just annoying and predictable as hell (the place not the Dr.), the second was a little bit of an improvement, and the third was just eh. I wanna say this show is pandering trash in the same way Otomedius is pandering trash, but that would imply that there was something or someone to pander to. The show is not particularly funny for the most part and it just gets pretty annoying pretty quickly. Now if you excuse me I’m off to watch Panda Z. — Lord Dalek

Saki: The Nationals

For a show as energetic as this, it sure is boring. The characters are colorfully designed, loud, and high-spirited, but they’re in no way interesting. A lot happens in a short time within this first episode, but it feels like almost nothing happened in a span of time twice as long. It’s not that I don’t like mahjong – I actually quite enjoy it when I can wrap my head around the rules – it’s more that Saki just can’t seem to make me care. It’s competently made from a technical standpoint (though some of the voice acting grates), and the music is actually pretty good, but I could never shake the feeling that I’d rather be watching Akagi again. I struggle to write any more than this because to be honest my brain completely tuned out during the group bath scene. I really have nothing to say about this episode except that it bored me out of my mind. — Foggle

Sakura Trick

Haruka's harukas galore.

Well, Studio DEEN is bringing us a yuri series to start off this new year. At first, I wasn’t exactly impressed. But when I saw it was a yuri, I said woot bring it on, but I am sure that all of the yuri fangirls (and fanboys) all went ‘KYYYAAAA’ all over tumblr and the interwebs for sure. Anyway, Sakura Trick is about Haruka and her relationship with Yuu-chan, a perky blonde girl who she has a crush on. Of course, judging from the opening, this show goes out of its way to say ‘YAY YURI ALL THE WAY PLZ’. Sakura Trick is basically a slice of life school comedy has been done to death  by this point, but with yuri as the gimmick. So, it is much like Sasameki Koto in that respect.

It is very amusing to say the least. Haruka’s fantasy sequences are out of this world funny. The art work and animation seems at times to be taking pages out of Hidamari Sketch; Not a coincidence based on who’s directing/writing it. Sure its cheap looking, but then again being a slice of life comedy that’s par for the course. I find it all so ”D’AWW’ and ‘so adorable’.  The episode has two parts: Part One introduces our main couple and they even kiss at the end of it and kiss a few times more through the course of the episode. Part II introduces us to some other secondary couples, as apparently despite being a co-ed high school, most of the other girls are in lesbian relationships as well. There’s Yuzu and Kanade paired together along with Kotone and Shizuku paired off as well. This episode wastes not much time in establishing a very ‘in your face’ tone and attitude and I respect that a lot. Of course, they seem to balance out the straightforward approach with just so much cuteness (both in the yuri and moe).

Overall, Sakura Trick is comfortable and amusing. If you are expecting something more,  then prepare to be sorely disappointed. However, if you like your yuri sunny side up, then you can’t go wrong here. Now excuse me, while I go find a tissue; I got a rather nasty nosebleed… — The Eclectic Dude

Second Opinion!

If you’ve seen me on forums, or follow me on twitter, then you’d know that I’m pretty big on yuri. So when this season was slated to have a yuri show, I took the offer to do a write up for it in a heartbeat.

Adapted from a 4-koma comedy manga, Sakura Trick follows friends Haruka and Yuu as they enter their first year of highschool. As they make more friends on their first day, the pair decide to do something to make their relationship seem more special- by kissing each other. Episodes seem to consist of two segments, the A segment whose plot I described above, and the B segment, which has Haruka and Yuu get trapped in a classroom while making out when they were supposed to be getting lunch for a friend, and concerns their attempts to get out. I felt this was the better of the two segments, since it was focused more on humour and less on character introductions. Plus, the ending got a genuine laugh out of me, it’s very rare an anime does that.

This show was a lot more hyper than I was expecting, with a lot of SHAFT-like imagery and direction, combined with a good amount of slapstick this is one show anime full of energy. It also has more kissing than most other anime with romance I’ve ever seen. It honestly feels rather refreshing.  Haruka and Yuu may not be winning any “most well-written couple” award anytime soon, but at least they aren’t afraid to show their affection for one another. Character-wise Haruka seems like your general “clingy and ditsy” character, which are usually annoying and unbearable, but she has yet to make me reach for the knife and practice self-harm, so that’s a relief. Yuu is the more “mature” of the two, and plays off Haruka decently. Other than our main couple, there’s 4 other characters that I’m going to assume will eventually hook up. Their personalities are pretty generic, but so far likable. The characters are the most important part in any comedy, arguably more so than any other genre, and ST’s cast seems decent and likable enough as far as first impressions go.

At the end of the day I  was pleasantly surprised. Never having read the manga, I was expecting a melodrama typical of most high-school yuri that get an anime adaptation.  While there are other yuri manga I would rather see get an anime, Sakura Trick doesn’t seem too bad and has a lot of cuteness and charm to it, despite the stuido’s track record. Maybe DEEN can do something other than bad adaptations of good Visual Novels and creepy incest shit after all? — Rynnec

Seitokai Yakuindomo*

Sorry, I'm lactose intolerant.

How funny is the above image to you? If your answer was “hilarious,” stop reading this review and go watch Seitokai Yakuindomo* right now (the asterisk represents that it’s season 2). Don’t worry, it doesn’t need context, because none is given in the episode proper.

This installment begins with a bizarre non-sequitur of already-dated CG and graceless sexual jokes being spouted randomly in broken English on an airplane, but the majority of it is just graceless sexual jokes being spouted randomly in Japanese at a high school. This anime is exactly what an 80-year-old who’s never seen an episode of South Park thinks South Park is: nothing but pitiful innuendo after tired masturbation reference. Rarely do these jokes have any sort of build up or comedic timing to them, instead coming across more like middle-schoolers who giggle uncontrollably at the mere mention of the word “penis.” Sex comedy can be very funny when done well, and not every adult humor series needs scripts as witty or layered as Archer‘s, but this episode’s attempts at humor are downright depressing. I know that comedy is one of the most subjective things in existence, but it really doesn’t feel like the writer(s?) put any effort in at all.

On the plus side, the music is very good, and the animation during the action scene near the end of the episode was surprisingly nice. In fact, the presentation in itself is actually quite appealing outside of the gratuitous CG. It carries an air of light-hearted eccentricity throughout, especially in the first half, to the point where I really wanted to like this show. Unfortunately, the delightful weirdness is ruined almost immediately by the writing. The characters are barely distinguishable from each other outside of physical traits like hair color and height. Their personalities range from “girl who thinks dirty things a lot” to “girl who says dirty things a lot.” I must confess that, while I have seen pictures of the cast before on many occasions, I was completely unaware of the existence of SYD’s first season or manga until just now. Perhaps the characters are fleshed out a lot more in those and will return to being more interesting later on in this series. I’m not sure I can stomach another episode’s worth of this brand of humor, though. — Foggle

Space Dandy

R.I.P. Dandy's beautiful pompadour.

I can’t believe I had to watch a raw for this show. With commercials. Absolutely disgusting. And what is this horrible TV station it aired on? Adult Swim? Never heard of it. Where’s my Tokyo MX goddamn it!?

Ahem. If you’re a fan of classic anime, you’re probably aware of the “laid back guy does silly and/or cool things while groovy music plays” sub-genre of action-adventure shows. Space Dandy is precisely that kind of series, only with 2014 production values and a lot more self-awareness. Indeed, your enjoyment of this show will probably depend on how much you like series such as Lupin III and Space Adventure Cobra; in many ways, it hearkens back to those good old days when the best anime mainly consisted of episodic nonsense that was fun for the sake of being fun. Take away the slick visual design and smooth frame rate, and you’ve got a show that could easily be mistaken for something from the 70’s. In the best way possible.

That said, Space Dandy differentiates itself a bit by laughing at the protagonist rather than with him. Never once is Dandy made to look cool – instead, the episode tends to revel in his stupidity by way of visual gags and even entire plot points. He travels through space searching for aliens solely because he wants enough money to buy the chain of a Hooters knock-off. He lives his life haphazardly, failing to keep his equipment up to date and rarely thinking about anything before doing it. His lack of care for the well-being of himself and those around him is humorous and incredibly fun to watch. Though the first half of the episode spends a bit too long on meta jokes about how all anyone cares about these days is fanservice, the writing is fairly solid and features lots of nice character-based comedy throughout. It’s not laugh-out-loud hilarious or anything, but at least a couple of lines and the absolutely brilliant ending are bound to get a chuckle out of anyone. Also, the English dub is fantastic, with every voice actor fitting their role to a tee.

The animation is amazing, as is the music. This first episode sports multiple madcap chase scenes, both of which are a sheer joy to behold. The colorful aesthetic is very pleasing to the eyes, and the way everything energetically moves never fails to bring a smile to my face. The soundtrack, composed almost entirely of funk and jazz songs, is compulsively listenable even with all the rest of the audio layered on top of it. It’s telling that I’ve already re-watched several of the best moments on many occasions – sometimes for the animation, sometimes for the music… they’re both just that good. Space Dandy is a high-class production on all fronts, and while it may not be to everyone’s taste, it would be a shame for any anime fan to miss out on a series this enjoyable. — Foggle

Super Sonico The Animation

She seriously sleeps with her headset on?

The new Gen Urobuchi show seems a bit different from Madoka and Fate/Zero in terms of tone and content. How many episodes until this turns into a gritty, nihilistic look into the shockingly bleak underworld of the Japanese idol busine–oh. This is just a mascot show for Nitroplus and ol’ Butchie isn’t even involved. Damn.

I honestly thought this was going to be a series of four minute shorts from the plot synopsis; God knows it would have worked better like that than Pupa does. But no, somehow, some way, someone decided Super Sonico The Animation deserved 12 full length episodes. I mean, shit, who even cares about Super Sonico? I always figured Nitroplus’ mascot character was Saya. Now there’s something I would watch: Saya no Uta no Animation. But I digress, SoniAni is yet another entry in the already tiresome genre of cute idols doing cute idol things. This episode contains nothing you haven’t seen before, and probably better, elsewhere. Well, except for the fact that Sonico wears a gigantic headset throughout the entire thing. Is it surgically attached to her head? Does she have to wear it to hear properly like in Killer Is Dead? None of these questions and more are sure to be answered in future installments!

Everyone loves Super Sonico. In the show, I mean. I know this is little more than a glorified ad for visual novels, but the overblown hero worship of the protagonist gets grating around the halfway point and never lets up. Yeah, she may be clumsy, but she sure is smart and talented and hot and nice to everyone! Now, of course, there are people exactly like that in real life, but this is perhaps the most blatant waifubait wish fulfillment character I’ve seen in some time. Laugh as her five cats wake her up in the morning after four alarms fail to! Thrill as advertisers take pictures of her in her underwear! Smile as she dutifully waits tables at her grandma’s restaurant! And finally, rock out to the nondescript ending theme song played by her band. Or don’t. Maybe don’t do any of those things. — Foggle

Wake Up, Girls!

Truly, this is the Citizen Kane of anime.

In 2011, some plebeian named Akiyuki Shinbo directed a disastrous abomination of anime named Puella Magi Madoka Magica. It paled in comparison to the timeless classic, Fractale, directed by esteemed artiste Yutaka Yamamoto and released around the same period of time. For 11 all-too-short weeks, anime actually managed to surpass classical literature as the world’s finest storytelling medium. And it is with great pride that I can safely say our hero, the almighty Yamakan, has finally returned to save the industry once again, this time from the likes of such talentless hacks as Hiroyuki Imaishi and Shinichiro Watanabe, with his latest masterpiece, Wake Up, Girls!.

Perhaps I’m being unfair. WUG is not a bad anime by any means; in fact, out of all the idol shows I’ve seen, this is probably the one I hated least. It’s missing a lot of the silly antics and over the top cutesiness of past efforts like The Idolmaster, which makes it work better for me, but will probably turn off the kind of people who’d actually want to watch an idol anime in the first place. Indeed, while WUG is far from terrible, it’s depressingly lacking in charm. The characters are fairly grounded – which is a nice change of pace – but the art is ugly, the pacing slow, and the tone very cynical. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was intended as a “deconstruction” (oh, how I am loathe to use that word) of the standard boilerplate idol show. Hell, maybe the title is supposed to refer to how the main girls are all living in a fantasy world if they think they can make it as idols and need to “wake up.” I mean, this is the Fractale guy, after all.

But for now, this is just a more realistic take on the concept. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, it’s not over the top, and it’s not particularly interesting. “Realism” is a double-edged sword in this case; sure, a bunch of people sitting around a coffee table worrying about if they’ll get paid or not is closer to fact than fiction, but that’s not what people watch anime like this for. When one of the central characters is belittled by people online for being “past her prime,” it’s terrible instead of intriguing, because that’s how actual fans treat actual idols in the real world. When the group’s boss runs out with all the money and their new employer turns out to be a yakuza, it’s depressing rather than interesting, because that’s how this kind of thing generally tends to work out in real life. You know these poor girls are going to be exploited by everyone around them, and that doesn’t make for the kind of escapist entertainment audiences are looking for. Personally, I couldn’t care less about idol anime in the first place, and am always open to series that challenge the standards and preconceptions of a specific genre. But Wake Up, Girls!, while more watchable for a non-fan like me, just comes across as unnecessary and cynical. — Foggle

Witch Craft Works

You wish that was what the show was about.

So this is one of those “boy meets magical girl” shows that were big in the early 00s. I would describe this show more, but that’s basically what it is. Characters don’t offer any explanation for why they do things. When the girl saves the guy’s life in one scene, and the guy asks why, she doesn’t elaborate beyond a “because I have to”. I guess the ending will reveal she’s a childhood friend he just forgot, but this show just does not give a fuck. People act the way they do because the plot calls for it instead of any real sense of urgency.

The main characters in this show seem so stoned throughout the episode. Even when he’s on the brink of dying several times, the main guy always acts so chill, thinking “Oh hey, I’m gonna die. Maybe this is a dream, I guess.” He seldom expresses any emotion besides “Huh” no matter what happens. Even when giant CG rabbit soldiers appear to kill him, he acts all nonchalant like this is just another school day. The show’s trying to make him like Kyon with all the narration, but he’s too emotionless to offer any kind of commentary. Catatonic war veterans have more expressions than this guy.

Also, the ending song is like brown noise. — Bloody Marquis

Wizard Barristers

Don’t give tumblr any ideas Cecil.

For some reason the title “Wizard Barristers” makes me think of an aged Rumpole of the Bailey using magic powers to dispense Common Law justice on Fleet Street.  Instead we have a Yasuomi Umetsu (of Kite and Mezzo fame) production.  Given my apathy to his work, especially after being rather underwhelmed at the first episode Mezzo TV, wasn’t expecting much from this one.  There’s this girl, she’s a Wudo (a person with magical powers) who is also a wizard barrister who defends other Wudo in wizard court against a Muggle populace and police force who don’t trust them.  Yawn.

Then that first scene happened.  You know?  The one where the train veers off of the tracks and the criminal uses that Bioshock Infinite tonic that collects and redirects bullets with the exploding helicopter and the shooting and the violence.  Yeesh, that was awesome, but yeesh.  If the later run of the series continues like this, with all its elegant violence and over-the-top spectacle, then it is probably worth a watch just to see how much magic wreaks wanton destruction in the world.

Yes of course it doesn’t mean much without good characters, but it seems Wizard Barristers has them if they’re rather procedural.  Peppy all-powerful outsider, playful older sister, enigmatic lady boss, stoic asshole, by-the-books rival, you name it, the show gots it.  However they thankfully don’t do anything TOO wrong, and given the rather frayed nature of the setting the show is taking place, there may be room for some rather exhilarating and perhaps amusing interactions, especially with the rather endearing if dour police force maintaining a constant presence.

So yes, as long as it stays pretty, likable, and alluring in potential growth, Wizard Barristers may be nice escapist fare if you want what is essentially a humdrum concept animated in a unique, frenetic, and beautiful kindof way.  If not?  Then let me say that opening sequence was still awesome though wasn’t it?  Wasn’t it!? — The Juude

World Conquest Zvezda Plot

She was talking about Lincoln or something.

For this round, masked girls in their underwear fight other masked girls in their underwear with world domination at stake. That’s the closest I could get to interpreting the plot. The whole time, I was confused and a bit annoyed. Kate was the most annoying little shit throughout most of the scenes, and I was hoping the Hogan’s Heroes cosplayers would kill her before finding out they were on her side. Then there was the squid in the background, and I wondered what the hell that was about while Kate was gallivanting on about conquering the world.

I’m so flabbergasted by this show that it’s taken me an hour after watching to comprehend what was going on. In fact, I still don’t know. Most of these words you’re reading right now are just me rambling in order to get minimum word requirement. This show just drives one to be speechless. However, I’m reminded that this is from the creator of Darker Than Black. That’s the one thing stopping me from marking this show off as a mess. With a guy like that on board, you have to wonder if something’s up with the show’s plot. — Bloody Marquis

Z/X Ignition

Cardcaptor Suck-ura.

After Z/X (rhymes with sex) Ignition, I feel I’ve discovered a new sense of maturity about myself. No longer do I feel I need to know what good and bad anime are like because Z/X Ignition transcends such things. It becomes an entity unto itself free of total criticism because how can a below-average internet blogger such as myself adequately exfoliate  on the allure of such a series. That is the power of Z/X Ignition.

The story is ostensibly based on a children’s card game, but Z/X Ignition has far greater ambition, deriving its inspiration from the Bible and many fine works of cinema by Kirk Cameron. Small children use giant monsters and/or summoned warriors in a war between the Red and White Universes three years after the apocalypse occurred. The power of heaven has apparently made Kobe its chosen city and evil forces from Hell (i.e. the Americans probably) seek to conquer it. The events are actually told out of order, making the narrative far more palatable to the audience through its sheer wonderful incomprehensibleness with characters who are not properly introduced.

Obviously words fail me when discussing Z/X Ignition, so let me use a more common tongue…

THIS SHOW IS FUCKING HORSESHIT DON’T WATCH IT. — Lord Dalek

2014
01.16

*blink*

On this day in 1991, the city Baghdad was bombed, signaling the beginning of Operation Desert Storm…yes, a reference to the Gulf War was the best way to start this review, and if you go down to the comments to correct me on the date, then I only have two words for you: “time zones.” Plus, it was either this or referencing an Algerian hostage situation, and there were no hostages in this week’s Kill la Kill episode.

Following the signature “midway-through-the-show” climactic twist that director Hiroyuki Imaishi inserts into all of his animated series productions, Ryuko finds herself without a kamui and Honnouji Academy finds itself at war with Kobe, Kyoto, and Osaka; with the chopped-up pieces of Senketsu divvied up between all the students to boot. As such, most of this week’s episode focuses on the members of the Elite Four working to conquer these cities while our heroine rides like the wind after them in order to put her best friend back together again. Oh, and Mako is sightseeing in Osaka and making people shoot her with money guns. Because that’s how she rolls.

Marquis refers to this as a bit of a breather episode, and I have to agree with him on some respects. There is no serious tension for a good chunk of the episode, with none of the Elite having any trouble accomplishing their goals; with the exception of Sanageyama in the economic powerhouse that is Osaka. Our look into Ryuko’s character following the beatdown by Nui Narime is a lot shorter than I hoped, with a quick re-confirmation that she still dislikes Satsuki before donning an admittedly sweet looking sweatsuit and motorcycling off, wearing some nice shades and the sentient piece of Senketsu as a scarf. Yes, seeing the short skirmishes that Gamagoori and Jakuzure take part in was fun, but it would have been nice to see Ryuko thoughts about where she lies in all this while giving chase. After all, it doesn’t seem like she truly learned much upon losing control two episodes ago. When all is said and done, what exactly is she still fighting for?

The fruitless task of wishing for deep character study in an Imaishi project aside, I’d be lying if I said that this episode wasn’t still fun regardless. The short sequence where Mikisugi drops his disguise as a high teacher and drives off, leaving Mataro befuddled, had me in stitches. And seeing more of this show’s post-apocalyptic Japan was appreciated, since it gave us an even better feel for how this crazy world works and how it continues to compare and contrasts with our own in not-so-subtle ways. All the characters were in top-form, with Mako’s antics in Osaka and Gamagoori’s commanding of his troops against the football players in Kobe being the episode’s greatest highlights for me. And let it be known that I don’t care how half-assed their excuse for Ryuko suddenly having the power to beat up waves of goons is; she kicked ass and looked amazing while doing it.

To close, this episode was enjoyable, which is par for the course. But, I expect something fantastic to occur next week. With the only piece of Senketsu left to grab being in Satsuki’s hands, Ryuko will be forced to truly intervene in the fight for Osaka. Even if Don’t Stop Me Now doesn’t advance the plot too much, it will at least be an action-packed feast for the eyes.

2014
01.16

Any comparison to a certain ejaculation scene in most pornography is purely of your own imagination.

So we’re all across Japan fighting the law and replacing it with our own law. Gamagoori duels with Kobe Beef tanks by utilizing the sheer force of school conduct to bring the dread on these barbarians. Jakuzure beats up turtles while Inumuta helps her realize that spirit animals are a complete and baseless lie. Sanageyama gets jobbed by Hannibal Chau which only makes me sad that Ron Perlman doesn’t usually do anime. It’s pure madness in these districts, and someone out there has clearly lost their way. Also, Mako will do anything for money. Anything, so go and draw that right after you clean your hands, you crazy fan-artists.

Now this is what I would consider the breather episode instead of last week’s. While all the fights were wacky and over the top, I saw it as just more spectacle until Ryuko came back to rescue Senketsu. Maybe I was expecting too much, but sometimes a meat tank doesn’t compare to something like a Ryuko vs Elite Four rematch. With all of the Senketsu-powered Goku uniforms, I was expecting a tougher fight to get them back. Like a moment where Ryuko has trouble fighting one of the guys, and just as they gang up on her, she gets fully enraged and clobbers the lot. They already kind of do that by explaining that Ryuko’s strength is in her heart, but that’s telling rather than showing. Perhaps that’s an odd moment to complain about, but I just expected these fights to have more meat, figuratively rather than literally.

But there’s always something good among a bit of disappointment, like Takarada. I liked how he was a version of Satsuki that dealt purely in money rather than clothing. Instead of getting beaten in a few minutes by Sanageyama, he proved his weight by out-acting the guys from Kobe and Kyoto, as well as establishing himself as another reason for why Satsuki campaigns against these people. He’s a deviant overlord who controls the common men with his personal brand of Disney Dollars. If anything, he’s depicted as the despot that Satsuki’s forces have to vanquish in order to bring balance back to Osaka. Speaking of, I’m laughing at how a guy who dealt solely in money was up against someone with a red fist. It’s so unsubtle as an analogy, yet subtle in terms of execution. Those tiny artistic choices help sculpt characters in ways that sheer bombast can’t.

Now for the trip to conquer the districts, it seems a bit too easy for Satsuki’s forces to overtake these forces. Yeah, you could explain it away with Senketsu patches, but I’m wondering what else is going on behind the scenes. Maybe this fight for control is something Ragyo will use against her daughter. Maybe this quest will lead to a blind spot that Ryuko can use as an advantage. Maybe Mako will die in the crossfire (probably not). In any case, no crusade goes without a loss on both sides. As the old saying goes, it’s blood for blood.

2014
01.10

Ashita no Nadja [Pharass]

With the huge amount of animated shows that come out of Japan every year it’s natural that some are going to slip of the radar and end up in relative obscurity, even if they deserve to be more well known. The last anime I finished, a decade old shojo series titled Ashita no Nadja (Nadja of the Tomorrow/Tomorrow’s Nadja), is certainly one such show.

The story begins in England at the dawn of the 20th Century. It’s here that we meet our main character, Nadja, who has lived her whole life at the Applefield orphanage; her only memento of her parents being a brooch. At her thirteenth birthday, Nadja receives a trunk which contains a dress that once belonged to her mother, as well as a diary. Later at night, two thugs break into the orphanage and try to steal Nadja’s brooch. Nadja is saved by a mysterious man on a horse, but the orphanage is burned down. Convinced that her mother is still alive somewhere, Nadja joins a group of travelling performers: The Dandelion Troupe, to look for her.

Ashita no Nadja’s greatest strength lies undoubtedly in its cast of characters, starting with Nadja herself. Nadja could easily have become a bland and overly saccharine character, being sweet, good-natured and, aside from a certain naiveté, lacking any flaws of characters.  However, as the show goes on Nadja’s continued bravery and determination not to mention her overall compassion makes her into a very engaging heroine.

The other members of the Dandelion Troupe are all good characters in their own way, with entertaining and distinct personalities. However, only two of them – Abel, the Pierrot and Rita, the mute lion-tamer receives any sort of backstory as to why they joined the troupe in the first place.

That said, my absolute favorite character must be Rosemary; Nadja’s childhood friend who eventually becomes a major obstacle in the way of our heroine.  Rosemary’s skills as an actress combined with her penchant for manipulation makes her a splendid villain, probably the best example of a teen-age girl as an antagonist that I’ve seen since Azula (although, Rosemary anticipates the Firenation princess with a few years). She doesn’t appear all that much, but whenever she’s on screen, she steals the show.

All in all, the characterization of Nadja is of a consistently high quality and while there were certainly characters that I disliked (although those characters were not meant to be likable), I can’t think of a single character in the show that I found boring, which must certainly be among the worst sins a fictional character can be guilty of.

Ashita no Nadja’s greatest flaw lies in its pacing; after the initial episode the whole business about Nadja’s quest to find out where she comes from, who her mother is and why Rosso and Bianco keep chasing her, is put on the back-burner and instead a huge part of the series focuses on Nadja and her friends travelling around the world going on side-adventures and meeting various characters. In general these episodes are not bad and some of the characters introduced in them do get to return later on. However, I must confess that there were times when I found myself impatient, wondering when the narrative would get to the good stuff.

The long wait eventually pays off though, because once the plot kicks into high gear it never stops going and the latter part of the series is filled with sequences that are as suspenseful and gripping as anything I’ve seen in Anime, it’s just that it takes a lot of time for the show to actually get there.

In closure, I found Ashita no Nadja to be a very well-made and enjoyable series. If you’re in the mood for a good Shojo anime featuring likable characters, plenty of dramatic situations and, of course, some romance I recommend checking it out.

Just remember that patience is a virtue.

2014
01.10

If you turn that frown upside down, she kind of looks like Hajime.

Well, bait-and-switch time begins again. After a two-week hiatus, the show doesn’t do breathers at all. It feels like a huge sucker punch, giving Ryuko half an episode where she angsts about her how she can control Senketsu, only to take that away the moment she gets back on her feet. Like, you genuinely expect her to be back in full form and fight the school because Shinjiro riled her up, but the moment you see what’s behind his bangs, that’s when you remember what show this is. I remember when everybody was thinking Shinjiro would become Ryuko’s love interest or something, but that’s something a boring show would do. This series demands its audience to broaden their imagination with these kinds of moments. In hindsight, could you really look at this lone high school paperboy fighting for free speech seriously? If you did, the reveal was the series laughing at you for falling for that trick. Satsuki’s empire can be oppressive, but to expect them to suppress free press seems a little too cliché.

Speaking of, I’m still thinking that she might be good, or she thinks she’s on the good side to say the least. Perhaps she’s scheming against her mom, whose empire all over the world is portrayed as too strong to need any further campaigning. Yeah, the Kyoto-Kobe-Osaka metropolis sounds like rich territory, but plans in the show never go exactly as expected. Satsuki’s probably got an agenda, while Ragyo’s savvy enough to use Harime to stop any potential backstabbing. There’s too much ambition in each others’ speeches to not see any potential betrayal between the two. And who knows, maybe we’ve been given the wrong idea about Satsuki and what her deal is. After all, she didn’t kill Ryuko despite having every chance to do so. She even gave her a blanket.

And at Ragyo’s end, I’m interested in the “clothing is sin” motif. She admits that what she’s selling to the world is a vice, and admits it with absolute pride. To get to the root, how does clothing define sin? Besides being a sign of straying from God, as Ragyo attests, clothing can lead to decadence. Clothing can define cultures, like the dresses of Queens who want to show they mean business. Clothes can play with the mind, giving a stark contrast to what the wearer actually means in order to screw with people. It’s like how wearing a good business suit can automatically win an interview. Superficiality can be our greatest weapon in the world, whether it be for sport or for bloodshed, and Ragyo offers that proposal when delivering her speech.

So as clothing is sin, where does that put Ryuko? As of the end of this episode, she’s lost Senketsu and is up against an entire army, if not armies if Satsuki does splinter from her mother. But that doesn’t mean she has nothing, since she still has Nudist Beach to go to. Maybe Tsumugu can teach her a few things. He could become a bad guy, but that would be too silly even for the show’s standards. While the show can be random, a close look through can demonstrate a thread connecting things together.

2014
01.03

It’s a new year, and that means it’s the perfect time to reflect on the previous one! Please join us as we discuss some of our favorite and least favorite anime of 2013. (There certainly were a lot of shows involving scissors in some major way last year. Don’t know what’s up with that.) Oh yeah, there was also that show about the giant naked people everyone loves. We don’t talk about it here, but yeah, Battle of Onslaughting Eotenas was good too. I ship Armin and Levi.

Bloody Marquis’ Picks

To be honest, I don’t really know what to say about myself as a blogger. I had half a mind to just take an Obama speech and replace any references to politics with anime, then call it a day. But that would be the lazy way out, so I could probably say that writing articles about Oreimo, Korra, and et cetera has probably helped broaden my style. After all, blogging is just another way to train yourself how to write. I will probably never be the guy who can whip out novella-length essays about shows, but you never know.

Monogatari Series: Second Season

I suppose that asking me my thoughts on Monogatari would be like asking Harlan Ellison his thoughts on James Cameron movies, so I’ll get my grievances out first. Monogatari’s the show with wonderful ideas and a very interesting approach to direction, but without someone who can reign in the often-questionable writing. Even the arcs I like have meandering discussions on scenes that just happened a second ago, causing the series to thoroughly ignore the “Show, don’t tell” approach to storytelling. Granted, there are points where the show uses dialogue as strength instead of a crutch, like in the scenes between Kaiki and Senjougahara. It’s a conversation between a dealer and his Faustus, with the two only being allied on the thinnest of terms in order to stop a greater threat. There was little interference by Araragi, and it felt like the show I was actually promised when I first heard about the series.

Kaiki is the protagonist that more light novels could use, a cynical guy working for his own ends who could easily outwit the head-in-the-clouds teenage leads. He didn’t fight for a better world, or for his friends, or any of that. He was in it for the business, which ironically gave him a more human outlook than a few of the other characters. Kaiki knew that what he did throughout his life was immoral, so he desired money in order to worm his way out of those troubles. In his words, “Money talks even in hell.” So while he was a bastard, he was a bastard this show needed. I salute Kaiki for that.

No Matter How I Look At It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!

I’m finding it hard to come up with a unique reason to love this show. Is it because it’s funny? Do Tomoko’s antics earn my empathy? Yes and yes, but these and many other reasons have been used to describe the appeal of this show. It’s easy to say “I love this show because Tomoko is basically me as an anime character!” or any variation of the phrase. After all, why would anyone admit to being like Tomoko? She exhibits the worst traits of human behavior without resorting to actual violence. She gives as much apathy as she gets, treating everyone around her as a potential stepping-stone to being popular. But then again, people have those moments. Where characters like Daria are the asocial teenagers we would have wanted to be, Tomoko’s the character some of us probably were in real life. Okay, not exactly, but you know there have been more than a few moments in the show that have mirrored your own to an excruciating extent. People have had moments where their parents catch them doing something embarrassing, or when their younger cousin stops idolizing them, or when they’re struggling to keep up with old acquaintances. Tomoko represents all of those failures, whether she is the victim or the instigator.

That’s what makes Tomoko interesting to me, in that many of her downfalls are often of her own creation. She probably wouldn’t be so unpopular if she just sat down and thought about what she was doing with her life, and that’s what strikes a chord, that sometimes we are the cause of our own misery. Sometimes, we create our own roadblocks without fully realizing it. But instead of admitting to that, we project that trouble onto other people like how Tomoko blames her unpopularity on everyone else. By doing that, she’s the mirror to her viewers, telling them that they can do better. We might think the world’s out to get us, but that’s more often that not the mind’s fog blinding us from a potential helping hand. Through all the times Tomoko fails to achieve any of her desires, it becomes bizarrely moving in a sense. And in some cases like the vibrator scene, it becomes hilariously cringeworthy.

Psycho-Pass

The cyberpunk genre has always grabbed me, with theories on how technology can either amplify or subtract from the human spirit. I always liked that aspect, questioning whether we as a species will grow too dependent on computers to abide by our own ideas. Psycho-Pass takes a pretty simple stance—whether or not dependence on authority takes away free will—and not only ponders on the subject, but forces characters like Akane and Shinya to see what it feels like to be on both sides. The two central leads are people working for the oppressive system, yet they’re quite aware and want to see changes to the status quo. They aren’t often reactionary and want to see something realized, without issues like the Sibyl system forcing them into a conclusion. But even though they work to uphold a sterile and often Orwellian society, the crimes they face make one wonder if civilization can truly be free without descending into chaos.

The villains such as Makishima see themselves as freedom fighters trying to bring emotion back into a stoic world, which would be a noble goal if not for abrasive methods like poisoning food supplies. So were brought to question if anarchy is preferable to utilitarianism, with those “Do the ends justify the means?” or “Is true peace really a good thing?” questions that Urobuchi usually puts in his shows. Yeah, there are plenty of bad shows that have asked those questions, but they came up with dud answers. Psycho-Pass gives equal weight to both sides, with Makishima’s literary allusions enlightening his goal while Akane struggles to keep her optimism afloat. The show likes to play with that idea, how good ideals can be led by bad people and vice-versa. And I hope that the second season will advance these concepts further.

Foggle’s Picks

Over the past year, I’ve learned a lot about myself – not just as a blogger, but as a person. I’ve become a much more positive guy in general, preferring to give people (and anime) the benefit of the doubt when possible. Being an asshole can be fun, but I look back at some of my old blog posts now and can do nothing but groan for behaving in such an immature way. Unlike nearly everyone to ever appear on a reality show, I am here to make friends. Make no mistake, I still enjoy being snarky and making jokes when possible… I just think I should be nicer about it. There’s enough negativity out there already, and I’d rather not add to that if I can help it. Then again, Diabolik Lovers exists. I can’t very well be positive about that abomination.

Diabolik Lovers

Diabolik Lovers is one of the most vile TV anime I’ve ever seen – perhaps ever made. This is a show where the watchability of any given episode can be determined based on the number of rape/attempted rape scenes it has. It romanticizes such delightful concepts as sexual assault, domestic abuse, stalking, false imprisonment, incest, the list goes on. As watching anime has mostly become a social thing for me these days, there are few shows I don’t eventually end up finishing – this is one of them. While I can usually force myself to sit through even the worst anime, I legitimately could not get past the 2/3 point of this one. On the rare occasion that it’s not being disgustingly misogynistic, it’s downright boring, ensuring that no enjoyment can ever be wrung from any of its 12 painful episodes. Avoid at all costs.

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a series that needs no introduction. To many, it’s the definitive battle shounen (now seinen) manga, having run for 27 straight years without any sign of losing steam or running low on creativity. It is, perhaps, the most consistently excellent long-running series of its kind, and the second half of the TV anime adapts the majority of Part 2 – the story arc where it truly came into its own. If you like your action shows badass, silly, and more than a little homoerotic, you absolutely cannot go wrong with JoJo’s. At times its cheapness definitely shows through, potentially turning multiple scenes into little more than a slice of motion comic, but fantastic art design, voice acting, and music make it an extremely fun watch all the same. In spite of the obviously low budget, JJBA’s presentation stops just short of perfect. Music is a very integral part of the JoJo’s experience, even in the manga, and Taku Iwasaki’s compositions during the Battle Tendency arc are nothing short of brilliant; meanwhile, Coda’s “Bloody Stream” has quickly become one of my all time favorite anime openings, and Yes’ “Roundabout” fits perfectly as the ending theme. Definitely give this one a watch if you’ve yet to experience Hirohiko Araki’s truly *bizarre* epic (or just go read the original manga).

Kill la Kill

What can I possibly say about Kill la Kill that I haven’t said already? It’s an eccentric, fast-paced, ridiculous, and surprisingly smart homage to the crazy battle shounen series of yesteryear. It’s low budget but very well-directed, with extremely fun-to-watch action scenes and an awesome art style that seems to pull equally from both anime and western animation. It’s filled with loveable characters – both protagonists and antagonists alike – and sports an eclectic soundtrack that greatly benefits every scene. Kill la Kill doesn’t break new ground or rewrite the book on action cartoons, but it doesn’t have to. Much like Gurren Lagann before it, this is a show for people who love anime, plain and simple. It embraces many of the stupid tropes every fan of the medium knows all too well, cranking them up to increasingly over the top levels while simultaneously putting its own unique spin on things. It never feels too familiar or unfamiliar, and is sure to keep a smile firmly planted on your face… provided you can handle director Hiroyuki Imaishi’s trademark insanity and a metric ton of partial nudity.

Meganebu!

Meganebu! is the perfect example of a show that is – for all intents and purposes – beyond saving. Every single aspect of it, right down to the most minute details, is objectively terrible. And yet, I can’t help but love it. When viewed as a bizarre comedy, a farce deliberately poking fun at low quality fanservice shows targeted toward fujoshi, Meganebu! serves only to provide hearty laughs. It’s the same kind of surreal “humor” you’d expect to see in a perpetually death-slotted live action sketch show on Cartoon Network at 3:00 in the morning, but (presumably) accomplished by accident.

The jokes are nothing short of awful, but they’re so lame and horribly presented that they end up becoming brilliant. The incessant references to glasses – hell, even the sheer concept of a glasses club – will numb your mind within minutes, and by the end of the first installment, you’ll never want to hear anyone say “megane” ever again. The color scheme is bewilderingly ill-advised; so obnoxiously bright and vivid that it could potentially cause someone to need glasses if they were to watch multiple episodes in one sitting. The overall direction is often reminiscent Shaft on a bad day. The music is a nonsensical hodgepodge of groovy tunes, including a beautiful sting that happily announces “meganebu-uuuuuu!” Each episode ends with a non-horoscope and live action footage of random landmarks in Japan with glasses strategically strewn about them. And let’s not forget the pointless glasses imagery inserted into every single scene.

There is nothing good about Meganebu!, and that’s precisely why it’s amazing. It embodies the very essence of Studio Deen, to the point where the line between animated abortion and biting satire is irreconcilably blurred. I can’t help but love it for that.

Samurai Flamenco

I have no idea what to think about this show anymore. It became a fast favorite of mine over the course of its brilliant first seven episodes, which played out like a more down-to-earth and heartfelt version of Kick-Ass or Super. Masayoshi’s exchanges with Goto and others about becoming a real life Kamen Rider were filled with dry wit, and the creative ways in which his story gradually played out were intelligent and unique. However, everything changed with the unexpected plot twist halfway through. Now Samurai Flamenco has turned into a legitimate hero show, and while it’s still extremely fun to watch, I can’t say I like the new direction nearly as much as that of the initial installments. The superhero stuff is deliciously meta and ridiculous enough to be enjoyable, but the soul of the less absurd early episodes is sorely missed. I’d still absolutely recommend this series to any fan of superheroes and comedy, but I do so with a lot more trepidation than I would have had it stayed the course.

Lord Dalek’s Picks

So 2013 for me will probably best remembered as “The Year Hipsters Killed Gatchaman” (fuck you Nakamura). Not a great crop of shows by any stretch (and many were just downright dire) but some stuff held up better than others. Here now are three shows which one cour or more in 2013 that I would consider amongst my top shows of the year (and two which…no).

Blood-Lad

Blood-Lad, like Magi, is just dumb fun, but on a more satirical level. It features a good hearted if somewhat goofy protagonist going on a quest to bring the girl he is smitten with back from the dead in a plot is unashamedly lifted from many an Akira Toriyama book. And that’s perfectly ok, because that’s the joke. This is literally a love letter to 80’s shonen shlock and wears its influences like a badge of pride. Furthermore, the animation by Brains Base is fluid and the pacing never stops piling on moments that keep getting more and more comically absurd. Summer 2013 for me largely sucked. Blood-Lad and, to a lesser extent, Rozen Maiden Zuruckspulen, were the high points for me, and out of those two, Blood-Lad is the easiest to recommend.

Flowers of Evil

This show…. oh god… this show. Look its one thing to slag on the rotoscoping, which obviously looked fricken horrible, but that’s not the real problem. The problem is the story is terrible, the characters are worse, it goes absolutely nowhere at a pace slower than molasses, and the final episode just wastes our time with a bizarre pseudo-clip show of further chapters of the manga. None of which will be animated because Flowers of Evil sold a grand total of 6 copies in Japan and will likely do the same in the US despite the hilariously inaccurate overpraise by ANN who blew what measly reputation they had left in the process. Flowers of Evil… your horribleness is so damn obvious that you destroyed a website. Way to go!

From The New World

SSY started out last year and fairly slowly to boot with a group of preteens in the far distant future discovering the horrible truth of their idyllic existence. By the time the series entered its second cour in Winter of this year, that horrible truth began to seep out and manifest itself in a web of mind control and paranoia. Soon the original five kids were whittled down to just two, and the final arc set several years later showed the ultimate cost of their actions. To say the least, SSY’s third part is nothing short of a panicked adrenaline rush that poses a lot of questions about the ethics of nature vs. nurture and what makes people a so-called “superior being”, with tragic consequences. Because of that, SSY is, of all the shows that aired in 2013,  probably the one that effected me the most on an emotional level (yes even more than Jojo’s). Its not a perfect series, the animation is crap, and the protagonists are a but under characterized, but that’s not important, its the experience, and this show offered one nothing else did this year.

Magi: The Labyrinth and Kingdom of Magic

By all accounts I should hate this. The plot is riddled with holes and continuity errors. The characters are pretty stock shonen stereotypes. Its written by FUCKING HIROYUKI YOSHINO. Etc, etc. And yet… I love it. Magi is probably the only shonen on right now that I actually look forward to on a regular basis. Its just fun, balancing incredible stupidity with surprisingly complex and dark themes. That and it looks gorgeous with better than average animation quality most of the time (there’s the occasional hiccup here and here). I hate to sound like a broken record here but its a crime that season 1 isn’t on Toonami already. Just…a crime.

Unbreakable Machine-Doll

This is literally everything that is fucking wrong with modern day anime boiled down to a disgusting, sexist, puerile mass that goes absolutely nowhere. Fanservice overkill, annoying characters (YAAAAAYAAAAAAA! RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaIIIIIIIIIIIIsHIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIN!), stupid unconnected plots, an ending that resolves nothing and just trails off into the silence, it just goes on and on. For whatever reason, Funi decided to license Machine-Doll before it aired in Japan, expecting it to fly off shelves. …yeah that ain’t happening.