2014
10.26

As I anticipated episode 04 of Cross Ange, the thought crossed my mind on whether it would end up like Gundam SEED Destiny, where a series of strung-up, intense, events would subside into boring falderal. I was honestly expecting it here, since this was a lull episode where we learned more about the characters, Ange would soften up, and everybody is happy and moves on with life. Then I was blindsided by a picture of this scene.

I can hear the sounds of a million voices muffled by their pillows screaming in deep, triggered, agony.

Oh boy, another scene of violation where our protagonist is demeaned and dehumanized! The nerve! The rancor! Then when I watched the episode I surmised based on the reactions (and the bondage) that it was probably one of those particular situations where somebody has to share bodily warmth with a person freezing to death, and Ange’s an animated sleeper tossing and turning (hence the tie-up). Hey it’s just like that one time in Berserk where Guts had to warm Casca’s body! Except you know, Berserk was good and this is Cross Ange.

So what about the rest of the episode? Eh. Although Ange has that ‘wanting to live’ thing down she’s still a loner and a rebel, Dottie. The show is making her much more stubborn than I thought they would. Despite really turning the tables and not becoming some waifish victim of harassment from those bitter at her for inadvertently killing their Alpha Waifu, she is quick to deny even the friendship of a couple of the Paramail pilots. I dunno if this type of Ange will be wanted in later episodes, but I guess the earlier the better? We’re done with her denying her fate and wishing she was dead, so probably after the myopic and selfish kill to live type; we’ll eventually get that noble leader type.

The episode is ‘saved’ (if you can call it that) by the way it establishes the rest of the Paramail cast. Most of the first half is dedicated to the aforementioned Alpha Waifu clique and their attempts to humiliate Ange in the worst possible way while wantonly uttering the words ‘slut’ and ‘whore’. If you’re already well into the series, I don’t need to say much about how awkward a tone it all is after the past few episodes. I found myself inadvertently laughing at how stupid the events were. I guess it is a natural reaction for them to have outside of murder, but… seriously. Would it have been more effective if these events were more serious in tone? I doubt it; it would have been boring. I’ll just leave this part as something that on paper seems legit but is baffling in execution.

What’s more fascinating is the other half of the Paramail cast: The… normal ones so to speak. By that I mean the weirdo with the perpetual lollipop, the Bridget Hoffman/Kikuko Inoue motherly-type, and the studious bookworm. The first two surprisingly take to Ange pretty well, and while they explained why they think she is redeemed (unsure of the third one), I am actually legit curious why they are like that. You don’t get labeled an inhuman monster and then develop into somewhat of a pleasant human being. Alpha Waifu and her ilk seem to be the ultimate end goal of such a Norma’s development. Why are those three different? It must take a lot to NOT eventually become a sexually-crazed lesbian sexpot–

…Oh my god why am I analyzing this show? Gotta stop this, see you next week on Fukuda’s THIRD island episode involving potentially star-crossed lovers. (Technically in SEED Destiny, it was at a seaside cliff on the mainland, but… same principles).

Rondo of Notes:

· Speaking of Fukuda, it struck me (multiple times, on the head). Cross Ange is essentially the coded cry from Fukuda to remind Bandai/Sunrise that he once made them shitloads of money and now he wants a second chance. One wayward shot reveals a number of SEED memorabilia, and a preview image has Ange holding a combat knife the same way Athrun did some time ago. I tweeted a somewhat silly prediction a while back that Fukuda’s only doing Cross Ange in the hopes he could finally make the SEED movie. However if there are more homages and references Cross Ange makes to it? I might actually be prescient.
· Truly, when I try to imagine Cross Ange with more… noble underpinnings it comes off as kinda goddamn boring in its somberness. We already have enough of that shit with Terra Formars and Attack on Titan, why have more of that noise?
· I’ve made my second comparison between Berserk and Cross Ange. Something is wrong.

Previous Cross Ange Analsis:
· 10/17/2014 – Episode 03
· 10/12/2014 – Episode 02
· 10/10/2014 – Episode 01 (as part of Part 1 of the Fall Clusterfuck)

2014
10.25

Sleep tight, young plumbers.

Since the main cast grew up during the time skip, someone had to fill the “annoying kids on adventures” part of the show. Even the best parts of Avatar must go through something akin to Avatar Day or The Painted Lady, where hijinks are going in the middle of something important. They don’t even give you the luxury of skipping this episode, since there’s still a thread of the main arc that keeps you ignoring everything. It’s like the creators going “Oh, you could skip Avatar Day if you wanted to, but then you won’t understand why Iroh’s not in Zuko Alone.” And while this episode isn’t as bad as those outings, that feeling of plot being hindered by kids being stupid still resonates. Hence, we have the Tenzin kids’ trip to find Korra taking away our glorious Great Uniter’s screentime.

The show tries to make this less of a disconnect to the arc by harkening back to Aang’s journey, and how he was about the same age as these kids. Even the dynamic between the characters feels recognizable, where you can put the Gaang in their shoes without much difficulty. Most of Meelo’s scenes feel like they’re trying to replicate Sokka, except with those details thrown into a small child with an ego complex. That one scene where he tries to romance Tuyen resembles a callback to Sokka’s attempts to woo Suki, Yue, or whoever was relevant at the time. Ikki can manage to mediate her tensions with guards while escaping from ropes without anyone saying anything. Jinora’s acting as the older sister that can’t take anybody’s malarkey whilst having anger of her own to settle. I know Legend of Korra gets criticism for feeling too much like ATLA-lite at times, but this episode genuinely carries that status with these allusions.

I like to think that Toph’s recollections of how they beat Fire Lord Ozai or how she taught Aang to earthbend are criticisms on that connection though. Korra expects to be regaled with grand stories like nothing else, and Toph only gives her a couple sentences with as much as passion as reading off a shopping list. Perhaps this entire episode could be backlash against the reverence of the first series compared to this show, where you can just hear the writers going “Oh, you want more kids on a flying bison? Here you go! Here you fucking go!” Maybe the kids’ quest to find Korra is supposed to be annoying to remind people that the old days had their black spots, and a reminder that it’s best to live in the present than in the past. It doesn’t seem too far off to see Toph’s stories being similar to what the writers have said to fans that expect bigger tales than what actually happened.

That message to stop dwelling in the past is hammered scene after scene, with Korra’s flashbacks to previous seasons and Toph outright telling her to get over it and face the future already. Subtlety isn’t given a hand here thanks to this overbearing attack on past fixations. Though to this episode’s credit, it does feel like they’re trying to sweep away past concerns as early as possible to make way for the Zaofu siege in a few episodes. This is not an episode that helps ask or answer questions, but it feels like a meditation to clear the mind before settling those problems first-hand.

But at least we don’t have to flashback to that one shot of Zaheer again, right?

2014
10.19

Friends, Romans, Countrymen, but not Norma (they’re less than human)! Lend me your ears! There was no rape or grope scene in this week’s episode of Cross Ange.

But you DO get Ange pissing herself out of utter fear. So I guess that irons it out and you still have something to be offended by!

I have yet to remember the last time a show really laid it thick on the protagonist that his or her new lot in life is a complete volte-face. Here, I thought the production crew would be content on calling it good with Coco’s Super-Ebola Face for getting Ange to learn her new lot in life. NOPE! She not only causes Coco’s death, but two other deaths as well. Not only does she earn the ire of her squad, but she gets some hard time dragging the newly deceased tombstones around, wallowing in self-pity, wanting to die, and then NOT wanting to die after somehow making her Paramail into the Strike Freedom.

On a base level it’s all fairly procedural but again there is a bit of appreciation to be had for how the show handles things. They could’ve easily had Ange change by showing how Normas are human by the usual rigmarole of positive disposition and nice events. However their emphasis on revealing to Ange how they are capable of grief and mourning is a better alternative as now Ange’s feelings of disconnect are also equally or overwhelmingly matched by those she thought of as less than human. After coming on strong with her rather ‘charming’ view of them in the first episode, which was revealed with all the subtlety of a freight train through an orphanage on fire, it seems only fitting that Ange’s revelation that maybe the Norma are human after all, has the same style of subtlety. It’s karmic really.

I could’ve sworn the hit was initially on the shoulder on the preview instead of the boob.

I could’ve sworn the hit was initially on the shoulder on the preview instead of the boob.

Either way it intrigues me still. Now that Ange’s started her new life and cut her hair (which she’s excited about if the preview is any indication), we can see how she works with the rest of her new squad. Instead of the fish out of water scenario where sides are for the most part uncertain of each other, the feelings between Ange and everyone else are at an all-time low. How do you build something like friendship and camaraderie after those two episodes, and how does that figure into what that Jill woman is planning? Well, with what appears to be a filler episode next week, we will see. We are in need of a breather from bloodsplosions, groping, anal rape, and incest after all.

Rondo of Notes (non-episode specific ruminations about the series proper every week):

· I’m curious on whether they will explain why Arzenal is run like it is instead of say… a concentration camp of sorts where everybody is oppressed to their eyeballs. I guess it is to give them some modicum of freedom and comfort but only enough that they don’t rebel. Normas can be… like humans but still remain in the lower caste. They can have some pleasures, some acknowledgement of agency, but never in the full capacity that they so deserve.
· Passivity vs. Activity: Another comparison I observed was made between Cross Ange and the woeful Diabolik Lovers, in that the former was apparently 50 times worse than the latter. That’s a wash of a comparison, mostly due to how the protagonists operate. I can stomach Ange’s suffering because she openly attempts to resist her fate even if she fails miserably. She is an ACTIVE character. Yui on the other hand is very PASSIVE, as any and all episodes of DiaLovers (or at least the ones I’ve seen) involve this girl with a perpetual deer-in-the-headlights stare being abused by a menagerie of vampire teens without only so little as a yelp to stop. I have no investment in that kind of character where instead of yelling in my head “WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS!?” it’s more of “DO SOMETHING!” Ange will try and pull the story forward by hook or by crook; Yui will just float in the current like a log. To paraphrase from a movie review: “I watch anime to escape people like this not to feel sorry for them. Victims by choice bore me.”
· Somebody I follow put up this nugget of a tweet. It’s a very salient point that may explain the negative emotions on Cross Ange.
· Real shame about how much people despise this show, because that may mean nobody will probably be interested translating any interviews of the production crew regarding the series. I’d love to see how they explain their creative decisions.
· You gotta give the production crew credit. They could’ve had this group of female fighters defending against a malevolent foe all look like the usual moeblob operations like Vividred and Strike Witches. But nope they stuck with fairly procedural anime style woman designs instead. Although that makes me wonder what my reaction would be if the events in the first episode was played out by individuals with Strike Witches-style designs.
· That dog with the pilot cap. He’s everywhere. He’s in the intro, the main dramatic scenes of this episode, and even the ENDING. He gets to be part of the character scroll with everybody else?! Who IS this dog!?

Previous Cross Ange Analysis:
· 10/12/2014 – Episode 02
· 10/10/2014 – Episode 01 (as part of Part 1 of the Fall Clusterfuck)

2014
10.18

That’s right folks, due to YuYuYu getting a delayed premiere, we got not one but two episodes of this show, a double header premiere if you will. Also, I am the one to write the review to round out this season’s Clusterfeck. Brought to us by the Studio Gokumi (A-Channel and Kinmoza) and helmed by the director-writer team of Seiji Kishi and Makoto Uezu (Arpeggio of Blue Steel, Carnival Phantasm, Persona 4 and Devil Survivor 2), comes what I think is the sleeper hit (if not than probably an overlooked one) of the season, at least in my opinion, that being Yuki Yuna is a Hero!

Episode 1 opens with a tale about a Hero defeating a Demon King but it turns out to the main quartet doing a puppet show for some grade schoolers. We are quickly introduced to this quartet and how they interact with each other. There’s Fu, the eldest and leader of the group, her younger nice and kind sister Itsuki, Togo the girl in a wheel-chair and best friend to the last girl Yuna, our titular redheaded energetic heroine. Together they make up the Hero Club. Basically they are a team devoted to community service, whether they are finding owners for stray cats, doing coast cleanup or putting on a puppet show for the kiddies. They got the Five Tenets which seem more like the guidelines for good living: Give a good greeting, Try not to give up; Sleep well, eat well; If you’re troubled, talk to someone; You’re likely to succeed if you try. I like how they go and show us how the Hero Club members.

I got to say I appreciate the inclusion ot Togo as a handicapped main character, because here its given as a part of her character not just her sole defining characteristic, as she demonstrates aptitude in computer technology (making a mobile app for one of their activities) and plays an equal part to the club. In fact the first part of the episode leads one to believe that this might be just another girls club SoL anime, with our quartet discussing preparations for an upcoming cultural festival and going out to dinner with Fu eating four bowls of udon because the Onee-chan has a large appetite lol.

But then one day they get a mysterious phone call from their smartphones then time freezes for all except for them. WOW, then it turns into something unexpected as reality is unveiled into a world of rainbows and pastels. It’s an actual apocalypse, you know based on the original meaning of the word. They end up in another realm, a visual wonder that is quite impressive. Fu, when pressed, reveals that she is an agent from Taisha, who act on behalf of the great local god Shinju-sama. The team has sent to deal with the Vertex, enemy of mankind who seek out the bounty of the world, Shinju-sama. I really like the design of the Vertex; i find that the CG work done on them and for the otherworldly realm are quite well done, despite looking a bit conspicuous.

Anyway, Yuki and Togo run for it when the Vertex begins to attach, while Fu and Itsuki fight it off. So, essentially this girls club SoL show has now turned into a modern magical girl show, ala Madoka Magica and yet in my book that’s a pleasant surprise. The girls can transform by the hidden power of a smartphone app, granting them special powers through a transformation highly reminiscent of Madoka Magica. Fu gains a giant 2-hand buster sword whereas Itsuki gains a flowery chakram. They put up a good fight but they are clearly outgunned. Just when hope is lost Yuki steps into the fight in order to help out her friends, turning into a pink-haired close combat fighter with happy fists.

Episode 2 has the fight against the Vertex continues. As it turns out, a Sealing Ritual must occur to defeat them. But Togo-san is rather hesitant, feeling herself inadequate. Luckily they win and everything returns to normal for now. This feels less like the first 2 episodes of a show but rather like a 2 part premiere, which is all fine and dandy to me.

But now time for exposition, as Fu explains to the girls why they fight, delivering a clear explanation of the Vertex, Shinju-sama and them being Jukai who derived their power from Shinju-sama in order to fight off and beat the Vertex before they destroy Shinju-sama. Fu states that 12 Vertices total will come and they need to be ready. Togo however still had concerning and somewhat valid doubts but Yuki tries to cheer her up. Also, Yuki got some small horned cow spirit following her around, named Gyuki.

But then another attack occurs, three this time and looking a bit different. So Yuki, Fu and Itsuki go off to fight leaving poor Togo-san behind. But when the fight gets hairy, Togo steps up and uses her power as she wants to make it up to Yuki for last time and also for being there for her when she first moved into town. Her transformation sequence, in contrast to the others, is a bit risque but as a result she gets 3 different spirits (an egg, a scrappy dog warrior and a flame) which I am sure will come into place later. Togo practically becomes the strategist and sniper of the group, as her weapons are guns (pistols and rifle). In fact, their second fight really illustrates their team dynamic as they work together to beat the Vertex trio.

But yeah, I am really digging this show. Granted, the story is stepped in the tropes and cliches of girls club SoL and mahou shoujo (particularly post-Madoka) genre but it has enough original strokes here and there to be not a total rip-off. What Takahiro did with AKame ga Kill (homaging 90s schlocky dark fantasy anime) he seems to be taking pages out of just classic mahou shoujo along with more modern tropes when it comes to YuYuYu. I really find it encouraging that Studio Gokumi which has done pretty much only girls club SoL shows is now tackling a mahou shoujo action show as the production crew in terms of animation and art direction do a great job here. Granted, they got Kishi and Uezu on board and while their track record isn’t the best in anime, I think they do a great job for the first two episodes. The real test will come with the third episode I suppose to see if it can keep up the potential for greatness that the 2 part premiere holds.

2014
10.18

Do they come in extra large?

This week presents betrayal and hypocrisy within the politics of restoring the Earth Kingdom. The promise of a spiritual world has run empty, letting the fury of fascism run amok. Yes, these tyrants have the excuse of cleaning up from the messes of previous despots, but they are too blind to recognize how their predecessors went wrong. The wheel keeps turning, and those who fought evil in the past have become villains themselves. While the Avatar cycle was hampered, the cycle of oppression goes on with no one ready to stop it. Corruption will always find a new incarnation, and they—oh, you were only looking at this episode for Toph.

So Toph’s back, and her progression throughout the metaseries has been an interesting one. She went from pampered princess to blind bandit to official officer to hardened hermit. Toph’s gone through the most changes out of any of the characters, yet there’s still that spark of the little girl who made a monkey out of the Boulder. She’s still obnoxious. She’s still aggressive. And she’s still reliable. With the Avatar universe going through revolutions both in politics and technology, it feels peaceful to know that there’s still a part of the old age ready to help. Yeah, Guru Pathik or somebody could have easily utilized her role, and the return of ATLA characters has been as fanservicey enough as it is, but it’s the sentiment that counts.

That sentiment isn’t shared in-universe though, as seen when Kuvira crushes a Kyoshi pendant to show the world what she stands for. Where Toph symbolizes how the old ways can still work, Kuvira represents the dark side of innovation. She has very good reasons for her iron grip on the Earth Kingdom—the knowledge that so much as a crazed airbender and his friends can topple a nation can do that—but those reasons come without compromise. She’s witnessed such a massive threat that she’s too paranoid not to see anyone else as a potential hazard. The peacekeepers at Zaofu struggled to bring Red Lotus down, so how can they handle rebellions on a countrywide scale? That kind of tension requires a more focused mind, and Kuvira’s decided that Suyin’s teachings are too gentle for that outlook. The season could be focusing on Korra’s stress from Zaheer’s torment, but his effects are also wearing on Kuvira’s mind.

In a sense, she’s carrying what Zaheer intended to do last season by overthrowing the rule of kings and queens. The villains have been echoes of each other. Amon’s call of arms for equality resonates in Unalaq’s violent demands for spiritual balance. That flows into Zaheer’s ideology borrowed from long-dead gurus and a desire to get rid of secular desires, and has ultimately went into Kuvira’s agenda for a world without another selfish Earth Queen getting in the way. Players may change but the game stays the same as can be attested by Toph (and David Simon) earlier in the episode.

But that theme of treachery echoing throughout eras could be subverted through Wu’s character. On the surface, he’s just as shallow and materialistic as his great-aunt. Most hints suggest that if he were crowned at this point in the show, he would be on the track to being just another oppressor. But this episode gives him humility, from Mako of all people. Where Kuvira was an initially good person tainted by power, he’s a seemingly bad person who is refused authority. He is like his ancestor Kuei in that regard, having been too sheltered and condescended to by generals to make an actual choice for himself. And even though that would be another echo, it’s a sign that evil’s not the only thing that incarnates itself through the times.

2014
10.16

Girl Friend Beta

All eat and no play makes Jack a dull moeblob.

This anime is literally just cute girls doing cute things, even more so than past efforts such as K-On!. While previous works in the same vein at least attempted to employ other aspects such as humor to keep the viewer’s attention, this is not so in Girl Friend Beta. This episode is 24 and a half minutes’ worth of moe schoolgirls either attempting to talk to each other without falling over or adorably doing things that vaguely resemble academic activities. It’s about as tedious to watch as an anime can be.

There is no conflict. There are no jokes. There aren’t even any real characters in the traditional sense. The “plot” basically amounts to a series of wild goose chases in which the protagonist tries to return a photograph without forgetting how to walk and breathe simultaneously. This is like test footage someone shot at their school upon initially borrowing a camera from their film instructor. Thankfully, it’s not creepy, and it doesn’t feel voyeuristic… granted, it doesn’t really feel like anything, but at least that’s a plus.

The production work on this show is fairly standard. There aren’t really any noticeable problems with the animation or anything, though I must say that – even as someone who doesn’t speak Japanese – Mochizuki’s voice acting is noticeably bad. She doesn’t have many lines, but the ones she does have feel like they’re being read directly from a script over the phone. I have nothing else to say about any aspect of this episode.

I am completely dumbfounded by the existence of Girl Friend Beta. What is its purpose, and why was it made? These are questions that will certainly haunt me to the end of my days. But you know what? If you like this kind of show – and I’m sure you already know if you do – I’m not going to hold that against you. Please, watch and enjoy Girl Friend Beta. I will probably never understand the appeal behind anime like this one, but if you do, then that should be good enough for all of us. — Foggle

Second Opinion!

Kissu~

Well, this was a surprise out from left field. I thought that this was going to het-harem show #3217, but nope that doesn’t seem to be the case, if going by the premiere. it mostly serves as an introductory piece for the characters, which at this point seem to be a bevy of high school cuties. From our rather plain looking female lead Kokomi, her gymnast teammates, the pink haired sensei, a blonde girl quick to take some photos of our lead cutie, another blonde girl Chloe who’s a French cutie, the Kaichou and radio DJ, the quiet librarian and practically all anime schoolgirl stereotypes in anime ever make an appearance for this show. Only at the end does anything occur as Kokomi and Chloe make a pinky promise and a wonderful friendship has started.

Aside from that, not much else takes place. It is all really cute, laidback SoL series at the moment. The character designs are a bit too cutesy for my liking, but it is to be expected. Art and animation are also a bit generic and unremarkable. Overall, its fairly safe, inoffensive and rote girly SoL show with some hinting at possible yuri/shoujo-ai content. I am proceeding with this show, but only cautiously. But still, it’s a pleasant surprise. — The Eclectic Dude

Gonna Be the Twin-Tail!!

Looks like this is one for the intellectuals.

From the director of Oreimo comes She-Zow the anime, except this version doesn’t have a message and is completely soul-crushing to watch. Every minute I spent viewing Twin-Tail!!, I could feel my brain cells continuously committing suicide one by one. I’m under the impression that whoever wrote the script for this anime spent 90% of his time in the writing room huffing paint thinner and watching reruns of Go-Onger, which is totally Lord Dalek’s favorite sentai series and you should definitely tweet him about it a lot.

When General Scales from Star Fox Adventures attacks Japan with intentions to destroy the twin-tail hairstyle forever, it’s up to high school hair-fetishist Souji Mitsuka to transform into a little girl with superpowers and take him down. But before he can do this, boobs are thrust in his face. Nothing else happens in this episode. It’s unfortunate that, while this synopsis certainly sounds like it could make for an idiotic but hilarious comedy series, the humor completely failed to resonate with me at all. I found myself cringing constantly, wondering why and how this anime was even produced in the first place. Not since the second cour of Samurai Flamenco has a superhero parody managed to fall so flat for me.

The fight scene at the end of Twin-Tail!!‘s premiere is kind of funny, I guess, and the dinosaur dude managed to make me crack a smile at times, but the overall sense of humor is so stupid that I simply could not bring myself to laugh at any point. I normally enjoy “so bad it’s good” shows, but I honestly feel like this one might be a bit too self-aware. Yes, it’s obvious that this is intentionally vapid, meritless tripe, but that just takes all the fun out of it. For instance, I love High School DxD because, in spite of its dire legitimate attempts at comedy, it so desperately wants you to take its main storyline seriously; it never winks at the audience, and it isn’t smart enough to, which is precisely what makes it so funny. And sure, it’s possible to successfully manufacture that same feeling, but then it has to be really over the top to work, as in spring’s Daimidaler. Twin-Tail!! has the ridiculous ideas it needs to be humorous, but it lacks the earnest execution required for the silliness to come across well, so instead it just ends up being boring and grating.

Perhaps the first half of this episode soured me on what was to come. The second half definitely has moments that I might have found enjoyable under normal circumstances, but that bit where Maaya Uchida’s character kept shoving her breasts in Souji’s face was the closest I’ve seen an anime come to anti-humor in a while, so maybe I would have appreciated the abject stupidity of the final battle more if I’d had enough patience left to laugh at it. My main problem with this anime is that it doesn’t seem to embrace its inherent stupidity enough. It teeters on the brink of being hilarious, but it feels like it’s held back by its own inhibitions, often not willing to go far enough to make the jokes actually funny. It’s more dull than it is charming, and that’ll stop any parody dead in its tracks. — Foggle

Second Opinion!

Kawaii!!!!

Naruhisa Arakawa is a contradiction of a writer. In many ways he’s the reverse Yasuko Kobayashi in that in live action he’s written arguably the greatest Kamen Rider series in the last 25 years, Kamen Rider Kuuga as well as the fan favorite sentais Dekaranger and Gokaiger. Whereas in anime however, his track record is not so much spotty as it is down right abominable. This is the man who gave us shows like Listen to Me Girls, I am Your Father; Yosuga no Sora, So I Can’t Play H, and…ugh…Outbreak Company. So to see his name attached to Wanna Be The Twin-Tail!! is more than just a mere cause for alarm. Its not like the premise filled me with any confidence when it was announced. Its the story of a vapid otaku with a fetish for lolis with the twin-tail hairstyle every fucking anime girl has who gets the magic (and humiliating) ability to transform into the girl from Vividred Operation. Totally something that would be dumped at the end of the year and be immediately forgotten…

…and up until the eyecatch, it is that show. There is literally nothing to see with this tired pandering pap smear of a show. Its just a miserable waste.

BUT THEN! Something absolutely magical occurs. You see there’s one more live action show of Arakawa’s I have not yet mentioned. That, my friends, is the great Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger. In that show, a bunch of daydreaming delusional OCD morons are turned into “sentai” by a slightly unhinged woman played by Maaya Uchida. In this show, a daydreaming delusional OCD moron is turned into an over the top, ultracliched, Symphogear reject by an incredibly unhinged woman voiced by…wait for it…Maaya Uchida! Now that might just be a mere coincidence, but then…the villains show up. An evil space empire staffed by late-2000’s Toei rejects and Kamen Rider mooks who want to conquer the universe by stealing that precious twin-tail hairstyle. How do they plan to do this? By hitting schoolgirls in the head with stuffed animals, that’s how! It is at this point that you realize that you’ve been trolled so hard. That Arakawa wanted you to think that it was that crappy high school obssession shlock show before pulling down the curtain to reveal it was Akibranger Season 3. When the evil boss lizard guy starts gets all erogeneous over Tail-Red’s ridiculous do before getting blown to smithereens in classic sentai fashion,  I can’t help but laugh at it. It’s brilliant.

So this is my problem. The first half of this show is utter shit, completely irredeemable. The second half is just sheer beautiful insanity designed to hit you over the head with a frying pan. Happily the preview for next week’s episode suggests its going to be more the former than the latter but I’m still unsure about where this is going to go in the longrun. At the moment Wanna Be The Twin-Tails gets a much surprised out of left field partial recommendation from me as long as you’ve watched a ton of episodes of Goseiger and know what to laugh at. — Lord Dalek

A Good Librarian Like A Good Shepherd

The one with purple hair is my waifu this season.

If I had to choose only one word to describe A Good Librarian Like A Good Shepherd (henceforth referred to by the shortened Japanese title, Daitoshokan), it would be “average.” The writing is average. The characters are average. The art style is average. The animation, voice acting, and soundtrack are average. Indeed, nothing about this show is particularly good, but at the same time, nothing about it is genuinely bad. It’s filled with cliches, and isn’t that interesting to watch, but I can’t say I loathed the time I spent looking at this first episode either. It’s one of those series that you know is going to be nothing special, but you also can’t bring yourself to hate. That said, I can certainly see this being a fun time waster for slice of life fans, even if I can’t really picture anyone considering it to be essential viewing.

While I struggle to think of anything substantial to say about the content of this episode – it’s so plain that my thoughts fail to extend past what I wrote in the previous paragraph, – I will at least give the writers a little credit for how one of the plot elements ended up playing out. Naturally, Daitoshokan has one of those insipid “sorry, I was trying to save you from certain doom but I accidentally groped you in the process” scenes because, well, of course it does. These are always worth a groan or five, but I must say that this anime somehow found a way to make the aftermath of it a little bit interesting. Sure, the girl ended up not thinking it was a big deal, either because she understood what the protagonist was attempting to do or because she somehow enjoyed it (the latter of which would be incredibly stupid and potentially offensive unless handled well), but what led up to that reveal is something I’ve always wanted to see: the main character was actually ostracized by the other students for doing this. It’s played for laughs, and resolved within 15 minutes, but it’s nice to see someone not so easily forgiven by society for what can only be described as public molestation. Now can we please finally kill this awful cliche and bury it 50 feet underground in a steel container? Thanks.

Overall, I neither liked nor disliked Daitoshokan. That minor subversion I just mentioned aside, nothing about this episode was particularly notable; though like I said at the start, there also isn’t anything I’d say was legitimately poor about it. I think it could potentially hit the right notes for certain people, so it might be worth checking out if the premise interests you at all, but the rest of us will find little reason to care about this show either way. — Foggle

Gundam Build Fighters Try

Didn't you read my Tumblr!?!?!?!!?!?!?!?!

It’s been seven years since the first Gundam Build Fighters, and the Gunpla Battle Club formed after Iori Sei’s victory at his alma mater has fallen on hard times, with all efforts to repeat his accomplishment torpedoed at the first round of the national tournament. Fumina Hoshino, the sole remaining member of the club, is in need of some help if she wants to keep the club intact and get another shot for glory. Fortunately a very familiar looking boy, Sekai Kamiki, finds his way into her life, bringing not just brusque martial arts prowess but a hidden finesse in Gunpla. Now with him in tow, it is up to her to find one more player to join their three-man team (not much a spoiler if you’ve been paying attention), and maybe… just maybe grasp victory.

I loved Gundam Build Fighters. It’s free from the usual emotionally maladjusted baggage of any Gundam series done in the classical style, and focused on high-quality frenetic fun with an immensely likable cast. Build Fighters Try looks to be the exact same, and that is fine with me. Aesthetically there is no loss of quality, with Gunpla battles still very intense and well-animated, character designs still very appealing, and music that always seems to capture the mood and intensity perfectly. Story-wise, there is not much to say since it follows the beat of the original. The protagonist’s way of life or status is threatened, it must be settled in a children’s toy game, and then a miraculous rescue occurs and thus begins the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

This’d be a bad thing if it weren’t for Try shifting the dynamic. Fumina’s stubborn and incredible passion for Gundam and Sekai’s naïve if eager lust for battle bounce off together exceptionally well. They aren’t Iori and Reiji Mk. II and as such look to be a rather interesting team. Unsure yet on their third person, as he’s kept pretty much in a rival capacity this episode, but he may seem to bring a tactical, reserved, edge once he joins; alongside uncertain emotions and feelings based on past events with Fumina. The new three-team dynamic they pulled out for Try is a potential for unique growth amongst the main team, and thankfully leaves me feeling okay that we’re not seeing a regurgitation of character dynamics. Here’s to hoping that the supporting cast is unique in their own way and just as quirky as the last one, and also not relying on the original cast TOO much to hog the spotlight…

…Except for Mr. Ral. He kinda deserves that.

Anyway, you liked Build Fighters? You’ve probably already watched Try. If not? It’s worth a shot if you like fun, competitive, anime involving garish aesthetically pleasing marketable robots. Please make sure you still check out the original though just to bring your understanding of the world full circle and what to expect from Try in terms of tone and disposition. — The Juude

Hi-sCool! Seha Girls

D'Awww I still love ya, Gilly!

In 1940, a small company known as Standard Games (later renamed Service Games) was formed in Honolulu by businessman Martin Bromley to supply slot machines and pinball games to US Army Bases in the year before we entered World War II. 12 years later, with the US Occupation in full swing, Service Games moved its operations to Tokyo quickly becoming one of the largest manufacturers of coin operated amusements in the land of the rising sun. Then… the turning point. In 1964, Donald Rosen, an ex-Air Force who had started his own competing coin-op business, merged his company with Service Games. The resulting company would drop a couple vowels and a lot of consonants to become something far more familiar and dear to video gamers worldwide… Sega.

Why am I bringing this up? Because I just taught you more history about the greatest arcade game company of all time than you’ll EVER learn from Seha Girls!

No really, this is basically an 11 minute advertisement for retro Sega whores who want to see their main three consoles turned into really badly animated CGI girls. In this edition, the trio of Dreamcast, Saturn, and Mega Drive (that’s the Genesis for us Americans alone), talk about various old Sega games but mostly just dwell on who’s the least attractive character in Golden Axe (sadly its Gillius Thunderhead). There’s also a cliffhanger ending where the Seha Girls are dumped into the original Virtual Fighter and have to fight Akira Yuki in all his low polygon count glory. Facepalming ensues!

Even as a die hard Sega fanboy since 1993 (GAME GEAR MASTER RACE REPRESENT Y’ALL!) I cannot believe this show is literally a thing. Its eyebleeding ugly, sophmorically acted, and reeks of some guy just jizzing over a picture of Yu Suzuki for two hours. Between Seha Girls and Sonic Boom what is there to live for? Answer: nothin’. Now excuse me while I boot up Fantasy Zone on Mame to drown out my sorrows. — Lord Dalek

I Can’t Understand What My Husband Is Saying

4-koma manga do not transfer well into anime most of the time, but there are exceptions to the rule – shows like The Melancholy of Haruhi-chan Suzumiya work out, due to being both short but sweet, and underlying some sort of plotline behind the gags. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is based off a 4-koma manga, but manages to keep a plotline going throughout its 12 episode run and normal 24 minute runtime. I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying does not work as well as Haruhi-chan nor Nozaki-kun. It does not work at all. I can’t understand what my show is doing.

The fact of the matter is, the show just isn’t funny. You can always try your damned hardest with the runtime you have – three and a half minutes – to pop a joke, but when this show does it, it fails at both comedic timing and comedic ideas. While watching both episodes, I thought to myself: ‘Where’s the humour?’ It is a question that shall never see its answer.

The show relies on the marriage of Kaori and Hajime – a hardworking housewife and her waste of an otaku husband. Hajime shuts himself away from society, only escaping when Kaori is with him. This is a typical idea of comedy in the realm of anime. It is not explored or exploited in this brief moment called I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying. Nothing really is, because it’s too short, as explained before many times.

Nothing can really be sustained well with such a weak premise and short run time. It may be good to kill time, but to watch with the intention to laugh? You’re better off searching through the other mountains of anime to find a gem. I Can’t Understand What My Husband is not that gem. — MaHousbando

Parasyte -the maxim-

Studio Madhouse used to be prestigious – with works like Paprika, Redline, Black Lagoon, Paranoia Agent, Aoi Bungaku and Monster under their belt. Like other studios such as Satelight and White Fox, Madhouse went through a dark period, pumping out shows like Magical Warfare, The Irregular at Magic High School, Photo Kano and Btooom!. It appears Madhouse have finally returned to their roots after weeding out Irregular, and even with one episode, Parasyte -the maxim- is already in full bloom.

Once again, Madhouse have made the impossible possible: they have metamorphosed Shouji Yonemura, writer of Smile PreCure!, Kamen Rider Decade and Guin Saga, into a decent series composer. This first episode demonstrates fine pacing and an interesting set-up for its world: parasitic creatures have invaded Earth, crawling into the mouth and ears of unsuspecting humans. One human, Shinichi Izumi, wears headphones when a parasite comes crawling to possess him, so it burrows its way in Shinichi’s arm and takes control of that instead, creating a life of its own while Shinichi still lives and breathes. The two become an unlikely duo, searching for other parasites.

The animation is everything Madhouse can do and more. In light of Irregular‘s fittingly irregular animation, Parasyte‘s rising hope is its fluid animation and consistency. The character designs are gorgeous and differ greatly from the original manga – this is nowhere near out of order. The original designs seemed generic and dated, but the new designs by Tadashi Hiramatsu are simple and good to look at, while also retaining that 90s feel. The characters – and when I mean characters, I mean most prominently Shinichi and Migi – come off as likeable. The most captivating prospect the show has to offer is the eidos of the parasites, and their true motives for invading Earth.

The single lost zero the show has to offer is the atrocious opening – Let Me Hear by Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas – and the unfitting music composed by Ken Arai. Fear, and Loathing in Las Vegas is a terrible band, with terrible openings and endings to both good and bad anime. Their song is completely unfitting and disrupts the feel of the show. The animation for the OP itself is fine, but the song honestly, is not. The original soundtrack is ill-matched, completely juxtaposing the show – dubstep and body horror anime do not blend well together.

Overall, the thought particles generated from this episode are positive. Even with all its shortcomings thanks to its music, Parasyte generates an engaging first episode – a Mirror image of Irregular‘s opening episode. It is definitely worth the watch. — The Mahoxim

Second Opinion!

Nope, not censored! Now let's all go laugh at Terraformars' shitty black bars...after we watch this, of course.

One day, someone on earth had a sudden thought: “Life must be protected.” And, as if to answer that wish, small spores suddenly fluttered down from the sky over the nation of Japan. Nobody knows where they came from. They could be life forms that traveled across the stars, or they could be a new species of life that grew up innocuously in our own backyard. One thing that is certain, though, is that they are hungry. Weak in their own natural state, these creatures infect the bodies of unsuspecting victims, and take over their bodies. They are sort of like the classic monster, The Thing, in a way. And like The Thing, they can distort their bodies into grotesque, horrifying forms, equipped with deadly weapons to cut down any prey or opposition. Now these monsters walk amongst us, looking and acting just like us, hunting for fresh flesh to feed on from their host species. They are the Parasytes, among the greatest horror monsters to ever come out of the medium of manga, and this is the story of how a young man attempts to fight these creatures off, protect those he cares about, while grappling with a personal transformation of his own, one that threatens his very identity.

Though, I shouldn’t need to tell you any of that. I mean, come on, you have to have heard of Parasyte before this. It’s one of the best and most highly regarded manga ever made; a thought provoking action-horror story with strong environmental themes and social commentary. It’s almost surprising that it’s taken so long for it to get an anime, but perhaps rights issues got in the way. Parasyte was so popular back in the day that it attracted the attention of many people in Hollywood who wanted to turn it into a live-action film, including, at one point, James Cameron. Of course, like most of Hollywood’s attempts to turn anime and manga based properties into films, production on the film has been stalled for years. The last anyone heard of the effort was that Jim Henson studios was producing it, and that was a decade ago. So, like most long-rumored upcoming films based on anime/manga series, such as Akira, Death Note, and Battle Angel Alita, it’s probably never going to get made. In fact, I’m pretty sure whoever had the rights to the film let them expire, and that allowed Toho to get them, and produce two live-action films based on the series set to come out later this year. And, of course, that’s what inspired Madhouse to pick up the rights for an anime adaptation of the property, to coincide with the film’s release. Corporate synergy for the win, yeah!

If you can’t tell by now, let me make this clear: Parasyte is a big-name property. It might not be one of those massive commercial phenomenons like a lot of long-running shonen series or Type Moon’s Fate, but it is a classic manga that is still well-beloved in it’s home country and gained widespread recognition from both manga fans and important movie producers overseas. So, there was a lot for this anime to live up to. Considering it’s production was announced at the same time the movies were, which was a year ago, Madhouse clearly wanted to put in a lot of time and effort into making this a great series worthy of it’s pedigree. There were a lot of doubts from fans of the manga in the year leading up to this. Many were worried the graphic content would be heavily censored, or took issue with the new character designs, etc. And it’s not hard to see why a lot of fans were both excited and anxious about this adaption. Parasyte is a series that, handled just right, could be an amazing anime if Madhouse succeeded at capturing every facet that makes it the classic that it is just right. And boy howdy, am I sure glad to say that they’ve indeed succeeded, and then some.

This first episode starts with a bang and hits all the right notes immediately after. Everything is well-paced, throwing a lot of information out but doing it in a palatable way that keeps enjoyment and interest high, and accomplishes a lot in 24 minutes. This is somewhat to be expected, since they are adapting a fairly dense 10-volume long manga into a mere two-cours, 24 episodes long anime, but if you haven’t read the manga you probably wouldn’t even be able to tell. All the characters are established and well-characterized, with early hints at character arcs to come. Those who complained about the changed character designs should soon forget their gripes, because they work brilliantly in motion, and allow for far more expressive animation than the more stiff designs of the manga could hope too. The animation itself is fantastically rendered, wonderfully expressive, fluid, and energetic, allowing for a multi-faceted range from subtle emotional scenes to awesomely-rendered action sequences. The color design and direction allows for beautifully looking scenes that get across the emotion and mood of the moment remarkably well, allowing the body horror moments in particular to stand out as truly unnerving and grotesque. Speaking of, in case you couldn’t tell from the picture, the series hasn’t been censored in the slightest! Fuck yeah!

Not only does the show look great, but it also sounds pretty good as well. The sound design is excellent, working to set the mood and tone of scenes very well, and really fleshing out the more horror-based ones. The voice acting is perfect and top-notch, with an extra special mention to Aya Hirano in particular, whose portrayal of Migi in a hilariously deadpan voice does wonders in bringing the character to life. Madhouse did not waste any of the time they spent working on this show, and it shows, because the production values are top notch through and through. The one gripe I have with is the OST, which uses some dub-step and electronic sounding tracks that are either not used effectively or don’t properly fit the scene or the kind of series Parasyte is, in general, but this is generally not much of a problem. Except for the opening, which frankly sounds like shit and makes my ears bleed, but it’s a song from Fear, And Loathing in Las Vegas, so I expected nothing less. The ending theme is significantly more ear-pleasing, though, and reflects the more subdued, human element of the series very well.

Overall, Parasyte -the maxim- is a rousing success; a beautifully looking, well-executed and animated adaption of the famed classic that fires on all cylinders all the way through. If you’re like me and are a huge fan of the manga, you might be able to nitpick and lament at some changes to the story and the reordering of certain events, and might be particularly disappointed at the removal of the iconic dick-hand scene (google it), but overall these are just frivolous nitpicks and nothing more. This is a quality adaption of the source material, and one of the best-made, and perhaps the best, anime to come out of this season, if not the year. And I can assure you, it will only get better from here. One of the biggest reasons the Parasyte manga has persevered in popularity decades after it’s conclusion is because, like the best works of anything in any medium, it is about something more than itself. It asks timeless philosophical questions, and is a well-written, often funny, often tragic character-driven story beginning to end. I’m not going to spoil exactly what those questions are, or what answers are reached. But one thing I will say, is that for all the focus it puts on it’s titular monsters, Parasyte is really a story about humanity. And I, for one, can’t wait to fall in love with it all over again. I think you will too. — Cartoon X

Psycho-Pass, Season 2

The Sibyl System’s governed land returns, where people are arrested not simply for crimes, but for the mental possibility of committing such crimes. The concepts of right and wrong are replaced with a system’s intolerance for mental instability. Cops have their morals bent over backwards to uphold an oppressive regime, and the only people who can rebel often use terrorist aims to get their point across. One can wonder how any light can shine in this world, except for Akane Tsunemori and her endeavor to bring justice not through force but through altruism. She may have few sympathizers, and the other cops might think she’s wrong, but she still has enough energy to fight back against neverending corruption.

And in the year and a half since taking that stand, crime still wreaks havoc as usual. The premiere throws us back into Akane’s world without full knowledge as to what’s changed and what’s stayed the same. New cops are around, and criminals are now given more lenience than previously, but the Sibyl System still stands. I really like the finale of last season because while the system doesn’t get brought down, Akane’s inability to be broken by the show’s trauma could make you believe that she could on day revolutionize society. While the circumstances were bleak, the season ended on a hopeful note.

That hope seems to have diminished in the interregnum, but hasn’t completely disappeared. A lot of this episode had a “back to basics” feel, with a case of the week that hued more to the procedurals of the first half of last season. I’m hoping things escalate from there, especially given this season’s shorter length. There’s also the new characters introduced like Togane and Hinakawa, where they could be good for the dynamic or get wasted like Kagari and Yayoi were. Frankly, this episode gave me a sense of joy over seeing the series explored again and concern over how they can expand on what was already a very good story. And given the change in screenwriters, those feelings are running thick. — Bloody Marquis

Ronja Rövardotter (Sanzoku no Musume Ronja)

Dad's mad his show ain't subbed too.

If this season is caught in a time loop then Ronja Rövardotter must be the latest installment of House Foods World Masterpiece Theater. Its an adaptation of a 1981 novel by Astrid “Pippi Longstocking” Lindgren, arguably the most famous Swedish writer who didn’t write books about Girls With Dragon Tatoos. It sports a theme song that sounds like it was recorded on a cheap ass Casio in 1984. Hell its even directed by Miyazaki!…no not Hayao, his son nobody likes for some reason. Yes this truly is a show out of time albeit with one small difference…its almost full 3D CGI.

Yes for their first ever full-length TV series (I know, it took them HOW long?), Studio Ghibli decided to collaborate with Polygon Pictures, the company that produced Knights of Sidonia, which is still probably the best show of 2014, last spring. All the characters in the show are cel-shaded models, based off designs from the guy who did Spirited Away. The backgrounds which were done by Ghibli themselves however remain flat and hand painted and they look eyepoppingly gorgeous, especially in HD. Now, you might think there would be some disconnect between 3D models on hand painted backdrops and occasionally there is. A few side on shots look a bit off as if the cgi was being squished by two pieces of glass, but for the most part it works remarkably well, and I just couldn’t help but stare at it.

…Then again, I really had no choice but to stare at it because I ended up watching a raw. Yes its literally been about four days since Ronja’s double length premiere aired on NHK and nobody wants to sub it. While I’m not too surprised considering how long it took to get episodes of Sidonia out here, its actually kinda sad considering Ghibli. That being said, the plot really isn’t that hard to follow considering the language barrier. Its a slow paced story that builds up to a classic Ghibli “fledgling leaves the nest” scene. You know, like the kind that started off Kiki’s Delivery Service. It doesn’t drag persay but the fact that you’re essentially watching two episodes of the show glued together does draw attention to itself pretty quickly. Nevertheless I found Ronja to still convey a sense of sweetness and air, and it would make a very good chaser for something as horrible and asinine as Cross Ange. That is…if somebody would SUB IT. — Lord Dalek

Addendum!

Oh hey Koi stepped up and subbed Ronja!…and it only took FIVE DAYS. And while I found my first viewing of the show to be moderately enjoyable, I can now say that I really like Ronja. There’s a gentle humor in the script that isn’t obvious because of the language barrier and I found myself smiling at the results. Maybe not for everyone, but for this grumpy old Dalek, its a keeper.

Shirobako

P.A. Works is a studio with immense talent wasted on boring shows – Glasslip, Angel Beats!, Red Data Girl and others. The Eccentric Family, Another and Canaan came from good or reliable sources and made for interesting, enjoyable watches. Shirobako, like Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea, had an interesting concept that could have be executed well – if it wasn’t deathly boring.

The Eccentric Family, Canaan and Another all had boons thanks to solid source material that laid out the pace of the show from episode one. Shirobako, on the other hand, does not have that boon – and even without that boon, a show should keep its audience enthralled or even mildly interested in the medium they are watching – something Shirobako fails at.

I will admit, the opening scene allowed an interesting change from most anime as of late: the show does not take place in highschool, only the opening scene did. The story itself concerns the adventures of five girls after their highschool graduation, living their own lives in society. The story of this episode is the tale of Aoi Miyamura, an animator who works at Munashiro Animation – a reference to the long-dead studio Mushi Pro – and her work on an anime named Exodus. It chronicles stress, the attitudes at animation studios, friendship and lots and lots of curry.

This show could be great if P.A. Works didn’t make it so monotone. The show doesn’t tell us a lot about Aoi, or anyone she works with. We are plunged into her world with little information about her, and the show doesn’t allow us to emote to Aoi because we don’t know her well enough yet. We don’t feel connected to the story because we know nothing about it. When a character faints at the end of the episode, it feels forced, because we don’t know them well at all. Forced drama is the worst kind of drama, and it is the kind of drama P.A. Works likes to suffocate most of their works in – see Hanasaku Iroha.

The character designs look like typical P.A. Works fodder. It is baffling how this show employs a completely different character designer – Ponkan8 – and still makes it look like the bastard child of Glasslip. The animation itself is decent, and although 2014’s anime has an obsession with shitty CG use, the CG in this episode was pretty decent for a TV anime. The car chase when the show switches to its main setting had an effective use of soundtrack dissonance – idol songs really do put you off car races.

This show really does have promise, exploring how anime itself is made and produced. If the show moves out of its growing pain phase, it could be somewhat decent by normal anime standards and amazing by P.A. Works standards. — Mahobako

Second Opinion!

Ain't that the truth!

The tale of 5 young girls as they aspire for success in Japanese animation production.begins this week. It is a promise made on donuts. The group’s first feature is shown at a school festival, but then bam!  time skip to 2.5 years later as Aoi, one of the girls is a production assistant for an animation studio. It has a brief turn into Initial D for some reason and then Animation Runner Kuromi as Aoi is a production runner, making sure to pick up animation work by a home worker. The moment that really cemented this series for me was the scene of the staff watching the very first episode of their anime series. It is truly a sight seeing those that work on anime watching their stuff live on TV. One of her friends Ema also works at the same studio as a rookie key animator Animation production is truly a stressful job full of trials and troubles, it kind of puts my day job to shame nearly.

But yeah I like this show quite a lot. This show had a lot of high expectations, and thankfully it stood up to them. This is essentially Animation Runner Kuromi (that OVA you might have heard) or the final episode of the Golden Boy OVA done in series form. Another thing I took away from this is that this is clearly a project of passion and love, thanks in part by the director Tsutomo Mizushima (Another, Girls und Panzer, Genshiken, Joshiraku, Squid Girl, etc) anime comedy writer Michiko Yokote and staff at PA Works,which while good with most of their other shows, I think with this show have hit their stride. Add to that the fact that this show may possible be 2-cour, puts that rare big grin on my face. — The Eclectic Dude

Trinity Seven

Kill whitey!

When the first episode of your series opens with the main character enthusiastically groping his cousin for nearly a minute and then refusing to apologize for it afterward, you’re setting an overwhelming precedent that it’s going to be terrible. While Trinity Seven has a couple of potentially interesting things going for it – and is certainly far from the worst show to air this season – this assumption largely rings true throughout the rest of its premiere. The initial premise is actually pretty neat: a cataclysm happens that disintegrates the majority of the world’s population while simultaneously leaving its environment barren and man-made structures in ruins, but Arata Kasuga, the protagonist, is blissfully unaware of this due to a dark magic spell he inadvertently cast with a potentially evil grimoire. However, something is clearly rotten in Denmark (err, Japan), as the sun has suddenly turned into a gaping black maw, and his cousin, Hijiri, has started implying that she’s hungry like the wolf.

The entire aforementioned storyline is completely resolved by the halfway point. Arata then goes on to join a magic academy (yaaaaaay) and make small talk with his fellow students about their breasts. While the early universe-establishing moments were badly executed, with such concepts as pacing and tension being almost nonexistent, they had undeniable potential and in some ways reminded me of the excellent video game Nier. But no, instead Trinity Seven‘s setup exists only to pave the way for this season’s inevitable installment in the beloved “Harry Potter with tits” sub-genre of anime. It almost feels like the writer initially had an original idea for a fantasy series, but after a few hours of work decided that it wouldn’t sell enough copies, so he scrapped everything after the prologue and replaced it with something else.

Make no mistake, from beginning to end, there is absolutely nothing good about this episode (aside from the fantastic opening and ending themes), but I’d still rather watch something that tries to be original and fails due to poor writing than something that resembles countless other anime and, well, still fails due to poor writing. Not only is Trinity Seven bad at successfully telling a story, it’s also bad at comedy and bad at crafting interesting characters. The second half of this episode actually made my eyes glaze over on multiple occasions from boredom; not only was it doing nothing new or exciting, it also failed at presenting old ideas in a fresh or unique way. The immature jokes, archetypical characters, bland setting, halfhearted animation… I’ve seen it all before. It’s not particularly awful, but there’s just nothing here for me to care about.

Also, it’s kind of weird how girls are apparently better at magic in the world of Trinity Seven because they’re “more emotional.” Huh. That’s a contrived and potentially eyebrow-raising explanation if I’ve ever heard one. Also, the main character seems to love sexually harassing women, so, uh, there might be something to read between the lines here about the original author. That said, I think I’d be more annoyed by these things if this anime actually merited any sort of intellectual response, but instead I can just feel myself falling asleep at the mere prospect of watching more Trinity Seven. Good night, ladies and gentlemen. — Foggle

Your Lie In April

Your Lie In April is a difficult one to judge. While there are definitely things I liked about this episode, I also ended up cringing a lot throughout – sometimes even at the aspects I enjoyed. For instance, I found myself taking a liking to the goofy characters, but I could hardly tolerate the show’s sense of humor itself; the more subdued antics are amusing, but when the episode treads into full-on comedy mode, it loses me immediately. Compare the scene where Tsubaki gets Kousei’s attention by hitting him with a baseball to the one where Kaori mercilessly beats him with musical instruments: the former is silly, but accurate to how middle schoolers behave in real life, while the latter is just ridiculous and unfunny. In that regard, this is one of the few anime that I think would truly benefit from employing a greater sense of realism.

The art style is very nice. Character faces can look a bit weird at times, but this series sure is pretty on the whole. The colors also seem to become increasingly more vibrant as it trots along, adding a nice sense of parallelism between a key theme of the story and the gorgeous technical aspect; in fact, this might be the first truly impressive production I’ve seen from A-1 Pictures since AnoHana. Unfortunately, much like that series, Your Lie In April at times seems like it’s trying too hard to evoke an emotional response from the viewer. While I can’t say I didn’t feel something for Kousei during the flashback about his mother, the framing of certain scenes (including that one) and his incredibly depressing narration throughout the rest of the episode often make the drama feel fake and manufactured – it’s like the writer is begging you to care about the main character instead of just letting it come naturally. Oddly enough, I found myself liking Tsubaki a lot more than any of the other cast members, even though her primary role so far seems to just be “obligatory childhood friend.” This is probably because she was the only character presented to the audience in a way that felt relatively natural.

This first episode certainly has its problems, but I think it also shows a lot of potential. If the folks behind this series can manage to craft a believable romance while also toning down the more garish comedic and dramatic moments, I think A-1 Pictures may have a winner on their hands with Your Lie In April. However, no anime can coast by on beautiful artwork alone, and that seems to be the only real draw so far. I’m hopeful that this one will turn out well in the end, but I’ll be remaining cautiously optimistic for the next few weeks at the very least. — Foggle

2014
10.12

I’ve decided to take it upon myself to chronicle Cross Ange. This may not be surprising given how my impression of the first episode could be said to be the most ‘positive’ of the bunch (although I completely understand everyone’s revulsion to it). You are right to think I am crazy to cover this, but think of it as a public service. I watch this so you don’t have to; you get live your life of no inequality, poverty, war etc while I voluntarily get anal violation so I can fight this dragon off somewhere.
Oh wait I’m sorry… D.R.A.G.O.N.

Never change, Fukuda.

So does Episode 2 continue the descent into depravity that was established by Episode 1’s end? Not really. After the high emotions, the show then treats the viewers to rather muted, possibly mundane, series of circumstances meant to acclimate Ange to her new surroundings. Of course she is loath to do so because princess, and of course the ladies of Arzenal won’t take that kind of crap. So in an attempt to establish her in the new pecking order, she has a knife put to her throat, she gets thrown out into a corridor naked (seen by all of two people) because she doesn’t want to change clothes, and almost becomes the object of one of the mech pilot’s pleasures, complete with tongue and groping.

In an ideal world this would instill in me moral outrage and confusion, but the show surprisingly does an effective job making the situation work with the atmosphere. The staff of Arzenal, aside from some hopeful new recruits and possibly more, inundates the tone with a potpourri of fatalism and gallows humour. They’re women who know they are thought of as less than garbage by the world proper, and as a result they either marry themselves to their work or indulge in pleasures of the flesh. What happens to Ange is degrading, but they do not come from a mentality of “Let’s just torture the girl for no reason!” but a clash between Ange’s defiant superiority and how Norma deal with troublemakers as a result of their sordid state of affairs. It is an acted out enmity between the Have and the Have-Nots.

…Except for the groping part. Dunno if that’s necessary but… I guess it shows how broken some Norma are?

It gets even more awkward when a couple of innocent newbies try to become friends with the Princess. Arzenal it seems is rather selective in its treatment of new Norma. Some like Ange have to be disciplined; while others operate in a blissful naiveté that hopes for something more as they commit to their duty (somehow I doubt they’ll be violently groped later in their career). So Ange clashes with another worldview of lesser people who instead look up to her as an ideal, despite her complete and utter disdain for them. It is a nice complement to the world building and character development as it provides for converging paradoxes in character outlook. It also provides for a comically tragic set of events that, again, is effective in establishing the show’s disposition and REALLY screwing up Ange. You can tell things won’t exactly be kosher if the next episode is any indication.

A charming allusion to the feeling everybody had of the 1st episode.

Is what is shown there just as offensive and irksome? If this episode is any indication, not anymore, as it shows that Ange’s actions in trying to get out of her situation gets an opposite reaction. She is a slow learner and as such must be schooled in hard knocks. How schooled she’ll be and how worse the show will get for her to realize that? Well… next week Cross Ange’s still a thing. Best you watch if you haven’t raged quitted already.

If you did that’s fine. Again, you’ll have me.

Rondo of Notes (non-episode specific ruminations about the series proper every week):

· One of the reviewers of the first episode made an interjection of how Mahouka is better than Cross Ange. Personally I’d rather root for the young lady yanking herself out of her unfortunate circumstances to change for the better than the boring Randian ubermensch with the fawning younger sister. Also Mahouka is gleeful in its undertones of incest in protagonists we’re supposed to root for, Cross Ange while brazen rightfully puts its incest overtones squarely on the creepy brother.

· Those flippant next episode previews are truly by delicious design. Their confused but ultimately dismissive tone provides an amusing sense of cognitive dissonance on how pretty-looking bishoujo can not only be hurt but also be petty, vindictive, and cruel. It’s the cri de couer of “Why are bad things happening to beautiful people!?”

· I’m going to upset people on this but… yes, people who say what had happened to Ange in the last episode was a lot less worse than others MAY have a point. I mean it’s been 20 years since Casca was raped by Griffith in Berserk and she’s still in a regressive childlike state and Guts has yet to jam his entire sword into Griffith’s head. At least with regards to Cross Ange (unless there’s a Cross Ange Destiny heaven forbid), there may be a resolution to her suffering just yet. In Berserk I’ve yet to get that goddamn sense of satisfaction.

· Unless something exceptionally tacky is established, no lamentations about wardrobe from me. It’s a waste of time and quite frankly there are worse (e.g. Strike Witches, Moetan).

· Next week’s ep will be the first major test of how effective the action scenes are in this show. Will they be actually well done if a bit influenced by Fukuda’s propensities? Or will it just be a recycling of SEED footage only done to CG?

2014
10.11

Squishy. Just like roadkill.

I see what you did there with the Kill Bill reference, Bryke. I remember that toe-wiggling scene almost as vividly as Tarantino can, so on to Korra and how she starts her rampage plot to kill all her former friends to avenge her dead baby. Like that part in the movie, it represents Korra trying to get back to speed after being hurt by people claiming to help her. Zaheer was like the keeper trying to slay the wild dog, with not a peaceful death or even a warrior’s death, but through poisoning and suffocation. But even when those wounds heal, they linger in Korra’s head. One wonders how this incident stays in her thoughts longer than her fights with Amon and Unalaq, but they were people lying to ascend in their goals. Zaheer was someone who believed everything he said, with as much affection for his friends as Korra did for hers. In a way, this lingering trauma comes from Zaheer reminding her of the shadow of the Avatar, something that she’s been fighting with since the show’s beginning.

Korra’s inability to be more like Aang is something that haunts her character, with Iroh asking her to talk to Zuko to understand what Aang was like, or being told by Katara to remember what Aang went through. Even the fisherman in the middle of the episode wants her to be like Aang. This all boils down to her being tethered by the expectations of her past life. I can’t tell if the show’s for or against the comparisons though. And throughout this episode, I felt slightly troubled over the worship Aang is given while Korra’s suffering. This theme felt like it was unknowingly burdening Korra’s character with these comparisons instead of allowing her to grow in this personal episode.

Though that’s another message this week, that even help from loved ones won’t always fix what’s broken. Friends can send as many well wishes or get well letters as they want, but that alone isn’t the remedy to a near-death experience. This is something Korra has to guide herself to, but that isn’t working much either. A combination of bad spirits and stress distorts her path, never allowing Korra to regain what she had lost last season. On the other hand, this mental chaos gives a hint in that there won’t be a single way to truly heal. There are multitudes of knots that need to be smoothened out, meant to be fixed not by known means but through foreign ones.

That provides Toph’s role to Korra’s path this season. While she is a friend of the Avatar, she’s been gone for so long that her methods have possibly strayed from what Korra is used to. She’s the one who has to provide Korra an unorthodox, but new way of feeling like herself again. The untrodden path can be the best one in trying times. Traumatic moments require new tactics, and a reclusive guru can occasionally give advice that even the wisest of loved ones can’t. Maybe it’s not the best advice, but improvement means taking risks. And even if it doesn’t completely fix the problem, it gives the aided the power to overcome that vice. If Korra can’t escape Aang’s shadow, then she must make it her own.

2014
10.10

Ai Tenchi Muyo!

...why wouldn't he?

Oh how the mighty have fallen… Believe it or not, this is the first honest to god 100% legitimate Tenchi Muyo series* since 2004, and what do we get? A four minute gag anime that’s apparently also a tourism commercial for some town nobody gives a shit about. So uninteresting is Ai Tenchi Muyo that current US rights holder Funimation passed on it when it came to simulcasting. It only took me 15 seconds to see why.

So basically the gist of it is at some point during the 15 year gap in-between Ryo-oh-Ki 3 and War on Geminar, Tenchi Masaki has been hired to be a schoolteacher at a kooky all girls school in Okiyama. Exactly why is never explained as the show is too busy on cramming as much humiliation for poor Lord Tenchi that the four minute run time will allow. And while Tenchi humor has frequently been more miss than hit, not a single joke in this episode worked. It felt like I was watching a very bad episode of Negima! instead at times. Also anybody expecting Ryoko and Ayeka’s endless quarrel over Tenchi will be sorely disappointed. They’re not in the episode and neither is the rest of the cast. No Sasami-chan for you pedos! (but she’s like 650 years ol-SHUT YOUR YAP!)

Ai Tenchi Muyo is simply proof positive that the Tenchi formula simply does not work anymore and especially in a 4 minute long format. And yet I keep wondering why AIC refuses to make a new El-Hazard series when the evidence against such a thing is staring me right in the face. — Lord Dalek

*we don’t talk about War on Geminar

Aikatsu!, Season 3

STILL the best idol.

Yay, another girl idol show and another season of Aikatsu. I’m so excited Imma just copy and paste the serious meat from my review of Aikatsu 2. Hell I’ll just use the image from last cluterfuck for this season’s one, since you’re not missing much:

“It’s really inoffensive Bechdel Test passing tripe about doing your best, competing as idols, and gathering cheap toyetic cards so characters can dress up and perform a rote pop song with rote CG work.  You can do a lot better, you can do a lot worse, or you can just do.  And nobody likes to just…  do in this regard.  Leave this to the Japanese girls demographic to buy, trade, and sell with each other at whatever Japanese toy store nearby.” — The Juude

Akatsuki no Yona

This one is mildly interesting. I can’t say I hated it, but I didn’t find it too appealing, either. The story is pretty straightforward and typical of the fantasy genre: the princess’ father is murdered by the man she loves, then she apparently goes on an adventure with a bunch of dudes for some reason (presumably to hunt the killer down). There really isn’t much else to say about this episode in terms of story, though it does do a fairly good job of establishing the series as one containing both silly and serious moments. That said, I found neither the drama nor the comedy particularly engaging, and the main character, Yona, didn’t strike me as too remarkable, either. She’s immature, not very likable, and wants to screw her cousin, but given the nature of this anime, I’m sure she’ll grow over the course of the series into someone who’s actually cool and acts like an adult. Like I said: typical.

And there’s really nothing wrong with typical. If you like this kind of story, by all means, watch Akatsuki no Yona. The visual production is competent enough – a lot more so than I expected from Pierrot, for what it’s worth, – and the OP is fantastic. I’m not a fan of shoujo where the female hero is nearly worthless and needs men to fight for her, but I know this appeals to a lot of people, and I can respect that as long as the writing isn’t explicitly misogynistic, which it isn’t here. Much like spring’s The World is Still Beautiful, there’s nothing inherently wrong with this show, but I’m clearly not part of its target audience, and I can’t think of anything else to say about it.

Akatsuki no Yona is fine, but it doesn’t elicit much of a response from me, good or bad. Others may feel differently, but for me, this show is just there, right in the middle of the road. Maybe you’ll like it… or maybe not. — Foggle

Amagi Brilliant Park

Well this is a fine how do you do...

As a huge fan of Full Metal Panic! and a huge, uh, not-fan of Kyoto Animation, I was anticipating Amagi Brilliant Park‘s airing like one anticipates the onset of diarrhea after eating a few too many pieces of spicy Korean BBQ. Thankfully, my disgusting and oddly specific (don’t ask) fears were largely unfounded, as Amagi surprisingly turned out to be one of my favorite premieres of the season. This first episode is filled with wit, originality, and most importantly, heart. What I ignorantly assumed to be yet another attempt soulless attempt by KyoAni to make bank off of animating obnoxious light novel trash turned out to be a well-written comedy with likable characters – something we can always do with more of, especially when it comes to anime.

I had a lot of fun watching this episode, and laughed quite a few times at the downright abysmal state of the titular Amagi Brilliant Park, which ended up being about as “brilliant” as a decommissioned hospital. Isuzu’s deadpan descriptions of the events being wonderful and joyous are simply hilarious, as are the terrifying talking animatronic flowers and the morbid rat-shooting carnival game. The other elements of visual comedy on display are equally well done, and I found it difficult not to hold a smile throughout the majority of Amagi‘s 24 minute run time, though one bit near the end annoyed me a lot. Putting that aside, writer Shoji Gatoh once again gets a lot of mileage out of including an oddball protagonist who manages to be charismatic instead of just “quirky” like a John Green or Diablo Cody character. Seiya’s narcissism is often humorous and even charming in a sense, which went a long way toward assuaging my fears for this show within seconds after the OP ended.

Another thing that reminds me of Gatoh’s work on FMP is how well his script displays knowledge of both the minimum and maximum limits that comedic writing must avoid in specific situations. The cold open is a good example of this; Isuzu threatening to shoot Seiya if he doesn’t go to the park with her walks a fine line of comedy that is dangerously easy to step off of, and only manages to be funny because every single detail is executed intelligently. If Isuzu’s gun wasn’t real, or if there wasn’t a gun at all, it would have just been bog-standard anime humor. On the flip side, if she had actually shot Seiya instead of the wall, it would have fallen too far into the realm of unrealistic silliness to be funny. Instead, we get a fantastic comedy bit tinged with absurdism that goes a long way toward leaving a good first impression. There’s also a callback joke later on in the episode that only works because of the way this scene ended up playing out. Comedy is difficult to write well and has many intricacies, but once again Gatoh proves that he knows exactly what he’s doing.

The production values are all quite nice, and it looks exactly as good as you’d expect from Kyoto Animation’s excellent team of animators. Queen Latifah’s (ha) character design aside, the visuals are all very pleasing to my eyes – especially the coloring, which deserves special praise. The OP is easily the most enjoyable of the season so far, unless you count DATABASE DATABASE WOW WOW. Also, fans should keep watch for the clever Full Metal Panic! references scattered throughout, which imply that Amagi actually takes place in the same universe as FMP.

Overall, this was a lot better than I expected. It’s very funny, and much like Hyouka before it, proves that Shoji Gatoh’s talent hasn’t gone to waste since he was hired by KyoAni. Amagi Brilliant Park comes highly recommended, even to FMP diehards and KyoAni detractors like me. — Foggle

Fifteenth Opinion!

This season on Date-A-Live...

In the near future, undercover Mythril agent Sosuke Sagara is assigned to protect perfectly average tsundere Kaname Chidori from various Russian and Chinese assassins after her ability to understand the so-called Black Technology…butnoneofthatisimportant. THIS  is the story of how some random guy ends up on a date from hell, after a rather cold and aloof transfer student shoves a shotgun down his throat!…oh boy. Said hell is the not-so brilliant Amagi Brilliant Park. A decrepit underwhelming void of flaking paint and broken dreams. After being thoroughly unimpressed by Amiburi’s dismal facility in the shadow of a much more entertaining love hotel, our hero Seiya finds his “date” with the increasingly deranged Isuzo was actually an employment ploy. The current owner of the park is a “real princess” from the…oh god… magical fairy kingdom of Maple Land.  If the park does not receive 250,000 guests in the next three months, our group of fantasy land characters/chuunibyo-ers will be evicted from the park and forced to get real jobs. As a free bonus, Seiya gets some sort of mind reading ability and finds out where Isuzo really keeps that shotgun. Ooooooooh my!

Ostensibly set in the Full Metal Panic universe…or at least some version of it…Amagi Brilliant Park is a show I say with some authority that none of us here at AR were looking particularly forward to. Seriously, its been almost a decade since TSR, and THIS is what you have to show for it KyoAni/Gatoh? I mean really. To add insult to injury, the first episode which was supposed to have aired last Thursday ended up getting delayed four days so that TBS could air a volleyball game instead. Furthermore, unlike Swimming Anime, KyoAni elected NOT to sell Crunchyroll the rights to simulcast this show. If there was any better endorsement of a show’s lack of quality that would be it right???

Wrong! The show is actually pretty good! SURPRISE!

Maybe I set my bar a little too low but I found Amagi Brilliant Park to be charming in a socially awkward yet oddly alluring way. The theme park is such a pathetic disaster that you can’t help but laugh at its self-inflicted futility. Its only in the last minute or so that the episode finds a way to unravel a bit with the revelation of magic powers but then there would have probably not been any sort of concept for this show to hang on to if they hadn’t. Ultimately it may not be a great anime, but Amaburi is definitely a pleasent surprise in a season that’s by and large been one of the worst on record. — Lord Dalek

Celestial Method

KAWAIIIII!

Created by Naoki Hisaya (who gave us Sola and Kanon) and produced by brand new studio 3HZ, here comes the story of two young girls and their friendly reunion.

A field of sunflowers starts us off as a young girl named Nonoka coming to a Lake Kiriya City, the main setting of the story.  She once lived there with both parents and had met a mysterious girl Noel. When she gets back with only her dad, she finds the city has a big saucer hovering over it. Despite not being a hostile presence, it is still felt by the people in the city. Nonoka and Noel meet up again, but Nonoka doesn’t remember her initially, having some kind of selective amnesia. All the main characters are linked by a promise from long ago as kids at an observatory. Granted, not all their names are mentioned here, but I’m sure that will be told to us in good time and those characters given their time to shine and develop. However, her mother is a touchy subject for Nonoka-she isn’t present save for a single framed photo so I’m sure that will be part of the emotional drama for the story. Considering the other stories this author has done previously I expect a lot of ‘THE FEELS’.

Watching episode 1 was a soothing and calm watch for me akin to listening to Erik Satie’s Cinq Nocturnes, with the just right amount of drama in the second half. Anyone wanting a moe fix this season, you can’t go wrong here. It’s pleasant enough. Animation is decent for a first outing, though I will note that the background art is very pretty and quite impressive for a studio’s first animation production. The character designs are cute and moe, though made by QP: flapper who also did similar work on MM! as well as working on Girl Friend BETA this season in addition to this show. I will watch this just to see what happens after this initial mystery.
OR
TL; DR-Noel’s such a moe cutie it hurts lol, excuse me while I get my insulin. — The Eclectic Dude

The Circumstances in My Home’s Bathtub

The Circumstances in My Home’s Bathtub is an ideal fairytale yaoi, as it puts me to sleep in lukewarm water.

Okay, that seems harsh. I will not allow this show to become a sponge to watery criticism. The Circumstances in My Home’s Bathtub isn’t as sleep-inducing as the title may make it seem – incredibly sleep-inducing, am I correct – and a little fun in the tub never goes amiss. This show is pure gold, like a golden shower. I want the water, which represents the show, to splash all over my face.

Once you pull the plug, I wouldn’t recommend playing with this little ducky, or getting wet in its fluids. It is not very calming, and it leaves you wrinkly, making you wonder what you were soaking in. It may appear and feel relaxing at first, when you swim around in the steamy, hot, yaoi-hinting water…but underneath the soapy suds this show offers little luxury flowing around its casing. The water doesn’t stay hot for anything longer than five minutes, and 30 seconds of those five minutes is scolding hot, leaving the impression of grimness and burning flesh. The opening to this little bathe feels like a 3rd degree burn that leaves you laughing in both surprise and pain.

As you immerse yourself in the warm, alluring water, you sink lower and lower to the base of your bath. Your lungs fill with water slowly as it drowns you. This drowning sensation is this yaoi, and the disappointment represented by the water is interestingly, the lack of any yaoi. This yaoi isn’t worth absorbing into your skin, washing you of dead cells. The dead cells merge with the water in the shape of two men: one entirely human, the other  a merman, and they dissolve into suds. Those suds transform and shape around your wet, dripping body, and cover you from head to toe. They descend into your flesh, mutating you into something not human. You feel your legs stick together, the flesh combining and becoming one. Disgusting, bloody fins grow from the ends of your new, single leg, and bright blue scales pop out of every inch of it too in response. Your new gils disrupt the arrangement of your scales and rip them apart. You bleed and scream in immense pain.

Your hair grows rapidly and changes colour to a blazing, golden yellow. You touch your hair; it feels greasy with abundant amounts of hair gel, and sharp from the amounts of spikes. You crawl painfully from your bathtub to the nearest mirror, blood trailing behind you.

You look in the mirror.

You have become Wakatsu from The Circumstances in My Home’s Bathtub. — Mahb Schneider

Cross Ange: Rondo of Angel and Dragon

...yup I'm out.

After watching Cross Ange, I must rescind my piece due to objections over content. — Bloody Marquis

Second Opinion!

In my time as an anime blogger I’ve seen some shit. I’ve seen a guy go down a waterslide filled with yogurt on an inflatable banana. I’ve seen a perfect normal school girl get manipulated into turning average business women into grinning retards to be sold into sex slavery. Hell I’ve seen a gaggle of deranged manchildren try to fap over tortured street urchins while a maid turns out to have a vagina for a mouth.

AND YET…

Cross Ange is a thing

A

BAD

BAD

BAD

THING.

This is a show where a baby gets put in a box because her name is “Norma”!

This is a show where a prissy blond princess gets horribly raped with cattle prods because she’s also named “Norma”!

This is a show where the evil brother of said princess proceeds to rape his other sister…who is like nine years old!

This is a show where suddenly we cut to a yuri harem for all of two seconds FOR NO APPARENT REASON!

This is a show where Mitsuo Fukuda finally gets his revenge on me for every bad thing I said about Gundam Seed Destiny. Oh god… please… I take it back… OH GOD NO.

This is a show I will never watch again. EVER. -151541616165432164321616532165321632161/5 — Lord Dalek

Third Opinion!

OH MY GOD! What the hell did I just watch!? And why do I want to watch more Cross Ange!?

After a strange aerial battle between dragons and a bunch of scantily clad women in giant CG mechs, we’re then treated to the story of a perfect world. It is a world brought about by the Light of Mana, and it has made everybody happy, except for the Norma. They are not allowed to be happy since they do not have Mana and are considered less than garbage. Even our protagonist, Miss Not-CagalLacus (aka Ange) thinks so, spouting very unsettling beliefs about eugenics without the slightest bit of irony or hate. Unfortunately for her, SHE is also a Norma, and after a botched Baptismal ceremony she becomes universally reviled (which was kinda well-deserved), then gets an anal cavity search at the end. I am not shitting you. THAT is what happened.

I don’t even know if I should expect nothing less from the same Creative Producer who was behind the direction of Gundam SEED and SEED Destiny: Mitsuo Fukuda. Sure I expect him to be a bit narcissistic and use the OP and animation to hearken back to his previous series, but anal cavity search is a rather brave new world for him.

This show is bonkers. I mean yeah we get our usual “Special people vs. Not Special people” spiel that Fukuda used in SEED, but here it is established so quickly, without nuance, and with such incredibly high-strung emotion. Hell the first instance takes place RIGHT AFTER a spirited hover lacrosse game where our inadvertently genetic supremacist heroine spouts about unity, good sportsmanship, and friendship. The tone is absolutely everywhere, and even the narrators for the Next Episode Preview admit to that when they just rant about how baffling it is. It’s crazy! It’s racy! And I just can’t help but be intrigued if baffled in wondering how it’s all going to go down. Will it be just as big a blaze of inglorious cacophony as the first episode, or will it just fizzle out and go into rote?

Say what you will about Fukuda, he’s so incredibly bombastic and ambitious that even when he’s directing (or producing here) a train wreck, your head will never turn away. Just keep Morosawa out of the writing room and maybe we’ll have the greatest guilty pleasure of anime in the 2010s. — The Juude

Fourth Opinion!

Cross Ange is, by far, the worst anime of the year. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a series so utterly devoid of good aspects, but this one tries its damnedest to show us just how low animated television can sink. If you’ve been jonesing for a mecha series that steals concepts from one of the worst Gundam shows of all time, is populated entirely by loathsome characters, and handles subjects like racism and sexual assault with all the gracefulness of a sledgehammer, then, well, maybe this whole “fiction” thing just isn’t for you. Or I guess you could watch Cross Ange. But I’d say giving up on fiction entirely is preferable.

The main character of this piece, Ange, is about as detestable as a protagonist can be. Like, “supports genocide and putting so-called subhumans into concentration camps” detestable. But later, it’s discovered that she’s actually been one of these “mongrels” (a Norma) the whole time, so after witnessing her mother’s death firsthand, she’s quickly thrown in prison and promptly anal raped. Now, I’ve always hated rape scenes in general, but I can sometimes live with one if it’s executed well – especially if the story has previously “earned” it. This can be accomplished by featuring writing that is generally well-done and not prone to using troubling concepts for shock value or titillation. Of course, in keeping with the tone of the rest of the episode, Ange’s anus being destroyed by Jill’s robot arm is absolutely played for fanservice. It’s also immediately followed by sexed up shots of minor characters being naked and fondling each other for no reason, as well as a few seconds of her writhing on the floor, broken and bloody. And then right after that, there’s a next episode preview which is entirely played for laughs.

The most vile thing about this scene is the fact that the audience is clearly supposed to believe she “deserved it” due to her hateful, racist ideals. Indeed, the majority of this episode focuses on making Ange seem as contemptible as possible, presumably in the hope of making it easier for the viewer to pop a boner to her suffering. These people can then deflect the fact that they were turned on by someone being sexually assaulted by saying, “hyuk hyuk karma’s a bitch ain’t it?” “But Foggle,” I hear you say, “surely no one is awful enough to actually believe that somebody deserves to have their anus painfully violated against their will,” to which I will reply that I have already seen multiple people provide this exact argument on various message boards and social media websites. Indeed, Sunrise’s attempt to reconcile cheesecake rape by way of having it happen to someone unlikeable actually worked.

Aside from being misogynistic and disgusting, the rape scene at the end of this first episode is also disgraceful because it appears to be part of a misguided attempt at character building, and also legitimately seems intended as a springboard for the rest of the storyline henceforth. That said, comparing Cross Ange to something like I Spit On Your Grave would be doing the latter film a disservice, as the writing of this anime had already sunk to sub-Troma levels long before the eye catch. It begins with some truly wonderful singing and a mecha battle that sports an ungainly focus on the sexy outfit Ange happens to be wearing at the time. She fights some D.R.A.G.O.N.s (regular ol’ dragons that are apparently referred to with an acronym for no fucking reason), the Gundam Seed OP plays, and then there’s a lacrosse game because something something world building. But the best part of this installment, and perhaps the funniest scene in any anime this year, is yet to come.

A baby is arrested for alleged crimes against humanity. A baby is arrested for alleged crimes against humanity. It’s played completely straight, and is exactly as stupid as it sounds. You see, this infant is a Norma, which means that it – naturally – must be turned into food, or whatever it is that the characters in this universe do with their young. The baby is placed in a box, Ange has a milk bottle thrown at her, the child’s mother gets beaten by the police, and our hero just casually shrugs it off with a “whatever, just pop out another one sometime.” I have to wonder, since apparently all the Normas receive Jill’s trademark robot arm cavity search anal fisting upon being thrown in prison, did this fate also end up befalling the infant? I guess this is one of those things that we’re better off not knowing, though given this show’s creepy infatuation with rape – at one point, the prince schemes to produce children with his sister against her will, – it probably did.

I feel like I should also talk about how the CG in Cross Ange is about as terrible as you’d expect in an anime from the year that also brought us Black Butler: Book Of Circus and Sword Art Online 2, but that might be unnecessary at this point. In conclusion: don’t watch Cross Ange. Seriously, don’t. It makes Mahouka look like Terror In Resonance. — Foggle

Denki-gai no Honya-san

Deep within the bowels of the Electric Town, lays a doujinshi shoppe known as Umanohone. It is home to a septet of quirky individuals, four girls and three guys, all with peculiar nicknames and the day-to-day rigor they endure trying to run a business while balancing their personal lives.

Eh, it’s cute. Once I got past the rather stout, demure, figures of the female characters (unnaturally so vis-à-vis the background women), I found a rather charming, inoffensive anime. The two stories this episode entails are endearingly frivolous, from learning about the necessity of Eros in life to finishing up a manga before deadline. It showcased the rather good nature of all the characters, even if most of the focus ones are stuck in perpetual awkwardness, and does so in a way that is not too pervy but just right. I elicited at least some form of a smile or chuckle, and while not excited to catch next week’s episode, I wouldn’t mind it. We still have some more episodes to go with regards to getting to know the rest of the cast, so hopefully the same tone persists without devolving into too much schmaltz or perversion.

Not a must watch, but I do not think time will be wasted on it. — The Juude

Second Opinion!

Hi there, sexy.

Basic line for this show is that this show is a slice of life comedy involving workers at a fictional dojin shop Umanohome. It opens with the group dealing with a jammed shrink wrapper, which is quite nice and rather true to life. The episode is split down the middle, with the first half involving a suspicious person (govt worker) in the erotica book shelves section who turns out to be more than initial appearances. The second half has Umio (our main character?) finding out that one of his favorite circle writers is one of his female co-workers and then getting roped into helping her out with a current manuscript, finally getting it done in the nick of time.

All in all, it is very cheery, upbeat and brightly colorful. It also seems to be a modern day Comic Party/Genshiken and just as silly yet heartfelt when it deals with its subject matter of Nippon geeks and their habits. Its a near lightweight and low calorie snack this season when you aren’t watching Akame ga Kill or god help you Cross Ange. You could a lot worse but you can do better I suppose. — The Eclectic Dude

Fate/Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works

I am the remake of my franchise
Notes is my body, and ufotable is my blood
I have created over one thousand waifus
Unknown to Lerche, nor known to Silver Link.
Have withstood DEEN to create many viewers;
but those fans will never hold anything.

So, as it plays:
UNLIMITED BLADE WORKS

Fate/Zero was a marvel of an anime. It had gorgeous animation, detailed and likeable characters with flaws and imperfections, a gripping and well-written storyline with good music and voice acting to boot. The 2006 Fate/stay night TV show and the 2010 Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works film by Studio DEEN, on the other hand, weren’t as great and going from Fate/Zero to the original Fate/stay night was jarring, disturbing and full of distraught. Luckily, Fate/Zero‘s production company, ufotable – who also produced another Type-Moon product, Kara no Kyoukai: the Garden of sinners, renowned for its quality and faithfulness to the original source material – came along once again to rectify that little mistake DEEN had made. The end result is Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, an anime which was blessed with an opening episode so mesmerizing and well-produced, it blew almost everything from this year out of the water in 47 minutes. And oh, how those minutes felt like seconds.

Comparatively, 2014’s Unlimited Blade Works covers the entire prologue from Rin Tohsaka’s perspective in 47 brief minutes to DEEN’s two episode mess that felt like two hours had been wasted, and the Unlimited Blade Works film that hazes over the entire catalyst of the plot in four minutes. Not only did this episode cover aspects not included in the previous two adaptations in that running time, it covered everything else they included too in spectacular style. These newly included scenes allow us to build a positive view of our heroine, Rin Tohsaka, a Magus of the Tohsaka bloodline competing in the 5th Fuyuki City Holy Grail War, and her relationship with Archer, the servant she summoned to fight for her during these battles. The dynamic between these two is electric and appealing from the very second the two engage in conversation together, a dynamic missing from the previous two adaptations. A key aspect of this adaptation is that it also improves the source material it adapts, along with the DEEN versions – Rin is presented as unlikeable and quite boring in the original visual novel, while here, ufotable has made Rin adorable and lovable.

Directed by Takahiro Miura, director of Kara no Kyoukai: the Garden of sinners – Oblivion Recording, Unlimited Blade Works has a boon in the form of ufotable’s always astounding and breathtaking animation. Every single frame is detailed with colour, and the characters match the original character design by Takeshi Takeuchi more than ever. The battle sequence between Archer and Rider is genuinely a sight to behold, and the summoning sequence of Archer shows off how far ufotable has improved in CG work since the conclusion of Fate/Zero‘s 2nd season only two years ago. On occasion, the CG cars are subpar, but they pass by so quickly you can’t notice them unless you pause it.

It is hard to find a single bad thing to say about this episode; I wish I could to prevent myself as coming off as a fangirl, but the episode is just so well-crafted it is incredibly difficult to not like it. It is filled with little nods to fans of the visual novel – it is obvious ufotable cares about the fans and the product it is making. It is very hard to come across a show so filled with allure and love, and I can do nothing but appreciate it. All the problems from the visual novel and DEEN show have vanished for this single episode – no terrible exposition, no unhilarious comedy, and the show is all the better for it. The episode is also much easier for newcomers than the opening episode to Fate/Zero was – and even though that episode too was interesting, it was a 50 minute long exposition dump.

The OP, Ideal White by Ayano Mashiro, is on the boring side, although we cannot blame ufotable for this feat – it is thanks to Aniplex that we have this self-insert for their music artists. We also have Aniplex to thank for the inclusion of a Kalafina song named Believe, which has yet to premiere. Kalafina’s Fate/Zero song, to the beginning, was the best piece of non-soundtrack music to emerge from Fate/Zero, thanks to being composed by the show’s composer, Yuki Kaijura, who will also compose Believe. On that note, the music, composed by Mahoutsukai no Yoru: Witch on the Holy Night‘s Hideyuki Fukasawa, fits the show to a T, although more exposure to his work on Unlimited Blade Works will allow this opinion to either grow or degenerate. Honestly, this episode was an experience.

As I pray; unlimited ufotable works. — Mahou Magusa

Second Opinion!

I’ll be honest, I know next to nothing about this Fate Universe that Type Moon has created. I haven’t read any of the visual novels, only ever watched a few episodes of the first anime, and other than that, have only been exposed to Fate/Zero in full. Having said that, I quite enjoyed that prequel. It took a while to get into, and I’m quite certain that I forgot most characters names by now, but as it stands, it was an entertaining series with a clearly rich mythos that could possibly even rival the works of George R. R. Martin for all I know (or in this case, all that I don’t know, which is a lot).

Having said that, I’m coming into this series without any clear expectations. I don’t know which “route” of the VN series that this is supposed to be covering, and I haven’t seen enough of the first anime to make an accurate comparison to it. What I can say is that, unlike the first anime, and even Zero, in this case, I found the hour-long prologue of this series to be very engaging thanks to good pacing and choosing to focus on the perspective of a single master, Rin Tohsaka, and her Archer-class servant, who has thus not been named in the show. Whereas the bloated hour-long entry point of Zero served to cram in a lot of essential backstory in heavy-handed exposition, it would seem that the writers learned how much of a turn off that could be for newcomers to want to get into the series, so they decided to let this prologue have its breathing room, which was a wise decision, from my perspective.

The episode takes things from Rin’s point of view, and one thing it really does well is to establish her as a (mostly) level-headed character (albeit short-tempered in regular conversations), and gives us some cause to sympathize with her. In the first few episodes of the first anime, she just came off as annoying and complained a whole lot. Over here viewers can now identify with her somewhat, so she comes off as genuinely likable, and this will most likely make her a much more bearable character for the rest of the series. As for Emiya Shirou, who I believe is supposed to be the main character of this series, it would seem that he has cleverly been kept to the background of this episode, making brief appearances and never having his face shown, most likely to keep this premiere focused on Rin, as a character.

From a production standpoint, this is what you’d expect from a Type Moon product adaptation. The animation is high quality, the soundtrack is great (although it largely seems to be ripped straight out of Zero, at least so far), and the voice acting is top notch. The action scenes in particular are outstanding. In short, it’s everything that Toei Animation is not. There isn’t much else to say other than this is clearly one of the better premieres of this season. Granted that, I know it’s not for everyone, so if you’ve seen a few episodes of Zero and didn’t care for it, I doubt that this will change your mind. If it did perk your amusement, however, then this series will most likely be a must watch. — Dr. Ensatsu-ken

Third Opinion!

I’ve always loved Fate/Stay Night, but I’ve always hated reading it. This is not due to my attention span being too short to digest strings of words and sufficiently create mental imagery (I love reading, and writing, books… honest!); rather, it’s because I simply cannot stand the original visual novel’s prose. I touched on this a few years back with my opinion piece about F/SN, but I found the writing to be overwrought – filled with needless and occasionally repeated exposition. The dialogue was largely stiff, the comedy often grating, and the characters interesting but rarely likable. Of course, this is all just my opinion, as I know plenty of people who would disagree, and I’m not about to tell them they’re wrong. The truth of the matter is that Nasu’s writing style simply isn’t for me, though I must admit that he has great ideas and writes some damn good fight scenes.

This new Unlimited Blade Works anime improves exponentially upon the original work in my eyes. It successfully manages to cram nearly 3 hours worth of reading into 48 minutes of animation, and it does so without losing anything in the process. In fact, the brevity of this prologue episode is UBW’s greatest strength; entire pages worth of unnecessary text have been shortened to single lines of dialogue without damaging the intent of Type-Moon’s famous story. The audience learns everything they need to know without tens of paragraphs detailing minutiae, and the pacing flows right along because of it. The character interactions are also a lot more interesting than they’ve ever been – for once, the dialogue actually feels fun and natural rather than wooden and forced. Rin Tohsaka, who I hated in the VN, comes across as genuinely likeable and even downright cute in this installment, while Archer’s dry snark is more enjoyable than ever. And the humor is surprisingly on point throughout, partially because the silliness simply works better in motion, but also because the well-written script has made numerous improvements to the comedic timing.

Speaking of motion, ufotable does Nasu’s excellent action writing justice with the Archer vs. Lancer fight in this episode. It’s fluid as hell, and all around exhilarating to watch. Lemme’ tell ya, I could get used to this trend of each anime season having at least one show with well-animated over the top battle scenes. Everything else also moves with an almost movie-like quality that you rarely see in television animation, though the corner-cutting present with some CG cars in one scene is embarrassing to witness. But it all looks so crisp that it hardly matters; the character designs capture the iconic art style of F/SN perfectly, and the backgrounds serve as both eye candy for newcomers to the franchise and fanservice for those who’ve read the original work. My favorite thing about the presentation of this anime is that many scenes have these cool filters placed over them which give the lighting a very pleasant “real” quality. The outside scenes in particular are gorgeous – you can practically feel the chill of the night air in certain shots. You might even want to watch UBW in 1080p to screencap some new desktop wallpapers for yourself!

I’m beyond pleased with the first episode of Unlimited Blade Works. While I loved ufotable’s adaptation of Fate/Zero, I was worried that they wouldn’t be able to turn the writing of Fate/Stay Night into something more palatable for television audiences; God knows Deen failed, twice. Despite being almost completely without hype, this episode delivered everything I could have ever wanted from an adaptation of F/SN’s prologue chapter. Now let’s just hope that the rest of the series also turns out so well. — Foggle

Garo The Animation

So here we have the anime adaptation of Garo, Kamen Rider for edgy people. And boy howdy, does that show want to live up to that description. Studio MAPPA litters this episode with impalements, sex, and people giving birth while being burned alive, becoming reminiscent of skimming through a random volume of Berserk. Every second feels like the writer screaming that she doesn’t just make children’s shows, though I can’t tell if it’s as shameless about it as Akame ga Kill is. Unlike that show, it at least keeps a consistent tone throughout an episode. It knows what it is, and doesn’t try to hide it through jokes and other bits of shonen comedy.

I like the style of the show, and how it resembles watercolor at times. Compared to recent attempts to stray from the norm like Ping Pong, this improves where Yuasa didn’t by having animation that actually flowed. God knows how much better his work would be if he actually put in more frames per episode. But back to Garo, I could see this show pulling off some interesting ideas through its art. Sure, it overuses CG in places, but that doesn’t clash anywhere near as much as it does in other shows thanks to the aesthetic. Plus, the plot looks like it could be fun. Though given the writer’s pedigree, I’m also expecting something stupid to occur in the future. — Bloody Marquis

Gugure! Kokkuri-san

A young girl attempts to summon a spirit, and gets a white-haired fox bishonen instead. She asks this “Kokkuri-san” to leave, but he decides to haunt the lonely girl (who insists she’s actually a robotic doll) anyway. This basically just amounts to making sure she doesn’t only eat noodle cups all day.

So…yeah. Like most adaptions of 4-koma series, there isn’t a whole lot to be said. You’ve got your usual segments of offbeat characters doing offbeat things in an offbeat way. The main girl’s a kind of anti-Yotsuba: her monotone voice and introversive attitude make for most of the best jokes in the show. The dynamic between her and Kokkuri is actually quite a bit of fun, and I had few good chuckles watching it. There appears to be more characters to come, but for now these two are perfectly amusing on their own. Nothing special, but I enjoyed it. Worth a look if you want something fun to wind down to. — Shadow Gentleman

Gundam: Reconguista in G

STAND AHP TO DA.... Recon-G?

(AUTHOR’S NOTE: I am well aware that episode 2 has also aired, I do not have a copy of it at the present time and as such have not yet viewed it.)

Yoshiyuki Tomino is without a doubt arguably the most important figure in all of mecha anime. The creator of such classic works as Zambot 3, Xabungle, and Ideon, he is of course best known for his magnum opus, Mobile Suit Gundam which is considered the original “real robot” show and has provided decades worth of series and mechanical designs for otaku to make model kits out of. Not bad for a show that famously got cancelled 10 episodes early and only made a profit when it was turned into a series of compilation movies.

…That said, he’s also arguably one of the most overrated hacks of all-time. Using his somewhat well earned reputation to churn out crap like Brain Powerd, Wings of Rean, Gundam F91, and, of course, the infamous Garzey’s Wing. Titles certain snooty animation critics glaze over in favor of mostly unreleased works like Ideon Be Invoked (I’ll give em that, the Ideon movie is fricken amazing).

It’s with that sense of unease that I approach G-Reco with a bit of trepidation. Its been 15 years since Tomino made his last Gundam show (Turn A, the only tv series produced during Gundam’s ill-fated Fuji Television period) and OVER TWO DECADES since he did anything with the series’ original continuity. Yes folks, after 22 years we finally have a series set after Victory Gundam, a millenia actually. And for a first episode its actually not too bad if incredibly uneventful.

So 1000 years after Amuro and Char burnt up in the atmosphere because Tomino got tired of them, humanity has finally moved on from endless space wars by telling the Sides to get lost and built a series of giant space elevators. The problem is apparently the Crossbone Vanguard (or some version of it) is still around and using mobile suits called G-Selfs, which look like what you get if somebody stuck an RX-01 Gunpla in an oven and then tried remold it using their bare fingertips, to attack said space elevators for reasons unkown. With the Federation long gone, we have the Colonial Guard and their new trainee Bellri. He ends up in a fight with a G-Self piloted by Ple lookalike Aida Surugan that’s rather one sided. Aida claims her G-Self can only be activated by her and her alone but then Bellri walks right in because… Gundam protagonist.

Now surprisingly the first episode of G-Reco, despite very little actually happening this week, feels rather rushed. I could blame this on the fact that this is the first Gundam tv series to run less than three cours (Build Fighters doesn’t count) and Tomino just doesn’t know how to adjust his usual drag ’em out space opera pacing but that probably wouldn’t be accurate. Its not unusual to have a have a rather rushed and awkward first episode in this franchise (see Victory Gundam) but its still annoying. As it stands though, the first episode is pretty fun to watch and long time fans nostalgic for Tomino’s style will feel right at home. For better or worse, it actually feels like a show made in 1994, with occasionally iffy animation and a really bad sound design which dumps stereo for good ol fashioned mono! (or at least my copy of episode 1 does). Things clearly need to be ironed out as this first episode feels a bit uneven. That doesn’t mean I won’t came back to see where Tomino takes his lumbering giant of a franchise next time though. — Lord Dalek

Addendum!

About an hour after I typed this, Episode 2 was released (both aired back to back on Animeism last night) and aside from some bug fixes (bye bye mono, hello stereo!) not much improved. In fact you could say this show has regressed somewhat due to its stock cliche characters (boring male lead, tsundere bitch, Lalah clone who only speaks in broken sentences) and surprisingly inane plot (attack space elevators so that mankind can invest in solar energy?!? Well I guess if everybody is a NewType now there’s no point trying to freeze the Earth….). On the plus side Tomino throws in some nice fanservice by giving us a statue of a Gouf to look at! THE RECKLESSNESS OF THEIR YOUTH!!!!!!!!!

Second Opinion!

Let it be said that an anime directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino can be easily identified through his menagerie of recycled techniques, be they the tirades about women being mothers or adults and their lies. He’s a man with much whimsy, even if that childlike wonder takes away room usually meant for plot coherence. Tomino always is an odd director, and how exactly he started a franchise that lasts to this day will bewilder the mind that knows of his other work. One wonders if Gundam was a lucky strike in his field of work. And if so, may God have mercy on the universe where Garzey’s Wing or Brain Powerd started a cash cow dynasty.

One can see his eccentricities in the fight scene where a Gundam with giant soldiers fights Lord Canti from FLCL, where “The world is not square!” is shouted without any particular explanation. These are characters that paradoxically act too human and inhuman all in the same scene. I have legitimate concerns over the brave person who does a psychological reading of this and other Tomino shows, because I feel ensured to say that every episode will have a moment that will stump the audience at least once. Some moments feel like a veteran has crafted them, while others feel like the scrawling of a manchild in severe distress. I stare at Raraiya Monday’s reaction to the Gundam, and wonder how much of that reflect Tomino’s outlook on life.

Tomino proudly stated that this would not be a show for the usual Gundam fans and will instead be one for younger audiences. Frankly, he achieves this job in a sense. It caters to school-aged children the same way the Teletubbies catered to babies, through dancing and smiles curled together with violence and war. Watching this show made me feel like my parents when they watched Pokemon, where delirium reigns and a mental wall can be felt by those outside the demographic. Perhaps in years past, people will look at this show and see a masterpiece wrongly shamed by critics. Or, they could see this as the weird Gundam that proved Sunrise’s encroaching senility. Only time can tell. — Bloody Marquis

Third Opinion!

Bellri Zenam is a quirky, good-natured, ne’er do well; yet not only is he a son of a major figure, he is part of the Capital Guard, protectors of what is known as the Capital Tower (aka Space Elevator). During a daring attack by Space Pirates, a chance encounter with an iconic-looking mobile suit and its pilot Aida Rayhunton, looks to lead Bellri on what may be a rather interesting quest. Unfortunately said quest may involve war, death, hidden revelations, masked men, emotional maladjustment, and garish aesthetically-pleasing marketable robots.

It has been a while since we had a Gundam series in the classical style, directed by the original creator Yoshiyuki Tomino no less. Thankfully all seems to be in order for a potentially good show. The setting and design of the show (despite a heavy harkening to Tomino’s previous work, Overman King Gainer), is surreal and interesting; the action and animation is tight and well-choreographed; and the music by Yugo Kanno is nothing short of epic. The story, while starting in media res and having not much established to it, is enacted well enough to raise mystery and pique my curiosity. The world is so surreal and so unknown, with all its religious and militaristic trappings, space pirates, and what have you, that I’m truly left wondering how it all comes together. Tomino really hit it out of the park with the way he got the ball rolling with these first two episodes.

However, all is not well in certain aspects. Tomino while incredibly competent is still incredibly weird. It is not just the way he crafts dialogue (hard to follow, peculiar flow, too much talking), but the little bits of the world he has created. It is a world of cheerleaders appearing everywhere, bottom nuts, waifish girls, and a rather whimsical tone that, when paired with the dialogue, sometimes leaves me scratching my head. Sometimes I was, “Do we really need all this crazy nonsense?” and then have to restrain myself because it is Tomino and it is only the first two episodes. We do not get much out of the characters either except that Bellri is brave if dumb, Aida is overly idealistic (and *shudder* a potential environmentalist), and everybody else just seems to roll with it as much as they can, but again… ‘Tis only the first two episodes, maybe something will buff out. Thankfully they are not TOO annoying, except for the waifish girl who is relegated to mostly single syllable lines. They gotta fix that.

They also gotta fix the opening and ending. Both are incredibly mismatched as the ending should be the opening and vice versa.

Still. It was weird, it was wacky, it was well-made, and it was worth watching. Don’t mess this up Tomino, I am looking forward to seeing where this crazy little number takes us. — The Juude

In Search of Lost Future AKA Searching for the Lost Future AKA Clannad

In 2004, Jun Maeda created a little visual novel named Clannad. In 2007, Kyoto Animation adapted this visual novel into an anime. In 2014, we have gone full circle: In Search of Lost Future, a feel. anime based off the 2010 visual novel of the same name, truly is the greatest Jun Maeda fanfiction of all time. Move aside, Myself ; Yourself! Goodbye, Tomoyo After: It’s A Wonderful Life! Hush hush, H2O: Footprints in the Sand! In Search of Lost Future is here to claim your inglorious, abhorrent throne.

Some high school students run an astronomy club and the student council wants them to clear up some uneasiness within the school. During a confrontation with another group, a girl named Kaori injures her ankle. Later, her friend, Sou, confesses to Kaori after school ends. Kaori walks home with her injured ankle, trips over and gets run over in “dramatical” style. And with that, the plot to In Search of Lost Future begins. The show gives us a taste of its time-travel “twist” at the beginning and end of the installment, and while the ending taster could give us incentive enough to watch it, the rest of the episode doesn’t if you’re watching it purely out of curiosity and not for ironic purposes. The episode doesn’t build up any emotion, surprise surprise.

The episode honestly feels like a low-rent Clannad episode. The entire premise of the show feels like a low-rent Clannad, to be honest. The characters are cardboard cut-outs, who do not leave much of an impression on the viewer – impressions are meant to be left on the viewer, but In Search of Lost Future seems to forget about that key fact. The episode merely hints at what lies beneath its typical surface, and if those hints were handled well, it could lead the viewer into watching the next episode. It isn’t handled well. The only thing that can captivate the viewer is the unintentional hilarity this episode produces. Stiff, terrible-CG looking, uncanny valley-level animation? Check. Ridiculous dialogue, so poorly written it stuns you? Check. An attempt at drama so awfully handled it leaves you in stitches? Check. Also, to mention, the title of the show – In Search of Lost Future – is a direct reference to In Search of Lost Time, the Marcel Proust novel. Considering the official subtitle for Lost Future is À la recherche du futur perdu, we couldn’t get more pretentious if we even tried.

In Search of Lost Future reeks of rip-off, in the kindest way I can put it. Its visual novel artwork had somewhat unique and bright colouring which was pleasant to the eyes, but the transition was not directed well by Studio feel., the beautiful company that brought us modern-day masterpieces such as Yosuga no Sora and last season’s Jinsei. The result of this poor direction is terrible character design, creepy animation that hints at dreadful CG usage, disturbing character expressions and stiff walking animations. feel. has honestly not sunken so low in their previous productions, as their animation was always the bright spot within the otherwise monotonous or painful darkness. If feel. was trying something new out with their animation techniques, feel. honestly did not do a splendid job, as it is astounding to think people spent time and money producing this mess. The quality of the picture sometimes looks like a slab of the greasiest Vaseline was smothered all over it, and that is putting it both lightly and elegantly.

The voice acting is nothing special, and the music is non-existent to say the least. During my viewing, I heard little to no music, and if I did, it was the nauseating, typical J-pop credits song at the end of my sadistic torture session. “Typical” is a word that epitomizes and becomes synonymous with In Search of Lost Future: a bottom of the barrel, lazily and hastily made anime that puts others similar to it to shame. When I consider a Clannad rip-off to be more fanfiction-like than a product made by the creator himself – see Tomoyo After: It’s A Wonderful Life, which reeks atrocious levels of fanficton-like writing – then we really have sunk so low that there is no redemption for the visual novel-to-anime adaptation.

As I pray; Unlimited Proust Works. — Mahoust

Second Opinion!

Guys, I think there are cracks in time, because most of the anime this season are just from different years. G-Reco’s from the 80s. Cross Ange is from ten years ago. And this show represents a lost era, where we could have tsunderes kicking entire crowds of thirty-year-old students in the class without the slightest twinge of irony. I’m seriously feeling like Billy Pilgrim, because this show is unstuck in time, with clichés that even the most shallow of recent anime have subverted. Not even a man like Seiji Kishi could direct something so blind to the times. Like other attempts to create a work of fiction, as it would be from decades past, this genuinely has all of the colors of a recently unearthed 2007 anime.

Specifically, it looks like a work from the Jun Maeda era. I thought these were a near-extinct species. You couldn’t get a visual novel adaptation this exact to the time period last season, let alone last year. It’s amazing how fresh it looks after all these eons of being buried by the hostile lands of Japan. Sure, the detail is a bit greasy, like it’s from a Nigerian tape or something, but it truly brings back the retro 2007 experience. I think the British Film Institute could make lots of money from findings such as these. I have few other words that can mask my flabbergasted reaction toward this series out of time.

They even have the contrived angst where the main love interest gets hit by a truck. This is truly something that could stand alongside classics like Shuffle and Toradora. I know series like Golden Time tried to replicate this vintage period of anime, but they could never get it right. This one, however, feels too true to be from this year. This, the first find of a treasure trove of lost anime, could be the key to making the archives complete. If we can find this and a lost Gundam series, then we could possibly find other lost treasures like Abunai Sisters and that one episode of Tokyo Pig. This could be the greatest find since Al Capone’s vault, I tell you! — Bloody Marquis

Karen Senki

Somewhere... Ticket is crying.

Oh god… I just had this horrible dream. I thought I was watching this 10 minute anime written by the Sakura Wars/Far East of Eden guy but it was all cgi done by the Apple Daily News guys. But something that bad couldn’t exist right?….it does?…and its called Karen Senki?

OH NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

So yeah Karen Senki is a show where a blond Chinese girl is constantly chased by killer robots for 1o minutes. Honestly I have no other clue as to what its about. Also Travis Touchdown tries to get it on with Wagon from ToQger. BEST ANIMU OF THE SEAZON. — Lord Dalek

Laughing Under the Clouds

Kingdom Hearts fanfiction.

In the Meiji era of Japan, there lives three brothers: one with stupid hair, one with a stupid hat, and one who…um…wants to get stronger or something. They spend their time doing the polices job for them, and ferrying criminals to a gigantic prison in the middle of a lake. At one point the oldest brother dresses in drag Joseph Joestar style and carries the middle brother around like a baby. And their parents are dead, naturally.

While the brothers themselves are okay, nothing else about this show really seems to stand out or grab my attention. Sure, the setting of rapidly westernizing Japan (think Rurouni Kenshin) promises some interest, as does the concept of the prison, but the overall package really doesn’t offer much to merit tuning in a second time. It feels very average in many respects, and although I suppose there is room to develop an intriguing plot, as it stands I can’t really recommended it. — Shadow Gentleman

Le Fruit de la Grisaia

These images should tell you everything you need to know about the majority of this episode.

The series premiere of Grisaia has me feeling conflicted. On one hand, the comedy is generally awful, and even painfully unfunny at times; on the other, some of the lines near the end of episode are actually pretty humorous. On one hand, the protagonist, Yuuji Kazami, comes across as bland and a bit of an asshole; on the other, the show occasionally drops hints implying an interesting backstory, and his snarky realism is refreshing as far as harem protagonists go. On one hand, the female characters are all obnoxious and probably insane; on the other, the final scene reveals that this is intentional. On one hand, the majority of this installment is downright painful to watch, and I honestly felt like dropping it multiple times by the halfway point; on the other, the post-credits scene is intriguing and actually made me eager to see more. That’s a lot of a hands.

This is a tale of two shows, basically: the one that dominates the first 20 minutes, and the one that presents itself after the credits roll. I was ready to write this one off six minutes in, and between the cookie-cutter “deep” prologue text, cringe-worthy attempts at comedy, and pointless cinematic widescreen presentation, I don’t think you can blame me. But as soon as the episode finished playing, I was scrambling to Google to find out just what the hell was going on there at the end. After reading some cryptic posts from various message boards, I’m thinking this could turn into a Higurashi or Madoka kind of deal where the first episode is intentionally misleading but drops hints that some weird stuff is yet to come. Or maybe this will just end up being an edgier, shittier Clannad. It’s hard to say, really.

So, is this episode worth your time? Not yet. Regardless of the promise it shows – which its fans have reassured me of (this is based on a visual novel, after all) – Grisaia‘s first installment is still mostly terrible. The artwork is frequently awful, with characters who look almost exactly like uglier versions of the Monogatari cast. There’s an inexplicable and annoying fascination with panty shots from beginning to end. The principal looks younger than any of the students, and pisses herself during one of the first scenes. The fact that the school Yuuji attends is populated by only six students total invites further Monogatari comparisons and requires a suspension of disbelief I was not willing to grant. Oh yeah, and let’s not forget how Yuuji’s family is dead, or that he gets the window seat in class.

To clear things up: I want this show to be good. I think this show will be good. But it really isn’t good. Yet. — Foggle

Log Horizon, Season 2

I paused it for ya so you can read the subs.

It’s been one year since The Apocalypse and the players of Elder Tale still can’t figure out how the hell they got stuck in their MMO. The kooky guild of outcasts and misfits that is Log Horizon is trying to do something about it however, even it means failing at athletic festivals repeatedly. But that’s not good enough for Shiroe who leaves with Naotsugu to investigate ways of making a quick buck very quickly. You see the cost of running the Akihabara Server (even though there are technically no longer servers) has become so astronomical that guilds from Osaka are already planning on making a move. How do you get gold? Simple. Go get some. All the gold in the world is generated by a magic river (hahaha Wagner references!) but its guarded by a ton of monsters. To get the gold, Log Horizon will have to kill the monsters, and if the episode’s tag is anything to go on, that’s  not going to end well.

The initial series of Log Horizon was initially dismissed (at least by me) as a cheap SAO knock-off, and in some ways it was. The animation was crap, the music was crap (except for the OP), and the voice cast mostly d-listers. The major difference being that Log Horizon is surprisingly incredibly deep and well written (as long as you excuse its occasional tendency to get way too technical) where as a four year old could easily write a better Sword Art Online than what Kawahara has given us. Surprisingly the show has received a second season despite there only being two published LNs released since the conclusion of Season 1, which is kinda ominous when you consider that season 1 was a two-cour show. We’ll see how they stretch it, if any stretching occurs.

Production wise, some major changes have occurred. Out is Satelite, which decided to make Vanadis this season instead. In is… oh god… Deen, who couldn’t animate a sock even if it just meant taking a bunch of still photographs of said sock and making a Muybridge film out it. On the other hand, NHK, which owns and produces Log Horizon, gave Satelite a budget of two walnuts and a nickle last year and it really showed with its stiff wooden quality. Season 2, by comparison, looks like a Deen show. Not an improvement, but not much worse.

So anyway Log Horizon the Second looks to be about as much fun as the first season if you enjoy a somewhat sarcastic commentary about standard RPG mechanics (I did, but I also kinda skipped around with season 1). You could do far worse by watching whats on Tokyo MX five hours later. — Lord Dalek

P.S. – NHK was too cheap to afford a new theme song so DATABASE DATABASE WHOAHOHO.

Lord Marksman and Vanadis

So, of course it’s only natural to get our seasonal offerings of medieval-esque fantasy anime, and this is one of those anime. Based on a light novel series, Lord Marksman and Vanadis tells us the story of a marksman being taken prisoner by a warrior maiden from an opposing army, and presumably proceeds to expand upon some obvious romantic relationship that will grow between the two of them. Now, normally I would go onto a Wikipedia page for a show like this after watching the premiere episode just to refresh myself on the characters and location names, and give you a better idea of the plot since I’m so used to premiere episodes failing to really teach me that much about the characters of the series or the world that they inhabit, but quite frankly I’m sick of that. I thus came up with a new personal rule for myself, refraining from looking up any detailed background information on any series beforehand, and just presenting to you what I learned or even remember from the episode itself.

Now, to this show’s credit, I do believe that it touched upon most of the basic information necessary to set up its world and characters. That said, to its detriment, it failed to present it in a way that made me care enough to find any of that information important enough to remember. Thus, I can still only refer to our main leads as marksman guy and warrior maiden lady with the white hair. Likewise, trying to describe their characters without touching upon details like what they are wearing or their role in the story, I’m left with very little to say. Marksman guy is stoic and honorable and….yeah, that’s about all I got for him. Warrior maiden lady with the white hair is energetic and optimistic and….well, I’m all out of things to say about her as well. And, mind you, these are our two main leads, so we learn even less about any of the supporting characters.

The show also pushes forth an expected level of fan-service for this kind of thing, with unrealistically proportioned breasts-a-plenty, “warrior” attire that doesn’t look the least bit practical for actual combat, and it comes complete with that cliche scene of the male lead walking in on the female lead while she’s bathing (cue obviously awkward dialogue exchange). Perhaps some of that fan-service time could have been better used to flesh out the characters and world, but perhaps I’m being too harsh on this show after just one half-hour segment. In truth, nothing about this premiere offended me in any way, and I can’t think of anything outright bad or terrible about it. Yet, on the flip side, it didn’t stand out to me either, with the exception of the soundtrack which I must admit was quite well-composed and made certain scenes feel far more engaging than they really were from a writing or action stand-point. The animation was also suitably above average, with pretty impressive production values, though that’s only to be expected for a premiere episode, and I doubt that this would hold the same level of quality for an entire series run.

Essentially, Lord Marksman and Vanadis is that predictable yet somehow strange sort of premiere where I honestly don’t feel anything toward it. The writing, characters, and setting are all just aspects which I feel largely indifferent toward. However, it also makes my recommendation all the more clear. It may not be bad, but by the same token, a Game of Thrones this is not. Perhaps the series will expand on its narrative and improve its writing in future episodes, but I can’t say that I’ll be sticking around to find out, so you may want to pass as well, unless this genre of anime is just something that’s really up your alley, in which case you may get more enjoyment from this product than I did. — Dr. Ensatsu-ken

Second Opinion!

In a fantasy world, where women’s armour and wardrobe are so scantily clad that it would probably make SJWs cry, the two kingdoms of Brune and Zchted are at war with one another. After a bloody battle, a Brunish count, Tigrevormund (Tigre) is captured by a Zchtedian War Maiden named Eleonora (Ellen). Admiring his skills with a bow (among other things), Ellen tries to draft Tigre into her forces. Poor Tigre is reluctant, but that will change given the circumstances of his homeland at the episode’s end.

I kinda liked this. Granted there is not much exceptional here in this first episode, but its overall execution is good. The world is standard fantasy, but the aesthetics are so appealing especially once it hits the midway mark that I didn’t even care. Characters are for the most part very solid, especially the two leads. Tigre is very taciturn but loyal, and does quite well for himself given his situation, and Ellen appears to be a rather strong foil to him. She is eager, confident, and overall good-natured enough to make her a likeable lead. I’m really curious to see how well these two hit it off as the series goes on. Everything is polished and bereft of anything that would annoy me heartily.

No I am not at all irritated yet by the fanservice. It seems to come with the territory and only if it devolves into something much worse (like say, your atypical harem show with the Seijun Otokos).

Anyhow, here is to hoping Vanadis continues to build from a solid first episode without devolving into boredom or worse. — The Juude

Magic Kaito 1412

Even Kaito himself is excited that he has a new anime.

A while ago somebody I know made a very good point that stuck in my mind: Animation is an illusion that makes you forget what you’re seeing on-screen are a series of drawings, and instead see them as organic, lifelike characters in a believable, three-dimensional world. You can expand this idea to apply more generally to any medium of storytelling, where the best of the bunch cast a spell that makes you forget the events of what you’re reading, seeing, or hearing isn’t tangible or real. If the work engages it’s audience thoroughly enough, then even if there are some things that might not add up, the audience is likely not to notice or care, so entertained by the trick they can look past and ignore one or two visible wires. In animation in particular, there are all sorts of fantastical, improbable concepts and abstract worlds that don’t reflect reality as we know it, but at the same time, we’re willing to believe in them, and the people that live within them.

On these grounds, I’d say Magic Kaito 1412 is one darn good magic trick. When you stop and think about it’s story, there are a couple of holes and inconsistencies. But, like the magic show performed by Kaito’s father, chances are the audience is having too much fun believing in the illusion to care. The show does not lag or give you time to think about what may or may not make sense and does exactly what it needs to in order to entertain. It’s a fast paced effort that wastes no time in establishing the characters, the setting, and the story, and runs with them to good effect and with an understanding of what will make this series work, and does it all with a great sense of humor to boot. In basically one four-minute sequence we get to know pretty much everything we need to know about who Kaito and his best friend/love interest Aoko are and what makes them tick, and similarly the other major characters presented in this episode are quickly characterized to good effect as well. The plot of this episode moves so fast that by the end it almost feels like not a whole lot happened, but in a good way. When the opening theme showed up half-way into the show I was genuinely surprised because I didn’t think ten minutes had flown by so fast. I’d say that’s a pretty good sign that this is going to be a fun series.

Of course, a magic trick works best provided the audience goes into it willing to suspend their disbelief. In this case, to get the most out of this kind of series, you’d need to be able to get into this kind of premise, which looks to amount to weekly Lupin-esque antics with an underlying murder mystery story developing throughout it’s run. This is a show that clearly isn’t going to take itself all that seriously, but at the same time you get the sense it really wants to show you a good time. I’d wager that’s because this show knows what it is, and knows what it’s audience wants, and has a better grasp of this more than a lot of similar anime do when they first start off. It’s not really surprising this is the case, though, because the titular character is so well-known and iconic that it would make no sense for A-1 to get him wrong. Yeah, it’s time to address the elephant in the room here, and briefly go over the history of this character and franchise, and exactly why this anime has been made.

First off, the character designs for this series might look a bit familiar. That’s because they are. It is distinctly the style of Gosho Aoyama, creator of one of the most popular anime and manga franchises ever created, Detective Conan. Magic Kaito is one of Aoyama’s pre-Conan works, though it’s technically still a currently running series, just updated intermittently since Aoyama spends most of his time working on Conan. The character of Kaito Kid, however, is shared between the two works, and this character’s popularity and recognizably has come from his regular appearances in the latter series. Not to say that he shows up a whole lot in it, far from it in fact. Despite his popularity, Kaito Kid has actually only appeared in 29 episodes total out of that series’ 750+ episodes run. But whether it’s because of his incredibly likable personality or the similarities and contrasts between him and the titular protagonist Conan Edogawa, every one of his appearances in the series is an absolute treat and a memorable event, and tend to be some of it’s absolute best episodes. It speaks to the character’s popularity that despite relatively few appearances, he’s earned himself multiple yearly television specials based on his original manga, appearances in several of the Detective Conan movies in an integral role (they even put him in the Detective Conan vs. Lupin the Third movie!), and now, of course, a two-cours tv anime meant to celebrate his sister franchise’s 20th anniversary. Yes, Detective Conan is that old now, and it’s going as strong as ever if the anime’s ratings and manga’s sales are any indication. So, it makes sense to finally make a proper tv anime focusing on one of it’s most popular characters by using the anniversary as a pretext, capitalizing not only on Kaito’s popularity himself but also the boosted popularity the Detective Conan franchise is likely receiving for being in a milestone year.

As such, of all the anime that’s come out this season, Magic Kaito 1412 arguably has the least it needs to prove, because the character and series have proven itself for years now already. Pretty much everyone who will be watching this in Japan knows who the titular character is, this franchise, and what to expect from it. But likewise, there’s no reason for A-1 to make a misstep in handling this series, even though it will supposedly be a new, original storyline beyond this first episode, because of exactly that. Since the people behind the show should be very familiar by now with a character and franchise like Magic Kaito, they should understand precisely what they need to do with this series to make a fun anime that will entertain long-time fans, while still appeal to potential new ones. They didn’t have to even remake the origin story for Kaito for this series, really, since the character is easy to understand without any backstory, but it speaks volumes that the presentation actually manages to make it a more enjoyable rendering of this story than it’s previous tv special adaption, despite a noticeably reduced budget and less polished animation. If this first episode is any indication, the team behind this anime clearly understand how to make an entertaining remake of a long-established and popular franchise much more than, say, the team behind Sailor Moon Crystal. More so than most other anime that’s come out this season, it can be expected that this series will be good start to finish, and for both newbies and fans of the character and franchise, it should prove a satisfying and enjoyable watch.

One last thing I will say is that if you are hesitant to watch the series because of it’s relationship to Detective Conan, I’d advise you not to worry about that. Magic Kaito pretty much stands on it’s own and no prior knowledge of it’s sister series is required to enjoy it. Heck, you might not even like Detective Conan at all and still really like this series, actually. While I’d expect the people who will get the most out of it will be those who are already fans of titular character, whether it be from the previous adaptions of the manga or his appearances in Conan, I’d say that you will still likely enjoy the show a considerable amount even if you haven’t, since it promises to be an entirely new story featuring the character in the first place. So, if you’re interested, go ahead and check it out. And if you happen to like it, then, as Kaito puts it, see you next illusion. — Cartoon X

Mysterious Joker

Yes, it’s a kid’s show. Yes, even more “kiddy” than your typical battle shounen series. But, that doesn’t mean that it’s exempt from scrutiny. After all, even kids deserve to have decent quality entertainment. And, as far as children’s programming goes, it’s basically like a really kid-friendly version of Lupin III, which certainly isn’t a bad thing.

Our main character is the Phantom Thief Joker, who notoriously announces what he’ll be stealing in the episode to the owner himself. He’s chased around obsessively by an inspector and a group of police officers, and through the course of this episode, is helped out by a little ninja kid who ends up becoming his apprentice and sidekick. The show plays it safe with its humor and characters, which is only natural for a children’s program, yet to its credit the set-up feels genuinely inspired and there is clear effort put in here to entertain its target demographic. It has the perfect make-up for a fun Saturday morning cartoon show, and if I were younger, I could see myself tuning into it every week.

That said, it probably won’t do much for those who are too old for it and can’t tap into their inner child, but for what it is, it does its job and does it well. The cartoony character models and animation in particular are really refreshing in a time dominated by too many generic designs when it comes to art styles. What that leaves you with is a show with a respectable level of quality for kids, and perhaps may entertain some who are just into these sorts of gag shows. It’s nothing particularly outstanding or excellent, by any means, but it does embody the concept of pure fun more than most shows from this season, which may not be saying much in and of itself, but I’m sure that it’d mean a lot to some anime enthusiasts. — Dr. Ensatsu-ken

Rage of Bahamut: Genesis

A good video game-to-anime adaptation has always been a rare thing to come by. We’ve seen trainwrecks like Devil Survivor 2: The Animation, Persona 4: The Animation, Persona 4: the Golden Animation, you get the idea. It appears that Rage of Bahamut: Genesis has broken this streak, at least from this first episode. Based of the social card game of the same name, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis surprisingly proves itself in every single category with its first episode, providing a subversion to a sub-genre plagued with terrible adaptations that shame its original product. Rage of Bahamut: Genesis should bring pride to its origin.

Amira, a mysterious pink-heared woman with a magic compass, is searching for a route to Helheim, the realm of the Gods. Favaro Leone is a cocky, eccentric bounty hunter who rivals with Kaisar Lidfort, the dandiest man never to set foot into space. Favaro claims to know a shortcut to Helheim, so Amira ropes him in to help her find the way. Along with these escapades, Favaro and Kaisar capture criminals and bandits and transform them into cards, signifying its origin as a social card game.

Studio MAPPA has already established themselves as competent animators with Kids on the Slope and Terror in Resonance. The CG use at times is a bit iffy, but overall, the CG was good for an TV anime production, and the normal 2D animation is fluid and quite splendid – at times blooming and brimming with life. The character design is typical but clean and nice to look at, and transition into the show well. The music fits the aesthetic of the show to a T, and the sound effects feel like some ripped out of a nostalgic cartoon.

The first segment between Favaro and Kaisar invokes imagery of a western chase sequence: music, dialogue, action, animation – everything is a spaghetti western through and through. The voice acting fits the characters’ personalities charmingly, with Hiroyuki Yoshino as Favaro and Gou Inoue as Kaisar being prime examples of well-cast characters. Favaro reeks of a new-age Lupin, with charm and charisma. Kaisar has the coolest pompadour next to Space Dandy and honestly feels like Dandy was ripped from his own space adventure show and placed into this medieval fantasy one. This is not a bad thing, naturally.

This show is ludicrously fun, and offers promise, intrigue and simple escapism. It is one of the best shows of the season in my opinion, and it is well worth 24 minutes of your time, and more to boot. It is, quite simply, a must-watch. — Mahomut

Second Opinion!

So, the best anime premiere of this season happens to be the one based off of some trading card game that I’ve never even heard of. No joke. It’s odd too, considering that this anime was not originally on my radar at all. There have been various other shows this season that I wanted to give a try, but aside from the excellent Fate/Stay Night UBW premiere, which in and of itself can be considered a sequel to an already excellent anime, none of the others really turned out to be shows that I would really want to come back to in the following week. I’m happy to finally be able to say that I’ve found an original series that has me eager to see more.

The funny thing is that, while I’ve been harsh on some shows because they didn’t do an adequate job of introducing me to their characters or teaching me about their universe in their respective premieres, the first episode of Genesis is largely guilty of the same thing. But it brought me to an important realization: substance always comes before exposition. It seems like such an obvious thing to know, but it’s shocking just how many series get it wrong. I’ve seen plenty if anime, none less this season, which are chalked full of exposition, and yet very little of it feels that essential to the main plot, and thus I feel like I’ve learned nothing. Meanwhile, the actual substance of the content, which comes in the form of character personalities, humor, action, and the general quality of what you actually see happening on screen, is severely lacking. Genesis basically manages to cleverly entice you into wanting to learn more about it by presenting you with high-substance material that will peak your interest and keep you hooked. It pulls this off successfully by basically making its first episode feel like the opening to an epic big-budget action adventure movie (a good one, at that). Hell, the animation, music, and general production values are basically as close to movie quality as you can get for an animated television series, and for large portions of the episode, I actually forgot that I was even watching a show.

Now, you could argue that the show is just merely flaunting its high-budget production values to impress the viewers, which is a luxury that several shows don’t have, and I can’t deny that there may be some truth to that, however I’d argue back that there’s more to it than just that. All of the best production values in the world would do you no good if your characters are flat, and in terms of raw engaging personality, our two male leads are overflowing with it. The opening scene alone where they have an amazing fight scene throughout the streets of a bustling medieval-style town showcases them perfectly. One is an ego-centric bounty hunter with an impeccable red afro named Favaro Leone (SEE, I can actually remember his name without having to look it up) who manages to perfectly balance the act of being a genuine bad-ass with also being the show’s main source of comic relief, and who we spend the most time with this episode. He’s fighting another bounty hunter by the name of Kaisar, who is far less cheery and has a clear beef with Favaro over an implied rough history between the two, which just goes to show that you can imply something nuanced in characters without having to rely on blatant exposition. We are also introduced to a thus far unnamed woman, who as far as we know “isn’t from around town” to put it mildly, and seeks guidance to an area known as Helheim, which she believes that Favaro can lead her to. She also happens to be endowed with bizarre magical abilities, as evidenced by how she easily slays a giant demon summoned to take out Favaro like it’s no one’s business.

Yeah, there are demons in this action adventure show too, and hell, the opening scene is an out of context segment showing an army of knights with insane powers fighting a giant fucking dragon. It’s like the writers decided to take everything that makes fantasy and adventure awesome and put it in a blender, and then make an anime out of that, which is pretty much what we’ve got right here. While there’s no guarantee that this show can remain so amazing and deliver a satisfying payoff for what’s been presented so far, I can certainly say that I’ll be sticking with it for at least a while, if not for the whole adventure. On a level of sheer excitement, this is by far the strongest premiere of this season, and quite frankly puts its competition to shame. Highly recommended. — Dr. Ensatsu-ken

Selector Spread Wixoss

Puella Gamer Yugioka

Batteru! Batteru! Batte-oh god not this horseshit again… Yup Okada couldn’t be bothered to finish her cheesy Yugioh/Madoka mashup last May and so, like many other virulent plagues with a high mortality rate currently hitting Dallas, Texas (HAHAHA! TIMELY!), our beloved Wixoss has gone from patient zero to a full-on airborne contagion. Call the CDC, there will be no survivors.

As you may recall, Wixoss is a popular card game in a creepy Tokyo prefecture (as opposed to the REAL Wixoss game which appears to be even less popular than Buddy Fight). While most play the game casually, completely unaware of its dark power, several young girls between the ages of 12 and 17 have been picked to be “Selectors” by receiving special cards (known as Lrirgs, cue groan) that are actually alive. If you win three battles (BAAAAAAAAAAATTTTTTERUUUUUUUU!), you get your wildest dreams to come true and its all happy time, lose three times and you don’t get to play anymore and a couple hired goons break your shit. Oh well.

To be fair, as last season suggested, you DON’T wanna win this game. Being a Madoka ripoff and all, there has to be some sort of Faustian trap for our heroes to step into, and in this case, instead of becoming soulless husks, the “winners” become their cards (Get it? Because Lrig is Girl spelled backwards?!?! Remember that groan I cued…)  and the girls in their cards gets to fulfill their wildest dreams FOR them! AHAHAHAHA…I hate this show. Last season, our three main heroines: Ruko, Yuzuki, and Hitoe, each ended up getting screwed over by this horrid little game somehow. Hitoe lost three times and her dream of having friends ended up with her becoming comatose for a couple episodes  and then losing her memory and becoming a cold angry bitch…then it turns out she was faking it the whole time because…how am I supposed to know? Meanwhile, Yuzuki actually won her games but was helplessly stranded as her dirty skank of a Lrig got to fulfill her dream of getting her oniisan to notice her like only a sempai would. Ruko, being the main-main character as far as this show is concerned, set out to make her wish the ability to release all the girls from their cards. That didn’t go so well when her increasingly autistic Lrig Tama, finally refused to batteru allowing the evil Iona-San (duhduhduh) her wish of having Tama as her card instead. And that’s all you need to know about what happened last season on Wixoss!…god help us.

That finally brings us to this season and well Ruko and Hitoe, as the only important survivors of season 1, aren’t batteru-ing any more. Unfortunately, that isn’t enough from keeping Chiyori, the light novel obsessed dummy who was a one off gag character in Infected, from blindly trying to challenge the two despite every possible thing they could do to get her not to. Meanwhile, evil Iona-San (now Ruko’s Lrig following her quasi-defeat last time) pondered her inability to get Ruko to batteru as a means to reunite her with the now-lost Tama. And that’s it really, with most of the episode spent on that good ol fashioned slice of life shlock that Okada is known for shoving down our throats, even if this one is supposed to “creepy” and “unnerving” (its not).

Essentially though, this is a recap episode. There’s a lot of recycled footage and a lot of infodumping going on. That’s to be expected though as its been about three months since the last episode of Wixoss aired and it wasn’t very memorable back then either. Its annoying that Okada has to dig out one of her more useless characters to use as the medium for that though, and Chiyori really doesn’t add anything at all to the proceedings. Hell I’d take crazy Akira over this bubble headed moron any day.

Really it is just more of the same. Lots of moe, lots of forced darkness, lots of shameless stealing from Madoka. The main difference being of course that Not-Homura is now Not-Kyubey. If that’s an improvement than damned if I know. There’s still a small chance though that Spread might turn around the so bad its hilariousness that was Infected with all its batteru, batteru, batteru. Maybe then producing… not a good show but maybe an ok one.

Unfortunately though, our writer is Mari Okada, and I’ve seen this movie before. — Lord Dalek

Second Opinion!

So, hey, um, dudes. Last time on Wixoss, Homura fulfilled step one of her master plan… to become a children’s trading card. This time on Wixoss, more of that Okada magic penetrates your sense orifices with that gooey Okada charm. I could probably go on another tangent on why Mari Okada is the current cancer that is killing anime now that moe has long since been in remission, but that’s overdone. This time, I could compare this with its competitors in the card game anime market. Beyond all of those attempts for feels and familial angst that very few families actually go through, this is meant to be a show that sells toys. And does this achieve that job? No. No, of course not.

I can imagine a tired parent confusing Wixoss cards for some Black Rock Shooter thing and buying it for their child in an absentminded attempt to bond. The aesthetics ape from so many other sources that it feels like those chain stores that sell Buddyfight cards because they’re too poor to deal in Yu-Gi-Oh or whatever card franchise the kids are smoking nowadays. While it may be admirable for the series to put more care into the characters than into the merchandise that care doesn’t translate into genuine effort causing the girls in the show to feel as shallow as the game they’re playing.

And as stupid as the plots get in Yu-Gi-Oh or its various successors, they did make their material interesting enough for some kid with a low attention span to want a piece of that action and buy the cards. In this episode and many from last season however, it’s just moping. It’s moping over the main grab of the series with few attempts at real experimenting with the genre, with said attempts being taken fresh off another show about emotionally abused girls. What I’m saying is that it feels stale, something from a writer who seems disinterested in playing with the toys she’s given in favor or shilling out another soap opera like Nagi no Asukara. — Bloody Marquis

The Seven Deadly Sins

Hey the subbers wrote my entry for me! (Technically Nakaba Suzuki's to blame for that, Mr. Fan-Subber.)

Usually at this time would come the latest installment of Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic and me waxing over Alibaba’s always comedic worthlessness. However due to Ootaka taking forever to finish that mixed bag that was Salomon’s doomed quest in Alma Toran (it ended incredibly well but lord was it a chore getting there), instead A-1 Pictures offers us The Seven Deadly Sins! Nakaba Suzuki’s classic shonen manga adventure of a boy, a girl, a talking animal, and a legendary guild of outca-wait a minute I’ve seen this show! You’re not foolin me A-1, I may be only able count the number of Fairy Tail episodes I’ve seen (all mostly involuntary) on two hands but I remember that first episode pretty damn well and boy do the similarities stick out like a sore thumb.

Here Lieth The Plot: In the land of Brittania (lolz Ultima), the once high and mighty Jed-er… Rusty Knights were wiped out ten years ago by the significantly more evil Holy Knights. However seven survived, proceeding to go on a killing rampage that has become legend in the Liones Kingdom. While it is generally believed that the so-called Seven Deadly Sins were ultimately killed themselves, their legend still strikes fear in the hearts of the Holy Knights. This brings us to Princess Elizabeth who seeks the Seven Deadly Sins to kill the Holy Knights because the Holy Knights are TOTALY NOT SITH LORDS…totally. Her quest brings her to the tavern of an unnamed teen and his talking pig. Said teen through a series of misunderstandings, close shaves, and a run in with the bastard lover child of F/Z Rider and Freddie Mercury, eventually reveals himself to be the first of the Seven Deadly Sins, Meliodas the Sin of Wrath complete with a tattoo of Uroboros that is TOTALLY NOT IN THE SAME EXACT SPOT AS NATSU’S…totally.

Getting past the Not-Fairy Tail (or now that I think of it, Not-Star Wars) aspect of the show though, this is a pretty standard shonen show. Cute girl meets goofy guy, goofy guy turns out to be super-overpowered shonen protagonist, “let’s go get Naraku next time!”, rince repeat. Its pretty damn tedious for me to watch, and its especially tedious when none of the characters ever come close to being marginally interesting. The best character is that of Meliodas’ talking pig Hawk and only because of how he/she/it ends up being the Boston Butt (HAHAHA! I’m Dan Schneider!) of many a food joke. Even that though loses its luster pretty damn quickly and by the end of it I had no desire to watch the next episode, unless of course I was forced to watch the utterly repulsive Cross Ange instead.

Also for a final laugh, this is not on Crunchy, the reason being that Netflix decided to buy it instead. So expect to see the Seven Deadly Sins take America by storm… half a year from now! — Lord Dalek

Second Opinion!

Amagi Brilliant Pork

Stop me if this premise rings a bell. A young girl who ran away from her home is searching for an infamous band of warriors. She meets an aloof young man who is accompanied by a cutesy animal sidekick. She ends up getting in trouble with some crooked mooks and gets bailed out by the kid. Then she finds out that the kid is a member of the aforementioned group she was looking fo-OH MY GOD THIS IS FAIRY TAIL ALL OVER AGAIN AAAGGGHHHHH!!!!

The most remarkable thing about the first episode of The Seven Deadly Sins is that there’s absolutely nothing remarkable about it. On the contrary, everything presented here amounts to tired and rote cliches that might be of interest to newbies who’ve never watched a battle shonen anime before, but are completely uninteresting to just about everyone else. Normal person meeting weird person and going off on a journey? Essentially the first episode of 95% of all battle-shonen. A carefree and young but insanely strong goody-good protagonist? You gotta love them Goku clones. Annoying comic relief animal sidekick? I’ve never seen a more blatant rip-off of Fairy Tail‘s Happy. Boobs An obligatory and completely useless female lead who’s only discernible role is to spout exposition? Yup, and this one’s plenty bland to boot! I could go on, but I think you get the picture. Sins cobbles together all the most boring elements of modern battle-shonen series and runs with them together under an equally uninspired premise.

Arguably, it’s not so much the cliches themselves that are the problem. With good presentation even a battle-shonen show can spin familiar tropes into something fun and fresh. Sins, sadly, doesn’t do that. A likable and interesting cast of characters are essential in making one stand out against the plethora of battle-shonen out there, but right now Sins‘ characters are just the archetypes of the same kinds of characters we’ve seen countless times before and nothing more. The setting is a sort of medieval fantasy world that has talking animals and a quaint rustic feel, yet at the same time a nagging sense of familiarity leaves little of interest to note about it. The story is as basic as a battle-shonen premise can be, being an adventure journey to look for old comrades and band together to fight a common evil. The twist is so typical that you can call it a minute into the show if not sooner, with the supposed notorious criminals being the heroic characters while the allegedly authority figures are blatant and one-dimensional mustache-twirling bad guys. You’d think that with the heroes called named after the seven deadly sins they’d at least be edgy fuckers, but nope, Meliodas is your standard shonen protagonist. He’s not obnoxious, loud, or annoying like the worst of the lot, but at the same time, there’s just nothing about him or this series that stands out.

A smart and creative director could still make all this a lot more fun to watch. Unfortunately, Tensai Okamura’s directing is possibly less inspired than it was in Blue Exorcist, and the episode moves along at a slow and steady pace that bores rather than excites. Compare this first episode to Magi‘s, which was considerably more fast-paced, and established it’s premise and characters much more effectively and left a far greater impact as a result. Sins‘ premiere doesn’t do anything particularly bad with it’s pacing, shots, or animation, mind you, but it also doesn’t do anything particularly interesting or memorable either. In the first season of Magi, A-1 put in actual effort and rewrote the story to remove some of the source material’s initial warts as well as reworking a few pacing and character details. Their version was ultimately an improved rendering of the same events and story, and opened with an engaging premiere that made sure to show the potential of the series and present an enticing hook to interest viewers in seeing more. But Sins doesn’t take any risks to change things around to make what could work about it shine. The premiere is a straightforward adaption of the first chapter of it’s source material, showing no effort or attempt to improve on it’s weaknesses. By doing nothing to help hide the fact you’ve seen all this before, it consequently carries a by the numbers, been-there done-that feeling throughout, and worse, reads as a rip-off of it’s more popular sempai in Weekly Shonen Magazine, Fairy Tail. Sure, the similarities between the two are fairly general, but when even the fan-translators bothering to sub the show get annoyed enough to point them out, you know it’s doing something wrong.

Overall, the first episode of The Seven Deadly Sins is not bad, not good, but simply another typical and generic battle-shonen series premiere that ends up falling on the boring side of things when all is said and done. Having wrote all of this, it might come across that I hate and would not recommend this series to anyone at all, but that’s actually not true. In fact, I’m caught up and keep up with the manga?and I like it. The Seven Deadly Sins is yet another battle-shonen series that starts off as nothing special and rather dull, taking a while to find it’s niche and groove, but eventually does find a way to make itself stand out. What improved Sins from it’s generic beginnings was the addition of more interesting characters to round out the main cast, much appreciated development of the existing ones, and the convincing relationships between them. As I’ve said before, enjoyable characters can considerably improve even the most basic of battle-shonen premises, and Sins‘ cast, while not particularly complex or necessarily unfamiliar, are a solid and well-written bunch that do little to annoy and a lot to like, and are characters that you can get invested in, and thus invested in the story. Sins does not just improve on the character front, though; it’s world becomes a more intriguing and interesting place to learn about as fantastical beings, demons, and Arthurian figures start revealing themselves alongside a neat mythology, and the story, while nothing revolutionary, is well-written for what it is and manages to avoid the trappings of lesser series in the genre by following through on strong set-up and foreshadowing and pulling scant to no bullshit plot developments for the sake of easily resolving problems. I wouldn’t say it’s a great series or does anything new that sets it apart from others in it’s genre, but I do think it is a solid and very enjoyable one nonetheless. If this anime remains a straightforward adaption of the manga, and it’s likely to, then it too will find it’s groove and become much more fun to watch soon enough, and similarly be a solid battle-shonen anime.

But even though The Seven Deadly Sins will “get better,” I still find this a hard series to recommend for most. While this is easily the better of the two battle-shonen shows that have come out this season, that isn’t saying much, because as a Toei production, World Trigger was doomed to be an irredeemable piece of shit from the very beginning. As far as action-adventure shows in general go, Rage of Bahamut provided an excellent, engaging romp in it’s first episode and was handily more impressive and interesting than Sins‘ premiere could even hope to be. Fate/Stay Night and Parasyte, though of different genres, should also provide excellent action sequences with strong character writing and a good story. So while Sins is not a bad show, there are just better options this season if you are looking for a good action series. I’m also of the opinion that if you don’t enjoy something from the onset you should’t feel obligated to continue it any further. So if you watch the first episode and don’t like it, then by all means, I don’t think you should bother continuing with it, especially if you are bored with or hate standard battle-shonen series in the first place. However, if you do enjoy good battle-shonen series, are looking for something new to watch, want a decent series to hold you over until the return of Magi, and have a bit of patience, then The Seven Deadly Sinsshould prove an enjoyable and rewarding experience overall. It’s just a shame that the bulk of shonen anime adaptions continue to be too safe for their own good, especially when they have the opportunity to make a decent series into something so much greater. — Cartoon X

Terra Formars

He's bear-y good.

Terra Formars is ostensibly a show where baras beat up racially insensitive cockroach men. I know this because that’s what the OVA episode that came out a month ago (EDITORS NOTE: August) was about. This episode on the other hand is about how Jin from the Tekken Live Action movie gets his package bitten off by an American brown bear named Brian-kun…..I got nothin. Oh all right, there’s something about space AIDS and regular video game Kazuya from the OVA is back except now sporting a goatee (SPOILERS!!!!). Otherwise its just an excuse to get our latest half-man half-ant onto Mars to beat up roaches because whatever.

The OVA series of Terra Formars was one of if not the most insanely disgusting and disgraceful animations to grace my screen this year so I was naturally expecting more of that. Sadly(?), due to much more stringent television censorship standards, this is not exactly what we get from this series. Oh sure its fun/horrifying to see our half-ant hero Hizamaru litterally rip a brown bear in half, the problem is we can’t see it since the censorship blackening leaves even less on screen than your average episode of Tokyo Ghoul. So we can only imagine how silly this must all look when it hits dvd (not like I care).

The second half of the episode is nowhere near as hilariously terrible as the first. Most of its just infodumping as well as introducing a bunch of cliched character designs who will be serving as our canon fodder for this series. Since I’ve watched the equivalent of two first episodes of this show, I already know that these losers don’t have long to live so I can’t get comfortable with anybody. In the end, Terra Formars is kind of a mixed bag. Its terrible yes, but its just not terrible enough to keep me interested. I guess that’s an …improvement? — Lord Dalek

Second Opinion!

Look, Ma! It’s another one of ‘em Bleak, Action, Anime with an elite, but underpowered, group of humans against a savage, uncaring, inhuman, foe!

Hot off the heels of the prequel OVA, Terra Formars the TV series, gets off to a rather humdrum start after making a weird first impression. How weird? A Japanese man faces off against a large bear (literal not the poofy kind) in a cage match watched by rich people who look like they’re all in their vinegar strokes phase of orgasm. After getting his dick munched by the bear, he kills it off, has a sad because whatever he was fighting for is dead, gets picked up by mysterious organization and now they’re getting their asses to Mars.

Unless you’ve watched the OVA, you wouldn’t know how very lethal the Terra Formars are, as they’re merely revealed but not showcased in this first episode. The episode eventually shifts from weird to mundane as expository dumps take way, meaningless lingering and conversations between characters take place, and after nothing happens, THEN they leave for Mars. Maybe this is for buildup but for some reason I’m not at all endeared quite yet. It ain’t like Attack on Titan where you actually had a good idea of the ominous nature of the Titans and an eventual reveal about how ruthless they are. Here? Oh it’s a black version of The Tick.

It’s rather lamish, but I’ll have to reserve judgment until they meet the Terra Formars. Hopefully it’ll be the weird kind of stupid bad that’s good. Maybe. I dunno. All I know is that I may have to make another intro done to the theme of The Tick. — The Juude

Tribe Cool Crew

PARENTAL GUIDANCE WARNING: The following is the single whitest thing you will ever see on Animation Revelation. Viewer discretion advised…

AW YEA, RESPECK!

Yo! Dis be hippest animu of seazon, dawgs. All hip hop no plot! Screw dat Hanayamatagatari sheet, we keekin it old skool with da KOOOL KREEEW! Diz be sad hatwaming tale of white rice boyee who drinkz nuttin but CODE RED before poppin in sum SKRILLLEX! He stalked by some girl with da anime swag benjameens. Then dey dance! And itz all cgi because SUNRISE IZ DA BEST! GUNDAMN RESPECK YO! CHECK YO ROOTS PRIVLGE!

Now I not be the kind of homie who which does this animu sheet, but Tribe Kool Krew? Aw yea. DAT DANCIN ASS SO MUCH CEEG! Danzin so awesum, dey use the same animu gain 10 minutes latr. Dats so fresh. Diz is cleray da first animu dat appeelz to my generayshun. Az a proud 37 year old blanco from South Beech Miami, I too feel reprezzed by da maaaan. HEY YEW DON’T TAKE MY BODY PILLOWZ AWAY MAAAAAAA!

SowhatwasItalkinabo…OH YEA KOOL KREW IZ DA SHIZ BOMB YO! Go daun to Chinatown and by a copy to go wit yo plate of MooGoo. Bye y’all! — DarkSydePhivator

Actual Opinion!

This is Aikatsu for boys… discuss. — Lord Dalek

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace

Anime is no longer saved.

Trigger can finally be considered a full-fledged anime studio. They’ve hit all the bases at this point: they’ve made an original anime everybody liked, an original anime that was incredibly polarizing, a barely-animated web series, and now, finally… a light novel adaptation. A generic, boring light novel adaptation filled with lazy comedy, uninspired characters, dull artwork, and unnecessary exposition. It’s not complete garbage by any means, but it is thoroughly mediocre, which is arguably worse. There is simply nothing at all interesting or good about When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, except for that title, which I actually kind of like.

The story goes that the five members of an unnamed school’s literature club suddenly develop superpowers one day and then… don’t do anything with them. This premise is actually fairly unique, and if this show were an original Trigger production, I could easily see it being at least mildly enjoyable. Unfortunately, it’s based on a light novel, and I’m pretty sure only like 15 of those have been good ever. The world of this anime (henceforth referred to by its shortened Japanese title, Inou-Battle) is uninteresting, inhabited by the same cardboard cutout protagonists you’ve seen in every LN-based series to date, and is characterized by a sleep-inducing cheapness in both writing and visuals to the point where you can tell that nobody who worked on this production truly cared about it. Well, the music’s okay, I guess, but everything else about Inou-Battle can be succinctly described as “fucking nothing.”

If I were hard-pressed to mention one thing I legitimately enjoyed about this episode, I suppose I’d have to admit that the buildup to Andou’s power being worthless was actually somewhat well-done; moreover, his reaction to losing it was genuinely funny. That’s it. No, I did not like the Kill la Kill reference. It was random and out of place, serving only to make an already groan-worthy scene even more insipid.

I have nothing else to say about Inou-Battle. It’s boring and seemingly without merit. Avoid this one. — Foggle

Second Opinion!

Ummmm….Yeah, so I don’t really know what I was expecting from this show to begin with. I must admit, I just saw the name “Trigger” attached to the project, and thought to myself “Oh! Those are the guys that did Little Witch Academia and Kill La Kill! This should be as good as those!” What I got was….well, I don’t really know.

We have 5 characters (as usual, I can’t be bothered to recall any of their names) in a literature club who seemingly get superpowers one day out of nowhere, ranging from summoning a useless dark flame to being as overpowered as stopping time, or in another case, basically just ripping off Avatar with a user who has control over all of the classical elements. But, alright, that could still make for an interesting battle series. However, the tone of this episode, and seemingly what the whole series will go with, is an overly comedic one. Alright, that can work as well, but the jokes presented here are just safe, predictable, and feel like something that you’ve probably already seen in other anime before. In short, it’s trying really hard to be funny, but so far, it really just isn’t.

You’d at least expect some really fluid animation and a kick-ass soundtrack out of a Trigger production, but this anime disappoints in that regard as well. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with either. They are both fairly serviceable aspects of the show, but in no way do they stand out in the way that previous Trigger products have. Really, that logic just applies to the whole show, or at least this premiere episode. There’s really nothing wrong with it, but simultaneously, there’s nothing truly worthwhile about it either, unless cliche and boring anime comedy is your thing. So, essentially I’m just left a bit disappointed, but perhaps I’ve learned my lesson of not just assuming greatness from something just because of what name is attached to it. — Dr. Ensatsu-ken

Wolf Girl and Black Prince

I honestly have nothing much to say about Wolf Girl & Black Prince. It is not captivating, nor is is desirable. It is not romantic in any way, shape or form. It is the most boring romance anime I have watched all year. It is also the most exploitative romance this year. It honestly astounds me how a person can write, direct and animate this and not feel ashamed of themselves in the process. This makes Fushigi Yugi look like Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun. This makes most romance anime look like Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun.

Erika Shinohara pretends to have a boyfriend to appeal to the masses of highschool students. With her friends starting to realize she is lying about her significant other, she takes a picture of a random boy in the middle of the street to provide evidence. It is revealed the boy is Kyousa Sata, the prince of their highschool. Explaining the situation to Kyousa, Erika becomes the “wolf girl” to Kyousa’s “black prince”, who reveals his plan to emotionally manipulate and physically abuse her, and call her a “dog”. Thus begins the “plot” of Wolf Girl & Black Prince.

Apart from the abuse aspect, this show honestly comes off as dull, monotone and boring. The characters are one-dimensional and dull, the manipulation of the female protagonist turns you off (as it should), the music is dull, the animation is dull, uninspired and looks like a low-rent Zexcs show, everything in conclusion is just….dull. Say, “I Love You.” was a hundred times more interesting than this trashcan. Hell, this makes Fruits Basket look good in comparison.

Who enjoys an abusive relationship? Why does anime have a fetish for it? Why was this, and last year’s Amnesia made? Who gets off to this, and who enjoys this? I have so many questions, and 23 minutes of my life would be better off watching Sakura Trick than thinking about this absolute waste of time. I am better off watching Nagi-Asu: A Lull in the Sea than this. I am better off watching most shows than this. You’re better off, too. Don’t do it.

If it wasn’t for Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons and In Search of Lost Future, Wolf Girl & Black Prince would honestly be the worst anime of this season. — Mahookami

World Trigger

Pucker up.

For reasons unknown, giant albino space iguanas known as Neighbors have begun to invade Japan but mostly just the city of Mikado. After a series of gruesome attacks left much of the population dead, a group of alien fighters known as Border has been established to fight the menace using counter-technology called Triggers. Surprisingly, they have been pretty damn successful, to the point where Neighbor attacks have just become a forgettable daily nuisance. Things get complicated though with the arrival of Yuma Kuga, a mysterious transfer student with white hair who has a trigger of his own. Turns out he’s actually one of the space aliens and a total dickwad to boot. There’s also Osamu Mikumo, a totally worthless guy who joined Border after being rescued by some guy he hero worships in traditional Shonen Jump show protagonist fashion. How will this pair fare against the space iguanas? How the hell should I know!

World Trigger feels like kind of an odd duck among the slew of Shonen Jump action schlock released over the years. The protagonists are a pair of physically limp guys with no special characteristics other than their magic transformation weapons, only one of which (Yuma’s of course) actually works. In a way its actually closer to a series like Magi in that it places its story on considerably undertrained and underprepared protagonists who naturally grow to like each other through their shared experiences. The problem though is I couldn’t give a crap about either of these two guys. Yuma comes off as smug and incredibly unlikable which is apparently supposed to translate to his alien side but only comes off as smug and unlikable, and Osamu is just a bland punching bag for the abuse of bullies.

This is a Toei show and as usual its not that much of a looker. I watched this about an a hour after viewing the eye orgasmic Fate/Stay Night [Unlimited Blade Works], and the transition from that near movie quality to this no-fps production felt like crashing into the atomsphere on a incinerated space station. To be fair though, this is a kids show airing at 7 AM on TV Asahi and not some production that requires much effort. Still its shows like this and said lack of effort that give Shonen Jump its reputation of bad, low budget entertainment that goes on and on and on.

There is some potential here though and maybe World Trigger might become interesting down the line. At the moment though, I couldn’t care less about it. — Lord Dalek

Second Opinion!

Another season, another Shonen Jump manga for Toei to fuck up. This time I made an exception and went against my rule of not looking into anything beforehand, and actually read some of the manga. I did this precisely because it’s only fair, since Toei can’t be trusted to actually do a good adaptation of anything these days. For what it’s worth, while I don’t think incredibly highly of what I’ve read of the source material so far, it is decently written and does get a bit more interesting later on down the line. But, that’s neither here nor there. I must assess how World Trigger fairs as an anime, not a manga.

Well, as for the plot, the first few minutes are devoted to a narrator blatantly throwing exposition at us over a glorified slideshow (I’m not even exaggerating, here). We learn that there are strange other-worldly creatures made up of bad CG effects called “neighbors” (creative name, I know) that attack Japanese cities and cause much death and destruction. An elite defense force named Border has been established to deal with this ongoing threat. It’s an invasion plot that has been done to death before, no less in this medium, though to its credit this series has the distinction of not being overly dark or even taking itself too seriously to the point of neglecting any humor, of which this has plenty of. In that regard, it feels refreshing to see this type of story done in a way that doesn’t feel up its own ass in pretentious drivel.

Unfortunately, that’s the only semi-praise that I can give to this premiere episode. We honestly don’t learn all that much about our two main leads other than their names and roles in the story. Osamu is a seemingly average student who happens to also be involved with Border, and he quickly becomes responsible for our other lead Yuma, who claims to be a foreign transfer student, but of Japanese heritage. Yuma also has a strange AI companion that talks to him, and that presumably nobody else can see since it floats next to him in the open at so many points in time. Both characters are bare-bones so far in terms of personality, with Osamu being the orderly one and Yuma being the goofy and mysterious one. Through these characters, we also learn about the titular Triggers, which are basically like Sentai armor power-ups, except in the form of much more boring looking jump suits.

As far as production values go, it’s Toei, so naturally they spared no expense….for themselves. What I mean to say is that they literally cut corners wherever possible to save on expenses, even for their premiere episode, and even regarding the lackluster opening animation piece of this show. The soundtrack is forgettable to the point where I can’t even recollect if any music played during the episode in the first place, and the animation is passable at best, and feels like you’re watching a PowerPoint presentation at every other point in time. As anime premieres go, this one is really weak, and given Toei’s track record, it’s only likely to get worse.

So, is World Trigger a shonen series worth checking out? Well, if you are OK with ridiculously cheap animation and don’t care about obvious pacing issues, then maybe. For everyone else, just stick with the manga. — Dr. Ensatsu-ken

2014
10.04

Last time on Star Wars: Rebels.

Looking at the usual opening where Tenzin gives his speech about how Korra needs to master the elements, I notice how this clashes with this episode’s tone. Three years since last episode, and most of her friends have moved on. They might not be comfortable in their new roles, and issues such as the Earth Kingdom’s collapse still ring, but the episode establishes that a world can function with an Avatar. The question remains how long it can function without one though, creating the season goal of answering why an Avatar needs to exist. Even without Korra, there are people trying to repair what Zaheer has caused. But can those supposed guardians be trusted?

Let’s get this out of the way. Kuvira’s goal to unite the Earth Kingdom under her rule echoes what Sozin wanted to do all those years ago. He wanted to share his prosperity to what he saw as an ailing world, by force. While that could have been a good intention, to make sure all of the troubles of the nations can be helped by one master, that always requires amoral methods to accomplish said vision. Even if Kuvira believes she’s making the Earth Kingdom a better place, there’s no doubt that the power will corrupt her mind from those beliefs. You can even see that now with how she presents her forces, dressed up as Stormtroopers and kept in single file. Tint the screen red, and they wouldn’t look any different from Fire Nation soldiers. There’s a small moment where Bolin says how Kuvira compliments his hair being less greasy, which Opal and the viewers can see as a sign of indoctrination.

True fascism doesn’t get started because one person said so, but through years of societal collapse where a quicker way to acquire order becomes more enticing than idealistic means. It’s faster to force a group of people into your call rather than to reason with them—especially a group that’s tried and failed at using more altruistic means to rally—and that’s the reason why fascism comes back every now and then. That’s why no matter how much we go on about the evils of past nations, there will always be that society so beaten down that the violent revolutionaries become the appealing option over certain death. When the choices are taken away, there’s no other path to go. And that’s why another Ozai can happen, because there’s no one else to help.

That presents how while fascism is caused through society; liberality can only start when a single, but strong enough person has the gall to call totalitarianism out when it’s on the rise. Korra has that role to achieve, being one of the few people with enough power behind her name to unravel eras. But instead of being there to solve the crisis, she’s become a wanderer thanks to people opposing tyranny. It all leads to how good intentions can lead to immortal actions, how a desire to overthrow dictators becomes a plot to assassinate rulers. Both chaos and order can become corrupting influences, and only a guiding hand can reverse their effects. But that guiding hand is away, and the gang must learn how to pick up the pieces for themselves.