2016
01.14

This season’s clusterfuck dedicated to the memory of David Robert Jones. May your spirit soar higher than 100,000 miles while your spaceship knows which way to go.

Active Raid: Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit That’s A Lot Of Words Seriously Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?

Well have you seen Trump's hair?!?

Active Raid! An anime with a title that sounds like a brand of either roll-on deodorant or insecticide! After yesterday’s crap I watched, how bad could it be??? Hahaha…uuuuugh.

So stop me if you’ve heard this befo-actually there’s no need bothering with that joke this time. Active Raid is nothing more than a shameless rehash of Psycho-Pass with cheaper visuals and 100% more 90s. Basically 20 years in the future, Japan has invented consumer grade power armor called Will Ware, and criminals are already using them for nefarious means faster than you can say “Patlabor!” Our Akane-retrace character (the random Engrish-spewing Kazari) has been hired to head the JSDF’s Will Ware unit to fight these crooks. And of course, this being anime, they’re all QUIRRRRRKEEEEE!!! The rest of it is all the usual rince repeat robot fight we’ve seen time and again. Completely unmemorable, but at least its well animated for the most part. No surprise considering Goro Taniguchi is running the show.

Active Raid is junk food. No substance, tons of shiny colors, and little of lasting value. I feel like I want to make some sort of jokes at its expense but it is neither bad nor good. It merely exists to be tossed in a pile with other ephemeral crap we’ve had over the past few seasons like Classroom Crisis and Argevollen. Already I feel it vanishing from my memory. Poof! Now its gone! — Lord Dalek

Ajin: Demi-human

Considering the subs for this were on the level of Mazinger Z's... this seemed apropos.

Oh hey! A new Polygon show! That means no Crunchy streams, an extended waiting period meaning I have to splice this into the now-already published Clusterfuck, and an obviously Babelfished translation like this one! Aren’t I a lucky guy?

…Actually I am. Because even with these handicaps (not to mention the fact that their framerate seems to have gotten worse since Sidonia), Ajin manages to kick all sorts of ass.

So in the near future, a new species of human has emerged, the so-called “Ajin”. Immortal beings who are being hunted, not by the Highlander, but instead by the Government. Our hero is average high schooler Kei who finds himself on the run from his friends, family, and pretty much himself after a nasty run in with a truck left him quite not dead. The only person he can depend on is another person he suspected of being an Ajin, his childhood friend Kai.

This is actually Polygon’s second crack at Ajin. They previously adapted it as a series of feature films last year but from what I understand this is NOT a reedit like some other recent feature film to tv translations. That’s good considering I doubt a show of this degree of intensity would work as one of those cut downs. Even with the crap (and often hilarious) subs I had to watch, I found myself on the edge of my seat from the sheer propulsive energy of Ajin’s structure and editing, not to mention the really, really good soundtrack. Once a real sub group takes it on, I’ll probably enjoy it even more. — Lord Dalek

AOKANA: Four Rhythms Across The Blue

Is this show sucking one of them?

Has it really been three years since I last watched a Gonzo show? I honestly can’t remember. The last one (Leviathan: The Last Defense) was as unremarkable as they come so maybe there were others that have just faded from my mind for similar reasons. Perhaps AOKANA will change things for the bet-nope its just another school festival athletic contest show.

So at near future island utopia #62465475, all the world’s problems have been solved. Not from the usual alternate energy sources or kumbaya singing though, nope instead its flying shoes! Our characters are normal guy, bubble headed noob, rich bitch blond rival, narco vet, and wannabe psycho yuri to narco vet. Yeah they have real names but hell if I care to remember them. As for the plot… uhhhh… Bubble headed noob who barely knows how to use her flying shoes challenges rich bitch to everybody’s favorite sporting event… FLYING CIRCUS! (say it in a John Cleese season 2 voice) and gets royally embarrassed in the process. Then a miracle occurs and…yeah whatever, episode over.

If I were to describe AOKANA with any specfic word, “tedium” would be the first to come to mind. During the course of its 23 rather underwhelming minutes I could barely hold my attention past the bare minimum. Not like the episode was giving me any incentive to. The characters are stale, the animation is cheap, the conflict is non existant, and the acting is the cure for insomnia! I have nothing more to say about this drivel. Be gone with ye! — Lord Dalek

BBK/BRNK (Bubuki Buranki)

(I wanted this to be the entire show. I was denied this dream. So now I cry.)

Disappointment is the only thing that comes to mind after watching the first episode of Bubuki Buranki or BBK/BRNK or whatever you desire to call this show. It has been a good, long while since a show has raised my hopes and put me into a false sense of security before stabbing me in the back. Within minutes, Bubuki went from being one of my favourite shows of the season to something I don’t know what to make of. There are good shows that you can praise. There are bad shows that you can mock. But then there is content like this that fools you into loving it before showing its true colours, and all you can do is stare blankly at it for minutes afterwards. Now, I don’t want to straight-up declare Bubuki Buranki to be a bad show, as I’m pretty lax when to comes to giving that title out. Hell, I still stand by that positive review I gave My Life Me back in my high school days. No, BBK/BRNK is a show that, once the credits start rolling, has the viewer confused and staring at their screen, musing “What the hell did THAT have to do with THAT!?”

The problem here is that what you get with this first episode is effectively two different shows. The first half of the episode gives you a young pair of twins roaming the wilderness outside their family’s home, learning magic and playing atop long dormant robots. Then it appears that end times are upon them, as these automatons are awakening and the twin’s mother must sacrifice herself so her children can escape deep underground with their father. It held shades of the fantastical worlds shown in Miyazaki films, mixed with a beautiful cel-shaded CGI art style reminiscent of recent Fire Emblem installments. I was completely enthralled and one-hundred percent ready to mark Bubuki Buranki as the best anime of the season. I could already imagine in my head the journeys that this family would go through as they try to survive, and the discoveries that would unfold as the children learn more about these bubuki and their own magical talents. But then a ten-year time skip happened and I found myself entering a completely different show.

The reminding ten minutes of the episode consisted of characters we don’t know about, in a situation we don’t comprehend, exhibiting bizarre powers that we don’t understand the function of. It may seem hypocritical of me to lambast the show on those accounts, since I admitted to enjoying Phantom World, which did the exact same thing. The key difference that makes me adore what I’ve seen so far of Phantom World and dismayed with what I’ve seen so far with this is that the former hits you with all its nonsense from the very start. BBK/BRNK wasted my time with a ten-minute sequence that only loosely connects with the main plot. There’s having a twist that changes the atmosphere of a series and the viewers’ understanding of previous events. And there’s utilizing a time skip to build small levels of mystery concerning how the world and the characters have changed, despite that being a plot device that I am generally not fond of. But this doesn’t qualify as any of that. We go from feeling as though we’re in a fantasy or post-apocalyptic world to an alternate universe Tokyo. We’ve gone from a pair of Red Oni, Blue Oni twins to our Blue Oni hanging out with a bunch of random people and his sister being nowhere in sight. It’s hard to accept that this one blonde-haired girl is the main character’s childhood friend when the show itself established just minutes earlier that his childhood was spent in a remote forest with his parents and sister. In all fairness, this second half was one that was talked about in promotional materials, which is all well and good. However, that just means that it becomes a confusing affair for those who bothered to read the plot synopsis and those who didn’t, as both parties get blind-sided by seemingly contradictory material.

Perhaps the second episode will fill in some much-needed gaps in logic. After calming down from the initial whiplash of the first viewing, I’m a bit more willing to give the show a chance. But I’m now incredibly wary of what this show is trying to accomplish, that isn’t something that you want your audience to feel. Ambivalence is a fine emotion, but if it leads to your viewers confused as to what bloody hell they’ll end up with next week, then perhaps you should have gone back to the drawing board in how you want to structure your damn show. — RacattackForce

Dagashi Kashi

Hotaru's stand: ZA KANDI MAN

So the main character is a candy shop apprentice, and he’s sort of in this relationship with a crazy candy company heiress? My impression of this show is slow to process because this show’s love for sugar contradicts its molasses pacing. Even after watching, I’m struggling to come up with something to say. I’ll say this much. It accurately captures the awkward feeling of being stuck in a candy shop for an hour while the owner waits for you to just buy a chocolate bar and leave already. You walk by the Hersheys aisle a dozen times to create the illusion that you’re busy, and this anime feels like that. I suppose the show’s trying to convey awkward humor, but it’s not very funny.

It’s kind of like how Mirai Nikki and Nyarko-san have one really interesting character but surround her with dozens of really boring ones. Hotaru’s interesting, but Kokonotsu and the girl from the café feel as vibrant as window dressing. So he’s another struggling manga artist? So what? And I know it’s vain, but I don’t like their beady eyes. They’re so oddly drawn in comparison to Hotaru’s. It just makes the show feel even more like the creator spent so much time on drawing and writing Hotaru while coming up with the rest of the cast as an afterthought.

And instead of realizing this, the first episode shoves Kokonotsu in this love triangle between Hotaru and Café girl. I don’t need this shit, Feel. Just focus on the main girl, have her be a fusion of Veruca Salt and Willy Wonka while fucking up the candy business. Instead, I just sit there wondering why I watched this in the first place. Rocky IV’s on as of this writing, and that’s much funnier. In the time I spent writing this, I could have watched Rocky IV. And that’s the value of this show, it makes you wish you were watching a trashy 80s movie instead. — Bloody Marquis

Second Opinion!

I chose this show because the character design of the main female protagonist reminds me of hentai doujinshi. No, seriously, that’s the only reason why I looked at this show and took dibs on it. I didn’t care about the plot, I just cared about hentai eyes girl. However, now that I’ve actually watched the show and am forced to talk about it beyond my desire to watch things that remind me of hentai without actually being hentai, in an attempt to ween myself off of the poorly-written smut…I like it. This show about making candy in a small town has some sweet potential brewing under the surface. Dagashi Kashi isn’t a good show, but it isn’t a bad show either. It’s your standard run-of-the-mill comedy that loves making references to other anime, manga, video games, etcetera. I didn’t laugh much, if only because I’ve watched shows both from and outside Japan that aim for this style of comedy and have managed to do it far better right out of the gate. But I’m also loathe to say that one should pass on it, since the characters are all likeable enough, there is always the potential for the jokes to get punchier, and the show as a whole manages a lovely tightrope walk between just being asinine and being fully aware of said stupidity. There are a few moments where the show tries to be a bit too non-sequitur for its own good, but overall, the first episode stands as a good introduction to what audiences should expect going in. I feel super confident that Dagashi Kashi will improve its humour as it goes on, and so it gets the RacattackForce Seal of Approval. Plus, it has the crazy cloudcuckoolander chick and the gothic Lolita chick rolled into one, so that has got be worth something, right? Right? …Screw you guys, I think she’s waifu material. — RacattackForce

Dimension W

No no no, robot girl. You're supposed to kick him in the nuts!

Funi caused a bit of a stir last year at Otakon when they announced they were on the production committee for this show. Its the first anime they’ve produced themselves and the first time any American anime distributor has financed a show since the Great Crash of 2007 when Geneon went under. It didn’t really matter that nobody exactly knew what the hell Dimension W was supposed to be, heck the only thing the Funi panel guys seem to be more confused about was that Project Itoh thing they’d just acquired for no apparent reason (HAHAHA MANGLOBE MADE YOU LOSE MONEY!!!). No! It was all rah rah rah we has money to make shows now and license Speeds Racers! Nevermind we apparently don’t have money for Evangelion blu-ray rights! NO! SHINY OBJECTS!!!!!!!!

…As you can kinda tell, I still think that was the worst panel of all time.

Anyway… Dimension W! Just from the promotional material, you can tell who this show was made for. It has that same American friendly Cowboy Bebop knock off look to it that other western pandering anime has sported in the past. The difference being at least its not a direct Bebop clone like said shows. Nope, this is a Solti Rei/Eureka Seven knock off! Whoulda guessed? Daisuke Ono (doing his Jotaro voice) plays Mabuchi, a low level debt collector/Mugen cosplayer in a world where economies run on Telsa coils and Yakuzas fight with Super Soakers. However he gets more than he bargained for after getting bitch slapped by a green haired robot girl built by the now revenge crazed scientist who originally ushered society into its glorious new era. After daddy kills himself to stop the evil corporation that makes the Tesla coils from doing…something…, robot girl joins Mabuchi to go find more illegal coils because…reasons.

There is something resembling a plot over the course of this first episode, but damned if I know what the hell was it supposed to be. The characters come off as sketchy and underdeveloped. Plot details get tossed out like blink and you’ll miss it trivialities. And ultimately there’s no sense of wanting to come back, only whiplash from the sheer amount of confusion. Money well spent? Find out on Toonami when Champloo ends.  — Lord Dalek

Second Opinion!

It's not the fact that she died that's sad, it's how she died in striped stockings.

You know, I always wanted some more cyberpunk anime. Then, I remembered all the shows that had cyberpunk qualities lately, and how none of that translated into a good narrative. I remembered the Psycho-Pass 2s and Ghost in the Shell Arises that graced my eyes lately, both of carrying the genre on their sleeve as a badge of honor. And they satiated my fix as much as cardboard fills a vagrant’s belly, except cardboard probably has a few more calories than whatever those two could have sustained. I have since learned to not trust my desires because they always betray me. If anything, hints that an anime has any hints of a dystopia or robots should steer you away. They promise nothing but dread and expectations further lowering. This series is one of them.

I should not give this a total dismissal though. This show has some elements I enjoy. I always love a story about how discovering clean energy does nothing to improve society as a whole, or tales of men born in the wrong century looking for a purpose in this futuristic world. These and many other pulpy concepts are to me what a dangling set of keys are to a baby. But just like the Concrete Revolutio premiere, this all just felt like throwing a bunch of ideas together without connecting them into a single stream. If I want to read a Philip K Dick novel, I’ll read a Philip K Dick novel instead of watching a watered-down version of his themes.

And time to reveal my inner prude yet again, but I couldn’t help but be worried about all of the close-ups of the robot girl’s derriere and chest. It goes beyond mere fanservice and becomes fetishization, culminating with the main character binding the robot with her electrical cord. I’ve seen far worse and this doesn’t creep me out at all, but we should have higher standards than this. I want to believe this is for a purpose, like one of those messages about robot life being equal to human life. And maybe the show will go there, but at this point, we just have long shots of an underage android in her underwear and what appear to be handcuffs. Ex Machina, this ain’t. Though with this and Pandora in the Crimson Shell, I suppose all of you technopedophiles have plenty to look forward to. Bon appetit, you kiddy-fiddilng mongrels. — Bloody Marquis

Divine Gate

Your brain is pixelating that bread right now, isn't it?

The main character Aoto puts ice in his instant ramen before eating it, which the show explains several scenes later as a remnant from how cold his parents treated him in the past. He never felt any warmth as a kid, so he can’t stomach warm foods. I want that to melt into your mind for a second, because this show gives us this moment with complete sincerity. Instead of some stupid punchline to a joke, eating icy ramen and crying about it is the emotional climax in this episode. It’s not when Aoto almost murders a guy in a train, or when we find out he killed his parents. The moment the sad music plays and he has a moment of contemplation is when explaining why he puts ice in his ramen.

No one in this show acts like a human. People just blurt out the world mythology while preparing to light someone on fire. Kids happen to be running down a hall and talking about gates after having seen the aforementioned get gravely wounded. Murdering your parents is treated with about as much public scorn as wearing a Mohawk. The world being protected by brightly colored teenagers was the most mundane part of this premiere. I can wrap my head around that, but then the show tries to act all John Keats and describe rain with pseudointellectual wonder that I begin to look around the room and check if I’m being pranked.

Instead, I have indeed just watched twenty-two minutes of a real piece of broadcast work made by wartorn hands. Okay, I shouldn’t be particularly shocked by this excess of teenage angst combined with poorly thought out fantasy, but Divine Gate just has so much confidence that this is what good storytelling should be. I don’t know what was going on in the writer’s head to justify this much navel-gazing, especially in a show based off a phone game. Because I’m sure people want to feel emotional depth when fiddling with their fucking iPhone. I still want to believe this is some kind of sick joke, because our world is far too self-aware for things like this to exist. Although I bet next week, the main character will sing ocean tunes to a bowl of cereal for five minutes. — Bloody Marquis

Second Opinion!

Yo listen up hear’s a story about a little guy that lives in a blue world. And all day and all night and everything he sees is just blue like him, inside and outside. Blue his house with a blue little window and a blue Corvette and everything is blue for him and himself. And everybody around, cause he ain’t got nobody to listen… — ShadowGentleman

ERASED

Time to battoru Satoru!

Before we begin, let me mention that I am beginning to notice something of a pattern here. Last summer noitaminA, the “prestigious” (read: PRETENTIOUS) Fuji Television Josei art anime block offered us Ranpo Kitan, a confusing and rather silly mystery show. They followed it up with Perfect Insider, a mindnumbingly dull and rather inane mystery show. And how do they start the new year? With a mystery show! WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED?!?!?

Well anyway… ERASED (aka The Town Where Only I am Missing) is the story of Satoru Fujinuma who has been gifted (or cursed depending on how you look at it) with something he calls “rebirth”. If he is in the vicinity of a crime or major accident, he will be sent back 30 seconds in order to stop it from occurring. 18 years earlier in 1988 (the original manga dates back to 2006), he was a survivor of a string of child abductions and murders in his home town. One of whom was a friend of his. Now that murderer has apparently returned and our hero finds himself transported back in time to stop the killer once and for all.

That may sound like a setup for something you’ve seen before (in fact, I couldn’t help but think of that old crappy Ashton Kutcher movie “The Butterfly Effect” while watching it), but ERASED easily overcomes it. The first episode is one of the most gripping, intriguing and downright unnerving premieres of any anime I have seen in years. Its even more remarkable in the face of the fact that this was made by the people who made Blue Exorcist and Sword Art Online and not a more experienced team in suspense shows like the kind at Mad House. In fact, based off this first episode, I might be able to argue that ERASED is not only the best thing A-1 has made since From The New World, but also the best series noitaminA has aired since Eden of the East and that was SIX FUCKING YEARS AGO!!!

The only thing that hurts the show is its not much of a looker. The character designs are pretty bad (especially blowfish mom) and A-1’s animation always leaves something to be desired. Its a tradeoff I guess. Anyway, I’ll be looking forward to seeing where this mystery goes. It sure seems better than most of the crap this season. — Lord Dalek

Girls Beyond the Wasteland

Oh? I thought it was a tchotchke!

Oh dear, its the mysterious writer known only as Takahiro again. So far this guy hasn’t had the best track record with me. Akame ga Kill was mostly laughably terrible in its early days only to just become straight up terrible, and the less said about Yuki Yuuna the better. Naturally I find myself therefore approaching Girls Beyond the Wasteland (formerly Girls Beyond the Youth Koya) with a degree of trepidation. Two strikes already (a couple more when you factor in he wrote some of the worst episodes of Samurai Flamenco), why bother continuing?

Thus its a huge surprise (and a bit of a relief) to find the show is actually fairly decent. Its probably because Wasteland has a far more limited scale to it. This isn’t some grotesque over the top edgy action fantasy like AgK or lazy Madoka knock off like YuYuuYu. Nope, its just a show about developing Otome VN’s. However that doesn’t really become apparent to the very end. Most of the episode is actually pretty similar to the first episode of Amagi Brilliant Park. Mysterious girl Kuroda asks normal guy Hojo on a date. They go to an amusement park. Kuroda offers Hojo a job, not to run the amusement park but be the writer for her yuri game. Hojo accepts and presumably wacky hijinx will ensue. Find out next week, moffle!

Yeah, its a standard premise but its a good one. The characters are pretty well likable despite Kuroda being kind of a Senjougahara/Homura clone (it appears Takahiro still hasn’t gotten over his SHAFT fetish). And that animation…its really, really good. I’m honestly surprised the studio who made this only has some inbetween work and the abysmal Momokyun Sword to their name. Its seems like they’ve been saving their money for something like this.

This one may be a keeper folks. — Lord Dalek

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

The new Fate/JoJo's crossover looks a bit kinky!

The title of this show makes me want to think its about the bastard love child of Grimlock and Wreck-Gar. But alas, it is just another SAO clone. Phooey!

Actually that’s a little unfair, Grimgar shakes things up by making it more of a mystery as to what is going on. Whereas .hack, SAO, Log Horizon, and Overlord made it mostly obvious from the beginning that its cast were trapped in video games via treachery or weird paranormal reasons, it is not clear at all who our band wayward of Japanese teens are, where they are, or how they got there. Their memories have been wiped to some degree in that they will randomly say words from their past lives prior to arriving in the land of Grimgar but not know what those words mean or why they said them. All they know is they have to kill monsters to survive, not so much because of what we consider RPG grinding, but because the economic system of this world dictates that they do so. Because of this “only the strong survive” mentality, some of the teens are stronger than others, and that means a splintering must occur. And to no surprise, our story focuses on the weaklings. Yay?

The first episode of Grimgar feels like A-1’s long apology for SAO. While we can kinda guess that this is some sort of RPG that went horribly due to the presence of character classes, guilds, money drops, and social darwinism, the personalities of the characters are the antithesis of the usual overpowered Gary Stu ubergamers we’ve come to expect from Trapped in Fantasy RPG Land shows. These kids lack confidence, skills, and proper nutrition and they have to learn how to work together as a team to overcome that. That makes them something you could never say about a twat like Kirito, actually compelling! On a technical scale, the animation may be typical A-1 blah but the visuals are rather good. The series goes for a muted pallet of soft pastels and watercolor backgrounds to replicate, I assume, the original light novels.

Overall Grimgar reminds me of the surprise I had watching the first episode of the original Log Horizon, expecting a cheap knock off but instead getting a surprisingly deep and mature show from a genre that frequently is the exact opposite. And that is the sign of a successful premiere. — Lord Dalek

Haruchika: Haruta & Chika Blooming

Not with that character design you won't.

Whelp, it finally happened. In their quest to ape KyoAni for all they’re worth, PA Works has hit rock bottom. Haruchika is a derivative, boring, pointless, fuck ugly waste of 23 ½ minutes. Its the kind of show I shouldn’t have to hate, but something in the execution went so wrong that I just kept getting more and more irritated by what I was watching to the point where I could find no enjoyment at all in the final product.

So what the hell’s wrong with it? Simple. The leads. They are the clinical deffinition of unlikable. Chika and Haruta are childhood friends who haven’t seen each other in years. Durring those years, Chika apparently got hit by a baseball bat and is now a ditzy slow witted nincompoop, and Haruta is now that snarky knowitall SOB who you always wanted to punch in school. Oh what a terrific pair, they truly DESERVE each other.

But that’s not all. Because Haruchika desperately wants to be Hyouka (that KyoAni mystery show from a few years ago that everybody forgot about when it was never licensed), we have a “mystery” to “solve”. The thing is the mystery has very little effect on the plot and only goes on to show how much of a smug douche Haruta is and how painfully clueless is Chika while opening up creepy questions about pedophilia and lust. If this is character development, then god help this show over the next 11 weeks.

You know… it pains me to say this but considering all that PA Works has done lately… Come back Mari Okada, all is forgiven.  — Lord Dalek

Second Opinion!

Onee-chan... Tchaikovsuki~

So in a year, PA Works changed from the purveyor of melodrama into the glorious creators of Shirobako. For a fleeting time, we believed the age of shiny teenagers with mental disorders being passive-aggressively in love was over. Perhaps the golden age of this studio had arrived and we could just bury works like Glasslip and Angel Beats into unmarked graves. Then we got Haruchika.

Technically, they shot themselves in the foot immediately after Shirobako with Charlotte, but we’ve discussed that show for quite enough.

Created by the kind of person who thinks writing “RACHE” for revenge on a crime scene is something an actual modern criminal would do without a hint of self-awareness, Haruchika is an odd case. It wants to be a mystery, a romance, and a high school club show yet has no idea how to tie any of these into one whole. There’s no unifying vision, resulting in a dazed pink-eyed girl going back and forth on either playing her flute or playing her teacher’s flute. There will be moments when the characters occasionally act like human beings, and then one of the characters pulls out elaborate knowledge of how musical notes can be translated and rearranged to say “I love you”. And they don’t even do it with any amazement or roundabout deduction, it happens with as much glory as texting on their smartphones. This solution elicits the deadpan “really?” more than the baffled “really?” In that moment, I actually start to miss Glasslip and wonder if this show can get some chickens too. The characters already act like farm animals, so why not deliver the literal flock?

But don’t even kid me. You’re only watching this show just to see if the boy will present his goods to the teacher. And when he doesn’t, you’ll sigh and forget this show a week after it ends, only rising out of the cerebral depths when you’ve run out of ideas for blogging about this year’s anime when December strolls by. I can just hear you groan upon this show’s mental imprint arising within. — Bloody Marquis

KONOSUBA: God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World!

This happens... a lot.

Imagine if you will… No Game No Life. Then strip out all the smart aleckyness and Steph-shaming that made it so endearing. Make the lead that dweebish NEET from Outbreak Company. And then give him a blue haired clone of that boob string loli trash. What do you get? This pile of feces!

KONOSUBA proves that there is literally no such thing as the bottom of the barrel in that “Modern Day Japanese Dickwads Go To Fantasy Land”-genre nobody asked for. I’ve seen Outbreak Company (and briefly aquired a creepy stalker out of it) and thought it was doggeral. I’ve seen Mondaiji-tachi and thought it was doggeral. I’ve seen No Game No Life and ..thought it was the greatest thing since sliced breadBUTTHATSNOTIMPORTANT! The matter is why is this show no different from those other shows and yet 10 times worse. Why? I’ll tell ya why. While the Outbreak Company guy was a moron, and Shiro a blatant, yet oddly lovable, sociopath, the KONOSUBA guy (whose name I do not recall) is just utter trash. He has no likable characteristics, no personality, acts like an MRA, and his ex-goddess girlfriend/personal slave is a bubbleheaded bimbo who doesn’t wear undies (a fact which the makers of this show are constantly reminding us of). Yup, this show is just going swell.

KONOSUBA is the show that looked like it was going to be the worst of the season when it was announced, but I was not expecting it to be this disgraceful and trashy. To paraphrase that famous West Lord “To Reach the West of Reaches”… DO. NOT. WATCH!!!!!  — Lord Dalek

Luck & Logic

NOPE.

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Due to extreme fatigue blogging what has been a hotly contested race to the bottom this season, I find myself unable to write about Luck & Logic without staring into a mirror and crying. So instead I offer you the thoughts of my fifth cousin Marbury. Take it away, Marbury!

Japan’s hottest anime is Luck & Logic! Adapted from a card game for six year olds by the makers of Buddyfight, this anime has everything! Nazis! Attack on Titan walls! Monsters! JoJo’s Stands! Irregulars at Magic High Schools! Dio Brando! The cast of Aikatsu! Technobable gibberish! Boxer shorts! Symphogears! A giant robot version of Ox King from Dragon Ball! Shiva cosplayers with six arms! A dad played by that dead guy from Gurren Lagann! And Human BFG’S!

…Human BFGs?

Its that thing where you engage in oral with some albino chick and then she turns into a death ray that blows up any giant monster in one hit!

….that sounds kinda lame.

So were you in bed last night!

DAMMIT MARBURY!

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?!? — Waldorf Q. Banderstack XII

Myriad Colors Phantom World

And nothing of importance was earned...

Another year, another lame-ass magic school anime. I’ve wasted enough words on other clusterfucks as to how annoying this increasingly banal and baffling genre has become so I won’t bother repeating myself for the umpteeth time. However… There is one notable difference with Myriad Colors Phantom World. This one’s by KyoAni!

…yup apparently they ran out of cute girls doing cute things/SOL comedy shows after 10 years and are moving on to what has become every light novel ever. Sounds… fffffffffuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhn.

So in the near future, the world (or at least Japan, ITS ALWAYS JAPAN) has been invaded by Phantoms, weird monsters that look like the glitch sprites from Axiom Verge but are really just the manifestations of somebody’s bad end fanfic for Yokai Watch. At the prestigious Hosea Academy, students are trained to eliminate these Phantoms in a safe expedient fashion while making a quick buck in the process. However our main protagonists, standard-issue normal guy Ichijo and impulsive stumblebum Mai, are absolutely terrible at their jobs because magic school anime. Things however take a turn for the better when Ichijo stumbles upon Bland Saori Hayami Voiced Girl #167892112 (we’ll call her “Reina” for the rest of the proceedings), a shy, insecure ingenue with THE ABILITY TO SWALLOW PHANTOMS WHOLE LIKE A VACUUM CLEANER I AM NOT KIDDING IT WAS LIKE THE ONLY COOL PART OF THE WHOLE FUCKING EPISODE. Eventually… somehow… this all ends with the trio of protagonists having to do the limbo with a bunch of killer telephone poles. ….I got nothing.

Myriad Colors Phantom World is kind of a paradox of a show. On one hand its bathed in cliches. Our main trio isn’t any different from the cast of past schlock like Magical Warfare or Inou-Battle (aside from the fact that they’re 10x more moe because this is KyoAni), the setup and situation is made entirely out of off the shelf parts, and I DELIBERATELY didn’t even mention Ichijo’s live-in loli character because I don’t do that shit anymore after Ye Olde Boob String. But there’s a problem with this, MCPW goes about its business trying to make us think its some sort of parody of these other shows. Weird elements like the fact that all this trouble began via breast milk (no really!), the aforementioned climactic limbo contest (no really!!), and Mai activating her powers through fondling herself (no really!!!) keep popping up in a way that sticks out like a sore thumb. And that’s kind of the bad version of a parody, the kind that screams “LOOK! I’M SATIRE!!!” without actually sort of overcoming the limitations of what you’re making fun of. Its just weirdness for the sake of weirdness.

But on the bright side though, the animation is of the typically high standard that we have come to expect from KyoAni and at least it isn’t yet another season of fucking K-On!/Sound Euphonium/Tamako Market/Whatever.

…that doesn’t not forgive them for not making more Amaburi and letting Bones get the rights to FMP though. Nothing will. — Lord Dalek

Second Opinion!

The new season of Right Back At Ya' took a rather interesting turn.

Throughout the first episode of Musaigen no Phantom World, I was completely lost as to what exactly was going on. Monsters were being fought, faeries were flying about, a teenage girl was sucking up spirits like Kirby sucks up Waddle Dees, and telephone poles were having a sweet Hawaiian luau in a local playground. The show drops the viewer off in medias res, and even then, drags them along at a breakneck pace to who knows where. And what results may very well be one of the best shows to come out this anime season. While the rest of the usual suspects were just staring at the screen in minor bafflement, there wasn’t a single moment during the whole affair where I didn’t have a huge smile on my face, or wasn’t laughing at the antics taking place on-screen. Only time will tell if I will still be gushing about it by season’s end, much less the end of the year, but Kyoto Animation has once again produced an anime that I can’t help but enjoy.

Phantom World starts you off with a basic yet intriguing premise: human sensory perception has been changed on a national, if not global scale, resulting in humankind now being able to view spirits and monsters. Some people also have the added bonus of being able to interact with these spirits in various ways, and as such, get saddled with the part-time job of phantom pest control. So if, say, some restless wood spirits are making trouble at a local park, it’s up to our main characters to beat them into submission. Or beat them at a limbo contest. And that’s where the show cemented itself as one that I want to continue watching; not every encounter is going to be a straightforward, action-based brawl between some high schoolers, a fairy more useless than Navi ever was, and the monster-of-the-week. Sometimes it’s going to be something that is downright goofy and out of left field. Sure, maybe you’re going to have to put that big dude into a stunner. Or maybe you’ll have to sit down and play some mahjongg with the poor thing. Combine that with the fact that all the characters so far, despite all being archetypes that KyoAni has delved into time-and-time again on some level, feel natural and play off each other extremely well, and you get a cartoon that I can’t wait to see more of.

The winter season is generally known by anime fans for being very lacking in interesting content, but year after year, I always manage to find at least cartoon that catches my attention and become infatuated with, like some bizarre anime hipster. I expected only the upcoming Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, or perhaps even Dagashi Kashi, to take that slot this year. But I’m happy to say that Musaigen no Phantom World showed up out of nowhere in the same manner as its namesake to be my first anime recommendation of the year. — RacattackForce

Pandora of the Crimson Shell

Not until marriage, you heathen.

A collaboration between the creators of Ghost in the Shell and Excel Saga certainly sounds good on paper, but these are the people behind the original manga versions we’re talking about here, meaning Pandora in the Crimson Shell is an adaptation of a work by a writer no one likes and an artist no one cares about. Though my affection for the Excel Saga manga is legendary and probably a bit sad, the Ghost in the Shell manga is a special kind of terrible, so I approached this project with trepidation since its initial announcement. And, well, it’s about what I expected.

Masamune Shirow’s writing abilities have long been limited to concocting new and varied situations in which vaguely legal-looking girls can be gangbanged by large musclemen. Pandora’s script is similarly functional in that I spent most of the first episode’s runtime assuming Nene would eventually be violently raped by either Uzal or those Cubix-tier CG robots. Thankfully, neither scenario came to pass, though the show still contained enough shrill screeching and fetishy outfits to appease Shirow’s usual demographic.

Aside from it exuding the same atmosphere as B-grade porno, Pandora’s writing is generally bland and witless – a dreary slog through tired science-fiction tropes and mid-2000’s anime cliches. My favorite thing about this premiere was definitely how 90% of Clarion’s dialogue consisted of her telling people not to touch her ears or abbreviate her name. As we all know, jokes becomes far more hilarious when they’re repeated 20 times within the span of as many minutes, especially ones that weren’t even funny to begin with. In all fairness, however, this adaptation did improve on its source material by actually being intelligible. Whereas the storytelling in the anime is merely boring, it was nearly incomprehensible in the original manga. So that’s something.

The art and animation both look incredibly cheap, which isn’t really surprising, but is definitely disappointing considering the quality of the manga’s artwork. As an ecchi, Pandora in the Crimson Shell is a failure on all fronts – without a talented writer, it cannot be funny, and without a nice aesthetic, it can’t be arousing, either. That said, I will give Studio Gokumi credit for generally capturing the feel of Rikdo Koshi’s brilliant facial expressions; though they don’t quite match up to his distinct comedic timing, they do exhibit an unexpected appreciation for the source material.

Three years later and my opinion hasn’t changed: Pandora in the Crimson Shell is a depressing shadow of its potential, created by a writer who often gets credit he doesn’t deserve and drawn by an artist who really should stick to his own original works. — Foggle

Second Opinion!

So that's how robots do it!

It’s honestly been a longtime since I’ve had fun watching a recent anime that wasn’t JoJo’s. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve certainly enjoyed some anime in the past few years, but not really enough for me to stick around for an entire run. Usually I’ll find an anime enjoyable for a few episodes, only for me to stop watching due to general lack of interest, thus I’ve been looking to the past for entertainment in recent times. Well, Pandora in the Crimson Shell may be the show that breaks that trend.

Adapted from a manga by Koshi Rikudo of Excel Saga fame, and Masamune Shirow of Ghost in the Shell fame, Pandora in the Crimson Shell takes place in a future where large scale disasters are a regularity, cyborgs are commonplace, world powers are at constant competition for control of more tech and resources, and the divide between the rich and the poor is stronger than ever.
But fuck that shit, this story is about how to lesbian cyborgs meet and the relationship that develops between them.
Owing more to Rikudo than Shirow in the writing department, Pandora is very much a light hearted comedy action show that knows what it is and is un and apologetic about it, and that’s one of its strengths. It’s also really really gay. Like the manga it’s based on stated, this anime is clearly more focused on character relationships, showing the promised meeting between Nene and Clarion before shifting to a more action-oriented second half. From there the show becomes a lot weirder, yet a lot more funnier as a result. So when Nene becomes a pimp-dressed gun-toting badass after inserting her fingers into Clarion to fight the obligatory Tachikoma stand-ins, I just laughed and rolled with it.

Both Nene and Clarion are endearing protagonists, and their relationship promises to be really cute. The real show-stealer, however, is Uzal, Clarion’s well-endowed owner and scientist. Between knocking down annoying reporters, having a cat-girl cyborg as a pet, egging on Nene/Clarin, and keeping a harem of female lab-assistants dressed in fanservicey outfits to her liking, she’s already cemented herself as the best character of the season. Not suprising, since kooky scientists are always the best characters.

Pandora fufills the yuri quota for this season, and for that I am already content. If you want a dumb action show with good characters and lesbians, and aren’t a prude, then look no further. — Crimson Rynnec

Third Opinion!

Seriously, stop it now.

I’m sure I had something concrete to say about half-naked robot lolis fingering each other, but I’ll just give you this site to make you think about what you’ve done: http://www.stopitnow.org.uk/ — Bloody Marquis

Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation

Because the fate of the world no longer rests on children's card games!

J-RPGS and anime go together like a horse and carriage. So much that every year we have like two or three adapatations of the latest and greatest games to hit the market. And yet, surprisingly, the big three franchises of the genre have generally been highly allergic to outside media. There were a couple Dragon’s Quest tv series (plus a one off movie) which are fairly obscure today despite the first one getting a (abruptly cancelled) Saban dub. But that’s all she wrote for Yuji Horii’s magnum opus. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy’s few exploits in the genre have ranged from moderate success (VII: Advent Children) to well justified obscurity (Legend of the Crystals), and well justified disasters (the infamous Final Fantasy Unlimited and Spirits Within). And as for Phantasy Star? Bupkiss. In the thirty long years since it began, Sega has never produced a single adaptation of their long running franchise. This is rather surprising when you consider the original Algo series seemed tailor made for an anime. Hell Phantasy Star IV (the best of the lot, and yours truly’s favorite JRPG ever) frequently felt like an animanga with its unique cutscene style. But now… the wait is over. Phantasy Star has come to anime!

…and it fucking blows. Surprise, surprise…

PSO2: The Animation is the anime equivalent of that scene from A Christmas Story where Ralphie is desperately trying to decode a message from the Little Orphan Annie Secret Society. The main difference being that Little Orphan Annie at least TRIED to hide the fact that it was an advertisement for Ovaltine. Not so here, as PSO2 is as blatant an advertisement as they come. There is no plot. There are no characters. We have high schoolers playing PSO2. That’s it. Its cheap, useless entertainment with no conflict and no point.

What’s worse? This is an advertisement for a game that remains unreleased in this country and will probably stay that way. What’s the point of licensing the anime then? That’s right… NONE. Now if you excuse me, I’m off to fap over Alys’ lifeless corpse for the 1,000,000 time. DAMN YOU DIO!!!!  — Lord Dalek

Prince of Stride: Alternative

I’m not sure why I decided to take this show. For me to review a sports anime is akin to Jeff Gertsmann reviewing a Yoshi’s Island game: I don’t really give a shit, and would probably give it low marks even if it did do some pretty neat things. I suppose the hope was that since I used to be fond of running back in the day, this might be a good way to continue where Aim for the Ace! left off in trying to get me to at least appreciate this popular sect of the anime and manga market. Unfortunately, while I can at least say that I like it more than Prince of Tennis, if you are similar to me and have had trouble in the past getting into sports manga or anime, this isn’t going to be the one show that you’ll magically be able to love.
Prince of Stride is about a school stride team. What is stride, you ask? Well, stride is a melding of parkour with track and field, with the field bit being a city landscape. And…that’s about it. There’s a token girl, the serious dude, the happy-go-lucky guy, etcetera, etcetera. There is nothing here that I can grab onto and talk about for another 200 words, so let me just past the baton to Shadow… — RacattackForce

Second Opinion!

Space Prince Strider

I’ve never held much interest in sports anime myself, mainly as a carry over from my general disinterest in sports in general. Not that I can’t enjoy them, they’re just not my thing. But as I’ve learned by recently reading the Slam Dunk manga is that it is possible to create a sports series that captures the eye of non-sports fans. This can be achieved by having and interesting story to coincide with the exploration of the sport, and build interest in both. It’s not enough to simply have the sport, you have to give a reason for why people are passionate about it. While Duke of Parkour doesn’t have the most engaging characters at the moment (all I really remember is one looked like Armin, another was a tsudere with glasses, and another was named Heath), none of them are off putting and the dynamic works well. The only real weak link is the main girl, but this show does give of some Free vibes so I’m not really sure that matters. The important thing is it does manage to create interest in the sport presented, and I’m hopeful it may even evolve into a decent watch. — ShadowGentleman

Schwarzesmarken

Das ist Animu! Ist wundarbar no?

War, it feels like all I have ever known, all I ever will know. The feeling of killing a man with the caress of cold steel is a baptism of fire and blood and I have bathed in it far too long. This is my gift and my curse, the life I lead and the life I bleed. But this war… this is Germany… but they say its Japan. Russians, nazis, magical girls, they’re all the same. All have my name on a bullet, and I’m on my last clip.

Robots. Robots everywhere. They keep building them, we keep blowing them up. The endless cycle of steel and shrapnel. I once saw a man crushed beneath the underfoot of a goddamn giant robot. There was nothing left but the twisted shatterred remains of what used to be his spine and his spleen. Took you back to biology class. I was always good at disecting. Both frogs… and myself.

Dammit Deathshead what have you done? What is this…”anime” monstrosity? These aren’t human beings, they’re some kind of bug-eyed Nazi spacemen. I’ll tell you right now I don’t like it, not one bit, and when I find you, you will taste cold justice at the edge of my blade, in this life or the next. — Commander William J. Blaze, USM Retd.

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

This is a show that is likely not going to be watched by anyone. It is an adaptation of a very adult (in themes not content) manga. It has no teenagers, no magical powers, no giant robots, and no space battles. It harkens back to a simpler time, before these tropes and many others began to proliferate animation in Japan and now the rest of the world. Visually, it is one of the absolute ugliest anime I’ve seen in a long while, since Ping Pong at the very least, and I do not know if this is from the manga or the fact that the series was made by Deen. It is also one of the most gripping and fascinating shows I’ve seen in a very long time and may very well be the best show of the season.

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju is not a show about animation, it is a show about performance. Rakugo is a form of Japanese drama that is basically their version of our long-form monologue. With such a demanding concept, any voice actor could easily crack under the pressure. Happily for us, the makers went with some familiar and quite seasoned pros from the 90s. To say the least, its nice just to hear Tomokazu Seki in a lead role again, and in the role of an ex-con turned would-be trainee Rakugo actor, he delivers a real tour de force. As does Akira Ishida as his mentor, a man consumed by his art as well as guilt over the apparent death of his colleague years earlier. I am assuming this is never going to get dubbed if it gets licensed at all. Frankly I don’t see why any American company would bother trying to dub it since the Japanese track is so damn good and so integral to the overall product.

Showa Genroku is the clinical definition of a show that is not going to be for everyone. The episode is firmly entrenched in Japanese culture and early-70s culture at that. Furthermore it has an elongated one hour run time to alow for the Rakugo preformances to take center stage. This was a brilliant move from the production team and I applaud them for taking the risk of over staying their welcome. Ultimately Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju is potentially going to be a challenge for some but it is a rewarding one and comes with a high recommendation. — Lord Dalek

Sushi Police

Just like Ma used to make!

Well that was something else. There’s so much confusion packed into a measly three mixtures that it’s hard make out what’s going on. From what I can gather, the Olympics are being held in Japan, and for whatever reason that means two salaryman and a robot salaryman have to stop “unlawful” sushi establishments, which means any place sushi the “right” way. Putting aside the ugly ass animation, I’m reminded of a comic series entitled “Get Jiro” staring a such chief in a world ruled by restaurants. While creativity in other forms of cooking is encouraged, sushi is treated as something extra special and people who eat it “wrongly” are promptly killed. As some who just likes to eat, I don’t get what all the hubbub is about. Sure, alligator sushi sounds nasty, but that’s no reason to wreck the place. What I’m trying to get at is that the main joke of the series doesn’t appeal to anyone who’s not patient about sushi, like me. It ends up not having anything to offer but it’s shear absurdity, and even that’s not handled well. And it ain’t nice to look at either. — ShadowGentleman

Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle

Weeelllllll, lets go down the list of reasons shall we?

Somewhere in the world right now, somebody must be watching this expecting some sort of sequel to that one card game show from a year ago. But instead, to their horror, they find yet another cliché ridden Infinite Stratos clone. Upon receiving this realization they proceed to give up on everything anime related and dedicate themselves to more worthy social causes. Like…maybe…saving the human race through actual physical procreation.

I… on the other hand… have to suffer through this. Because I hate myself, and I hate you too.

THIS Bahamut is basically the umptrillionth version of that shabby one guy to 5,000 girls battle school show. In particular its a virtual xerox of that greaaat one from a few years ago, Blade Dance of the Spirit Elementalers. I remember my “write-up” of that show being nothing but my live thoughts while watching the episode because stringing a series of paragraphs together about a show that vapid left me in a lurch. My new years resolution is to try not to do that again.

But of course that means this article is already over. Odds are, you’ve already stopped your streaming copy and just moved on to watching any other magic/battle school show. Because, frankly, you wont be able to tell the difference. I sure as hell can’t.  — Lord…aw fuck it.