Posted on 30 September 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews

Our protagonist

What it claims to be about: Angolmois (a reference to a Nostradamus prophesy which is rather irrelevant for the show, as he lived several centuries after the events) focuses on the first Mongol Invasion of Japan in 1274. Specifically it focuses on the early phase of the invasion when the Mongols attack Tsushima, which essentially is a way station for invasions from Korea to Japan and the other way around.

What it really is about: We follow a band of criminal exiles, which are conscripted into defending the islands by the local feudal lord’s daughter, Teruhi. Among them is Kuchii Jinzaburō a spunky samurai with a good grasp of military matters. He is headstrong and that is what nets him his exile. The show follows the attempts of Teruhi and Jinzaburo to defend the island against overwhelming forces, while at the same time exploring elements of Tsushima myths and culture in the era.

Our protagonist again. Another side of him.

Why you should watch it: In general Angolmois is a mediocre show. It does some things right. The “Mongols” are presented ,as was historically accurate, as a multi-national force including Koreans, and Chinese. The Mongol openness to giving service to anyone is also correctly presented, as is their rapaciousness. The Japanese arms and armors seemed well researched to me, as well as the fashion. I found Jinzaburo an interesting character with complex motivations, but with enough blood-lust to not make him boring. The Mongol secondary characters are interesting, ranging from the timid but intelligent, to the blood-thirsty. The show does not dreg into too much overt nationalism and myth making. Do not get me wrong, the view of the Japanese as unique is still there, but it is not done in a vulgar way (I am looking at you Kopeki no Kantai). Indeed the show honestly dives into the more localist and personal motivations of the protagonists, including ones that lead to betrayal, without sermonizing. The end is well played out, being at the same time brutally realistic and still hopeful (in this sense sharing similarities to the excellent Gundam: Iron Blooded Orphans-watch that instead). Character art was in general pleasing to my aesthetics.

Why it is mediocre: The problems though are major. First, the secondary characters on the Japanese side are very shallow. While the Mongols get some great secondary characters, the creators on the Japanese side only focused on developing really Jinzaburo. From the eight exiles only one more gets any real development. The rest are really archetypes. Tehuri is a crucial character but her development is never pursued (perhaps realistically as war engulfs all).

Second, the animation was a complete and total failure. This was surprising, as I expected a historical anime, based on a manga, dealing with such a rumph rumph nationalist fervor topic would get more funding. Indeed the first and second episodes had some good work. Alas, it did not last. Still shots dominate, the battle scenes lack animation, and while bravo for the show pointing out the multi-ethnic character of Mongol armies, all those Chinese, Mongols, and Koreans look like each other. Over the whole animation is a filter that tries to convey the feeling that this is parchment, but fails. Instead it looks like a tv screen splashed with muddy water.

As a result the story suffers and the presentation also does.

Finally, you leave the show with a feeling that you just watched demo for a bigger show on the full invasion of Kuyshu. There is a feeling of indeterminacy. It is true our main characters get closure. But many of the secondary characters seem to have been shoved in for no other reason than to premeditate a sequel. Perhaps there will be, perhaps there will not. But I hope if there is that they actually spend the money for better animation.

The music is nothing to write home about. The Opening is pleasing enough, but not a home run. The rest is

End point. If you are looking for a light historical show and like spunky characters watch this, but do not expect much. A C- in my grading system.

Posted on with categories: Seasonal Previews

What happens when the anime season ends? That’s when the anime season begins. You would think that after all these years of this I would stop being surprised at a brand new anime season hitting faster than expected but it’s just one of those things you constantly underestimate.

Now last season we had a decent run with some stand out shows and this would normally be the point where I tell you that the next season coming also has potential greats in it. But this time I am afraid I cannot say that for I have done the research and this season is truly barren. There may be a few alright shows here and a new Jojo is always welcome but everything else is just bottom of the barrel. If those original shows don’t turn out to have merit this could very well be the worst season of anime we have had in a long time. Considering that is coming from me of all people that should at least give you an idea of the quality we are dealing with.

So same rules apply, I will check out all the source material I can to give an idea for what we are in for and there is a poll below for you to vote on what you wish to be covered this season.

Which series should we cover for the 2018 Summer Season?
90 votes · 1399 answers
vote

Once again thanks to Mario for images, some previews and layout help and Wooper and Lenlo for editing.

The sequels/Shorts I don’t care about

Fairy Tail (2018) (sequel)
Bakutsuri Bar Hunter
Devidol! (short)
Souten no Ken: REGENESIS 2 (sequel)
Grimms Notes (???)
Gurazeni 2 (sequel)
Gyakuten Saiban: Sono “Shinjitsu”, Igi Ari! 2 (sequel)
Himote House (short)
Hora, Mimi ga Mieteru yo! (short)
Hoshi no Shima no Nyanko TV (short)
Inazuma Eleven: Orion no Kokuin (sequel)
Jingai-san no Yome (short)
Kira Kira Happy ★ Hirake! Cocotama (sequel)
Okoshiyasu, Chitose-chan (short)
The iDOLM@STER: Side M: Wake Atte Mini! (short)
Pingu in the City 2 (2018) (short)
Seizei Gambare Mahou Shoujo Kurumi 2 (sequel)
Senran Kagura SHINOVI MASTER -Tokyo Youma-hen- (sequel)
Shuudengo, Capsule Hotel de, Joushi ni Binetsu Tsutawaru Yoru (short)
Sono Toki, Kanojo wa. (short)
Space Battleship Tiramisu II (short)
Sword Art Online: Alicization (sequel)
Toaru Majutsu no Index III (sequel)
Tokyo Ghoul:re 2 (sequel)

Series I don’t care about

Akanesasu Shoujo


Studio: Dandelion Animation Studio
Director: Jin Tamamura
Script/Series composer: Shougo Yasukawa
Source: Video Game
October, 2018. Girls who live in a provincial city perform a certain ritual. The girls are in the “Crystal Radio Club.” It is an interest circle that Asuka Tsuchimiya, a girl known for her cheerfulness, started with friends in her high school. That ritual was considered just an urban legend. However, with several conditions coincidentally falling into place, it stops being fun and games…

I originally had some hope that this would be a kind of horror anime but the trailer unfortunately confirmed that it wasn’t. What this does seem to be is a mixture of a cute girls doing cute things club and supernatural battle anime. Not to mention it’s for a smartphone app so likely another gacha game. The director was previously involved with A Sister’s All You Need, and the scenario writer hasn’t done much to write home about. I honestly wouldn’t expect much from this.

Anima Yell!


Studio: Doga Kobo
Director: Masako Sato
Script/Series composer: Fumihiko Shimo
Source: Manga
The story follows Kohane Hatoya, a 1st year high school student who is a bit clumsy and scared of heights but who has a very bubbly and outgoing personality. Kohane decides to join the cheerleading club to try to make friends and overcome her weaknesses.

It’s a 4-koma manga with four cute girls in a club so you know the drill. Quickfire gags and cute girls being all cute and shit. I’ve only seen two chapters of this but already this feels too much like many, many things I have seen before. The cheerleading aspect is pretty much superfluous and can be interchanged with any school activity you so desire. The characters are copy pastes of the same archetypes you have in these kinds of series, and while these chapters were short, I found my eyes glazing over before I finished. My taste for humor has never been all that compatible with anime but even then I feel this series just isn’t really funny. To me this is an anime to fill a quota for an anime season. We gotta have a cute girls doing cute things show so let’s slap something together to just tick that box.

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Posted on 28 September 2018 with categories: Anime Reviews, Steins;Gate 0

Before I begin this review in earnest, I have to ask, who doesn’t know about Steins;Gate? The amazing, beloved original series that Steins;Gate 0 is an offshoot of. Well if you don’t, if you haven’t seen the original, then stop now. Steins;Gate 0 is not worth it. It is not for you. Without having seen the original, Steins;Gate 0 will make even less sense and fall apart even faster than you than it did me. Because, long story short, Steins;Gate 0 tries to do everything and in doing so fails to do most anything.

Lets jump in!

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Posted on 27 September 2018 with categories: Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense, Steins;Gate 0

And so Steins;Gate 0 ends, not with a bang but a melodramatic whisper. Welcome to the finale of Steins;Gate 0. Whatever it was trying to do, it mostly failed, so lets jump in!

So with this finale I can definitively say, Steins;Gate 0 failed to live up to the hype. It’s not a bad series by any means, but every time it came to a crossroads, Steins;Gate 0 chose the wrong path. This finale is an excellent example of that. It chose to follow Mayurii going back in time to convince her old self to slap Okabe. But that wasn’t the interesting part of the story. To me, the story I wanted to see was the video getting made. I wanted to see Okabe and co surviving to the year 2025, using the Time Leap machine or D-Mail to always stay one step ahead. That, to me, is a far more interesting and unique story than what Steins;Gate 0 has given us. And considering how much was just… left to rot, it would have been a leaner story to.

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Posted on 26 September 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Planet With

The madman actually did it. Satoshi managed to take a massive story and crush it into 12 episodes without anything feeling too rushed. To be perfectly fair this episode did need a bit more of a epilogue and if we had a OVA episode to just go over what the character did after this then I feel like this show would be prefect. As far as Satoshi’s work goes it’s certainly my favorite anime from him but that’s mainly be virtue of being the only anime he’s ever made. In terms of his other work I would say that it ranks third below Biscuit hammer and Spirit Circle. Though I have yet to read Sengoku Youko which also seems to be fairly highly lauded. For his first outing in anime i would consider this a great success, Satoshi has shown himself to be a strong anime scriptwriter. In fact he may very well be better at anime script writing than manga as he know how to make use of the time he is given. Satoshi was given 12 episodes to write this story and he made full use of them.

Truly I cannot sing praises enough and it’s a damn shame that Planet With is a underwatched as it is. For the fact of the matter is that Satoshi has made a better Trigger anime than Studio Trigger ever has.(And trigger certainly did try and fail with Darling.) Well on to the episode itself, it acted as a great conclusion to the story. While I wish the battle was more action packed it still was an exhilarating fight with the heroes pushing the dragon into subspace. The dragons mental attack on Souya was certainly a surprise until I recall that Souya is the one of the only ones who never got a sealing device flashback. The dragons motive was certainly interesting, compelling Souya to hate him and act as device to carry on the dragons sense of justice. The contradiction is certainly interesting as the dragon looks to know that his actions are wrong but still feels that his line of thinking is right and wants someone to carry on his will.

This and the dragons final dream of his human family goes to show that his time as a human truly did change him but not enough to truly change his line of thinking. I will admit that the music in this episode could get a bit overbearing cheesy, in particular when the people of paradise pulled Souya out of the dream. Nonetheless there were some truly great moments like Ginko’s conflicted gratitude towards the dragon for inadvertently saving her home by attacking Sirius and breaking down over finally being able to express it after all this time. I loved the design of the dragons inner self and the final dream of his that finally allowed him to join his race being of his life as a human, showing that the silly old man we all love could very well have had a massive impact on this story. Lets not forgot Souya pushing the dragon into the subspace hole with a clog punch and everything returning to where it all started, at the dead planet of Sirius.

The last thing that the people of paradise say to Souya has a strange impact, namely that we can view this story from whatever view you like. What is right and wrong here is highly dependant on the one looking and if you look at it there is a far amount of moral ambiguity in what happened here. But all accounts the thinking of the sealing faction and the dragon isn’t necessarily wrong, though there actions are questionable. Well this has been a hell of a ride, it had a slow start but once it got going Planet With never let up. Again i think it could have used one more episode, though not to tie up loose ends as they most certainly did tie up everything with the last episode but rather just for viewer satisfaction. I at least would have liked confirmation on Nozo and Souya’s relationship through heavily hinted and I think some cooldown time was needed after the climax as it really did feel like it cut off too suddenly. But regardless this was a show that remained constantly unpredictable and fun throughout its run with it being my favorite of the season.

Posted on 25 September 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Hanebado!

The angriest show of this season has come to the continuation of the final match between Nagisa and Ayano and overall it does a decent job. It has something to do with this episode is amongst Hanebado’s most traditional sport narrative, so it focuses more on the action, and tones down the excessive melodrama. On the narrative side Hanebado also does a lot of lifting, first they shed light to Ayano’s Mom point of view. Second, Hanebado uses this match as the way for Ayano to understand the importance of teammates. Moreover, Nagisa does a lot of lifting as well. If I have any complaint regarding this episode, that is Ayano’s eyes are different again. It’s not the “shifting from innocent-Ayano to youkai-Ayano” I mentioned last few weeks (which I pretty much take it as it is), it’s that she has her Mom’s eyes this week. As it stands, Hanebado seems struggle to visualize Ayano’s emotional conflict, hence this inconsistency in character’s design. As a result I never feel related or connected to Ayano as a character.

This final match spreads out pretty confidently. As this episode is much more action-packed than normal, I’m pleased to say that the production value maintains its quality throughout. We can sense very well every sweat, every footsteps from these two. Yeah, the over-analysing can become bothersome after awhile. Nagisa decides to throw Ayano off by covering the court instead of trying for winner shots. It sounds like a plausible plan considering that Ayano is much less efficient in attacking than defending, and Nagisa’s overall stamina is much better than Ayano’s. It’s not that Nagisa is only aimed at defense either, when Ayano’s shot become weaker, Nagisa uses her biggest weapon: her smash to win the point. Long story short, Nagisa has her leg up in this match.

It’s there that Ayano’s confidence starts to crumble. She had been, and now still playing with the affection of her Mom. Losing means that she becomes nothing, everyone will eventually turn away from her. That’s why the encouragement of her teammates, and the audience at large, makes her realize another joy of playing badminton: to play it with friends. On Nagisa’s part, I like the moment where coach Tachibana warms her not to overtax herself. It comes from a person who gone through the same thing and he definitely doesn’t want Nagisa to repeat the same mistakes he did. Everything comes quite nicely together for Hanebado in this episode (even the ex-members start cheering for Nagisa, it’s one of those small touches that are more effective that the contrived drama)

Finally, we get to learn Ayano’s mom point of view regarding leaving her behind, and it’s just cruel and loudsy, as expected. Well, she doesn’t deny that fact, and I find that “leaving her so that she can play badminton for herself” a huge pile of crap. She’s obviously displeased when she hears Ayano denying that she’s lost (it’s something she will have to work with, next episode probably), but for godsake she’s a preteen kid and you don’t just walk away and adopt someone else’s daughter like that evil mama. And the fact that she knows it’s wrong but she doesn’t regret that? It’s the same as the argument of someone who having affair and still assert that they don’t regret it. IT’S BECAUSE THEY AREN’T VICTIM GODDAMNIT. Well, it could’ve been worse so I still give credits for Hanebado for addressing that moment of truth as best as their humanly possible. Even though it has been a bumpy ride, I still hope that Hanebado ends on a good note next week.

Posted on 24 September 2018 with categories: Currently Watching:, Shoujo☆Kageki Revue Starlight

It makes sense that after 10 episodes of dueling and auditioning, this week takes time to focus on the central pair Karen and Hikari. As soon as she “betrays” Karen in the cliffhanger last week, it soon reveals that the reason she does it is to not steal anyone’s else brilliance (especially Karen’s), even at the cost of herself. Admittedly, while I myself was expecting a bit more, this episode does have some emotional impact with some powerful scenes. By taking Hikari out of the equation (I swear if I ever come across with any document that has giraffe logo on it, I would dump it to the rubbish bin immediately), it takes a toll to Karen and effectively kills her joy to perform. Or as my sub says it, she loses her brillance. Which makes it all the more tragic because Hikari sacrifices herself in order to save Karen and the rest from it. As far as the narrative goes, I don’t think anyone of us is surprised at all these developments. Revue Starlight has been foreshadowing about this star-crossed love for quite some time and how Karen-Hikari relationship parallels with the Starlight story.

So it’s inevitable that we learn there is some more chapters in the Starlight book and it’s Karen the one who is willing to translate the whole book, with the help of every other member of the cast (poor Mahiru, always plays the housewife role). It’s the way for Karen to get back to the root, not only finding her own inspiration again after Hikari gone, but also finds Hikari through there. I also feel it’s more than appropriate that Karen’s walk to Hikari’s castle is accompanied by the whole case with their decor settings. We’re reaching the end of the stage production now, it’s perfect that these scenes play out like a play. Characters sing, characters function within their role (and their allocated spot) and leave Karen so that she can face her own issues by herself.

These stage-like quality, unfortunately, reduces our supporting characters into “roles”, so this episode we don’t feel them like real characters. There was one little moment that breaks that trend, however, which hit me harder than it should. It’s the moment when Tendou Maya implies, through her flashback, that when she sees Hikari’s eyes in one of their practices, she can sense that her eyes are empty. Hikari had been fighting and dueling even though her “brilliance” is forever gone, just barely make it back by the promise of Karen, and decides to win so that she can be an ultimate sacrifice. I already love the surrealist background of her palace, which vast desert and here she is, bare naked and all alone. That single image speaks more strongly than thousand words and I hope that, really hope that Revue Starlight can sweep me away again with its final episode.

Posted on with categories: Chio-chan no Tsuugakuro, Currently Watching:

As appropriate with Chio’s below-average personality, Chio-chan ends not with a bang but with two entertaining-but-unremarkable sketches. Many if the side-cast don’t make the cut in this finale (I kinda miss Andou and Momo), but we have Yuki at her most brilliant and Chio at her own worst enemy. Also, the way Chio-chan handles its fan-service moments is overall quite good. We still have panty shots here and there but most of the time they have ‘purpose’ (which I will get to that later). This show ends on the brief preview on future contents, and because we know all the characters by now, we can somewhat have a hood idea the details behind it. Also heads up for the “takes” that don’t make the final cut. It’s just another confirmation that Chio-chan doesn’t take itself very seriously, and in this context it’s for the show’s benefit.

The first half deals with the new pair Chio and Chiharu. As the “mad dog” tries to figure if Chio is indeed Andou’s love interest, Chio sees this as the perfect opportunity to raise her status to her kouhan. Of course things don’t turn out the way she expected, with all her “big talks” backfire on her at every turn. Chio, so in-character, throws off all her dignity and cries like a baby. Manana’s involvement during the skit’s final moment further makes it clear how lame Chio’s plan is and how “lowly” her personality goes. It’s overall a good segment, but then again it feels like Chio-chan is more comfortable staying within its zone than going all-out for this final episode.

The second half (which is effectively its last skit), thankfully ends the show on a high note. It’s Yuki who takes the spotlight with her urge to go nude. Her totally lack of reservation when it comes to showing her skin has been suggested before, and this time Chio-chan does just about enough to sell us her desire “to be with nature” without turning her into a pervert. It helps that Yuki shows her more serious, even intimating side when it comes to the issue, which is a nice contrast to her usual cheerful personality. What more, what she makes herself and Manana to do: going commando is a nice stretch of escalation. Then Chio’s involvement to this, with a nice addition from Madoka make this segment amusing from start to finish.

Overall, Chio-chan is an enjoyable little comedy show. It has rock-solid amusing interactions to the cast, and it always understands the mindset of Chio and Manana.At the same time, it’s a bit too modest for its own good. It could’ve been a better show if they can manage to escalate Chio’s commute to school into something totally crazy, but instead what we have is more a slice-of-life Chio’s road to school where sniffing at each other’s armpit or dressing up to school can take up half of the episode. Full review will come in a few days.

Posted on 23 September 2018 with categories: Banana Fish, Finished Series: Slice of Life/Drama

Welcome to the halfway point for Banana Fish. This week Ash prepares for his final showdown with Arthur, he has some moral quandaries, and gets terrified by pumpkin pie. Lets dive in!

So, general stuff first, Banana Fish’s pacing this week felt a bit fast to me. Banana Fish covered a lot of ground, from introducing new gang members, to explaining Dino’s grand plan and conveying Ash’s moral position. I have said it before, but the fast pacing only really works in the actiony parts. When bullets are flying and lives are at stake. In times like that, the fast pacing helps emphasize how hectic things are. In the slower moments like this however, the fast pacing just feels like Banana Fish is rushing everything. For example, I would have liked more time with the new gang leader Cain, assuming he is going to be a semi-important character later on. It doesn’t hurt Banana Fish much, because the actual content being rushed through is still good. I just think it could have been better.

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Posted on 21 September 2018 with categories: Finished Series: Mystery/Suspense, Steins;Gate 0

This week Steins;Gate 0, once again, brutally reminded me of the potential it started with ~5 months ago and subsequently wasted. We have lab-member shenanigans, emotional heart-to-hearts and overdramatic time travel sequences. Let’s dive in!

So in general, Steins;Gate 0 worked this episode. It really did. The emotions were on point and there was a good balance of tone throughout the episode. The lab scenes, the jokes, the voices, the planning, all rang true to the original. There was heart in these scenes that up until now has been lacking. Most likely because, finally, Okabe has a set goal to work towards. Up until now Okabe has most just… existed in Steins;Gate 0. Drifting from plot point to plot point, with relevant things only really happening when interacting with Amadeus. With a set goal and his Kyouma personality back, the series finally feels like it’s going somewhere. Problem is, this is just to late in the series. We have one episode left to resolve everything, yet sat through multiple episodes of meandering nothing. It is, as I said, a waste of potential.

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