Posted on 30 September 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

With this I see why people complained that Shingeki no Kyojin went off-track a bit, because the whole cellar has been pushed more and more to the side of things. But in the show’s favor: the characters did have a really good reason to get sidetracked like that, because both the political games and that female Titan put up quite a big wall in front of that cellar. That first needs to be broken down before they can get to it.

But did Shingeki no Kyojin drag on? To answer that question, we need to wonder what makes it worth watching. The fantastic action, excellent acting, really well thought-out scenarios and the setting which really managed to convinced that humanity is on its last edge… The pacing is slow, but I would not say that this was rushed. It always had enough to offer, and the final four episodes were no different. They presented the identity of the female titan so well. It really took me a while before it hit me what was actually going on.

It was a trade-off that the creators made here. The pacing of the manga is ridiculously fast. At a certain point I just flew through each chapter. Instead they opted to pad things, and use the length for extra atmosphere building. And that worked for nearly the entire run. Perhaps only some episodes somewhere in the middle of the series lacked a bit momentum because people were just preparing.

Now, as for the ending: it seems that the producers haven’t greenlighted a second season yet, but really: this is one of those cases where it’s just a matter of time. With the sales of both the manga and the anime, there are plenty of reasons to come out with a sequel. My biggest guess as to why it hasn’t been greenlighted yet probably has to do with financing. I don’t have solid facts, but I would be very surprised if Shingeki no Kyojin wasn’t the most expensive series of the year. With all that stellar animation and with all those action scenes, it requires a much bigger budget than usual, and getting the funding for that takes time.

These final four episodes were amazing as usual, but there was also something very freaky going on that the creators very subtly tried to sneak past: the nature of the walls. Especially the last episodes were full of hints that something was really really wrong with them. First there obviously was that huge wall of text at the eyecatch. It may seem weird, but to me, it also seems really important, and there was no way for the creators to otherwise put that tidbit in. Also, how did Annie just jump back and forth between the forest and the walls in the city? The chance of her getting caught while trying to climb the walls would have been pretty high. And then there were the final words of the episode, hinting that it’s the walls that keep humanity trapped. And what the hell was that titan doing in that wall!?

So yeah, I don’t mind to wait for the creators to get the sequel just right. Just don’t pull a Durarara, okay? (Did they ever explain why THAT series didn’t get a second season).
Rating: 6,5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 28 September 2013 with categories: Gatchaman Crowds

Oh, what a wonderfully glorious mess this was! Kenji Nakamura once again proves that he really knows how to create an ending with impact. And don’t get me wrong: things in these four episodes… did not make any sense when you start thinking logically about them. But as a thought experiment they were amazing. And ridiculously fun as well.

I mean who cares if in the real world you’d never get a prime minister yelling to all of the negative twitter reactions that he gets while making a speech: Gatchaman celebrates the internet unlike any other series has done so before, while also acknowledging the incredible mess that it can turn out to be. It uses these “Crowds” as a took to ask the question of how society would look like if everyone had the power to become a hero. The urge that we all probably have once in a while.

Kenji Nakamura: for god’s sake have your next series be a 2-cour one. Your series are always incredibly original, but with Gatchaman Crowds I feel like you could have done so much more .And with such a length there would have been much more time to explore such a great setting and allow for even more episodes dedicated to interesting ideas, or with creative set-ups.

Heck, episode eleven was half a recap, and yet it worked incredibly well because of how it was set up. At the start of this series I noted that the success of this series entirely depended on the female lead: regardless of the quality of the rest of the series, her annoyance would contribute greatly to whether or not this would become an enjoyable watch. And they actually did it, and that recap examplified it. At the start you’d indeed wonder if the creators didn’t go too far with glorifying her, but that was the entire point of the series: they wanted to turn society completely upside down with these last four episodes. In the end, the Gatchaman just came blatantly out of hiding, and a huge power was given to every single person.

What I also really liked: do you know what lately has been one of the most commonly used motivations for villains beyond just “being evil”? It’s the villain who wants to evolve the world (and in the process doesn’t really care about making a few sacrifices in the process). It’s common because it’s not entirely evil, but it has started to become a bit lazy, and usually I find that these guys are often unfairly demonized or that the sacrifices that they make are just used as plot devices to make them the bad guys. Gatchaman Crowds has turned that trope completely upside down: this time everyone is just evolving society, with Rui and Hajime at the frontline. The bad guy’s aim is just to have fun and create chaos. Perhaps not the most complex of all, but he’s the perfect embodiment of the internet troll, and I think that that served as the inspiration for this guy.

Overall: messy series, but a great watch. Looking forward to Kenji Nakamura’s next work.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 8 September 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

I’ve said before that the Spring season of 2013 was one single worst spring season in more than a decade. I still stand by that. But holy crap: the epic action series that it brought forth is rivalled by only very few series! I kept hearing that in the manga, this was the point where it got stale and all. If that’s true, then the creators of the anime are doing a mighty fine job at hiding it!

Holy crap these three episodes were just amazing! Production IG really put in effort in order to make the action as riveting as possible. The animation, music and story worked together wonderfully here, and it just kept on going. And it wasn’t just dumb action: everyone here used their heads, even the stupid titans were trying to learn (even if it’s just a small thing as trying to climb trees).

Here it really was established that the traitor could turn into the big female titan at will. And I love how she’s strong, yet not overpowered: she actually got caught in a lot of traps, and she really had to be creative in order to escape those. I really like that. She too ended up tired, although it was shown very subtly.

Also, after watching 21 episodes, I have to say: Shingeki no Kyojin for me is a very strong contender for the best soundtrack of the year.
Rating: 6,5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 2 September 2013 with categories: Gatchaman Crowds

So far, Gatchaman Crowds has been… interesting. Things are getting action-packed now and to me, they’ve delivered. I quite enjoyed these three episodes.

Episode 06: here Hajime really showed that she’s different from the usual ditzy female, in that she does everything consciously, with a clear purpose behind it. At the start of the series, I worried that she might get too annoying, but for me she didn’t, and this was one of the biggest reasons for that. She’s also doing another very interesting thing here: she completely disregards any sort of bias. If someone sounds like it could be fishy, she doesn’t care. She just does it, and somehow this show manages to stay away from the usual themes about naivety. She’s basically telling the rest of the cast to lighten up.

Rui has a very good point that the focus lies way too much with single heroes, and I can get behind trying to want to create a world in which everyone is a hero. But if there are people with special powers, then why not make use of that by cooperating? The villain wanting to update the world is a common trope that is used often, and therefore really needs to put in something special to stand out. This one isn’t quite there yet, but she’s on her way. There are definitely some fresh parts about her.

In episode 07 she starts acting like this big hypocrite when she deletes those three members who made jokes about dropping out, which goes completely against what she’s trying to do… Lots of hints for character-development on her side. That indeed gets used really well in the subsequent awesome action scene. Holy crap that is well directed! I still don’t get Pai Pai and JJ in this series though. What is their role? What’s their point? Why is the former so fidgety, and why is the latter not doing anything? Though Paipai’s transformation was great.

Episode 08 had the characters reveal themselves in front of kindergarteners in the midst of dubstep. I have to hand it to the creators that that was creative. The same goes for how they used that one former member of GALAX who rightfully believes that Rui screwed up. However, I do feel like his character is overreacting. Overall that is one of the big flaws of this series: characters have this tendency to overreact (yes, REact, I don’t mind the over the top acting, but characters end up drawing conclusions a little too biasedly).
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 13 August 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

This string of episodes was just amazing. Really, I’ve heard that for an epic series, Shingeki no Kyojin has a simplistic story, and that is indeed true. However, this series is a master at emotions. Its aim is not to deliver the most complex storyline, but instead it’s here to deliver epic action scenes, and that’s something that was elevated to an artform here.

This just was complete despair. Episode 16 was all about everyone accepting the fact that they were all going to lay their lives in front of Eren. The two episodes featured this massive slaughter that had just about everyone run for their lives, with only some people escaping through some sort of miracle. That’s something that I have very rarely seen done better.

Oh, and tactics. Military bloody tactics. When was the last time that these were done so well? When was the last time at which you actually had an entire grasp of how big the army in question was? What the positions looked like? How the formations change depending on the situations? How well this was translated over to the animation screen? I mean, that was just brilliant. I remember how the small armies in Sengoku Basara, Guin Saga, and even Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto were just lumped together as “one army”. Here, every squadron counts. Every position has meaning and affects what happens throughout these two episodes.

Also I still love the kinds of series that downplay their main characters. Eren again had nothing to do in this episode and thus we get to see much of the side-characters who could show their characters off. And really: the main cast remains the main cast: there are people with huge talents in this series, but they are all downplayed: Eren has huge powers, but they’re incredibly random. Armin is really smart, but he’s really weak. Mikasa is very nimble, but she often isn’t at the right time at the right place, and that commander guy is also very nimble, but a total asshole who left his subordinates in total darkness about his plans, nearly killing them. It’s amazing how well this all balanced out.
Rating: 6,5/8 (Amazing)

Posted on 12 August 2013 with categories: Gatchaman Crowds

The thing with the writing of this series is that it’s sloppy: it simplifies some things for the sake of telling its story, and it makes most of its characters simple-minded for that purpose as well. Overall it makes sense, but it needs some idiocy to make everything fit, not to mention that it hops from one scene to the other really fast.

With these three episodes though, I’m starting to see what this show is trying to do.Old superhero series were characterized by the fact that the main character usually is the one who does all the work. He’s aided by his side characters, who sometimes get to stand in the spotlights, but when you look at the random passers-by: all they do is run away. They’re just cardboard cut-outs in the backgrounds, not doing anything at all and having no other significance than showing that the city that’s getting destroyed is not a ghost town. Gatchaman plays with this really well.

Whenever there’s an accident, people react to it. They cooperate in order to solve their problems and become a bit of a hero. Gatchaman is a decidedly modern series that really touches upon relatively modern themes, and shows like it are really rare. The last show that did it as well was Eden of the East, I believe.

Social media is a really big theme in this series: it’s how we’re all connected, and how we’re all trying to be the center of the world, and all trying to be heroes. We want to feel part of this whole important network that connects millions, and play as the hero. And yet, this series does not forget the “social” part of social media: everyone is cooperating. Everyone with similar purposes is connected so much more easily.

The strange thing is that the most interesting part of the show only has to do with the main characters because of the main female lead. The other members there hardly use social media. I mean the lead female was built up to be the new girl and all, but in a sense, the other Gatchamen are also new here.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 27 July 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

After the first big action-oriented arc, Shingeki no Kyojin is in its intermezzo arc: the arc that does not focus on action, but instead is aimed at exploring the background of something, in this case the titans. Arcs like these don’t have action: they can’t depend on flashy graphics or fast-paced entertainment to keep the viewer busy, so their subject material really needs to be interesting here more than ever now.

Many series before have attempted to first show enemies as ruthless monsters, only to show a bit of humanity into them. My experience told me that this is very hard to really do well. The obvious solution would be to just hint that these beings also have some sort of humanity in them. Gargantia did that for example, but that was way too quick to really come of as convincing, especially how they used it. Shingeki no Kyojin has an intersesting approach here, by using this nutcase of a character really well.

This is new: a character who is so desperate to see the titans from a different angle. She’s fully aware of what they did, yet she forces herself to bond with the titans she caught, even though there are no hints whatsoever that they’re actually taking note of her and recognizin her. It’s like herding a bunch of amnesiac tigers, only ten times worse. And this actually worked.

In one way, Eren is a great main character. I mean, there is not much to his character, but as an observer he works quite well: he’s hardly ever in control of the situation, which gives the side cast tons of different oppotunities to shine and show themselves off. You way too often have these main characters who try to hog all of the spotlights, but he stays very surprisingly away from that.

Also, that final sentence of the episode intrigued me.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 26 July 2013 with categories: Gatchaman Crowds

Regarding the argument that this isn’t Gatchaman: I’d like to disagree, slightly. I have not seen the original Gatchaman or anything, but I’d personally like to see this as a modern rendition of Gatchaman with a lot of creative liberties taken to it. For those who say that it shouldn’t use the name “Gatchaman”, but instead just go with its own story, let me ask you this: would this show have gotten enough sponsorship deals if that were the case? I mean, this could have easily been away from Gatchaman and all, but sometimes compromises have to be made, and to me it’s the kind of compromise that doesn’t really bother me. Plus, this series contains a TON of homages anyway.

Anyway, Gatchaman Crowds. You can really see that this comes from the director and writer of Tsuritama: a bright and colourful world, combined with characters that are this really strange combination between idiot and straight-faced. I mean that lead girl at first reminded me a lot about Haru, but she moves more and more away from him. Haru only had his powers. This girl actually accomplished stuff, and she doesn’t take things at straight value. She doesn’t just attack stuff just because people tell her to. Not to be rebellious, but because she uses her head and observes.

In this episode Gatchaman also showed its themes: it’s about social media, quite a modern topic when you compare that to other series (a lot of series could take place in the year 2000 just as easily), hence the “Crowds”-part of the title. It’s about how social media continues to make a larger and larger part of our lives and most bizarre of all, they seem to be making the equivalent of Mark Zuckerberg the ultimate villain. Okay.

Having said that, I do hope that after this, Kenji Nakamura is going to work with another writer than Toshiya Ono. I mean, Toshiya Ono is a good writer who knows his build-up, but he’s also very childish and I do feel that Kenji Nakamura is at his best when he tackles mature topics and storylines. But yeah, with the two series that really set him apart (Bake Neko and Mononoke), he really was aided by a set of excellent writers, among others Chiaki J Konaka and Tomoko Konparu, who really know how to oo original plots like no other. The part where this immaturity was the most annoying was near the end of the episode, where that one person seemed to suggest that ambulances weren’t necessary with the use of that social network. And yeah, that is looking down on real paramedics. A lot.

Also, that one scene where the people fell from the stairs. What happened there? The animation was really clunky and it was hard to make out what on earth that alien-thingy did there.
Rating: 4.5/8 (Good)

Posted on 14 July 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

This was a type of episode that you really don’t see often: a courtroom episode. It’s felt like ages since the previous one popped up, because it’s very specific: nearly an entire episode being set in a courtroom, and the conclusion of the episode being the conclusion of the judge. For this type of episode, it was fairly straightforward: should Eren be killed or not. But really: a battle of arguments without any big action scenes in this series? That worked out really well.

This episode showed a bit more insight about the politics in this series: the different forces that control the last settlements of humanity, and the way they presented their arguments, and reacted in this episode showed a lot about who the are in general and what they behave like. They are one-dimensional stereotypes, so this was not an episode for the characters, but rather it was one for the setting. And still, I love how Eren tried to defend himself, and Mikasa really got the chance to show a weak side of her. That’s actually very important because of how god-moded she threatened to become. That black-haired guy has the same problem by the way, but he at least has his arrogance that prevents him from becoming the perfect character.

Also, is it me, or is there a new soundtrack? I at least think that I haven’t heard these tracks before. In any caes the OP and ED are definitely new. The OP actually looks gorgeous. The visuals are even better than the first. I do get the feeling though, that the song they used for it was originally composed for something like 5 minutes, and the 90-second version feels like this hastily cut-together version of this. Try to focus on one part of the song, rather than try and stuff everything in it. They did that right with the ED, but there I’m not a big fan of the song.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 11 July 2013 with categories: Shingeki no Kyojin

And so the really long invasion arc has finally ended, and I must say that it did so with a bang. Eren in his titan form really looked gorgeous, and the creators did a really good job at bringing him to life there. Add that to an insert song that worked surprisingly well. Shingeki no Kyojin is obviously trying to be the epic of the year here, and well… they pretty much solidified that even more with this episode.

For a small while, there was hope in this episode. However, I also really enjoyedhow the aftermath brought everything back donwn to earth again, and to the series’ roots: despair. It did a really good job of showing exactly what kinds of sacrifices Eren had to make in order to carry out the plan of plugging up the hole in the gate, both with words, and emotions: every character was pretty much feeling the atmosphere and realized just what happened.

So after this there will be a recap, and from there on we’ll get to the second half of the series. With this the question will arise whether the creators will be able to get the entire story in, especially considering the manga hasn’t ended yet. For this there are three possibilities, I think: an anime original ending, the manga will end in a few months, or the series will be concluded in a movie of some sort. They all have their pros and cons.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

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  • Friend
    (Saturday, Nov 1. 2014 05:54 AM)
    The more I use it, the less appealing Deviantart becomes. I’ve only been using it for 6 months and I have some problems with the community at large. I don’t mix well, basically :-/ I think I’ll start posting my art in other places, like Google+.
  • AidanAK47
    (Saturday, Nov 1. 2014 05:03 AM)
    Oh right it’s Halloween….I completely forgot.
  • ninjarealist
    (Saturday, Nov 1. 2014 03:43 AM)
    @Bam And Happy Halloween to you as well.
  • ninjarealist
    (Saturday, Nov 1. 2014 03:42 AM)
    @Emma Wish I could tell you more.
    @Bam I’m going to engage in copious sitting in my room and sleeping because I had a bear of a day at work. Left some fruit-flavored corn sryup snacks on the porch for the kids.
  • Bam
    (Saturday, Nov 1. 2014 03:22 AM)
    Happy Hallows’ Eve everybody! Go engage in copious debauchery of the highest order, but just remember to make it back alive ;)
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Nov 1. 2014 02:56 AM)
    @Realist: =< Ah I see, was asking around just in case it was worth watching.
  • ninjarealist
    (Saturday, Nov 1. 2014 02:42 AM)
    @Emma I haven’t seen that one, no.
  • Emma
    (Saturday, Nov 1. 2014 02:25 AM)
    @Realist: Have you seen only lovers left alive by Jim Jarmusch?
  • afgm
    (Saturday, Nov 1. 2014 02:05 AM)
    @Syndrom: Don’t strat too hard…
  • ninjarealist
    (Saturday, Nov 1. 2014 01:00 AM)
    @Emma Very true. But a lot of people don’t realize or acknowledge that.

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