Ah, the Prohibition Era. A wonderful time for many, but only if you’re a creator of course. Where others see blood, some see art. Endless classics have been influenced by this period, from The Untouchables to Baccano. So much violence, betrayal, and chaos all because of some booze. The stories and madness that take place during Prohibition are enough to rival Jacobean drama in their bloodshed and intricacy. Just thinking about it puts that moonshine aroma in your nostrils, almost making you long for those days as if Al Capone were less scary than modern white-collar crime. Yes, all that romance is a paper-thin illusion for an absolutely miserable time in American history, but just one look at some confiscated moonshine can’t help but make one a little teary-eyed.
And that’s how 91 Days knows how to perfectly frame this span of history. After Gangster aired to little applause, I was afraid anime studios wouldn’t know how to make a good mob story. A bit narrow-minded of me to be sure, but that’s always been a topic of interest I thought anime could do well like the space westerns of the mid-90s. I didn’t want to wait until Vento Aureo to get a good mafia anime, but 91 Days’ premiere has managed to quell that worry (along with having another lead named Bruno). It goes down smoothly, with a plot simple yet direct in its execution. While the “Kid who watches his family get killed grows up to get revenge on the killers” story is far from original, I like its execution here. Feels less like a ripoff and more of an allusion, a wink to those well-versed in the genre.
As you can tell, I’m biased because it’s exciting to see the studio behind the Durarara sequels do something interesting. Studio Shuka’s like the Trigger to Brain’s Base. After years of seeing its parent company produce forgettable garbage, you could just kill to see those tired animators quit and do something better in their lives. And I hope 91 Days does just that, preferably unlike how Durarara x2 had multiple animation cuts. I know that’s a shot in the dark, and the chance this will get the sales to warrant decent animation is a gamble, but maybe they can do it. – Bloody Marquis
Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School
I don’t know what is happening. I mean, I suppose that’s natural considering that I’m jumping on the second season of an adaptation of a text-heavy visual novel series for the Playstation Vita. But said adaptation also skips the second game of that franchise and has a story completely unrelated to the upcoming third installment. And said season is technically two different shows; a “Future Arc” taking place after the second game and a “Despair Arc” taking place prior to the events of the first game. Once again, the confusion about what the hell Danganronpa even is is natural when entering during the final act of the grand spectacle that this whole thing appears to be. As such, please forgive me for not knowing what the bloody hell is happening in the Future Arc and for being unsure about how to react to the events in the Despair Arc. I mean…giant black-and-white teddy bear stomping through the burning remains of Tokyo on one hand, eccentric high-school hijinks on the other. I’ve got squat.
At its core, I gather that Danganronpa is about high school being the worst place ever and how said worst place ever will ultimately be where you peak, if everyone having “Super High School-Level” in their titles and talking about “despair” all the time is anything to go by. Honestly, so what if some weird bear creature has you and your friends in some weird murder game while the world is going to shit? That’s no reason not to get a good college education. Major in something other than eating doughnuts. Become an actuary. Raise a family and live vicariously through your kids. Or stay single and waste your extra funds on Bandai Wonderswan video games and obscure 20th century novels. Life is full of options. Ya’ll too young to be despairing. But in all seriousness, find a different review of this show. All I really got out of watching an episode of each arc is that half the cast lives on a secret island now and that when you’re playing your electric guitar over a spit, you gotta be like your new waifu and yell about hormones. Mmm. Estrogen. – RacattackForce
The Disastrous Life of Saiki K.
Saiki is one of the more underrated and least read currently-running Jump series over here. It’s not legally available, and there are only scans for the first forty or so chapters out of it’s nearly 200 chapter run. I’ve always enjoyed what I’ve read of Saiki; I relate to his desire to simply be left alone and kept out of other people’s bullshit, and the colorful cast of kooky characters surrounding him make great foils for his reserved personality. I’d always hoped for a Saiki anime to get made, and potentially raise the pedigree and popularity of the series, in hopes of more material being made available in the west. Have I gotten my wish?
Sort of. I mean, what I like about the Saiki manga – it’s exasperated protagonist, ridiculous premise, and self-obsessed characters – are still here. The presentation leaves a lot to be desired. Now, the manga’s artwork isn’t anything to write home about; it’s pretty unpolished and sketchy looking. Saiki is carried by it’s comedy more than it’s art. Still, it would have been nice if J.C. Staff tried making it look a little more polished. Instead, the colors are flat, there’s no shading, the character designs and stiff and the animation is limited. It’s a bare-bones, low-effort production. A Saiki anime didn’t need a whole bunch of bells and whistles, but this is barely better than a motion-comic.
The anime’s saving grace is the performances, which are excellent. Hiroshi Kamiya perfectly captures Saiki’s dispassionate ennui and perpetual irritation, while Daisuke Ono can do no wrong as the innocent and lovable idiot Nendo. Probably my favorite and most surprising performances are those of Saiki’s parents. Mitsuo Iwata sounds so hilariously pathetic as Saiki’s skeevy loser father Kuniharu, and Rikako Aikawa shows great comedic range with his bi-polar mother Kurumi. Even though the visuals are lacking, at least the performances justify Saiki’s foray into animation by genuinely elevating its humor through good timing and voicework.
Saiki isn’t among the better-made anime comedies in recent memory, but it got some laughs out me nonetheless. Like the new Berserk, I’ve been waiting so long for an anime of this that I’ll just take what I can get at this point. It’s better in small doses though, so I’d recommend watching it as shorts rather than the compilation episodes. – LumRanmaYasha
Planetarian: The Reverie of a Little Planet
Why, Key? Not one show this season, but two?
Anyway, Planetarian is for people who thought Chobits was too subtle. Instead of just being a girl who acts strangely robotic, we have an actual robot for the main character to snark at. Rather than a strangely secluded background, we’re literally in the middle of a machine apocalypse. I have to admit I like that Key’s going straight to the point here. No metaphors or shallow contemplations on high school life. We just have a guy in his mid-twenties living his remaining days in a hellish landscape, and it would be fun if not for the fact this is Key and we’re going to get an entire series about robots with feelings. Even the acolytes of Maeda have to write exactly like him, I suppose.
And that’s the problem since if you already watched one Key show, you’re not going to be surprised or moved by the plot unless you enjoy repeating life. Like that show ReLIFE. If you do like Kanon, Air, Clannad, Angel Beats, Little Busters, Charlotte, Rewrite, that other Kanon show with the chins, and that one Clannad movie you watched so you could tell your otaku friends that you watched an Osamu Dezaki joint, I guess you won’t be disappointed. Key shows are like cupcakes you see at the window, except you eat them three times a day and replace any other food with cupcakes as your main sustenance, forcing your digestive system to adapt to a purely cupcake diet until your body succumbs to critical failure from lacking nutritional variety. What I’m getting that is that watching or playing Key Visual Arts is like eating some bad cupcakes. And bad cupcakes don’t make for good anime. – Bloody Marquis
Oh would you look at the time! Another season of anime has started, and that can only mean more Light Novel adaptations! What’s the next piece of brain draining young-adult lit (er, sorry for that redundancy) to be adapted? This time the dart lands on a multi-media project called Qualidea Code.
Qualidea Code follows a typical LN set up, world invaded by mysterious creatures, young people being the hope of the world, a series of magic military schools, complete with an extraneous “points” system that serves no other purpose than produce forced conflict between the characters, and most importantly, a chuuni-“totally not magic” system. Where Qualidea differs from most LN’s, is its use of an ensemble cast, and a relatively even gender-ratio. So far the characters bounce off one another decently, and the cast itself is mostly likable. Unfortunately, this does not include the main POV character, whose name I can not recall so I’ll just refer to him as: Douchey McShit. Douchey spends most of his screen time bitching and complaining about how everything and everyone is beneath him and how he’s the only fighter worth a damn, fortunately he’s called out multiple times for his attitude, and the first episode quickly proves that he won’t be a gary-stu protagonist like so many LN leads. It’s interesting that Doucehy seems to be a send-up of all those Kirito/Tatsuya-style protagonists, and his character development may be him growing out of that, but that fact that the story chose to make him the POV character can turn away some people regardless of future development.
The animation of Qualidea, like the show itself, is decent. I like that A-1 wants to go for some rule of cool action for this show, and it is a decent effort for the most part, but isn’t quite up to snuff with a ufotable or Production IG show. Music, on the other hand, is fantastic, but I expect nothing less from Taku Iwasaki.
At the end of the day, if you want something decently enjoyable and inoffensive LN-shit, then you can certainly do worst than Qualidea Code. While it does follow some typical LN trappings, it sheds some others to make for something watchable.
What the hell is a Qualidea anyway? – Crimson Rynnec
Sadly, this is not a romance between members of two rival inner city gangs. Nor the anime adaption of Bum Fights. Or an anime about the children of tattoo artists have a secret incestuous affair. No, this is the a tale of hobos handing out superpowers in back alleys and secret military officers licking up milk like a cat. Goddamn hobos.
Taboo Tattoo is the anime equivalent of a predictable action flick. It hits all the same notes in all the same ways. We follow our hero, Justice (yes, that’s really his name) just wants to fight punks at night, but unfortunately he gets swept into a government conspiracy thanks to his new wicked tat. Yes, as usual the world can’t seem to keep it’s hands of America’s s lascivious weapon experiments. Apparently United States military’s top research facility decided tattoos were the best way to develop super soldiers. Must have been the Myrtle Beach branch. Anyway, MC-kun gets phone jacked by an agent with a chalk fetish who looks, acts, and drinks like an anime high schooler/cat. Yeah, when I drink something really hot, I lick it up with my sexy little tongue. Gotta be kawaii for the fellas, know what’m sayin? At least she’s friends with Joseph Joestar.
The fights are somewhat decent here, but the plot and characters are so well worn they’ve got tire marks on their backs. If you want to see people punch each other in mildly interesting ways, then this is the anime for you. crazy cat lady/10 – ShadowGentlemen
I don’t want to call Taboo Tattoo a disappointment. That would imply that I even expected something good from this show. The title may bring to mind an urban fantasy with an alternative punk culture aesthetic — Great Britain during the 70s or America’s Pacific Northwest during the 90s, take your pick — but I’d lying if I said I expected anything close to that from this show. That would actually be creative and new, and to ask the Japanese animation industry to give me that on even a semi-regular basis is asking far too much of it. No, Taboo Tattoo isn’t a disappointment. Far more boring and worse anime have come out this season for me to really say that. Rather, Taboo Tattoo is simple mediocrity at its finest. A painfully average show that does nothing interesting with its premise, has nothing notable about any of its characters, and nothing that can even make it stand out visually from the crowd of 100+ anime projects and counting that have been released this year. Oh, you want a plot? Average dude who was trained in martial arts by his grandfather and fights for justice gains powers that he wasn’t meant to have but nonetheless implied to quickly become the strongest of all that have these powers. Also he has a childhood friend who wants to bang him and he takes orders from a woman who looks much younger than she actually is. Yeah. Frankly, I refuse to watch the second episode to find out where this goes, because by the time credits rolled on this, I’ve lost all interest. Wikipedia says the second episode has a bloody coup occur in the fictional Asian country that the United States is about to go to war with, but meh. I don’t care, JC Staff. I’m only writing this because if I don’t, Marquis will send some googly-eyed GGI sexual assault horse at me. What’s next on my list? Danganronpa? Okay, let’s go. – RacattackForce