Posted on 8 December 2014 with categories: Gugure! Kokkuri-San

So I’ve been gone for a while partially because of work, school, and my political activities, but also because I wanted to try approaching how I review in a (hopefully) interesting way. I’d be interested in hearing your feedback on this, as I am trying to inject more of my own personality into the way I write while avoiding the pitfalls many face in their attempts to write. Anyways, back to the review.

So as a person who grew up in the early 90’s with comedy classics like the Addams Family, a love for satirical humor is something deeply ingrained in me as a person- watching the adults freak out over the latest Marilyn Manson album was hilarious to watch, and even more hilarious when my parents heard me blasting that music in my room. So when I got into anime during my early college years, I quickly noticed a lack of satirical humor, but more specifically, comedic variety in the medium. While there definitely were the antiharems and the romantic comedies, none of them were the hard hitting, alternative humor I’d been blessed with from so many other movies and cartoons. So when a show like Gugure! Kokkuri-san follows most of the standard comedic conventions yet still manages to stand out just a little bit, I definitely have to talk about it.

                                     The Addams Family

Now, am I saying that the show is an excellent example of satirical humor in anime? Because it’s not- the humor falls falls short quite often and some jokes simply fail to connect with anybody as far as I know. But what I am saying, however, is that it is different to that degree to which it becomes refreshing to watch, while injecting a little bit of that comedic variety that I’ve been craving for a long time.

                 The quirky characters are definitely a positive on an otherwise average show

These past episodes were full of surprises which I’d been mistaking all along as inconsistency- this show revels in the fact that it can change from deadpan, dark, satirical, and observational comedy with each scene and it does this with mixed results. This is where the flaws that I previously mentioned set in, but this show, so far, has a little bit of something for everybody- quirky characters, dark humor, deadpan humor, prime meme material, etc, all because of its decision to embrace a wide range of comedic forms. If you’re thinking about watching this show, I’d recommend pushing through the numerous unfunny sections of the anime because there is real value through all of its flaws here, at least compared to most in its genre. The fanservice is only present in one episode so far, and the cast of characters is one of the best in this season.

                                        Genderbent Kokkuri-San and Shigaraki

However, I have to talk about the numerous reoccurring problems I’ve seen in these last four episodes, and those include the lack of continuity in between episodes, lazy narrative, static characters, as well as the laughably boring parts.

This is a gripe I have with some 4koma anime adaptations- the producers get lazy and translate the manga into anime with almost no sense of continuity and as a result, each episode doesn’t feel like an important part of the story. This is true in Gugure!Kokkuri-San, albeit to a lesser degree. Take, for example, episode 8, where we got some romantic development between female Kokkuri and Shigaraki only for the producers to ignore all development in episode 9 and 10. While we can definitely expect the characters to address it in later episodes, that doesn’t excuse the fact that the viewers expect a change when something that drastic and unexpected happens. So while not all 4koma adaptations need a sense of continuity as the original writer may not have intended them to have one, this show clearly wants to tell some kind of story. While this issue is generally restricted to episodes only after 8, it only feels like so large of an issue because the romantic development was simply brushed aside- made even worse when you have romantic development between two characters without so much as a hint of it in the previous 7 episodes.

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 4 November 2014 with categories: Gugure! Kokkuri-San

This. This is what I was asking for, and it delivered. This episode finally starts to create a distinct voice for itself by not adding to the hodgepodge of comedic styles this show already had, opting for a slow, drawn-out humor rather than the experimentation this show seemed to be doing with these past four episodes. It’s finally good to see this show starting to show some consistency, at least in the style of comedy it’s trying to go for.

Besides that, the part about the bully in Kohina’s school was mind-numbingly dull. I don’t see the jokes about the flower working for a Westerner with no prior knowledge of the context behind Japanese flowers, so the first half of this episode was very painful to sit through. However, I wouldn’t fault this on the show by any means, and I’m sure I would have appreciated it far better than I did had I known.

Let me talk about gender-bending real quick. Often, it’s over-used as fan service of the lowest degree and is one of the worst things a writer can do without giving the proper context. In addition, the explanations given for such gender-swaps are usually so contrived and idiotic that I can’t help but wonder who these shows were supposed to pander to. Even if one has a gender-bend fetish, wouldn’t they want their material being handled with all proper respect? Just like fan service, even gender-bending stories are proper in the right context- and in this spectrum, Gugugure! Kokkuri-San handles gender-bending excellently. Not only is the reason for sex-changes perfect for this story (they’re all spirits/gods, so they’re genderless), it’s handled in such a way that the fan service is covert/almost entirely nonexistent. Chiefly, Inugami. He may only be a side character, but he remains one of the most interesting character next to Shigaraki thanks to this ability. The character interactions change dynamically with Shigaraki when Inugami turns into a female this episode, and this was easily the second highlight of this episode, which was pretty damn funny.

I really started to enjoy this episode after the first half of the episode, as Kokkuri-San and Inugami enroll in Kohina’s school under cover, allowing for more character development for Kohina whilst getting some genuinely good laughs in.The school setting this episode seems to introduce dynamicism  to the plot by expanding the scope of the character interactions- now, not only do we get to see Kohina interact with the spirits, we also get to see how Kohina, the spirits, and the classmates all mingle simultaneously.

If this show keeps going at this pace, it can finally polish itself to become a really great series, possibly better than Barakamon.

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 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 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: 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.

Posted on 15 October 2014 with categories: Akatsuki no Yona

In the first impression I said I didn’t expect Akatsuki no Yona to succeed if it went down the serious drama route. However, after watching the second episode, I’m starting to think I might have been wrong about that. There were still a lot of moments that felt corny or derivative to me, such as the stand-off between Hak and Soo-won in the middle of the episode and the flash-forward at the very end (I don’t really think the flash forwards have been very effective as a narrative device), but the writers made some inspired choices with the main characters that left me feeling encouraged about the direction this show is headed. I really like how they’ve handled Soo-won’s character. A story like this can live or die by the quality of its villain. If the villain is too sympathetic it can lighten the dramatic heft of the narrative, which can be really bad news for these type of operatic, character-driven, period pieces. If the villain is too sociopathic they can rapidly wear thin. However, the character of Soo-won strikes a nice balance between this. He’s a very cold person, to be sure, and it’s hard to empathize with his methods, but his motives honestly feel pretty reasonable to me. It’s easy for me to imagine the bitterness he would feel looking at Yona’s peaceful castle life and knowing that it was built on the violence and subterfuge that killed his father. I mean maybe we’ll find out later in the show that Yona’s father didn’t actually kill Soo-won’s father, but I hope the writers don’t go that route because honestly, it feels like a very believable backstory in my opinion. And it’s a backstory that really forces you to think about whether Yona is actually in the right here. If what Soo-won said is true, then perhaps Yona bears some form of guilt by association? I also like how we see moments of remorse peeking through Soo-won’s cold facade, like when you can see him wince momentarily after Yona tells him how she planned to confront her father about denying Yona the chance to marry her. It shows that there is a feeling person under there but those feelings have been buried under mountains of circumstances. And it makes for an interesting dynamic between him and Kye-sook, because even though Soo-won seems to be firmly in control of his fate, you can tell that Kye-sook is a Lady Macbeth type of character, prodding him to be more and more ruthless.

I also like how they handled Yona’s character in this episode. Often times, when shows portrays these types of “Princess forced out of the castle” situations the writers struggle so hard to make the trauma seem intense that the protagonist can seem unbearably histrionic or downright schizophrenic in their inconsistent and constantly changing reactions. I thought Yona went through a very nice and clear transition from initial shock at learning her father was killed, to denial of the situation, to fear that her own life was in danger, to anger and frustration that her osananajimi had betrayed her, and finally to a near catatonic breaking point as the fatigue and despair begin to set in. Throughout it all, her responses felt very natural and understandable for someone in her position. And the writers didn’t overdo it with the screaming and crying. I felt like most of the time Yona just seemed lost in her thoughts, almost unable to comprehend what was going on around her. Indeed, rather than being a player in the events of this episode, Yona is mostly just swept along in the torrent of events. I like this understated approach because it makes for some really powerful moments when Yona’s emotions come to the surface. I mean that hug at the end was so powerful and heart-warming. The entire episode Yona is just buffeted about by various people objectifying her and trying to kill her for reasons that have nothing to do with her personal life. You can see that by the end her sanity is about to break entirely because she feels just completely helpless and alone in a world that has completely changed for her in the span of a few hours. And then Hak, who despite his white knight persona had been pretty business-like towards Yona throughout this episode, lets down his own defenses to give Yona a moment of warmth and vulnerability with that hug. It was as if he was trying to say to her, “Don’t worry. Even if everyone else is treating you like a political figurehead, you’re still a human being to me.”

My biggest gripe with this episode, which was also a gripe I had with the first episode, was the terrible fight scenes. And I’m sorry if you liked them, but from my perspective after two episodes they’re just downright bad. I don’t mind that the fight scenes are short, or that the main characters don’t shoot fireballs out of their swords (at least not yet). I think those were both great choices. The problem is that the fight scenes just don’t feel real. Sure, there is blood and screaming, and loud sound effects when Hak swings his glaive around, but it just feels cartoony to me. I chalk a lot of this up to the fact that, although other aspects of the fight choreography feel more grounded and realistic, the actual physics of how the weapons impact and how the corpses are tossed through the air like volleyballs, is just comically unrealistic. And in spite of how well animated most of this show is, the animators do a really uninspired job with the death animations of all those nameless grunts that are constantly getting killed off. It makes the fight scenes feel like you’re watching someone play Dynasty Warriors (and no that’s not a compliment). The big issue here is not that the fight scenes themselves are bad, it’s that the bad fight scenes and comical death animations really take you out of the moment and just kill the serious atmosphere that the creators have otherwise done a great job building with the excellent soundtrack and cinematography.

Still, this was a good episode that really left me encouraged about where this show is going.

Posted on with categories: Shingeki no Bahamut

This episode devotes its entirety setting up the characters as well as the journey coming ahead, and it does so very well.

Here’s the thing-this season, we have a ton of shows packed with great style, animation, and direction, but none are as stylistic as Shingeki no Bahamut. I remember a few months ago when I watched the premier of Blade and Soul, and I was genuinely impressed with it- the pacing was solid, the art was decent, and the characters were mildly interesting…. However, starting with episode 2, I lost all interest and moved on, and I never bothered figuring out why. But, after watching this episode, I now know why that was. Unlike Blade and Soul, this show knows not to take itself too seriously. The completely serious Amira turns into a very light-hearted, rather amusing character who really lightens up the entire episode, and Leone/Kaisar’s bouts are, once again, very entertaining to watch.

The highlight of this episode was, without a doubt, Amira, because I did not expect her character to change as abruptly as she did. It’s quite astounding what adding a little flare to a character can do, because although I still don’t give a crap about her background, she manages to give depth to our little maverick in a way that didn’t feel overly cheesy or dull (I won’t spoil). This show has found a way to be charming whilst completely avoiding cheese.

I’m always keeping an eye out for great artists who keep trying out different things, and with Keiichi Sato, Mappa has struck gold. Now, we can only hope that he will keep this passion of his, and keep landing jobs as a director for non-mecha productions like this. His mecha productions may be quite notorious, but he hasn’t really produced anything worthwhile since Tiger and Bunny anyways, so it’s time to move the hell on. He has the potential to really make this series shine.

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  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Jul 31. 2015 06:37 PM)
    ;(, Isn’t that against every rule of manga reading ever? So the previous 78 volumes don’t really matter?
    This is kinda the reason I don’t want to get into it. I mean when people tried to get me to read it they said that there were over 70 volumes and the story isn’t even half over. And to me that really doesn’t sound like a good thing.
  • ;(
    (Friday, Jul 31. 2015 04:49 PM)
    You’re doing it wrong if you’re trying read all chapters before where it got to. Just try read what’s recent.
  • AidanAK47
    (Friday, Jul 31. 2015 02:51 PM)
    ;(, believe me when I say I tried. Three times.
    It’s just so long and I can’t get into it.
  • ;(
    (Friday, Jul 31. 2015 02:36 PM)
    Really? No one reads One Piece?
    I am disappoint.
  • ;(
    (Thursday, Jul 30. 2015 04:12 PM)
    HOLY SHIT KAIDOU APPEARED!!!
    And he’s fighting the Kidd-Hawkins-Apoo allaince!!!
    One Piece is getting crazy again.
  • b4oshany
    (Wednesday, Jul 29. 2015 12:00 AM)
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Jul 28. 2015 11:19 PM)
    @K-off, thanks.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, Jul 28. 2015 10:38 PM)
    @Aidan I’ll just go ahead and edit it
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Jul 28. 2015 09:49 PM)
    K-off could edit category though. Maybe I could use his account and that would allow me to edit them. Hell all he would need to do is change is password to something unimportant and let me know what it is. This I could pop in using his account and edit them…though I tried doing this with lightning bolts account and I can’t do it there either.
    Stupid wordpress.
  • AidanAK47
    (Tuesday, Jul 28. 2015 12:04 PM)
    @reaLjustified, would have done so a while ago if I could. When psgels added me to the site I think he forgot to give me permissions to the category section. So I cannot create or edit categories at all. So it means I can’t edit that list down there.

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Kyousogiga Review – 90/100

Everyone’s taste is different, and that’s a wonderful thing because that allows us to have so many different forms of media that all aim toward their own niche. My blog is obviously written from the perspective of my own taste, and even when a show doesn’t cater to it (which is nearly always), I love […]

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Ore no Nounai Sentakushi ga, Gakuen Lovecome o Zenryoku de Jama Shiteiru Review – 80/100

Noucome! You do not want to know how long I have been waiting for a series like this. More than half a decade, at the very least. Finally a series comes along and puts the incredibly overused harem genre in its place. And it actually does it well. Thank you! So to elaborate: the harem […]

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Pokemon: The Origin Review – 75/100

Normally I try to avoid spoilers with these reviews, but screw it, it’s Pokemon. Pokemon The Origin is a bomb of nostalgia. If you haven’t played Pokemon Red, Blue or Green, then you will not enjoy this one slight bit. This really is made as pure undilluted fanservice for the fans of the first games. […]

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Tamayura – More Aggressive Review – 75/100

I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series. Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: […]