Posted on 3 October 2010 with categories: Hakuouki, Shinrei Tantei Yakumo, Some Quick First Impressions

Hakuouki Hekketsu-Roku

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is surrounded by the Shinsengumi.
I watch these first episodes of second seasons of series that I originally dropped, in order to check whether or not I missed something: did they actually improve through their course? How have things progressed so far? In the past, I have revisited a few series that I originally dismissed this way. So, what does Hakuouki do? A recap; perfect. I dropped Hakuouki after episode five, and after watching this recap, I have to admit that I probably dropped it at its weakest episode. This episode just kept the twists coming here, which were actually quite interesting. They were a bit cheesy, and I saw little change in the villains, but the story turned out better than I expected: this is not like Vampire Knight which devolved into nothing more than angst and bishies. This second season also promises to be a lot more varied here. I still have two problems, though. The first is that this recap episode nearly worked a little too well. It perfectly summarized twelve freaking episodes in just twenty minutes. These pacing issues also were part of my issues with the first episode: it was just so damn slow at times, with little to make up for it. The second problem is the female lead. I like her premise, but the creators forced her too much into the harem role: she has to be everywhere, she has to be involved with everyone, and her whining holds back scenes that she has no business in whatsoever. For me to actually finish the second season of this series, I demand two things: make every moment count, and develop Chizuru significantly.
ED: Decent.
Potential: 40%

Shinrei Tantei Yakumo

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a detective who can see spirits.
Yeah, you don’t want to watch this series as a murder mystery. At that area, it’s nowhere near as good as series as Ayatsuri Sakon: the introduction moves too fast, the culprit is revealed way too soon and at no point does it try to make the viewer wondering what’s going on, or unravel clues. Instead, this show is more of a thriller and character study. When looking at it that way, the fast pacing is going to be interesting for the future of this series, it will be more able to concentrating on “why is everything happening”, rather than “what’s going on”, and with the right execution it will be a good way to spend its limited time of 13 episodes on its characters. Koichi Mashimo’s absence on this Bee-Train series hurts, though: I’m really missing his characterization here, and that’s what worries me the most about this series. Still, even though the characters could have been better portrayed, I’m not denying here that this wasn’t a good episode: it started off slow, but it steadily got better and better, resulting in a great climax for a first episode that really made me intrigued, especially when it got all artsy with the buildings and the random people. The soundtrack is not as good as usual Bee-Train series, but nevertheless it’s among the best of the season when it finally shows its real colours.
OP: Quite intense, and surprisingly varied in tone and atmosphere for an OP. Works well.
ED: Beautifully sung. I like the concept of combining pictures from the pasts of the characters.
Potential: 80%

Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii wake Nai

Short Synopsis: Our lead character has a weird sister.
There is a new male lead cliche that has been emerging during the past number of years to join the ranks of “your typical loser”. I’d like to call him the “Kyon-clone”: neither a loser nor too popular, he snarks himself through the series and tries to be the voice of reason amongst a cast of weird people with his voice acting having nowhere near the charms that Kyon had. It’s a cliche I see quite a while used in harems, and it’s starting to get annoying. Ore no Imouto has another one, and he does little to set himself apart. In any case, I was really fearing this series, though THANK GOD it’s not as abysmal as KissXSis was; there was little fanservice and the two siblings didn’t seem to be in love. Instead, it’s more like Nyan Koi: occasionally able to raise a chuckle, but most of all boring. For now, at least, because I have one HUGE problem with the way this episode portrayed the lead characters’ little sister: she’s a freaking tsundere! I appreciate this series for including a bit of wit in its dialogue and all, but they really weren’t subtle with those hints!
ED: It’s more like some insert song than an ED, but it’s generic J-pop anyway.
Potential: 10%

Posted on 18 April 2010 with categories: Hakuouki



Okay, so now it is getting a bit annoying to see the lead character run everywhere, only to get protected. You can see that she really wants to help, and I can very much understand that she’s not going to get good at swordsmanship in order to be able to take on a number of adults, but when she runs into a building in which there are ton of angry guys waiting to kill everything that has to do with the Shinsengumi, she just jumps into the realm of the stupid.

In any case, with this episode it’s pretty much clear that the creators just plan to use the setting of the Shinsengumi for their own story: apparently Shinpachi Nagakura and Toudou Heisuke died of their wounds later on. Here, they pretty much survive. I doubt that the characters are actually going to Ezo at this point, but who knows. With the sub-par acting, it’s really going to depend on the character-development and the series’ ideas for its plot.

I didn’t like how the unnamed members of the shinsengumi are pretty much just cardboard cut-outs. Seriously, they don’t do anything; they just stand there and play for furniture that can draw swords. For the main plot, I really do want a bit more depth on the villains at this rate. At this point I’m still struggling a bit with the believability of this series: with some series it’s apparent that the creators did their research. Here it is not. It’s also the way in which the characters heal within like what? A week?

However, damn, that soundtrack was really good! When you just look at the pacing, then this episode was quite good. This is one of those series that you shouldn’t watch for its fights, but for its atmosphere, but that one was really good. The voice acting is bad at times, but the characters are getting fleshed out by their dialogue. This is one of those series that could get really good later on. Or it can just remain forgettable and a waste of time.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 11 April 2010 with categories: Hakuouki



As for the series I’m not going to blog:
– Lilpri is ridiculously stupid, but it has its heart at the right place: you can see that it’s really trying to do something. It just fails horribly at times, but it’s ridiculously entertaining for both the right and wrong reasons. However, me blogging it? Nah.

In any case, I was in a lot of doubts about whether or not to blog Hakuouki. I intended to fill this slot by either one of the three bishie-series this season (Uragiri, Rainbow and this one). While I can’t say anything about Uragiri yet (if that one does turn out awesome I may have to drop either this one or Angel Beats), but the thing with Rainbow is that while it’s got an awesome concept, the acting is utterly terrible. On top of that, I actually doubt that Madhouse is willing to spend enough time to fully animate all of the novels. Normally I love Madhouse, but they have made their share of flops, and the director of these flops is now in charge of that series.

Hakuouki on the other hand is just annoying: it’s one of those series with those few hints of potential that might or might not hint at something better. But I’m deciding to give it a chance, because if it does manage to get everything right it has the potential to become awesome. The biggest reason for this is the dialogue: it really tries to flesh out the characters with it. While the voice acting itself isn’t that special, with that kind of dialogue we really have the potential to get to know our characters. It’s now all going to depend on how the characters are going to develop.

However, do note that I WILL drop this series as soon as I find out that there are only going to be 13 episodes. With these kinds of premises, you really NEED those 24 or 26 episodes to really get somewhere. At this point it’s too late for this series to really stand out if it’s just going to run for one season: it’ll just end up as another forgettable samurai adventure with a bit of random action.

Speaking of the action, that was one of the other reasons that this series caught my eye: it’s damn tense! Well built up, and they’re short but powerful. Most of the time Studio Deen’s animation wasn’t anything special in this series, but that scene in which that guy charged on Yukimura was really well animated. At the same time it shows what the creators are capable of, and yet it’s not one of those cases in which they obviously blow all of their budget in the first episode. Speaking of Yukimura: she has a lot of potential IF (and only if) she manages to grow. At this point, she’s still that typical useless lead who can’t do anything. However, this episode just kept dropping hints that “you know what? This girl is going to develop into a dependable woman.” What I got from her was a strong urge to learn and understand everyone. Standalone, this is just useless, pointless and rather annoying. With development however: ah, the potential.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 4 April 2010 with categories: Giant Killing, Hakuouki, Some Quick First Impressions

Giant Killing

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a famous football coach
Now this is why I love anime. There just are those times when these series come around, who completely exceed my expectations. This season was already full of these series, but Giant Killing takes the cake. It’s been ages since Studio Deen really came out with a new and fresh premise, so I wasn’t expecting much of them at this point (as shown by Hakuouki, which pretty much was them and their bishies again). And here this episode comes, and it’s SO WELL made. The characterization is by far the best of all the first episodes I’ve seen this season so far. It’s only one episode, and the creators have already shown that they know and understand their characters. The chemistry between the hugely varied cast was just awesome to watch. And on top of that, they actually portrayed English football fans really well, INCLUDING actual English, that gets spoken in full sentences, rather than your usual lazy Engrish. The animation also is just awesome: finally we have another series that attempts to experiment with its own style. The football matches are animated really smoothly. At first I thought that Ookiku Furikabutte would naturally become this season’s best sports series, but damn. It’s got some serious competition. And really: this season rocks because we haven’t even gotten to the best stuff yet!
OP: One of the best OPs of the year so far. J-Polka. What brilliant mind thought of that?
ED: Fun and exciting.
Potential: 90%

Hakuouki

Short Synopsis: Our lead character gets involved with the rather shady business of the Shinsengumi.
Another show, that while it has its problems, also has a ton of potential. Let me get these problems out of the way first: this series does suffer from the harem syndrome: the creators pulling a really far-fetched plot twist just to put the main characters amongst a group of bishies/moe cute girls. The reason the creators pull here is simply one that asks: why hasn’t this happened before? The acting also leaves a lot to be desired. The characters aren’t as well portrayed as they could have, and the characterization for all of the bishies feels kind-of bland. However, this episode focused a lot on characters, just interacting and talking to each other. The script did make up for the sub-par acting, and while the dialogue was nowhere near Amatsuki-levels, it still was surprisingly interesting (speaking of which, Deen: when is that second season going to arrive?!), not to mention that this series has got a pretty interesting back-story that verges on horror during the tense parts. The lead female is also surprisingly likable as well. And I guess that that’s one thing that female lead harem characters often have in favour of male leads: while male leads are often made to be as bland and uninteresting as possible, female leads always have some sort of story behind them that defines their character much, much better and Hakuouki is no exception.
OP: Slightly catchy.
ED: Surprisingly good ballad.
Potential: 60%

SD Gundam Sangokuden Brave Battle Warriors

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is the umpth incarnation of the lead character of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novels.
Sunrise… why? Just… why? This premise is awful in every single way. It’s the ultimate of all cheap cash-ins, combining the popularity of the Gundam Franchise with the one of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms franchise. So why the heck did you find it a good idea to give this show so many excellent background artists, and such a good soundtrack? These are COMPLETELY WASTED on such a silly script. Seriously Sunrise, is it that much to ask for you to go back to the way you were around ten years ago, in which you just kept delivering awesome premise after awesome premise, trying out new things?
ED: Cheesy J-rock
Potential: -20%

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