Posted on 30 May 2014 with categories: Mushishi

Now this was such a beautiful episode. We often see Mushi portrayed as parasites. In fact, they are pretty much based on the insects and viruses of their world. There probably are enough real viruses and insects living in the Mushishi world, but they just aren’t the focus of the series. Anyway, what they did here was highlight the duality of these little critters: they have both their positives and negatives. This episode really focused on the positives, while again not ignoring the negatives.

The woman who is cursed to keep all of the moisture inside her body. It killed a few people due to unfortunate circumstances (again, nobody is at fault here), however it also brings so much joy to the people when she arrives. What made this episode work so well is how well this series characterizes just about everyone: even the minor characters feel real. I mean, have you looked at the animation for this series? EVERYTHING IS SMOOTH AND LIFELIKE. I cannot recall a TV-series that has such consistently detailed animation for characters, and this series can pull it off because it’s not an action series: budget doesn’t need to be spent on elaborate action scenes, so instead it can go into the detail.

Mushishi really is a mature series like no other. Most series when they tell a story, resort to black and whites: there are clear heroes and clear villains, and even when the villains have reasons for their actions, their reasoning is often crazy in some way to the point where you can’t really hold a nuanced conversation with them. Here, everything has multiple sides to it, and it’s done in a really cool way.

And yeah, pretty much now that I’ve seen the preview of the upcoming summer season: I’m currently 95% sure that Mushishi is going to end up as the best show of 2014. There never has been a series that stood so far above all of the others in all other years that I’ve been blogging. It’s just consistently fantastic and detailed and in seven episodes I have yet to spot a weak moment. This show is just THAT special, and it justifies a second season really well: every episode continues to build upon the lore of the mushi, and we still see new stuff.

Posted on 28 May 2014 with categories: Seasonal Previews

Some trends for the upcoming summer season: the series aimed at girls seem to be getting big again after a long drought. The problem is that like the series aimed at boys, a lot of them are looking to be really bad. Beyond that, there are lots of series that have concepts that have been done to death by now. I’m nearly inclined to dub this season “The Summer of Dead Horses”.

On the good news though, there are quite a number of series that are looking to have some serious potential. And not in the way of the Autumn of 2013 in which everything seemed great, only to feature many, many disappointments, but actually in the way that there will be a lot worth watching here, series that take themselves seriously, or are trying out something different. Well, many. Many for the standards of the past few years.

As usual, lots of assumptions follow. I do not read manga so I have no idea about any original source material and stuff. My impressions are purely based on the stuff that I can say something about, like the staff, premise and promotional material. These ain’t full reviews, yo.

Series that I Don’t Look Forward To

Momo Kyun Sword

Why I don’t like it:`Yeah, this one is going to be terrible. It’s in the genre where cute girls with lots of boob fight with big powers, while at the same time raping the original story of Momotaro (the kid who was born from a peach). I mean, just look at the art here the creators weren’t trying to be subtle about the characters’ cleavage in any way were they?

Pripara

Why I don’t like it: It’s yet another one of those shows there to promote idols. Seriously, that too has turned into a complete dead horse. I wouldn’t mind so much if we just got one of these shows once in a while or something, like what it used to be in the past, but nowadays they’re everywhere! Idols are not so special that they deserve this many series people! The only saving grace here is that it’s from the director of Milky Holmes, but this isn’t a genre he can parody so well because it would make the idols look bad. Blegh.

Himegoto

Why I don’t like it: This is a stupid cross-dressing show with a ridiculous premise. The worst thing is that it’s the same bloody premise that every single bad cross-dressing series uses for its shenanigans: for some contrived reason a dude needs to enter a female only high school and therefore he needs to dress up like a girl. Blah boring! Skip this one!

Jinsei

Why I don’t like it: Well first of all it’s a light novel adaptation with an overly cute girl on the front page. That’s one of the clearest early signs that this will be bad. And yeah, it’s a dull school series. The premise however does hold a tiny shred of potential: it’s about the writer of a life advice column of the school newspaper that follows a few of the life advice requests he needs to write about. If they can deal with those requests intelligently, then this might make a chance. But then I direct your attention back to the covers of the light novels, which all feature overly cute girls in suggestive poses and yeah… this one’s gonna suck.

Survival Game Club

Why I don’t like it: Blah blah, another club full of girls at school that does something. Again something we’ve seen waaaay too many times by now. This time it’s about survival games, and is that me or does that really sound eerily similar to that Gainax show about the gun club that came out last Autumn?

Persona 4 The Golden

Why I don’t like it: Ooh, I still remember what a disaster the original Persona 4 anime was, and now they’re planning to make more! It was completely incomprehensible for people who didn’t play the game. It spent huge amounts of time on things that didn’t matter, and flew through the important bits. It was littered with bad humour. It was the first point at which I realized that Seiji Kishi had completely lost it with his new style, and he’s back. However he really turned into a Shinbo-wannabe right now by assuming the task of chief director while another director is the real one. And I know that having a chief director and a director is more common and all, but none are trying to rip off Shinbo as blatantly as he is. I have a pity with the fans of the Atlus that they keep getting stuck with this guy. I mean in the span of a couple of years he managed to turn me off completely to their games.

Nobunaga Concerto

Why I don’t like it: Normally I’m a bit more lenient on historical manga that look kindof serious. But for god’s sake come on! A high school boy who travels back in time and who must become Oda Nobunaga? Is that the best you can think of? Let’s try to rape his character even more by turning him into a high school boy for god’s sake. Japan has many more interesting time periods. You don’t have to stick with this guy. Here is the weird thing: when Sengoku Basara did it, the warring states era was hardly ever used as a setting. After that though, every single historical series suddenly was about that bloody period, to the point where there was hardly anything else. I mean come on Japan: move on!

Francesca

Why I don’t like it: You just know that this one will be bad: it’s basically one big advertisement for Hokkaido (like, the island), personified in a cute girl. As a zombie. Or at least, something that’s supposed to be a zombie. WHATEVER IS ON THAT PROMO IMAGE IS NOT A ZOMBIE.

Akame ga Kill

Why I don’t like it: This one doesn’t seem like anything special: it’s just another show in which a boy and a girl use magical powers to fight some evil empire. The weapons look stupid, the character designs bland. The sole salvation here is that there isn’t a school to be found, but that’s nowhere near enough to make up for the blandness of the rest.

Hanayamata

Why I don’t like it: Here’s a case of talented people being wasted on the wrong project. I mean, these people aren’t bad at all. They worked on some really good stuff: Madhouse, Reiko Yoshida and Atsuko Ishizuka (the latter in particular: she’s one of the few female directors who actually made it into the big leagues and consistently gets assigned to projects). However, what’s the show about? High School Girls dancing. Now Yosakoi is something that we haven’t seen before and all, but there is no hint whatsoever that there will be any depth here. Tip for future promo artists: don’t feature an all-cute girl cast on your image who look way too much like each other and nothing else. That’s just bland and boring!

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei!

Why I don’t like it: For god’s sake stop milking out the Fate franchise! It’s done, it’s over! Enough already and think of something new here. this is just getting ridiculous!

Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance

Why I don’t like it: Yeah, this one will be really bad, all of the warning signs are there. A promo full of only cute girls, they all use magic, they are all of nobility, and there is exactly one guy who gets to be special and ends up inbetween them for contrived reasons. Next!

Shounen Hollywood

Why I don’t like it: Aaagh! More idols! Such creativity! This one does come from the director of Sukitte Ii na Yo, however can we for god’s sake tone it down on the sheer number of these things?

Invaders of the Rokujyouma!?

Why I don’t like it: Yup, many warning signs that this is going to be terrible. All the male characters are absent from the main promo art on the website, character designs who all look the same aside from hair, eyes and boob sizes, a bland premise for a show. Not to mention Shin Oonuma and Silver Link being at it again. This is one to skip.

Argevollen

Why I don’t like it: Aaah yes, finally! Xebec is going back to making mecha series, the thing that they did that they were actually good at, until they radically shifted their focus towards producing crappy fanservice shows. Tatsuo Sato will write it, and this is a guy who also wrote Mouretsu Pirates, Basquash, Madesico, Shingu, and adapted Azumanga Daioh, and the director will be… what?! Atsushi Ootsuka? The director of To Love-Ru, Kanokon and Ladies Versus Butlers? Some of the worst shows Xebec has ever made!?! Seriously, you really couldn’t get anyone better? And yeah, the trailer confirmed that this is just going to be a dumb action series with a generic plot.

Magimoji Rurumo

Why I don’t like it: I do have to hand it to Rurumo: it’s got its own premise. It’s not completely original, but at the very least it has a premise that doesn’t attempt to rip off as many other generic series as possible. However, that does not mean that I look forward to a series with a tagline called “Pervert and Apprentice”. I find sex jokes bad really easily, so this show is going to have to try really really hard not to be annoying. So yeah, that’s not going to happen.

Love Stage

Why I don’t like it:Kenichi Kasai, the director who gave us the brilliant rendition that were the first season of Nodame Cantabile and Honey and Clover! After years of silence he’s finally back with another series: shounen ai! Fans of shounen ai: rejoice! Non-fans of shounen-ai: keep waiting. He may be brilliant, but he isn’t able to make people buy a genre they previously weren’t into.

Dramatical Murder

Why I don’t like it:Oh my god, BL with an actual plot! The problem with boys’ love series is that they’re just too often entirely dedicated to fanservice, to the point where the fanservice gets completely in the way of any potential that might have been there. Show me a great series that has a gay couple in it and I won’t complain at all. The reason I’m not looking forward to this is the one who’s going to adapt this: Machida Touko. Her adaptations comprise Amnesia, Allison to Lillia, Ookami Kakushi… basically lots of series that completely botched any potential that their original source material had.

Rail Wars

Why I don’t like it:Here’s an interesting one. The premise is creative, I like that, and I really want to like this series, but everything else is throwing up red flags: the guy who adapted Kanokon will adapt this, it’s based off of a bunch of light novels, the stereotypical character descriptions, and how the poses that the characters are all making are all trying a little too hard. Don’t get me wrong, these don’t immediately mean that we’re dealing with a bad series here. But there are an awful lot of hints that do point into that direction.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

Why I don’t like it: I don’t really have anything to whine about here. It seems like a standard romance, just not a special one. It will work decently if the creators take care in developing all of the characters, they don’t make the romance too stupid or convoluted, the usual stuff. It won’t stand out in any way though, which is why I’m not looking forward to it.

Free – Eternal Summer

Why I don’t like it: Well, this obviously had it coming, the actually well produced slice of life series with lots of gay undertones. What sets Free apart from the shows like Utapri is that it actually bothers to put some effort into its characterizations, and making the characters come alive rather than portraying them as a bunch of cardboard boxes. They’re stil stereotypes, but hey at least it’s something: it’s progress. I’m obviously not going to watch it, but I do have a question to the fans of the series: does it really warrant a second season, or is this just milking it?

Ao Haru Ride

Why I don’t like it: Don’t get me wrong: Ao Haru Ride looks like a very solid romance. I can just say with certainty that the premise just isn’t interesting enough that I’m going to continue watching it. I mean, it’s got the director of Yahari blahblah, a solid scriptwriter, a premise that’s neither good nor bad or overused. It’s just another high school romance that doesn’t try to pretend it’s anything else. And I just don’t want to watch those shows any more.

Bakumatsu Rock

Why I don’t like it: Oooh, the cheese. Plus this show gets points for being historical and not featuring Oda Freaking Nobunaga. This sounds like a series that’s so bad that makes it worth watching at least an episode, featuring some bizarre love child between AKB0048 and Utapri. It will be glorious. Gloriously bad, but glorious. (For those uninitiated, this is a show about a bunch of bishies who try to save the Bakumatsu era with hard rock!)

Psycho Pass Recap

Why I don’t like it: This entry is just here to prevent confusion, which will very likely to be there considering how bad rumours can spread over the internet. Psycho Pass Season 2 will air for the upcoming fall season. I am psyched about that one. This summer season meanwhile will re-air the first season as an 11-episoded series with 50-minute episodes, and a few re-cuts here and there that probably will not amount to much. However, they’re really trying to make this one big, and they’re really profiling this series as targeted towards adults. This is good, Noitamina is slowly but steadily returning to what actually made it good. This is actually pretty important here, because this isn’t trivial. Out of all the possible series to focus on, the producers chose Psycho Pass. Not Guilty Crown, not Fractale. Psycho Pass. They really want to keep the original spirit of the timeslot going.

Series I Am Looking Forward To

Kuroshitsuji – Book of Circus

Summary: “In Victorian-era London, on the night of Ciel Phantomhive’s tenth birthday a fire destroyed his manor and killed both of his parents. In a moment of death Ceil strikes a deal with a demon, his soul in exchange for revenge. This demon becomes his butler and calls himself by name of Sebastian Michaelis, to protect and serve Ciel until the deal has been completed. One month after the fire Ciel returns from being missing, with his new butler Sebastian. Ceil is now the head of the Phantomhive corporation, handling all business affairs as well as the work as the Queen of England’s guard dog and looking for his parents murders.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: A-1 Pictures
Director: Noriyuki Abe
Series composition: Hiroyuki Yoshino

Impressions: OH GOD NO! The new season of Kuroshitsuji has a completely new staff behind it. Noriyuki Abe is actually a very skilled director: before directing Bleach he gave us Great Teacher Onizuka, and that was no fluke even with a very strong source material. Kuroshitsuji is exactly the kind of series that can get something great out of him again. The first two seasons were adapted by Mari Okada, and this actually fitted her very well as a series with the craziness that went on. For season three though… we have to deal with Uber-troll Hiroyuki Yoshino. If you don’t know him, be glad. This is the guy who wrote the original story for Seikon no Qwaser, Guilty Crown, Code Geass, Mai Otome. This guy writes grandiose stories which are often so grandiose and convoluted that they collapse in on themselves. His adaptations are hardly ever complete, even when well written. You’re almost guaranteed to get a completely botched up ending here, even though the endings are what I loved about the first two seasons of Kuroshitsuji. And to make things even worse, Ichiro Okouchi, the original creator of Code Geass and the writer of Valvrave is joining in for the scripts!

First-Glance Potential: 30%

Tokyo ESP

Summary: “The science fantasy story begins with Rinka, an extremely poor high school girl who lives with just her father in modern Tokyo. One day, she is going home from school when she chases a “flying penguin” to the top of New Tokyo Tower — only to have “fish swimming in the air” suddenly appear before her. One of the fish goes through Rinka and gives her extraordinary powers beyond those of normal humans, particularly the ability to slip through solid objects.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: ?
Director: ?
Series composition: ?

Impressions: Because no staff has been announced whatsoever, I’m going to go and give this one the benefit of the doubt. Why? The bits of creativity in the premise and the promo artwork. Because of that it might have potential, but the whole premise is one that really can go both ways: from great to terrible. It needs to be more than “girls fight each other with supernatural powers”. We’ve seen that so many times before. Give us some depth here.

First-Glance Potential: 50%

Sailor Moon Crystal

Summary: “Usagi Tsukino was a normal second-year middle school girl whose own life changes one day when she encounters a black cat. The cat’s name is Luna who can talk and bears a crescent moon on her forehead. Luna tells Usagi that she is the chosen guardian of justice with the power to transform into Sailor Moon. Usagi now has a new responsibility which is a mission to find the Illusionary Silver Crystal as well as the other chosen guardians to protect the Moon Princess. During her mission, she must deal with various enemies sent by Queen Beryl who is also after the Illusionary Silver Crystal.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Toei
Director: Munehisa Sakai
Series composition: Yoji Kobayashi

Impressions: First of all I should exclaim that I’m not a Sailor Moon fan. My relationship with it was a weird one, because it was one of the series that I watched on Dutch television before I actually discovered the internet. However, it had just the bad luck to air at a really inconvenient time in the morning, right before Card Captor Sakura. I LOVED Card Captor Sakura, and in comparison Sailor Moon seemed just a cheap knock-off (I only learned later that it in fact was quite a bit older) with some annoying characters and a romance purposefully dragged itself out for ages. Not to mention that the network ended up cancelling giving Card Captor Sakura an even more impossible timeslot in favour of Sailor Moon. So that’s not the reason I’m looking forward to this. The reason I’m looking forward to this is that it’s the first ambitious shoujo series we’ve had in many years now. We seriously needed something to revitalize the genre, and Toei really seems to have allocated a big budget to make it happen. For that, I want this series to succeed. Not for Sailor Moon, but for the shoujo genre as a whole. It used to be one of my favorite genres, but it got completely pushed aside by the shounen genres to the point that the only shoujo shows we nowadays get are school series.

First-Glance Potential: 70%

ALDNOAH.ZERO

Summary: “In 1972, a hypergate was discovered on the surface of the moon. However, war breaks between humans on Earth and those who immigrated to Mars.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: A-1 Pictures
Director: Ei Aoki
Series composition: Katsuhiko Takayama
Original writer: Gen Urobuchi
Music: Hiroyuki Sawano

Impressions: Yup, we’ve got a solid one here. The winner of the most creative website, and overall it’s got a really solid casting behind it with an original story by Gen Urobuchi, directed by Ei Aoki who is very consistent as a director (you may remember him from one of the Kara no Kyoukai movies and Fate Zero), the music from the guy who wrote the score for Shingeki no Kyojin and Kill la Kill (and Kalafina for the opening yay!). Yes, this is ambitious. The key deciding factor for this one will be the series composition: Gen isn’t gonna write it this time, someone else is. So who will it be? Katsuhiko Takayama, the guy who in the past adapted ef, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Ga-Rei Zero, Hantsuki, only to afterwards completely lose it with Boku no Pico, Asobi ni Iku Yo, Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, Majikoi, Sasami@Ganbaranai and Dusk Maiden of Amnesia. So, the matter for this series will entirely depend on one thing: does this guy still have it? Can he still write serious stories, or has his mind been diluted too much by writing senseless crap? I mean, if that’s well, then the rest of the creators can make something out of it. He is the one who will make or break this show.

First-Glance Potential: 75%

Glasslip

Summary: “I won’t forget the summer we met. The place was a little town tucked in between the ocean and the mountains. There, they met a transfer student. The sun is so dazzling, and the fireworks are so fleeting. A story that starts in summer that six high school students experience.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: PA Works
Director: Junji Nishimura
Series composition: Rika Sato, Junji Nishimura

Impressions: There was a time at which I worshipped Junji Nishimura, the guy behind Simoun, one of my favourite series in like, ever. Then came Kyou Kara Maou… and Nurarihyon no Mago… and Dog Days… and I really started to doubt this guy… however this time, I’ll bite. This guy is brilliant at original stories, which is exactly what this series is: he’s both writing and directing it so he should have an amount of control that should allow his talents to surface again after so many years (dear god, I feel old now that I realize that True Tears was already six years ago!)

First-Glance Potential: 75%

Barakamon

Summary: “The slice-of-life comedy manga centers around the ikemen (handsome) 23-year-old calligrapher Seishu Handa, who moves to the remote Gotou Islands off the western coast of Kyushu. Seishuu grew up in the city, and the manga chronicles his interactions with the people of the island, who drive tractors on public roads and don’t enter through his front door when they visit. On top of that, Seishuu’s house becomes a hangout for the island’s children.” – (Taken from AN)
Produced by: Kinema Citrus
Director: Masaki Tachibana
Series composition: Pierre Sugiura
Music: Kenji Kawai

Impressions: After many years of absence, Kenji Kawai is doing the soundtrack for another series! Awesome! And it’s quite an interesting slice of life series which really seems to be aiming to bring something new to the table. We know that it’s in able hands, with the director of Tokyo Magnitude,

First-Glance Potential: 80%

Tokyo Ghoul

Summary: “The suspense horror/dark fantasy story is set in Tokyo, which is haunted by mysterious “ghouls” who are devouring humans. People are gripped by the fear of these ghouls whose identities are masked in mystery. An ordinary college student named Kaneki encounters Rize, a girl who is an avid reader like him, at the café he frequents. Little does he realize that his fate will change overnight.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Studio Pierrot
Director: Shuhei Morita
Series composition: Chūji Mikasano

Impressions: Now this is an example of how you grab my attention. Promo art that stands out and immediately tells you that something is going to happen here. The premise may not say much, but we know that we’ve got ourselves a horror story, plus it’s made by people who are outside of the conventional anime business. The Shuhei Morita directed Freedom, which was actually a pretty good science fiction series, and he has done many other short indie films, rather than big titles. They also got an actual playwright in in order to adapt this series, rather than picking from the usual scriptwriters, and I’m really curious what difference he can bring to the table.

First-Glance Potential: 90%

Zankyou no Tokyo

Summary: “On a summer day. A massive terrorist bombing suddenly struck Tokyo. The culprits behind the act that woke up this complacent nation from its slumber, were just two boys. Now, the culprits known as “Sphinx” begin a grandiose game that encompasses all of Japan.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: MAPPA
Director: Shinichiro Watanabe
Music: Yoko Kann

Impressions: Now this series screams Noitamina, this series understood it. It’s not even that the characters are teenagers that can distract from that. Here we have a series with a skilled and famous director, lots of production behind it, looking ambitious from all sides and dealing with actual current issues that are grounded in the real world, rather than just the fantasy that most anime series are stuck at. The trailer looks and sounds excellent, and with Shinichiro Watanabe being really busy this season, this series is something to look out for!

First-Glance Potential: 95%

Space Dandy 2

Summary: ” Space Dandy is a space hunter, someone who is paid to search for new, undiscovered alien species. It’s an industry where the prize goes to the person who finds aliens the fastest. Dandy searches unknown planets for strange beings with his companions, QT the worn-out robot and Meow from Betelgeuse. Meanwhile, they’re being chased by minions of the Gogol Empire, for reasons that are still a mystery.” – (Taken from ANN)
Produced by: Bones
Chief Director: Shinichiro Watanabe
Director: Shingo Natsume

Impressions: Two Shinichiro Watanabe series in one season. Holy balls this is going to be awesome. And with Space Dandy, we already know what kind of a series it is: every single episode is different. Shinichiro Watanabe can handle two series at the time because of how much freedom he can give out with this series: every episode is basically in the hands of a group of talented people, and they’re instructed to be as creative as possible. The first season already showed that that was a great combination, as long as you don’t expect the next Cowboy Bebop. However, I do wonder what the creators have in store for closure. The second season needs that, something to really leave behind a fantastic taste.

First-Glance Potential: 100%
Posted on 23 May 2014 with categories: Captain Earth

Captain Earth had a really good first episode, so I was psyched to coninue with it, purely based on storytelling reasons: it knew how to deliver its plot in an interesting way by throwing in many flash-forwards, flashbacks, hints and whatnot. Now that I’ve seen about four and a half episodes of the series I’ve got a bit of a better image of what the actual storyline is about, and I’m dropping it. There are many reasons for this, and I did feel compelled to write about them.

First of all, the self-referencing? The hints? Well, they’re gone. Like, completely. Episode four was very straightforward and didn’t really leave anything to your imagination: the aliens want their kin back, purple-haired kid is part of their kin, and the main kid has this really powerful robot that can kick their asses. Where the presentation was so interesting in episode 1, I felt myself getting really bored here.

What was the straw though, was the underlying story which became clear to me about halway through episode four. When you ignore the mood, then Captain Earth is really a cross between Eureka Seven Ao and Star Driver, and its underlying themes are a combination between the two: on one hand we have the focus on childish innocence: children should be protected, and on the other we have the themes of adolescence and sexuality in the way it talks about libido and all.

When I started to think about them, they just didn’t mesh. One one hand this series wants to be like Eureka Seven Ao, in its themes that no children should be forced in adult situations, and when you do you had better take responsibility. The thing here though, that the themes of parenthood are much better explored because of how good the characters of Ao’s parents are. What do we know about the main guy’s parents at this point? Heck, has the existance of mothers actually been alluded yet? If it did then I totally forgotten about it, which is a bad sign for both my memory and the series itself.

Also adding to the themes are the villains here, who feed off the libido of humans. Okay, so this could mean that this show is a social commentary on how children are way too often sexualized and the main characters are trying to fight that idea. I actually really like that because they do have a very big point… only the show completely screws that up with the lame bellybutton joke and sexualizes their children anyway.

So with that my only conclusion is that the villains represent adolescence: the characters are young and they are about to change majorly and experience sexuality and stuff. So yeah, it’s a coming of age series. It’s a theme that’s been done many times before, and by series that had much more interesting first four episodes. Take Utena for example, Enokido there actually wrote a setting that’s interesting, imaginative and full of symbolism that wasn’t overdone. I know that we’re fifteen years later, but even by those standards Utena’s opening episodes stand out as unique while Captain Earth combines many things that have been done to death now.

I’m a fan of the mecha genre because it offers intelligent series, if doesn’t matter how old the characters are:
– Bokura no is a fascinating story about putting huge weapons in the hands of children.
– Patlabor is a hilarious and personal look at the police in a day in which mechas are standardly used.
– Fafner in the Azure actually asks the question of who you should fight for
– RahXephon explores coming of age with actual human characters who talk at least a bit normally.
– When you really want an over the top series, go for Giant Robo, the New Mazinger or Star Driver which are made to be flashy and over the top and enjoyable to watch.
– The good Gundam and Votoms series are good for a realistic look at war (War in the Pocket, Turn A, the Votoms TV-series)

You can do a lot with the genre, and you chose the most boring one. That’s a problem I have with a lot of anime nowadays. You can do better than this, I know that of everyone involved in this project.

Posted on 22 May 2014 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

This is where this arc gets weird. We’re still in adventure modus, however in these two episodes Jotaro not only meets some of the most bizarre Stand users, it’s also done in the most camp way possible. You can see a clear difference with the first two seasons of Jojo: there it was all about the ridiculous poses that the characters made. This season is all about poker faces: the most ridiculous things happening and the characters don’t even flinch.

Or take for example the point where, just after defeating a stand and being left in a small boat, one of the characters decides to comb his hair to get it in perfect model again. Jotaro gets stabbed in the shoulder by a giant fan and doesn’t even seem to feel it, or just lights up a cigarette or whatever (censoring THAT? Really?), or coming up with the most ridiculously cool plans like it’s nothing.

And then we have this giant horny ape that controls an entire container ship. Jojo is always about contrasts: combining two huge opposites with each other. This time it’s Jotaro’s pokerface with some completely outrageous stand users.

It’s such a monster of the week, however so far it’s done things right: it’s not boring yet and these two episodes definitely brought in some much-needed variety. I like the adventure part of this series a lot (you hardly see that in modern series anymore: an actual journey). Episode 07 also had some weird horror elements. Overall I liked it a lot.

Posted on 17 May 2014 with categories: Random Posts

I’m not sure how many people still follow what I write because the updates have become so sparse, but from may 31st till June 9th, I’m going on a holiday to America and I’ll be visiting San Francisco and New York, so if any of you happen to live there and want to meet up: just go ahead and drop a comment. :)

Posted on with categories: Ping Pong

Episodes 05 and 06 are dedicated to character-development. It’s here where Ping Pong shows that it also knows its stuff in terms of storytelling; the develoment doesn’t start too early or too late, and these two episodes really added depth to all of the different characters, despite that there were no big matches.

I’m currently thinking of a character that it ignored… and I can’t seem to find one. Oh wait: the beach guy is the most shallow of the bunch. Apart from that, every character here is relatable (or as much as you can do with that with a guy who is supposed to be a human robot). Smile being a human robot as a main character has an interesting effect: the entire series revolves around him, but there are enough other things going on. I especially liked how Kong Wenge has completely changed now that he botched his goals of trying to get back to China as fast as possible. Ota became very sympathetic with the inclusion of his parents’ job (this guy is working hard for his future!)

The climax here was Peco though. Because of that it was the most cliched of the bunch, however I still found it offered some interesting perspectives. You don’t often see main characters with lots of talent developing into spoiled brats: that’s usually reserved for rivals, and even then those rivals usually always put in lots of effort. Peco however has always got everything handed to him, which succenly changed when everyone started practicing really hard and putting in effort. I’m not sure whether I understand the decision of the creators to make him have this sudden realization after a near-death experience though, though let’s see what they can do with that.

Posted on 12 May 2014 with categories: Mushishi

I have not forgotten about this show. Not at all. I just finished marathoning these four episodes, and holy cheeseballs on a stick! this is the best anime in years! This was everything I could have hoped for and blows just about everything else out of the water. Talk about raw, powerful storytelling.

I now know again why Mushishi is such a unique series. Sure, there have been similar series in the past, like Natsume Yuujinchou, telling about creatures who live alongside us with mythical powers, usually youkai or something in the like. Mushishi however, takes the concepts of Shinto, and goes further than any other show has done. In the eight years inbetween the first and second season, I have never encountered a series that did the supernatural as well as what we see here.

But even then, these four episodes were something else. Here we saw people’s arms getting eaten off, suffer from horrible frostbites, people disappearing into nothingness while still being alive, losing all their senses, chopping off heads and swapping them. It’s one thing to be brutal, but Mushishi does it without showing blood, it does it with such variety, and every single time it puts them in the middle of so many moral dilemmas. It goes in deep on the source, and shows how easily uneducated people can fall into these traps despite proper warnings. This show is nearly a medical thriller with its own set of rules.

And yet the beauty in each of these stories, is that you can’t completely blame the mushi. That also was the brilliance of the first season: the Mushi are also just living their lives, which just happens to sometimes clash with that of humans. This is driven forth even more here, with these mushi without a physical form who try desperately to escape that incredible loneliness.

And the presentation of these four episodes. It’s just perfect. Okay, perfect doesn’t exist… er… some frames showed characters with no mouths! There, critiism! Kidding aside: the animation is beautiful: the movement is slow, but you can really feel the characters. The background art is better than ever. The CG that is used is used consistently and only for the mushi, making them look stunning and out of this world, exactly what they are supposed to be.

The end of episode six: that was actually increidly beautiful how everything came together. It was never told that fire was meant to draw out the mushi in the tree, but when you saw it, everything just made sense. If there was ever an example of what I mean by storytelling, characters, animation, pacing and atmosphere all coming together in one moment, then that is a textbook example of how to do it. All stories were beautiful, but my highlight was episode 03. I cried okay! That’s the first time I cried at an anime in probably over a year!

Creators of anime! LOOK AT THIS! This is how you make an anime!

Posted on 8 May 2014 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

Jojo really is not kind to its females. Every time a hint is even dropped to a girl kicking ass here, it comes with this weird plot-twist that undermines any fighting potential of them. In this arc, it’s the rule that says that your stand will kill you if youaren’t strong enough. And so, Joseph’s daughter has turned into a damsel in despair.

This show has a cute little habit that especially became apparent in this third arc: the way in which it points out the obvious. Like for example, a character does something that’s very simple and clear to understand, and then a bystander yells out in overwhelming astonishment literally what just happened for the audience. It gives this touch of cheese to the fights that in these three episodes were very enjoyable to watch.

So yes, enjoyable, but at the same time I also have to be critical: when it comes to the emotional punches delivered in the opening episodes, the third arc of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure so far is the least impressive. It packs less emotional power. As for why… my guess is that this comes down to a few different reasons.

This third arc tells the stories less with its gut, and more with its brains. It reminds me of the overly logical shounen series with ridiculously complicated powers that don’t really amount to anything. It’s not as bad here though, but the first two arcs showed characters who were just thrown into a situation they didn’t understand and were forced to figure out what happened though sheer manliness. Here, characters are already in complete control of their powers and the battles therefore end up revolving around people throwing trump cards around until one of them runs out. That’s also interesting, but different. This doesn’t show the raw emotional power of the first two arcs’ openings, so it will have to deliver in some other way down the line.

Posted on 6 May 2014 with categories: Ping Pong

The opening of Ping Pong wasn’t done in time, so the first two episodes showed a sortof montage as a placeholder. Now we know why, with episode 03 and 04. The creators actually got the single best animator currently in the business to oversee it: Shinya Ohira. This guy understands animation like no other. The opening is rough and messy, but the actual animation is incredibly detailed. He mostly does the animation for movies (which always are among the best-looking scenes), so it’s pretty major to see his work in another television series since Windy Tales and Paranoia Agent, even though it’s only the opening. It was worth it!

As for Ping Pong: what I really like about this series is that it really doesn’t plan to hold the viewer’s hands: usually with sports series there is some point at which you’d get a brief explanation of the sport the show is about, or that they spend a lot of dialogue explaining what’s going on. Nope, not here. This show really says everything with its animation. It’s clear that it doesn’t have the biggest budget, but even than it manages to hide that brilliantly with its direction: it makes use of many split screens for its movement, and unlike Shaft series it really puts the animation where it is really needed. My only complaint is the use of CG… in like one or two scenes in total.

Seriously the ping pong matches of episode 03 and 04 were riveting to watch. A bit hard to follow perhaps, but again: once you pay attention you can see exactly what the creators are trying to portray, and it also helps that the soundtrack is really good.

Beyond that though, Ping Pong is just a damn good character-study. All characters so far have shown multiple sides of themselves, and it’s episode four and the creators are already pushing for the character development, while other characters like Smile are static on purpose. Every character has his or her motivation, every major character is different, every character is analyzed, right from the start. Yeah, this show is great!

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