Posted on 31 March 2010 with categories: Monthly Summaries

Ah, it’s finally spring. It’s a season of lots and lots of rain that eventually turns into nice weather. Seriously though, the reason I’m looking forward to it because this time it really is a season of opportunities: Noitamina is growing, and besides that there is a ton series that either have a great staff with a dull premise, or a great premise with a dull staff. It really can go anywhere, and that’s why I’m looking forward it to it a lot, despite that it may not be as full as compared to the spring seasons of previous years.

As for this season, I’m actually glad that there were rather few series worth watching, because my schedule has become much busier over the past two months, which really allowed me to get used to it. It’s not my favourite season by far, but it did excel in terms of comedies and kids’ shows. The best company of this season was Toei: they didn’t just come with one great series, they had three of them. Four if you also count One Piece, but I’m not watching that series (WAY too long and intimidating).

As for this month’s rankings, aside from my favourites, my rankings got completely jumbled up in comparison to last month. This mostly is due to some excellent series with disappointing finales, and series that I considered to be only decent suddenly turning awesome.

#22 (new) – KissXSis – (3/10) – This is just.. awful. Nothing but an excuse for porn, with hardly anything else. I don’t think that anyone is going to watch this show for something other than the nude girls here. For me, it’s already the worst of the new season even though only four shows have aired yet.
#21 (new) – Koihime Musou – (3,5/10) – It’s exactly the same as it’s ever been: incredibly stupid moe humor. Bored me to death. Dropped.
#20 (new) – Ikkitousen – (4,5/10) – Here’s the thing: for Ikkitousen, it wasn’t that bad of an episode. If I’m not mistaken, the appeal of this show is fighting + fanservice, and that’s pretty much what that episode delivered on, compared to the godawful Dragon Destiny and Great Guardians. Still, with regular standards the show still is pretty cheesy and full of stupid and stereotypical characters.
#19 (new) – Working!! – (5/10) – I’ve been looking forward to this series, but alas. It’s sense of humour is completely different from mine, and as a result I only was annoyed by the countless teenaged antics that the creators kept trying to push forward. Dropped.
#18 (17) – Ookami Kakushi – (6,5/10) – Well, everything pretty much derailed for this show. While it looked like it was actually trying in the beginning, the ending was just terrible thanks to the useless male lead and the really cheesy villain. The adults all started acting like complete morons, and nothing really got solved in the end. The final gag episode also was a pain to sit through.
#17 (16) – Kimi ni Todoke – (7,75/10) – Granted, this finale was definitely more bearable than the rest of this series, but it never really solved anything. All we got was a message that said that if you ‘liked the story, you should check out the manga and a second season might be made’. Gee, how subtle.
#16 (11) – Cobra The Animation – (7,75/10) – Not the strongest month for Cobra, as I liked it best when it was episodic. The final arc took up four episodes, and it could have been condensed a bit as it dragged a bit for too long. Nevertheless, it was entertaining and kept me busy.
#15 (4) – Sora no Oto – (7,75/10) – The first two thirds of this series were truly excellent. However, I just can’t say the same of what Sora no Oto showed us the past month. It tried to do way too much in way too little time, and it wanted to be way too epic, forgetting that it was supposed to be a slice of life series. The final episode was way too rushed and pulled way too many convenient plot twists. The best that this month has shown was probably the German.
#14 (10) – Tentai Senshi Sunred – (8,25/10) – The final episodes weren’t among the highlights of Sunred’s second season, but I still got a good laugh out of them. It’s sad to see this show go, as it’s been one of those rare comedy sequels to actually surpass its original.
#13 (7) – Marie & Gali – (8,25/10) – So the finale took up this month’s airtime for Marie & Gali, so it wasn’t exactly amongst the series’ highlights. However, it was nowhere near bad. I love how the finale, instead of creating a cheesy climax that had nothing to do with the rest of the series, instead forced Marika to think for herself. That’s of course the perfect ending for a series that’s about exploring the wonders of science.
#12 (5) – Cross Game – (8,25/10) – One thing that I didn’t like about Cross Game this month was that most of its time was spent on its rather boring baseball match in the finale of the regional championships. It was the thing I had been fearing for twenty episodes now, and it indeed was nowhere as good as the truly excellent slice of life of this series. Nevertheless, the actual ending closed off the series really well.
#11 (15) – Katanagatari – (8,25/10) – Episode 3 was heaps better than the first two episodes: an interesting scenario, an interesting villain, the dialogue was much more focused and the fight again was short and sweet. It’s definitely an interesting series to watch like this.
#10 (12) – Anymaru Tantei Kiruminzoo – (8,25/10)

Episode 25 started this series mid-way climax. And it was… unusual. Completely different from the laid-back nature of the rest of the series. I’m actually quite curious what the creators are planning for the second half of this series.

#9 (9) – Kaidan Restaurant – (8,25/10)

I’m also pretty amazed at how well this series is doing in terms of popularity and audience numbers, and it pretty much deserves it. I can very much imagine that kids are loving this little horror series, and it’s still delivering simple but fun and varied horror stories that are consistently scary.

#8 (18) – Hanamaru Youchien – (8,25/10)

I’m a bit sad about that open ending. I mean, if there’s one series that could have easily made up its own ending, it would have been this one, and it would have been much more satisfying than what we got to see right now, which basically was a build-up for nothing. Ignoring that however, then Hanamaru Youchien has gotten significantly better in its final third. The characters came together, the comedy became funnier, the characters developed a bit. Overall a very enjoyable finale.

#7 (14) – Gag Manga Biyori + – (8,5/10)

Absolutely hilarious. Especially the Wolf-man episode was beyond funny, but the other new episodes were also classics.

#6 (8) – Heartcatch Precure – (8,5/10)

It’s great to see that this series is currently working diligently to introduce all of the major characters, rather than wallowing away too much in random stories. It’s exactly what this show should be doing at this point.

#5 (13) – Letter Bee – (8,5/10)

You know, I was just going to casually enjoy the rest of this series and wait for the second season to really start off the plot. But damn… that final episode. The final ten minutes of this show single-handedly increased my opinion of this series significantly. It’s a huge cliff-hanger, but at the same time it was a wonderful way to end the first season with.

#4 (3) – Durarara – (8,75/10)

This month Durarara really managed to elevate itself to a higher level, and became something unique. The dialogue has been really well written in order to get the best out of the characters, and it’s really been working so far. More and more characters are shedding the seemingly stereotypical look that they had in the beginning.

#3 (6) – Kobato – (8,75/10)

Kobato really surpassed itself this month, with a very solid and heart-wrenching conclusion that really made use of its time. For me, it’s had the best ending of the season.

#2 (2) – Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood – (9/10)

We’re really moving to the climax now, as this series has been ramping up the action while still developing the plot at a steady pace. Exciting is an understatement to describe this series.

#1 () – Armed Librarians – The Book of Bantorra – (9,25/10)

The big problem with this show right now is that it should have been 35 episodes long, instead of 27. So yeah, it’s a bit rushed, but seriously, that still doesn’t make it any less awesome than that it already was. I’m still enjoying this show more than any other at the moment and despite the rushed plot the creators did manage to capture the essences of the final chapters of the story. Because of that it’s awesome to see everything finally coming together.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Kimi ni Todoke



Romances often are annoying, which can often be attributed to characters acting completely irrational, illogical and against their own feelings. I’ve watched quite a few series that created a well developed cast this way, like with Bokura ga Ita and White Album. Kimi ni Todoke however… just… didn’t work for me.

The first half of this series really was a pain for me to try and sit through. The premise is simple: a very shy and socially inept girl (Sawako) and a popular, good-looking guy (Kazehaya) fall in love with each other. Fair enough, but the execution left a lot to be desired, especially when the creators started focusing on the love triangles. Hordes of girls turn out to be in love with Kazehaya as well, and the drama that results out of it is horribly dragged out for way longer than it should have, and the creators treat it like some kind of blasphemy if any of the two lead characters even dares to talk to someone of the other gender.

For a series that’s about the high school years of a bunch of people, Sawako and Kazehaya don’t really feel like interesting characters at all. Sawako is way too pure: whenever someone tries to take advantage of her feelings (by making her jealous for example), her incredible naivety just feels incredibly unnatural and it quickly turns into a bit of a lame gimmick. Kazehaya on the other hand is just so bland as a male romantic interest. He’s just… there, with hardly any personality about him other than some guy who just keeps smiling.

What also did not help was this series’ facial expressions, especially the chibi-distortions that you see in most of those other shoujo series as well. Usually they’re used with stylistic purposes; you know, colour each character with these seemingly over the top reactions. Here however, they felt more like “Okay, you can laugh now”-signs. They’re often badly animated in contrast to the rest of this series’ beautiful looks, are forced and hardly ever are actually used in funny situations. This show just continuously tried to be subtle, while it ultimately just wasn’t.

The only subtle part that I actually found about this series was its character-development. THANKFULLY, this show gets better in its second half as soon as the main love rival is put on a bus away from the main plot. From there on the characters change ever so slightly: Sawako learns how to appreciate life more and Kazehaya becomes less bland, but it’s not that the creators try to shove this development down your throat like they did with the love triangles. it really helps for a series if its final arc is the best one, and that pretty much was the case here.

Still, I don’t think that this show is the same as White Album, in which an excellent second half made up for an incredibly annoying first half. In the end I still see Kimi ni Todoke as a bit of a half-baked series with characters that never really stand out at anything. It’s overall something that will keep you busy on a rainy day with not much else to do, but there are a lot of better series out there.

Storytelling: 7/10 – Lacks subtlety, drags on for way too long.
Characters: 8/10 – Decent enough in its focus at being in love, with slight development that at least makes the final parts of the series interesting enough.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Great visuals, as expected from Production IG, but the chibi-drawings annoy.
Setting: 7/10 – Pretty much your standard high school setting Nothing that really stands out.

Suggestions:
Bokura ga Ita
True Tears
Kimikiss – Pure Rouge

Posted on 30 March 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews



BY FAR the most underwatched and underrated series of the past winter-season was Gag Manga Biyori’s fourth season. There were no subs, the first season was already very much unknown, and its random and unimpressive promo-art that lacked any moe whatsoever lead to only few people to give it a chance. On top of that, it also didn’t help that half of this season was a recap: only the odd numbered episoded episodes were new, while the even ones were just episodes taken from previous seasons.

But here’s the thing: never since the best episodes of Gintama have I laughed as hard at an anime as with this series. This isn’t just a case of a series that’s ‘decent despite its popularity’, no. Gag Manga Biyori+ is one of the funniest things I’ve seen since ages. Besides that, it has nothing: there’s no plot, no characters, the graphics suck. But the new episodes were so awesome to watch that I just don’t care. Even the first season wasn’t as good as the episodes here.

Of course, its sense of humour is not for everyone. If you’re into moe humour then you don’t want to watch this series. However, if you’re looking for hyperactivity, then you really can’t get anything more hyperactive than this. This show elevates energetic to completely new levels, the pacing is absolutely through the roof. It never waits for its audience to catch a bit of breath, it just keeps bombarding it with joke after joke after joke, all of them over the top. With episodes of five minutes, it’s also no commitment at all to try and watch this season. My advice is that if you want something energetic to laugh at and happen to know some Japanese, then give this show a shot. If you don’t know Japanese, then you can at least check out the first season, which did come fully subbed.

Storytelling: 10/10 – Absolutely hilarious. I haven’t laughed this hard in ages.
Characters: 8/10 – Um, yeah. Random characters for every episodes. But they don’t really need to be anything more.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Smooth animation, but simple art style and a lot of still frames. But it doesn’t really need to be anything better.
Setting: 8/10 – Um, yeah. It’s knowledgeable about the things it parodies, I guess.

(So yeah, this is pretty much an incredibly subjective review: I’m only rating it this high because I found it so incredibly funny ^^;)
– Excel Saga
– The other Gag Manga Biyori Seasons
Kodomo no Omocha
Sexy Commando Gaiden

Posted on 29 March 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews




The Animax Grand Prix is something like a contest for amateur writers: submit your story, and the winner gets his story animated in a 20-minute OVA. Up till now, the results have been mostly simple kids stories: Yume da Maya Kidan for example was about a girl’s relationship with her brother who got kidnapped by an angry demon, while Takane no Jitensha was about a boy’s relationship with his younger sister. Shoka however, is completely different.

From the screenshots you can pretty much see its unusual art style, and ultimately Shoka is an action OVA: its animation is truly gorgeous. The animation is messy, but detailed and very imaginative. And for once, you can actually see that the animators have put some attention in the lip movement of characters: their mouths don’t just simply move up and down whenever they’re speaking, but you can actually see their mouths form the syllables that they’re trying to say.

The action and animation is really why you should want to watch this little OVA, because apart from that it doesn’t have much else. The story is just there to show the action, and the characters too are pretty simple. The dialogue is also nothing special, as shown in the minute of cheesy comedy that is tacked at the end.

So yeah at the end this OVA knows how to build up tension, and how to write excellent action. But the thing is that these things can all be attributed to the adaptation staff. For once I’d like to see an actually great short story being picked up by the Animax Grand Prix. There are enough amateur writers who are capable of such a thing.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Nice action.
Characters: 6/10 – Just serve as tools for the action; cheesy dialogue.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Gorgeous and detailed animation.
Setting: 7/10 – Nice idea of calligraphers, but 20 minutes is way too short to really explore it to its fullest

Suggestions:
Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi
Kai Doh Maru
– Manie Manie

Posted on 28 March 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Hanamaru Youchien




Here’s a slice of life series that’s slightly different from what you usually see. The lead character is really a typical lead character, but he’s an actual adult. The series takes place not at a high school, but a kindergarten. Add a whole dose of role-play to that, and you pretty much get the formula of Hanamaru Youchien. A fun and relaxing series. And as an added bonus, the characters are well written as well.

Hanamaru Youchien basically spends its time either role playing, or fleshing out the characters. The former is just fun: we get to see inside the imagination of a bunch of five-year olds and their crazy ideas, and all of the adventures that they go on are consistently enjoyable, carrying an air of homage and parody that the creators (both Gainax and its director Seiji Mizushima) are famous for. The latter actually succeeds in making all of the adults into actual characters rather than stereotypes and paper bags.

Especially Tsuchida, the lead character, is one of those rare examples of a typical male lead done right. While he can be a loser at times, he also has enough things that he’s good at, his character is dynamic enough to allow him to evolve, rather than staying in the same one-sided stereotypes. The side-cat is also excellent in their support to the main cast. We get to know the backgrounds and motivations of everyone, and why they become involved as kindergarten teachers. In the end, the adults in this series get fleshed out so well that they actually manage to trump the adventures of the different kids in the series.

The biggest problem with this series however is that it doesn’t know whether it wants to also have romance or not. The ingredients are there: the lead character has someone he’s in love with. she’s just ridiculously clueless and at the end they’re still not together. I mean, if you’re going to set up some romance, at least have the decency to not build a brick wall between the lead characters.

There’s also a bit of an annoying sister, but she only appears in two episodes or so. The rest of this series is light-hearted and down to earth, but still has this sense of maturity that contrasts really well with the younger kids. The drama that’s there is short and focused, and doesn’t come across forced or too dramatic at all, so this series both ended up delivering in its serious and funny parts. On top of that, you also have to love what this series has done with its EDs: every episode has a completely different one, with a completely different style, genre and soundtrack.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Varied, fun and adorable.
Characters: 8/10 – This show confirms why I keep advocating adults in anime.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Solid animation and cute graphics.
Setting: 8/10 – Not the most creative series out there, but creative enough to fill 12 episodes, and the kindergarten itself and the world around it is also well portrayed.

Similar Series:
Ristorante Paradiso
Yume de Aetara
– Bottle Fairy

Posted on with categories: Hanamaru Youchien



So… for the ones who were hoping for a conclusion: there is none. As it turns out, the creators just decided to animate a bunch of chapters and just stopped when the episodes ran out. Seriously, it’s a bit of a bummer to see Tsuchida and Yamamoto still not together. In the end, Yamamoto’s cluelessness was really one of my two major annoyances about this series. The other was Tsuchida’s sister.

Nevertheless, when you view this as a random episode, rather than an ending, it was pretty good and well written. Anzu’s dream was a bit weird (especially since it contained the ONLY KISS in this series…), but the random character cameos were definitely interesting. The second half, while not wrapping anything up, did show a lot of new things about the characters (including on how Anzu’s parents ended up married), and Anzu also gave up on Tsuchida as well. But yeah, it’s a bit pointless to do all this build-up for an ending that’s never going to be there.

Still, I’ve been very much surprised by this series. I really started blogging it on a whim. The only reason for it was because the rest of the season was so incredibly dry. But it’s been fun. It’s certainly not the most enjoyable series out there, and the director has done a far better job at Ooedo Rocket in terms of light-heartedness. But for what it was, it was a very nice and enjoyable series.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on with categories: Heartcatch Precure



I really love this: the creators could decide to go lazy and instead animate a bunch of random stories. Instead, it’s focusing its first quarter at establishing every major character. This time, it’s the turn of Erika’s sister, building further upon the third episode in which we learned about how jealous Erika is of her sister.

Again, this episode didn’t claim to fix everything. The Desatorian was created through Momoka’s stress, just at a time at which she happened to be feeling down. It’s not like Momoka needed the help of the Precures to know how to fix her problems. In fact, the reason that these desatorians help is by alerting the people around it about the person’s problems; it’s all about communication.

So, while this episode wasn’t as enjoyable as some of the others of this show, I’m happy enough with it due to its build-up. With every of these episodes I’m getting more and more curious as to what the creators are planning to do with the rest of this series.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Cross Game




It’s easy to dismiss Cross Game as a baseball series, but make no mistake. This is much more a slice of life series about characters who just happen to play a lot of baseball. Cross Game is much more a tale of growing up, with a healthy dose of humour along the way. And it does this oh so well.

Seriously, in terms of slice of life, you can hardly get any better than this. The seemingly endless amount of wit with which the writers spice up the daily lives is incredible, and they love to play with this. Whenever you see a character do something seemingly out-of-character, there’s always some sort of very logical explanation behind this.Think about a character making an important confession at first sight, only to reveal that he’s talking about something completely different. The entire series is chock-ful of these moments that have a ton of fun playing with the characters in this way.

Obviously this gives the show an awesome cast to work with. We see them grow up through the series, from when they’re still small children to their third year in high school. As a viewer we really get to know who they are, and because of that the slice of life works so well: these characters rock right from the first episode of this series, so it becomes a really enjoyable ride to just see what they’re doing in their everyday lives.

The problem with this series is, in fact, the baseball, for multiple reasons. First of all, the slice of life is just that good. Every time a baseball match started, I felt like something was missing, and just kept hoping that they would wrap up as soon as possible in order to get more of the quiet moments in this series. That, and the baseball matches aren’t that good anyway. Especially when you compare them to other series, they’re poorly built up, hand together with cliches and the teams that our lead characters match against are hardly ever fleshed out properly. There’s no tension in them, and all you’re doing is waiting for them to finish.

Cross Game is based on a manga by Mitsuru Adachi, who pretty much can only write one type of series, but he can do that incredibly well. Cross Game is the same, and although I do prefer Touch (due to its longer length and because it did have excellent baseball matches, despite its lack of wit in the slice of life department), Cross Game nevertheless is excellent and its execution is one of a kind.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Wonderfully witty in its portrayal of the characters’ daily lives. Baseball matches suck, though.
Characters: 10/10 – Take perhaps a bit long to develop, but a lot of the cast members end up well rounded at the end of the series.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Nothing special, asice from a good soundtrack perhaps.
Setting: 8/10 – Not a fan of the way it portrayed baseball, but did a good job of the high school setting.
Posted on with categories: Cross Game



Awww, what a lovable end. I was a bit afraid that 10 minutes would be too little for the big finale (yes, I do not consider that baseball match to be the finale of this series), but the creators ended up making something nice out of it. Ideally of course, this series should have screwed the Olympics and just have gone for 51 episodes, but even these 10 minutes reminded me exactly why I fell in love with this series.

It’s such a shame to see this series go, though. I mean, I could totally see a series in which we follow the lives of the characters after Koushien, which would rock even more. Still, this has really been a wonderful series.

The baseball series of the upcoming season also promises to be interesting, because it proves to be good at exactly the thing that Cross Game was worst at: the baseball matches. And on the other hand of course, there’s no way that the slice of life of Ookiku Furikabutte is going to be as good as in Cross Game. At least, the conclusion of this baseball match was a lot more enjoyable than the previous two episodes, because it turned Kou into a mere mortal again.

And yeah. Kou and Aoba holding hands together. That was totally worth the wait of these 2,5 episodes of baseball.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Full Metal Alchemist - Brotherhood



Okay, so we may not have Roy Mustang in action for about twenty episodes or so, same with the people around him, but I loved how in this episode it becomes clear how much he managed to prepare in the time he was away from the spotlights and how many allies he managed to gather. And even Ross and Havoc, who disappeared for even longer, have been carrying out their own agenda in an attempt to assist him. And while they pretty much slaughter the army in this episode, the creators did take care to give every one of these soldiers their own identity with this subtle characterization, rather than just packing a clone army of mindless slaves or something.

The second half of this episode was more about the stealth, as Ed and his father try to get to Father. In the meantime, we have also three homunculi who are trying to do the same (Envy is nearly at Father, Pride will get rescued by Sloth any minute now, and Wrath also should show up somewhere in the next few episodes). Truly promises to be an action-packed finale. Especially considering how at the end of this episode the clones were activated. I really have to give credit to Bones: that was one creepy scene.

In the next episode we should also see the new and final OP, if the creators indeed planned to have a new OP at the start of every season. I wonder whether it can beat the current one, though. It’s been by far the best OP of Full Metal Alchemist yet for me (including the first season, of course). But damn, this really means that at this point the total amount of Full Metal Alchemist Episodes is already in the three digits. The thing I really hope for this season is for its success to inspire more series to just go with the right amount of episodes that their story requires, rather than just stick to 26.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

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Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) (Winter 2019) Anime Review – 78/100

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known […]

Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 77/100

Coming to Kotobuki, there are lots of aspect that catch my attention: it’s from a famed director Tsutomu Mizushima who can turn the most trashable and genre-able concepts into something intriguing; it’s an CG show about air pilots: it has extended aerial combat set-pieces. Watching it till the end, I have to tip my hat […]

Kemurikusa (2019 Winter) Anime Review – 79/100

Kemurikusa is your very definition of an overlooked gem, one that never really gain much discussion anywhere, but one that has a distinctive style from an up-and-coming auteur who has full control of his projects. Coming to Kemurikusa, all the attention it has came from the fact that it is created by TATSUKI, a mastermind […]

Mob Psycho 100 S2 Anime Review – 87/100

Upon finishing this series, the only question on my mind was how many animators did Bones sacrifice on ONE’s altar to achieve this. Following their prior season, Mob Psycho 100 Season 2 continues Bones adaptation of webcomic and manga author ONE’s 4th work, Mob Psycho 100. ONE has also authored the critically acclaimed One Punch […]

Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai Review – 84/100

Anime draws on many different media types in its endless search for properties to adapt, but manga is still the king of the bunch. And why not? It’s a distinctly Japanese art form, their main demographics have significant overlap, and manga’s panel-based layout means that some of the anime staff’s work is already done. Plenty […]