Posted on 10 May 2009 with categories: Valkyria Chronicles



This post is going to contain slight spoilers of Kurokami 16, but I want to use that as an example of something that I fear that Valkyria Chronicles is going to turn into, since it was a good wake-up call for myself as well. The thing is, that a series may be spending lots of time building up, but it still needs to do this skillfully, and that’s what’s making me more and more worried. We’re six episodes in, and I’m not going to be able to maintain my suspense of disbelief much longer.

In the case with Kurokami, while it had an unimpressive first half I decided to give it the benefit of the doubt just like this series, in the hope that it was going to get better in its second half. And sure enough, the second half featured some juicy plot twists and character-development, but what I failed to notice (or rather refused to notice) was the fact that the battles were too orchestrated in order to make the lead characters win. The result popped up in episode sixteen, which pulled just about every Deus ex Machina imaginable and pretty much ruined all of the suspense of disbelief I had built up when it resurrected the lead character out of nowhere with no possibly explicable reason whatsoever. Even for Sunrise, it was one very blatant character-resurrection.

And that’s what I’m fearing is going to happen with Valkyria Chronicles: six episodes in, and I still haven’t been impressed with anything, and the strategical combat is unfortunately flawed. While I didn’t mention it last week, it just is too hard to belief that this battle-hardened commander of the enemy troops would be fooled by a simple tactic to split up an army into two halves. I can’t see how he couldn’t have done something to that tank. I hoped that this general stupidity would fade, but it’s still there, and even gotten more out of hand in the current episode. It’s got me very worried that this series isn’t going to be able to pull off a good fight when the second half arrives and it needs to deliver. Right now the only solid part of this show is its cast of characters, but when the creators are just going to dumb down their opponents so that they can win, then I don’t think that the character-development is going to be able to save this show.

At the moment, I’m really starting to regret continuing to blog this show in favour of Natsu no Arashi, which really has been getting better and better, unlike what I’ve seen in Valkyria Chronicles so far. If I recall correctly, this was mostly because of the large amount of people who didn’t want me to stop blogging it, but at the moment I still can’t see whether the commitment is going to be worth it. It may have been that this episode was just plain dull, but if this goes on I’m probably going to drop this series at the end of this season, in favour for one of the new shows of the Summer Season.

And yeah, this episode was pretty much a disaster. We already knew that Alicia wasn’t too bright, but this episode established just about everyone as an idiot. Especially Brigitte and Largo seemed completely different characters this time: their change is way too sudden. And I also was really disappointed to see that some support members of squad seven were just a bunch of stereotypes: finally there’s the chance to show a bit more of them, and the creators then use it to transform them into a bunch of paper bags. The only one I even remotely liked was the gay guy.

Rating: — (Dull)
It’s one thing to have a filler episode now and then. It’s another thing to completely change character-personalities and make everyone behave like complete morons.

Posted on 3 May 2009 with categories: Valkyria Chronicles



This series is strange. On one hand it’s about two warring countries, but on the other hand it has pigs with wings. Seriously, as much as I appreciate that Alicia is very alert for possible spies, this needs to end somewhere. While seeing Welkim as some spy was at least a bit believable… but that pig? I mean, come on.

But still, I’m starting to see where the creators are trying to go with this series. They’re really trying to go with the contrast between the light and innocent Alicia when she’s not fighting and the ambitious woman that she turns into when the fighting actually starts. As innocent as she may look, as annoying as she may be at times with all her complaining against Welkim and Faldio, she did go through military training and it shows that she knows how to handle herself in a combat situation. She just lacks experience. And that’s why the character-development in this series is going to be so important.

Because this particular formula of having young girls fight in war has been abused plenty of times throughout anime. Just think of the countless shounen series that have teenagers fighting against hordes of formidable and trained bad guys. For this series, it’s all going to depend on the execution if the creators want to avoid this pitfall, and I must say that the start so far has been pretty solid. The realism definitely helps: when Alicia got shot in this episode, I definitely cared about her and I’m really suspecting that this is going to be a series in which people die when they’re killed.

Alicia is definitely a character that you need to warm up to. I hope that that happens fast, though. This episode was pretty good, but some of her banter with Faldio was just annoying.

Now, let me hijack the rest of this post for something completely different: I was quite surprised to see that many people who found the episode ratings helpful. I decided to remove them mainly because it was getting really tedious to write a short episode synopsis every time, so that one isn’t going to come back.

This is also a good opportunity to change the episode rating system a bit. The numbers out of ten were nice and all, but they had a few bad points: they were in the same format that I used for the monthly summaries, and yet meant something completely different, and I just kept rating about 90% of all episodes as 7,5/10 or 8/10. What I also didn’t like was how they were always at the top of every post, possibly taking away some attention from the more important parts, which is why I think that from now on, the ratings are going to move to the bottom of the post.

I think I’m also going to swap the x/10-format with simple stars (or some other symbol). Though instead of simply mapping the out of ten-ratings to five stars like 6/10 = 3 stars, 8/10 = 4 stars, et cetera, I’m going for something a bit different. Compare it to the star-rating for hotels and restaurants: an episode has to earn its stars. So, the rating scale would be something like this:
(no stars) – probably going to be denoted by a simple ‘-‘. Basically an episode that left me unimpressed.
* (one star) – The equivalent of my current 7,5/10 rating: a pretty good episode
** (two stars) – The equivalent of my current 8/10 rating: excellent episode
*** (three stars) – The equivalent of my current 8,5/10 rating: an awesome episode.
**** – (four stars) – The equivalent of my current 9/10 rating: a fantastic episode which really shows the episode at its utter best
***** – (five stars) – The equivalent of my current 9,5/10 rating: an incredible episode, the best of the best, and probably an episode that only appears once or twice a year or so.
In theory, there also can be six stars, but in all the three and a half years I’ve been blogging I only encountered one episode that deserved such a rating (Simounr 16, to be exact).

In any case, for this episode, the rating would be something like this:

Episode Rating: *

Posted on 26 April 2009 with categories: Valkyria Chronicles



Short Synopsis: It’s time for some cleaning duties for Squad 7 as another commander gets his ass kicked in battle.
Episode Rating: 7/10 (Enjoyable)
Okay, so obviously this episode was meant to build up. It wasn’t anything special at all, but it did flesh out the characters pretty nicely. It’s good to see that a show really takes its time before it really starts up, but of course the bad thing with such an approach is that it’s virtually impossible to tell early on in the series whether it’ll succeed or fall apart in the end.

My biggest problem with this episode was the newly introduced arrogant fat guy. He was obviously meant to show that there are no other competent commanders in Gallia aside from Welkim (and Faldio perhaps, but I first have to see him in action before I’ll believe that). It’s an often used trope in which an arrogant bastard with a bit of power for himself gets his ass kicked really badly, and it just fails to make any impact whatsoever. And on a side-note, the levels of Engrish in this show are also… ‘inaccurate’, to say the least…

On a more positive note, I liked that old commander of the Empire. In this episode you could see why this guy made it big, and the next episode is going to be interesting when Welkim has to take him on, so I hope that the creators can pull it off right. It’s also amusing that Maximilian (the guy who is leading the Empire’s troops into Gallia) dresses himself like Julius Caesar. In a way it’s quite typical. ^^;

So yeah, Fanservice + Alicia = Annoying, but this shouldn’t become that big of a problem. The thing with Alicia is that she definitely gets on your nerves when nothing is happening, but she becomes an interesting character once the action and strategy start and she’s too busy with her own duties to whine about having seen Faldio naked.

Posted on 19 April 2009 with categories: Valkyria Chronicles



Short Synopsis: Wellkin’s first mission as the commander of Squad 7.
Episode Rating: 7,5/10 (Good)
Now this is more like it. Now that we’ve arrived at the real meat of the story, I’ve gotten a lot more interested in this series. The idiot siblings thankfully don’t play a major part in this show at all and Welkin’s strategies are actually quite interesting and creative. I’m also glad that Alicia got herself an interesting position as vice-chief of Squad 7: it’s going to allow her to grow as a character, and also prevent her from screwing up completely because Welkin will be there.

This episode also introduced some of the major side-characters of this series, most notably Largo Potter and Brigitte Stark. I liked how the two of them brought a bit of conflict into this episode, in which they weren’t that convinced by a commander who came fresh out of university. I also wonder where all of the hatred for the ‘darksen’ comes from. Is it mere nationalism (understandable in times of war, of course), or were the darksen people once notorious for something they did.

Still, this series is going to have to continue to bring in these interesting situations, because at this point it’s just oh so tempting to fill the rest of the show with random battles every episode until the final boss has to be faced in episode 25. Especially the character-development for the side-characters has the potential to just stop completely after this episode.

Posted on 12 April 2009 with categories: Valkyria Chronicles



Short Synopsis: Alicia tries to use the tank to bring everyone to safety.
Episode Rating: 7/10 (Enjoyable)
I must admit that blogging this show is going to be a huge gamble. At this point, I myself am not yet convinced of this show, but first: about the series I’m not going to blog:
– Slap Up Party, granted, is an interesting collaboration between Japan and Korea to produce an anime. Some of the jokes worked, but others however just fell flat. Not to mention that the drama sucks and is full of cliches.
– Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood. Why? Because everyone and his DOG is already going to blog it.

I like the new FMA, don’t get me wrong, but I’d much rather devote my attention to a show that actually needs the popularity. Seriously, what is it really that I can add to the already sixty other bloggers? I’ll continue to follow it obviously, and judging from the first episode, it is very likely that it’s going to surpass the original series.

As for Valkyria Chronicles: I see potential for potential, but this really is a series that’s decided to use its first 13 episodes for building up. That really can go anywhere, from incredibly bad to incredibly good. I’m intrigued, though: this is one of those series that didn’t start off ~showing all of its trumps in the beginning. While that didn’t make for the most exciting first episode, I do admit that it’s paying attention to fleshing out the characters very slowly. This attention to detail might prove to be interesting in the future.

But yeah, the show does need to get rid of the overall stupidity of some of the side-characters. People mistaking others for spies, or taking out a tank that isn’t fully charged. I guess that it meant to serve to show that mistakes in such a time of war can have grave consequences, but the creators shouldn’t end up building the plot around this stupidity.

Having said that, though: I admit that this is the first time that I’ve seen an anime focusing on tank combat. It surprises me, because in nearly every other show, tanks merely serve for cannon fodder for whatever giant robot or monster gets in their way, so it’s good to see an actual series that shows how handy these machines can be in warfare.

I’m also interested in the staff behind this series. A-1 Pictures is an interesting production-company and every single of their shows is trying to do something interesting with its animation (most notably Birdy the Mighty, of course ^^;), and you can see that here in the shading. Overall the colours in Valkyria Chronicles look very nice and they match really well with each other, while at the same time keeping a down-to-earth feeling.

The director is a new guy, it seems. He was the episode director of Ookiku Furikabutte (which as I heard was really good), and also directed a bunch of episodes for xxxHolic Kei, most notably the one with the ghost woman (which was very well executed and built up). The series composition is done by someone with lots of experience on all kinds of different series, including Princess Tutu, Strange Dawn, xxxHolic and Hare Nochi Guu (but unfortunately also Kujibiki Unbalance and Nabari no Ou), and with a bit of luck she’ll make sure that the series stays on track.

In this episode, Alicia ends up joining some sort of military academy or institution, it seems, and Welchim also seems to live there. I’m not sure what’s going to happen from here on, but I’m willing to give it the benefit of doubt.

Posted on 5 April 2009 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions, Valkyria Chronicles

Shinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica Crimson S

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a wimp and gets his own magical girl.
Chance of me Blogging: 0% (Haven’t seen the first season…)
I remember how I quickly dropped the first season after the first episode because of the large amount of clichés and annoying characters. I was rather reluctant to check out the second season, but I do have to admit: this episode was better than expected. But yeah, my expectations were pretty damn low from the first place. Even though this show seems to deal with a completely different storyline than the first season, the only character that really felt annoying was that lead female who appeared in the final minute (not that that’s a good thing, but at least this episode was enjoyable enough in her absence). There still are lots of cut corners, but at least the plot is decent enough for a first episode. There were some nice quiet slice of life moments that prevented this from turning into your regular harem-fest. But yeah, at the end of the episode your typical annoying tsundere bonded herself to the male lead, so I really doubt whether the rest of this series will be as quiet as this episode was.

Senjou no Valkyria

Short Synopsis: Our lead character accidentally mistakes a hero for an evil spy.
Chance of me Blogging: 50% (Could be interesting)
This is a big season for fantasy-anime, apparently. And so far, Valkyria Chronicles feels like the best so far: it actually tries to portray a convincing setting, characters are slightly different from your average stereotypes, girls wear clothes that actually make sense for those kinds of people to wear, rather than those ridiculously coloured outfits, the use of guns is believable so far and there’s quite a bit of time spent on slow slice of life moments to flesh out the characters. The only problem is that the main characters remain a bunch of teenagers. Still, if the creators continue to flesh out the characters like this, we could have ourselves a very interesting series here.

Dragonball Kai

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is very strong and turns out to be an alien.
Chance of me Blogging: 0% (Obviously not)
Ah, the nostalgia. While I hate to admit it, Dragonball Z played a big role in making me an anime fan. And I guess that if the show simply ended after the first arc, it would at least have been a pretty decent fighting series. Instead, it just had to develop into one of those shows that goes on and on and on, in which characters take bloody ages to see who is the best at making constipated faces. While it would have been interesting to see a modern-day remake of this that just condenses the series in 26 episodes, this attempt feels half-assed at best: the entire episode was just the exact first episode of the original series. Although it was kindof weird hearing the different characters suddenly with extremely high-pitched voices and I was also surprised to suddenly see blood in this series, so far this show is nothing more than a glorified recap.

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