2014
04.29

Editor’s Note: Hello and Welcome to After the Cel Shading, where we down the triumphs and trip-ups of recently finished cartoons like glasses of iced tea/cyanide smoothies/whatever.  Hopefully you didn’t understand the reference, but this is something I want to do to get myself off the ground as well as help to encapsulate a number of opinions that would either be lost on Twitter or on some random forum.  So have fun, or not, but probably you should.  Maybe get angry as well dependent on my opinions.  If I do a good job on that, I can at least hope to see you again wondering what stupid things I will have to say.  It’ll be just like reading an cartoon version of Armond White.

With that out of the way… Archer Vice.

I didn’t need Archer Vice.  I’m sure nobody else did either.  Season 4 was good enough that had they continued the spy game in Season 5, we would doth not protest.  Alas, we didn’t get that.  We got a serialized season of intrigue, pregnancy, outlaw country, addiction, coups, cocaine, that initially was hyped with a high-faluting three minute fantasy in Sterling’s head during the premiere.  Needless to say, that was the best three minutes of the season.

So the better question then is: does everything else follow through with that fantasy’s promises?  Eeeeeh yes and no.  Any daring of this caliber to pull the rug out from under the show at some kind of prime (personally the show hit its apogee with the Heart of Archness three-parter), should be bronzed, put on a wooden base, and placed at the top of your fireplace for all to see.  It was a hoot to see how the now-broken ISIS agency has to band together and reclaim some form of prestige after their fall from grace, and reveals how incredibly at ease the creative staff is with this show.  As such it looks like they can work with these characters in a fashion that does not sacrifice character consistency when the status quo not so much shifts, but half-capsizes like an Italian cruise liner*.

The entire plot of selling cocaine while trying to make a country music star out of Cheryl makes for endearing television here, as like the schadenfreude-addicted plebes we are, relish in wondering how Archer and crew muck everything up.  Satisfyingly they do.  I’m loath to showcase a number of hilarious circumstances that is easily best watched than described, but suffice to say the cast retains their rather abrasive yet close-knit dynamic.  There must be something to a show that, regardless of how incredibly low the characters are and how much they annoy each other to the point of wanting to murder each other, that there’s a lingering sense of pathos in whatever they do.  I can’t help but smile when Archer and a cocaine-addicted Pam are teamed up in an adventure with terms like ‘lickbag’, or when Archer tries to dote on a pregnant Lana in his own Archer way, or when Archer, Cyril, and Ray get stuck in a Latin American country, or when (don’t worry this is the last one) Mallory switches between overly-protective concern for him to her usual octogenarian, psychological, dominatrix mode.   It is comforting to see no sacrifices to their appeal to despicableness and/or maudlin sentimentality.

On the other hand, there was a fair bit of sacrifice, and not exactly for the better.  If you thought it was for the better, then your mileage varies with mine.  The shift from episodic free-for-alls to a serial free-for-all does not give a lot of room for creativity.  With every previous season of Archer, you are always swamped with anticipation on what hare-brained adventure he is going to go on, and that each will be different from the last.  Here it has to be rather unambitious in that regard for the sake of continuing their sordid cocaine dealing schemes.  In fact it kindof just… winds down TOO early for its own good.

The stakes never really are raised to a high degree as Archer and company ALWAYS failed to sell off their cocaine.  I’m well aware this is to highlight how gloriously incompetent they are even in drug dealing, but they seem to kick that ball down the road much longer than it should’ve gone.  The time when they at least ONE success in the fuck-up, we are already at the season finale and it’s only in a non-descript Latin American state.  Suddenly it just feels like a more ribald season of Burn Notice, where a top spy’s meddling in international locales is mostly relegated to the Caribbean and/or Latin America.  Weren’t we supposed to go to Laos this season?  Gyp.  Had it been a bit tighter with regards to things going really really bad, then maybe I wouldn’t complain as much but it seems like wasted potential.

What was also wasted potential was the ability of Cheryl and Pam to be their spontaneous selves.  In every episode in the last season they’re always doing something incredibly wrong that’s unique to the episode, whether it’s Pam humping an gyro or Cheryl tripping on LSD-laced gummy bears.  Here, near about the halfway point of the season, I already get it that Pam is way too into cocaine and Cheryl yells “OUTLAW COUNTRY” a bit too much.  Her career doesn’t even get off the ground enough to showcase how worse things can get.   At the end of it all it just descends into an amusing but way too late coup of a state, with chaos sort of drinking a mai tai and somewhat halfassing the climax.

I'm disappointed Cyril is there because "Girls Und Pam-zer"

This all made me wish that my initial speculation, that the entire fantasy Archer had was all a lie and that they’d give us something MUCH more demented for the season, was real.  Instead Archer Vice stretched itself way too much for its own good and really let the serial nature get the better of it.  Still, I laughed, I smiled, and felt a tinge of good feelings when Lana finally had her baby, so it’s not all a loss.  If next season’s deboot can bring us the same wanton intensity of the pre-Archer Vice seasons craziness that’s unique to each episode, I’m sure things will be fine.

Still, as much as I enjoyed Archer Vice, I’ll reiterate that I didn’t need it.  However, I’m glad that it was done.

* So half-capsize.  Is it a hapsize then?  Half-a-cap?  Demi-capsize?  There’s a word for it but I don’t know what it is.

2014
04.28

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: Last week I used the term “Avidya Zone” to describe the evil dome on the other side of town. From this point forward I will be using “Lightless Realm” which is what they use in the official Daisuki subs)

Well last week’s episode was the usual blur of confusion, annoyance, and ambivalence I get from Mari Okada’s fine catalog of work. WILL THIS EPISODE BE AN IMPROVEMENT?!?! (nope)

Enzyte'll fix that.

So anyway, Minashi, the jogger who was also out that night when Akashi had to save Emiru from the Red Poop, has joined the Exploration Team for some reason. Considering he’s actually a bigger moron than Emiru and kind of a creeper, I’m not sure if this is an improvement. It really doesn’t matter as much of this episode is concerned with the next new member of the M3 gang, Heito (get it? HATE-O!) Isaku, a shallow Accelerator clone who’s been locked in a padded cell for several years after murdering his family in cold blood. Now that he’s out of the the pen, Heito wants only one thing, a giant robot called The Argent but nicknamed “The Reaper” due to its habit of giving its would-be pilots violent and terrifying visions that drive them insane.

The Wit and Wisdom of Mari Okada.

MEANWHILE, the Exploration Team’s instructor, a boorish man who gropes Maamu’s… maamus, winds up getting killed by the Red Poop. This occurring just moments after Maamu (being the Tomoko Kuroki clone that she is) wrote in her journal about how he’d get murdered, as well as Emiru, because let’s face it, Emiru is the stupid bitch of the show. Emiru of course has to just find this journal and not particularly pleased about her being a murder victim, drags Maamu off to the creepy abandoned hospital where The Reaper has been stored. Frankly I have no idea why this plot is doing here other than “Hey! We need to create a potential hostage situation! Allow the two girls to get captured by Accelerator NOT! so that boring guy can save them!”

Nah he's just Kirito.

Speaking of Akashi, he’s still a dick. He spends the entire episode strutting around, calling Emiru a slut, and then gets a new robot because The Argent decided he was Pikachu or something. As for Raika and Iwato, they just stand around and fill up the background again. Clearly this show has SUCH GREAT CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT!

OTP This season.

The problem with this episode is pretty simple, there are two plots, and neither of them are interesting or memorable. Hell I had to strain my brain just to try to remember the point of the “B” plot (or was that the “A” plot?).  In one story, you have a bunch of characters who are bitchy and forgettable, in the other you have one who is psychotic and forgettable. And then there’s the crux of the thing, The Argent, which is introduced in a flury of blink and you’ll miss it technobable exposition and barely amounts to anything more than a glorified Wing Zero clone only to then give up to King Dickweed Akashi almost immediately. Why should I care? What is the point? Where is this going? Who am I supposed to root for? Etc. If the next 22 weeks are anything like the first two, I jump ship early. 4/10

 

2014
04.27

So if you rub Tatsuya's head, does he spit in your eye?

So, is anybody else in the mood for dogmatic discourse on class issues that come from surely has to be a myopic viewpoint? That one speech at the end of the episode swallowed up what would have been just another bad entry, causing this anime to be painted as propaganda or whatever. There are many things that must be assessed when viewing Tatsuya’s speech on equality being a means to a contemptuous end, and how there is justification in the gap between median incomes. The first of which asks how Tatsuya can paint this Blanche movement in such a disdainful way. He just met a girl who complained about being discriminated against, and now he’s siding against her ideals because he thinks rallying against prejudice is just a “wolf in sheep’s clothing” tactic?

And I cannot really take Tatsuya’s speech seriously when he lives in a lavish apartment, with a doting sister and many connections to the elite. He sounds like one of those aristocrats who think the poor choose to be poor, believing that study and training are all it takes to establish a person’s rank. Because the faction of poor people definitely doesn’t include doctors or professors, right? And the people at this magic high school are definitely focused on studying, seeing as how we mostly seem them eat lunch and pick fights with one another. It just makes Tatsuya seem like he’s on his high horse judging those below him instead of working by their side. I know the show tries to balance that by saying he’s a lowly Weed, but everything he’s done in the last three episodes does not even hint that he could be underprivileged.

It feels almost as stupid as Code Geass in having who basically amounts to a noble complaining about the lower class’ ability to act, except even Code Geass depicted some aristocrats as only achieving their status purely through nepotism. Here, there’s nothing to make Tatsuya’s approach seem anything more than a strawman argument. He might have a stronger case once we see what Blanche has done so far, unless they’re portrayed as purely villainous who vouch for equality in name only. And from appearances that consist of a faceless guy running from Tatsuya and a shady Sugou clone, my hopes for a story that can depict class struggles without resorting to one-dimensional caricatures diminish ever so.

And I’d also like to believe this was a one-time occurrence in the show to be creepily political and deprecating on other people, but that’s another delusion. The nurse scene where Tatsuya ridicules the lady for not dressing in proper attire while close-ups of her breasts and thighs fill the screen give the wrong vibes. Digging up Susan B. Anthony’s grave and pissing on her bones would be subtler than what Mahouka does in that scene. Then you look at the society they’re in, where any change to the status quo is met with instant hostility, and this magic high school feels like a conservative smorgasbord. For all this Weed/Bloom talk, the behavior and actions of the students in this school lean to an order-driven stance. Everyone’s meant to be upbeat and adhere to the system, while students like Sayaka Mibu have to lurk in the corners if they require help. Eat from your bento boxes and smile quietly, while any challenges will be met with violence. And if you don’t have magic to fight back, I guess it’s stiff upper lip time.

And as an aside, when will they show off the magic and political corruption instead of exposit on the technicalities? You don’t need to explain for several episodes about how you shoot stuff out of your hands, especially since that explanation goes down the tube once Tatsuya pulls out a new ability. And if you’re going to say there’s a terrorist organization beneath the seams, then show why they’re terrorists or how they commit acts of terror instead of sit in a room and quietly discuss how evil they are. Literary theory lectures have more emotion to them than anything that comes out of Tatsuya’s mouth (or in, considering his reaction to the guy back there).

2014
04.26

I love these shows as much as I always have, but I’m looking forward to making it to the second season for these shows. Ah well, at least I’m just about to hit double digits, and there’s some great stuff to look over here.

Dexter’s Laboratory:

Doll House Drama

Ho man, this is one of the most memorable stories from the first season. Well, it’s one of mine at least. How else are you going to see a macho manboy like Dexter play with dollies? Well, there is something later on in the show where that similarly occurs, but for now, let’s look at this one.

In this one, Dexter uses a shrink ray to find out why Dee Dee isn’t messing with his room, only to discover she’s playing with dollies. The shrunken Dexter is unwillingly coerced into portraying Dee Dee’s soap opera fantasies, but not just out of Dee Dee’s request. This is how the episode plays out- Dexter’s shrink ray gives him delusions into believing that he’s really a pawn in the Doll House Drama storyline, and he plays along.

What makes this so fascinating is that one of the key elements between Dexter and Dee Dee’s relationship is how they perceive reality vs. fantasy. In one hand, Dexter is the more grounded, as he sticks down to earth, and portrays cold, heard evidence in his scientific endeavors, while Dee Dee is so much more playful and joyous.

The way this is flipped is, however, is true to their ages- Dee Dee is a pre-adolescent, still childish in many ways, but has lived long enough to know when play time ends, and when it’s time to act serious. In this regard, Dexter still has some growing up to do and often reverts to playtime when the real world is calling. Dee Dee may fool around in her brother’s room, but this is merely her playtime, how she lets out energy and expresses herself. To her, she and Dexter are just playing dollies.

But right now, Dexter can’t see that. Whether this is actually a kink from one of his inventions which needs fixing, or his mentality coming into play is debatable, but Dexter does believe that he’s a soap opera character, complete with tan evil (robotic) twin and the ghost of his old love. He can’t see beyond Dee Dee’s clichéd narrative, and nearly wrecks everything in the process.

Dee Dee the big sister doesn’t come into play here during the episode, as this character trait of hers later will, but as an example of their different worldview points, this episode works. And as a comedic story, it’s a damn fine one as well. Already the show has hit into a sweet groove for the two characters as Dexter plays muse to Dee Dee’s auteur. Even without Dexter’s trademark pretention, this is a classic standard of the show’s form that uses both characters splendidly. Dee Dee also isn’t dumbed down, which is another appreciated change of pace which starts this half-hour off well.

Oh, and kudos for the Monkey jack in the box. I want one!

Krunk’s Date

Let the Marvel fanboy name-drop the other spoofs in this episode before I get to anaylsis. Now obviously this episode starts with the Justice Friends fighting their foes, the Injustice Fiends, a Masters of Evil of sorts. The leader is named Comrade Red, possibly Major Glory’s archenemy and a dead-ringer for Baron Zemo, who also lead the Masters of Evil’s greatest storyline against the Avengers. Then there’s Von Hellen, who I had to look up. An obvious foe for Valhallen, he seems to be a cross between Ulik the Invincible and Malekith (the villain you probably don’t remember from The Dark World) as opposed to a more obvious Loki reference. And hey, Leaping Bullet is back with the Justice Friends! Remember him from the Monkey story “Rassler”? Probably not.

There’s one more obvious super hero reference here- the titular date for Kronk. But She-Thing, the Injustice Fiend’s answer to the Friends’ ultra-powered buddy, does form a quick connection to good old Kronk. Granted, I never recalled She-Hulk being a villain, but that’s neither here nor there.

As a genuine love story, this is kind of hard to take too seriously, since it’s so brief and the two barely form a connection together. Even Disney movies take longer for their leads to fall in love. On the other hand… when are these two goofballs going to find someone else nearly as compatible as one another? There aren’t too many big, bulky purple radioactive brutes out there. And at least S&P spares us from a hulky sex scene.

On the other hand, let’s reconsider their romantic bonding together. Besides the humanized dating tropes of eating outside on a picnic blanket (something few people do anymore), going to a movie (where they can’t talk, unless they want to aggravate everyone in the cinema, and taking goofy pictures, their bonding gets wackier. The two compliment each other as one another smashes their teammates’ heads into the ground, practice their roars, and compare damage done. Now this trip into the mindset of the Kronks is far more fascinating than seeing the purple buggers act like humans.

Since this short is kind of vanilla, instead of talking much more about it, I’ll take this chance to lament about the fact that Gennedy didn’t take the chance to have the Justice Friends shorts have a different art style. The UPA/classic Hanna-Barbera –influenced look that Dexter has works fine for the show, but imagine the Justice Friends being made with a Kirby or Romita-influenced layout. Not only would it make the shorts feel more authentic to their silver age spoofs and set itself apart from the rest of the show, this would STILL work in comparison with Dexter. The silver age looks isn’t too far off from the handsome designs of Hanna-Barbera’s earliest creations, even if your average Marvel comic had more detailed-looking characters. A slight dumbing down of Kirby’s iconic structural influence would have made these shorts pop.

The Big Cheese

I called “Doll House Drama” one of the most memorable episodes from season 1, but all of a sudden, this gem came back into my life. I can’t say that I remember the exact scenario in which I saw this short for the first time, but I remember incessantly bugging anyone in my zone with references to omelette du fromage!

But why a cheese omelet? Well first of all, that’s not even how you pronounce even spell the thing, but think about French stereotypes. They’re romantic, and omelette du fromage sounds kind of frisky in the right phrasing. They like cheese and wine, and this is definitely cheesy, but you kind of can’t mention alcohol in kids shows. And they’re supposed to love Jerry Lewis, but that’s actually a massive overstatement which the French want you to forget immediately. And that has nothing to do with this episode, so I’ll leave that be.

This is a damn funny cartoon whose joke relies on one word, repeated over and over again to massive success, only to end in failure. This probably wouldn’t have worked at all if Christine Cavanaugh wasn’t so fantastic as Dexter. It took her maybe two lines to fully transform her raspy voice into this shrubby little boy genius, and she sells each line perfectly. Each repeating of the episode’s iconic phrase has a slightly different reflection to it, which is what makes the episode and performance so damn memorable.

Johnny Bravo:

Substitute Teacher

We haven’t seen Johnny at his karate studio yet, have we? It says a lot about the character that he’s a 20-something year old in a class full of kids who have to be 10 and under, but I would argue that this is part of his charm rather than a creepy factoid. Johnny’s basically a little kid at heart, but he means well. At least with kids and karate. I wouldn’t defend Johnny’s attitude towards women for a second.

Mr. Goodman, Johnny’s instructor, is rightfully annoyed at the dolt for his general buffoonery, and this endeavor won’t do Johnny any favors in winning him over. No one would be surprised to find out that Johnny hasn’t seen or read too many burglar stories, since he doesn’t recognize the suspicious looking man in a bandit mask, even after poor Mr. Goodman’s tied up.

Such a silly episode, this one. Johnny’s naiveté often gets in the way from letting him see the truth for the majority of the time, but that does result in some of the show’s best material, and this is a decent one. It takes no time at all for Johnny and the burglar, the substitute teacher in question, to evoke many of the most recognizable action tropes, yet somehow not touch any from your most notable martial arts films. They even run through a fruit stand!

As an embracement of the reluctant buddy adventure movie, I say he short succeeds. Of course, Johnny is the Lennie, while the burglar is George, which is where the likability comes in Johnny’s sincerity. He honestly believes that he’s learning great martial arts secrets, which proves how stupid he is, but makes for delightfully wacky situations.

This adventure is Johnny at his wackiest, most gullible, as he believes everything the baddie says, only for him to rightfully get his ass handed to him. Already the audience has grown accustomed to the fact that Johnny is a moron, and this isn’t telling us anything too different, but just playing more with the laughs.

A Wolf in Chick’s Clothing

The first season of Johnny had a high number of random episodes in which Johnny befriends (or sometimes even dates) an unlikely ally, and has to deal with the ordeals of trailing along with them for the episode. The previous story had him do crimes with a burglar, for example. This is a formula that was more or less dropped the following season, with Johnny usually teamed up with a lady of higher intelligence or one of his supporting characters instead.

I consider these to be improvements, since the side characters on the show (besides Mama and Suzy, we’ll meet some more next year) are rather well defined characters, and most of the women Johnny goes on adventures with are given actual personalities for him to combat with. Opposed to the writers hoping that him spending time with a camel will instantly come with some inspired comedic bits.

Another thing the first season of JB had a surprising abundance of were Halloween-themed episodes. The Scooby-Doo crossover kind of counts as one, but he’d have to deal with other supernatural creatures during this year, and CN wisely would air one or two of the half hours where these episodes came from each October for a good while.

This is one of those. And it does make sense that one of the few women who would willingly date Johnny Bravo is actually a werewolf. In her defense though, the lady’s human design is quite handsome.

It’s actually kind of depressing to see Johnny have a successful date end up being as much of a waste as it is. Johnny keeps his chauvinistic ways out of the equation tonight as he tries to give his date a nice time, only hoping that in return she successfully returns to human form when sunrise comes. Johnny usually deserves what’s coming to him, but sometimes everyone deserves a happy ending. Even Tom and Jerry secede every now and then!

Thankfully, this is a funny episode, even with the jokes mostly revolving around doggy humor. Sometimes it’s just funny to see a werewolf try to act like people, and not eat people for a change. Johnny gets a good reaction here and there to let the audience in on how well aware he is of the insanity going on.

Intensive Care

I mentioned Suzy earlier, but we haven’t really seen her all that much lately to my recollection (I think episode 6 was the last time she showed up to my knowledge. Wait, she had a very brief role in “The Day the Earth Didn’t Move Around Very Much”, but that’s not what people remember from it).

Here, she features somewhat prominently, as the poor little girl just had her tonsils taken out, which causes Bunny to get her son to dress up as a clown for her. Embarrassment often adds onto more embarrassment, so it’s no surprise that after Johnny comes out in his clown suit, he meets Suzy’s sexy nurse and… we all know what’s coming.

After finding Johnny somewhat relatable in the previous short, it’s nice to see him delightfully repugnant here. Delightful in that watching his ass get handed to him is a hoot, especially as the nurse’s co-worker, the slimy, Peter Lorre sound-alike Alphonse, doles out the punishment. And he doesn’t let go.

In some ways, this is treated like a strange cross between a cartoon from the golden age and a Corman-esq horror film, with traps for Johnny becoming increasingly elaborate. The further Johnny gets into the pit, the more he is tortured. The fact that he could easily get out and avoid any more pain up at any time yet doesn’t only justify the short’s humor, as he lets himself get punished.

It’s even better as we see Suzy feel better after her tonsillectomy being juxtaposed to Johnny being put in increasingly harsher situations. Mostly, at least. His pain is only beginning. This episode can be viewed as twisted if you look at it in that regard.

Me, I find it to be one part of a solid half hour of cartoons. The werewolf short is the odd one out, but still enjoyable. The other two shorts play with cartoon tropes and succeed at their ambitions.

The Powerpuff Girls:

Bubblevicious

One clear distinction that the end credits make when it comes to the girls is that Buttercup is “the toughest fighter”. Not the strongest girl, but just the toughest in combat. I like this, since I stick to the belief that the girls are equal in strength, but Buttercup is the one who asserts herself in combat the most. Just like Blossom asserts herself the most in terms of intellect, which is why she is considered the smartest.

This is important to remember, as we’ll see Blossom and Bubbles both proof their equal merits in the battlefield as the show goes on. This is one of Bubbles’ earliest examples, and it’s also one of the most popular episodes, for good reason.

Think about Bubbles. Despite the girls being the same age, she’s always being treated as the baby, primarily due to her naiveté. As a result, the professor and her sisters constantly restrict her. It makes sense that Bubbles is tired of being the baby, especially since she is the same age as Blossom and Buttercup. She’s cute, but has feelings too, and is more than capable to hold her own when it comes to fighting crime.

It’s understandable that Bubbles feels left out when her training sequences are cut down in comparison to her sisters or she’s still being given little pushes, but does that really justify her rampage here? In no time, Bubbles becomes a monster of sorts and gets pretty violent. Among whoever’s doing wrong She even beats up poor Talking Dog!

This episode is kind of intense, all things considered. Not in terms of tension, but the violence level is crazy, especially when you compare it to other cartoons of its kind. There’s a bit early on where Bubbles knocks the eyeball out of one of the monsters she faces which I still can’t believe they got away with on the show. I think the show was able to get away with its butt-kicking as Cartoon Network was still kind of skewed towards adults as well as kids during this phase of its history, and the show’s sense of humor also helped to ground it a little as well.

I feel that “Bubblevicious” resonated with as many fans as it did since there are many people in Bubbles’ position. It’s not uncommon to feel unappreciated or misrepresented like Bubbles often does, despite proving her worth by saving the day along with her sisters. Her rebellion is rough, but even at her most violent, she’s trying to help. She even gets out of Mojo Jojo’s hands okay when he abducts her, and doesn’t give into his plot.  As a trip into her character, this episode is a total success. This isn’t the funniest short, but it’s a fantastic one regardless.

The Bare Facts

I’ll lay this out for a reminder now- of the four shows I’m writing about here, 3 of them have done Rashomon-inspired episodes. This is the first of these three, and I’d call it the second-best. The previous episode was a little fierce, but this is a complete farce from start to finish, one that I’m very grateful for.

Here, the girls, after saving the day, are asked by the Mayor to explain why they’re laughing now that he’s out of Mojo Jojo’s hands. There’s an easier way to tell him why, but instead, the girls decide to tell him the long, hard story.

The thing that makes this story gel is how varied the girl’s versions are of the recap. Blossom is trying to stick to just the facts, but her self-gratification gives her some pronoun trouble, and as a result, tends to leave her sisters out of the story. This is indicative of her character by showing her elitist side. Blossom is usually the one who is most in check, and is often the first to congratulate herself. She clearly loves her sisters, but their battle against Mojo was a success entirely thanks to her, as far as she’s concerned. The artwork is even tinted redish pink, in keeping up with her mentality and favoritism.

Buttercup’s side, meanwhile, is more stylized, with a heavy dash of green added to a mostly black and white mix. The artwork here is almost comic book –like, keeping with her tomboyish tendencies. She tells the story mostly straight, but speeds up the pace to get things over with. Buttercup is smart in some regards, but she rushes into things too fast, which is one of her weaknesses.

Bubbles is seemingly the anti-Buttercup, however. The artwork portrayed in her take on the story are literally crayon drawings, which should surprise no one. She doesn’t skimp out on the details, but rather doles on them constantly. She’s the youngest-acting of the three, even if she doesn’t always like being treated as the baby. And unlike her sisters, there isn’t an over-abundance of Bubbles’ dress color in her mind. There is plenty of blue, but not any more than other colors. She has always been the least selfish of the girls, which is where her usual strength comes in. While Blossom and Buttercup often fight over leadership issues, Bubbles is fine with not being in control and just using her energy to help people instead. She truly is the heart of the show.

We learn a lot about the girls’ thought processes here, as each have their own skewed, yet uniquely hilarious way, to tell the Mayor what happened. The other thing that makes the direction of the episode so unique is how it’s done from the Mayor’s point of view. We see through his eyes during the episode, until the very, very end. Unlike the girls though, we don’t learn much about him that we don’t already know- it’s already been proven that the Mayor isn’t very bright, and has help from Miss Bellum a lot for his job, as well as his ambivalence to his wife. But the ending does reveal a little too much regardless.

These two stories are great contrasts to each other. “Bubblevicious” leans the heaviest towards the show’s action side thus far, giving Bubbles and her sister plenty of butt-kicking opportunities while also having a strong joke here or there as well; “The Bare Facts” meanwhile, is primarily a yuk-fest that has brief flashes of action in it. Both are fantastic though, and make for what is easily one of the show’s best episodes, period. A lot is offered into the mind of the Powerpuff Girls, making for some of the most memorable moments the show has done. It’s episodes like these that keep me coming back to these series well after my childhood.

Ed, Edd n’ Eddy:

It’s Way Ed

Fads. They’re always a part of life, from clothing, to entertainment, food, or in today’s case, pastimes. The Eds have always been a little behind what the rest of the Cul-De-Sac are up to, and here, they miserably try to catch up with what Sarah, Jimmy, and the rest are doing to pass the time with each other.

Many kids would struggle to follow each new phase their peers are juggling through, even if they can’t catch up, but what sets Eddy apart is that he chooses to invent the next fad himself. Eddy may not be the brightest at school, but his intellect shines when it comes to invention.

And just look at the Fad Freaky. I can just see some A-list celeb’s kids wear something like this.

Both of these episodes explore Eddy’s mind, what makes him tick. It makes me realize that the first season relies pretty heavily on his character, but that does definitely change as the show goes on. For now, Antonucci and crew want us to believe that he is the leader of the Ed boys, and give an idea of just how he works.

In this half of the episode, Eddy is overcompensating for his failure to be right there for what everyone else is fawning over by going a step ahead, and telling them WHAT they should fawn over. It’s a method that isn’t always successful, and can linger onto creepy, but Eddy is a salesman at heart. A salesman who thinks up his products. Unfortunately, he gives up too soon and walks off. The joke does end up on Eddy though, as we the audience will soon find out.

I wouldn’t call this one of the better stories the show has done, although I do find it interesting. Ed and Double D have some funny bits, as they help Eddy try to keep up, but they’re almost like accessories here rather than important characters, while the rest of the kids don’t really do anything but shun the Eds. There are clever moments scattered throughout, but it’s only the ending that truly shines as a bit of inspired depressive humor.

Laugh, Ed, Laugh

While the previous short attempted to remind the audience of Eddy’s mental virtues, this one straps him away from likability and makes the kid snap.

If there’s one thing that Eddy doesn’t seem to like at all, it’s boredom. He’s always doing something, consistently in motion, especially during the summer. Whenever he sits down and relax, it’s to take a much-needed break from fulfilling his needs to live the summer to the fullest. It’s the model that most kids want to say they’ll accomplish during the summer, but end up spending half their free time watching TV or playing video games instead, until school creeps back up on them.

And that’s another thing which sets Ed, Edd n’ Eddy apart from other shows about kids doing regular kid things. They gang rarely ever just sits down and talk, they’re always in motion, be it coming up with scams or joining in on activities with the other kids. We’ve already had an episode where the basic storyline is that the kids are just playing hide and seek together. Yet it’s not just a straight game- there are plenty of killer lines and gags throughout, always sticking to a classic cartoon methodology. Ed, Edd n‘ Eddy is very much the best of both worlds from the old and new schools, and it’s all the better for it.

But take away the rest of the kids, and what do the three Eds have to do with each other? As it turns out, not much. There aren’t any kids to scam, no balls to kick around, and they’ve already traveled through every place that they can. Ed and Double D seem to take this quiet day fine, as they seem to want to stay home and have a lazy day for a change.

But not Eddy. Without any other kids to scam or play with, he snaps and makes a nuisance throughout the neighborhood, in a way that only Eddy can do. Conversely, Ed and Double D’s attempts to bring him back to sanity are very much inventions of their warped, unmatched minds. This isn’t so much a battle of wits, but rather fighting fire with fire to a broken kid.

Just like “It’s Way Ed”, this ends with the joke being on Eddy, but I’d argue that the jokes are better here. Eddy’s lack of mental balance is an easy way to crack up here, since little makes sense to the guy now. Take away basic logic, and you have the potential for some fantastic laughs. Eddy’s early meltdown in particular is one of the most memorable moments from the first season, if not one of the most memorable episodes period.

Overall:

Great week! Even the weakest shorts have great stuff all around. Both Powerpuff shorts are the winner of the week, and I can’t even decide between then. It’s crazy that I’m almost done with the first , but these are still as fun as ever to watch.

2014
04.24

Baby Looney Tunes is about as moe as an anime featuring lolis at their most prime age can get before being deemed illegal by various governments the world over. I have assembled a sizable collection of salacious images from this holy grail of loli service for your viewing pleasure. Have your ochinchins at the ready, my friends, because they’re about to see some vigorous use.

First up is this absolutely perfect peek at Petunia Pig’s pantsu. A lot of work clearly went into making this shot as provocative as possible.

It may be shoved off in the corner, but no sultry stare from a goddess such as Lola Bunny could ever hope to go unnoticed by these keen eyes. She is obviously begging for Bugs’ D in this next shot. The framing of this scene makes it downright seductive.

Who could say no to a little Sylvester sucking? Nobody, that’s who.

And while we’re on that subject, below we can see a beautiful unidentified kinpatsu duck practicing her blowing skills.

She’s a little old for me, but the next picture was so perfect that I couldn’t resist posting it. Seriously, look at that gorgeous Granny oppai! I’m salivating just thinking about rubbing my hands all over a mousepad based on that fine chest.

Uh oh, looks like Petunia’s made a mess all over the floor! Check out that smile of contentment plastered on her face. My heart cannot withstand the kawaii moeness.

It’s hard to see, but in this shot you can faintly make out Daffy Duck grabbing Lola from behind as she bends over. I wonder what he’s planning on doing with her…

I wish kawaii loli maids would clean for me

2014
04.22

It's Mari Okada-O'clock again.

If you were considering making the Clusterfuck as your go to overview for this season’s “fine”, but mostly awful, anime offerings, you probably noticed we didn’t cover every single show this spring. For the most part this was out of general indifference (who gives a crap about Kindaichi Case Files Returns?), overall disgust (Foggle picked Date-A-Live 2 over Fairy Tail, make your own conclusions), and too many similar titles (Dragon Collection? What’s that?). That brings us to this show, M3 – That Black Metal, which we omitted for a rather more bizarre reason: it hadn’t aired yet*. But now it has! And its on Daisuki too as part of a newly signed pact with Satelight!

…its also a Mari Okada show… Oh this is going to be fun he lied.

Hope it's not CHRIS's blood!

All right the plot is typical f0r a Mari Okada pilot… in that it doesn’t make much sense…at all. However I will try my darndest to explain it. At some point in the future, a black dome has been lowered onto Kawadahara City in the Japanese coast. This is called the Avidya Zone and it has the power to render anything it comes in contact into a dried out grotesque husk, allowing it to generate large black blobs of living metal known as Admonitions. Or as the show charmingly puts it…

Yes those are actual subs. Anyway, a private millitary corporation called IX (which despite being a roman numeral is literally pronounced “Icks”) has been building rather squatty pilotable robots to fight the Admonitions when they come out at night. Pilots are being trained at a place called Kukonoichi Academy and we are introduced to four of them: Kirito-clone Akashi, hyperactive ditz Emiru, bro-sidekick guy Iwato, and Tomoko-clone (really? I thought Watamote bombed in Japan) Maamu. They’ve been handpicked along with a tough slightly more experienced pilot named Raika and three others who do not appear in this episode to be the first team to enter the Zone and see if it can be destroyed. Exactly why is not clear at the moment but I assume it has something to do with a flashback to earlier events seen in the episode that suggests they may have been the sole survivors of the area currently occupied by the zone.

What Kirito wanted to say to Sugu in Fairy Dance

The bulk of the episode is just training as our crew of mismatched students spend their time in cram sessions and having baseballs shot at them. Eventually a training sorte in the mecha suits goes horribly wrong as an Admonition Raika failed to kill earlier in the episode attacks Akashi and Emiru. Happily some random kid who’s just standing around is able to help them out, and with the additional use of a plot device in the form of a mysterious locket, Akashi is able to kill the thing. Big whoop.

Home run!

While watching this, I tried to remind myself how the last three Okada premieres I saw felt to me. FTR those being Anohana, Nagi-Asu, and Selector Infected Wixoss which aired two weeks ago. They were all like you were walking into the plot of another show, had a bunch of characters you didn’t know, didn’t like, and didn’t care about; and ultimately left you more bewildered than enthusiastic for future installments. Sadly these trends are also present in M3. Its one thing to set up a conflict its another thing to go out of your way to drain any emotional interest in it. While its not a bad episode per say, the vague writing pretty much dooms it in my opinion but only just. Now… maybe this will got the way of Anohana and quickly rebound producing a fairly heartfelt and emotional finale, I don’t know. As it stands the only reaction I can give is… M3h (see what I did there?)

4/10

 

*NicoNico doesn’t count.

2014
04.20

Like a wet match.

Super-speed is a bona fide physical technique and not any kind of magic whatsoever, so says the holy Tatsuya amongst his imouto apostles. Any who challenge his mighty reign as the new savior shall be vanquished by feats and powers that were unsheathed from between the lord’s buttocks. Do not cross his ascension to the throne amongst his lowly Blooms, for he shall conquer all with his lack of strong emotion. Some would call Tatsuya a bland man, or perhaps not even a man at all. But bully to them, I say. His strength defies the mortal conventions of matters like education or whatever propaganda they teach to the children nowadays. Tatsuya is the gleaming light in this year of our Chinese cartoon overlords, proving that any anime can be made no matter how hackneyed the characters are.

…but that’s all moot, because Miyuki’s the one with the remote control. The preceding scene with Miyuki buoyancy aside, this actually provides something refreshing for Miyuki as a character. She’s now portrayed as Tatsuya’s handler in a sense, essentially being the only character so far who has an upper hand on him. And that puts a new light on all the times she seemed to need Tatsuya’s nod of approval to act. How much of that was genuine, and how much was an act Miyuki pulls to comfort herself? And does Tatsuya really have control over his actions if they can be reconfigured so easily? It all makes Miyuki more Stepford in her behavior, if it turns out that Tatsuya’s actually just her chess piece.

If civilization has been tampered with by magic, then what has it done to human neurology? Miyuki could do that to Tatsuya in few minutes, so what’s not to say an organization could do that to an entire society in the span of a few years at the most? Are there other mind-controlled super soldiers who are just hanging around in some magic high school? That also factors into Tatsuya’s lack of outward ambition so far, alluding to the sense that he’s just serving as the front lines for someone behind the scenes. It depends on how willing the show is to go into that conflict, by discussing how the main character so far has been revealed to be his little sister’s puppet.

Personally, I’m too cynical to believe this will turn out well. While making a character deal with his lack of emotions seems interesting enough, the show quickly runs away from that topic in favor of more technobabble and scenes where Tatsuya saves girls from wacky antics or potential murder. There’s not enough focus on what could potentially work, instead targeting on what has so far been a retread journey about the new guy in high school. We get it. There’s class conflict going on in the academy, now run with it instead of rolling off more exposition. The Enrollment arc really needs to get going already, especially how off the kendo club scene was. Like, the kendo club leader is suddenly okay with trying to slice another kid down for something petty. It just feels like laying on the class conflict thing too thick instead of doing something interesting with the topic.

Also, there was no Mayumi in this episode, so it gets points off for that.

2014
04.16

Atelier Escha & Logy: Alchemists of Dusk Sky

Fullmetal Bakery

I know jackpoo about Koei’s Atelier franchise other than its been running for a good two decades now and has accumulated a whopping 16 games in that time span. This show adapts the most recent one and for a simple straightforward game adaptation, its actually pretty decent. Then again the show does not really set that high of a standard for itself in the first place so…

The plot is this: in a world where alchemy is apparently a thing and doesn’t require a limb or your dumbass kid brother to pull off, we are introduced to Escha Mailer, a sweet little girl who has a tail for some reason (or its just a fob attached to her belt, I can’t really tell). Escha is a newly promoted state licensed alchemist and has been partnered with Logix Fiscario, a stuck up city boy who serves as our exposition device. The two go around using their magic to help embetter the world they live in and what better way to do that but fix a mill and bake a pie!  …FMA it ain’t.

Well even though its pretty unsubstantial fluff in the plot department, I found myself liking Atelier more than I would. Part of it is the show is just pleasant. Everything’s soothing with nice pastel colors and soft string music like something out of a show about rabbit cafes or something. The characters are likable and it actually goes by pretty quickly without dragging its heels in exposition too much. Overall… ok. — Lord Dalek

Black Bullet

Not again.

After watching the episode, my mind rolls back to the first scene with Ridley. There’s supposed to be some kind of significance about that with the main character, but it only makes me want a Ridley anime. It doesn’t even have to have Samus. It could just be about Ridley going on some space pirate adventures while avoiding the trials of Sakamoto scriptwriting. Maybe that shouldn’t be the lingering point for me, that Ridley makes a cameo, but he makes much more of a performance than any of the other characters here. Especially the loli, who makes Yaya from the Unbreakable Machine Doll seem nuanced.

And I really love all of this exposition, where Rentaro just talks about the war where his parents died when given little reason to say any of that. Besides that, he just reeks of boring light novel protagonist. Like, “Oh hey, here’s a loli wife for you, Rentaro. Be sure to not be frisky.” “No, that would be too lewd to even consider touching my partner.” “But she insists.” “No! I must focus on being bean sprouts and the mission, because the last thing teenage boys ever think of is fucking.” But then, he’s a special little flower compared to the rest of the cast, like the tsundere boss. The only one who really interested me was the mortician, and that really amounted to her being a Touko clone.

Maybe I’m being too cruel, since this didn’t feel nearly as dumb as other light novel shows. It could have been worse, like the loli could have had more screen time. But in the end, it tries to be a mature series while immediately damaging that aspiration with so many anime girl archetypes. Maybe it will prove me wrong and actually be decent, but I’ve probably said this about tons of other anime that started off as shit and kept being shit. I’d like it more if the loli dies and Rentaro goes for the mortician instead, but you know that will never happen. — Bloody Marquis

Break Blade

Took you long enough.

Imagine if you will that you are in the fantastic world of Cruzon, where everybody can freely manipulate and control quartz crystals, and you can’t.  It must suck, for you are not only called a ‘un-sorceror’ (hell kindof translation is that?) but you are deprived of an ability that not only raises the living standards in Cruzon but also, because Japan, is used to power giant robots called Golems.  Rygart Arrow, is unfortunately one of those, but at the behest of the King of Krisna, an old friend, he successfully finds himself in the pilot seat of a Golem that doesn’t need him to be adept in quartz manipulation (what are the odds!?!!?).  Now it is up to him to save his friend, probably the empire, and may run into an old friend who’s on the opposing side or whatever.

Aside from the surprising nature of the Golem that Rygart eventually gets into, it… really wasn’t too bad I guess?  It’s kinda decently-made rote, neither doing good nor bad, but just doing.  We have political machinations, memories of days gone by with the protagonists and other players, and the continuation of geopolitical intrigue through decent mech battles, and that’s pretty much it for the first episode.  I’m pretty sure if I was watching the first 50 minute movie (from which this first ep was based on probably the first half of it), I’d be intrigued but it just felt like I was watching an unambitious variation of Captain Earth’s first episode, right down to the dramatic reveal of the suit before the end credits.

I think it probably has to do with the unambitious aesthetic of the world.  Character designs are rather simple and lack anything noticeably defining; the world is completely dull brown and deserted, with the only highlights being the rather distinctive mechs.  Heck even the music just seems to go through in an orderly procedural fashion, settling for again… rote in its epic score.

…Eh, this just isn’t for me I guess.  I’m pretty sure if you’re into this kind of thing you’ll find something good from it, but I didn’t.  Humble recommendation though, if this is your cup of tea, just opt to watch the six 50 minute movies that are officially released here already. — The Juude

Chaika The Coffin Princess

Yay, it's ready!

Chaika reeks of a late-90’s early-00’s fantasy anime, with its bland semi-colonial period setting and old ova haircuts. No surprise then that its by Sakaki of Polyphonica and Outbreak Company fame (>_<). I can only imagine that Bones needed something to work on in-between seasons of Space Dandy and decided “Hey we haven’t made a Sakaki thing in ten years, lets do another one!”. As a result, it seems so…dated and uninspired.

The story concerns one Chaika Travant, a slightly incompetent wizard dragging around a big coffin who only communicates in run on sentences (hey just like me!). Said coffin contains the parts to assemble a Hecate knock-off sniper rifle which can kill dragons and unicorns!…yup it one of those shows. Chaika’s goal is to steal a severed hand from the neon lit castle of one Lord Ibern. To which end she has hired two neredowell siblings, normal guy wizard Tohru and tsundere bitch shinobi Akari to assist her in swiping it. But you see Chaika apparently has some nasty reputation and she’s supposed to be dead…or something…that’s where the episode ends.

Chaika is pretty average but not nearly as anger inducing for me as Outbreak Company was (but then again… that was Outbreak Company). There’s not much of a plot other than girl who speaks in broken Japanese shoots magic gun….which was also the plot of Magical Warfare…oh dear. The main problem is its mostly exposition with not a whole lot happening and then it just ends leaving you feeling what was the point? I may have seen worse but still couldn’t care less about this. — Lord Dalek

Dai-Shogun: Great Revolution

But can she summarize Proust?

Oh great! ANOTHER show with giant robots in the Edo period! Why is this suddenly a genre now? When Robot Carnival did it 30 years ago, it was downright hilarious, but now… I’m just sick of it. Doesn’t help that Nobunaga The Fool from last season is still running goddammit. So here we go again with more shogun warrior action but this time its written by Foggle’s jilted waifu Dai Sato and animated by J.C. Staff….we’re doomed aren’t we?

Ok lets get one thing straight… this show… is cheap. Really, really, REALLY, cheap. Slow zooms, speed lines, shakycam (!), cell sliding, still background mouthflaps, etc.; whatever they need to do to save cash on this show, J.C. has clearly employed it. At times I feel like I’m watching a telesnap reconstruction instead of the actual show. Then again… its not surprising that the BBC would wipe this show before it aired.

As for the plot? Well… its pretty standard. There’s a guy who’s the chosen one or something. Kunoichi with big boobs (the only kind of course) want to kill him because they’ve overthrown the Tokugawa Shogunate or something. More kunoichi with big boobs are here to protect him. There’s a giant robot fight that lasts all of five seconds and then it ends. Truly the most stimulating show of the season am I right?…nope. — Lord Dalek

Date A Live II

More Sam & Cat than Sam & Max.

Of course they made a sequel to this. Of course. I went easy on this series the first time around, but now I don’t think I can be so nice. This episode is simply horrible in every sense of the word.

Date A Live can basically be summed up as “how to waste a cool backstory: the animation.” The whole spatial quakes thing is potentially very interesting, but again less than 30 seconds of the episode is devoted to it via a pointless flashback that serves absolutely no purpose. I guess one of the characters can cause these spatial quakes when she’s sad? Or maybe her tears just break shit, I dunno. Anyway, there’s some exposition that explains the plot in case you forgot how moronic it was since the first season aired. This episode’s story is all about one of the girls freaking out because she thinks Shido (the male protagonist) is going to run off with another woman after watching a trashy soap opera. Truly, this is the most gripping science-fiction serial of our generation.

The main female characters seem to barely know how to clothe and feed themselves. One of them is almost definitely psychotic with the way she talks to her bunny puppet. Actually, maybe it’s not her talking to herself… maybe the puppet is really alive. I don’t know which would be worse. At one point, they genuinely marvel at the yolk running out of an egg when they stab the center of it with a fork. I wish I was joking. Also, one of the characters is legitimately named Origami, which makes me want a dub of this show starring the cast of Heavy Rain. Said character dryly and perhaps unknowingly propositions Shido for sex in the women’s restroom at one point. You can’t make this shit up. This is just stuff from the first six minutes, by the way. The first episode of Date A Live II is filled with so many cringe-inducingly stupid moments that listing them all here would make this paragraph take up an entire page by itself. It’s telling that the supposedly “dramatic” final act is far more laughable than any of the show’s intentional attempts at comedy.

I could never bring myself to finish the first season, so maybe it’s just because I never really got to know the characters or dig into the story, but there is absolutely nothing good about this installment. The plot is horrid. The jokes are feeble. The women are all waifu-bait. The art is bland. The animation is garbage. The music is obnoxious. Skip it. — Foggle

If Her Flag Breaks

Light novel plots are the best plots for an anime, period. Take Sasami-san@Ganbaranai for example. Sasami Tsukiyomi is a highschool shut-in that is doted upon by her brother, Kamiomi. Sasami, in normal light novel fashion, unknowingly possesses a god’s power, and when Kamiomi tries to help her, he puts the world in chaos – and three sisters named the Yagami sisters must undo what Kamiomi has subconsciously done. That’s basically the plot – now who really wants to watch that, huh? Obviously, someone did, because in 2013 Akiyuki Shinbo and SHAFT decided to adapt this little shining gem for everyone to see, and naturally, it was forgotten, because it was repulsivley bad. Keep in mind, most light novel plots either revolve around some sort of harem plotline or hilarious hijinks – this is the latter.

Light novel plots are bad most of the time, and that brings me onto Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara, based of a Kodansha-published light novel and adapted by Hoods Entertainment – you know, the studio that produced Aki-Sora, Vanquished Queens and most interestingly, 2012’s Mysterious Girlfriend X? Where Mysterious Girlfriend X had a interesting premise, so to say (not many anime delve into spit fetishes to my utter shock and horror), Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara is something we’ve seen before in almost every way – the show may very well be just The World God Only Knows ripped to its barest bones, with a bit of My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy from last fall. God, what a horrible title.

The plot is this: Sato Hatate is a mysterious transfer student burdened with a dark past shrouded in utter mystery, because all transfer students must be mysterious, right? Unlike Homura Akemi, however, Sato is only burdened with some mechanic ripped straight off a waifu dating simulator, as he has the ability to see ‘flags’ on the top of people’s heads – which can be either a ‘friendship’ flag, a ‘love’ flag or a ‘death’ flag. Appealing stuff.  Nanami Knight Bladefield, the supposed younger sister of Kiss-Shot Acerola-Orion Heart-Under-Blade from Monogatari, sees Sato be all mysterious and stuff by dodging a truck while walking to school, and fantasizes about him in class, wanting to see him again – and lo and behold, he suddenly transfers into her class and coincidentally has to sit next to her! For one reason or another, Nanami, the show’s Tsundere, expresses interest in Sato’s redundant ability.

The show’s resident moeblob, Akane Mahougasawa, appears to Nanami and Sato while eating lunch and proceeds to make K-ON! look like the cutest thing to ever grace this Earth with how irritating and annoying her voice and design is – she is anti-cute. Blah, blah, blah, tragic backstory, blah, blah, blah, Sato and Akane kiss at the end and Nanami kicks him in the stomach or something. Cue bland credit sequence that comes the hell out of nowhere, that is how bad the editing is.

As mentioned before, Kanojo is produced by Hoods Entertainment, who produced last year’s BlazBlue: Alter Memory, and look how well that show turned out! Hoods is a company that previously produced hentai and ecchi, and for a company that grew their roots in that front, their animation is surprisingly well made – but from the look of it, Kanojo isn’t as fluid as I would have liked. The character designs are mundane, and we can tell from the look of Nanami, she is the main girl, because all main girls must have wacky hairstyles, right? Right? The voice acting is nothing special, and Akane comes close to insufferable – hell, Nanami at times sounds exactly like Asuka Langley Soryu. The music is nice sounding from what I could hear, but it isn’t anything special.

Typical is a word that is floating around a lot this season, and Kanojo fits typical to a T. It’s actually quite boring. Skip it. — Mahou(gasawa)

Inugami-san & Nekoyama-san

-Spits out liquid- Say what?!

Oh yeah the yuri short series for the season!

Inugami, a girl who like cats who’s also a total masochist!

Nekoyama, a girl who like dogs despite acting/liking like a cat!

Also, this is slightly wacky and ecchi as well!

And it’s slightly better animated than some short series I’ve seen!

Interested? Well, what are you waiting for. Go check it out! — The Eclectic Dude

Second Opinion!

Yachiyo Inugami is a who acts like a dog and loves cats,  Suzu Nekoyama is a girl that acts like a cat and loves dogs. When these two animal lovers meet, sparks fly as they are instantly attracted to each other, and a strange yet adorable relationship starts to form.

Being less than 5-minutes long, there isn’t much to say about InuNeko other than it’s a cute comedy. Humour is hyperactive and rapid-fire with most of it coming from Inu and Neko’s habits. Their antics are balanced by Aki Hiragi, who kinda resembles Satsuki Kiryuuin from Kill la Kill and is the “straight man” of the trio, frequently lampshading the rather outlandish things Inu and Neko say and do, and preventing the show from becoming too self-indulgent. Really what else can I say? InuNeko is a cute, funny short. While its humour might not be to your tastes, it’s only 3 and a half minutes long, and worth looking into if you like cuteness in your yuri. — Rynnec

Is the Order a Rabbit?

Lize confirmed best girl.

Soundtrack of soft woodwinds and strings that propels us into this season’s soothing Slice of Life (SoL) genre entry of cute girls doing cute things. The main character is Cocoa-san, who recently moved to some unnamed city for school though she is staying at local cafe named Rabbit House. As part of her residence agreement, Cocoa has to work at the cafe. She first meets Chino-chan, the owner’s daughter and resident quiet, timid loli and her pet rabbit fluffball Tippy. She also meet Lize-chan, who seems to be more than she initially appears if a bit like a tsundere-esque older sister type/mentor to Cocoa. Of course, they might be something more to Tippy as well but I shall wait and see if they do anything with it. As a side note, yes, there will be some yuri (not surprising since the writer for this show was one of the writers for Strawberry Panic). Its being animated by White Fox, so its looks nice and glossy, and it doesn’t derp too much thankfully.

They carry coffee bean bags, Lize teaches Cocoa ‘latte art’ and in turn Cocoa demonstrates her mastery of basic math to help out Chino-chan. Overall, the episode sets the tone for this kind of show: It’s got cute girls working at a cafe doing cute things in their daily lives. At this point, enough of these kinds of shows have come out (Kinmoza, A Channel, Non Non Biyori, YuYuShiki, etc) that you might already decide what your thoughts on these are. Now, I like those kinds of shows, so I will continue on with this. As for others, well this one might not ignite your interest in soothing SoL shows since like all the others, its cute, moe, relatively inoffensive and safe. — The Eclectic Dude

Second Opinion!

Adapted from a Manga Time Kirara series, Is the Order a Rabbit? follows Cocoa Hoto as she transfers to a school in a town located in…wherever. While wandering the town of wherever searching for the place she’ll be staying, she comes across a cafe called “The Rabbit Cafe”.  Eager to pet all the rabbits she’s sure to find, our heroine enters the caf? with glee. Unfortunately, she doesn’t find many rabbits, but she does find a cute waitress named Chino Kafuu, and her even cuter cuddly fluffball mascot thing. “The Rabbit Cafe” turns out to also be Chino’s residence, and, as luck would have it, the place where Cocoa is supposed to be staying. In return for staying at the Kafuu residence, Cocoa will work as a waitress at the cafe.  After meeting fellow waitress Rize, a daughter of a soldier whose possession of a handgun leads me to believe the town of wherever doesn’t have very strict or effective gun laws, she adjusts to her new life almost instantly, and grows a sister-like bond with Chino.

Is the Order a Rabbit? is a really cute show. Like, incredibly cute, and also very soothing. It’s the kind of show you watch to relax after a stressful day, or to catch your breath after watching something more intense and involving. The main characters are cute, the artstyle is cute, the music is cute, and there’s even a cute fluffy mascot thingy that wouldn’t look out of place in a ‘mon show.  If you don’t like moe shows with cute girls doing cute things, then you most likely won’t watch this of your own volition, but if you need something cute and relaxing to watch this season, then this is the show you’re looking for. — Rynnec

Knights of Sidonia

Who would?

Well, this is certainly the biggest surprise of the spring season for me – even more so than Haikyu!!. While I tend to adore almost anything even tangentially related to science or speculative fiction, I have no interest in mecha, and the 3D animation instantly turned me off. It’s safe to say that I unprofessionally went into this show expecting to dislike it. And yet, I loved every minute of its first episode.

The story is instantly engaging from the moment the opening credits finish rolling; Nagate Tanikaze has been living within the deepest bowels of the Sidonia for years, but he gets captured and taken to the surface after he fails to steal some rice from the processing plant. From there, he immediately falls into favor with the ship’s delightfully creepy captain, and is then thrust into battle with terrifying aliens not seen in almost a century. The plot promises to have a lot more depth to it than just that (seriously, I don’t want to spoil the good parts), but suffice it to say that I am awaiting the next installment with bated breath. The writing is far and away the best I’ve seen from an anime in some time, but that’s no surprise since Knights of Sidonia apparently comes from a manga by Tsutomu Nihei, author of the renowned Blame! and another of my personal favorites, Biomega. In terms of characters, I already really like both Nagate and Izana, who I’m sure will grow into some of this year’s most richly developed protagonists. I can’t wait to see their relationship (not like that. well, maybe) develop. Pepper in some legitimately funny physical comedy and you’ve got a real winner of a series opener.

The CG looks like something out of one of those terrifying hentai computer games, but at least it’s still more visually appealing than 2013’s Arpeggio of Blue Steel: Arse Nova. Once you get used to the creepy fish faces and french fry fingers, the art style is actually pretty great, though the animation itself lacks fluidity outside of action scenes and can occasionally prove to be an unpleasant watch. (But those action scenes are so smooth!) The character designs maintain Nihei’s wonderful style fairly well, but the backgrounds are especially nice, providing a creepy derelict-yet-sterile hard sci-fi atmosphere. The city of Sidonia (which is actually on top of a spaceship) is fascinatingly mashed together, but in an intelligent and grungy way rather than a poorly thought out, slapdash one. I was also a big fan of the costume design, which gave off the same excellent vibe as the locales.

While there isn’t much (yet), the mecha-on-alien action is quite exciting and fun to watch, even for someone like me who doesn’t generally care for the genre. Some of the space shots are breathtaking aesthetically – the CG’s biggest victory in Sidonia is the way some of the lights beautifully shine through the void. Not to mention I’m a total sucker for those first-person “in the cockpit” moments, and I simply loved the ones in this installment, however brief they were. The music is also fantastic; the BGM is expertly composed to make the episode’s events as atmospheric as possible, while the OP and ED songs are the catchiest I’ve heard this season. All in all, this is a fine production, even if it doesn’t leave the best first impression visually.

This is the most excited I’ve been about a new anime since Kill la Kill started airing. My only concern is that, at just 12 episodes, Knights of Sidonia won’t even scratch the surface of the story the manga’s currently telling. I know what I’m reading after it ends. — Foggle

Magica Wars

Don't take this show seriously! Ok then I won't.

So, let me start with a brief primer on Gainax, post Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt, once most of the remaining talent fled to Trigger: the forgettable and unlicensed Dantalian No Shoka, the awful shonen parody series Medaka Box, and the rather ‘meh’ Stella C3-bu. But Gainax might seem far from dead, as they are getting Ayano Ohnoki (who did work on Medaka Box Abnormal and Stella C-3 bu) and Kazuho Hyodo (writer of Robot Girls ZZZZZ….amirite?). Oh wait…..

Now, this project is a 26 episode(!), 4 minutes long each series based on a mobile gaming/PS Vita. In it, each of the 47 prefectures of Japan are personified by Magical girls, each character design of the mahou shoujo was determined by a Pixiv contest. So, the first episode entails the introduction of Aoba Naruko and her pet mascot bird. She is one of the representatives for Miyagi Prefecture, whose capital is Sendai. She is on a mission chasing after cute little green blobs called Magatsuhi for some reason not explained yet. But she gets hauled off by the coppers for wearing ‘suspicious’ outfit. Ha.

I am not sure what to make of this. First off, its not too bad, despite being a game tie-in. Watching this short series is akin to eating a sweet M&M cookie snack bar-short, sweet and ephemerally enjoyable. Its also just as low-rent budget as most short series go, but luckily has enough punches of color combined with vibrant energy to set it apart from the crowd of other short series. It looks pretty is what I’m saying, but has little to no character or plot details beyond the bare premise: Oh look Mahou Shoujo Battles! (hopefully).

Hmm, perhaps Gainax can get out of their current rut with this show, but I seriously doubt that. Oh what’s that, their next planned project is a SoL girls club anime? Huh, well then… — The Eclectic Dude

Mekaku City Actors

Who's the blue-haired chick that's an annoyance to all the hikks? SHAFT!

I’m starting to believe Shinbo has become the Tim Burton of anime by this point of his career, with an easily identifiable style and unfortunate matter of repeating himself. Every scene in this episode was something I saw from Monogatari or Madoka. If I didn’t know any better, I would assume he was just reusing backgrounds from the past shows because of a low budget. And not just the backgrounds, but also even the characters look like clones of Araragi or Ononoki or whoever appeared in our favorite Nisio Isin novels. There are always these little Shinbo quirks, like making the traffic lights the most stark objects in an street scene, or shots of towns with nobody but the main character doing anything. They look cool the first time you watch them, but then he just keeps using the same shadows or the same rooms in his works.

This gets infuriating, because Shinbo has proven time and time again that he can be an extraordinary director with the right material. Even with the low-budgeted Zetsubou-sensei, he knew how to make more with less. Alas, he doesn’t get much to do in order to stretch his wings. He’ll get the odd selection like Rebellion, but everything else this year has been phoned-in because of nothing to work from. Nisekoi is basically every harem anime ever, because the source material was every harem manga ever. And I would like it if he were given a decent premise here, but no. It’s just a show about pseudo-vocaloids with some kidnapping out of nowhere.

So I guess we are at that stage where Shinbo has become his own niche, where his shows are as remarkable as Burton’s latest remake of Dark Shadows. What used to be a break from the trends has now become the trendsetter, and just like others in this situation, Shaft doesn’t know how to evolve into the norm that it once made light out of. Those quirks that used to be interesting years past are now so overused that they have become routine, and therefore just part of the background instead of the scenery gags Shinbo once painted. — Bloody Marquis

Second Opinion!

It’s hard to believe that Bakemonogatari aired in July 2009. Since then, SHAFT animated the dreadful Dance In The Vampire Bund, the weird Arakawa Under The Bridge, the boring Nisekoi: False Love, the forgettable Sasami-san@Ganbaranai and a little show named Puella Magi Madoka Magica which managed to become anime’s next Neon Genesis Evangelion, because truly Madoka Magica is the Evangelion of anime. Look back at them in hindsight, and remember, they were all directed by Akiyuki Shinbo. He has come full circle at last: Mekakucity Actors is his latest baby, and it’s SHAFT at its absolute worst.

I can stand up for Bakemonogatari willingly as a person who likes it for what it is: a neat little show which is too artsy for its own good, and even though Mayoi is an irritating little shit throughout her entire arc, Koyomi didn’t transform into an asswipe, Hitagi and Kanbaru are likeable, and Tsubasa didn’t start making cat puns that make me want to take a piece of rebar to my skull. That nifty ‘SHAFT’ effect was nice enough for Bake, but when Nise rolled around, it got stale. That ‘SHAFT’ effect I’m talking about? Long camera angles that are effectively pointless and are only there to save the budget. The infamous SHAFT tilts. Basically everything Nise showed off. Is it in Mekaku? Yes. And it irritates me to death.

Mekakucity Actors is based off a VOCALOID song series project named Kagerou Project that I am free to admit I quite enjoy. Using that Lia singer – y’know, the one that sang the openings to Air and Angel Beats! – as a VOCALOID named IA, creator Jin wrote a series revolving around misfit teenagers with mysterious eye powers and their tragic backstories. Needless to say, it proved quite popular on Niconico, and later Jin wrote a light novel series based off it. Naturally, SHAFT came along to come and ruin it.

I take no shame in saying when I first tried to watch Mekaku, I turned it off eleven minutes into it. I spent at least half an hour bitching about SHAFT and how TNK is superior in every imaginable regard – and keep in mind, they produced School Days. VOCALOID’s Hatsune Miku is personafied in the form of Ene, and like Mayoi, she is an unlikeable and irritating little brat that you can only withstand if you can barely hear her. She reminds me of Karen Araragi, also from Monogatari, and fits that ‘little sister’ archetype ever so present in anime to a perfect T. Shintaro Kisaragi, our main protagonist, looks like Koyomi and even sounds like him, even though he is not voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya, who is too busy dubbing Attack on Titan Drama CDs to care, most likely.

Comparisons to Monogatari are completely unavoidable now. It stinks and sounds like it – the camera angles, the lack of actual lip flaps, the cartoony close-ups, the random shift in art styles, the list goes on. The character designs remind me of the Durarara!! designs, only drawn worse. Ene has a completely different design to Shintaro, and that really bugged me. One nifty idea that the show does have, however, is random background characters painted grey to make Shintaro stand out in his red colour scheme. The music is forgettable despite having Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt’s TeddyLoid and Angel Beats! Avant Garde-Eyes compose tracks, the plot is unfortunately mundane – Shintaro spills Coke on his keyboard and has to go buy another one but is afraid to because he is a hikkomori, gets taken captive by terrorists who popped the hell out of nowhere and distracts them, the end. The episode ends abruptly and finishes playing typical and bland Aniplex music sung by newcomers GARNiDELiA, who sang the 2nd opening to Kill la Kill, Ambiguous.

I could go on and on about how boring this episode was, but with an intriguing premise, I can only hope it pulls itself together and gets along to the good stuff quickly. — Mahou(kaku)

Nanana’s Buried Treasure

All heil Nanana!

From the light novel series by Kazuma Otorino, and brought to the animated screen by A-1 Pictures (SAO, AnoHana) with help from Kantei Kamei (his directorial debut) and Hideyuki Karata (who wrote such gems as the Oreimo and The World God Only Knows series), this is a story of a young man Yama Juugo who was exiled by his father to live on his own at the Nanae Island, an island that reminds me of an aerial photo of Dubai. He meets the well-endowed manager, Maboro Shiki who reminds me of Misato for some reason. But he discovers hes got an unneeded tenant in his apartment, a ghost girl named Nanana, She was murdered in Yama’s apartment some time ago. She was a NEET while living despite not looking like an actual female otaku; she comes across as what one might think they look like, a dream girl otaku if you will. Yama and Nanana get into a playful ‘say uncle’ fight. She’s very playful and childlike, concerning herself only with playing games, eating pudding and staying up late at night. But she seems to hide a secret loneliness. Gosh, this seems like the setup for a sitcom comedy. But there seems to be more to it than that.

At school, Yama meets another girl, Yumeji, who’s basically the meganekko student rep. who’s an aspiring novelist.There’s some mention of Mutsumi Koma, the master architect of Nanae Island. Yama stumbles upon a ‘Nanana manual’ on how he should deal with his ghostly roommate. This convinces him to take some interest. Also, he seeks out the mysterious circumstances of her death, which may be linked to the creation of Nanae Island itself. The intrigue is afoot! Granted, this show is giving me Dusk Maiden of Amnesia flashbacks definitely, and that wasn’t too bad of a show….. Eh, I liked it.

Apart from some obvious CG work in the cold opener, it’s a solid if not stellar A-1 Pictures work. Guess I got to add this to the short pile of shows A-1 has put out recently that I like (Sound of the Sky, From the New World, Zvezda Plot) perhaps. It is certainly better than I expected and should be a fun romp. Though, I will see if it can hold up. — The Eclectic Dude

No Game No Life

It's funny because it's child slavery!

Good lord is this show pink! Its like last year’s Sunday Without God where everything was set at sunset for some reason. I mean I guess it kinda fits with the original LNs which also had a heavy pink tinge to its color illustrations, but that still doesn’t make any sense. Anyway, No Game No Life was I assuming to be this season’s Sword Art knockoff but turns out that’s Mahouka, so instead its this year’s Mondaiji knockoff! You remember Mondaiji don’t you? That lame Dog Days clone (wow that sounds even lamer now) Brains Base made a year ago? What? You don’t? Good!…neither do I!

Anyway its the same concept. A couple of assholes, in this case a swarmy NEET git and his narcoleptic little sister, are legendary “blanks”. Super RPG players who can win at any game (including being chess pros who could probably beat Kasperov with their arms tied behind their backs). The local deity of a magical land where games decide all disputes (read: FLONYARD) invites them against their will to play his silly not-death game for no real reason and no real goal. So basically they go around stealing clothes from Joseph Joestar and beating buxom women at poker. And then it ends!

Surprisingly enough though its not that bad for a show where people play poker and chess ad naseum. I think its because the characters are such blatant callous jerks that it makes them slightly more entertaining than the usual wet noodles that appear in these shows. Our male lead is voiced by Kirito who’s in full on Sakurasou mode here making him instantly less detestable than Kirito because he at least has SOMETHING of a personality. The girl is played by Menma from Ghost Loli Starring Bill Cosby and rarely says anything more than two words per line. A huge improvement over Ghost Loli who wouldn’t shut up.

Slightly better than average for this season, which I could really use after all the meh. — Lord Dalek

One Week Friends

This is from the crossover AMV I made. Check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuoaGPlWr-4

In an spring anime season that mostly consists of boredom (see Nisekoi: False Love, If Her Flag Breaks, Mekakucity Actors), trainwrecks (see The Irregular At Magic High School, Black Bullet, Damidaler, Ping Pong),  fanservice/moe (see Blade & Soul, Soul Eater NOT!, Brynhildr in the Darkness, Ludere Deorum) and some shining gems (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, Mushi-shi, No Game No Life, Riddle Story of Devil), Brain’s Base has given us The Kawai Complex Guide to Manors and Hostel Behaviour, Ludere Deorum and a little show named One Week Friends, which may very well be the cutest show this season – a show with heart, and with heart comes love. This show makes me emotional, basically.

‘Moe’ is a concept that is hard to grasp in anime. Look at K-ON!, for example. It is classified as a ‘moebait/moeshit show’, something I agree with wholeheartedly. Big eyes, constant blushing and a hairdo that results in some hair on your face does not constitute ‘cute’ in my opinion, because that has become such a staple in anime since Lucky Star aired in 2007 it gets ridiculously annoying and whatever attachment I had for it left me. You can blame Kyoto Animation for the moe craze that spawned Sound of the Sky, Anohana, the anime adaptations of Heaven’s Memo Pad, Dream Eater Merry, YuruYuri, and Rozen Maiden: Zuruckspulen, and at least they had plots, even if they weren’t the best. Nothing happens in K-ON!. Nothing. Sound of the Sky is the most guilty culprit of ‘looking the most like K-ON!, to the point where I thought it was K-ON! when I first researched the show, the character design is that similar. Sound of the Sky is a million times better than K-ON! will ever be, mostly because of the opening by Kalafina, and having – gasp – an actual plot! K-ON! is a show trying desperately to be considered cute – One Week Friends does not try at all, and has actual characters to speak of. One Week Friends is the cutest show I’ve watched in a long time. K-ON! was mentioned a lot there. I hate K-ON!.

Yuki Hase is a second-year high school student who is failing Maths. He notices his classmate, Kaori Fujimiya, the class representative for Maths (ironically), is always alone and he begins to wonder why. After being brushed off by Kaori who refuses to be friends with him for undisclosed reasons, Yuki tries again and begins to have lunch with Kaori. Yuki is adorabley cute and awkward around Kaori, and midway through the episode, Yuki tells Kaori ‘he really admires her’, something that made my heart melt. After having lots of fun with Yuki over the course of one week, Kaori with tearful eyes tells Yuki on Friday he must forget about her – and we have the plot twist that makes this show worth watching – that every week, Kaori loses her memories of her friends and almost everything else. Yuki, at first, cannot believe it, and so he asks his friend Shogo for advice, and with his help, Yuki asks the now-cold Kaori to be his friend and wants to help her remember, starting the cycle all over again.

Now, I like the plot in One Week Friends, because the characters are likeable and pretty damn cute. The bad thing is, even before I watched the episode, I looked up the plot on Wikipedia to see if it would pique my interest, and it was eerily familiar. Remember that visual novel spin-off of Clannad that had Tomoya Okazaki turn into a sex fiend and be a complete dislikeable dipshit that ended up resulting him losing his memory every goddamn week in some sort of Key plot-twist pulled straight out of their ass in their poor attempt of trying to tug my heartstrings (even though my heart is stone cold and dead) and somehow his girlfriend, Tomoyo Sakagami, didn’t turn into a psycho after living through that hell for three years, trying to help him remember and failing every single time? Unlike Tomoyo After’s romance, which was unbelievable, boring and painfully unromantic to the point I call it the prime example, next to Twilight, of ‘anti-romance’, One Week Friends’s romance is purely innocent – and Kaori and Yuki’s personalities paint a beautiful picture of what can be if Yuki can help Kaori. It’s unfortunate that the moment of the plot twist reminded me of Tomoyo’s confession near the end of Tomoyo After, and I can never escape the horror that is Tomoyo After, for better or worse, but I can easily ignore how One Week Friends reminds me of it, mostly because I like this show a whole lot and I despise Clannad – even though I own it on DVD.

The animation, as previously mentioned, is produced by Brain’s Base, who also animated Durarara!!, Baccano! and Mawaru Penguindrum, three good shows in their own right. They also provide examples of Brain’s Base’s animation at its absolute best, and One Week Friends joins them. Even though the plot of the show is simple, the animation is not shoddy and is quite fluid. The character designs remain consistent throughout all the episode and they are very, very polished and adorable as sin. They remind me of Durarara!!’s designs, only more cute and child-like. The OP and ED isn’t much to talk about, as it does fit the show, but it isn’t very memorable – it’s better than a lot of OPs this season, that’s for sure. The watercolour paintings featured in the OP and ED add to the feeling of Spring the show has going on – a high school anime romance is never complete if it doesn’t have cherry blossoms. The music adds to the show’s emotional scenes perfectly, even though sometimes it can be overpowering and can overshadow the surprisingly well-acted voiceovers. The music reminds of me of the video game Nier at times, with calming acoustic guitars accompanying Kaori and Yuki discussing love and friendship with each other.

All in all, I loved this episode even though it took me a good hour to watch it, mostly because I was distracted by Mr. Freeze puns. Watch it if you are in the mood for a cute romance – it’s a hell of a lot better than Golden Time or Clannad could ever dream of. — Mahou(modachi)

Ping Pong The Animation

Well, we’ve got our indie show of the season that only a dozen people will watch. After watching the episode, I get the feeling that this is supposed to be a deconstruction of sports anime, like this is for the people too hipster to watch Haikyuu. All of the sports are treated with no finesse, and the players all portrayed as clones of Kahn from King of the Hill. There aren’t bishonens or fancy effects going on to make ping pong seem better than it actually is, which is a bit refreshing compared to most sports anime. That’s not to say it’s good.

For a show that utilizes experimental animation, there’s so little actual animation. Footage gets reused on a regular basis, with one scene just being the same animation looped three times. If any other anime had these poses, they would be mocked for so many off-model scenes. But in a Yuasa work, they’ll be celebrated by animation critics for being different from the norm. I mean, drawings in motion looks nice in some instances, but this looked like the Naruto vs Pain fight. And who cites the Naruto vs Pain fight as great animation? — Bloody Marquis

Second Opinion!

So there’s a kid named Smile who doesn’t really smile (or feel for that matter) and a kid named Peco.  They’re ping pong players who are apparently too big for their britches within their own ping pong club.  Then some Chinese ping pong players come, and then beat Peco.   Then Peco has a cry and…  I guess they’ll fight another day.

I’m enthralled as you can tell with this anime.  Quite frankly I’ve no idea why FUNi decided to stream this… thing up.  I can’t even bring myself to elicit an emotion other than non-plussedness.  If it was a person and decided to do its rather herky-jerky, panel-splitting, dog and pony show at me I’d just raise my eyebrow at how eccentric it is.  Quite frankly, that’s the ONLY thing this boring show has got going for it.  It looks weird, it acts weird, and it plays weird, but doesn’t really leave much spark to the mind.  The show’s another instance of things going on but nothing really happens.

In fact you’d probably get a lot more out of 24 hour surveillance camera footage of a ping pong room at the local YMCA.  If anything SOMETHING interesting may come up from it, even if it’s mundane like buying a used car or having to get milk at the store after the exercise.

Or you can just watch The Ping Pong Club anime that came out around the late 90s.  Central Park Media (remember them?) truly knew the zeitgeist of the time with releasing this. — The Juude

Soul Eater Not!

Where did I come from, Cotton-Eye Joe?

This is a comedy, but it’s not very funny. This is an action show, but it’s not very exciting. This is Soul Eater… but it’s not. The title really says it all; this is not Soul Eater, and while I haven’t seen too many episodes of the show it’s spun off from, I can tell that Soul Eater Not! is nowhere near as interesting as the original work.

The scant bits of action are nice – in fact, the animation is quite good throughout, – the music is pleasant, and the art style is immediately likeable, but there just isn’t a whole lot of meat here. I know first episodes are rarely a series’ finest or most comprehensive outings, but there’s nothing to sink your teeth into with the opener. Harudori realizes she can turn into a weapon. Harudori arrives at Death Weapon Meister Academy. Harudori attends a class. Harudori becomes friends with a moron (Meme) and a stuck-up rich girl (Anya). Anya uses Harudori to beat up some bullies. That’s it. Very little of consequence actually occurs, and as such the entire installment feels like a drag. I was counting down the minutes until it ended once I hit the 15-minute mark.

Of course, the bare bones storyline and slow pacing could have worked if Soul Eater Not! was at all funny… but it isn’t. Maybe this is just Funimation’s terrible simulcast translation team at work once again, but I can count the number of attempted jokes in this episode on one hand. This isn’t even a swipe at the anime’s sense of humor – I genuinely could not find more than maybe four moments of comedy in its entire runtime. While the characters are somewhat cute and may become more developed/interesting later on, without humor, action, or plot to accompany them, they fail to carry even a 24-minute piece of animation. A whole series starring this trio would do wonders for my insomnia.

I must stress that the Bones staff did a terrific job with the production aspect of this first episode. It’s let down entirely by the writing (or, at least, the translation), and while I can see it improving substantially in further installments, I can’t say I’d ever willingly watch more without a trusted recommendation. The only thing Soul Eater Not! made me want to do was watch or read Soul Eater actual. — Foggle

2014
04.13

In other words, bullshit.

Well, bully on me for not watching those chibi specials a few weeks ago, because those were essential to understanding the terminology in this show… except it feels unnecessary. Instead of regular old mana, the magical energy you use is called Psions. And instead of wands, they’re Casting Assistant Devices because that sounds technical enough to make the magic seem more realistic than it actually is. Last episode, we had to deal with clique names like weeds and blooms. Now, there’s all this about how one CAD is primarily specialized in helmet splitting while Miyuki’s CAD has to be handled by Tatsuya’s in order to set her mind at ease.

And that goes further in dependent Miyuki is throughout this episode. She has to get Tatsuya’s nod of approval in order to talk to the student council, or get the signature head pat to remind things are going to be fine. She makes the girl from Sakurasou seem more self-sufficient. At the least, I’m learning to tolerate her “Onii-sama” verbal tic, since that’s not going to go away anytime soon. But still, she’s a doormat. Even among other characters who were touted to be strong but didn’t deliver like Asuna, Miyuki has made all of her contemporaries feel more self-reliant by comparison. It gets to the point where I’m expecting a scene next episode when Tatsuya feeds Miyuki while she wears a bib.

Maybe I’m getting too ahead of myself, but give Miyuki a scene where she can be cool or show off her own magic without her brother for once. But instead, there’s a moment where she sits in awe over people making their own boxed lunches. She’s such a stock damsel at this point in the story, so I’m wondering what’s in store for her character in the next few arcs. Is something cool going to happen? Or will she continue to rely on her godly Onii-sama to turn their magic school upside down? This show can be surprising when it wants to be, just not in a good way.

But what doesn’t surprise was the advent of Gyobu Hattori, the latest of the classmates-of-the-week for Tatsuya to beat in order to show off his perfection. Tatsuya’s so cool, that futuristic academic like Gyobu cannot properly gauge how cool he is. Gyobu has a meticulous plan in order to show this kid what for, except he didn’t realize Tatsuya would pull out super-speed out of nowhere to trounce his rule-abiding ass. While this kid was a douche, I can’t help but feel bad for him because he gets screwed over by fucking Tatsuya. Also, I love the subtle love triangle going on with how Gyobu really wants Miyuki, but Miyuki and Mayumi really want Tatsuya, while Tatsuya doesn’t want anybody because he’s too stoic to comprehend romance. And that’s not even accounting for all of the blushing schoolgirls who accidentally refer to Tatsuya as “Onii-sama” as he unintentionally makes the moves on them. Not even three episodes in, and this show’s already getting to Ranma levels of nebulous relationships.

2014
04.08

The face that haunts my dreams is back... >_<

Been a while hasn’t it? When last I watched the unspeakable abomination that is Gatchaman Crowds, the show gave me one of the most mindbogglingly inept finales ever, rife with plot holes, characters shunted to the sides, and a final battle that was… not a final battle… at all. At that time, I prayed to the anime gods that such a disaster should never be repeated and I would never have to do Crowds-Sourcing ever again.

…Since then, Tatsunoko has announced Gatchaman Crowds Second will be airing this year and they gave us a new final episode for the blu-ray set  Clearly, there is no god.

No no no its spelled "incredibad".

Ok so NEW Crowds 12 is actually kinda interesting in that only roughly 2 1/2 minutes of the estimated 24:00 run time has been retained from the original broadcast cut. I assume the rest was edited back into episode 11, which if you recall was a half-assed half-recap episode originally. As I have not yet seen the blu-ray version of Crowds 11, this is based entirely on the fact that the events of this episode are set after the eyecatch of the original version so it makes sense. In which case I refer you to the original write up I did of Crowds 12 last September.

But Rock Paper Scissors Jaguar is in Kamen Rider Crowds!

So anyway, Crowds 12! The Crowds Game is finishing eliminating the NeoXHun CROWDS and turning them into small boxes for orderly disposal. Or in this case, being turned into NOTEs so that their victims can get their souls back or something. The Gatchaman team is proclaimed heroes by the Japanese government and considering there’s no more Mess to fight and no more CROWDS to fight, they’re kinda taking it easy. Paiman gets drunk, Sugane enters college and goes boozing for the first time with Jo, Rui gets to enjoy the life of a Japanese school girl for the first time (DON’T ASK), O.D. (who despite getting impaled by Katze previously is still alive somehow) and Utsutsu pray to avant garde cactus sculptures, J.J. Robinson continues to do nothing but make paper airplanes, and Hajime wanders around like an idiot while posing for photos with her fanboys.

Because you can't spell yuri without Rui!

BUT WHAT ABOUT BERG-KATZE?!?

Well apparently he left Earth after it stopped being fun for him to be a masochist… or did he? One day, Hajime reopens the Gatchannel to announce she’s going on a date with everybody’s favorite hermaphrodite. The Gatchaman team and a swarm of unlookers rush to the local train station to witness this fiasco only to see Hajime essentially talking to herself for 2 minutes straight. …or is she? You see that crowd of onlookers? That’s actually the various people Katze gave big wet kisses to last summer and Hajime being the all-knowing god of the Nakamuraverse that she is, sees right through his disguise. What follows is arguably the most facepalm inducing, downright bizarre five minutes that Gatchaman Crowds has yet produced for us. So bizarre that I had to watch it not once, but twice to determine if I was halucinating or not.  Basically Hajime uses her scissors of death to Hassan-chop Katze’s beautiful red locks before turning him into a note (by KISSING HIM I might add) and shoving him into her chest, making various somewhat sexual howls in the process. …I got nothin.

Mating cycle of the Rare Tatsunoko Blowfish.

Well anyway the rest of the episode is pretty much the original ending. Innocent Note gets a new remix (or maybe its an alternate edit, I don’t know), and there’s no teaser for the rather ominous Crowds Second. Yeah I think I’m done here.

Oh man, am I so looking forward to the bedroom coversations between THOSE two!

Crowds 12 Redux on one hand is definitely an improvement over the original. It fixes a lot of the problems the first version had which basically was that the show had even less to do with Gatchaman after Nakamura became so damn obsesssed with his GALAX and CROWDS Game bullshit. This version is far more focused on the protagonists which is what it should have been in the first place but sadly that also means the episode is very, VERY Hajime. I can’t tell if its because I have not looked at Crowds not one second since the show ended but Hajime seemed more “special” to me this time around, and that’s saying quite a bit. And then there’s Katze… poor poor Katze. Last time I complained about how there was no damn explanation as to what happened in the time skip and that it felt like Nakamura was just trying to cover his tracks with lazy story telling. Now… I kinda want that mystery back. What I have seen cannot be unseen, regrettably.

Ryota Ohsaka after learning he was in both Crowds AND Valvrave this year...

So anyway… that was Crowds… AGAIN. See you in a few months for Crowds Second. “Yay!” he said with a posed look. >_< 4/10.