Posted on 25 April 2014 with categories: Captain Earth

Bones is a studio that does many different types of series,but their one niche they keep coming back to is the mecha shows. It’s a good thing that they manage to do mecha series really well and keep doing enough things to make it interesting, otherwise I would have called lazy. Of course, I can still do that, because even though Captain Earth is a good series, anime still needs to branch out. It’s one of the many things holding this medium back.

But yeah, you know what this series really reminds me of? A more laid-back Eureka Seven Ao. The themes are basically the same: DO NOT LET CHILDREN PILOT MECHAS. The big difference is that the cast of Eureka Seven consisted out of a bunch of hotheads, while the cast of Captain Earth…. there really are many introverts among them. Heck, the only real extraverts are some extras, the bad guys, plus that one hacker girl Daichi is a bit inbetween, but apart from that this was surprisingly composed. That lead to some awkward moments especially in episode two, but still these episodes were quite good at making us read inbetween the lines: saying things with other things than just words.

In terms of pacing episodes 2 and 3 are very different from episode 1: this show changed from really fast pacing, to a relatively slow pacing in order to let the characters play themselves out. Okay, that works for me, as long as they don’t make this last for too long. We now actually have a good feeling for the characters. A lot of fast-paced series fail to do that.

My favorite character so far is the uncle. A lot has to do with his charisma, but he’s also the main guy in charge and he does what he can to both protect the earth, and allow the main cast to be children as much as possible in this constrained environment in which only they are able to actually do something against the aliens.

Posted on 18 April 2014 with categories: Ping Pong

Yes, I know that more people here were involved in making this series beyond Masaaki Yuasa. It’s written by the creator of Tekkon Kinkreet, Taiyo Mashimoto. That guy is awesome. And the combination between those two makes this series even better. Because here’s the thing: anime is significantly different from manga or light novels. Beyond telling a story, you have so much more to worry about: correctly animating characters, giving live to them through cuts and motions, using your music correctly, pacing the story right for the amount of episodes you’re given. Being good in one medium is no guarantee that you’re also good in the other. Consider what would have happened if Seiji Kishi or Shinbo got their hands on this series. Really, this would not have worked at all!

What makes Ping Pong amazing is not its story, but the way in which it’s told. The purpose of this episode was to slightly draw Tsukimoto out of the closet he kept building around himself (whether they’re also symbolizing THAT closet, I’m not sure yet, but even it if were the case that would not matter, because it’s part of his character). The way they do that is perfectly built up throughout this episode. And the animation just brings it out really well.

I feel the Osamu Dezaki-style cuts really work in this series, and finally there’s another guy who uses them. They’re a very interesting way of bringing these characters to life: the way in which the direction keeps showing different sides of the characters during the ping poing matches, ranging from simple shots to exaggerated, to flashbacks, to symbols. That’s how you bring characters to life. My only complaint is the use of CG: it stands out at times. Though thankfully they don’t use it in the important moments.

Posted on 17 April 2014 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

We can never quite get rid of magic fights at a school, now can we, Jojo. Ah well, I forgive it this time, just due to how hilarious it looks seeing these ridiculously bulky men walk around pretending to be high school students. It’s just so over the top, and yet Jojo sets itself apart from the other show about bulky men by focusing on the details, like serving tea, attacking with ballpoint pens and involving plenty of people who don’t have special powers. This alternation between ridiculously strong and weak builds tension, and that’s something that Jojo already figured out in its first season, and most other shounen have quite a bit of trouble with.

Also, Jojo: 2 minutes of recap at the start of an episode is not cool. Right now this show is fine because the stuff it recaps is awesome, however it should take note that if this show were ever to go slightly downhill, that would become an extra nail in its coffin. I noticed it especially with Space Brothers.

But yeah, this episode was really excellent. I now remember again why I can’t watch another action series anymore. They all just pale in comparison to what this show has to offer. The action knows exactly how to elicit adrenaline. The build-up of tension is just perfect and they bring out energy perfectly. Action in other series just pales in comparison unless you get something really good like Shingeki no Kyojin, so I’m totally not considering good action a reason to watch a show anymore.

One strange thing that I did note about this episode was that the powers of the villain were a bit vague: first he was like “I have painting powers!”, but after that he switched over to body control, and then he had giant plasma beams. That’s not necessarily bad though. The big problem that a lot of shounen series make is that they give a lot of villains one gimmick and nothing else, while making the main character the most well-rounded of the bunch (heck, even Kill la Kill did that at times…). This guy just too has a bunch of different talents that he uses.

And speaking of the devil, I’m just going to say it: I’m enjoying these first two episodes much more than what I did with Kill la Kill…

Posted on with categories: Mushishi

Oh yes. This is it. This is what storytelling should be about: telling real stories about real people, all with their own problems that need to be overcome. And this show does that time and time again in just one episode.

I still can’t believe how authentic this series is. The thing is, when I first started watching this series, I was still very young: 18, and I hadn’t even been released in the real world yet. Now that I’m much older I can appreciate the attention to detail even more. This episode was about a fishing village, probably in one of the southern parts of Japan, and what the people there generally had to do to come by. The Mushi here symbolize the tragedies that come with such a life, however I love how they’re only telling a part of the picture: they hint at other big problems, and they’re far from the only thing playing in the world: the world doesn’t revolve around them, they’re just part of it. I have seen no other show that does that better than this series.

What’s also wonderful to see is that the creators really seem to try to fit in character-development into these one-episode stories. I loved how that one guy was finally able to set his grudges aside. And it was done in such a natural way: for once there wasn’t some big life choice that he was forced to make “return or else you’ll die!”. In theory, they could have figured something out with the village, heck he just could have given them the pearl while still remaining isolated. It just was the push he needed to set his feelings aside and become part of the village again.

Another way in which anime has gone down, is how its directors have gotten much less freedom. What I mean by that is this: when in 2005, Mushishi was made, Hiroshi Nagahama was perhaps a well known episode director and storyboard artist, but he never directed a full series. Here he got the chance, and BAM, he gave it the best possible adaptation it could have hoped for. I mean, if you look at some of the other series that Artland has worked on: the animation is completely different, much more generic, their pacing is way off. A debuting director managed to do that and they gave him a lot of freedom here.

Fast-forward eight years, and you can see that the established directors can get the freedom they want: Masaaki Yuasa can just push forward his style like he wants. But really, when was the last time that we really saw a first-time director try to push his own style and stamp on a series? My guess is that as anime has matured since the digital age, it has become more consistent. Consistency is boring! Be ambitious! Take risks! Show your personal style! Be intelligent and show authentic stories!

Posted on 11 April 2014 with categories: Random Posts

Well, the only shows that are still set to air are that cats and dogs show and that one Shaft series, but all of the shows I cared about have aired. Here’s a quick spoiler-free overview of the series that I’m going to try and follow, and think have it in them to keep watching in order of preference:

Baby Steps: Very knowledgeable, but it still needs to deliver on the emotional level.

One Week Friends: I’m a bit on the fence on this one, but it has the potential to be really heart-warming.

Knights of Sidonia: Dystopian sci-fi that has an actually good atmosphere. Note that you need to be able to stomach 3D CG to watch this.

Hitsugi no Chaika: Lots of magic this season, but this show did it actually well by putting restrictions on its magic. Beyond that it’s got very good characters and a setting that has quite some potential for an epic yet grounded storyline.

Captain Earth: This show sets itself apart in the writing with lots of references back and forth to keep it interesting and fun. Because of that there is also a lot of potential in the characters.

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Not a moment of boredom or waste. Huge heaps of fun returning and the third season looks as strong as the others.

Ping Pong: Awesome animation, but also really well acted characters who are different, yet very fun to watch. Also Masaaki Yuasa took some cues from Osamu Dezaki.

Mushishi: Fantastic return. A truly relaxing and authentic show with deep and intelligent storylines and characters. The best of the best.

These are the series I’ll be looking out for. I have no idea how I’ll cover that in this blog, that’s going to be a matter entirely dependent on how I feel. I’ll try to at least cover Mushishi though. It deserves it.

So what are your favorites of the season after just one episode?

Posted on with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Knights of Sidonia

Short Synopsis: Our lead character has special mecha-piloting powers
Knights of Sidonia is made fully in 3D CG. At one point, quite early in the episode, the main characters breaks two of his fingers, and DAMN, that looked painful. That’s actually one of the first times that CG animation managed to elicit that. Oh, the CG still looks weird, but I can see some definite improvements over previous series. The length of each cut for example is shortened drastically when compared to other CG shows, and that really helps things from not looking as awkward as what they could have been. Really: as far as CG goes: I have seen much, much worse. Everything added together, Knights of Sidonia is actually quite good at its atmosphere: bleak and tense through the entire episode. It’s also got a very good soundtrack to back this up. It’s got some nice ideas laying around, (although it does have one shot of really pointless fanservice). I want to learn more about this series, it dropped a few hints to some very nice ideas about what life in the very distant future would be like. I want this show to explore that.
OP: Actually a good OP that a show like this deserves.
ED: A bit poppy, but it does carry the atmosphere of the episode further.
Potential: 80%

Nanaka’s Buried Treasure

Short Synopsis: Our lead character moves into a new school.
I only lasted half an episode here. I mean, this show does not feel like Noitanima at all, it’s just a bland teen rom-com with very annoying characters. Especially the male lead is bad, his dirty mind was really painful to watch, and he just kept finding new ways to annoy me. I was already afraid that this would happen, but there have been veeery few Noitamina series that were this bland and annoying to watch at the start. There might be a heart-warming story behind this, however I don’t want to watch that while being annoyed by these dumb teenagers.
OP: Bland
ED: Boring
Potential: 40%

Ping Pong

Short Synopsis: Our lead character plays table tennis.
Yeah, this is something different entiely. It’s without a doubt the series with the best animatiom of the season. Movements here are wild and vivid, like we’ve come to expect from Masaaki Yuasa. The big question though, was whether he could do something with a topic as Ping Pong. And well, first of all let me say that this episode was very different from his other first episodes. However, it was still really good in capturing its characters. Everything felt life-like, thanks to the animation, but also the dialogue and the way in which the characters talk about each other: it really shapes them and painted a very detailed picture about them in just one episode. It’s funny when it needs to be, and it doesn’t try too hard when doing so. Plus, it also knows how to keep you hungry for more. The drama also really worked, and everything here just feels very authentic. This probably won’t be the next Kaiba, but nevertheless it’s a ridiculously solid character study as expected from a few master storytellers.
OP: Yeah, this OP is awesome. Great idea and if it weren’t for Mushishi it would have easily made the best OP of the season.
ED: Absolutely gorgeous! Really if Mushishi didn’t return with the best ED ever made, this again would have easily made the best ED of the season.
Potential: 100%

Posted on 10 April 2014 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Hitsugi no Chaika

Short Synopsis: Our lead character
The genre of a boy and a girl who fight monsters using magic is very crowded. Though this one is the best incarnation in quite a while. A big difference between this show and its contemporaries is that it puts restrictions on the magic: it’s difficult to cast and you can actually see the characters struggle, rather than things being a matter of whoever having the biggest power level winning, and also using that for quite some funny jokes. It also cares for continuity (if a table gets destroyed, you have to pay for it later). It’s got the basics down. Then there are the characters, who actually are quite likable and down to earth, plus enough room for development. AND OH MY GOD IT HAS A BROTHER AND A SISTER WHO DON’T HAVE THE HOTS FOR EACH OTHER! STOP THE PRESSES, IT’S A MIRACLE!
OP: This song just doesn’t work…
ED: Not bad, there is some nice art inbetween this.
Potential: 85%

No Game No Life

Short Synopsis: Our lead character ends up in a world of games.
Basically Dog Days without the dogs or cats, this show is about a world in which all disputes have to be solved through games. The show looks great, the characters are interesting to watch. This one actually has potential. It’s not perfect, though. The big issue here is that the creators aren’t good at showing how their games progress. The main characters are supposed to be invincible, but all we see throughout the episode is them pulling Deus ex Machina winning powers out of their asses. Also, for a NEET with a communication disorder the male lead is surprisingly good at bantering, a skill that requires exactly that. It’s difficult for this series to really make me suspend my disbelief, but then again I am not the target audience for this show. It’s obvious that this is a gamer’s wet dream, an actual show where games become reality. However, what makes this show special is that it doesn’t entirely glorify NEETs. When you read between the lines, it’s clear that these two NEET are social failures and that this series really is about escapism. That’s not something you get out of every NEET-series.
ED: Nice eye candy.
Potential: 75%

Black Bullet

Short Synopsis: Our lead character fights monsters with magic.
Ooh, Black Bullet actually shows that the creators of the anime put in effort: the soundtrack is great, it has a few small details that were quite funny, the acting is nice. It’s just a shame that when you look past that and into the big picture, you’ll start to see problems. For this show, I have no idea what is going to make it worth watching in the long run. It’s just a show about killing big monsters with superpowers. The characters show no hints of upcoming development, there is no mystery, there is nothing that really makes you hungry for more, beyond this boring dead parents plot thread, but it’s all just so inconsequential.
OP: An actually good opening, surprising.
Potential: 65%

Posted on with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Fuuun Ishi Dai Shogun

Short Synopsis: Our lead character kicks ass and is a virgin.
Um… Okay. I have to confess here: I laughed at this series quite a bit. This show really is the creators just jerking around and not taking themselves seriously at all. Everything in this series was just hamming it up, from start to finish. While this looked like a random samurai show with fighting can be more classified as a comedy with lots of fighting, sex jokes, freaking mechas that appear from out of bloody nowhere, ninjas and people who look like samurai. What saves this show from its contemporaries is that it can actually be funny, and the sex jokes are equally putting men and women down, objectifying them both. I’d say, go for this one if you like crass and unashamed comedy, for one episode and one episode only. Yeah, I’m not in the delusion that this will remain funny for long. This looked like a show where the best jokes were spent in the first episode. One random detail: the soundtrack is surprisingly good for some weird reason.
OP: Bland J-Rock, that’s the best you can think of?
Potential: 45%

Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka

Short Synopsis: Our lead character geht zu Deutschland um kaffee zu bedienen.
This show has one aim, and one aim only: being as cute as humanly possible. It doesn’t succeed, but at least puts in a bit of effort: it’s just a dumb series about a bunch of girls talking to each other and nothing more, but the banter has its amusing moments. Of course it also has plenty of moments that are just bad, like how one of the characters walks around in her underwear for no reason whatsoever. At times it gets a bit too dumb for its own good, and I’m not going to continue watching this, but I uess it’ll make a few slice of life fans quite happy.
OP: Meh, generic J-pop again.
ED: Really badly sung
Potential: 30%

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushi

Short Synopsis: Our lead character marries a king of a rich country.
Ooh, this has been a long while: an actual shoujo adventure series. After Fushigi Yuugi this was a genre that for a few years enjoyed some real popularity, but it has nearly died out during the past years. So of course it’s up to the director of Fushigi Yuugi to finally do something new again. Having said that though: I watched a few episodes of it and didn’t continue with it due to how incredibly stupid some of the characters were. In Fushigi Yuugi this was the main female lead, though in Soredemo it’s the cast of side characters. The main character isn’t exactly bright or anything, but she does have charisma: she’s interesting to watch and I see potential for her to become a balanced character. However, I do have to say that when you compare this series to the big ones: Ashita no Nadja, Twelve Kindoms, Saiunkoku Monogatari, Kaleido Star, Glass Mask… yeah it really is shallow. But heck, if this can revitalize the genre and allow the shoujo genre to reach its former depth again, then I’m all in!
ED: Quite a lazy ED with a boring song
Potential: 50%

Posted on with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

And here is a collection of really quick impressions for the shows that I really can’t be arsed to really write much about.

Dragonar: random harem crap with a nonsensical premise.

Mangaka-san to Assistant-kun: this is just crap. The lengths that creators go to to get girls to grope themselves. I especially hate how the creators treat it like it’s the most normal thing to do.

Daimidaler: this show… it’s by far the single worst show of the season. Dear god, did I actually see this show that completely and unashamedly glorifies groping every single women you lay your eyes on? Seriously Japan? Fanservice is one thing, but this show actually promotes sexual harrassment

Kamigami no Asobi: Those male transformation sequences… And oh my god, these bishies are so pretty that flowers spontaneously bloom in their vicinities. I know that this show uses existing tropes and all, but the way in which it carries them further than everreaches the point where it looks so bad that it becomes funny. And OH MY GOD THEY ACTUALLY HAVE A PINK FLUFFY PEGASUS. Yeah, definitely so bad it’s hilarious territory, although that won’t last beyond one episode.

Brynhildr‘s main character is so impulsive that he has no control over his actions and can’t even wait for a bit while checking out a girl who resembles a girl he knew ten years ago. Could have had potential, but I got turned off by the fanservice, awkward acting and the school setting. The OP’s good though.

Kanojo ga Flaw wo Orareta‘s lead has the same problem as Brylhildr (seriously have some creativity dammit!), but at least she’s aware of her own actions. This show is a lot weirder than what I thought it would be. This show plays with irony, but it’s laying it on really heavy here. This feels like a worse version of Noucome.

Soul Eater Not: What have they done to you?! It’s so generic! Everything here is blatantly uninspired and bland! What did Soul Eater ever do to deserve this?

Posted on 6 April 2014 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Captain Earth

Short Synopsis: Our lead character must use Captain Earth to protect the planet from evil aliens!
This show gets it: what makes a great opening episode. I’ve mentioned hinting many times before, and the creators here are really good at that. The entire episode just kept hinting at stuff over and over again, either to things that it would showcase a few minutes later, but also enough hints about the course of the rest of the show, about the different characters, the villains. This really was the kind of episode that made me excited to see more about this show, to learn more about the characters, and to find out how the setting works here. That’s pretty good for a show that at first sight deems like a generic mecha series. On top of that, this series also really knows that it’s an anime, and you can see a lot of stuff being said inbetween the lines, with nonverbal communication. This episode was very compact and it used that time optimally to show as much about the different characters as it could, including a short flashback. The soundtrack is excellent as well. If it can keep this up then this will be a killer.
ED: Boring song, and I hope that next week we’ll get more than a black screen
Potential: 90%

One Week Friends

Short Synopsis: Our lead character meets a girl in high school
Wheee…. another high school series… how exciting… what an original setting…. Sarcasm aside, One Week Friends at the very least is a good show about dating. It shows the main couple spending time together, there is a visible chemistry between them, rather than them being totally not a match, their conversation feels quite natural. Really, the only thing I can really fault it is being boring. Really, I’m nust not in the mood for watching a show that’s entirely about the romance of a bunch of high school kids, but for what it did, it did a pretty good job. So because of that it’s a good thing that the second half brought in a bit of interesting and surprisingly good drama, and the success of this series will depend entirely on how they’ll use the main gimmick of this series. If we’re just going to watch the same episode over and over again, this will obviously become a failure. However if they continue to challenge all characters involved in different ways, then this can actually become something.
OP: Nice art.
ED: A good ending that actually segues in from the end of the episode. Finally another series that gets it.
Potential: 75%

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