Posted on 31 October 2014 with categories: Shingeki no Bahamut

By now, I have a general idea of where this story is going. Our characters finally face the main villains of the story and starting next episode, I reckon that we’ll get some real story progression because frankly, the past few episodes did almost nothing to get me to care much for the characters, no matter how charming they may have been.

The problem with the show thus far, is that it uses character tropes borrowed from various Westerns to the detriment of interest on the viewer’s part. This is where the slow pacing is actually hurting character development, an ironic condition owing to the fact that we’ve come to expect slow-paced anime (like Space Brothers) to have too much emphasis on its characters, which usually bores everyone. Even with the slow pacing, Kenichi Sato decides to place fast-action in every episode, and while those scenes are very fun to watch, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. By placing action in a story that is barely progressing, you force the viewers to miss the subtle character expositions you want them to pick up. Sato is clearly much more concerned with the action over exposition, and  I’m concerned where this anime will end up . Take more time to focus on Favaro and Leone’s pasts longer than the forced-in exposition we got in this episode, because the “twist” we get in this episode was way too rushed.

I also worry that Amira might permanently devolve into a vessel for moe, because her character literally did nothing this episode besides acting “cute” and fighting. I much preferred the Amira we got in the first episode, because although that one was very generic and without nuance, she at least had intrigue built into her personality. She’s a badass demon. If you’re going to show a human side to her true form, make the audience become invested in her character with some character development rather than an abrupt shift in personality. Other than that, the only character I find interesting so far is the necromancer, because she’s pleasantly gruesome. If there are to be any highlights in this episode, they are the scenes that involve her. The voice actor does a fantastic job portraying her personality, and I look forward to seeing more of her character.

Ultimately, this episode was not a bad episode so much as it was a red flag.

Posted on 30 October 2014 with categories: Currently Watching:

Sorry for not giving this a first impression but I felt that to do so at this point would be redundant. So Nanatsu no Taizai, or Seven Deadly Sins if you prefer. An anime that certainly does nothing new. Every ounce of which filled with standard shounen battle manga tropes. Yes this anime does nothing new, instead it brings back something old. Seven Deadly Sins is reminiscent of old school shounen such as dragonball, Slayers and Fist of the North Star. Even the artstyle of the manga had a similar feel to that of Akira Toriyama. And in the age where mainstream shounen is that of blatant wish fulfilment such as Sword art online and Mahouka, this is most certainly welcome. To those who grew up on the likes of Dragonball Z, this will hit the nostalgia buttons.

The story is of a kingdom being terrorised by the holy knights, where a young princess Elizabeth seeks out the legendary Seven Deadly Sins. A group of exiled Knights who may be the last hope for the saving the kingdom. On her search she runs into a mysterious boy who owns a pub who could be connected to the ones she seeks. The story is simple but effective and wastes no time in getting started. It’s not long before we are introduced to our first Sin, Meliodas. Being our main protagonist, Meliodas is rather happy go lucky though not with the sense of idiotic naivety like Monkey D Luffy. More in the sense of a powerful warrior with a heap of confidence. The one aspect I am not fond of is his constant sexual harassment of Elizabeth, which is played for laughs. This is not out of righteous indignation mind you, but rather that it gets old fast. Elizabeth is a character chained by her role as a princess. Therefore you can likely guess her personality. She serves the needs of the plot but it doesn’t remedy the fact that she is rather boring. Daine the second sin, on the other hand is a great character. It’s so rare to have a giant as a main character and her method of fighting with brute force is one I love to watch. I also find her concern for her size and how others view her interesting. Such a pity she is crippled with a lovestruck fascination with Meliodas. Again used for comedic effect. The talking pig is a typical mascot character but well at least doesn’t grate on the nerves.

The animation seems fairly good with fight scenes having the necessary thrill. The art didn’t quite capture the style of the manga but it’s close enough to not warrant complaint. I do find fault with the fanservice but in comparison with the standard as of late this is very tame. And so far the story has been adapted perfectly. To those missing the glory days of Naruto and Bleach or looking for a nostalgic fix I do recommend this show. As both the manga and the anime have yet to suffer the curse of long running Shounen battle manga. I only hope it can stay that way. One last thing, the new third Sin in the fourth episode should have kept the beard. He looked much better with it.

Posted on 28 October 2014 with categories: Gugure! Kokkuri-San

By now, I have a general idea of how the writers are going to go forward with this show. This show continues to jump the gun without setting up a clear voice for itself while pulling off some genuinely fun comedy, creating this weird combination that is somewhat off-putting yet fairly enticing.

However, this episode has its share of very dull/odd moments, which just serves to prove my point about this show’s lack of consistency in both humor and voice. When Kokkuri-san follows Kohina to school, we’re introduced (no spoilers) to a particular character we would never expect to see in a story based around Japanese folklore- this was something one would expect out of Nichijou. While the show is self-aware and points that out itself, it doesn’t change the fact that up to this point, it did not do a single thing to lead us to believe that this show was anything like a surreal comedy. While the previous episodes certainly did contain a lot of absurd humor, it was within the confines of its limited comedic spectra and therefore had zero buildup to what we got. If they’d only played with surrealist humor from the beginning, I’m sure that I could have fully appreciated parts of this episode a lot better.

The inconsistencies aside, that scene and the other parts of the episode were pretty damn funny for what they were. They introduce us to two brand new characters this episode, and Shigaraki in particular is a welcome addition to the mix. He brings a much more believable serious tone to the show, and this episode puts much effort into his character development by putting a spin on his personality that doesn’t shy away from adding a touch of dark humor through his “philanthropist” work. I really appreciate how the writers caught me by surprise just when I began rolling my eyes- because for a moment, the show looked like it was approaching the typical “mischievous person who is actually a good person” route with the character near the middle of the show.

Outside the main highlights of the episode, it was also nice to actually get some insight into Kohina’s character besides her usual static personality by showing how she behaves in her school environment. This show doesn’t take enough time to develop Kohina’s character, which isn’t a problem as long as it makes the interpersonal relationships interesting, which it does very well: That’s where this show excels in, and it’s been solid so far solely based on that- almost to a fault, since the writers are ignoring important elements of writing and comedy.

On a tangent, it’s a bit too late to mention this, but the soundtrack is very nice to listen to and complements the show very well. The opening song is still terribly annoying to listen to, but the ending is pretty nice and an overall pleasant listen. If anything, this show has charm. They played the opening of this show as the ending song in the first episode, but oh well.

If you like chibi animal mascots and something to kill time with (because face it, every season has a day in the week with crappy anime), I reckon that this show is perfect for it so far.

 

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:

That’s it. I give up. I concede. I throw in the towel. I surrender. This is just a travesty, an unsalvageable mess. I have given this more patience than it deserves and it has rewarded me with tedium. The editing is schizophrenic and distracting. The dialogue and events passing by too fast for emotional impact. The animation and art barely passable. The presentation of the source material utterly baffling and without context. I can safely say that if you had not read the visual novel you would be completely lost on the story of this episode. And when an anime requires you to read it in another medium to understand it, then you have failed as an adaption. The music has been ripped straight from the visual novel and quite frankly you can tell. For a reading experience these tunes are fine but in this they are very out of place. Being more intrusive than anything. If I had to guess I say the producers of the anime struggled to search the game OST for suitable tracks, only to just try and force in whatever tune they landed on.

This episode has introduced us into one of the routes of the visual novel. Unfortunately the route of my least liked heroine, the blond fake tsundere Michiru. I previously stated in my last Grisaia review that to jump into the plot of one of the heroines without establishing an emotional attachment first is a mistake. The remedy the producers seemed to think would fix this was to just chuck a bunch of random skits to do with the heroine for the first half of the episode and hope for the best. It didn’t work. The skits passed by too fast and were too lazily done to be funny. The jump into her arc was vexing at best. Switching from a cheap philosophical conversation about life after death to low brow slapstick humor. I am rather confused at what the intent is here. Am I supposed to consider how “deep” that talk was and then after laugh because the girl put her hand on dog poo? Which target audience are we trying to hit here? And the end of the episode was a poor attempt at tragedy. Again this is something that needs an attachment to the characters to work, an attachment we cannot possibly have from some tiny little skits. We barely know anything about these characters. How can we feel for characters troubles when we do not even know the character herself?

So with high confidence I can declare that this can join the ranks of the many failed visual novel adaptions to be thrown into the animated medium. Unless there is some major development like a complete studio change I can safely say this is a lost cause. With my previous review, I stated that Fate/stay night UBW was how to adapt correctly. Well this is how not to adapt. Grisaia no Kajitsu is an adaption in the same way that M. Night Shyamalan’s “The Last Airbender” is an adaption. The characters may have the names and the story events may be present, but presented without soul and crushed down till it retains none of the quality. A shallow imitation with no charm or meaning. It’s only purpose to prevent the story from being handled by more capable hands and dissuade others from picking up the visual novel. I said before that this story was by no means a masterpiece. But to see it get degraded down to this is a sad sight. So with a heavy heart, I will drop this anime and see if I can find something more worth my time.

Posted on with categories: Currently Watching:, Your Lie in April

Your Lie in April has emerged as a bit of a nice surprise in this young season. The fairly popular noitaminA programming block has been pretty hit-and-miss of late, with some very good shows here and there but a much higher rate of complete duds compared to the block’s past. For this reason I approached Your Lie in April not so convinced that I was going to be a fan, despite a decent (though hardly groundbreaking) premise. Thankfully, through three episodes, the show has settled into a nice groove and has brought some pretty good drama and music to the table each week.

In episodes 2 and 3 of Your Lie in April we’ve gotten through character introductions and have seen beginnings of the various relationships present in the show. Our two leads, Kousei and Kaori, have gotten over their initial but shortlived hostility towards one another that stemmed from their meeting and have begun interacting on more friendly and deeper grounds. The writers didn’t waste much time in addressing Kousei’s trauma related to his piano playing and have faced it head-on in these episodes, ending with episode 3 having Kousei ready to accompany Kaori in her next performance. While there’s not much reason to believe Kousei’s over his trauma, it is refreshing that it hasn’t been dragged out as long as it could have (and as long as I was personally expecting) and that, whether things go smoothly during this performance or not, some kind of progress should be made in the next episode on this front, just as there was progress made in this latest episode. Perhaps this is one of the better aspects of Your Lie in April – there’s been consistent progress made in the story over all three episodes so far without a lot of the dragging out that plagues many stories, especially ones that touch on romance.

Not all is good in Your Lie in April, unfortunately. The main thing that sticks out to me as not being particularly well done is the comedy. While comedy is wildly subjective and difficult to critique without going to vague points, I do think the show’s comedy fails on most levels. In most comedic moments, the art style resorts to a more crude and simple style which tends to clash pretty strongly with the show’s normal highly detailed and well-done presentation. Most of the comedy also seems to be of the slapstick variety, which has never been a favorite of mine on a personal level. In episode 3 we had such moments like Kaori throwing a shoe at Kousei and giving him a heel drop at the end. Our female lead is quite the violent one. There are also a few other problems, though they aren’t very numerous and don’t detract too much from the experience. One such problem was the unnecessary “Friend A” thing thrown around so far. I immediately related it to the all-too-common character trope anime uses with lead characters who are super ordinary and live super normal lives. The thing is that Kousei isn’t that character. He’s already been through a lot as a person, he has a remarkable and outstanding talent, and, as mentioned in episode 3, he’s seen as a bit of a celebrity among musicians from his age group. I just don’t really understand where that whole “Friend A” thing came from that paints him as some forgettable background character.

Overall, Your Lie in April has been a pretty good watch through three weeks. I wouldn’t recommend it to the whole anime-watching world as of now, but I’m sure a lot of people would enjoy it so far. If you’re into drama/romance anime, then you might want to pick it up.

Posted on 26 October 2014 with categories: Currently Watching:, Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

Well what can I say besides, I told you so. But even though I knew what was coming this is still remarkable. Not only is this episode excellent but it may in fact have topped it’s source material. It is at times like these that it is difficult to be both a Fate fan and a reviewer, as I fear I may just gush about this episode and give a gleeful ten out of ten. So bare with me as I try to appear objective. The episode was essentially one big fight scene between Saber, Archer and Berserker. Viewers of Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya may be surprised to see the former magical girl who learned about the importance of love and friendship, tell a giant behemoth to kill the people in front of her with nonchalant innocence. But to those of us who happened to see Fate/Zero we might have an idea as to why she might be full of murderous intent.

The stand outs of this episode was…the entire thing. Quite frankly the battle was phenomenal and never let up. This was a fight that would make the shounen big three green with envy. Positively jaw dropping animation with great choreography. But throughout the episode where small breathers. Those being a talk between Kirei and the blonde stranger, a small Shirou character moment and a battle between Rin and Ilya. The final of which I have confirmed to be brand new content not present in the original visual novel. This would normally be a negative point for fans but this actually managed to improve the story as a whole.

One of the biggest negative factors of Fate/stay night when compared to Fate/zero is that the masters of Zero actually got involved with the battle. In Fate/Stay night however in many cases the masters just stood at the sidelines and let the servants duke it out. Partly this was due to the inexperience of the masters of the fifth holy grail war. Here however we see Ilya putting up a fight as a master and showing that she’s more than Berserkers battery. It was a projectile based battle different from the close quarters combat of the servants and made the episode all the richer for it. Another new scene was Saber managing to cut berserker in half. I am a bit sceptical that she actually has the power to do this, however seeing as Sabers win record is rather disheartening I am willing to wave it off. Shirou’s moment was great as well, when seeing the battle between servants he is scared stiff and cursing his own powerlessness. But unlike a standard shounen protagonist who would spend a day angsting about this, Shirou quickly shakes it off and gets himself together. In the visual novel this was conveyed entirely through monologue but here it is done through a few spoken lines of dialogue and his actions. This my friends is the difference between simply shoving a story unaltered into another medium and adapting it for another medium. When you have the power to show, do not continue to tell.

If i was to truly nitpick as hard as i could I would say that some of the movement was exaggerated. In particular midair movement seems to disregard the laws of physics completely, with characters somersaulting and rolling through the air often pointlessly. But any one of you can tell me that doesn’t matter and I would gladly toss it aside as nothing. Because when the end result looks this good, who cares? UFOtable has done so far a amazing job in adapting fate/stay night. My only concern is whether they can keep up the pace. I would be solemnly worried that they wasted the budget on these first episodes. But if they can keep this level of quality…well this may be the best animated TV anime of all time.

Posted on 23 October 2014 with categories: Akatsuki no Yona

Hak and Yona flee Soo-Won’s men, but Yona’s mental and physical condition continue to deteriorate. Yona and Hak are both haunted by memories from the past. This was easily the best episode in the series so far. Whereas the first two episodes primarily took place in the present or the future, this episode is mostly spent in the past and it’s a great choice. A lot has happened already and I was concerned that the characters might start to wear thin if the action continued unabated for another episode. Thankfully, the staff realize this, and have devoted an entire episode to fleshing out Hak and Yona.

For example, in the first two episodes, it’s implied that Hak has romantic feelings for Yona. The flashback in this episode made it abundantly clear that this is absolutely the case, and raises bigger questions about the nature of their relationship. For example, how does Hak feel about the fact that his hands are clearly tied both by duty and friendship? We also get hints at the true nature of King Il and Soo-Won’s father, suggesting that the picture might indeed be more complicated than either Yona or Hak appreciate.

As a backdrop to this, we get Yona and Hak’s travails as they flee through the woods. It’s an interesting juxtaposition. Yona’s idyllic memories of childhood are contrasted with her haggard and borderline-catatonic appearance in the present. This contrast helps reinforce how emotionally devastating all of this is for Yona. In one memorable scene, Yona is covered in leeches while bathing. She reacts feebly and is too weary to even remove them from her body. Hak is forced to do it for her. It’s a sad moment that conveys how drastically Yona has changed from the happy-go-lucky character in the first episode.

I’m really excited to see where this series goes if it continues to be this good.

Posted on 22 October 2014 with categories: Currently Watching:

This isn’t looking good. Let me explain, Grisaia has a somewhat nakige visual novel approach. Meaning that it has a comedic relatively plotless first half, followed by a tragic heroine backstory related story arc. Notable examples of this is any Key visual novel anime adaption you can think of. So for the first half we will have to be amused by hijinks and comedy skits. And I am not amused. From the looks of things they just want to get this part over with and while this section did drag on far past it’s welcome in the visual novel, it was still important for setting up the characters personalities. If we were to delve into the plot now it would suffer because we have simply not spent enough time with the characters to develop an emotional attachment. But truth be told I with how this is being handled I doubt they could manage to accomplish that much.

Besides a fairly funny military chant in the beginning, comedy hit no notes, little in the way of character development happened and the animation may have possibly gotten worse. The only notable event was Amane confessing to Yuuji but even this was brushed off pretty fast with a “Oh well, I will be your big sister instead.” Truth be told I am grasping at straws here. There was jokes here that could have worked. The “Sachi making Yuuji a Bush dog strap” had comedic potential. However it was put off by bad comic timing and some questionable editing. Again the editing seems to have no sense of time, jumping around even to past events without informing the viewer. There is no connection between scenes, at the beginning it showed Yuuji getting up early and being fairly active. Yet later on apparently he didn’t get enough sleep last night despite not showing any signs of sleep deprivation at all in any of the previous scenes. I have not even seen it become night but from what I can tell from my source knowledge the events here are from several different days.

I know that the plot is coming. From the next episodes title there is a possibility of them jumping into one of the girls stories. But In truth I am starting to recall just how tedious and overlong the common route of this really was. So while better material is coming, I am not sure if getting through this poorly put frankensteined together skits will justify it in the end.

Posted on with categories: Shingeki no Bahamut

Okay, so this episode didn’t focus on Leone and Amira’s adventure. Instead, it focuses on building Kaisar’s character and it does so a bit awkwardly.

This episode takes Kaisar and puts him into an overly bombastic situation in order to tell us about Kaisar’s past family problems, but it was so out of tone from the last two episodes that I didn’t care as much as the episode wanted me to do. The last two episodes added an intrepid tone to the show with Leone and Amira’s introductions, but this one tried to add a somber element that really should have been held off until later on.

In any case, this episode was a great one if I see it as the last preparation for the upcoming adventure. When Leone and Amira finally confront the main villains of the story and actually start their journey, we’ll know if this is a show worth continuing or not. However, this episode really answered the lingering questions left by the last two episodes, which I’d say is good for now.

I should also add that I like how this series has a very strong concept of foreshadowing: it doesn’t necessarily have huge cliff-hangers, but it ends every episode with the promise of major developments. The first episode promised a ton of intrigue, the second episode promised change, and now this episode is promising that next week, we’ll get to see what the villains are all about. After all, there’s no way that Satou will wait that out. Overall, this episode was definitely weaker than the last two, but it wasn’t a very big negative to my view on the series as a whole.

Posted on 20 October 2014 with categories: Gugure! Kokkuri-San

This show has a great cast, but some chinks in the armor are starting to appear in the comedy.

So far, this anime seems to lack a consistent tone, which shows through just how hit-and-miss the comedy is. It attempts to mix elements of light and dark comedy along with slice-of-life and tries to excel in all three of them, but, it feels cheap and under-delivered at times. These past three episodes were definitely good, but they suffer from some minor problems in the show’s overall comedic voice that keep it from its full potential.

I was really wondering how the creators would go forward with the show, and while the show does indeed have plenty of good laughs (especially Inugami), the inconsistency is a definite negative and a big reason for my exponentially increasing lack of interest. While comedies don’t need to concentrate so much as delivering the comedic elements well, an irresolute show like Kokkuri-San needs to find focus if it doesn’t want to devolve into a confusing mix of numerous comedic elements.

However as I stated earlier, this episode was generally funny and chock full of premium meme material. As for the acting, Kokkuri-San aside, the voices were charismatic and added a level of quirkiness to most of the cast. This show really knows how to handle its characters well; you can see the ship-worthy relationship between Inugami and Kokkuri-san continue to grow as they get to know each other better as rivals for Kohina. It was completely awesome to see Inugami’s gender-bend ability not being overused as fan service here, although I don’t know how far that’ll hold moving forward. Yes, this shows just how little faith I (along with most others) have in gender bending.

The point is, this show has problems that can easily go away once it finds a clear comedic voice for itself. Both the characters and production are excellently done, so give credit where it is due, because I remain fairly interested in this show.

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