Posted on 30 November 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews

Most studios tend to favor a particular type of series. Sunrise loves mecha, JC Staff often goes with young moe girls, Bee-Train is crazy about series that involve partnerships, Studio Deen has its bishies, Madhouse is there for the dark avant-garde type shows and Hal Film Maker is often into slice of life. Bones though… their shows all are completely different from each other. The only common thread that I can find is that their shows often have action, but that can be said about 50% of all the other studios as well. It’s really one of their strengths, on top of how much effort they nearly always put in their execution. And with this, I bring you Kurau Phantom Memories, a show that is among their top 5 best attempts.

Kurau Phantom Memories follows people with superpowers, but instead of trying to be the epic of the year, it is very much character oriented. It’s as much about the use of superpowers in a corporate society as it is about womanhood. Perhaps the latter is an even bigger theme. And as a result, the creators absolutely nailed the characterization of the lead female character. She’s incredibly well developed, and even though this show can get pretty dark at times, she’s portrayed with an incredible amount of warmth. This show is especially brilliant at balancing its heart-warming and cold-hearted nature with each other, with some magnificent results.

The rest of the cast is also very well written. Characters all act naturally and the main side characters all are significantly developed into interesting characters throughout the series. The side characters that only appear on one or two episodes before leaving meanwhile do a very good job on fleshing out the world of the series, and even they are multi-dimensional as soon as their airtime ends.

The production values play an interesting role here. The animation is perticularly well directed, and even though this show doesn’t have the budget to keep its art consistent, it does know when and where to put effort into its fluidity, leading to some truly excellent and dynamic scenes, on places where it counts. The soundtrack is also just fantastic. It’s not large, but nearly every track that’s there is a feast for the ears and does a brilliant job at enhancing the atmosphere.

The acting does border cheese at times though. The dialogue often is very inspired, but at other times the characters don’t get further beyond uttering each other’s names a number of times. Despite these issues though, ti’s got a strong plot with some real moral dilemmas and situations that really aim to get the best out of the characters.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Really well paced, combines animation, characters and setting seamlessly.
Characters: 9/10 – Kurau is a fantastic main character. In fact, if it wasn’t for the sometimes cheesy acting, this rating would have gotten a 10.
Production-Values: 9/10 – The animation isn’t complicated, but it is very detailed and fluid when it needs to The soundtrack is also brilliant.
Setting: 9/10 – Great concepts behind this world, even though it might not appear so at first. Multiple timeskips also work really well here.

Witch Hunter Robin
Ultraviolet: Code 044
The Third

Posted on with categories: Monthly Summaries

This season rocks for having so many long series. Finally, after whining for seasons after each other, this season actually completely lacks the biggest problem that anime has had over the recent years: not having enough time. Finally the barrier of “going for a long series immediately is too risky” is beginning to break down. Now all that’s left is to make use of it.

Again, since this season is long, there is a lot more time to build up for things. But still there are some longer series that are just too long, take their time too much, or forget to be entertaining while building up. That’s the flip-side of having long series, unfortunately. Still, I’m really glad that at least this development is coming. Now all that’s left is to improve, and continue to find the right balance between length, pacing and build-up. There are a few series already in this season that are getting really close to it.

#18 (15) – Persona 4 The Animation – (6,5/10) – This show is annoying to watch. As it turns out, instead of being action and mystery, this is just a show about school antics. While that on itself isn’t bad, although I’m not happy that it picked such an overcrowded genre, but the school life scenarios are really dull, badly acted, and most of the time just not funny. Especially the pee guy (whose name I still can’t remember) is bad here.
#17 (12) – Shinryaku! Ika-Musume – (7/10) – Agh, what a shame. This show hit its shelf life. At the moment this show has completely run out of inspiration and is running on dull hijinks stories that are way too forced and just aren’t funny and don’t add anything to the series. What’s more: this show is becoming a chore to watch through.
#16 (20) – Guilty Crown – (7,25/10) – Oh good lord. Who found it a good idea to make the male lead this bland? In fact, there is a problem with the entire cast of this series: none of the characters really seems to know what they want to be, and therefore keep switching personalities. What this show does is not getting to know the characters, it’s just changing their personalities, based on what is handy for the plot.
#15 (11) – Bakuman – (7,5/10)

I’m really not sure what happened to Bakuman, but it has turned into a complete soap opera, always turning from worst case scenario to other worst case scenario. I especially dislike how immature Moritaka handled when he came down with his injury. The balance in this show seemed lost: the first season moved too slow, but this season delivers its plot twists too fast.

#14 (16) – Kimi to Boku – (7,75/10)

Kimi to Boku’s big problem is the yellow-haired kid. In every single episode, this squirt finds new ways to annoy me. It’s a good thing that most episodes manage to deliver some good drama around some other character, otherwise I would have dropped this long ago, but this remains a test of patience.

#13 (8) – Mirai Nikki – (7,75/10)

Mirai Nikki at this point is still missing something in its characterization. It’s definitely fun, but at the moment its complete lack of subtlety is taking away a bit of the tension. I know that it aims to be like that, but for that it’s just not crazy enough to make up for that. I’m still missing something with this series.

#12 (13) – Phi Brain – (7,75/10)

This show is weird. It makes no sense whatsoever and every episode features some sort of weird thing that just defies all kinds of logic. But it’s fun. The puzzles in this show are always entertaining, and the drama around it also is surprisingly good.

#11 (6) – Ben-To – (8/10)

I’m a bit torn about this show at the moment. On one hand, this show is just hilarious and without a doubt the best comedy of the season. On the other hand however, it had one particular episode that was really bad, and went against a lot of what this show avoided so well up to that point. In particular the penis jokes have been too abused t this point. So that’s why I’m going to give it a safe rating at the moment, and if it can pull itself back up, then that’s only a good result.

#10 (14) – Kyoukai Senjou no Horzion – (8,25/10)

Thee is a ton of magic-babble in this series, but that’s also what makes it interesting. The premise and culture behind this series are very creative and while hard to follow, it’s definitely consistently interesting. And then there is the fact that everyone’s boobs are enormous and the male main character seems to think that groping them is a form of bonding. What the hell?

#9 (17) – Nurarihyon no Mago – (8,25/10)

Well, finally we’re getting somewhere! It took a bloody long while, but now that Nurarihyon is finally delivering it has finally gotten interesting to watch. Finally there is a lot of stuff going on at the same time, instead of just dull and straightforward build-up.

#8 (9) – Hunter X Hunter – (8,25/10)

Hunter X Hunter so far has been better than the first series in terms of pacing (scenes flow much smoothly into each other), and worse in terms of acting (most of the voice actors lack subtlety). It’s shown that it can deliver on the heavy scenes though, so everything is still possible at this moment.

#7 (10) – Tamayura ~ Hitotose – (8,25/10)

This series turned out to be excellent slice of life. It’s not dull enough for nothing to happen, and every episode feels inspired. The voice acting is excellent, the animation really brings the characters alive, and on top of that the setting also feels vibrant.

#6 (7) – Fate/Zero – (8,25/10)

This show has been steadily building up its story, and it’s gradually getting better and better to make up for its rather slow pacing. The themes of chivalry get slowly more and more meaning, and more and more characters start to get interesting. There still are some characters that need some work, like the Caster duo and Saber herself, but there is still plenty of time left with such a steady pacing.

#5 (5) – Last Exile ~ Ginkyou no Fam – (8,25/10)

In this month, Last Exile wasn’t exactly the most consistent series. There were time where it was a little too childish and panderish. The points where it delivered however, it REALLY DELIVERED, with absolutely gorgeous artwork, a fantastic atmosphere, and characters that are very easy to relate to. Especially Giselda stole the show in the latest episode.

#4 (3) – Chihayafuru – (8,5/10)

It’s a simple concept, but this series has really nailed its execution. This month introduced all of the side characters, and they’re all important to the main characters, rather than just being some token characters. The acting still is wonderful, and the Karuta matches are actually starting to get more interesting with each episode, thanks to the passion that the characters put in it.

#3 (2) – Hyouge Mono – (8,75/10)

Overall this has been a very consistent series: consistently interesting, consistently silly, and consistently developing its plot. Things still are moving at a steady, albeit slow pace, and it still is a joy to watch this show even after 30 episodes.

#2 (4) – Un-Go – (8,75/10)

Out of all the new shows this Autumn Season, this is definitely the one that stood out. It has fantastic storytelling, combining terrific episodic stories perfectly together with a continuous storyline, and it makes sure to deliver every single week. The pacing is very addictive, the stories are really interesting, the mystery is excellent, and it doesn’t waste a single minute. I complained about the characters before, but even they turned out to be really interesting to watch.

#1 (1) – Mawaru Penguion Drum – (9/10)

Penguin Drum at the moment is really building towards its home stretch. This month was full of plot twists and character development. The direction still is really excellent, which makes every episode a joy to watch.

Posted on 29 November 2011 with categories: Chihayafuru

If you want to be good, you have to suffer. Chihayafuru really nailed that in this episode without going overboard like most “hard work and guts”-series. This show has really convinced me that these kids are really good because of how they grew up, and not just because the plot demands it *coughSakicough*. I loved Chihaya’s mindset in this episode: it’s of course safer to just gradually introduce them to Karuta. But Karuta is a game about the mind. Being able to play against someone very talented is a much better way to get that mindset that is needed for this game. If you continue to play against amateurs, it’s much harder to.

My only complaint about this episode was that the creators have now completely forgotten that Taichi was supposed to have a girlfriend. In particular, no effort whatsoever has been spent into why he fell for her. At the moment it’s much like he figured what the heck and just picked a random girl to hang out with.

But still, there are two shows that really stand above the others this season: Un-Go and this one. Chihaya doesn’t just drag every character along with her, she also does so with the viewer. The final part of this episode in which Arata showed signs of life again only reaffirmed this. With this kind of reaction, he has the potential to become a really good rival, miles away from the usual rival.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 28 November 2011 with categories: Tamayura

Sato Junichi. Do yourself a favor. Get a cat.

Remember the episode from Aria? The one which was entirely devoted to President Aria? Well, for a moment, it actually looked like this episode would in its entirety follow around the big white blob that is Momoneko-sama. It got surreal at times, turning into this bizarre parody of the silent movie to narrate what he was saying.

THANK GOD though, the second half of this episode was about something completely different. And it was wonderful. It’s been a while since I watched such a down to earth portrayal of love sickness. The character it centred around only appeared in one scene before, but her characterization was already terrific.

With three or four episodes left, I do hope that the creators will use this time to do something special. I mean, this episode was a step into the right direction, but I want more. This show already has excellent characterization for just about every of its characters. Now use that.

Also, I’m not sure if I’m the only one in this, but I always really feel sorry for the voice actors who are tasked with voicing simple animals. This episode thankfully wasn’t as bad (seriously at least these cats had some really good voice acting, even though there was absolutely nothing feline about these… things), but it’s especially bad when a voice actor is called in to voice a cow in the background… doing exactly one “mooo”. Do these people feel any pride in their work?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Mirai Nikki

I like this show, but I do have a bit of trouble changing my expectations from what I expected it to be, to what it actually turned out to be. I expected this series to be a set of mind games with a ton of mystery and suspense. Instead, it doesn’t focus on building up mystery at all, instead of suspenseful it’s more over the top, and the mind games aspect of the show is rather held back by Yukiteru being a gullible idiot.

But ah well, I guess that that was the intent of this show: it needed someone who can both walk into just about every trap laid in front of him, be wimpy enough to be dragged around so that Yuno can shine, and still at the times where it matters find his balls and act like a skilled action hero. It’s forced, but it does carry the rest of this series, and I do have to say that the new villains here are pretty interesting, with a possibility to be the most interesting villains so far. Yuno in particular was great here.

Though was the underwear scene really necessary? I mean, this is no fanservice show. It’s almost if it’s a prerequisite for a guy to bump into a girl and expose her panties like that. And at the very least: if you’re going to do fanservice: make it creative. Pulling a scene like that only shows that you’re not really putting much thought into this.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on with categories: Nurarihyon no Mago

What a difference compared to the climax of the first season this is. Back then, this was the point at which everything collapsed in a slew of dull fights after dull fights. This however is much more dynamic. There are a lot of things happening at the same time, and there is a lot of meaning put into all of the fights beyond just “bad guy evil, kill him”.

In particular the resurrection of Nue, or Abe no Seimei was well pulled off here, as a giant fetus floating in the sky. On top of that, there is the irony of Hagoromo Gitsune probably not being the one who killed Nura’s father, but it was some sort of doing from her human part. Beyond that there are a lot of different parties involved that all have some sort of agenda. That’s what makes this finale work. In the first season everyone pretty much melted together. Nobody stood apart.

And on top of that the execution also was a lot less solid back then. Again Studio Deen aren’t the best animators, and one of the hardest things to animate is a battle between small armies. With clever camera work and arc though, a lot of movement was created here. Thumbs up.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 27 November 2011 with categories: Hunter X Hunter

The first half of this episode, I think it actually worked better than in the first series. It was simple and more to the point, just like Gon really. It had a nice build-up of “oh, this is going to take forever”, only to solve things in minutes afterwards. Although, Gon’s voice actress was trying a bit too hard again in this episode. It’s mostly her range. She’s very easy in just yelling all of her lines.

The second half however… it was a bit of a mess. And it’s not the pacing really. When you just look at pacing, then the new series is actually better than the first. It’s just that the voice acting is so much, much worse. The voice actors are trying too hard and especially the blue guy (why is he suddenly bright blue?) was hamming it up. Compare that to the first season, which had fantastic voice acting and which had voice actors who knew exactly when they should be subtle, and when to raise their voices.

What’s even worse is that we suddenly got to see entire inner monologues of that blue guy, which killed off all of the tension that was there already. It added some nonsensical stuff, while it cut out the stuff that made him quite charming (like the way in which he broke his fist, for example). Also, I’m surprised here: the way in which he refused to wake up, was actually a filler of the first season? I really would not have guessed. That really was something good they added back there.

And then there was Kurapika, who really managed to save this half when he saw the spider. It again suffers a bit too much from acting too hard when compared to the first series, but the moment where Kurapika got his red eyes: that was just wonderful. It wasn’t just a great scene. It also showed that the creators here know how to deliver the darker scenes.

Overall I’m quite positive of this series so far. The creators might actually nail it. However, there is one character who I’m positive that they’re going to ruin if they keep going on like this: Senritsu. I won’t say why, for the sake of the people who aren’t familiar with Hunter X Hunter, but I really cannot imagine her with the current focus on overacting from this series.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews

Here’s a movie, animated by Madhouse, but voiced fully in Chinese, about the highlands of Tibet. With this it already gets a plus for its interesting setting. It’s also a coming of age movie about a young boy, which is a bit unfortunate, but this mvie has more than enough to make up for it.

It’s an excellent look on the culture of Tibetan sheep herders and in particular a doctor in those areas (the lead character’s father is a local doctor). On top of that, it also has a number of very interesting action scnees involving dogs. Those things set it apart quite a bit from the mould of coming of age movies. It’s a movie that is grounded in realism, yet also packs some nice climaxes, and in terms of pacing it’s pretty well paced: the quiet scenes build up well for the climaxes and they remain interesting for the entire movie.

There are two main problems with this movie. The first is the very unfortunate name that was chosen for the golden dog that the movie is all about: Doogie. I’m not sure whether this sounds any less cheesy in Chinese or not, but the mood of the climaxes did get broken a bit when the characters kept going “Doogie! Doogie! Doogie!” over and over. My second issue is that a lot of the characters could have been more interesting. The dogs are awesome, but the lead character does little to set himself apart from other young leads. The bad guys of the movie are also pretty bland. Some of the side characters, like the old medicine seller and the male lead’s father were interesting to watch, though, but unfortunately the dull characters outnumber the interesting ones.

Tibetan Dog is a very good movie, especially considering its settings, but the director, Masayuki Kojima did work on more interesting stuff. The characters in Piano no Mori were just better developed, Hanada Shounen Shi was the example of a young boy lead done right, A Spirit of the Sun had better suspense. Oh, and not to mention Master Keaton and Monster, of course.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Good build-up. Good use of dogs in the movie.
Characters: 7/10 – Unfortunately a few too many bland characters at key positions.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Well animated, but nothing special for movie standards.
Setting: 9/10 – A movie about Tibet. Excellent, and it makes great use of it.

Piano no Mori
The Star of Cottonland
Kappa to Coo to Natsuyasumi

Posted on with categories: Phi Brain

What mind created this? And what was he on while creating this?

So… this was the dreaded school festival episode. Usually it’s part of the pool of episode templates for creators who don’t know how to fill their episodes. In this case, it’s an excuse of the creators to dress up the entire male cast as women. Heck, just look at the screenshots above: Daimon Kaito had to solve a puzzle in a dress, in the middle of a burning circus tent, surrounded by very creepy melting dolls while Nonoha was turned into Snow White. A tent by the way, which was secretly constructed next to the school, making use of how everyone was too busy preparing for the school festival. How do they come up with these things?

Also, don’t get me wrong here: I am currently enjoying this series a lot here. It’s completely ridiculous when you think about it, and I’m not going to stop ranting about that. But that’s the fun part about it. The thing is, that I find being generic a much worse crime than making no sense. It’s anime. It should be crazy.

What’s even more important however, is the execution. And despite all my ranting… this show is doing that well. This episode was all about the student council president, and it actually worked. It’s bizarre, but the characterization in this show is simple, but effective. There are times at which I’d wish that this show would combine its characters more, like involve more characters with its puzzles at the same time, but ah well. This works as well.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Ben-To

The golden rule of comedy: if you’re going to make sex jokes, then make sure that they are good ones.

I’m not sure what happened here, but this was without a doubt the worst episode of Ben-To so far. I’m not sure what happened. Did the light novels have this exact same chapter? Did the animators not have enough budget to animate any more fights? Did they pull in a bad episode director? In either way, this episode was the typical bad episode that bad harem shows use to fill their time.

This episode was meant to introduce the two major characters of the final arc. And they’re incredibly stupid. That’s what I really dislike about most moe fanservice shows: they reduce their characters to idiots, just for the sake of fanservice. This is something I thought Ben-To avoided, but this episode made this show a whole lot more generic.

It’s a good thing that the creators still know how to tell jokes, because things like Saito’s dive were absolutely hilarious. At the same time though: this also was the point where the Saito Pervert joke passed their shelf date. For one they were repeated way too much in this episode, and for two this episode tried way too hard. The jokes were fun when they were subtle, like for example in episode one. This was once again “let’s strip Saito and laugh, and have him generate inspiration for Hana. I knw that there are people in this world who no matter what automatically laugh whenever a penis is involved, but at least try to also cater to the ones who don’t…
Rating: – (Disappointing)


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  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:59 AM)
    I say this because people often like to hype up the genre or those elements. I bring this up/think about it now because I played a game called undertale lately on my brothers recommendation and he was all like it emotionally destroyed him but I never ended up crying, I mean don’t get me wrong its a good game, there were laughs to be had and there was sentiment but it wasn’t THAT sad/funny.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 08:44 AM)
    Given how many people cry at some drama, clannad included.
    That reminds me…
    I can’t actually remember the last time in my life where I cried, I draw a blank.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 07:58 AM)
    @Aidan: Something always feels off to me when you criticize clannad, I mean I’m critical enough of key these days too but it seems odd that you rank it as an 8 on MAL when you’ve always made it sound its more of a high 6 or a 7.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:45 AM)
    But I’m no fan of gung-ho soldier games/most fps games so I am glad clannad, a visual novel outsold call of duty.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:44 AM)
    I said it once I’ll say it again. I preferred the clannad movie over the tv series, had more style, a more mature feel to it and cut out all the superfluous arcs/comedy for the better. It also concludes better than the series. The emotional involvement in the kyoani version doesn’t work for me anymore, doesn’t hold up. However the film remains emotionally engaging after revisiting it.
  • AidanAK47
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 03:19 AM)
    Holy hell Clannad is selling like hotcakes on Steam. Even beat Call of Duty in sales at one point.
    Kinda happy to see a VN get recognised and it would help open up the market for more titles to come over. But..well..Clannad really isn’t all that great.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, Nov 25. 2015 02:29 AM)
    I can remember when I first got into anime when I was a whole lot younger I always said I would watch lodoss war, El Hazard and slayers, yet I never ended up doing so…
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:34 AM)
    Ha, the child in me would love to see a film like that I’d imagine, when I was young I was pretty crazy about Egyptian supernatural stuff.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:23 AM)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Nov 24. 2015 05:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: yeah, even tho it was his highest grossing movie it managed to brought his career to a stand-still. His next film Gods of Egypt looks like it could be fun, albeit it’s just as much as a CGIfest as I, Robot. Egyptian stuff is admittedly rather intriguing, I remember a 2004 French film Immortel ad vitam that blended that with modern themes that became popular for a while.

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