Posted on 18 April 2014 with categories: Ping Pong

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on with categories: Mushishi

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

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

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

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

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

Posted on 3 March 2014 with categories: Mushishi

Mushishi holds a really special place in my heart. Back in November 2005, when I started up this blog, Mushishi was one of the first shows I picked up to cover weekly. At first I didn’t think much behind it: it just looked interesting and I wanted to cover it, but as it went on I started to enjoy it more and more. But even then it took me a long time, even after the series had finished, to realize what a special series it was, and that we’d never get anything like it again.

Many series tried, but none got as many things right as this show did. That’s something I definitely realized after I watched this OVA, and how we’re in for something really, really special here. I mean, my big fear was that they’d compromise, and that the second season would feel underwhelming. But amazingly, this OVA kept everything that made Mushishi to be one of my favourite shows out there.

And I know that usually, I’m not one of those people who lauds shows who do just the same in their sequels, but Mushishi is one of those series that is the exception to the rule. It knew exactly what it should keep doing, and yet this OVA contained a new story that adds to the Mushishi universe, and that story was amazing. You can see some CG here, but the creators kept it within limits and bounds.

Apart from that, the soundtrack is just amazing as usual. The voice acting is still brilliant and subdued, the atmosphere is still there. It still has the single best ED ever created for an anime, It still knows how to tell a perfect short story. I mean, really. This will be big. If the TV-series is like this then it’s got the potential to be the best series in years. But no, expectations should not be too large. Something’s going to mess up. Something will go wrong.

I mean, seriously. I don’t know whether it’s because of heightened emotions of finally seeing one of my absolute favorites again, but I still cannot believe how much I enjoyed this episode. I actually got teary-eyed from watching it and it made it seem so easy. I mean hell, this is EVERYTHING I’m looking for in an anime. The story wasn’t necessarily incredibly complex or so, but it was told perfectly. The focus was on bringing all of the different characters to life, and the creators really succeeded in showing that this really is about ordinary people living their lives. It’s incredibly relatable as it dealt with simple, but relatable problems.

Now for those who are wondering: Mushishi is a collection of standalone stories. In order to understand everything about this episode, all you need to have watched are episodes 1 and 20 from season one. That’s nothing, especially because these episodes are awesome to watch anyway.

Posted on 12 October 2013 with categories: Currently Watching:

Hey everyone, I participated in a podcast again, together with Deadlights (Deadlight’s Anime Blog) Flawfinder (Standing on my Neck) and Slashe (Behind the Nihon Review)
with two new members, Landon (Mecha Guignol) and Tom (Nigorimasen)

Today we talked about the past Fall season. You can find the link here, enjoy:

http://deadlightanime.blogspot.nl/2013/10/seasonal-anime-podcast-first_12.html

Posted on 12 April 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Jojo's Bizarre Adventure



There are a lot of ways to adapt something. Shounen battle series tend to very quickly fall into a very dull variation of that: really slow pacing that goes on forever with long boring drawn out battles that all look like each other. David Production looked at them, and just said “we can do better!”

They grabbed one of the most popular shounen series that hadn’t been fully adapted yet and gave it a kickass treatment that just screams epicness that fits the story perfectly. Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure on its own is already a completely crazy story, but this anime actually throws in everything it has to amplify this insanity. The voice actors all yell out their lines with an incredible amount of passion and energy, the animation is full of weird and over the top poses and trippy colour effects, the soundtrack is completely epic with many different tracks (including even dubstep), the pacing is incredibly fast, yet nothing feels rushed. All dedicated to make the adrenaline rush as high as possible.

The plot of this series is basically a bunch of incredibly muscly guys punching zombies to death. That could have been so dull so fast, but beyond the incredibly over the top execution, the actual contents of the action scenes are really creative and fun to watch. This show knows how to keep itself fresh: every character is varied and unique (and really likable by the way, the best being Joseph and Stroheim), every villain has different powers and methods of fighting, and this show loves to use all sorts of props and powers to remain interesting. This series in particular loves to give huge powers to very tiny and weak things, to prevent things from being just one superpower after the other. It keeps fights with random goons really as short as possible, so that it can focus on the characters who actually matter.

Of course, this series is not for everyone. It is for those looking for over the top action, and in terms of shounen action it pretty much offers the best you can get. Having said that though: it is pretty simplistic at times. Some characters are quite one-sided and only work because the presentation is so good. Don’t expect the most complex character-development here, but instead huge heaps of energy and manliness.
One-Sentence Review: An excellent adaptation, full of incredibly over the top shounen action with a very creative plot and really likable, albeit simple, characters.
Suggestions:
Baccano
Shin Mazinger Z
Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood

Posted on 11 April 2013 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

Oh Jojo. What an ending. I did not expect what would happen here at all. Perhaps the ending was not as impressive as with Psycho Pass or From the New World, but still this is every way in which a shounen series should end. You hear that, other shounen series? Watch this for how endings should be done!

Still, the climax of this show was so over the top that it just could not have been made today. It’s just so completely bloody random to suddenly have the volcano erupt this giant rock into the stratosphere that blows Cars into outer space. It’s completely impossible and really inconvenient, but in terms of creativity and as a plot twist it just made for the perfect over the top ending. Yeah it makes no sense, but this is so much better than just the characters sending beams to each other until one side dies. Plus there is the irony: the perfect human being on earth is completely useless outside of it.

It was also really fun to just see this series take the piss out of aftermaths, and poking fun at so many tropes before they even existed. Joseph hooking up with Suzie Q was hilarious, and how many times have we seen an actual divorce here? I can count the amount of series with divorces on one hand (Noein, Xamdou, Zone of the Enders, uhhh…).

Bringing a character who was thought dead back to life is a dead horse. But I can forgive this show for it by how it did this, and how much it poked fun at this.

So, as for any possible continuations. The ending of this episode was a sequel hook, nothing more. Until we see an official confirmation it is not clear whether the producers can gather enough money to make it. Now, as for the actual chance that they will succeed in this: I’d say it is pretty damn good. Take a look here and here. A little bit of math shows about 22109 sold DVD and blu-ray copies. That’s a lot!
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 31 March 2013 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

Okay, so I thought that this was the final episode so I was ready to go all out. And then at the end of this episode there was this “To be continued”-message. Yeah, I was confused. But boy, am I glad, because it means that there will be one more episode of Jojo. They managed to squeeze one more into the airing schedule. David Production also did this with the Armed Librarians. And seriously, these guys have with this earned a spot amongst my favorite production companies out there. The way they handled this adaptation was just fantastic.

I loved the final battle against Cars, because it was more than “let’s just send a huge beam towards the angry monster until it dies”. No, instead Joseph managed to hijack a plane and turned this into a cat and mouse chase. Future action series should really take this episode as an example for their penultimate episodes, because this: the fight had so many interesting things in it. I also loved the small details again, like the meat eating squirrel.

And Stroheim. God, I love this guy. He’s completely one-dimensional, but his theme song ever since he became the terminator is just awesome, and he always appears at just the right moments, doing the craziest things surpassing even Joseph in this. Last episode was already glorious when he apparead with his squad of lamp-weilding guys, but in this episode… to think that he had been hiding in the plane for hours, waiting for the right moment to arrive.

All of the main villain of this series so far have had their dying moment: an episode dedicated to their final trump when they’re near death: Dio had his head, AC-DC was reduced to a brain, and Wham also had his episode dedicated to his final moments. They really seem to be doing the same to Cars as well, but knowing this series, they probaly are intending this one to be special. And it will be between Cars, Joseph and Stroheim on a burning volcano. Oh my god, so much manliness.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 28 March 2013 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

And here are the penultimate episodes of Jojo. And seriously, I loved the fights here. The creators really went to the extreme, while keeping true to their philosophy of putting huge over the top powers on one hand, and really delicate things on the other. One one hand you have Stroheim yelling like crazy, while weilding what is basically a giant lamp as a weapon. And the duel with Cars was also really good in how it used Lisalisa in such a painful position as a hostage.

Surpringly, the least interesting part of these two episodes was where Speedwagon started to explain what happened to Joseph’s parents. It’s not that it didn’t have any good points (I liked how one of the smarter minions of Dio worked his way up as an aviation commander in the Royal Air Force), but come on. You’re about to punch Cars to death. Don’t break up the momentum with that. Thankfully the actual finale promises to be epic.

My only gripe: Lisalisa didn’t really get a chance to stand in the spotlights, did she? I mean all other major characters got their chance to show off, but she has the bad luck to be immediately just brought to an inch of her life. Give her some credit, man. If she’s a ripple master, let her show this off!
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 15 March 2013 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

I must say: this fight was AWESOME!

Using chariots definitely was something different from the usual standard fight scene, and the creators spiced it up even more by turning just about everything into a weapon, from conventional crossbows to horses, cannonballs and pillars. The best thing was how it kept using surprise after surprise in order to push the fight forwrad. This isn’t your standard action, this is the action that remains interesting!

It’s going to be a real shame when this series finishes, because it has definitely set the bar really high for the future shounen series. Possibly only Hunter X Hunter should be able to come close to this level of entertainment, but when it comes to series that are purely about fighting…. it will be incredibly difficult to top this.

You can notice how this series was originally a manga: there are tiems when characters are about to hit something, and yet these scenes take ages because some characters need to be able to finish their dialogue (this timing problem stands out much less in manga format). This is something that often irks me, but the creators really managed to be able to solve it with their raw passion and energy here. Also something tells me that the creators here are big fans of Osamu Dezaki…
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

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  • Raggers
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 06:16 PM)
    @JaK: Thing is, I’ve already read up about the world and characters abilities (no plot) from the wikia. So at this stage, I expect I’ve already taken the “good stuff” from Mahouka and expect nothing good from the adaptation.
    Which leaves me open to being pleasantly surprised, should it become entertaining at some point.
  • JaK
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 06:02 PM)
    you’d have to make it through the really boring enrollment arc for the hype to be justified though raggers :( ( also the arc manga covered hence the bad publicity)
  • Raggers
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 04:09 PM)
    Oh, and have a look at http://www.overclock.net/t/1480764/oopsie-its-a-program-that-reopens-folders-or-programs-with-customizable-keyboard-shortcuts
    A very useful program that’ll make you wonder why M$ didn’t incorporate it into Windows ages ago.
  • Raggers
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 04:08 PM)
    My bad, instead of “must watch” I meant “truly great”.
    I’m watching Mahouka partly because the hype demands it, and partly because the universe, and it’s rules, are very, very interesting. The hype reason is why I watched SAO, and the first half of GC (though I couldn’t handle more than that). Need to watch enough of it to have a valid opinion on it after all.
  • lohengramm
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 03:45 PM)
    Ah, and Mekakucity, because of Kagepro.
  • lohengramm
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 03:44 PM)
    i’ve read the mahouka manga and tbh i didn’t really like it … have yet to try the anime, though! for me so far the only shows i’ll definitely be following are captain earth and sidonia no kishi, most probably no game no life, and maybe hitsugi no chaika … (sorry for randomly inserting myself in here)
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 03:42 PM)
    whatever people say, that’s going to be one of the most talked-about shows of the next two seasons, need to watch at least a little bit of it.
  • Jalapeno Bagel
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 03:42 PM)
    Raggers, you’re missing Mahouka.
  • Raggers
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 03:04 PM)
    @moshokosho: There are 5 “must watches” this season IMO. In no particular order:
    Mushishi S2
    JoJo S2
    Baby Steps
    Isshuukan Friends.
    Ping Pong
  • moshokosho
    (Saturday, Apr 19. 2014 02:03 PM)
    still feeling bitter about captain earth, had been hoping for a Eureka 7, Bounen no Xamd style anime richly told

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Featured Posts

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Ping Pong – 02

Yes, I know that more people here were involved in making this series beyond Masaaki Yuasa. It’s written by the creator of Tekkon Kinkreet, Taiyo Mashimoto. That guy is awesome. And the combination between those two makes this series even better. Because here’s the thing: anime is significantly different from manga or light novels. Beyond […]

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Mushishi Season 2 – 02

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Review – 89/100

There are a lot of ways to adapt something. Shounen battle series tend to very quickly fall into a very dull variation of that: really slow pacing that goes on forever with long boring drawn out battles that all look like each other. David Production looked at them, and just said “we can do better!” […]

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Oh Jojo. What an ending. I did not expect what would happen here at all. Perhaps the ending was not as impressive as with Psycho Pass or From the New World, but still this is every way in which a shounen series should end. You hear that, other shounen series? Watch this for how endings […]

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Okay, so I thought that this was the final episode so I was ready to go all out. And then at the end of this episode there was this “To be continued”-message. Yeah, I was confused. But boy, am I glad, because it means that there will be one more episode of Jojo. They managed […]

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And here are the penultimate episodes of Jojo. And seriously, I loved the fights here. The creators really went to the extreme, while keeping true to their philosophy of putting huge over the top powers on one hand, and really delicate things on the other. One one hand you have Stroheim yelling like crazy, while […]

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