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 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 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 15 October 2014 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.

Posted on 9 October 2014 with categories: Gugure! Kokkuri-San, Parasyte, Shingeki no Bahamut, Some Quick First Impressions

Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a bounty hunter.
Impressions: This show gets how to make a first episode, Keiichi Satou does a superb job in introducing us to the world of Mistarcia. The various character introductions are just as well done, and the 17th Century Spain-like setting really sets the tone for the anime. The anime borrows the styles of some of my favorite Westerns and swashbuckler films, like Ivanhoe, True Grit, Three Musketeers, and The Master of Ballantrae, which I cannot praise enough for having the balls to do. This episode showed me that the series knows how to borrow those styles correctly, and as a fan of 20th Century Westerns & swashbucklers myself, I appreciated the homage. On top of that, this series really knows that it’s an anime, and you can see a lot of personality in the characters which I thought that even some Westerns lacked. This episode had a lot of things happen in 20 minutes or so, but it knows how to pace itself relatively well, using that time in the most optimal manner to show as much personality in the characters as it possibly could.  Lastly, I feel like I have to mention the soundtrack, which is yet another great homage to my favorite Spanish films from the 50’s and 70’s.

ED: A nice listen.

Potential: 90%

Parasyte

Short Synopsis: Our lead character’s right hand becomes sentient
Impressions: Okay, the marketing department really did this anime injustice; the trailer for this show sucked and pretty much failed to garner much interest (aside from fans of the manga/people who pay attention to these things). However, who cares? The first episode was great, and despite the complaints pouring in from the raging idiots about the “modernized” character designs, the animation and art were very solid. Other than that, I just need to see that the creators know what they’re doing going forward. The episode had it’s problems, but at the same time, I saw clear efforts on the part of Kenichi Shimuzu  in making this story resonate with today’s audiences to the best of his budget. Both the pacing & character introductions were very well done, succeeding without having to put in much dialogue between the characters themselves-which ultimately allowed tons of things to happen in just one episode. It’s quite a shame, really, that this sub-genre of horror (with the exception being the works of Junji Ito) hasn’t been done very well since 95′, because it’s still pretty much uncharted territory at this point. Hell, there is real potential here.

OP: Not really my kind of song.

ED: Safe

Potential: 85%

 

Gugure! Kokkuri-san

Short Synopsis: Our lead character summons Kokkuri-san.
Impressions: Okay, so this show knows how to use the comedic formula, a pleasant surprise after being months without a decent comedy since Spring. Regardless, I  have to point out the fact that this appears to be one of those comedies that are VERY hit-or-miss. I’ve read about people on forums being put off by it’s deadpan humor and the shortage of background music-which I found rather appealing, because the anime quickly sets the tone for itself within the first half of the episode. Unlike the manga, which is rather episodic in nature as all 4koma tend to be, the anime manages to keep itself from appearing too episodic, smoothly transitioning between one deadpan comedy sequence to the next. So in that sense, I was relatively pleased; the episode is largely consistent in it’s humor. Really, the only faults I can find is that it is rather boring at times, and the jokes are occasionally under delivered, leaving these uncomfortable moments when I’m trying to figure out if I was supposed to have laughed or not . For what it is worth though, the episode is fairly solid, and it might turn out to be a relatively strong comedy…But I do worry about the jokes drying up, although that’s likely an unnecessary concern, seeing how there are much more characters yet to be introduced.

ED: Bit annoying, actually.

Potential: 70%

 

Cross Ange

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is yet another Princess.
Impressions: Of course, what a great impression to make, starting off your main character’s introduction with fan service. The episode starts off with a terrible cg battle, then takes a few steps back in the timeline to fully introduce our heroine, who is yet another princess. Frankly, after the Martian princess from Aldnoah Zero, I don’t think I can stomach yet another heroine who’s a princess. Basically, the main character is painfully uninteresting, and the “twist” is so damn stereotypical that I cannot take it seriously. Who are these people? How does Ange not figure out she cannot use magic until she’s f*king 16 years old?! The entire episode’s climax revolves around the fact that Ange realizes that she cannot use magic and is therefore a Norma (a person who cannot use magic), which is why a coupe even occurs. So for the last 16 years, she herself does not figure out that she cannot use magic, while a goddamn baby gets discovered to be a Norma in the middle of the street? The only positive aspect I can squeeze out this episode is that it had dragons in it for a few seconds. Nothing else.

OP: Embarrassingly bad

ED: Generic, nothing worth noting.

Potential: 20%

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