Posted on 29 November 2014 with categories: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

Another episode has come and gone. This episode marking the first casualty of the holy grail war. Looks like Rider is out of the running. It is a bit sad to see her go so unceremoniously and even defeated off screen. Well, we shall see you again in the upcoming heavens feel movie, where you are sure to have a more substantial role. Shinji also fulfils his most important role as a character, that being giving the audience immense joy to see him get his ego some much needed bruising. It’s hard not to smile when seeing Rin kick him down a peg or kick him down literally. Speaking of Rin, I am not normally a fan of tsundere antics and there is the possibility of me being biased due to my love for this series but I did find her scene of bashfully dragging Shirou to eat lunch with her to be most amusing, and somewhat adorable. The two do have a chemistry onscreen that I feel is better than the Saber and Shirou dynamic. The current relationship between Shirou and Saber is far more fitting than that of the shy, overly awkward lovey dovey atmosphere of the Fate route that quite honestly irritates me to the core. While there may be moments of Shirou being overly aware of Sabers femininity, it really is a relationship of mutual respect. It’s far more respectful to her character than putting her as a love interest. Put simply, Saber makes a better friend than a wife candidate.

Shirou was also quite different this episode. The start showing him having a dream of getting torn apart by swords in his body. I get the symbolism but I feel the execution could have been better. It couldn’t really help looking very silly to me. I think this scene could have benefited from a little gore, or at least making the scene more horrific. Still it’s nice to see something signify the changes in Shirou. Cause he certainly has changed. One by annoying Saber in training because he started adopting Archers fighting style and managed to Saber to start taking him seriously. And two by being very proficient in battle against Casters familiars. He has definitely leveled up in battle prowess. Inception foghorns in the BGM notwithstanding, battle scenes remain a treat with a number of CG dragon bone warriors being the cannon fodder.

Now it is true that anime CG has always been not really a pleasant sight as it never blends with the animation. Still, I would consider UFOtables CG to be excellent as while the bone creatures do not blend in, at least they are not horribly alienating. I find the main problem with CG in anime has to be with movement. More often the movement of CG characters is stiff and unnatural. It becomes most apparent in human CG characters. Hence the reason why it’s be used on robots or mechanical vehicles. However the often stiff movement of anime CG works in favor here as the creatures are undead skeletons, so naturally their movement would be jittery. Adding something computer generated into another medium will always look unconvincing but at least here it does not hamper the experience. I only wish modern horror movies would take this fact into account. This episode ends with Rin questioning Shirou’s unnatural calm with dealing with horrific situations and Shirou dropping a line that shows he’s more that meets the eye. Next episode looks to see everyone’s favorite fake priest show up so till then I bid you adieu.

Posted on 27 November 2014 with categories: Currently Watching:

There was a few questionable things here this episode. The episode starts with the new villain quite literally killing herself to enter the kingdom of the dead. Which is a big risk considering it was based on one sentence from a child she was threatening. True being a shounen show there’s likely some magical biology science which somehow makes this possible without actually losing her life completely but still,  for a makeshift decision it’s a little drastic. We also learn that the forest guardian Ban apparently killed was Kings sister and…well Ban had the hots for her. Now take note people, Ban is a character whose design looks that of a 25-30 year old range. Whereas Elaine(The forest guardian) looks 12 years old at best. Am I the only one who finds this quite creepy? I mean sure in the anime world we have thousand year old lolita’s giving them the excuse that it’s legal even if they only look ten. But quite frankly when they claim things like Biscuit(HunterXHunter) being 57 years old and Okabe(Steins Gate) being 18, I prefer to disregard that completely and call them as I see them. So yes, I can’t say I find Ban and Elaine’s relationship to be well…romantic.

I like how Ban brought up the elephant in the room when being confronted by King. It does seem like a no brainer to bring up that killing an immortal for revenge is going to be a tad difficult when that immortal won’t die. To which King answers by turning Ban into stone. But when Elaines ghost comes back to lend Ban a helping hand, King is left rather confused and distraught by it. It seems that while he was blinded by revenge he failed to realize that things may not been as he expected. That and maybe running away and leaving your sister to do your job for a thousand years may have been a bit of a bad thing to do. Honestly it’s the way most expected things to go. I highly doubt anyone believed that Ban really did kill the girl, instead the blame falling on some rather generic demon thing. Our new villainess is putting the sins on the ropes, or at least giving them some trouble with her explosion rapier. Here’s a general rule of shounen characters with closed eyes. They are either mischievous, calculating or sadistic psychopaths. Or in this case, all of the above. The fight is pretty good though filled with shounen talk. I must wonder how irritating it would be to hear people speak like this while fighting. But again the banter between the sins makes it all fun. Lastly it’s nice to see Elizabeth mention that she’s useless to the sins and attempt to assist them instead of asking for Kings help. Not that she’s going to enter a more combat focused role but at least she understands her position and regrets it. The fight continues new episode, so lets hope it isn’t dragged past it’s welcome.

Posted on 23 November 2014 with categories: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

As expected, this week we have another action filled episode. Queue the pretty explosions and fast paced fighting. It felt too short despite the episode length being just the same as the others. I often find that with a good episode of anime it makes you lose the concept of time as you watch. Making things seem longer or shorter than it actually is. Though watching a bad anime can also make you feel like it’s taking an eternity. I thought it would be best to just get a minor gripe out of the way first. I felt they used the same camera shots a bit too often during dialogue. The one showing Shirou and Archer talking with a crater in the foreground was shown at least three times in the same conversation. And at times the shounen talk of explaining attacks and motivations was a little intrusive. But as I am sure many would agree, who cares. We got laser beams and collateral destruction all around to admire.

Still it does make this a hard episode to review because what else is there to say besides get some popcorn and enjoy? Though the standout moment here is not the fight scenes but rather the contrast of Archer and Shirou. As Caster said, they are both similar in ways and yet different in approaches. With Shirou having an unrealistic, rather childish approach to an ideal whereas Archers is more cynical, realistic interpretation. The intriguing thing is that Archers approach is remarkably similar to Kiritsugu Emiya’s of Fate/Zero. The ends justify the means, the many over the few, this is quite interesting to see Shirou be faced with the very mentality of his father and outright reject it. Some Shirou haters might be rather delighted with this episode as Archer has pretty much said everything and done everything they wanted to do to Shirou from the beginning. I too find it is rather good to see Shirou’s flawed hero complex logic get a good beating. Actually the dialogue between the two even during the fights was excellent. Some of which denoted down to childish bickering which was amusing to behold.

That said, I found the Assassin vs Saber fight to be more engaging than the caster fight. The presentation of Assassin’s noble phantasm was well shown. Assassin himself proves to be quite the character, having created a noble phantasm simply because he was bored and had nothing else to do. It is rare to have such a great noble phantasm for an Assassin but much like Castor I don’t really see much worth in Assassin. After all taking a Assassin to the holy grail war is like taking a Go-kart to a NASCAR race. It’s just not a very good idea if you intend to win. True there may be exceptions such as Fate/extra’s Assassin or Fate/Apocrypha’s Assassin’s. But in this world of Fate/stay night where every “true” Assassin is the same, you might as well throw in the towel from the get go if you summon one. The after credits scene now looks to see Shirou making a true effort towards getting stronger. Which is expected as Archer has given him a good kick in the right direction both mentally and literally. Next week looks to feature the ever loveable Shinji once again, lets hope he does not bring down what should be a another great episode.

 

Posted on 21 November 2014 with categories: Currently Watching:

 

I will admit it, I laughed at the beginning. The episode started with a pretty funny joke related to Meliodas and Elizabeth sleeping in the same bed. Maybe because this one didn’t have a second agenda of providing fanservice at the same time. Actually I enjoyed this episode a lot more than the previous. Maybe because the humor was better than usual or maybe because the animation budget seems to have returned. But I think the primary reason is that the cast has now a selection of contrasting personalities. Before it was just Meliodas, Elizabeth and the pig. So the dialogue between the three was mainly melodas harassing Elizabeth with the pig playing straight man. Now we have Ban and Diane on the team so the banter between characters has become more varied.

This cast is only going to get bigger and now we have King entering. Hes had a rather interesting introduction so far. Meliodas told a story of how upset king was at Ban stealing a large amount of childrens stuffed toys for a laugh and spent the entire night returning them. This rather sensitive image is changed when he stabs Ban through the chest with a spear pretty cold heartedly. (I find it odd that he found this perfectly acceptable to do with two children there to see it.) But then he runs away in embarrassment after seeing Diane. A interesting combination with his battle and regular demeanor. He is also the one who looks completely nothing like his wanted poster. So much so that while Diane and Melodas recognised him, Ban had no idea who he was. Speaking of which, this episode had parts of a later chapter put into it. That being Bans backstory of how he became immortal. And this backstory looks to be the main reason as to why King wants him dead. The fight looks to be a good match up as Ban is a close quarters brawler while King is an indirect fighter who uses his flight and floating spear to his advantage.

Ban’s past relationship towards the forest guardian looks to play a part in the next episodes as the crew journey into the capital of the dead. The also a new villain has entered the fray. A female one to boot. I will give Seven deadly sins some credit. At least theres more diversity than your average sausage fest shonen.

Posted on 18 November 2014 with categories: Random Posts

This is just to try something new. As I tend to come across a number of new and interesting things I thought I might highlight some current unknown or interesting gems.Be they visual novel, manga or light novel.

Abnormal-kei Joshi

Description: High-schooler Shiina Shinya thinks that all girls are pretty much good-for-nothing, mostly because he doesn’t understand them at all. That doesn’t stop him from being surrounded by strange girls! Tsubasa Tooka, a cute, much-admired girl, stalks him. Shikimura Masami is majorly into masochism, and has recruited Shinya into her play sessions. Ikari Satsuki seems suspiciously interested in the recent serial stabbings, and seems to want to drag Shinya into it. Banjou Yoruko, a normally quiet, bookish girl, has decided she and Shinya are bound up in some fantasy setting. Uchida Yumeji is the school’s sleeping beauty, who spends all of her time in the infirmary because she requires so much sleep. Shinya brings her newspapers, so she can keep up with current events in the short time she spends awake. Lastly, Okui Akane is convinced she is a vampire. For all Shinya knows, it could be true, but in practice it just means that he has to let her drink his blood. How will Shinya deal with all these good-for-nothing girls that complicate his life?

The good: This guy has the most twisted and odd line-up of haremettes to date. A narcoleptic, a masochist, a stalker, a girl who thinks she’s a vampire…and that is the hook. Seeing our protagonist interact with these twisted creatures.

The bad: The manga does not have a ongoing main plot and the protagonist doesn’t have much of a personality. The harem is already set up from the start so we don’t even see how our protagonist got involved with these girls. So while the novelty is nice there not much else going for it.

Current number of translated chapters: 10

Recommendation level: 50%

 

Shinigami 4 nin no kanojo

Description: Minaguchi Kaoru is nothing special. He’s no good at sports or school, isn’t in any clubs, and he’s not popular. He has no friends and isn’t even interested in any of the girls he knows. He’s also teased due to the fact that he loves shoujo manga. Unlike the harem daydreams of his peers, he dreams of finding his true love. Unfortunately, a shinigami comes to kill him, simply because he’s a “forever alone” sort of guy. When he gasps out his intention of embracing life with his final breaths, though, she takes it back! As long as he follows through on his intentions, he won’t be killed. To convince the shinigami that his plans are genuine, he declares that he will confess to the girl he likes, the very next day. Expecting failure with confessing to random girls in his school, he sends out love letters to four different girls. To his surprise, they all agree to be his girlfriend. Now, this shoujo-manga-loving guy has ended up in a kind of harem story, quadruple-timing four girls! Will he be able to stay involved enough with society to avoid an early death?

The good: So far the most well executed harem deconstruction. Genuinely funny and a plot that keeps you interested. The girls may not have the deepest characterisation but their quirks are far from the norm. This is a personal favorite of mine.

The bad: Its been axed. Its confirmed that chapter 18 will be the last and considering the untapped potential of the story it is a great shame. Those 18 chapters are a great read though.

Current number of translated chapters: 17

Recommendation level: 90%

 

Mousugu Shinu Hito (Haruse Hiroki)

Description: Kominato Riku is a high school student who aims to be a game designer. The girl next door is his childhood friend Haju, is in love with him, but he has fallen head over heels for the school idol Riko. And lastly, there is the transfer student, Nodoka. With that all said you’d think this is the start of some love-comedy harem, but a rumor spreads that Nodoka’s received a message that says, “you will die soon”. Riku and the gang’s fate will change in a major way. Who will live, and who will love?

The good: Psycho girls scheming and fighting each other in a harem which is a matter of life or death? Whats not to love? While not perfect by any means its a very entertaining read with plenty of twists and turns. The supernatural mystery is intriguing as well. But the highlight is seeing just how far these girls are going to go to get chosen.

The bad: The girls personalities change too rapidly. Going from perfectly sane to downright psychotic in a matter of pages. The art heavily dramatises the story as well. Subtlety is not the name of the game here. Parts of the story are downright ridiculous. Also not for those who are not good with gore or disturbing concepts

Current number of translated chapters: 12

Recommendation level: 80%

 

New and interesting

  1. Dead Tube
  2. Boku no Hero Academia
  3. Inuyashiki
Posted on 16 November 2014 with categories: Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Bladeworks

I was mistaken in the previous review. The action scene I thought we would be getting today has been postponed till next week. This week we have a calm before the storm episode as things seem to be setting up for the fight scene to come. I am a little disappointed with this weeks fare as the animation seems to have finally dropped. Movement has gone down and the number of still frames, face shots and environment shots have gone up. It is understandable that they decide to save the animation budget on this particular episode, as they will need to animate some high level fight scenes next episode and this episode was mainly dialogue driven. Still I did find the off shots of windows and the environment during conversation to be a little distracting. it’s a small complaint I know but when something is presenting high level animation and then suddenly drops you notice it all the more.

Lets talk about Shinji Matou for a moment. I have never liked Shinji’s character, though not for the obvious reasons such as him just being a horrible person. Shinji to me has always seemed more a plot device than an actual character. He is designed to be hated to the core, from his high handed talk, his petty anger and to his downright pathetic cowardice when faced with an actual threat. His only saving grace being just how satisfying it is to see him get taken down a peg. In Fate/stay nights fandisc/sequel of sorts, Hollow/Ataraxia, he at least gains more to his character when stripped of his low level villain status. While he still doesn’t become likeable it at least then makes sense as to how him and Shirou could have been friends once. However here he’s just going to become worse as the story goes on. In particular there is one scene involving him in this route which UFOtable is going to have to thread carefully with as it is a rather distasteful moment in a otherwise great story. But the reason I bring this up is that I find Shinji’s presence on screen to be off putting. He is an emotionally manipulative character and even though I know he is designed with the sole purpose of irritating the viewer, I still get irritated all the same. And considering that I see this is the writers intent it just comes off detrimental to the experience and rather insulting. My advice would be to keep him out of the spotlight as much as possible though that is unlikely as he is a driving plot device after all.

On a positive note, I commend the anime for using a shorter explanation for Shirou’s strengthening magic. Because Nasu’s explanations are remarkably long winded and roundabout. Nasu will never tell you outright how something works. He will proceed to explain it in the most obtuse way possible and then repeat that explanation in a number of different beating around the bush ways till you figure it out. It is a way of making the reader misinterpret the thing being told to them as complex and deep because it took effort to figure out, when really they just were given a faulty explanation. Here however we have Shirou explain his magic in the simplest way possible, saving us from listening to a long tedious monologue. I will admit to being let down with this weeks episode of Fate but that does not mean it was a bad episode. It was a rather weak one but did have it’s share of small moments.I liked the talk between Archer and Shirou. As well as Rin and Shirou’s banter as they cleared up the seals. I would say the main thing thats irking me here is that I now have to wait another week to see a fight scene I thought would be in this episode.

Posted on 14 November 2014 with categories: Currently Watching:

There was quite number of still frames this episode so I hope that the animation budget isn’t starting to hurt. So our heroes triumph over the villains with a little help from Elizabeth. She showed some actual enginuity for once. As I was about to sigh as the villain was preparing to blab on about how his power works and give our heroes the exact right information to figure out how to combat it, he is cut off when he realises that Elizabeth already figured it out and made her move. Got to say it was an impressive feat to take the bell from the mans staff as he hit her with it. It would be nice to see her continue to be this inventive but sadly I believe this is a one time moment. She reverts to princess mode pretty soon afterwards.

With the bell out of commision the Sins cleaned house soon enough. Even when one of the villains pulled out his trump card, a spell to seal them away in the prison forever, it was unintentionally broken by the reunion of Meliodas and Ban. Not only did they destroy the spell but also bring down the entire prison with friendly arm wrestling. I am beginning to worry that these characters may be too strong. While I said before that to get around this one can put them in disadvantageous situations but when you disarm the situation it really just becomes a matter of when they win. It is hard to feel they are in true danger in a pure fist fight.

Ah yes and the doctor isn’t dead.To no ones surprise. This is one of the problems I have with shounen battle anime. They are all for having dire situations but there are not many who are willing to follow through with the consequences. I generally dislike fake deaths. I find them to be cheap emotional manipulation that only works once and loses all impact after the reveal. Even then if you can see it then it won’t even work once. This as well takes away the effect of a character genuinely dying as many would just be waiting for the reveal rather than get taken in the characters true final moments. It isn’t even properly explained here. He just go healed somehow and they brush it off pretty quickly. I admit there is something later on that could explain this but right now it’s just lazy way to prevent the daughter from having to deal with the loss of her father. The next episode looks to add a new sin to the head count so we can only see how this King plans to introduce himself.

Posted on 11 November 2014 with categories: Shingeki no Bahamut

Ah, the story progression that I was looking for. I finally find myself having a reason to get attached to Leone and Kaisar, because this episode devotes an entire episode to their rivalry and is just all around an improvement from last episode.

I’ve talked about how the slow pacing hurts this show, and this is one instance where taking a break from the monotony of side activities does a lot to build the story. In this episode, we follow Leone and Rita (possibly my favorite character so far) as they try to get Kaisar and Amira back, who were captured by demons in the last episode. The old rivalry between Leone and Kaisar finally come to a head, and it’s been delivered in such a satisfying manner here- the rising action was not contrived in any way and it was packed with a lot of tension. Regardless, there remains much to be worried about when talking about where this anime will end up-take Amira’s exponential “moe-ification” and the sluggish pacing, which appeared plenty of times in the last few episodes. Those will, without a doubt, stay relevant as the show moves forward.

In addition, Jeanne D’Arc and the Knights had at most 3 minutes of screen time ever since the series began, so I do think that it’s a mistake for Sato to put them on the sidelines for so long. Jeanne D’Arc is probably the only well-known historical figure in the anime, and she’s yet another character being cast off as a minor supporting character when she has so much potential.

Posted on with categories: Parasyte

Let me put up a disclaimer: When I first started to review this series, I didn’t foresee the obvious outcome that this show would end up so mediocre. I debated whether or not I should write reviews in groups of 2-3 episodes versus reviews that would drone on about the same issues every single episode, and I ultimately decided on the former. Parasyte is yet another anomaly- because while the pacing and story are solid as hell, various weaknesses in character development and a total failure to create an effective setting ultimately bring the show down.

First, I think we can all agree that Migi is by far the best character in this show. But besides him, who else do I genuinely care about? Shinichi’s “dehumanization” continues to occur far too rapidly for us to care about it very much, yet the writers seem to keep beating us over the head with evidence that he’s changing- when Mr. A is approaching Shinichi in episode four, Shinichi feels strong remorse about having to kill A, even though he ultimately kills him out of self-defense. So I was initially under the impression that Shinichi doesn’t want to kill any organism regardless of their threat level, because his actions had demonstrated that very same idea up to that point. However, when a pregnant Miss Ryoko is literally causing zero harm to anyone, all of a sudden, Shinichi wants to kill her- what a textbook definition of beating us over the head with character development.

This also directly correlates with the failure to create tension whenever Shinichi goes outdoors.  With a premise as this reminiscent of vampires, there was so much potential here. Although this is obviously a minor issue in comparison to something like character development, creating an unnerving tension whenever Shinichi goes outside to interact with other humans would take the story this show seeks to tell and drastically further push the narrative. How awesome would it have been, had the writers shown Shinichi suspecting every person he saw in the city simply because one of them might be a parasyte? Because so far, the only things that remind us that there are other parasytes out there are the “boss fights” we get every episode.

Overall, although I’ve only listed the negative aspects of the show fron episodes 3-5, the parts this show does right remains the same as what I wrote for my episode 2 review. Regardless, the soundtrack is definitely now a problem- the big emotional reveal in the fifth episode was ruined for me because of the badly composed dubstep (a genre of music that I normally enjoy.) Ultimately, the positives and negatives of this show make this series a fairly average one so far.

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

Episodes 4 and 5 of Your Lie in April were crucial ones in terms of how the series would develop. Episode 4 was a very important episode in the series as we see Kousei reintroduce himself to the music world after his mother’s death left him unable to play the piano. How the writers would handle this situation was extremely important. I was personally worried that Kousei’s and Kaori’s performance would go too smoothly, almost belittling Kousei’s trauma. Instead, the writers took a more agreeable path than that in which encouraging signs for Kousei’s progress were mixed with frustration and familiar problems that showed that he is definitely not out of the woods yet.

After the performance, we’re left with Kaori’s sudden collapse. I was immediately worried that this was going to be an extremely cheap use of melodrama to inject some drama into the show that would ultimately be completely negligible to the series as a whole, but we learn in episode 5 that this has been a recurring issue for Kaori and will almost definitely be a very important part of Your Lie in April going forward. The rest of episode 5 showed a stronger focus on the relationships within the show with some monologues from Tsubaki and Kousei as they ponder their feelings. Episode 5 ends with Kaori pushing Kousei to enter a piano competition, which will be another important step in Kousei’s progress overcoming his trauma.

The good from these two episodes is that the pacing and production values have remained very strong. Good pacing is always nice since it feels rather rare in the medium, and especially rare in the drama/romance genres. The show also managed to beat out my worst expectations that I detailed a little bit in the above paragraphs, relating to how Kousei’s accompaniment of Kaori would go and Kaori’s collapse. As for the bad… I really wasn’t a fan of the writers hanging the botched performance over Kousei’s head. I can understand Kousei being hard on himself, even if he was pushed into the performance. I think it would be a natural reaction. I was less understanding of Kaori bringing it up at the end of episode 5. At the end of the day, I think it was merely to get him to do the piano competition, continuing to try to help him overcome his issues, but I’m still iffy on hanging that over his head to get him to do it. This is also a good time to mention the sappy lines I forgot to mention last time. They’re back in full force, particularly during the monologues. The biggest issue with these lines is that they really just suck me out of the show. Nobody talks like that.

Overall I’d say the quality has remained fairly consistent through these five episodes. Kousei’s upcoming piano competition should be the next major event and it’ll be interesting to see how the writers choose to move along the plot from where we are now. Also, of course, it’ll be interesting to see how Kaori’s health develops going forward.

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Serial Experiments Lain is weird. It is a series unlike any other, wholly unique in anime, both modern and historical. Every aspect of it, from presentation to narrative, is best described as an experience. It is because of this that I believe Lain is a must watch, if only to experience a piece of anime […]

Penguin Highway (2018) Movie Review – 89/100

You’re walking along in your neighborhood, going about your daily routine. It’s a fine morning. The sun is shining brightly. But suddenly, you see something strange. You squint your eyes; even rub them, to make sure it isn’t a mirage before exclaiming with excitement, “Oh, look. It’s a bird. No, it’s a plane! No no. […]

One Punch Man Season 2 Anime Review – 34/100

Often at the start of one of these reviews, I will wax philosophical about a series. Attempting to slowly draw you, the reader, in to whatever topic or anime I am discussing in that review. This time, none of that. This time, I have to come out and say from the beginning, that One Punch […]

Dororo Anime Review – 55/100

In the modern anime sphere, getting a complete story, start to finish, is a rare thing. As is getting an adaptation for an older work. Dororo however has, through the grace of Twin Engine, managed to get both of these. Based on the 1967 manga of the same name by legendary Mangaka Osamu Tezuka, Dororo […]