Posted on 28 December 2012 with categories: Anime Reviews, K



Sometimes this happens: the point where I’ve nearly written off a series, and then it pulls something that drastically changes my opinion of it. For a long time, I was just planning to write my review of K with the base of “gorgeous, but unambitious and boring”. Then the final episode turned out to be the best of the entire series and a second season got announced. Now it suddenly is a solid show that devotes a bit too much time to building up.

The thing with K at first sight was that even though it seemed really ambitious at first sight, the story delved into some very simple murder mystery, alongside a war between two different clans. It never really went beyond that and it also did not try to spice things up much, aside from some gorgeous visuals and action scenes. It had some talk about seven different kings that for a long time didn’t really go anywhere other than explaining why some people in the world are ridiculously powerful. It just did not make sense with the mindset that this would be just a 13-episode series.

But yeah, it all turned out to be just build-up. With the way this series is, I would not recommend it on its own, but it set a solid base for its second season. A big problem with a lot of this series was that there also was hardly any character development. The final few episodes finally also brought that in. Doable for a series with 26 episodes, but not for one with 13.

Oh about the animation by the way: K wins the award of the best animation of the season, or at least the biggest production values can be found here with tons of smooth animation, realistic character movements and well coordinated fight scenes. It’s also got a pretty good soundtrack. My only complaint is that the creators like to abuse lighting effects, to the point where every short has some sort of obnoxious filter over it.

So yeah, I’ll be checking out the second season. Then we’ll know whether the build-up in this series was actually worth it.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Good build-up, just forgets to deliver through most of its airtime…
Characters: 7.5/10 – The characters stay rather bland through most the airtime. Emphasis on “Most”, because they do come together in the finale.
Production-Values: 9/10 – Gorgeous animation, nice soundtrack.
Setting: 7/10 – Doesn’t really do much with its setting and the seven kings backstory feels a bit empty.

Suggestions:
Durarara
Heat Guy J
Karas

Posted on 12 November 2012 with categories: K

We’re nearly at the halfway point of this show and it’s time to bring in the background episode: the episode that shows who it was that Yashiro supposedly killed. It was a strange guy who liked to try out a lot of different things, hung around with thugs, even though he wasn’t one himself and who was also very charismatic to boot. This episode seemed to hint that at one point he split in two, with Yashiro being his other half, who afterwards just lost his memory. What the cat has to do with this… I have no idea.

Again, this episode was neat, but again I feel like the creators could have done more with this. It’s all very straight forward, and none of the characters really stands out or sets himself apart. What I liked best was Yashiro this episode as he realized that his memory was fake, but even that was a bit monotone.

Oh, and I still quite like the detail that the creators put in their environment. The backgrounds in this series are probably rendered photos, but they still look gorgeous. Plus, you can see that the creators of this show like food quite a bit, with all of the details they put into the different kinds of food that the characters eat. Whether this will be enough for this series though… I’m not sure.
Rating: 4/8 (Nice)

Posted on 6 November 2012 with categories: K

This was one of those annoying episodes of which you won’t know whether it was good or not until the series ends. Annoying to review, I mean, not to watch, mind you.

But yeah, in terms of plot, nothing concrete really happens: people search for someone, they don’t find him. People fight, they retreat. People prepare for something, but that is left for the next episode. A cliff-hanger promises a lot of intrigue… yet not in this episode.

No, this was all about character building. Fleshing out the cast and making the audience more familiar with them, in particular the skateboard guy and his companion, along with Saruhiko (who is not Reishi by the way, a mistake I made at first). Highlight was the gorgeously animated fight scene between these guys.

But yeah, this build-up is nice and all, but it’s pointless if you ain’t gonna use it, and shows like this tend to forget that, getting so much caught up in their build-up that they forget to deliver. this show has the luxury of being anime original, so not bound on any kind of original source material whatsoever, so in theory it can really do as it pleases. Now make use of that!
Rating: 4/8 (Nice)

Posted on 29 October 2012 with categories: K

This was a build-up episode. It was fun, and I get its purpose, but something tells me that the creators could have been a bit more ambitious with it. Every single subplot was dropped aside from the one between Shiro and Kuro save for two small scenes, even though the chaos of having so many subplots is part of the charms of this series.

What I liked most about this episode was how Shiro and Kuro were retracing Shiro’s steps during the night of the crime, trying to find an alibi. The abovementioned chaos. thankfully was present in that night when a lot of crazy things happened that night. They were all played for laughs, and it definitely got some nice chuckles out of me, but with such an idea I wonder whether the creators could have taken it a bit further by toying with that flashback even more. Right now they’ve got gold in their hands with that if they use it right.

Just forget what I said if this was just a build-up, and the creators used this episode to set up things for later when things really get crazy. There were a lot of hints in this episode that more happened than what was just shown in this episode. It’s tricky to do that though. And in the case of this series, I have no idea whether the creators will actually be able to pull it off. I mean, this series has shown that it has a knack for animation and character chemistry. Build-up is an entirely different matter, though.
Rating: 4/8 (Nice)

Posted on 20 October 2012 with categories: K

K has a lot of characters. I like that, and in fact I’m a big fan of those kinds of series. They are however, a double edged sword: try getting some good development out of all of them, especially with only 13 episodes. The trick will be balancing the development for all of them: focus on a bunch of them and flesh them out really well, and give the guys who aren’t in the foreground presence, rather than making them into characters for the sake of having more characters.

K is trying to achieve that balance, definitely. There are a few key characters here in this story: Suoh and Reishi with his powers on one side and Kurou and Yashiro on the other side. Suoh and Reishi are fleshed out by all the people around them, their subordinates et cetera, while Kurou and Yashiro are fleshed out through their own actions and their chemistry.

Beyond that we have the side characters, most of them are pretty one-dimensional at this point. Think of the cat girl who is always cheerful, or the punk who is always snarky and stuff. For these guys it’s going to be impossible to make all of them three-dimensional, so the trick will be to give all of them presence and make all of them different, and still create impact with all of them. Ideally, at the end of this series I want to have one stand-out moment for all of them. Episode 1 already had that moment for the skating punk guy with its animation. This episode instead made Shirou stand out. I quite liked the climax of this series. Instead of ending with a cliff-hanger or a tense battle, they just end with a silly joke that shows more about his character. Very nice.
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 15 October 2012 with categories: K

… as for the reason why I picked this series over Code Breaker… ehehehe. It was to avoid a certain… problem. Allow me to elaborate:
– Sword Art Online: 25 episodes. Will end next December.
– Kamisama Hajimemashita: 7 DVDs, so will probably have 13 episodes.
– Hunter X Hunter: with the ratings it’s getting there is no way that Madhouse will cancel it after the Yorkshin arc
– Space Brothers: everything looks like this will be 50 episodes long.
– From the New World: 25 episodes.
– Zetsuen no Tempest: episode count not yet known, but there is no way Bones will make this just one season long.
– Magi: is on the prime time slot. There’s no way that this will be 1 cour.
– Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: 8 DVDs, so longer than 1 cour.
– Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo: 8 DVDs, so longer than 1 cour.
– Psycho Pass: 22 episodes.
– Robotics;Notes: 22 episodes.
– K: 13 episodes.

Are you starting to see the problem here? I mean, it’s awesome to have all these long series and all, but I’m going to have a huge problem in about three months from now. Especially considering that Chihayafuru’s second season will debut next season. If I ended up swapping SAO with Little Busters, then without K I would be unable to blog any new show for the upcoming winter season! Especially considering how many of them are set to deliver in their second halves! And even without this: the people saying that this season is too big: prepare youselves, because unless the upcoming winter is completely terrible, it will be completely crazy with all the continuing shows!

So, K. Granted, it lacks a bit of depth to some of the other shows this season, but it is the series with the best animation of the series, and it’s just very fun to watch. Compared to the other show with amazing graphics this season, Shin Sekai Yori, the animation may be less varied, but it’s also more consistently gorgeous. Shin Sekai Yori has parts that look just simple. In this show, every scene looks great. Gohands are a studio that tend to abuse CG lighting a bit too much, but it’s great to see how much movement the creators managed to put into this series considering that it’s just a TV-series. Also, when characters move in this series, they move with their entire bodies, rather than just turning or looking up in simple ways.

This episode had much fewer characters than the first episode, but the cat and mouse game (pun half intended) between the sword guy and the white-haired guy and the cat who suddenly turned into a naked girl was a lot of fun to watch. That kind of snarkiness is by the way something that Jormungand can learn a lot from: The characters are having fun, and there are definitely a few snarkers here, but there is much more to their charcters than that and there are many characters who are completely different. The question for this show will be: will this just remain a fun show to watch, or will there be more?

Most of the details in this show go to its settings. I mostly mean with how well it’s drawn and animated. The moving backgrounds of last episode were a treat, but also the detail it puts in the houses and building. This episode also animated some delicious looking food; I especially like that scene of the spring onions being cut. That looks so hard to do right.

Also, props to the music department! This episode also showed some insert songs, which I tend to appreciate provided that they’re not used for crappy montage scenes. I mean really: Psycho Pass, From the New World, Jojo, Zetsuen no Tempest, K: all shows with awesome soundtracks this season. Talk about a treat!
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 5 October 2012 with categories: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, K, Some Quick First Impressions

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a rich noble’s son.
Well, there you have it. The fourth awesome opening episode of the season. I mean heck: this was absolutely delightful. It just screamed retro cheese, but it was so incredibly over the top that it became stunning. I mean, Dio Brando is such a great villain that every time he appeared on the screen I just sat there with a giant grin, but just about everything in this episode was done with incredible passion. Normally I’d complain about overacting, but the way in which this episode just took it over 9000 made it so enjoyable to watch. The show also has this reallly interesting visual style: like expected the animators didn’t attempt to make everything look clean and the characters often look off-model (not to mention the inclusion of some manga-style sound effects – really!), but the direction was so good. It knew what to animate properly, and the use of colours and poses was just delightful to watch. Why did it take so long to make a proper anime of this thing?
ED: Great song there, with great vocals and a very good use of a guitar.
Potential: 90%

K

Short Synopsis: Our lead character has this evil side that murders people.
Whoa, now this is a feast for the senses! The graphical style really shows that this comes from the same people as Mardock Scranble, but even then I was surprised by what a visual orgasm this was. And they made it look so easy. Every frame of this episode looked utterly gorgeous, but what’s even more impressive is that at times they actually bothered to animate the background art. Keep a look-out for the skating scenes, because those were particularly gorgeous. On top of that, this show has a very creative soundtrack: it’s diverse, has very catchy songs and comes with a ton of different styles. The voice acting though… not so good: Lotsa Engrish! Beyond that though, this is a show that was clearly inspired by Durarara, and that’s a very good thing: there were lots of different characters, lots of stuff going on at the same time. It very much was an introduction episode, and this can still go anywhere, but I’m glad to see that this show tries so hard: so many characters are difficult to balance well, but they can get some very good stuff out of this when they manage to pull it off. Some minor complaints: this show has bad hacking going on, and for some reason they did manage to include a school in this series. There are a few cliches in this show that just seem to be there in order to look cool. I know that that’s exactly what this show is trying to do, but there is such a thing as taking things too far.
OP: Utterly gorgeous OP, plus a nice song from Angela.
Potential: 85%

Btooom!

Short Synopsis: Our lead character wakes up in a video game.
One of Madhouse’s specialties is adrenaline: creating those series that focus on building up this stuff. In that way, Btooom is the perfect series for them. It focuses on this teenager who ends up in a game world, but usually with these kinds of stories, the game is an RPG. This time, we’re talking about a full blown action game in which people kill each other with bombs. This is really what I’m looking for for a weekly dose of adrenaline: it got the emotions of the lead male right, combining bewilderment with this sense to survive. This episode already gave a bit of a taste of what the battles will be like, and they’re tense, but also completely unrealistic. It’s a missed opportunity that this series should have put some thought into its explosions, but right now they’re mostly plot devices. The soundtrack and animation are pretty solid though. I mean this isn’t going to win any awards, but if it can keep up this atmosphere then it’ll be pretty damn entertaining. Just handle the lead female with a bit of tact, okay?
OP: Quite stylish, but degenerates into a bit too much of a copy of other OPs as it goes along.
ED: Is that Chiaki Ishikawa? One of my favorite singers for these OPs and EDs. Not her best work, but still a great voice.
Potential: 75%

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  • Bam
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 01:13 AM)
    @Ninja: yeah spending a week at Black Rock City with 100k people with all the madness that transpires is pretty exhausting. The thing about Burning Man is that given the open atmosphere of acceptance makes it much easier to socialoze since you can keep the ego bullshit to a minimal.
  • ninjarealist
    (Wednesday, Oct 22. 2014 12:58 AM)
    @Bam I just mean I don’t have the energy for that type of event any more. It just wears me out. That amount of constant socialization.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 09:15 PM)
    @Ninja: yeah pyro contraptions are a big hit there, but that’s a lofty project indeed.
    And I’m pretty sure you’re not that old, there’s a lot of 50-60 year olds there and they’re having a good time. If you’re not a camping person then yeah … it’s not gonna be easy for you, but given the atmosphere, the music, and the art I firmly believe it’s worth checking out at least once.
  • ninjarealist
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:18 PM)
    @Bam Ahhhh Burning Man. I had some friends from Indiana who were trying to get me to help them build an organ that shoots fire with each key-press for Burning Man. It sounded fun but I already feel too old for something like Burning Man.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 08:32 AM)
    @Ninja: no I met most of them at Burning Man.
  • ninjarealist
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 08:23 AM)
    @Bam I see I just figured that if you had a lot of friends in KY you must have lived in the region.
    @Friend Yeah or involved desserts like Palmiers or Croissants. I actually am pretty decent at making croissants from scratch but it’s a pain in the ass.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 08:21 AM)
    And that’s … The More You Know ;)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 08:19 AM)
    “Iran” originally means “the land of the Aryans”. The European settlers of Aryan decent are correctly labeled Indo-European as they traveled from north of India across Iran and the Caucasus mountain range (hence the term Caucasian) and settled in pastural lands in Europe. Hence we are the original white people. Go figure.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 08:14 AM)
    @K-off: some good-looking corn there m8.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 08:13 AM)
    @Ninja: No I’m Persian since I was originally born and raised in Tehran/Iran. I am mostly of Parthian decent with a quarter of Kurd in me. I have moved around the globe since I was 16 and now live in Sacramento California.

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