Posted by psgels on 12 September 2014 with categories: Anime Reviews

Let me talk a bit about Ryousuke Nakamura. For a long time, this guy was my hero. He started off as an assistant director to Monster, in my opinion a big reason why that series got such a ridiculously solid adaptation, and then in 2008 he came with the groundbreaking Mouryou no Hako. No TV-series was like what we saw there. A year later, he completely rewrote the classic story of Hashire Melos to the point of brilliance, while he still kept incredibly faithful to the original work. This guy’s hands were pure genius. Afterwards, he left Madhouse, the company he was under contract of, and he started working freelance.

Now the problem with working freelance is that it’s a lot harder to land really good jobs. The best example of that is Dai Sato, a brilliant writer (think Erbo Proxy, Eureka Seven), who in the meantime of writing episodes here and there has resigned to writing kiddie shows in order to pay the bills. Ryousuke Nakamura thankfully fared better, but even then he has not gotten the golden opportunity that will give him complete freedom yet. The only television-series he did was Aiura, which was a 5-minute episode show about a bunch of girls that do nothing. It was incredibly well executed and all, but you can’t do anything with that kind of a setup. Beyond that he’s done all kinds of jobs here and there, from episode directing to storyboards, to production progress, to also just animating.

There is only one serious thing that he took the main seat as the director at… and its biggest focus is a romance between middle schoolers. That’s also its biggest problem right there: Monster! A tense thriller across Germany! Mouryou no Hako, a ground-breaking mystery chockful of Japanese folklore after World War II. Aoi Bungaku! A look into the mind of the writer of Hashire Melos! Nerawareta Gakuen! A teenaged romance with time travel!

So yeah, there are cliches. He doesn’t shy away from that. In some cases, he even takes cliches, gives the illusion of subverting them, only to subvert those subversions again and adhere to the cliches, repeats that several times after. And yeah, when you take into account that there will be lots of teenaged hormones… this pretty much is a beautifully executed movie. It takes care to make its four main characters well rounded, the side cast all are enjoyable and likable, the story brings in enough twists. With the cliches ingredients, it tries to make as much of it as it can and the themes that it uses, and the ideas that the whole story revolves around are actually pretty damn interesting. This also is not one of those romances in which nothing happens. Stuff does happen. It’s cliched obviously, but the most important part is this: both the characters and the relationships between these characters are constantly evolving.

Visually this show is perfect. You can see lots of the signature tricks that Ryousuke Nakamura loves to pull for his series. There obviously are the shots that are spammed with sakura leaves, but also the more subtle things. When characters move, they move full of energy and inspiration. Their facial expressions are full of emotions. All of this leads to a cast that feels very believable and relatable. This movie is already more than a year old and I didn’t notice any sort of buzz around it. It’s a pity, because it’s pretty damn charming for what it is. I’d say that the acting in Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo was a bit better than this one, but it’s definitely not by much.

Then there is the ending. I want to talk about it, but I’ll be as vague as possible for the sake of spoilers. At first sight the ending seems to suggest that it was rushed. Things happen fast. However, I believe that it somehow worked out very well. It’s the kind of ending that doesn’t explicitly spell everything out for you. It allows you as a viewer to fill in the blanks, and it’s even a bit open to interpretation at some points. I would not call it rushed to the point where it becomes flawed. Instead it makes the ending work and gives you something to think about. Not bad for a movie targeted at kids.

Posted by psgels on 7 September 2014 with categories: Seasonal Previews

Okay, let me first eplain a bit what happened: most people probably noticed that I’ve been posting less and less often. The reason for that is that my personal life has changed completely compared to how it was in the early years of this blog. I both have a job, and a lot of real life friends, so I can’t just dedicate all of my time to the site like I used to. I hit my limit when I returned back from my holiday to America: I sat down to watch the latest episodes of Ping Pong, and that’s when I realized that I had no energy to actually watch anything, let alone write about it. As soon as I realized that, I cut off everything with the site. I didn’t watch any anime, I didn’t post, I didn’t read any comments. I was completely burnt out and purposefully decided to step away and do nothing for a few months, in order to regain my mojo. I needed time away. It wasn’t that the anime had gone bad: with Mushishi we had the single best series in the past years, so this was no matter of quality. Just me, burning out.

Now over the past months, I realized that I still enjoy anime, but I’m not going to write episodic reviews anymore. These were really toxic for me. They ate up all my attention to the point that I couldn’t do anything else anymore. Instead though, I do still enjoy writing previews (hence this post) and full series reviews. As for the site, we’re planning to introduce some big changes, in order to keep the site sustained and alive.

Now as for this season: it’s awesome yo! There’s a lot of big names involved, some very good sequels, new stuff from people I thought were already long gone. And also surprisingly few series that are just utter crap or nothing but fanservice. It’s a big season for the fantasy crowd. Lots of shows about fantasy kingdoms and royalties, shows that created their own universes.

Series that I Don’t Look Forward To

Ore, Twin Tail ni Narimasu

Why I don’t like it: I think that we’ve found another candidate for the most pathetic villain motivation ever. This series is solely meant for people with a fetish for people who dress their hair in twin tails. So yeah, this is basically porn.

Hi sCoool! SeHa Girl

Why I don’t like it: Only in Japan, can they get away with such a silly title. I mean, I know that most Japanese people aren’t very good at English and all, but at least they must realize that this looks stupid, right? But yeah, this is coming from the guy who gave us gdgd Fairies, a totally absurd and low-budget comedy series, so that could be the reason for it. Apart from that… what can I say about it? It looks terrible! Next!

Orenchi no Furo Jijou

Why I don’t like it: Dear god! That face is going to haunt me in my dreams! Did you have to draw him in that position, with that particular expression? I mean I am not of innuendo at all to even I am getting the creeps here. Also who the hell comes up with these ridiculous premises?

Le Fruit de la Grisaia

Why I don’t like it: Yup, this one’s bad. It’s got the warning-signs: a group of five overly cute girls, lack of male characters, a hentai game adaptation. Moving on!

Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai

Why I don’t like it: Hoods (you know, the guys who gave us Seikon no Qwaser) bringing us a hentai game adaptation. Yeah, you can see where this is going. This one’s bad, nothing to see here. In the trailer, the creators just gave up and showed us shots of the game instead of the animation.

Ushinawareta Mirai o Motomete

Why I don’t like it: Generic hentai game adaptation romance. Not offensively bad or anything, just incredibly boring.

Bonjour Koiaji Pâtisserie

Why I don’t like it: Generic reverse harem by Silver Link, moving on.

Girl Friend BETA

Why I don’t like it: This is another one of those terrible gimmicky series that they need to stop making: it’s based on a dating sim where the male lead can pick between more than one hundred girls. While I admire how there are more than the usual five this time, how on earth were you going to put all of them into one series without making them all cardboard boxes? This is for hardcore voice actor fans only, and even that’s stretching it.

Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru

Why I don’t like it: They’re apparently starting a new timeslot called “animeism”, but if the first show of that slot is a very generic school comedy with magic directed by Seiji Kishi, then yeah, you’re pretty much screwed right from the start.

Wolf Girl & Black Prince

Why I don’t like it: Another shoujo romance, though this one’s a bit creepy, about a girl who is forced to be treated like a dog or be exposed as a liar. Is this really what gets popular these days? Fantasies of being abused and treated like an animal?

Inou Battle Within Everyday Life

Why I don’t like it: Well, so much for Studio Trigger then. Their follow up of Kill La Kill, a school battle series, is another school battle series. Only this one looks ten times more generic. I mean, the premise is really just this: a bunch of high school kids awaken with super powers and nothing happens. Aside from a bit of romance. What can they really do with that. Any shred of potential left is dispelled with the trailer, which looks uber-generic.

Trinity 7

Why I don’t like it:This story advertises itself as a “romantic comedy but sometime serious magical school story”, so yeah, we basically know what time it is when the promo art only features ONE GUY. This one seems for the Index and Railgun crowd, but I’m not in the mood for any more magical school series, unless they promise to be really good or anything.

Terra Formars

Why I don’t like it: When I first saw this one, it made me mildly optimistic: it had science fiction, the director of Steins;Gate and Shigurui was on board, the premise suggested themes of intergalactic colonization, the cast didn’t consist out of teenagers. However, the more I looked into it, the worse it started to look. Apparently this show is about humanity that sends a bunch of cockroaches to Mars, only to find out that 500 years later they mutated into these weird human-like killing machines, and it’s up to the main characters to kill ‘em all. Now not only is this ridiculous, it brings up many red flags: when you look at the trailer, all of these mutated cockroaches look more silly than threatening, and they all have the same designs. That’s really bad monster design and it takes away all tension: those copy-paste armies never have been good for that, not to mention that they’re not sentient. This is the anime equivalent of Bug Squasher or something.

Madan no Ou to Vanadis

Why I don’t like it: Tatsuo Sato is actually doing both the direction and series composition for this series, but alas it’s the premise that’s really not good here. The fact that this is a light novel adaptation should already say enough, but this show has the premise of a generic guy getting to be the slave of a magical girl in sexy outfit. You can see that Tatsuo Sato did his best to at least try and make something out of this (the art for example of the anime looks so much better than the light novel art), but what can you do with the plot here? I mean the magical girls will fight each other with over the top flashy powers and the main characters will kick ass and hint at a romance that will never be there. You can’t do anything with this.

Amagi Brilliant Park

Why I don’t like it: There are some big names behind this one: Kyoto Animation is returning with the team behind Full Metal Panic to adapt another one of the author’s stories. I’m suspecting that this will be the next Fumoffu. Only problem is that I didn’t really like Fumoffu: I gave it about one episode and it failed to make me laugh even once, and ultimately I preferred Gonzo’s version of Full Metal Panic over theirs, but in the end I never really was a big fan of FMP. It also doesn’t help that the premise for this one is riddled with silly teenaged romcom cliches, so I really doubt that this one will end up topping Full Metal Panic.

Denkigai no Honya-san

Why I don’t like it: This one’s weird. At first this seems like just another slice of life shows about nothing, but it’s being supervised by the team behind Milky Holmes (the good ones, at least), who are completely crazy, especially when together. The trailer was weird, had unnecessary fanservice, but in the end there was enough visual comedy for me to want to give it one episode. That’s the thing though: I see no reason whatsoever for why this show could even be remotely entertaining past episode one when they ran through their best jokes about working in a book store.

Donten ni Warau

Why I don’t like it: Well, so it took about a year before the Shingeki no Kyojin-wannabes start appearing (do not tell me that that promo art did not remind you of that). Besides that, this anime confuses me. The creators seem to try and do whatever they can to hide that this is a bishie-series, it seems. Nothing seems connected to each other: if you were to look at the character-designs, premise and promo art, you would not suspect that they were all about the same series. I mean, this is Dogakobo. Can they really pull off another Natsuyuki Rendezvous without a skilled director accompanying them?

Fate Stay Night

Why I don’t like it: Stop milking out the Fate franchise, for Christ’s sake. Ufotable, you’re better than this. You’ve amassed enough talent over the years, now do something original with it. This one is especially grating because Studio Deen already made a movie about this. I mean I’m all for remakes and all, but this is just getting too caught up in the past. Do you want to know when the last time was that Ufotable made a series that wasn’t of the Fate franchise? 2007, with Manabi Straight. And there seems to be even more Fate set for 2015.

World Trigger

Why I don’t like it: I must say, I really dig the promo art for this one. Plus, it’s got a soundtrack by Kenji Kawai. No doubt will this one be a feast for the senses! The story is the problem here: it’s a shounen jump adaptation of a battle manga: aliens invade, and a bunch of kids fight back with alien technology. Been there, done that! I get why this is made though. Naruto is about to end and this sounds like a good time for the companies to start to search for a replacement.

Nanatsu no Taizai

Why I don’t like it: A-1 coming with an adventure series, seems like it’s going to be classic fantasy. The “Seven deadly sins” part of the title is very misleading, because apparently they’re just the nicknames of a bunch of really strong warriors. There are a few problems here: the way in which the story is rather generic, and how it’s set up there is only one way for the story to end: with overthrowing that evil government. Problem is that we’re dealing with a manga adaptation that to my knowledge hasn’t finished yet. So yeah, good luck fitting in that story…

Shirobako

Why I don’t like it: Basically a circlejerk series: PA Works doing a show about making an anime, obviously featuring a bunch of cute girls. My guess is that this one will be on the opposite side of Bakuman: whereas Bakuman tried to add too much drama, this one will add too little. Why do I want to watch this? Perhaps it might be nice to watch how an anime gets made and all, but there are enough behind the scenes videos and these are a lot more authentic. The characters here look just boring.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

Why I don’t like it: I’m spotting an annoying trend here. Ever since Ano Hana the Noitamina producers seem to think that we want teenaged dramas. No, I’m a fan of Ano Hana because it was such an emotionally heart-wrenching story, not because it was about teenagers. But here is the real thing with this series: yeah sure it’s very polished. A-1 Pictures has made sure to make everything look pretty, the acting is good and not stereotypical. And yet, I see no reason to watch this series. There’s nothing that stands out: it’s just a bunch of teenagers talking with a bit of standard romance. Why would I want to watch that?

Sora no Method

Why I don’t like it: The writer of Kanon and Sola is behind this one. You can see that this one is better than most visual novel adaptations, because there is AN ACTIAL MALE ON THE PROMO ART. He’s in the background, but at least it’s something. Here’s the thing: I liked Sola. It actually had a very nice plot there. I’m not feeling this yet though. The character-designs for example: while they look nice at first sight, the creators basically used the same faces, only to swap hair- and eye color (and in one case the facial expression to the typical deadpan). It all looks… a bit too manufactured. This one could get a benefit of the doubt though… it’s also gonna depend on how annoying the female characters are…

Series I Am Looking Forward To

Gugure! Kokkuri-san

Summary: “A little girl named Kohina ends up summoning by a Kokkuri-san, a lower-ranking ghost in Japanese folklore. The Kokkuri-san she calls ends up being a white-haired handsome, young man. Although he had intended to merely haunt her at first, he becomes worried about her terrible eating habit of cup ramen for every meal, so he decides to haunt her in order to protect her.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: TMS Entertainment
Director: Yoshimasa Hiraike

Impressions: This one… it intrigues me somehow. It actually looks like a solid comedy that can keep fun for several episodes. It’s basically going to take jabs at the Japanese folklore, but I have to say that I like the idea of a spirit watching over a young girl because she only eats instant ramen. That’s a bit more than what you usually see with these premises. If there’s enough for an entire season though, that remains to be seen.

First-Glance Potential: 50%

Sanzoku Musume no Ronja

Summary: “Ronja is the only daughter of Mattis, a bandit leader who lives in a castle in the middle of a large forest. When Ronja grows old enough, she ventures into the forest to interact the strange and magical creatures that live there. She learns to live in the forest through her own strength, with the occasional rescue from her parents. Ronja’s life begins to change, however, when she happens upon a boy her own age named Birk.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Polygon Pictures (and Ghibli)
Director: Goro Miyazaki
Series composition: Hiroyuki Kawasaki

Impressions: Here’s a weird example of how history came full circle. Before founding Studio Ghibli, Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata worked on a few of the World Masterpiece Theatre series from Nippon Animation. Now that Nippon Animation has buggered off creating new series after their long-time producer passed away, there was a long silence of nobody adapting classic children’s literature. The one to break that silence? Studio Ghibli, now in trouble themselves now that Miyazaki has retired. It’s a really weird construction because they work together with Polygon Pictures, who do everything in CG and it’s especially jarring when you compare it to Knights of Sidonia, which worked much better when fully CG’d. Hiroyuki Kawasaki is an excellent adapter though, and they can get some great stuff out of this story if they do it well.

First-Glance Potential: 65%

Gundam Reconguista in G

Summary: “Some time has passed since the end of the Universal Century, a history marked by space colonization and space warfare. Humanity’s prosperity, which ushered in a new era known as Regild Century (R.C.), was believed to endure alongside the global peace. It is the year R.C.1014. The Capital Tower is an orbital elevator that rose above the Earth’s surface and linked Earth and space. As the conduit of the Photon Battery energy source to the surface, it is regarded as sacred. Beruri Zenamu is in the middle of training for the Capital Guard (established to protect the Capital Tower), when the tower is attacked by G-Serufu — a highly maneuverable mobile suit with technology that is not from any known country.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Sunrise
Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino

Impressions: Wow. Here is something I totally did not expect: Tomino directing another television series. I mean, coming November he’ll turn 73. No matter how you look at it: this is going to be his final series. He could have been retired at this point, and he’s got nothing to lose for his final magnum opus in the Gundam Franchise. It of course depends on how much Sunrise is willing to let him get away with, but one theme of all of his post-depression works is that they’re all very colourful and creative. Even in Turn-A Gundam where Sunrise restricted this, you can see lots of subtle jabs against them in the storytelling. The whole premise embraces the campy nature of what Gundam has devolved into over the years. The trailer is very good: it shows his directional style very well, in which he just keeps throwing stuff at the viewer and keeps pushing the scenario forward, instead of dragging on and on.

First-Glance Potential: 85%

Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo

Summary: “Due to humanity obtaining the data technology that has evolved to a great amount- called “Mana”- the human race is able to subjugate all wars, starvation, pollution, and other problems on Earth by using its power, which is similar to magic. Earth has obtained the utopia of complete peace and no wants. First princess of the Misurugi Empire, Angelize. As with everyone else, she also had no wants or worries. She was celebrated by the people of the empire, and was supposed to wear the crown. However, she realizes the shocking truth that she is a Norma. “Norma”: An irregular existence that cannot use Mana, and are treated as heretics and as “things” rather than people. Having everything stolen from her, she isolates herself on a remote island. What was waiting for her there was a fateful meeting with a group of Norma girls who know nothing but battle. The girls spend their days riding humanoid robot weapons called “Barameiru” hunting giant dragons that have come from another dimension to invade. Having her name taken from her, what will soldier Ange see at the end of the fight? What can she believe in? What will she obtain? The story of a single girl’s fortitude starts now.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Sunrise
Director: Yoshiharu Ashino
Series composition: Tatsuto Higuchi

Impressions: Not only does this actually sound really interesting, it’s being directed by the guy who directed Mahou Shoujotai. My favourite anime ever and the single series that got me into blogging in the first place. The trailer was great to watch, and the music was fantastic! I like how they take the usual story of a princess, that anime is obsessed with, and basically take all that away. The only problem here is the character-designs: they suck and are pretty generic.

First-Glance Potential: 90%

Akatsuki no Yona

Summary: ” King Il of Kouka, a land said in legends to have been founded by four dragons, has only one remaining heir, a daughter named Yona. She lives a happy life in the palace with her cousin Soo-won, who she loves in spite of her father’s opposition to them marrying. Her life is turned upside down when Soo-won murders her father and steals the throne. Yona, with her childhood friend and bodyguard Hak, must retreat to gather allies and reclaim her place as ruler of the kingdom.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Studio Pierrot
Director: Kazuhiro Yoneda
Music: Kunihiko Ryo

Impressions: Finally a show about a strong female character who isn’t trying to shove her boobs into your face. Like, the way it’s supposed to be. Kunihiko Ryo as a composer makes sober, but very authentic music so that also fits really well. The director of this one is a new guy so I can’t say much, but I think that he can do a very fine job. The trailer for this one is awesome by the way. It foregoes the flashy graphics and instead shows the things I’m actually looking for. There is change: the lead characters changes multiple times through the trailer ALONE. Plus, I love how it used facial expressions. That really hit me. Here’s the potential sleeper hit of the season.

First-Glance Potential: 90%

Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu

Summary: “Shinichi Izumi is a normal high school boy whose right hand has become infected with an alien parasite that names itself “Migi” (“right”). Migi is the first parasite to develop a symbiotic relationship with its host, as he and Shinichi slowly develop a grudging friendship. Migi isn’t the only Parasite on earth, however, and as cases of Parasites killing humans begin to emerge, humans seek to kill off Parasites. Shinichi and Migi find themselves caught in between these two sides of the struggle over planet earth.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Madhouse
Director: Kenichi Shimizu
Series composition: Shoji Yonemura

Impressions: Based on the manga Parasite, which is supposed to be an awesome manga, so I’m very curious what this one’s gonna turn into. Madhouse is a very solid choice for adapting it. It’s got a newbie director with lots of experience, and Shoji Yonemura adapted Guin Saga, co-wrote Fantastic Children, wrote Figure 17 and is overall a very solid writer. The premise looks solid, the promo art looks very intriguing and immediately caught my eye. Bring it on!

First-Glance Potential: 90%

Shingeki no Bahamut Genesis

Summary: ” Mistarcia is a magical world where humans, gods, and demons mingle together. In the past, the black-and-silver winged Bahamut has threatened to destroy the land, but humans, gods, and demons overcame their differences to fight together and seal its power. The key to that seal was split in two, one half given to the gods and the other to demons, so that they would never be united and Bahamut never released. Now, two thousand years later, the world is in an era of peace – until the day a human woman steals the gods’ half of the key.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Mappa
Director: Keiichi Satou
Series composition: Keiichi Hasegawa
Series composition: Yoshihiro Ike

Impressions: This one immediately looks awesome to watch. It created its own universe and lore, it looks utterly gorgeous so far, it has the director of Karas, Asura and Tiger & Bunny, Yoshihiro Ike for the soundtrack and Mappa behind the animation completing this dream team. These guys can make something very enjoyable together.

First-Glance Potential: 90%

Garo: Honoo no Kokuin

Summary: “Mendosa, the chief adviser of the king of Valiante, begins a campaign to hunt down “witches,” resulting in the deaths of many magical knights and their sorcerer assistants. Anna, a sorceress married to the knight Herman Lewis, gives birth to a son before her execution. Herman takes their child, Leon, and flees, raising him to be the heir of the legendary Golden Armor. By the time Leon grows up, Valiante is completely in the control of Mendosa, who drives out Prince Alfonso and his mother. Alphonso decides to seek out the man who inherited the Golden Armor to reclaim the throne and save his people.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Mappa
Director: Yuuichiro Hayashi
Series composition: Yasuko Kobayashi
Original creator: Keita Amemiya

Impressions: Yeah, I pretty much fangasmd when I saw who the original creator behind this series is: the guy who created Mahou Shoujotai, my favourite anime ever. I mean, I can’t believe this: one season with a series from the director AND the original creator from my single favourite series. what the hell?! This one has lots of nostalgia value for me, but even then the setting is creative, the visuals look gorgeous, courtesy of Mappa and with a writer like Yasuko Kobayashi (she also wrote Casshern Sins, adapted Shingeki no Kyojin and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure) we really are good. The director is someone completely new, so I really wonder what he can do with this gem.

First-Glance Potential: 95%

Psycho Pass 2

Summary: ” The series takes place in the near future, when it is possible to instantaneously measure and quantify a person’s state of mind and personality. This information is recorded and processed, and the term “Psycho-Pass” in the anime’s title refers to a standard used to measure an individual’s being. The story centers around the “enforcement officer” Shinya Kogami, who is tasked with managing crime in such a world.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Production IG
Director: Naoyoshi Shiotani
Series composition: Tow Ubukata
Story concept: Gen Urobuchi

Impressions: A big change between the first and second season of Psycho Pass is that Gen Urobuchi is taking a step back. He’s now just there for the “Story concept”, which probably just means that he came up with the whole concept. Thankfully the guy taking over is also a very good and creative writer: Tow Ubukata came up with Le Chevalier d’Eon, he wrote Fafner, he wrote Heroic Age. This guy really is a science fiction writer through and through. His only issue seems to be pacing, but that doesn’t really seem to be much of a problem here with Psycho Pass and what they already built up.

First-Glance Potential: 100%

Mushishi Zoku-chou Season 2

Summary: “Mushi; the life-blood of nature. They exist everywhere in various forms: micro-organisms, fungi, bodies of water. Sometimes, they’re even mistaken to be plants, animals, or spirits. But regardless of their appearance, they exist, nonetheless, living the only way they know how. At times, their actions can cause strange or unexplainable phenomena. Enter Ginko, the Mushishi (mushi master), as he continues encountering, studying, and dealing with the mysterious mushi along his journey into the unknown.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Artland
Director: Hiroshi Nagahama

Impressions: Well, what’s there left to say? The single best anime of the past number of years continuing on to its second season. I haven’t finished the first season yet, but I sure as hell am planning to do that, because this series is better than any other series of its kind. It was a long wait, but the perfect way of storytelling carried through into the second season and there is no sign whatsoever of it stopping. All stories so far are beautifully told and with this we get 12 or 13 more stories to finish things off, based on the manga. You really cannot expect better than this.

First-Glance Potential: 100%
Posted by psgels on 30 May 2014 with categories: Mushishi

Now this was such a beautiful episode. We often see Mushi portrayed as parasites. In fact, they are pretty much based on the insects and viruses of their world. There probably are enough real viruses and insects living in the Mushishi world, but they just aren’t the focus of the series. Anyway, what they did here was highlight the duality of these little critters: they have both their positives and negatives. This episode really focused on the positives, while again not ignoring the negatives.

The woman who is cursed to keep all of the moisture inside her body. It killed a few people due to unfortunate circumstances (again, nobody is at fault here), however it also brings so much joy to the people when she arrives. What made this episode work so well is how well this series characterizes just about everyone: even the minor characters feel real. I mean, have you looked at the animation for this series? EVERYTHING IS SMOOTH AND LIFELIKE. I cannot recall a TV-series that has such consistently detailed animation for characters, and this series can pull it off because it’s not an action series: budget doesn’t need to be spent on elaborate action scenes, so instead it can go into the detail.

Mushishi really is a mature series like no other. Most series when they tell a story, resort to black and whites: there are clear heroes and clear villains, and even when the villains have reasons for their actions, their reasoning is often crazy in some way to the point where you can’t really hold a nuanced conversation with them. Here, everything has multiple sides to it, and it’s done in a really cool way.

And yeah, pretty much now that I’ve seen the preview of the upcoming summer season: I’m currently 95% sure that Mushishi is going to end up as the best show of 2014. There never has been a series that stood so far above all of the others in all other years that I’ve been blogging. It’s just consistently fantastic and detailed and in seven episodes I have yet to spot a weak moment. This show is just THAT special, and it justifies a second season really well: every episode continues to build upon the lore of the mushi, and we still see new stuff.

Posted by psgels on 28 May 2014 with categories: Seasonal Previews

Some trends for the upcoming summer season: the series aimed at girls seem to be getting big again after a long drought. The problem is that like the series aimed at boys, a lot of them are looking to be really bad. Beyond that, there are lots of series that have concepts that have been done to death by now. I’m nearly inclined to dub this season “The Summer of Dead Horses”.

On the good news though, there are quite a number of series that are looking to have some serious potential. And not in the way of the Autumn of 2013 in which everything seemed great, only to feature many, many disappointments, but actually in the way that there will be a lot worth watching here, series that take themselves seriously, or are trying out something different. Well, many. Many for the standards of the past few years.

As usual, lots of assumptions follow. I do not read manga so I have no idea about any original source material and stuff. My impressions are purely based on the stuff that I can say something about, like the staff, premise and promotional material. These ain’t full reviews, yo.

Series that I Don’t Look Forward To

Momo Kyun Sword

Why I don’t like it:`Yeah, this one is going to be terrible. It’s in the genre where cute girls with lots of boob fight with big powers, while at the same time raping the original story of Momotaro (the kid who was born from a peach). I mean, just look at the art here the creators weren’t trying to be subtle about the characters’ cleavage in any way were they?

Pripara

Why I don’t like it: It’s yet another one of those shows there to promote idols. Seriously, that too has turned into a complete dead horse. I wouldn’t mind so much if we just got one of these shows once in a while or something, like what it used to be in the past, but nowadays they’re everywhere! Idols are not so special that they deserve this many series people! The only saving grace here is that it’s from the director of Milky Holmes, but this isn’t a genre he can parody so well because it would make the idols look bad. Blegh.

Himegoto

Why I don’t like it: This is a stupid cross-dressing show with a ridiculous premise. The worst thing is that it’s the same bloody premise that every single bad cross-dressing series uses for its shenanigans: for some contrived reason a dude needs to enter a female only high school and therefore he needs to dress up like a girl. Blah boring! Skip this one!

Jinsei

Why I don’t like it: Well first of all it’s a light novel adaptation with an overly cute girl on the front page. That’s one of the clearest early signs that this will be bad. And yeah, it’s a dull school series. The premise however does hold a tiny shred of potential: it’s about the writer of a life advice column of the school newspaper that follows a few of the life advice requests he needs to write about. If they can deal with those requests intelligently, then this might make a chance. But then I direct your attention back to the covers of the light novels, which all feature overly cute girls in suggestive poses and yeah… this one’s gonna suck.

Survival Game Club

Why I don’t like it: Blah blah, another club full of girls at school that does something. Again something we’ve seen waaaay too many times by now. This time it’s about survival games, and is that me or does that really sound eerily similar to that Gainax show about the gun club that came out last Autumn?

Persona 4 The Golden

Why I don’t like it: Ooh, I still remember what a disaster the original Persona 4 anime was, and now they’re planning to make more! It was completely incomprehensible for people who didn’t play the game. It spent huge amounts of time on things that didn’t matter, and flew through the important bits. It was littered with bad humour. It was the first point at which I realized that Seiji Kishi had completely lost it with his new style, and he’s back. However he really turned into a Shinbo-wannabe right now by assuming the task of chief director while another director is the real one. And I know that having a chief director and a director is more common and all, but none are trying to rip off Shinbo as blatantly as he is. I have a pity with the fans of the Atlus that they keep getting stuck with this guy. I mean in the span of a couple of years he managed to turn me off completely to their games.

Nobunaga Concerto

Why I don’t like it: Normally I’m a bit more lenient on historical manga that look kindof serious. But for god’s sake come on! A high school boy who travels back in time and who must become Oda Nobunaga? Is that the best you can think of? Let’s try to rape his character even more by turning him into a high school boy for god’s sake. Japan has many more interesting time periods. You don’t have to stick with this guy. Here is the weird thing: when Sengoku Basara did it, the warring states era was hardly ever used as a setting. After that though, every single historical series suddenly was about that bloody period, to the point where there was hardly anything else. I mean come on Japan: move on!

Francesca

Why I don’t like it: You just know that this one will be bad: it’s basically one big advertisement for Hokkaido (like, the island), personified in a cute girl. As a zombie. Or at least, something that’s supposed to be a zombie. WHATEVER IS ON THAT PROMO IMAGE IS NOT A ZOMBIE.

Akame ga Kill

Why I don’t like it: This one doesn’t seem like anything special: it’s just another show in which a boy and a girl use magical powers to fight some evil empire. The weapons look stupid, the character designs bland. The sole salvation here is that there isn’t a school to be found, but that’s nowhere near enough to make up for the blandness of the rest.

Hanayamata

Why I don’t like it: Here’s a case of talented people being wasted on the wrong project. I mean, these people aren’t bad at all. They worked on some really good stuff: Madhouse, Reiko Yoshida and Atsuko Ishizuka (the latter in particular: she’s one of the few female directors who actually made it into the big leagues and consistently gets assigned to projects). However, what’s the show about? High School Girls dancing. Now Yosakoi is something that we haven’t seen before and all, but there is no hint whatsoever that there will be any depth here. Tip for future promo artists: don’t feature an all-cute girl cast on your image who look way too much like each other and nothing else. That’s just bland and boring!

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei!

Why I don’t like it: For god’s sake stop milking out the Fate franchise! It’s done, it’s over! Enough already and think of something new here. this is just getting ridiculous!

Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance

Why I don’t like it: Yeah, this one will be really bad, all of the warning signs are there. A promo full of only cute girls, they all use magic, they are all of nobility, and there is exactly one guy who gets to be special and ends up inbetween them for contrived reasons. Next!

Shounen Hollywood

Why I don’t like it: Aaagh! More idols! Such creativity! This one does come from the director of Sukitte Ii na Yo, however can we for god’s sake tone it down on the sheer number of these things?

Invaders of the Rokujyouma!?

Why I don’t like it: Yup, many warning signs that this is going to be terrible. All the male characters are absent from the main promo art on the website, character designs who all look the same aside from hair, eyes and boob sizes, a bland premise for a show. Not to mention Shin Oonuma and Silver Link being at it again. This is one to skip.

Argevollen

Why I don’t like it: Aaah yes, finally! Xebec is going back to making mecha series, the thing that they did that they were actually good at, until they radically shifted their focus towards producing crappy fanservice shows. Tatsuo Sato will write it, and this is a guy who also wrote Mouretsu Pirates, Basquash, Madesico, Shingu, and adapted Azumanga Daioh, and the director will be… what?! Atsushi Ootsuka? The director of To Love-Ru, Kanokon and Ladies Versus Butlers? Some of the worst shows Xebec has ever made!?! Seriously, you really couldn’t get anyone better? And yeah, the trailer confirmed that this is just going to be a dumb action series with a generic plot.

Magimoji Rurumo

Why I don’t like it: I do have to hand it to Rurumo: it’s got its own premise. It’s not completely original, but at the very least it has a premise that doesn’t attempt to rip off as many other generic series as possible. However, that does not mean that I look forward to a series with a tagline called “Pervert and Apprentice”. I find sex jokes bad really easily, so this show is going to have to try really really hard not to be annoying. So yeah, that’s not going to happen.

Love Stage

Why I don’t like it:Kenichi Kasai, the director who gave us the brilliant rendition that were the first season of Nodame Cantabile and Honey and Clover! After years of silence he’s finally back with another series: shounen ai! Fans of shounen ai: rejoice! Non-fans of shounen-ai: keep waiting. He may be brilliant, but he isn’t able to make people buy a genre they previously weren’t into.

Dramatical Murder

Why I don’t like it:Oh my god, BL with an actual plot! The problem with boys’ love series is that they’re just too often entirely dedicated to fanservice, to the point where the fanservice gets completely in the way of any potential that might have been there. Show me a great series that has a gay couple in it and I won’t complain at all. The reason I’m not looking forward to this is the one who’s going to adapt this: Machida Touko. Her adaptations comprise Amnesia, Allison to Lillia, Ookami Kakushi… basically lots of series that completely botched any potential that their original source material had.

Rail Wars

Why I don’t like it:Here’s an interesting one. The premise is creative, I like that, and I really want to like this series, but everything else is throwing up red flags: the guy who adapted Kanokon will adapt this, it’s based off of a bunch of light novels, the stereotypical character descriptions, and how the poses that the characters are all making are all trying a little too hard. Don’t get me wrong, these don’t immediately mean that we’re dealing with a bad series here. But there are an awful lot of hints that do point into that direction.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Why I don’t like it: I don’t really have anything to whine about here. It seems like a standard romance, just not a special one. It will work decently if the creators take care in developing all of the characters, they don’t make the romance too stupid or convoluted, the usual stuff. It won’t stand out in any way though, which is why I’m not looking forward to it.

Free – Eternal Summer

Why I don’t like it: Well, this obviously had it coming, the actually well produced slice of life series with lots of gay undertones. What sets Free apart from the shows like Utapri is that it actually bothers to put some effort into its characterizations, and making the characters come alive rather than portraying them as a bunch of cardboard boxes. They’re stil stereotypes, but hey at least it’s something: it’s progress. I’m obviously not going to watch it, but I do have a question to the fans of the series: does it really warrant a second season, or is this just milking it?

Ao Haru Ride

Why I don’t like it: Don’t get me wrong: Ao Haru Ride looks like a very solid romance. I can just say with certainty that the premise just isn’t interesting enough that I’m going to continue watching it. I mean, it’s got the director of Yahari blahblah, a solid scriptwriter, a premise that’s neither good nor bad or overused. It’s just another high school romance that doesn’t try to pretend it’s anything else. And I just don’t want to watch those shows any more.

Bakumatsu Rock

Why I don’t like it: Oooh, the cheese. Plus this show gets points for being historical and not featuring Oda Freaking Nobunaga. This sounds like a series that’s so bad that makes it worth watching at least an episode, featuring some bizarre love child between AKB0048 and Utapri. It will be glorious. Gloriously bad, but glorious. (For those uninitiated, this is a show about a bunch of bishies who try to save the Bakumatsu era with hard rock!)

Psycho Pass Recap

Why I don’t like it: This entry is just here to prevent confusion, which will very likely to be there considering how bad rumours can spread over the internet. Psycho Pass Season 2 will air for the upcoming fall season. I am psyched about that one. This summer season meanwhile will re-air the first season as an 11-episoded series with 50-minute episodes, and a few re-cuts here and there that probably will not amount to much. However, they’re really trying to make this one big, and they’re really profiling this series as targeted towards adults. This is good, Noitamina is slowly but steadily returning to what actually made it good. This is actually pretty important here, because this isn’t trivial. Out of all the possible series to focus on, the producers chose Psycho Pass. Not Guilty Crown, not Fractale. Psycho Pass. They really want to keep the original spirit of the timeslot going.

Series I Am Looking Forward To

Kuroshitsuji – Book of Circus

Summary: “In Victorian-era London, on the night of Ciel Phantomhive’s tenth birthday a fire destroyed his manor and killed both of his parents. In a moment of death Ceil strikes a deal with a demon, his soul in exchange for revenge. This demon becomes his butler and calls himself by name of Sebastian Michaelis, to protect and serve Ciel until the deal has been completed. One month after the fire Ciel returns from being missing, with his new butler Sebastian. Ceil is now the head of the Phantomhive corporation, handling all business affairs as well as the work as the Queen of England’s guard dog and looking for his parents murders.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: A-1 Pictures
Director: Noriyuki Abe
Series composition: Hiroyuki Yoshino

Impressions: OH GOD NO! The new season of Kuroshitsuji has a completely new staff behind it. Noriyuki Abe is actually a very skilled director: before directing Bleach he gave us Great Teacher Onizuka, and that was no fluke even with a very strong source material. Kuroshitsuji is exactly the kind of series that can get something great out of him again. The first two seasons were adapted by Mari Okada, and this actually fitted her very well as a series with the craziness that went on. For season three though… we have to deal with Uber-troll Hiroyuki Yoshino. If you don’t know him, be glad. This is the guy who wrote the original story for Seikon no Qwaser, Guilty Crown, Code Geass, Mai Otome. This guy writes grandiose stories which are often so grandiose and convoluted that they collapse in on themselves. His adaptations are hardly ever complete, even when well written. You’re almost guaranteed to get a completely botched up ending here, even though the endings are what I loved about the first two seasons of Kuroshitsuji. And to make things even worse, Ichiro Okouchi, the original creator of Code Geass and the writer of Valvrave is joining in for the scripts!

First-Glance Potential: 30%

Tokyo ESP

Summary: “The science fantasy story begins with Rinka, an extremely poor high school girl who lives with just her father in modern Tokyo. One day, she is going home from school when she chases a “flying penguin” to the top of New Tokyo Tower — only to have “fish swimming in the air” suddenly appear before her. One of the fish goes through Rinka and gives her extraordinary powers beyond those of normal humans, particularly the ability to slip through solid objects.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: ?
Director: ?
Series composition: ?

Impressions: Because no staff has been announced whatsoever, I’m going to go and give this one the benefit of the doubt. Why? The bits of creativity in the premise and the promo artwork. Because of that it might have potential, but the whole premise is one that really can go both ways: from great to terrible. It needs to be more than “girls fight each other with supernatural powers”. We’ve seen that so many times before. Give us some depth here.

First-Glance Potential: 50%

Sailor Moon Crystal

Summary: “Usagi Tsukino was a normal second-year middle school girl whose own life changes one day when she encounters a black cat. The cat’s name is Luna who can talk and bears a crescent moon on her forehead. Luna tells Usagi that she is the chosen guardian of justice with the power to transform into Sailor Moon. Usagi now has a new responsibility which is a mission to find the Illusionary Silver Crystal as well as the other chosen guardians to protect the Moon Princess. During her mission, she must deal with various enemies sent by Queen Beryl who is also after the Illusionary Silver Crystal.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Toei
Director: Munehisa Sakai
Series composition: Yoji Kobayashi

Impressions: First of all I should exclaim that I’m not a Sailor Moon fan. My relationship with it was a weird one, because it was one of the series that I watched on Dutch television before I actually discovered the internet. However, it had just the bad luck to air at a really inconvenient time in the morning, right before Card Captor Sakura. I LOVED Card Captor Sakura, and in comparison Sailor Moon seemed just a cheap knock-off (I only learned later that it in fact was quite a bit older) with some annoying characters and a romance purposefully dragged itself out for ages. Not to mention that the network ended up cancelling giving Card Captor Sakura an even more impossible timeslot in favour of Sailor Moon. So that’s not the reason I’m looking forward to this. The reason I’m looking forward to this is that it’s the first ambitious shoujo series we’ve had in many years now. We seriously needed something to revitalize the genre, and Toei really seems to have allocated a big budget to make it happen. For that, I want this series to succeed. Not for Sailor Moon, but for the shoujo genre as a whole. It used to be one of my favorite genres, but it got completely pushed aside by the shounen genres to the point that the only shoujo shows we nowadays get are school series.

First-Glance Potential: 70%

ALDNOAH.ZERO

Summary: “In 1972, a hypergate was discovered on the surface of the moon. However, war breaks between humans on Earth and those who immigrated to Mars.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: A-1 Pictures
Director: Ei Aoki
Series composition: Katsuhiko Takayama
Original writer: Gen Urobuchi
Music: Hiroyuki Sawano

Impressions: Yup, we’ve got a solid one here. The winner of the most creative website, and overall it’s got a really solid casting behind it with an original story by Gen Urobuchi, directed by Ei Aoki who is very consistent as a director (you may remember him from one of the Kara no Kyoukai movies and Fate Zero), the music from the guy who wrote the score for Shingeki no Kyojin and Kill la Kill (and Kalafina for the opening yay!). Yes, this is ambitious. The key deciding factor for this one will be the series composition: Gen isn’t gonna write it this time, someone else is. So who will it be? Katsuhiko Takayama, the guy who in the past adapted ef, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Ga-Rei Zero, Hantsuki, only to afterwards completely lose it with Boku no Pico, Asobi ni Iku Yo, Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, Majikoi, Sasami@Ganbaranai and Dusk Maiden of Amnesia. So, the matter for this series will entirely depend on one thing: does this guy still have it? Can he still write serious stories, or has his mind been diluted too much by writing senseless crap? I mean, if that’s well, then the rest of the creators can make something out of it. He is the one who will make or break this show.

First-Glance Potential: 75%

Glasslip

Summary: “I won’t forget the summer we met. The place was a little town tucked in between the ocean and the mountains. There, they met a transfer student. The sun is so dazzling, and the fireworks are so fleeting. A story that starts in summer that six high school students experience.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: PA Works
Director: Junji Nishimura
Series composition: Rika Sato, Junji Nishimura

Impressions: There was a time at which I worshipped Junji Nishimura, the guy behind Simoun, one of my favourite series in like, ever. Then came Kyou Kara Maou… and Nurarihyon no Mago… and Dog Days… and I really started to doubt this guy… however this time, I’ll bite. This guy is brilliant at original stories, which is exactly what this series is: he’s both writing and directing it so he should have an amount of control that should allow his talents to surface again after so many years (dear god, I feel old now that I realize that True Tears was already six years ago!)

First-Glance Potential: 75%

Barakamon

Summary: “The slice-of-life comedy manga centers around the ikemen (handsome) 23-year-old calligrapher Seishu Handa, who moves to the remote Gotou Islands off the western coast of Kyushu. Seishuu grew up in the city, and the manga chronicles his interactions with the people of the island, who drive tractors on public roads and don’t enter through his front door when they visit. On top of that, Seishuu’s house becomes a hangout for the island’s children.” – (Taken from AN)
Produced by: Kinema Citrus
Director: Masaki Tachibana
Series composition: Pierre Sugiura
Music: Kenji Kawai

Impressions: After many years of absence, Kenji Kawai is doing the soundtrack for another series! Awesome! And it’s quite an interesting slice of life series which really seems to be aiming to bring something new to the table. We know that it’s in able hands, with the director of Tokyo Magnitude,

First-Glance Potential: 80%

Tokyo Ghoul

Summary: “The suspense horror/dark fantasy story is set in Tokyo, which is haunted by mysterious “ghouls” who are devouring humans. People are gripped by the fear of these ghouls whose identities are masked in mystery. An ordinary college student named Kaneki encounters Rize, a girl who is an avid reader like him, at the café he frequents. Little does he realize that his fate will change overnight.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Studio Pierrot
Director: Shuhei Morita
Series composition: Chūji Mikasano

Impressions: Now this is an example of how you grab my attention. Promo art that stands out and immediately tells you that something is going to happen here. The premise may not say much, but we know that we’ve got ourselves a horror story, plus it’s made by people who are outside of the conventional anime business. The Shuhei Morita directed Freedom, which was actually a pretty good science fiction series, and he has done many other short indie films, rather than big titles. They also got an actual playwright in in order to adapt this series, rather than picking from the usual scriptwriters, and I’m really curious what difference he can bring to the table.

First-Glance Potential: 90%

Zankyou no Tokyo

Summary: “On a summer day. A massive terrorist bombing suddenly struck Tokyo. The culprits behind the act that woke up this complacent nation from its slumber, were just two boys. Now, the culprits known as “Sphinx” begin a grandiose game that encompasses all of Japan.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: MAPPA
Director: Shinichiro Watanabe
Music: Yoko Kann

Impressions: Now this series screams Noitamina, this series understood it. It’s not even that the characters are teenagers that can distract from that. Here we have a series with a skilled and famous director, lots of production behind it, looking ambitious from all sides and dealing with actual current issues that are grounded in the real world, rather than just the fantasy that most anime series are stuck at. The trailer looks and sounds excellent, and with Shinichiro Watanabe being really busy this season, this series is something to look out for!

First-Glance Potential: 95%

Space Dandy 2

Summary: ” Space Dandy is a space hunter, someone who is paid to search for new, undiscovered alien species. It’s an industry where the prize goes to the person who finds aliens the fastest. Dandy searches unknown planets for strange beings with his companions, QT the worn-out robot and Meow from Betelgeuse. Meanwhile, they’re being chased by minions of the Gogol Empire, for reasons that are still a mystery.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Bones
Chief Director: Shinichiro Watanabe
Director: Shingo Natsume

Impressions: Two Shinichiro Watanabe series in one season. Holy balls this is going to be awesome. And with Space Dandy, we already know what kind of a series it is: every single episode is different. Shinichiro Watanabe can handle two series at the time because of how much freedom he can give out with this series: every episode is basically in the hands of a group of talented people, and they’re instructed to be as creative as possible. The first season already showed that that was a great combination, as long as you don’t expect the next Cowboy Bebop. However, I do wonder what the creators have in store for closure. The second season needs that, something to really leave behind a fantastic taste.

First-Glance Potential: 100%
Posted by psgels on 23 May 2014 with categories: Captain Earth

Captain Earth had a really good first episode, so I was psyched to coninue with it, purely based on storytelling reasons: it knew how to deliver its plot in an interesting way by throwing in many flash-forwards, flashbacks, hints and whatnot. Now that I’ve seen about four and a half episodes of the series I’ve got a bit of a better image of what the actual storyline is about, and I’m dropping it. There are many reasons for this, and I did feel compelled to write about them.

First of all, the self-referencing? The hints? Well, they’re gone. Like, completely. Episode four was very straightforward and didn’t really leave anything to your imagination: the aliens want their kin back, purple-haired kid is part of their kin, and the main kid has this really powerful robot that can kick their asses. Where the presentation was so interesting in episode 1, I felt myself getting really bored here.

What was the straw though, was the underlying story which became clear to me about halway through episode four. When you ignore the mood, then Captain Earth is really a cross between Eureka Seven Ao and Star Driver, and its underlying themes are a combination between the two: on one hand we have the focus on childish innocence: children should be protected, and on the other we have the themes of adolescence and sexuality in the way it talks about libido and all.

When I started to think about them, they just didn’t mesh. One one hand this series wants to be like Eureka Seven Ao, in its themes that no children should be forced in adult situations, and when you do you had better take responsibility. The thing here though, that the themes of parenthood are much better explored because of how good the characters of Ao’s parents are. What do we know about the main guy’s parents at this point? Heck, has the existance of mothers actually been alluded yet? If it did then I totally forgotten about it, which is a bad sign for both my memory and the series itself.

Also adding to the themes are the villains here, who feed off the libido of humans. Okay, so this could mean that this show is a social commentary on how children are way too often sexualized and the main characters are trying to fight that idea. I actually really like that because they do have a very big point… only the show completely screws that up with the lame bellybutton joke and sexualizes their children anyway.

So with that my only conclusion is that the villains represent adolescence: the characters are young and they are about to change majorly and experience sexuality and stuff. So yeah, it’s a coming of age series. It’s a theme that’s been done many times before, and by series that had much more interesting first four episodes. Take Utena for example, Enokido there actually wrote a setting that’s interesting, imaginative and full of symbolism that wasn’t overdone. I know that we’re fifteen years later, but even by those standards Utena’s opening episodes stand out as unique while Captain Earth combines many things that have been done to death now.

I’m a fan of the mecha genre because it offers intelligent series, if doesn’t matter how old the characters are:
– Bokura no is a fascinating story about putting huge weapons in the hands of children.
– Patlabor is a hilarious and personal look at the police in a day in which mechas are standardly used.
– Fafner in the Azure actually asks the question of who you should fight for
– RahXephon explores coming of age with actual human characters who talk at least a bit normally.
– When you really want an over the top series, go for Giant Robo, the New Mazinger or Star Driver which are made to be flashy and over the top and enjoyable to watch.
– The good Gundam and Votoms series are good for a realistic look at war (War in the Pocket, Turn A, the Votoms TV-series)

You can do a lot with the genre, and you chose the most boring one. That’s a problem I have with a lot of anime nowadays. You can do better than this, I know that of everyone involved in this project.

Posted by psgels on 22 May 2014 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

This is where this arc gets weird. We’re still in adventure modus, however in these two episodes Jotaro not only meets some of the most bizarre Stand users, it’s also done in the most camp way possible. You can see a clear difference with the first two seasons of Jojo: there it was all about the ridiculous poses that the characters made. This season is all about poker faces: the most ridiculous things happening and the characters don’t even flinch.

Or take for example the point where, just after defeating a stand and being left in a small boat, one of the characters decides to comb his hair to get it in perfect model again. Jotaro gets stabbed in the shoulder by a giant fan and doesn’t even seem to feel it, or just lights up a cigarette or whatever (censoring THAT? Really?), or coming up with the most ridiculously cool plans like it’s nothing.

And then we have this giant horny ape that controls an entire container ship. Jojo is always about contrasts: combining two huge opposites with each other. This time it’s Jotaro’s pokerface with some completely outrageous stand users.

It’s such a monster of the week, however so far it’s done things right: it’s not boring yet and these two episodes definitely brought in some much-needed variety. I like the adventure part of this series a lot (you hardly see that in modern series anymore: an actual journey). Episode 07 also had some weird horror elements. Overall I liked it a lot.

Posted by psgels on 17 May 2014 with categories: Random Posts

I’m not sure how many people still follow what I write because the updates have become so sparse, but from may 31st till June 9th, I’m going on a holiday to America and I’ll be visiting San Francisco and New York, so if any of you happen to live there and want to meet up: just go ahead and drop a comment. :)

Posted by psgels on 17 May 2014 with categories: Ping Pong

Episodes 05 and 06 are dedicated to character-development. It’s here where Ping Pong shows that it also knows its stuff in terms of storytelling; the develoment doesn’t start too early or too late, and these two episodes really added depth to all of the different characters, despite that there were no big matches.

I’m currently thinking of a character that it ignored… and I can’t seem to find one. Oh wait: the beach guy is the most shallow of the bunch. Apart from that, every character here is relatable (or as much as you can do with that with a guy who is supposed to be a human robot). Smile being a human robot as a main character has an interesting effect: the entire series revolves around him, but there are enough other things going on. I especially liked how Kong Wenge has completely changed now that he botched his goals of trying to get back to China as fast as possible. Ota became very sympathetic with the inclusion of his parents’ job (this guy is working hard for his future!)

The climax here was Peco though. Because of that it was the most cliched of the bunch, however I still found it offered some interesting perspectives. You don’t often see main characters with lots of talent developing into spoiled brats: that’s usually reserved for rivals, and even then those rivals usually always put in lots of effort. Peco however has always got everything handed to him, which succenly changed when everyone started practicing really hard and putting in effort. I’m not sure whether I understand the decision of the creators to make him have this sudden realization after a near-death experience though, though let’s see what they can do with that.

Posted by psgels on 12 May 2014 with categories: Mushishi

I have not forgotten about this show. Not at all. I just finished marathoning these four episodes, and holy cheeseballs on a stick! this is the best anime in years! This was everything I could have hoped for and blows just about everything else out of the water. Talk about raw, powerful storytelling.

I now know again why Mushishi is such a unique series. Sure, there have been similar series in the past, like Natsume Yuujinchou, telling about creatures who live alongside us with mythical powers, usually youkai or something in the like. Mushishi however, takes the concepts of Shinto, and goes further than any other show has done. In the eight years inbetween the first and second season, I have never encountered a series that did the supernatural as well as what we see here.

But even then, these four episodes were something else. Here we saw people’s arms getting eaten off, suffer from horrible frostbites, people disappearing into nothingness while still being alive, losing all their senses, chopping off heads and swapping them. It’s one thing to be brutal, but Mushishi does it without showing blood, it does it with such variety, and every single time it puts them in the middle of so many moral dilemmas. It goes in deep on the source, and shows how easily uneducated people can fall into these traps despite proper warnings. This show is nearly a medical thriller with its own set of rules.

And yet the beauty in each of these stories, is that you can’t completely blame the mushi. That also was the brilliance of the first season: the Mushi are also just living their lives, which just happens to sometimes clash with that of humans. This is driven forth even more here, with these mushi without a physical form who try desperately to escape that incredible loneliness.

And the presentation of these four episodes. It’s just perfect. Okay, perfect doesn’t exist… er… some frames showed characters with no mouths! There, critiism! Kidding aside: the animation is beautiful: the movement is slow, but you can really feel the characters. The background art is better than ever. The CG that is used is used consistently and only for the mushi, making them look stunning and out of this world, exactly what they are supposed to be.

The end of episode six: that was actually increidly beautiful how everything came together. It was never told that fire was meant to draw out the mushi in the tree, but when you saw it, everything just made sense. If there was ever an example of what I mean by storytelling, characters, animation, pacing and atmosphere all coming together in one moment, then that is a textbook example of how to do it. All stories were beautiful, but my highlight was episode 03. I cried okay! That’s the first time I cried at an anime in probably over a year!

Creators of anime! LOOK AT THIS! This is how you make an anime!

Posted by psgels on 8 May 2014 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

Jojo really is not kind to its females. Every time a hint is even dropped to a girl kicking ass here, it comes with this weird plot-twist that undermines any fighting potential of them. In this arc, it’s the rule that says that your stand will kill you if youaren’t strong enough. And so, Joseph’s daughter has turned into a damsel in despair.

This show has a cute little habit that especially became apparent in this third arc: the way in which it points out the obvious. Like for example, a character does something that’s very simple and clear to understand, and then a bystander yells out in overwhelming astonishment literally what just happened for the audience. It gives this touch of cheese to the fights that in these three episodes were very enjoyable to watch.

So yes, enjoyable, but at the same time I also have to be critical: when it comes to the emotional punches delivered in the opening episodes, the third arc of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure so far is the least impressive. It packs less emotional power. As for why… my guess is that this comes down to a few different reasons.

This third arc tells the stories less with its gut, and more with its brains. It reminds me of the overly logical shounen series with ridiculously complicated powers that don’t really amount to anything. It’s not as bad here though, but the first two arcs showed characters who were just thrown into a situation they didn’t understand and were forced to figure out what happened though sheer manliness. Here, characters are already in complete control of their powers and the battles therefore end up revolving around people throwing trump cards around until one of them runs out. That’s also interesting, but different. This doesn’t show the raw emotional power of the first two arcs’ openings, so it will have to deliver in some other way down the line.

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, Sep 21. 2014 09:32 AM)
    Some of these I just flick through but I still have to get round to ice and vampire wars.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Sep 21. 2014 09:29 AM)
    Some of the old dubs though were gloriously funny though, even in the cases where they were actually good . The bizarre script decisions and crazy amounts of swearing.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Sep 21. 2014 09:24 AM)
    I did feel my mind/intellect rotting a bit though from some of these though.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Sep 21. 2014 09:22 AM)
    Or my alltime favourite guilty pleasure Riki-oh.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Sep 21. 2014 09:22 AM)
    The fist of the north star anime has fantastic camp value too.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Sep 21. 2014 09:19 AM)
    Dirty pair flash, tokyo revelation, kyoshiro to towa no sora never failed to make me laugh with how terribad they were. Watching Urotsukidouji and violence jack dubbed is also hilarious at points
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Sep 21. 2014 09:13 AM)
    Mars of destruction is another laugh riot also as far as low brow, failed anime ovas go.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Sep 21. 2014 09:07 AM)
    Hard to believe its the guy who did lone wolf and cub…which I have seen the 70s movies for.
  • ninjarealist
    (Sunday, Sep 21. 2014 08:54 AM)
    I mean I’ve never seen the anime, read the manga
  • ninjarealist
    (Sunday, Sep 21. 2014 08:54 AM)
    I’ve never seen the Mad Bull 34 comic but the manga is absolutely terrible. I mean it’s hilarious and entertaining but the biggest issue is that Kazuo Koike just doesn’t understand American culture and his portrayal of America is shoddy at best. Well actually, the manga is extremely racist, so I guess he understood one thing about the USA.

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