Posted on 31 March 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews

If I said that a really good comedy for the past year was a show about a Penguin and a Panda walking into a bar, would you believe me?

Polar Bear Cafe is an interesting beast here. Series that combine slice of life with comedy are nothing new, but this series does it in a way that has not been done often before. For one, its characters stand apart in their simplicity,and how they try to stay away from often used cliches. One, by being a bunch of talking animals, and two, by focusing not on teenagers, but on the working class adults.

Most humour in anime is energetic. Polar Bear Cafe though, is all about deadpan. If you enjoy that kind of humour, then you should give this show a chance, because on one hand, it contains really every day conversations between its characters, and on the other hand it is really creative in how it delivers its jokes. It constantly pokes fun at itself and its silly concept and contains more running jokes than you can shake a stick at. The self-referential humour is what I liked best about this series: it spends so much time carefully creating its setting, yet at the same it’s also constantly breaking it down and poking fun at it.

50 episodes is long, but I have to say: during the best episodes I really fell off my chair laughing. For me, they were the Penko episode, and the Bar MC episode. Beyond that this series also made me laugh numerous times, but there were unfortunately also plenty of episodes that failed to raise a laugh, or that were just plain dull. Like I said, 50 episodes is long.

It’s a bit of a dilemma for this series. Ideally its length would be at 39 episodes, but the long length does lead to some really good character building. At the end of the series, you really feel like you know these characters. The “people” you see hanging around in bars, cafes that you sometimes talk to and hang out with. The ones who are constantly trolling each other, who don’t try to get others to like them, yet get their charms from that.
One-Sentence Review: Random slice of life combined with deadpan comedy: that’s what makes this show work although it is too long with 50 episodes; plus Polar Bear is a great character.
Suggestions:
– Excel Saga
Poyopoyo Kansatsu Nikki
Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru

Posted on with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

Okay, so I thought that this was the final episode so I was ready to go all out. And then at the end of this episode there was this “To be continued”-message. Yeah, I was confused. But boy, am I glad, because it means that there will be one more episode of Jojo. They managed to squeeze one more into the airing schedule. David Production also did this with the Armed Librarians. And seriously, these guys have with this earned a spot amongst my favorite production companies out there. The way they handled this adaptation was just fantastic.

I loved the final battle against Cars, because it was more than “let’s just send a huge beam towards the angry monster until it dies”. No, instead Joseph managed to hijack a plane and turned this into a cat and mouse chase. Future action series should really take this episode as an example for their penultimate episodes, because this: the fight had so many interesting things in it. I also loved the small details again, like the meat eating squirrel.

And Stroheim. God, I love this guy. He’s completely one-dimensional, but his theme song ever since he became the terminator is just awesome, and he always appears at just the right moments, doing the craziest things surpassing even Joseph in this. Last episode was already glorious when he apparead with his squad of lamp-weilding guys, but in this episode… to think that he had been hiding in the plane for hours, waiting for the right moment to arrive.

All of the main villain of this series so far have had their dying moment: an episode dedicated to their final trump when they’re near death: Dio had his head, AC-DC was reduced to a brain, and Wham also had his episode dedicated to his final moments. They really seem to be doing the same to Cars as well, but knowing this series, they probaly are intending this one to be special. And it will be between Cars, Joseph and Stroheim on a burning volcano. Oh my god, so much manliness.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 30 March 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews

Kyoani. I really respect… your animators. They are able to put in so much detail into their drawings and movements and your anime have much more dynamic movement in them than the competition. Now, would you start making interesting series again? Pretty please?

At this point I’ve already written off Shaft: these guys will just repeat their style over and over unless a really good writer like Urobuchi Gen or something makes them do otherwise. Tamako Market however was for me the final chance I’d give for Kyoani’s slice of life series: if I didn’t like this one, I’d just stop bothering with them. So yeah, at this time I have lost my patience for the as well: I’m not going to give them any more chances. If something like Hyouka appears again, it’ll be obvious that it’s different and interesting right from the start.

Tamako Market did have the best first episode of the new season. It showed a lot of different characters, ranging from high school girls, high school boys, shop owners, adults, families, an eccentric bird, young kids. It seemed so much more than the usual series that are just about a group of random high school girls.

In the end though, this potential never really got used. The shop owners never have any identity for themselves: they are all just lumped together into a collection of random stereotypes. The high school girls aside from Tamako also hardly have any personality aside from one trait. The talking bird got annoying right at the moment he gained weight. The high school boy’s only role in the series turned out to be having a crush on the lead female.

The family is the only part of the first episode that actually got any depth. The few moments the family was at the central focus, this series was at its best. The first half of the series spends most of its time on cultural references. That too was pretty interesting. In the second half though, the series gets overtaken by this really stupid marriage plot that really doesn’t go anywhere. It’s completely mindless, doesn’t really do anything, it’s not charming at all and was really annoying to get through to be honest.

So yeah, with this I’m done with Kyoani. Their series just aren’t for me. Wake me up when they start making something different.
One-Sentence Review: Really good and detailed animation for a slice of life series that doesn’t really go anywhere.
Suggestions:
Aria the Animation
Hyakko
Rumiko Takahashi’s Rumic Theater

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews

Some seasons of anime are better than others, but the past winter season has hit a really low point. If you ignore the sequels, then it has been the worst season I ever blogged. Out of the series that did catch my attention enough, Kotoura-san turned out to be best. Not perhaps because it was the most consistent, but because it was the only show that really managed to stand out in a way. Yeah, it’s nothing special, but at least it’s something.

It’s especially the first and the last episode in this series that made sure of that. Perhaps they’re overdramatic at times, but the first episode plays really well with its mood-swings, making for a nice introduction, and the last episode wraps everything up nicely with a lot of character-development, making for a nice conclusion. Kotoura-san’s characters are by no means good or sophisticated; they’re all really simple teenagers without much depth. Still, they are genuine. That gave them a charm that I missed in all other non-sequels this season.

The series does have some big problems, though. You know the saying “it’s not about the destination, but about the journey”? Well that totally does not apply for Kotoura-san. I mentioned above that for Kotoura-san, it’s start and end are great. Inbetween though… it clearly had difficulties in filling everything in. This results in a pool episode, a beach episode, and a silly crime story that all feel really forced. The creators had some nice ideas for the characters, but they didn’t know what to do with them. Because of that the journey in this series can be really tedious because there really is not much interesting stuff going on. It also does not help that the antics of the bunch of perverts in this series gets annoying really fast. Still, it’s fun. It charmed and entertained me more than the other series this season.
One-Sentence Review: Kotoura-san is about mind-readers: it’s honest and genuine and that gives it a charm that makes it worth watching, despite the fact that it doesn’t know how to use half of its airtime…
Suggestions:
B Gata H Kei
Hitohira
Mahou Tsukai Tai

Posted on 29 March 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Zetsuen no Tempest



Spiral was a series that was all about mind games. The characters had to battle people who used puzzles and mind games. Zetsuen no Tempest is the next logical step from its original author: a world-shaking plot that can decide the fate of the entire world, but somehow it managed to find a way to make it entirely dependent on the logic of a bunch of teenagers. It was glorious!

This may sound weird, but really: the characters in Zetsuen no Tempest really are excellent. All of them are fresh and witty, and they play off each other really well. I mean, it’s nothing new that series put a lot of consequences on teenaged emotions, but it has never been done with a cast that works so well together, not to mention with a cast that tries so hard to put logic into the plot as well. The two lead males in particular look like your average male hero at first, yet they turn out to be completely different.

I have sometimes called this “mindfuck, the anime”. This series really loves its surprises in its plot. And while it’s not the first series to attempt some mind-screws, it did manage to pull them off in a unique way. The key here was how it played with its own logic. On one hand, it took itself entirely seriously, on the other it deliberately just ignored it and just went wild with emotions. This dual battle is a really big theme in this series. Logic versus emotions, Genesis versus Exodus, Magic versus Technology, Tempest versus Hamlet (this will all make sense when you see the series). My one complaint though is that it takes a while to get going, and the ending is not what it could have been. The goodness in this series really is in the middle.

Also it also helps that this series has an incredibly epic soundtrack. No, seriously. The animation may be normal, but the soundtrack is just amazing. Right from the start, it just bombards you with complex and classically inspired tracks that just keep coming.
One-Sentence Review: If you’re looking for a good mind-screw with a godly soundtrack and fun characters, then this is a series to check out!
Suggestions:
Death Note
Un-Go
Armed Librarians – The Book of Bantorra

Posted on with categories: Zetsuen no Tempest

From the New World and Psycho Pass had endings that really impressed me. The downside to that is that they did raise the bar on endings quite a bit now. You can’t just defeat the evil monster and do nothing beyond that. You have to do something special now as well. I guess that that’s why I was underwhelmed by the first half of this episode, because that was exactly that. Not to mention: this series prides itself inits logic. A fight scene ending doesn’t have the same impact compared to if they would have based it on logic.

The second half of this episode was much more satisfying as an epilogue, though. This really showed everyone being able to move on, and quite a few characters have changed their ways or beliefs thanks to what happened in the series. Aika also showed again that she was a really compelling character to watch. She was a character who was dead at the start of the series, and yet her impact is all over it. She definitely was my favorite character here.

Tempest was great. It’s a shame that there is not going to be a bones series next season, because they are always interesting, even when they’re weaker. But really, their last weak series was Heroman for me. I eagerly await their next work.
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo



Teenaged romance shows are a dime a dozen, so it has to take something special for a series to catch my interest. For that, the past Autumn Season was a source of gold. Kamisama Hajimemashita was awesome, Sukitte Ii na Yo was a surprise hit, and Sakurasou also seemed like the series to bring new life in the shounen romance genre. It kinda did, but if you want to stay with that impression, then don’t watch the second half.

Sakurasou really managed to set itself apart with its execution. From the outside it looked like an average romantic comedy, but when you started watching it became clear to me how good the chemistry between the characters was. The banter had a lot of comedic gold in it, and it was full of energy. Scenes were well set-up, and there were a number of really sharp characters in this series, whose lines pierced through all pretense. That made this series a roller-coaster of emotions that was actually really well balanced.

The level of writing really was good there, and consistently so. I can only recall one bad episode, which randomly introduced incest for no reason whatsoever). You’d expect this level of writing to get better as the series goes on and gets more chance to build up, but somewhere along the way it just loses its spark. Especially the final third just misses the energy and wit that made this series so addictive at the start.

The early parts of this series are about hard work versus talent, and working hard towards your dreams, and coming of age. The show ends with a love triangle and a silly subplot about a bunch of dorms being closed down. It totally lacks any kind of impact, and the series ends with a melodramatic ending that is too scared to really resolve anything. The only good parts about the final third is where the creators focus on the themes that made the first half so good, but there are unfortunately too few moments to really salvage the series.

It’s a shame, really. I really endorse series evolving and changing. Doing the same thing over and over gets boring. But if you want to change your attention, you have to make sure that you have something interesting and logical to follow up with. Sakurasou didn’t and just got bogged down in its genre conventions that unfortunately spoiled what could have been such a good shounen romance.
One-Sentence Review: If you are interested in Sakurasou, my tip is to watch until episode 16, and let your imagination fill in the climax, because if you do you’ll get a really rewarding and witty romance series, instead of having to sit through the downer climax that follows…
Suggestions:
Kaze no Shoujo Emily
True Tears
Yumekui Merry

Posted on with categories: Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo

Okay, I’m going to combine these three episodes into one entry in order to wrap up Sakurasou. My impression of them is that Mari Okada overshot herself a bit here. Her strength has always been in the way she used melodrama, but the actual climax of this series… yeah.

So the idea of the final three episodes was simple: episode 22 resolved the romantic subplots, episode 23 handled the subplot about Sakurasou about to close and episode 24 was then the epilogue. The best was episode 22. Sure, it was incredibly predictable and had it coming for the entire series, but it was charming enough. I enjoyed that. Been there, done that, but charming.

Episode 23… dear god, what a bawl-fest. I mean, I can enjoy a good cry and all, but that was just too much. It’s in character for Misaki to just hijack something as important as the graduation ceremony. It’s not in character for everyone and his dog to be so emotionally attached to that speech. I mean, that was just total melodrama.

In the past, Mari Okada’s endings have always stood to me as endings that managed to deliver high emotions really well. They were overdramatic, but they were well built up, were believable, and had some variation: they weren’t a bawl-fest from start to finish and had quiet, funny or other moments that broke up the mood. That was like, “Whine whine whine Sakurasou is awesome, whine whine whine I love you all”. There is such a thing as too much love here…

Episode 24, I liked it at the beginning. Until it revealed its true colours as an ending that couldn’t pull through with the decisions it made. The sister didn’t enter the school? Hah! She actually lied to Sorata about her student number. Jin and Misaki go away in order to live their own lives? Hah, they just marry and conveniently start to live next to Sakurasou. What was all of the build-up for? What was all the growth for? I really dislike those kinds of half-assed endings.

So yeah, if I knew what I know today, I would have blogged Kamisama Hajimemashita and Sukitte Ii na Yo for the past autumn season’s Romance shows. But unfortunately, this was something that I just could never have seen coming. Sakurasou lured me in with its 24 episodes, plus its really strong start. It just did not make good use of its second half at all.
Rating: 3/8 (Mediocre)

Posted on 28 March 2013 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

And here are the penultimate episodes of Jojo. And seriously, I loved the fights here. The creators really went to the extreme, while keeping true to their philosophy of putting huge over the top powers on one hand, and really delicate things on the other. One one hand you have Stroheim yelling like crazy, while weilding what is basically a giant lamp as a weapon. And the duel with Cars was also really good in how it used Lisalisa in such a painful position as a hostage.

Surpringly, the least interesting part of these two episodes was where Speedwagon started to explain what happened to Joseph’s parents. It’s not that it didn’t have any good points (I liked how one of the smarter minions of Dio worked his way up as an aviation commander in the Royal Air Force), but come on. You’re about to punch Cars to death. Don’t break up the momentum with that. Thankfully the actual finale promises to be epic.

My only gripe: Lisalisa didn’t really get a chance to stand in the spotlights, did she? I mean all other major characters got their chance to show off, but she has the bad luck to be immediately just brought to an inch of her life. Give her some credit, man. If she’s a ripple master, let her show this off!
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 27 March 2013 with categories: Zetsuen no Tempest

And these are the penultimate episodes for Zetsuen no Tempest, with its finale about to air tomorrow. They weren’t about a mindfuck, but instead about a complete role reversal from what you’d expect: Hanemura gets to play the hero, while everyone else plays backup. It might seem insignificant, but I find this really refreshing to see: it isn’t trying to force its main characters into the spotlights. Instead it’s offering everyone his chance for this.

And I really like Hanemura by the way, for a character who got introduced in the second half of this series. He is a very good example of a wimpy looking character done right. First of all because amongst the cast, he was often the only one stupid enough to state the obvious. Plus, his little outburst in episode 22 was pretty damn cool for him. I really loved the irony there: this series prides itself with its focus on logic. And here Hanemura just coms and kicks some emotions back into the characters.

What also was really refreshing was the way episode 23 ended: when they were all rounding up those crewmembers on the boats, I was really wondering why everyone just complied like sheep. I mean, I know that they put bombs on the ships and all, but the way in which everyone just complied neatly felt a bit like they were all just plot devices. To think that nobody was crazy enough to try something… And they did. It’s not the first time Yoshino has been shot to near-death, but this is slightly different than before, with all of the build-up of “we’re not going to care about you or anything”.

Now, as for the actual ending… Zetsuen no Tempest really was an awesome series, but I do not think that it will have the strongest ending out of the “Big Four” of the Autumn Season (Psycho Pass, Tempest, Jojo, From the New World). Out of all of the penultimate episodes, I’d say that this one has the least hints that it’s going to become something special. But who knows? It might surprise us again. I’d love it if it did that.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

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  • Emma
    (Sunday, Nov 23. 2014 12:16 PM)
    It was only really entertaining for how nuts it got.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Nov 23. 2014 12:15 PM)
    Aku no hana’s manga never really felt like much more than “crazy shit happening and femdom” = guilty pleasure to me.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 23. 2014 12:07 PM)
    @Emma: Gankutsou was fine in my opinion tho, as it was so out there that I never saw it as a real attempt at adaptation.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Nov 23. 2014 12:06 PM)
    I don’t have much exposure to Cumberbatch beyond seeing him talk on film programs and also his role in that Star Trek movie, kind of want to see him in imitation game.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 23. 2014 12:06 PM)
    @K-off: Don’t give ‘em ideas m8, that actually sounds like a pitch that they would pick up.
  • Emma
    (Sunday, Nov 23. 2014 12:04 PM)
    There is a shoujo manga adaptation/rework of King Richard, there is also a romeo and juliet anime, it was one of the worst thing Gonzo produced, still didn’t dislike it as much a gankutsuou though.
  • k-off
    (Sunday, Nov 23. 2014 11:58 AM)
    @Bam He’d probably find some dumbass way to make it into shonen. Maybe Raskolnikov battles Alyona Ivanovna before he kills her.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 23. 2014 11:55 AM)
    Whoever made Aku no Hana should totally make a Catcher in the Rye adaptation tho, as they’re both fittingly pretentious and empty.
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 23. 2014 11:52 AM)
    @K-off: and that was the great Tezuka, now imagine whoever’s writing Akame ga Kill attempting that lol
  • Bam
    (Sunday, Nov 23. 2014 11:49 AM)
    There used to be a long-running and widely internationally syndicated anime series known as World Masterpiece Theater, which adapted many famous stories and novels into anime format. Interesting some stories such as Jean Webster’s Daddy-Long-Legs turned into a pretty decent Shoujo.

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