Posted on 31 August 2010 with categories: Monthly Summaries

To be honest, I’m about to consider 2010 as the worst anime year since I started blogging. The summer season overall was held back by its quantity problem, which results in only a few series that I really consider memorable. Does that mean that I consider that anime is dying, though? Absolutely not. I’m very curious to see how it’s going to evolve in the future and in the upcoming years.

In this month, the surprises mostly came from the series that have been carried over from previous season, with a few notable exceptions. Overall it’s a better month than the previous one, and even the series that aren’t going to turn into anything memorable have their share of very enjoyable episodes.

#19 (20) – Amagami SS – (6,25/10) – I’m still watching this show, but it’s still just plain boring. The second arc was simply decent, it at least had some dynamic characters, but apart from that nothing stood out, and the conclusion yet again was too fast and rushed. The third arc however… by god. The portrayal of that shy girl was just abysmal.
#18 (19) – Asobi ni Iku Yo – (7,5/10) – Out of the huge onslaught of moe shows by AIC this season, this one turned out to be the best one. It’s self-conscious and knows that it’s just harmless fun, and the gunfights are enjoyable enough. The characters themselves are really cliched, but they could have been much more annoying. There’s good chemistry between them, which sortof makes up for the huge amount of flaws that this show has in its premise.
#17 (16) – Sekirei – (7,75/10) – The weak point of this series remains the scenes without drama: the voice actors just try too hard to sound cute, and those scenes are just annoying to watch. Still, the main story has been getting better now that the creators revealed the major background behind everything. The characters are definitely coming together now, despite the silly and fanservicey premise
#16 (18) – Ookami-san to Shichinin no Nakama-tachi – (7,75/10) – This one has gotten better. The animation still is consistently good, and it really has been thinking about arcs that give the main characters some depth, rather than the more silly adventures of the first few episodes. My problem with it still is the huge amount of references to otaku pop culture and overused anime cliches that just don’t interest me. Especially the boob jokes have to stop because this show has been overusing those beyond belief.
#15 (6) – Densetsu no Yuusha no Densetsu – (7,75/10) – This month for me wasn’t as good as the previous one, but that mostly had to do with expectations. It’s mostly been a building-up moth for Denyuuden, and nothing really special happened here.
#14 (10) – High School of the Dead – (7,75/10) – What sets High School of the Dead apart from all other fanservice shows this season is its atmosphere, which is really genuinely good. The action itself is also very entertaining. Beyond that it’s just gore an fanservice, but I’m enjoying it so far.
#13 (12) – Katanagatari – (8/10) – This is a bit of a strange series, but even though its episodes are twice as long as usual, I just don’t have a lot to say about it. Nothing really stands out, good or bad. I hope that the final episodes indeed are going to get more interesting so that I’ll at least have something to say about it.
#12 (15) – Heroman – (8/10) – This show is weird. I thought it was predictable, but in this month it made a bunch of really strange choices. That island arc was a completely pointless filler. I have no idea what it did in this series, it had no relation to the plot whatsoever, and overall was boring to get through. On top of that, ONLY now, after more than twenty episodes, did it suddenly decide to reveal the most crucial background information. I mean, especially the explanation of Psy’s leg should have been given right at the beginning. But yeah: the upside of this is that the past few episodes have been really character-centric, and actually did a lot of good stuff with them.
#11 (14) – Mitsudomoe – (8/10) – You know? Of all the moe shows this season, I’m enjoying this one the most. Sure, it has its mind in way, way deep into the gutter, and most of the series consists just out of utterly wrong toilet jokes, but the delivery is top-notch and actually gets better as the series goes on. I don’t want to laugh, yet I can’t help it here.
#10 (11) – Anymaru Tantei Kiruminzoo – (8/10)

Now that the climax has started this show has definitely been delivering, and everything seems to be coming together now. I still believe that this could just as easily have been a 39 episoded series, but it’s been an entertaining month for Anymal Tantei Kiruminzoo.

#9 (7) – Nurarihyon no Mago – (8/10)

Gyuki’s arc was quite good, even though it spent most of its time just building up for the rest of the series. Now that we finally got the introduction arcs done though, we should get to the interesting parts of the story, to which I’m looking forward to a lot. It’s perhaps not the most exciting series, but still a very solid one.

#8 (17) – Kuroshitsuji – (8,25/10)

Now that Alois is in the picture again this show has become a whole lot more interesting. His insanity is just so interesting to watch, and I love all of the interesting plot twists the creators try to put into this. However, it would suck if the sole purpose of this series was just going to be a plot device to get Ciel and Sebastian to happily coexist together.

#7 (8) – Sengoku Basara – (8,25/10)

Building up, building up, building up. Really, this month has been either building up to the finale (which had better be damn awesome with all this hyping) and one particularly crazy action episode that blew all my expectations. I expected this to be just one string of action-scenes, but instead this series went for just a couple of them, while trying to make THOSE as epic as possible. Well, I must say that so far they’re doing a good job because episode 18 (or 6) had without a doubt the best action I have seen this month, but this is all going to depend on these final episodes.

#6 (4) – Rainbow – (8,5/10)

This month we got various mini-arcs that were meant to develop and explore the characters as they move on with their lives, and I’m really liking this show more and more. Some characters can be a bi stereotypical at times(specially the thugs), but it’s still both fun and exciting.

#5 (2) – Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin – (8,5/10)

Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin took on a completely different direction from expected this month, by taking on a much quieter and controlled pacing. I still consider it to be the series with the most solid execution of the Summer Season, though. The episodes ranged from really well executed (episode 06) to a bit disappointing (episode 08), but overall they were all focused on developing the lead character Maya. Whether it’s going to work depends on the final third of this series.

#4 (5) – Shiki – (8,75/10)

An excellent atmosphere that just continues to get better. This show is very good at building up, and that really starts to show at this point, not to mention that the soundtrack also just gets better with every episode.

#3 (9) – Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru – (8,75/10)

I’m not sure what happened, but somewhere the creators suddenly decided to flick the awesome-switch here. This series improved beyond belief during the past month, with a number of awesome episodes in which all of the build-up of earlier on in the series is coming together. The music especially has exceeded all my expectations here.

#2 (2) – Heartcatch Precure – (8,75/10)

You can really see the show evolving now that Cure Sunshine has appeared, and it has possibly made this show even better. Some of the fights have become a bit beam-spamming, but the individual stories for each episode have been incredibly charming.

#1 (1) – Giant Killing – (9/10)

I love this show! Especially now near the end now that everything is coming together, the entire cast is just one chunk of personality. The opposing team is just awesome, not to mention the huge amounts of Dutch that the creators managed to insert. Every single character still stands apart as individual despite the huge cast, and not to mention how great the creators are with the build-up of the past arc.

Posted on with categories: Nurarihyon no Mago



Well, it was a bit of a wait, but this episode definitely delivered. Gyuki’s climax definitely was worth the wait, and this episode really changed the course of this series now that Rikuo stopped running away from his demon side, while at the same time not abandoning his human side as Gyuki suggested. It’s great to already see character-development at this stage in the series.

I also see why the previous episode was so necessary, as it really explained the loyalty behind Gyuki’s actions, added to Gyuki’s pride as a youkai. In either case, it’s great to see that the people in this series are willing to grab their own responsibilities instead of running away. I guess that that was the entire point of these introduction arcs.

I do hope that either Rikuo’s classmates will develop like this, or that the story is indeed going to move away from them, as the youkai part of this series is looking to be a lot more interesting than the human part. I understand why they were necessary, though.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 30 August 2010 with categories: Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin




It’s episode nine. We’re about to hit the climax with five episodes left. And so this episode comes with a seemingly unrelated arc that ends with a cliff-hanger that will continue into the next episode. I’m really interested in the creators’ intentions here.

Don’t get me wrong here, this episode was excellent as usual. I still consider this to be the best executed series of the season. But I’m fearing that this series will go down the road of Sora no Oto and wait too long with its ending, resulting in a bit of a cop-out. If this episode wasn’t what it looked like and actually was already slightly hinting at that climax then it’s fine, but I don’t want the same thing that happened with Sora no Oto’s ending to happen here.

Anyway, about the episode, when you ignore the time-limit of this show, it was a very good one in its build up. The creators are continuing to develop Maya, using her relationship with her father, and the next episode especially seems designed to push her character in a new direction. Meanwhile this episode was excellent with its facial expressions, especially Maya’s, but JK also shined here.

It’s interesting how the case was seemingly solved before the end of the episode: the spirit’s father accidentally killed her due to neglect, now all that’s seemingly left is to bring this ghost to that father, have a bit of dialogue and things should get finished. That shouldn’t be enough to fill an entire episode. Still, with all that build-up it had better be building up to something awesome. It’s quite like Sengoku Basara Two this season: they’re both spending quite a bit of build up hyping up their own climax, so at this point I still can’t say anything about how good they are going to end up becoming in terms of the big picture, unlike, say, High School of the Dead where you know exactly what to expect.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews




I was really starting to fear that Symphony in August would meet the same fate as Furusato, Japan (as in, arriving to the west three years late and flying completely by people’s attention even though it’s really good), but thank god this didn’t turn out to be true. I really urge someone who likes the realistic kind of movie to somehow sub this thing, because it really doesn’t deserve to fade into obscurity.

Symphony in August turned out to be an incredibly uplifting movie, but the interesting thing is that it’s completely non-fiction: it’s based on the autobiography of the singer and songwriter Ai Kawashima, and takes place seven and eight years ago as she tried to find the recognition for her singing skills. She she even voiced the songs throughout the movie.

After watching,I can really understand why people wanted to make a movie about her life, since it is a very inspiring and slightly unusual road through which Ai worked herself up, and eventually ended up singing the theme song of the Place Promised in Our Early Days (that part isn’t shown in this movie though, it’s solely about her rise to fame), starting out as a street performer. The creators did a wonderful job of portraying her as a character. She grows like a real character, acts very genuinely on the hardest moments of her life, and the people around her who support her are also portrayed as wonderfully restrained.

The director, Akio Nishizawa really has a knack for these kinds of movies: realistic, down to earth and honouring the Japanese cultural heritage of music. In this movie though, I did notice one of the very few points at which he missed the mark: the ending. For who knows what kind of reason, the producers just couldn’t get the right funding to fully animate it, so parts are shown in CG. To make matters worse, at this point the movie abuses its sentimentalism a bit too much and shows a few too many people with tears in their eyes, and this goes on for too long. Apart from that I consider Symphony in August to be just as good as Furusato Japan, but the ending is where the latter is just much better.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Realistic, down to earth and well paced. Only the ending could have used more subtlety.
Characters: 9/10 – Non-fiction, and it shows. A very realistic portrayal of the characters, and they’re charming as hell.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Detailed and well drawn movements, with some unfortunate CG abuse at the end.
Setting: 8/10 – Good portrayal of the modern singing business.

Suggestions:
Furusato, Japan
Fancy Lala
Piano no Mori

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews




Bungaku Shoujo is a project consisting out of four OVAs and a movie. I remember not really being impressed by the first OVAs, which didn’t really give me the motivation to check out the other parts of the OVA, so I just decided to go with the movie instead. Which, as it turns out, is completely different.

Before I continue however, I do want to say the following: with most of my series and movie reviews, I try to not include any spoilers. With this movie however, it’s impossible to really talk about my impression of this movie without discussing some of them, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, you might want to skip the rest of the paragraphs of this review.

I say this of course because Bungaku Shoujo marketed itself as some cheesy romance in which the lead character gets to date a cute girl who eats books. The prologue of the movie reinforces this completely when it throws cliche after cliche when introducing its characters. And in the end, this turned out to be a huge red herring for the real subject matter of this series: dealing with a mentally insane childhood friend.

At this point I’m still not sure whether the creators tried too hard with that character, but nevertheless my highlight of this movie was the interplay between her and the lead character as it really took its time to explore how both of them feel about each other. With excellent animation, I felt myself to really care about these two, and to be honest, the entire cast quickly loses the stereotypes associated with them at the introduction. There is a bit of overacting at times, but even there it feels subtle and restrained, to really give off the impressions of a natural cast. I’m definitely surprised by that.

My main problem with this movie was the conclusion. Basically, most of the major conflicts are solved with a cheesy speech that I feel was totally unnecessary. I would have really preferred it if the characters just talked to each other to sort out their differences. Or heck, went to a proper psychiatrist.

The animation for a movie’s standards is pretty good, but average. There are a few still frames and off models here, but characters are well animated. For movie’s standards it’s nothing extraordinary, though. The soundtrack itself is also nothing to write home about.

Nevertheless it’s a compelling teenaged drama with a lot of symbolism to novels (most notable Kenji Miyazawa’s Night on the Galactic Railroad). It’s not the best and the whole “demon eating books” turned out to be just a gimmick that could have easily been omitted without changing anything, but it definitely kept my attention throughout the movie.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Takes its time to tell the story, great sense of mystery.
Characters: 8/10 – The acting tries a little too hard at times, but nevertheless the cast is believable and charming.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Solid and detailed, but doesn’t stand out compared to other movies.
Setting: 8/10 – Aside from one gimmick that’s not used to its potential, it does its job of supporting the story, especially the book symbolism.

Suggestions:
Night on the Galactic Railroad (one of those movies that I got to appreciate more and more over time, so just ignore that rating).
Gedo Senki
Kappa to Coo to Natsuyasumi

Posted on with categories: OVA Impressions



Okay, so I’ve been a bit lazy for the past days so I’ve got a pretty big movie and OVA backlog right now. First up is a 10-minute OVA that I’m really really late with, Yondemasu, Azazel-san. Do give it a chance though if you’re looking for something funny. The episode is only 10 minutes long, but quite funny.

It’s an OVA that pokes fun at demon summoning. It’s a practice that’s usually very serious business, and you can see that this OVA has the time of its life making this look as ridiculous as possible. And it does so with an actual sense of humor. While turning fierce demons into cute animals is nothing new, this show does it with a number of awesome jokes, especially when the deadpan Moloch appears halfway through. The comedic timing and delivery is just awesome here.

Still, this remains an OVA that was shipped with manga volumes, so don’t expect any background or explanation behind everything. In fact, some of the things said at the beginning of the episode are only explained at the end of it. Nevertheless, if you want something short to laugh at, this does the job.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,25/10

Posted on with categories: High School of the Dead



Well, I guess we all knew what this episode was going to introduce: the LOVE TRIANGLE. Generally, I hate those things because A) they’re annoying, B) go nowhere and C) they way too often get in the way of the real plot. It was a good episode overall, but at this pace I do hope that the final four episodes will remember that this series is focused on horror and fanservice. The romance should just be there to get the best out of the characters.

Either way though, it’s episodes like this that make High School of the Dead into more than just a gore and boob fest, because Saeko did get quite a bit of attention, and we learned a lot more about her. And to be honest, I actually liked the way that Takeshi developed his crush for Saeko a lot more than his angsty side who can’t get over a childhood crush who dumped him years ago.

That’s not to say that it was actually good romance of course, as according to anime logic it seems that whenever a guy and a girl are together in a tight situation they are 100% sure to fall in love. But still, I never started to watch this series for its realism. One thing that I am very glad of is that this series doesn’t try to be funny. The creators could have easily turned Takeshi into a horny peeping pervert in this episode with a stupid grin on his face, but they didn’t. The creators could easily have made the most horrible puns and fanservice jokes throughout the series, but instead they knew that those jokes suck in 99% of the cases. Instead, the jokes they do make either work decently, or are harmless enough to ignore.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on with categories: Giant Killing



Most of this episode was half-time, but it still was an awesome one. The creators really know how to create tension here, with 35 minutes of the match left and still nobody managed to score. The characters in the meantime are as fun as ever. It also helps that Tatsumi continues to hype his own game with his seemingly endless confidence.

Still, you can see that after the despair of the previous episode, the defence is starting to get together. With 31 minutes however, the problem is indeed Natsuki. He indeed was a bit different from usual in this game, though I never really thought of why this was. The end of this episode however revealed that Tatsumi made quite a devastating comment about his determination. With that I completely understood why he had been running around like a chicken during the past episodes. I guess that Tatsumi wanted to motivate Natsuki, but here’s one thing that seemed to backfire. And interestingly, despite all of the build up of the previous episodes, we still didn’t get to see anything from Sera.

In any case, I’m still surprised at how well the chemistry turned out here. All of the attention that the series has put into the different characters is really paying off right now, and something tells me that the next few episodes will give the rest of the cast beyond the defenders their time to shine. It’s a shame though, I really don’t see huge DVD-sales for this series, so I really doubt that there’s going to be a second season.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 29 August 2010 with categories: Uragiri wa Boku no Namae wo Shitteiru



Holy crap, here is one series that suddenly became just better and better. Seriously, these past two episodes have far surpassed anything else this series had offered up to that point. And this episode ended with yet another cliffhanger, as if to say that it’s still nowhere near done yet. I keep wondering how many parts of the soundtrack the creators haven’t shown yet.

In a way though: I love these kinds of series: those who for their majority aren’t anything special aside from a few scenes here and there, and suddenly as they enter their final quarter flick the awesome switch and finish with one heck of a finale. Uragiri looks to be well on this path with only three episodes left, same with Kobato half a year ago. The disadvantage is of course that it’s impossible to pick these kinds of series out when they first start. I’m REALLY glad that I took the few hints of episode two and continued to blog this series, because I recall having laughed quite a bit at this series for how silly it looked at times.

One of the things I especially liked here was the way in which Reiga continues to set off hints to Yuki that Kanata was still out there, only to completely trash Yuki afterwards, telling him to get off his high horse. It’s a very interesting way of showing Yuki’s flaws, this naivety in which he keeps hoping for Kanata to magically return really adds to his character, and yet this doesn’t take his naivety over the top like what you see with most naive characters who too often degenerate into utter stupidity.

With three episodes left (according to ANN at least, don’t take my word on that because they still seem to believe that this show is only 13 episodes long), I do hope that the creators still have enough time to put girl Yuki’s background in it. Right now, that’s my biggest question mark along with the reason why Reiga protected Yuki in this episode. If the creators can pull that off, while making these three episodes as good as the past two, then I’ll be entirely happy.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on with categories: Sengoku Basara



As much as I like the soundtrack of Shiki, I do not consider it to be the best of the Summer Season. The soundtrack for Sengoku Basara is just epic, especially after this episode showed that it can also hold its ground in the quiet and subtle scenes. I’m also not sure who that singer was who popped up in the middle, but she has a great voice.

Also, colour me surprised here. At the start of this series, I really thought that this was going to be an action series. As in: we get a bunch of exciting battles every episodes. As it turns out though, I was wrong: this series tries to be much more than just brainless action. This was the second episode in a row that didn’t spend any attention on any kind of action scenes, and instead it again focused on its character background and building up. The side characters may not have developed much, but there is actually quite a bit of character development amongst the main ones, especially Date Masamune and Yukimura, but also Toyotomi changed compared to the flashbacks we see him in in this episode.

The first season tried this too, but the key mistake it made was that it didn’t feel like it was building up to anything. The arcs were all seemingly unrelated, and not really that interesting. But yeah, at the same time I do have to agree: it did lay out the foundation for this second season to work with. Without that first season, this second season would not be as solid as it is now. I still blame it for being boring, though.

In any case, with so much build up, that final quarter had better be awesome. This series may not be the next Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto, but I’m still enjoying it a lot. I expected to get bored when I realized that this episode again wouldn’t involve fighting, but this didn’t turn out to be the case.
Rating: * (Good)

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