Posted on 29 February 2012 with categories: Monthly Summaries

At first I thought that this would be a season that would at least be exciting. In the end, what stood out about the most is how many series make me go wtf this time. And they just keep increasing. And really: while there aren’t any absolute classics here, it does make this season really fun to watch and keep up with.

#20 (24) – Guilty Crown – (6,25/10) – In its first half, Guilty crown was offensively boring. Right now however, it’s just plain offensively bad. The plot twists it pulls just are consistently pulled out of its ass, and yet at the same time it’s not really going anywhere. It’s not fun; the characters are obnoxious and Shu is still a terrible character who randomly changes every episode, yet remains consistently obnoxious. Please Noitamina, don’t make writing of this level to be the new standard for your new shows. I know it sold well and all, but for god’s sake this should never become the norm!
#19 (new) – Smile Precure – (7/10) – Here is the thing, Smile Precure: I know you’ve got a big audience who will watch you no matter what, but that’s no excuse to just be completely boring at the start. You can be amazing halfway through, but if you don’t give us a reason to keep watching, then that’s all for naught. All I’ve seen so far are a bunch of dull introduction episodes. There are no major side-characters whatsoever other than the Precure, the standard bad guys and that mascot thing. This show is nowhere near as bad as Suite Precure’s opening, but at the same time I also see no hints that it’ll get better later on.
#18 (new) – Black Rock Shooter – (7/10) – Halfway in, and I’m not very impressed by this series. The biggest reason is because of how incredibly forced the drama and angst is. I could have lived with relatively little focus on the Black Rock Shooter world (because really: that one has even less depth), but the angst is way too forced, and just there for the sake to create drama. It’s gotten very annoying now. Mari Okada, you disappoint me.
#17 (17) – Listen Girls, I am Your Father – (7,5/10) – This show is not like Kimi to Boku. That show used it annoyance to somehow become good. Papa however, is annoying, only to become heart-warming afterwards. It’s nowhere as neatly meshed, especially when the girls take a bath for the umpth time. This show is worth it for the small moments that really are heart-warming, but the rest of the airtime tends to be rather boring.
#16 (15) – Ano Natsu de Matteru – (7,75/10) – Ano Natsu got dominated this month with that cliche-filled beach arc. Sure, the characters developed a bit, but it was all predictable and the fanservice was pointless and obnoxious, not to mention that the annoying harem subplot also didn’t really steer this show into a good direction. I will have to say though that I am at least glad that this show is heading somewhere.
#15 (11) – Last Exile – Ginyoku no Fam – (7,75/10) – I’m very iffy about Last Exile at the moment: it’s not like Fam is badly developed or anything, and I want to like her, but most of the time she just doesn’t belong in this series. Overall the “war is bad themes” of this series are starting to get a bit boring, and the world building isn’t really bringing anything new to the table at this point. I really fear whether this show would be able to deliver a solid climax.
#14 (19) – Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou – (8/10) – This show is a hit and miss comedy: it’s cringe-worthy when a joke falls flat, but it’s also hilarious and very creative when it actually works. The ration at the moment seems to hang steady around 50:50, and at the very least I admire it for this creativity here. It’s not the best comedy of the season, though.
#13 (14) – Inu X Boku SS – (8/10) – Inu X Boku is nothing special, especially for David Production’s standards. And yet, it’s consistently able to put a smile on my face. Even though the characters are simplistic, they are also heart-warming in a way. It’s a bit shallow, but very charming.
#12 (7) – Rinne no Lagrange – (8/10) – Out of the three big mecha/sci-fi shows this season, Rinne no Lagrange is the only one who dulled in a bit this month. This is mostly due to time spent on building up, but the fact remains that lately it hasn’t been as sharp as it used to, though it did offer solid character building. Now all that’s left is to use it.
#11 (18) – Nisemonogatari – (8,25/10)

I actually really liked this month for Nisemonogatari. Fially the plot was about something meaningful other than mostly fanservice, and the animation really is gorgeous as well. I also really liked the way in which the Karen arc ended. And then there was the toothbrush scene. Just… wtf.

#10 (10) – Mirai Nikki – (8,25/10)

It’s about bloody time, but the character development has finally kicked in. And indeed: this show has become a lot more entertaining compared to the first half. In particular Yukiteru has become much more interesting to watch now. It’s nothing deep and it’s still full of plotholes and bad twists and all, but it’s just so over the top entertainment that at this point, I don’t mind.

#9 (13) – Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki – (8,25/10)

I love this show. In only five minutes it consistently tells fun little stories about the entire cast, and really brings them alive. The creative jokes just keep coming, but on top of that: it also fleshes out who the characters are in a really fun way by showing a very good look at their everyday lives. half of the jokes don’t even involve Poyopoyo but instead are about how they live their lives.

#8 (8) – Aquarion Evol – (8,25/10)

The romantic comedy really is not a genre that I’m often into, and I find the vast majority of these series to be dull and trite. Aquarion Evol is a major exception though. It just has this energy, on top of its just bizarre context and sexual undertones. This month has continued to explore the “males versus females”-themes and it did so with some solid character-building arcs that made the collective cast very enjoyable to watch. The music still is completely awesome, and the graphics still look incredibly flashy.

#7 (9) – Mouretsu Pirates – (8,25/10)

This really is the stand-out series in terms of characters feeling real. In this series, there are hardly any stereotypes, and the acting is very believable, and this only solidified more this month. It’s clear that Tatsuo Sato is behind the helm of this series, because it really takes its time to let everything play out. Because of that it’s not the most exciting series yet, but in terms of character and world building it really is excellent. This month also put a lot of focus on politics and really took its audience seriously when it discussed everything involved in being a pirate.

#6 (6) – Hunter X Hunter – (8,5/10)

This month featured the conclusion of the Hunter Exam arc. As usual there were things that I liked and things that I liked a little less when comparing it to the 1999 series, but the things I liked are getting better and better. I am disappointed that this adaptation didn’t spend the same amount of care to Gon’s final fight (an episode that I considered in the 1999 version to be absolutely fantastic), and the cast of side characters is noticeably weaker and less interesting, but the character development on the main cast is still really, really good.

#5 (12) – Another – (8,5/10)

What really makes Another stand out as a horror series is how down to earth the characters are. The acting here is top-notch, and because of that the contrast with the brutal gore really stands out. This show has some very interesting build-up and the atmosphere is still excellent. \

#4 (5) – Phi Brain – (8,5/10)

Phi Brain has yet again just gotten better and better this month. I’m really surprised at how engaging this show has gotten, but the character development just continues to push the characters forward. I just have to wonder: how on earth are the creator planning to top this for the second season?

#3 (4) – Tantei Opera Milky Holmes – (8,5/10)

This month had both the most and least entertaining episode of the second season, so it’s a bit hard to judge. When at its stride though, it was absolutely hilarious and without a doubt the biggest WTF of the entire season (and with this season, that has to say something). In particular the train episode was just glorious.

#2 (2) – Natsume Yuujin-Chou – (8,75/10)

Not as strong as the previous month, but this series still stands on top of the season with its well thought out stories about youkai. The fourth season is really dedicated to develop everyone around Natsume, and it’s doing a great job at that. My one complaint is that some parts (like Nyanko-sensei) are getting a bit repetitive.

#1 (3) – Chihayafuru – (8,75/10)

This series has been as solid as ever. Where it lacks in varietyk it more than makes up in character development, giving every major character enough time to play out, and it always finds something meaningful for every character in every episode. Now that’s good writing, especially considering how it’s been doing that throughout the entire series now.

Posted on 28 February 2012 with categories: Chihayafuru

With this, Chihaya finally learned the lesson that she needed to learn: there’s more to Karuta than just timing. The thing is to also feel the flow of the cards. Humans are only human, and therefore they only have a fixed amount of time it takes them to react. The challenge for Chihaya was to 1) time her movements better and 2) use her trademark speed with that. After all the previous episodes, it was very interesting for her to run into a player who played the same way she did, with a focus on speed.

Also, these people here are harsh: talking down to this nine-year-old girl for not being as good as the second-best karuta-player in the country when she loses one match. It’s interesting how you usually see these child stars being pushed too much by their parents, but this is a nice subversion of that, in the way that her mother is putting so much effort into letting her daughter play Karuta to get her to cope with bullies.

Overall, I must praise this series for piquing my interest in Karuta. It’s not like when I watched Hikaru no Go and Shion no Ou, which made me immediately want to play the game, but that’s probably also because of how incredibly steep the learning curve is at the start: you can play Shougi and Go as a complete beginner and still do something with it; it’s as you start to think about it more you realize how incredibly complex these games are. It’s impossible for a beginner at Karuta to even play: for that you first need to spend a lot of time memorizing cards. After that, it’s not going to be a matter of depth, but rather combining strategy, speed, memorization and timing together. It’s much more a physical sport.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 27 February 2012 with categories: Another

Thank god this wasn’t just another copy-paste beach episode. This episode felt unique, which just shows that beach episodes are usually terrible in how often they just boil down to the same thing. This episode didn’t bother with suggestive camera angles, and didn’t make a whole spectacle of “what will they be wearing?”, but rather showed the characters as they were. My only complaint here is that twintail girl suddenly turning abusive tsundere. Where did that come from?

Because of this I enjoyed this episode for its variety. With so much death around the corner it’s good to have episodes where the scenery is completely different. That’s something I miss in a lot of anime nowadays: they often feel rather monotone. Another obviously is too, but this episode definitely helped there.

I also loved the use of red herrings i this episode. There first was that truck, the cast catching a puffer fish and suggesting to actually cook it, and then there was that swimming scene. It got a bit surreal when that motor boat appeared right from out of nowhere. With this it’s clear that the ghost has some magic Deus ex Machina powers that can bend all common sense.

This is just a detail, but it does make me wonder: to their trip (which by the way actually had a purpose), the cast came in two cars. One of them was driven by Reiko, but the other one? We hardly see any shots of this random old man, as if the camera tries its best to ignore him. Also, when they arrive, Misaki Mei was already at the beach. Why didn’t she just come with them? It’s a bit weird to not have introduction scenes like that.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Natsume Yuujin-Chou

And we’re into another two-part arc for this series. This one is focused on Hiiragi and Natori, with a few hints that Matoba is involved as well.

The focus on this episode was about Natori actually having to seal away a god, rather than a youkai as he gets a very strange request to do all this within one day. I think this was the first time in which we’ve seen him uncomfortable.

Natsume in the meantime is of pretending to be the opposite of said god, and with this he seems to ignore one thing that I find rather strange: his smell. In the past he has been very often sniffed out as a human when he tried to dress up. I find it weird that he still doesn’t seem to have learned after all that.

Also, someone mentioned it in the comments last week, but with this episode it again caught my attention: the creators are having trouble to separate Natsume and Nyanko. In this episode Nyanko wanders off and something happens to Natsume. After that Nyanko accidentally gets touched by one of Natori’s exorcist-thingies, and afterwards something again happens to Natsume. As much as I like this series, it is starting to get a little repetitive this way.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 26 February 2012 with categories: Aquarion Evol

With this, Mix and Andy (Andy W. Hole; seriously?) have gotten their episode as well. Because yes, this series has decided that the two of them are going to be a couple. We already knew that Andy’s power was to create holes. Now, it turns out that Mix’s power is to fill them. Truly a match made in heavens.

In any case, this episode was as fun as the rest of the show. The romantic tensions between Mix and Andy in particular were just hilarious. All of the bizarrely epic ways which the creators found to symbolize holes were also hilarious. Yes, of course donuts are like the galaxy we live in. Makes perfect sense!And why is that headmaster still upholding the “no romance”-rule?

In any case, the series progression has been pretty solid so far. The cast here is fairly large, so it’s only natural that we get a string of episodes about the different cast. There are only a few left: that fangirl still needs one, Mikono’s brother is still left and the nun will also probably get one. It’s basic build-up, but it’s tried and true for a reason: it works and this this makes sure to create an engaging cast. The most important thing right now is that while it’s doing this build-up, it’s really fun to watch.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Mirai Nikki

When that cop suddenly started to propose to Ninth, I was a bit baffled. I mean, can you possibly find an even worse timing for that? It was obvious that he had a crush on Ninth, but the sheer randomness of actually proposing was a bit too much here. And then the rest of this episode aired, and I understood. Of course: in fiction, proposing to someone in the middle of a story is the equivalent of signing your own death sentence. It’s not really a plot-hole this time, but more like a really bad twist.

The cheese is what sets Mirai Nikki apart from Guilty Crown though: Mirai Nikki knows full well that it’s supposed to be over the top, and to its credit: this was exactly that. This was very entertaining, whereas Guilty Crown on top of being full of bad twists and plotholes is also completely stupid, very badly written, poorly built up and has atrocious characters. Here though, I liked Ninth quite a bit, and I have to admit: Yukiteru’s appearance in this episode was excellent.

This really is the Winter of WTF. First we had Milky Holmes, then Aquarion Evol also took the bizarre train, followed by Danshi Koukousei, Nisemonogatari, and really: Mirai Nikki also caught it. I’d also include Guilty Crown, but that unfortunately is in a bad way.

This was what I’ve been hoping this show would be: straight-up entertainment. It’s nothing much more, and it’s a shame that the first half of this series didn’t really impress much, but with episodes like this I’m glad to have continued.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on with categories: Rinne no Lagrange

A building up episode, which was used to expand a bit upon the background of this series (ad it’s good to have a bit more information on what the Vox actually are), and to introduce the probably final major character of this series: the boss of the whole organization returns. So obviously she’s a a young-looking blond girl.

At the very least she’s proactive and gets things done, but we’ll see what the creators have in store for her and for that bizarre cross-dressing maid for the rest of this series. What also was a major point in this series is that Madoka isn’t going to be a pilot anymore. Now, that’s the kind of twist that really has me wonder why the creators pulled it. It’s not really going to make a point if Madoka just ends up ignoring all this, piloting her Vox anyway.

Overall, the direction that made me praise the first episodes of this shows has weakened a bit for the past few weeks. There were still some points where this episode was rather sharp, like with the maid, or the point where Madoka agreed to not pilot anymore (hence my worries for the next battle), but I don’t know… it lacks that energy that made it so addictive. Is this just a matter of building up (this is a Tatsuo Sato series, after all), or is this Xebec being lazy?
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on with categories: Phi Brain

This episode… was full of flashbacks. And with that, I mean a lot of repeated scenes of previous episodes. At first I thought that this would mean that this would just end up being another build-up episode. And here it ended up being one of the most genuine episodes of this series so far. I actually got a bit teary-eyed near the end of it. Yeah.

Nonoha. She’s at the moment doing exactly what a token female who has no talent should do. Instead of just standing there and be useless, the emotional support that she’s giving Kaitou is just getting better and better. She has no talent in solving puzzles, and even if she had, she would always just remain in Kaitou’s shadow. This way though, they turned into a very engaging couple here.

The side characters too are also just getting better here. I really didn’t expect this series to head this way, but Kaitou losing himself to that bracelet of his turned out to be a wonderful central conflict of this series. Cubic and Ana also finally returned here, and I also the twist that Jin has been reduced to some vegetable state also has a lot of potential, especially for the headmaster.

There were a few weird things going on in this episode, though. First of all there were those weird spy cameras. I do admit: I kept wondering how POG kept getting such accurate footage of Kaitou, but to think that both POG and Cubic came up with these is a bit… random. Also, I do have to wonder why that headmaster was allowed to roam the POG island freely. I mean, I get that he can’t exactly leave, but with Jin on that island as well, it’s like Rook wanted the two of them to meet or something.

Oh, and POG must be very confident if their sole security is based around on solving puzzles. Heck, it’s like asking Kaitou to break in when he finds out about it…
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on with categories: Black Jack Final, OVA Impressions

In case you haven’t noticed: the final Black Jack OVAs have finally been subbed. Yes, two episodes of 50 minutes, which were the final things that Osamu Dezaki worked on before his death. I’ve been waiting more than a month for these to come out, because even though I sometimes watch raws, there is no way in which I’m going to try that with a series that’s so chock full of medical terms as this one.

And holy crap, this first episode was worth the wait! I was a bit weary at first when the episode immediately started by promising that it would center around Pinoko, but seriously: her background is amazing. This episode seriously gave me a totally different perspective of her. This is much, much more than just another nostalgia remake.

The whole concept of having her be a Zyst who for more than 20 years lived inside this actress’ body, which was afterwards taken out and reassembled by Black Jack. Holy crap, now that’s something else. At this point I thought that I couldn’t be surprised by Osamu Tezuka anymore, but this episode did it.

And yes, this episode was 50 minutes long, and told in the same style as the other OVAs. Because of this we got a long and detailed look at the actress in question and who she is, and what the impact of her illness was on her life. This lead to an amazing ending and I loved the bond between her and Pinoko.

And yes! This really still has Osamu Dezaki’s influence all over it. The graphics and especially the multiple drawing son one screen are really typical of his, and I’m really glad that we can see them for one last time. He was by far one of the directors with one of the most unique styles out there. It’s something that I’m missing with a lot of debuting directors nowadays: they seem too afraid to put a bit of their own style in. This really shows that you can very faithfully adapt a story, while putting plenty of your own style in it as well.
OVA Episode Rating: 9/10

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews

As the final movie of the Towa no Quon series, it indeed closes off with a nice action-packed finale. The action s very solid, and the animation also is overall the best out of all the six movies so far. Overall I like it much more than the Break Blade movies, which was just a collection of uninspired movies. This movie has personality and the themes to back it up with. On the downside however: it was just too much run of the mill.

And with that I mean that this finale did succeed in creating a satisfying climax, but not really much more. It really is the standard finale against an overpowered bad guy that every other series ends with. In the meantime it did wrap up its storylines, but that too was done in the most obvious way. This series of movies is well laid out because of this, and there is nothing rushed or dragged out. That’s good, but I would have wished that the creators took a bit more risk. But then again: this was made to commemorate the death of Umanosuke Ida, so the creators probably focused more on delivering a solid portrayal of his vision.

With the last episode I noted that the villain had become a lot more menacing. And yeah, this was done with this typical ending in mind: he needed more power to actually be a threat, and that was the purpose of Movie 05. In the end though, he’s your typical villain with hardly anything original to him. The big cliff-hanger he ended the fifth movie with? In the end he never really did anything with it and the whole point of that scene was probably the most underdeveloped part of this movie. For the sake of the epic finale, it did focus much less on the themes of the other movies. On the other hand though, the bad guy’s subordinates suddenly got characters and started thinking on their own. That was a surprise.
\

Storytelling: 8/10 – Solid climactic ending. No rush.
Characters: 8/10 – Enjoyable characters throughout the movie, though they remain not very deep.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Best animation overall of the six movies.
Setting: 8/10 – Solid for what the movie is trying to do, however could have tried more in the end.

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  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 10:26 AM)
    What do you think?
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 10:25 AM)
    I met a French art student in a bar tonight, and after getting into Hugo and Notre-Dame de Paris, he suggested a more faithful French theater production of it. He believed that this is a much better portrayal of the conflicted priestly character of Frollo, and specifically offered this Hellfire-esque song sang by the talented Daniel Lavoie as evidence:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5St9zF849o
  • SuperMario
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 08:22 AM)
    @Kaiser: haha. If this film indeed was made I’ll be the first one on the line to watch it.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:32 AM)
    @Mario: This made me laugh far more than it should have: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kno3xDw27bY
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:30 AM)
    Anybody else seen Jungle Book yet?
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:25 AM)
    @Kaiser: I see. Look retro, so I might actually enjoy.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:24 AM)
    I don’t wanna hyperbolize, so I admit that some of the Disney/Marvel stuff has ingenuity to it. Guardians and even Antman had their moments of disarming charm, and genuine sentiment from the cast and crew, that made it special and not just another superhero flick.
  • Bam
    (Thursday, May 5. 2016 06:22 AM)
    @Aidan: Marvel movies feel like a very nice amusement park ride- they are always fun, but the return diminishes after successive exposure. Everything in the movies, from the fights, to the dialogue, and plot is incredibly formulatic. You just don’t get the same effect when you know what’s coming.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 06:05 PM)
    @Bam: Actually let me rephrase
    I meant that you will like: http://letterboxd.com/film/the-company-of-wolves/
    Because it is fairyrale inspired
    Because you liked brotherhood of the wolf and tale of tales.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Wednesday, May 4. 2016 06:02 PM)
    @Bam: I meant tale of tales =)
    @Mario: My usual ratings are ***/***1/2 rating and ****
    Generally that indicates a film is kind good/good or great.

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