Posted by K-Off on 23 July 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Game Reviews

Oh Square Enix, this is the kind of avant-garde work you need to do. Developed by Furyu with the people behind SaGa, and written by Masato Kato of Chrono Trigger, I knew I was in for a unique game right from the start. But its gameplay is certainly divisive and for good reason, as this is surprisingly much more out of the box from what you would’ve expected after SaGa. Most prominently, it has a style of story progression that allows you to quite literally go forward however you please – by opening up the world to you through unlocking maps via unstated objectives. Now, I don’t favor open world titles above linear games just for the sake of them being open world, but I do appreciate it when they’re done as well as it is here. I could play through Legend of Legacy as quickly or as slowly as I pleased in whichever order, with the intention being making the player feel like a real adventurer exploring uncharted territory, which it succeeds in spades all the way to the end. So if you’re coming out of Bravely Second rather dissatisfied, Legacy unwinds those linear genre conventions and shares more similarities with A Link to the Past in its range of freedom. Even the individual map’s bosses are more often than not just a part of the scenery as they roam the map aimlessly alongside the other mobs. But in exchange, the game can be brutal when you don’t know how to progress any further after fully exploring an area (while refusing to look at walkthroughs) and scouring the entire map looking for any possible clues. But this is also what adds charm to the game, as the game allows you to sell the maps you complete by exploring more of the wilderness. The more of the map you’ve filled, the more money you can sell them for, and it’s pretty rewarding to earn large sums of money for them. 

Yet on the other hand, it’s worth noting that the turn-based combat is about as traditional as one can get apart from its lack of any level system. There can only be three characters at a time in your party, and in-battle you can utilize the elemental spirits in your environment for various effects like HP regeneration while customizing your stances outside of battle to affect turn order and defense. As a result, building an effective party is critical, yet also entirely up to you, and since there’s only so many roles possible in a 3-person team you’ll have to make sure everyone pulls their weight. Upon a new game, you can choose a protagonist among a huge selection of characters to begin your story with, and choosing the right character from the start makes the confusing lack of narrative that much better. I personally chose Filmia (the awesome frog that’s an obvious throwback) despite his rather one dimensionality in combat, as I found his small quips that much more interesting. In the small town of Initium, you’ll see the characters that you didn’t choose on the starting screen wandering about for you to recruit, and it’s really up to you to make sure everyone stays leveled up. I decided not to change up my starting trio of Filmia, Bianca, and Liber very much, as my play style is always offensive and Filmia is rather bulky anyways. But what makes the turn-based combat a little more interesting is its integration into the exploration mechanic – however much HP your party lost in-battle doesn’t entirely carry over into the next encounter, unless a character went down to 0 in which case they’d be at a fraction of their full HP the next battle. This means that as you go deeper into the wilderness, the less comfortable you are facing stronger enemies – so it encourages you to go back to town every now and again to sleep, restock, and retread. If a battle gets too tough you can always run away to the start of the map.
In any case, the game is extremely tedious if you don’t have interesting members in your party, as you’re going to have to grind in order to raise the level on your attacks and stats. Heaven forbid you start with Meurs or Owen as they’re the blandest characters in the game. As with any of these games that allow you to choose your protagonists, your experience may vary depending on the narrative you develop for your own party. As I like to mention in any of my previous reviews, it’s important for this kind of game to be a good character story over any kind of overarching plot, and most of these characters are interesting enough to keep your interest to the end. In this way it really does remind me of Rune Factory 4. Legend of Legacy is an excellent game to sink hours into if you don’t mind traditional turn based combat and hands off free-roaming. The plot is simple, yet clocks out over 40+ hours. But because of this, all of the characters in your party don’t feel like cutouts and get fleshed out believably, and the buildup gets used well by closing off satisfyingly.  So yeah, it’s not a game that’s going to be very important to Masato Kato’s repertoire or to the 3DS RPG genre, but what it does well, it does well in spades. It does have its weaknesses where it goes too far in its efforts to let you do whatever you want, by sacrificing any sense of a greater purpose to your gameplay, but it works alright without one. To top it off, visually, the game is perfect. You can see influences of the SaGa games where they like to spam the screen with useless objects (like a giant conch, ruins, etc) but also the more subtle things. Each of the characters walk in their own unique way, and the characters move with their own unique poses and styles. This game is nearly a year old and I haven’t seen much buzz about it and it’s truly a shame. While games like Bravely Default continue to earn praise for its “traditional” gameplay, it’s games like Legacy which are the true throwbacks to a time when a game’s story was simply something to be discovered through gameplay.

Storytelling: 7/10 Open ended, it depends what you make of it on your playthrough.
Gameplay: 7/10 Very traditional combat, but a unique story progression system and an interesting cast of party members keep everything from becoming too tedious and stale.
User Interface: 8/10 Convenient quick saves, but otherwise a laughable options menu without even text speed adjustment.
Production values: 10/10 Looks great, and the score is amazing.

Suggestions:

Bravely Default/Second (3DS)

Rune Factory 4 (3DS)

Etrian Odyssey (DS)

Posted by SuperMario on 22 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Neon Genesis Evangelion

Truth be told, I’ve never seen any of the EVA franchise, and it’s not normal since EVA is a must for any anime viewer. I don’t really know the reason why I keep myself from watching it, maybe both because mecha is not my favorite genre, and the hype of EVA is just overwhelming that I just don’t want to be any part of it. Asking any anime fan, especially from Western culture, “what series they think is the best” or “what is the first series they saw that got them into anime”, Neon Genesis Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop would likely to appear on people’s lips (I’m guilty of the second, with Cowboy Bebop). With that said, better be late than never. Since psgels himself never actually covered the original show or even rated it, I think this is a good opportunity for me to give EVA a retrospective review (not much of a retrospective really, since this show is new to me), at the same time give readers who already burnt out from new anime something they can chew on every week. Again, and I really stress it this time, I write this because I want to, but if you rather prefer me not to review shows in the past, all you need is shout out in the comment and we will take it into our consideration.

Now looking at this first episode, it struck me hard how desperate and pathetic team human is. The first episode wastes no time to show us the high stakes situation here with all the chaos and the ruined city caused by the Angels. The Angels, moreover, are overpowered beings with their own intelligence to boost. Our human’s ace card, N-2 mine – which mostly destroyed our own buildings and almost the whole city, couldn’t bring the Angel down. The whole situation got so desperate that they had to force a child, who never actual pilot anything before, to control Eva. It is also a bold choice to show us the very first image of Rei, when she was a TOTAL MESS.

Shinji and his father’s relationship is of course the real meat of this first episode. The way Shinji always looks for the recognition from his father, and the way Gendo uses his son with no emotional attachment whatsoever aren’t the most comfortable things to witness, to say the least. Calling him down so he had to pilot the damn thing when he’s clearly not ready, and then about to dismiss him when he back out? Ways to go Gendo! As far as I can see, this cold relationship hits directly to the insecurity of Shinji, and honestly his passive behaviors, while believable, could be a pain to watch later on.

From the technical side, as far as the look and feel of EVA go, I’d say that I pretty enjoy it. The chaos settings and destruction motifs (falling buildings, bombing, even the destruction of characters themselves) really give you clear idea what this show is going for. The characters do not appear to be real or deep yet, but still are functional enough for this first episode. If there is one thing that doesn’t really translate well to me, it’s the character designs, they look kinda bland and exactly what you expect from the 90s anime show (in other words, dated). But well I’m never much of a fan of the 90s character designs (with only Cowboy Bebop for me still stood well after all this time, but even in that regards Faye’s big boobs turn me off every now and then). The visual looks great, there are many of shots that visually frame how Shinji struggling with the decision, especially the part where he stands in front of the Unit 01, his will-be partner, or more correctly, a part of himself in the future.

Alrighty, that’s it for now. I will try to get the second episode in couple of days so that we can catch this up with the new anime’s current week. Let us know what you think about the EVA series and if you still remember anything from the first episode. It must have been a long time since you guys last watched it, right?

~SuperMario~

Posted by AidanAK47 on 20 July 2016 with categories: Berserk(2016), Currently Watching:

Forgive me for the delay on this particular post but I must admit that in light of Berserks quality my interest in covering it has somewhat declined. I know that for every episode to come I will have to dance around the elephant in the room but this series isn’t making that easy for me. As when coming close to enjoying the show I am constantly pulled out of it. My experience of watching Berserk is essentially a game of denial as I try to pretend the ugly visuals don’t exist. Perhaps I should find it cathartic as Berserk is a series which by its very nature is ugly. The things that make Berserk stand out as a series is it’s pure unapologetic brutality. Rape, gore, death of children and every uncomfortable theme you can think of is par for the course for Berserk. It is very much a pulp fantasy work and likely one of the finest in manga history. Plenty have tried to imitate but few have matched it’s glory. A true Berserk anime should be quite nightmarish considering the creatures that could have walked out of a Clive Barker novel, however the anime looks to be nightmarish for entirely different reasons.

Todays episode bring in some anime original content and if hearsay is to be believed, this was written by the mangaka of Berserk himself, Kentaro Miura. However when examining the content itself I must question what was the need for it. My original thoughts were that Miura was supplanting the less TV friendly aspects of the series by adding in different content. However the dark aspects are still here so I wonder why the change was needed. In the manga Gut fought a bunch of demon dogs till dawn and Farnese was nearly raped by a possessed horse. In this anime the exact same thing happened but instead we have the addition of a mansion and a encounter with a demon apostle. The encounter doesn’t add much of anything besides confirm that Guts is after revenge. It reminds me of a point in the manga where out of nowhere Miura decided to dedicate two chapters to a flashback with Gut’s meeting a fairy. The story itself was good but it’s reasoning and overall presence in the plot is utterly insignificant. It came at a time when Miura needed to get a move on and push the story to a climax but instead he decided to put in a filler story. This feels much the same, the fight against this dog demon is rather entertaining but when you plan to cover over sixty 30 page chapters in a single cour I think you don’t have time to waste on events that put the main plot on standstill.

However what really bugs me is that they adapted events of the manga and made them lesser. In particular there is a line Guts says about the demons reminding him of how he felt when he started all this. In the anime Gut’s just throws out this line upon meeting the apostle and it doesn’t have the same impact. In the manga Gut’s sees the horse about to rape Farnese and is suddenly reminded of Griffins rape of Caska. Which cause him to be filled with rage and say that line. It was a pretty powerful line and it just confuses me as to why they would keep the horse attempted rape and yet move the line to a different scene. What’s also puzzling is the sound design where they essentially decided that everything Guts hits with his sword will make a clang sound. I understand the idea of emphasising that his sword is more a huge hunk of metal instead of a blade but it really doesn’t make sense to have a sword clang when he’s cutting transparent beings or dogs made of flesh and bone.

It becomes quite distracting once you notice it. There is also the matter of Farnese’s non existence nipples. It’s likely something to be fixed in the blu-ray releases but I find it funny the priorities censorship has. Apparently the depiction of female’s nipples is out of the question yet showing a scene of forced Bestiality is apparently fine? I mean sure you darkened the scene but you still show her getting clearly molested by that horse. What is the point of censorship when it doesn’t censor the most damning aspect? This is the kind of thing that leads to weird fetishes forming. Where the story goes from now is a good question, Farnese has gone through an ordeal which has shaken her faith and put her in a rather compromised position. In particularly her rather kinky possession which lead her to nearly kill Guts while asking him to split her in two with his sword is certainly a story she wouldn’t want circled around the Knights. Her pride could very well lead her to hunt Guts down till her dying breath. Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned after all.

~AidanAK47~

Posted by SuperMario on 19 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Orange

So this week we finally encounter a love rival. Of course with a romance drama show like Orange there had to be someone who would stand on their way right? Except there’s not much of a rival really since Naho never stands a chance against the new girl Ueda. As she learns hard and clear this week, some small incidents can be changed, Kakeru this time decided to join the football club, instead of quitting like last time; Naho had her chance to prepare lunch for him, something that her previous “timeline” couldn’t do. But those occurrences changed doesn’t mean that the core could be changed. Naho, with or without the support of the letters, could never bring herself to confess her love to Kakeru; and the fact the Kakeru will choose Ueda over her is something that will happen all over again, regardless of how many times she tries.

Immediately after watching this episode (yesterday), I quickly dismissed Kakeru’s closeness actions towards Naho in a beginning as a behavior of flirting; kind of like he opens himself more to Naho, a potential lover, until he sees a better opportunity from Ueda so he chooses Ueda instead. After all, no normal friend would expect other to cook lunch for them, you know. But today as I am somehow wiser than my own-yesterday self, I can see the reasons behind his actions towards Naho. Kakeru always looks at her as a female/mother figure, since he now lacks the real mother’s care. The way he suggests Naho to cook lunch for him, telling her that she behaving like a Mom, or tell her to alarm him at 5 in the morning, or even ask for her advice if he going to date Ueda; all these point towards his desire to have attention and to be taken care of by a female figure. All that to say there might not be any love interest towards Naho to begin with. Well we’ll know that for sure in future episodes.

As much as I enjoy Orange so far, I still have some concerns about Orange. Especially at the end of this episode where the adult cast read Kakeru’s letter, his comments on every member of the group feel strangely unconnected to me, since the majority of time we follow Kakeru – Naho relationship, the cast as a result don’t have any chance to develop. If I have to compare the cast of Orange with the cast of ReLife right now, ReLife has put much more attention to flesh out the cast. Except for Hiroto who is sensitive enough to know what’s going on and I love their natural interactions with each others, the rest of cast just simply too bland right now and I would expect much more from them in next episodes. All that said, three episodes in, Orange still maintains its slow but confident pacing and its very expressive, atmospheric art designs, and except for those teary eyes this last minutes, there is surprisingly less emotion outburst than I have expected. Keep it low like that Orange!

~SuperMario~

Posted by AidanAK47 on 19 July 2016 with categories: 91 Days

At this point I think it’s clear what kind of show we are getting. It’s not Hitman Reborn which essentially uses its mafia inspiration as window dressing for shounen battles. Nor is it Baccano with a silly yet funny atmosphere combining the prohibition setting and supernatural. No, what we have here is the old school classic Mafia drama. A big tip to that this episode had a number of references to the godfather, even the series logo is reminiscence of it. I am actually rather worried about studio Shuka in this regard as this is an anime more for western audiences as I am sure it won’t sell well in Japan. They are likely safe considering they have Natsume to fall back on. I must say though that anime needs shows like this. Too long have we had the high school self insert harem supernatural battle fantasies and I say that it’s shows like this that display what anime can really do. Two episodes in and I feel like I am getting something from anime that I have been aching for a long time. Of course I hold my scepticism as Joker Game certainly betrayed me into thinking it was something is simply wasn’t. However 91 Days is showing great promise and I would like to believe in it.

This episode had great development for Vanno and I really took a liking to him. He’s a booze runner but he doesn’t drink. He seems to be quite religious as he prays before eating but holds no hesitation in killing someone. He’s hot headed but not stupid. And from the looks of things he has a connection to the girl getting married in this episode. I liked the guy in the first episode but this episode cemented him as my favorite character of the show. So I was truly genuinely shocked to see Avilo/Angelo kill him off. I thought Vanno was someone who was going to make it all the way to the end and I actually lament his loss. He was a truly great character, how could you keep Fango alive and yet kill Vanno?! However while I am disappointed in his loss, I truly respect the decision to kill him off. This show went to the lengths to establish his character, give him depth and make him likeable before putting him in the guillotine. Still, we could have had him around for a couple more episodes couldn’t we? Such a shame. Avilo is also a great character as well and I like that the anime is showing him to be intelligent without spelling it out for the audience. It’s also great that he isn’t being shown to plan things out perfectly and can make mistakes. Avilo is a really clever guy who lacks the precognition ability that so called masterminds seem to have, that to me makes him much more human.

Fango is another story. When this anime is fairly grounded in all other aspect, Fango is like a cartoon caricature standing out like a sore thumb. By some miracle he managed to avoid being burned by the molotov cocktail thrown at him last episode and now this episode we see him getting whipped by a dominatrix. Fango is the guy who seems to know he’s being watched, so he acts as crazy as he can when the camera is on him. In a series like Baccano that character was Ladd Russo but he fit the mold of what the series was trying to be. In a world as crazy as Baccano someone like Ladd Russo is expected. In a series like 91 Days, Fango is just too crazy to be taken seriously. Well at this episode’s end we finally see Avilo’s objective as it looks like his target is the very men he’s signing up to work with. Whether those are actually the men who killed his parents is another thing as he was given the details by an anonymous source. Still it should be rather interesting seeing Avilo play the part of ally while taking out people behind the scenes. The mafia family looks to be in a perilous position at the moment and it is possible that Avilo is being manipulated to stir things up and bring its downfall. His story could very well end here as he has stirred up suspicion when he lead Nero to Vanno’s body. I say he will make it out of this alive but Nero is most likely going to keep an eye on him.

~AidanAK47~

Posted by SuperMario on 18 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Thunderbolt Fantasy

Sometimes there’s a show that so campy and fun that you just can’t help but enjoy watching it, and then sometimes there’s a show that completely takes you by surprise by how unique it is. Thunderbolt Fantasy offers both of these in a neat package and further showcases the richness of animation as a medium too. As a guy who always support diversity in animation, the show like this is all I could ask for. The fact that Thunderbolt Fantasy got made in the first place is nothing but astonishing, but for me the most fascinating fact is how on earth this show falls into anime radar in a first place, because this is surely not an anime show (I suspect it’s all because of Gen Urobuchi here). Damn, it is not even technically ANIMATION to begin with. Theoretically speaking, animation requires photographing successive drawings or positions of models to create an illusion of movement, whereas puppetry usually recorded live so there’s an actual movement in puppetry. Here’s an example to illustrate the difference: to make 1-minute of a stop motion animation, it could take hours even days for a shot-to-shot sequence, since there’s usually 15-24 frames per second and you can do the math. But for 1-minute of puppetry it would take just that- a minute of actual filming.

Now let’s get to the actual episode. This second episode offers a much slower pace than the first, with the main storyline here concerns our main character Shang Bu Huan chit-chatting with the helpless girl Dan Fei, and the mysterious Lin Xue Ya, he then gets ambushed by the bad Xuan Gui Zong clan, and escaped with the help of the brothers Juan Can Yun (kind of show-off comedic relief guy) and Shou Yun Xiao (the one-eye archer. Look, I’m trying to familiar myself with those names here). So far this is a very standard wuxia affair, with the plot so far ticks all the boxes of many wuxia’s conventions. The villains of this show so far are sadly bland and over the top. But what the show succeeds is how it still maintains the sense of exciting, the staffs clearly had fun while they were making this and we can feel it too, from the way each of character has their own mannerism, the practical effect (the feeling that you can sense the weight of blood dripping and body exploding (no sh!t) is refreshing), to the utterly ridiculous dialogue; all in the service of making this show as unique and entertainment as ever. This is, after all, a very different medium so I really treasure the experience that I can only find in puppetry. My only complaint from the technique itself is how the camera tends to keep too close to the characters. There are very few long shots in these first 2 episodes, mainly medium shots and lots of close up. That is understandable since the staff has to create all the models, set decorations by themselves; but sometimes the lack of establish shots confuse the hell out of me.

On last note, I have watched many wuxia shows before, but all of them are 30 plus episodes based on already established franchise materials, so I’m eager to see how Gen Urobuchi pull this off: an original wuxia that condensed into 12 episodes. Although Gen Urobuchi is not my favorite writer, I have to tip my hat off to him on this series. Without him, Thunderbolt Fantasy couldn’t exist. Without him, the Taiwanese puppetry will always be a mystery outside of its homeland. Damn, I haven’t even heard of them before this show. That fact alone is already something worth celebrating.

~SuperMario~

Posted by AidanAK47 on 18 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Re:Zero -Starting Life in Another World

Looks like the new opening and ending won’t be getting much use in this second cour either, not that I am complaining of course. This week I  wouldn’t be surprised if people were getting sick of Subaru as his actions continue to be erratic and destructive. The ending of the last episode gave hope that Subaru would be driven to make the right moves and strike back at Betelgeuse however while Subaru has got the right idea, he doesn’t have the know how to achieve it. I think it’s important for people to keep in mind one thing. Subaru is not you and you certainly wouldn’t handle this situation any better if you had gone through what he has. I actually find this aspect rather interesting as Subaru is at a simplistic level the kind of character you would normally self insert yourself into. However now he’s going against the viewer’s wishes and it forces us to see him from an outside perspective. I sort of see what the author is trying to achieve here but I must admit that his efforts may go to make Subaru too unlikable which would affect how we view his efforts in episodes to come.

What must be taken into account from now is the key to writing great tragedy. For you see what makes tragedy great is the ratio between hope and despair. The very impact of the events themselves depends on the author building a certain set of expectations and hope before ripping it all apart in front of the viewer. A constant tragedy is a dull boring affair that lets the viewer become desensitised to what’s happening on screen, therefore killing any attachment to the characters. I believe this is what caused Attack on Titan to falter in its later episodes and why I believe a second season won’t be quite as well received as the first. When your story is a constant stream of never ending losses then the viewer loses any hope of the characters winning and it just becomes a matter of when all is lost. This is what Re:Zero needs to avoid at this point in time because there is only so long people will put up with Subaru’s act. What we need right now is some small victories, things which give credence to the idea that maybe, just maybe Subaru could beat the witches cult. It is then when you bring out the tragedy again and smash expectations. Then begin the cycle  again by building up hope. My friends, Tragedy is like Dark Souls, a series of failures building hope towards a dream of magnificent victory.

This episode could be seen as each member of the King’s selection candidates telling off Subaru for being so arrogant. To some they may even seem mean spirited in how they lecture Subaru but it is important to take into account their perspective. A boy who previously talked big in front of everyone is now making claims that the witches cult will attack a village and that he needs their help. All things considered it’s actually rather kind that they gave him the time of day to listen to him ramble on like a madman. Each of the Candidates saw past Subaru and realised his true intentions so simply picking the right moves isn’t going to get Subaru through this. However within each telling off Subaru got was some wise words of advice which if Subaru heeds could lead him to victory. Crush is trying to get Subaru to realise that he is working out of his own selfish intentions and not for the sake of others. Priscilla is showing him that begging will get him nothing and that he needs to prove his worth.(Through that may have been unconsciously as I believe she thought that if she made him beg it would be more entertaining, but only found it disgusting.) Anastasia told him the keys to negotiation and that in order to get what he wants he needs to have something to trade.

In these words are the lessons Subaru needs to learn and it’s really a matter of when he decides to heed their advice. Still despite all of Subaru’s missteps this episode I admit that the idea of evacuating the village before the witches cult attack was a rather clever idea. Pity he forgot about the creature Rem previously warned him about in a previous episode, the white whale. I have some idea’s as to what makes this creature so dangerous as evidenced by the final minutes of the episode but I think I will wait to see if my thought is true. Start thinking Subaru, the wait till sunday is too long just to see you fail yet again.

~AidanAK47~

Posted by SuperMario on 17 July 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, World Animation

It’s never easy to make a good family’s animation. For movies aim at adults, the filmmakers can easily get themselves loose, go crazy and the audience can still get it. But for kids, these movies might be one of the first movies they’ve ever seen and that’s a huge responsibility. They have to aware of children’s mindset all the time so that they both maintain kid’s interest throughout its screening time and make them invested to the story. That’s a reason why usually a good family movie or show tends to be either inspirational, educational, or packs an emotional punch for viewers of all ages. My Life as a Courgette falls neatly under the latter category. The film is adapted from a French children novel and the screenplay was written by the talented Celine Sciamma (she directed handful of movies and all of them focus on teenage girls and their transitions to adulthood, in other words, my kind of films). Though not as dark as the book, it’s a story from a kid’s point of view that have a very adult concept and tough subject matter.

The film recounts a few months in the life of Courgette, a nine-year-old boy, who accidently kills his alcoholic mom, then finds himself in an orphanage. His real name is Icare, but he insists of calling himself Courgette since it’s one of the very few things that he has left from his mother. Indeed, when he steps into the orphanage, the only things he keeps in his suitcase are an empty beer can from his mother, and a kite he made by himself. He doesn’t remember much about his father either, since the father left the family long time ago to chase “chicks”. There in the orphanage, he, still feels responsible for the death of his mother, encounters other kids who – like him – had experienced rough childhoods. They include the self-appointed leader (and a bit of a bully) Simon, and later Camille arriving by court order, who witnessed her parent’s murder-suicide. Rosy, whose mother was sent back to Africa. Ahmed, whose father was arrested for robbing a convenience store. Alice, whose father was arrested too. There is also a kind-heart policeman Raymond who later would be Couragette father’s figure as well.

If you feel I give a bit too much of a synopsis here, this is because it’s essential to the theme of the story. The best thing about the film, I have to say, lies in its sensitive writing. Within the first 10 minutes, the film successfully establishes a solid ground of all the mishaps, all the sadness these children have been gone through. Those moments feel so real and hold so much power. Life is not fair in the first place, and those children did nothing to deserve it. They all end up here, without the care of no one really, and all they have are each other. Being said that, those sad, downbeat times are just a facet of life, and learning how to live with it is the main theme of the film. The later part of My Life as a Courgette comes to more light-heart, sincere territory, but by then we’re already swept by the sadness that the whole movie feels more like a bittersweet experience.

Upon making this feature, the director Claude Barras insisted that he took extra attention to the eyes of the characters, and it shows in the movie, as the characters have big, expressive eyes. In many of the touching moments, those eyes help conveying a lot of emotion and we really see the sadness behind those eyes. The character designs, with big head, multicolor hairs and very thin body, further make those characters easy to root for, and will definitely catch the interest of the children. It helps of course that the kids were well-written and speak like a normal 9-year-old would speak. The stop-motion for the most part is serviceable; they serve the story well but nothing to stand out and truthfully judging from technical aspect there is nothing to recommend either. Then again this film is a children movie so I guess it serves its purposes.

If there is one thing that I could criticize the film for, that is its conflicts resolve way too quickly. There are two main conflicts of the film. The first conflict comes from Simon bullying Courgette, both because of his name and because he’s new. The second comes from the group’s attempt to win back Camille from her aunt who intends to use the girl for government-aided. I really think more time spending to raise the stakes would benefit the film better, especially with its relatively short running time (66 minutes to be exact). Because of its brief running time, only Courragette and two more characters (Simon, Camille) have a chance to develop, and boy! They certainly grow a lot during their brief time staying together in the orphanage.

In the end, My Life as a Couragette is the kind of film that the kids can enjoy but there’s a level for adults to appreciate as well. The bittersweet moments are all well-earned, and this is a feat to tell a sad, dark story without being too cynical or depressing. The film actually suggests the opposite, that unfortunate things happen everywhere, but learning to bounce back and stand up from those mishaps is something worth treasuring for.

Next post I will review my personal favorite anime feature film that came out last year in 2015, and it is NOT the one(s) you think it is. Stay tune!

~SuperMario~

Posted by AidanAK47 on 17 July 2016 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

The Disastrous Life of Saiki K

Short Synopsis: A boy with incredible psychic powers runs into troublesome people.

It’s a pretty good watch. Sort of like Handa-kun it relies a lot of misunderstandings but the execution seems better in this regard. I say the main weakness is in that it has no real continuous narrative and instead is a series of shorts detailing Saiki running into a troublesome person and reluctantly using his powers to help them. Out of the skits shown I liked the one about his parents the best as it had the best punchlines. However Saiki as a character is rather dull considering that he has only one default state and that’s pure apathy. Sort of akin to Saitama’s bored demeanor without any of his goofy charm. I think for it to really get good Saiki needs a foil who is on the same level as him but so far it’s a rather decent comedy.

Potential: 60%

 

Mario’s thoughts:

This show based on the gags manga series, so instead of showing it as a 20-minute episode per week, they screen the show everyday as a 4-minute chapter and combine all of them for a full episode on Sunday, so in a way I could see this more as a short series one. I’m not kidding when I say this is the sharpest comedy show of this season, as it could go absurd, occasionally slapstick, most of the time over-the-top humor, but ultimately never lose its charms. Saiki is an over-power, but very self-aware kid, and his running through daily live without being stand out (because obviously he’s stand out) is a joy to watch every day. It becomes a new routine that I would start my anime-watching day with 4 minutes of Saiki K., and never once did I feel the show runs out of its joke. A must-watch for me.

Potential: 75%

 

DANGANRONPA 3 -The End of Kibougamine Gakuen- Future Arc

Short Synopsis: A terrorist group captures the leaders of the future foundation and forces them to play a death game against one another.

This is very much an anime for fans of the video games so if you haven’t played them I highly recommend that you do before seeing this show. Though regardless if you plan to watch this or not you should check the two games on steam anyway as they are quite excellent games. Jumping in from a anime only perspective would likely leave people confused as to what exactly is going on as this takes place directly after the events of Danganronpa 2. So far the writing has managed to avoid the pitfalls of the anime adaption of Danganronpa which is a relief though I need to see how they handle the mystery aspect before saying that this has better writing. It certainly doesn’t seem to have pacing issues and the new cast looks interesting.

Potential: 60%

 

Mario’s thoughts: I will not review this as I’m unfamiliar with Danganronpa’s universe

 

DANGANRONPA 3 -The End of Kibougamine Gakuen- Despair Arc

Short Synopsis: A new teacher gathers up her eccentric students to attend class.

Much like it’s counterpart, this is a series for fans of the games and if you haven’t played the games what you are going to get out of this episode is going to be little. However as someone who has played DanganRonpa 2, this episode was like being introduced to old friends. It’s interesting that Lerche is putting out both a prequel and a sequel to this series out in the same season but so far both have had solid starts. This series sounds like it’s going to be the more lighthearted of the two but there are hints of a darker tragedy ahead. With the original writer on board I think these animes could be quite worthwhile. Ultimately I say if you are a fan of the games then these two animes are a must watch.

Potential: 70%

 

Mario’s thoughts: I will not review this as I’m unfamiliar with Danganronpa’s universe

 

Mob Psycho 100

Short Synopsis: A fake Psychic cons a powerful esper boy into exorcising ghosts for him.

I have a particular fear that Bones is attempting to turn this into a repeat of One Punch man when Mob Psycho from what I recall from the manga is a different kind of story. Though considering that One Punch Man was a product of numerous talented people coming together there is a good chance that animators from One punch Man are working on this series as well. It has a particularly interesting style which is based heavily on artist ONEs webcomic art. The story of this episode is different from what I remember of the comic as it looks like things are getting moved around to make the show more dynamic. There is a much higher focus on comedy and sadly for me this doesn’t really work. For one the conman’s thing of pretending to be a powerful exorcist gets tiresome. He’s basically a version of Hercule from Dragonball Z. Mob in turn lacks the things that made Saitama so enjoyable and comes across as a more emotionally demore Saitama. Not helped by his design with has huge similarities.  This story does get interesting as it continues but I doubt it will reach the heights of OPM. Those hoping for a second coming likely should temper their expectations down to a lower level. Still the animation here is quite interesting and for that alone the series is worth checking out.

Potential: 60%

 

Mario’s thoughts:

Wow. I could watch the opening theme all day. The visual looks cool, the story is fun mainly because the show never takes itself seriously, the comedy is sharp and witty, what’s more could you ask for? I can see the running joke of Reigan as a con artist and his totally dependence on Mob to exorcise ghosts can wear off quickly, but I have faith on its writing as One Punch Man has a solid writing as well. My main concern is Mob himself, as for now he’s just plain- blank, to be exact. Yeah I guess we have to wait until he reaches 100 to see exactly what will happen. One of the most awesome thing was that creative visual is not there just for showcase but it fits very well with the theme (ghosts, supernatural) and the tone (a bit wacky, colorful) of the show. Overall, I think this is a style-over-substance show, but could be a very entertainment one at that.

Potential: 80%

 

Battery

Short Synopsis: A baseball pitcher finds a friend whom can catch his pitches.

I admit that after a long run of first episodes that I may be quite burned out at this point to enjoy battery. What make this harder for me to enjoy is that Battery is fairly slow paced and character driven which I simply have no patience for anymore. I am tired of school setting, tired of slice of life and tired of easygoing atmosphere. Let me get down to the main point. Is Battery a bad show? The answer is no. It’s a fairly solid slice of life so far but I think in this season it’s going to need a lot more than this to stand out. We already have two alternatives to watch this season besides this show and I have no interest whatsoever in baseball. I can sort of see where this story is heading and I have very little interest in continuing. Put simply I think you should check this one out yourself if you have a slice of life itch that needs scratching and decide if it’s something for you. Otherwise when it comes to this first impressions, I am done.

Potential: 50%

 

Mario’s thoughts:

And with this final show had its first screening, I’m happy to say that we don’t end our impressions on a sour note. Battery has fairly strong writing to start with. Unlike Days (the other sport series this season) where our main character was clueless about anything related to football, here in Days the main character is an already established teen baseball pitcher. And he’s not a likeable kid, but he’s well-grounded. He’s first appeared to be an overachiever, but at the end of episode we learn many about him, many of those through just small exchanges: his affection to baseball, to the point of playing it with his new friend – something a loner like him tends not to do; his strain relationship with his father, his ambiguous to be the best but ends up taking baseball too seriously, his mocking about “rich kid” when he gets hurt. It helps that the cast around him, most notably his brother and his new friend Go, bounds off very natural together and the more they interact, the more we understand about their personalities. This is a solid first episode and I can’t wait to see them batter for more.

Potential: 70%

Posted by AidanAK47 on 16 July 2016 with categories: Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 3rei

It is safe to say that to get the most out of this series, you have got to be a Fate fan. There are numerous little easter eggs calling back to it, even Kirei’s signature “Rejoice” line. However I say even casual fans could get something out of this series as well. Provided they made it through the less tasteful parts of Zwei. I actually only recently finished Prisma Illya 2wei in preparation for the new season and I can certainly say it has serious problems. There are parts of it which are good, mainly the action scenes but that’s in a minority when you take into account the massive amount of time wasting that goes on in those two seasons. There was no real plot as the first part focused on the addition of Kuro/Chloe whose contribution to the plot seems to be just to make the best scene of the first season into a pointless character and to provide a brown skinned Illya for those interested. Then came Bazzett who while a great character seems to be shoved in as a conflict for the sole purpose of adding her to the cast and padding out Zwei. The rest was just a waiting game for when they would all go to retrieve the eighth card. Taking all this into account I am fairly certain we could have cut down Zwei into one season and lessened the pain of it’s existence. I understand if there are those who simply disregard this series as loli porn as it certainly has done things to earn that contempt. However I can promise this season of the show will be very different from it’s predecessors and already it’s looking promising.

With the introduction of the Ainsworths we now have a antagonist and a pretty good one at that. Plus we have two introductions of well loved fate characters. Kotomine Kirei is here displaying his love for spicy Mapo tofu for the first time. Here’s some fun little trivia about that. Kirei is a man that never takes pleasure in anything, not even eating. So the act of eating was much like refueling a car to him. However that changed when he tried super spicy Mapo Tofu for the first time and felt that it provoked a reaction in him that he never felt before. Henceforth it became his favorite food. What makes this most amusing is that it’s unclear if he genuinely likes it or if he misinterpreted the way the spicy food caused him to tremble and sweat profusely him as “enjoyment”. So having him in the middle of a dead city tormenting whatever travelers that pass by super expensive ridiculously spicy Mapo Tofu just brings a smile to my face.

We also have Ko-Gil(AKA, Shota Gilgamesh) who is actually a canon part of the nasuverse. This may be somewhat attributed to Narita’s explanation in Fate/Strange fake but apparently Gilgamesh has a youth potion in his treasury which he drinks when he can’t be bothered to deal which the situation around him. His younger self is a lot more tolerant of people and less arrogant than his older counterpart but he still holds Gilgamesh’s talent for manipulation and thirst for entertainment. The Gilgamesh in this episode generally feels like a good kid but with hints of a hidden agenda, in this case wanting back his full power from the card one of the Ainsworths uses. The kid certain has a way with words having been able to charmed Illya by calling her “Onee-chan”. Some people are even shipping the two now which is awkward when you consider that Gilgamesh did happen to steal her heart before in a manner of speaking.

In terms of action we didn’t get much this week as it was mainly for getting to grips with who they were fighting and an idea of what happened in the past. Though a number of hints have been dropped. Tanaka is a welcome addition to the case namely because he’s comic relief with a purpose. Her insistence with destroying the Ainsworths despite having no memory seems to suggest she might be some kind of counter guardian. I also think it’s fairly obvious who happens to be in that jail cell at the end of the episode but just in case I won’t go into detail. Animation and art look great so far and it seems like Sliver link knows this is going be a season worth putting effort into. Next episode looking to be pretty good as we have Gilgamesh vs Gilgamesh and Thor vs Illya. If Silver Link plans to cover up to what I think they will then they may need to speed up a bit. Lets hope the action scenes are not sacrificed to gain momentum.

~AidanAK47~

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  • WolfeTCG
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 10:25 PM)
    House in fata morgana! Theres more on that page I’d lile to see but thats number one.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 09:46 PM)
    @WolfeTCG, I will be doing reviews of the Muv Luv trilogy and likely any other visual novels. Though if there any in particular in that page you want to see then feel free to name them and I will check them out.
  • WolfeTCG
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 09:29 PM)
    Can the reviewers do more visual novels? Id like to see some from here http://fuwanovel.net/2016/01/looking-ahead-the-vns-of-2016/
  • afgm
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 06:18 PM)
    @Aidan: fair enough
  • K-Off
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 04:32 PM)
    @Aidan Length isn’t an issue so much as the complete lack of story. The main story missions are spaced out, and side ops missions are there as filler.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 02:42 PM)
    I wonder if Qualidea Code is trying to pull a Madoka because the latest episode is hinting at some dark turns. It hasn’t quite turned yet.
    Even if it does, I don’t think it will be all that interesting.
  • AidanAK47
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 02:37 PM)
    @afgm, It’s just not your thing I guess. Cause I am digging the hell out of it.
    @Bam, Nope. Shadow Hearts is on my backlog but currently I am trying to finish MGSV. This game is way too long for it’s own good.
  • afgm
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 10:54 AM)
    91 days is just ok, and thats all it will be
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 10:40 AM)
    @Aidan: was it you that was playing thru Shadow Hearts recently?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Sunday, Jul 24. 2016 07:16 AM)
    I feel 91 days has potential, at the very least the first 3 episodes have established a good tone and I like the protaganist.
    Perhaps the art/animation could be a bit higher and I don’t much care for that one crazy guy with the he-man haircut.

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