Posted on 30 April 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin(Attack on Titan)

Okay, so for clarity: the creators are pulling some of the later build-up chapters right to the beginning. I like that though, because even though I know the storyline, I really got startled there by the sudden appearance of that really big giant again.

Having the build-up chapters scattered through the story, or just having one big build-up arc at the beginning: there is no right way. Both have their merits. The former is more varied and has material to vary with during the heavy scenes, while the latter has a solid character base to start off with. We can only wait and see which is the best for this kind of story. Either way though, this episode did what it was supposed to do: take the characters and add to them. They had to do this with more than 10 characters, and they actually succeeded very well there. I especially like how it highlighted the paradox that the better you become, the less likely it is that you’ll fight the titans.

Also, thank god! Tetsurou Araki got some freedom again, compared to Guilty Crown in which I just couldn’t detect his influence at all. During the heavy scenes you could really see hints of Death Note and Kurozuka. I really encourage anime creators to put something of themselves into their adaptations. It makes them more unique. Especially if it adds something good.

Shingeki no Kyojin has this unique way of shading is characters during the heavy scenes (lots of shadows around the eyes). Strangely this was also played for laughs (Sasha…). It’ll be interesting whether they will keep that up or not.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 29 April 2013 with categories: Aku no Hana

This series is just completely amazing. Seriously, in terms of teenaged dramas… this was one of the best we’ve gotten in a long, long while. Nakamura is just an amazing character. She really showed that with this episode.

She’s not a simple pervert who is weird. She is actively trying to tear down all of the walls that Kasuga has built around himself, trying to get into the perverted mind that he has, trying to find out what drove him into stealing the gym clothes. I love how she was fascinated by that and how she just keeps Kasuga on a leash, and just keeps invading his personal space that he’s trying to defend so vividly.

And on the other hand there is Kasuga, who is seeing that as a hint that she likes him, and in the meantime just continues to be completely unable to resist her. And I’m probably repeating this, but this animation is cheap and all, but the characters are incredibly expressive because of it! It also offers all kinds of inspiration for conventional animation, because the way the characters move, the way they hold each other. They just feel so believable!

One argument against the rotoscoping that I’ve heard a bunch of times mentioned is the following: “why don’t they just make a live action series out of it?” I don’t think that a live action Aku no Hana would be the same, to be honest. First of all, this series still uses still frames which would be really awkward in live-action, whereas in animated form it makes use of them incredibly well by contrasting between lots of movement, and no movement at all.

I’m not sure how many of you remember that one episode of His and Her Circumstances, which suddenly out of nowhere switched its regular animation over to moving cardboard cut-outs. Literally! I haven’t seen many reactions of how others received that sudden decision, but I loved it. I think that those unconventional animation techniques can really add something to the characters when done well (that’s the key point there, because it can indeed be done really badly or without any sort of expression; those CG dance eds are a good example of an idea that just doesn’t work for me).
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 28 April 2013 with categories: Spring 2013 Kaleidoscope

#1: Hunter X Hunter – 76: Well, finally. It has taken a year and a half, but we’ve finally gotten to the actual new material of Hunter X Hunter with the Chimera Ant arc. I was fully set to start dedicating an entire entry to it again, but as I started typing, I realized something: I’m not really invested in this show. I’m not motivated to dedicate an entire entry to this series. I’m not sure what the main reason was. Perhaps it’s how annoying blogging the first episodes turned out to be, or how annoying it has been to wait so long for this point to come. My guess though, it’s the characters. Overall, the 1999 series at its height was much more engaging than what this series was at its height. This lack of character investment is something that’s quite important to me: oftentimes I was able to enjoy series with really shoddy plots due to really good or interesting characters, though the reverse (good plot with uninteresting characters) are rarer. Instead, I have the kaleidoscope, because I can’t deny that the plot here is really good. Episode 76 tells about the prologue of the series, which was originally meant to be shown at the start of the series. I preferred the latter (I like foreshadowing), but really: this works too as a flashback. Character building yay! Although that ant queen looks rather silly. And Madhouse still couldn’t get any good singers for their EDs?

#2: Majestic Prince – 04: This one surprised me, a lot. With a few exceptions, the characters are starting to move away from their stereotypes, and also: it’s still quite self-aware. Especially episode 4 was actually quite genuine for that blond woman as it showed her role in the story along with her background and her worries. I did not expect that.

#3: Saint Seiya Omega – 54: I’m still not quite sure what to think of the new series, especially the villains are really boring and all look alike. Yet, this episode still grabbed me with Yuna’s doubts about her strengths (also that was surprisingly blunt of Koga to say… “Why aren’t you fighting?!”).

WTFs of the week:

Yahari blahblah – 03: Half the cast of this show is a tsundere!

Valvrave the Liberator – 02: Oh my god, this show is really aiming to be a huge trainwreck. I mean, the plot is exciting and all with the whole personality switching, but dear god, the characters! “L-EEEEELF!!!!!”

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San! – 03: Moloch is awesome. It’s not just his character. He’s this catalyst that makes every single other character awesome. Now that he’s gone this show has gone to bleeding ass jokes. I wish I were kidding. What the hell did I just watch there?

Danchi Tomou – 03: Even considering he’s young… there is a bit of a screw loose on Tomou. He seriously acted like half his age in this episode!

Posted on 26 April 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

I just realized this at the end of the episode… but the opposing team on the finals consists out of a bunch of nut-cases.

I think this keeps true to one of the themes of this series: geniuses are eccentric in one way or the other (even Arata with how seriously he takes his punishment). I’m not sure whether this has a deeper meaning beyond just being really entertaining, but I love it. At first they seem like this very serious team to come over, only to get completely hilarious once the actual match starts.

The creators also really know how to torture Kanade here, by having like, the best announcer in existance voice the finals. If there is anything that this second season has been brilliant at, it’s its build-up. The final match was hinted at many times before, the creators keep referring back to Arata and the Queen, which will just happen much, much later. And it does interesting thing with them: it really plays with its characters and finds creative ways for hinting like that. The comedy really works when it needs to and that really helps.

The cliff-hanger was awesome, but I am a bit worried that at this point in the series, we’re still stuck in the team matches. I mean, this is nice and all but the team matches are not what really matters here in this series. That goes to the individual matches, in which we can see all these characters participate yet again. There are so many awesome matches and re-matches about to happen that I worry that they’re not going to be able to fit all of that in what? eight remaining episodes?
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 25 April 2013 with categories: Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

This show… it feels like a bit of a combination between Ghibli and Last Exile. But things like the pirates (especially that pirate queen), the atmosphere, the sense of adventure. You can really see that this show takes a lot of cues from them, while at the same time using Leda to create its own identity.

This episode built up some very good suspense of disbelief with how it dealt about the deaths of those pirates last episode. It really put emphasis that that would have some very dire consequences, and that they’re basically at war with the pirates now. The rest of this episode took care of that quickly, but still it serves as a good build-up here. I doubt that that was the last that we’ve seen of them.

The thing right now is that that one robot is pretty much a godmode-button. Normally in storytelling this completely takes away all tension. And this will also go for this season, unless the creators do something with it. That brings us back to Urobuchi Gen, who obviously took that into account. The question now is: what will he do with it? Will he now focus on problems that can’t be solved with brute strength? Will he remain all-powerful, but will this turn into an exploration of the complications that this brings with it? Or will it pull in more people of Led’s kind, throwing the people of the Gargantia in the middle of a conflict that’s way above their heads?
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 24 April 2013 with categories: Hataraku Maou-Sama

Hataraku Maou-sama’s third episode was clever: on one hand it was cliched, but on the other hand most of it was saved because you knew that something was going on, and hinted at previously. That turned a simple date into something intriguing. And at the end of the episode we still don’t know whatever the hell that was.

Having said that though, this episode was a bit of a step back in the comedy. It’s not that it was bad, it just wasn’t as good (the first two episode had some very witty writing). Still, I laughed. Emilia’s stalking and not being subtle about it whatsoever was probably the funniest.

The most notable part of this episode was the ending, though. On one hand it’s good, on the other hand questionable. I really like how there is change: Maou doesn’t just have none of his powers for the biggest part of the series: this changes. That’s very good. What I don’t understand is that he suddenly really got out of characters. Emilia also found it strange and all, but I still want some explanation on how some evil demon overlord has suddenly gotten so passionate about saving people. And don’t give me that harem crap.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 23 April 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin(Attack on Titan)

I already know what’s going to happen for the first couple of episodes in this series, but this episode was a bit of an exception, in which the creators went into far more detail during the training arc. I guess that in that way, I still prefer anime over manga. It’s probably something really personal, but in animated form, I can get a better feel of who the characters are, making them easier to relate to. Eren really benefitted from that in particular.

On the other hand, the creators did spent an entire episode training, which is not the most interesting practice to watch. This episode was really interesting for the character building. It made characters stand out without using cliches, and showed a good combination of characters who were just there to live the easy life, to do something exciting, or determined to exterminate the titans. The cast is large, but everyone has his own identity. We’re going to have to wait a bit longer to find out whether the creators nailed the big strength of this series though.

This is the balance between build-up and delivery that you need to strike right. I think that that will be a very big challenge for this series: getting the pacing right to fit the story into 25 episodes. With this episode they chose for a solid base on the characters, at the expense of taking a bit of a step back. Now let’s see whether the animators can make the wait pay off!
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

Posted on 21 April 2013 with categories: Aku no Hana

This series. It’s the best horror anime that I have seen in a long while. It’s really been long since I watched something that made me feel so uncomfortable, in such a good way. I love how this show just completely breaks down teenaged anxieties and fears and how it just makes them spiral out of control.

What’s more: every episode has just gotten more and more intense so far. Episode one was a slow build-up, episode two saw things escalate, and with this… things have gotten completely crazy, but it’s also done in such a realistic and believable way, while at the same time what happened was just completely messed up.

You can just see the fears and guilt build up inside of Kasuga: he doesn’t want to be seen as a pervert, or strange, or evil. And with that he just keeps wiggling himself into more and more of a corner. And that lead to just a brilliant climax that I think a lot of teenagers or ex-teenagers can relate to.

What happened in the first half of the episode was probably a bit less relatable, but still I love the camera work there (and I can only imagine how difficult that scene must have been to do right without rotoscoping on a tigh budget!), plus how crazy Nakamura turned out to be now that she finally found someone she can use with similar interests as her. I really like how she just forces herself completely into her comfort zone.
Rating: 6.5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 19 April 2013 with categories: Spring 2013 Kaleidoscope

So, some feedback on my previous entry: it seems that people were actually expecting something else when I said that I’d do a kaleidoscope this season, and that is more of an entry with short impressions on a lot of different series.

I can get behind that. I also like to highlight a lot of different series. The problem is going to be to keep up with all of it. Ever since I got a life I can’t just consistently keep up with everything every single week, so be sure to expect some delays.

These entries won’t be complete, but every thursday, I’ll try to give a rundown of my favorite episodes of the series that I’m not blogging, along with disappointments or other noteworthy episodes that I happen to watch. Enjoy.

Top 3:

#1: Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z – 02: very rarely is a comedy sequel better than its predecessor. And yet, Azazel-san here had its best episode yet. With this I include all the OVAs and TV-series together. With the first episode I already said that Moloch is by far the best character of the series, but he really surpassed himself with this episode; it was just brilliant. The creators had so many hilarious ideas with how they made him pretend to be a stuffed animal and they built up their humour perfectly. Heck, this was the funniest thing I’ve seen all year.

#2: Hunter X Hunter – 75: Finally. After waiting for more than a year and a half. Throughout 75 episodes. We are finally about to get to the new material. Finally I won’t have to bitch anymore about the series just being a glorified recap. Anyway, the Greed Island arc was done better in Madhouse’s version compared to what Nippon Animation did to it (better pacing, better action, better acting, things flowed much better), but it remains for a large part a training arc that is just boring to watch. This final episode though was really good, as it showed some of the people behind the Greed Island Game. Just one thing: didn’t Hunter x Hunter have its own alphabet? What are they doing then toying with latin letters over and over here? And then the text on the cards for Greed Island is in Japanese… how do languages work there anyway?

#3: Danchi Tomou – 02: Oh come on, people. It’s been a week and still no subs? What is this? 2008? Anyway, Tomou is good. It’s slice of life without much happening, but the characters are quite endearing so far, and it’s about actually interesting situations. I actually quite liked how everyone just got out and had dinner outside on a whim. It’s full of these small relatable things, but sometimes it does go on for a bit too long (the smelly hands thing got awkward quite fast, and it just went on and on!)

Notes about Aiura: sorry, but being the fan of Ryousuke Nakamura I have to talk about this. The second episode still was funny, the voice acting was still very good, but there are some stereotypes. Well hidden stereotypes, but you can see that this was based on a mediocre manga.

Disappointments:

Karneval – 02: I’m not going to watch the second episode of everything, only the series that I thought had potential. Out of those, Karneval disappointed me the most. Listen, there is a difference between stupidity, and acting like you’re outright lobotomized. The male lead acts like a completely whiny kid with no grasp of who he is. The rest of the cast tries way too hard with their acting. If I dropped the Hakkenden, I also have to drop this one, because the Hakkenden was much, much more solid.

Devil Survivor – 02: You know what really surprised me? How boring this show is. I mean, even Persona had some fun elements when it started, but this… the characters are completely bland and I’ve already forgotten what half of this thing was about. The animators try, but I see no motivation whatsoever from the scriptwriters or directors.

Posted on 18 April 2013 with categories: Chihayafuru

Holy crap! When Nishida lashed out to Tsutomu last episode, I did not expect that it was about to build up to something as amazing as here right now. I mean, the outcome of this episode was predictable, but the way in which it happened totally wasn’t!

Most of the episode was about Chihaya and her growth. Chihaya lost to Megumu, but it’s clear that she has become better, while at the same time that she has a long way to go (the way how her nails were clenched into the palm of her hands the whole time). And then when she lost, Tsutomu really came out of nowhere to really steal the show. This show already had the luck of the draw decide against the team’s favor, so with this it is a really good way to balance out. Because of this you really don’t know what to expect when things come down to it. Either way it was Tsutomu’s crowning moment of awesome there.

Then there is Kanade. What really surprised me here was that there were two matches of which we hardly got to see anything: Kanade’s and Taichi’s. What really intrigues me was why Kanade finished before Taichi, which really made me think that we haven’t really seen much about how she actually improved. All we know is that she suddenly has gotten really good, with multiple wins in a row despite being dead tired. Still, was Taichi just against a better player? It seemed like the best two seemed to be against Chihaya and Nishida. I mean, Taichi is pretty much an A-Class player at this point, as soon as he manages to win that damned tournament, so what exactly worked against him there?

This episode was also full of hints about special cards: the cards that contain the names of everyone. Chhaya lost hers to Megumu, Megumu lost hers to Chihaya. And I noticed the creators also dropping the names for the cards for Arata and Shinobu. Yay for building up!

One thing never improved though: the photographing guys never really stopped being annoying.
Rating: 6,5/8 (Amazing)

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