Posted on 1 April 2013 with categories: AKB0048, Anime Reviews



The first season of AKB0048 was a big surprise for me for taking such a silly premise, and actually creating something good out of it. Here is the second season, and was it as good as the first? Nah. Still, it’s worth watching if you watched the first season.

The direction for the sequel is slightly different from the first. The first had a lot of fun with criticizing the idol business next to telling its story, showing its darker sides. The second season takes this the other way around, by celebrating it instead. everything here is glorified, instead of played down. It’s got an interesting effect, and it is great to see these two sides of the coin together. But standalone it does miss something.

Mostly because I find idols to be incredibly cheesy, and this series just goes all out in glorifying them (like, what I was afraid of that the first season would be). That’s a bit of a bummer, because it does make the series a lot less interesting in terms of its plot.

So it was up to the characters and the music to save the day! They did partially. There is a lot of good character-development in this sequel, and the rather large cast has a lot of moments for even the side characters to show off themselves. The series has a really large cast, and unfortunately it does look like a bit of a mess because of it, but the advantage of this is that this series can come from out of nowhere to deliver something heartfelt and genuine.

The disadvantage of such a messy cast of characters is that some characters just don’t work. For variety’s sake this does not have to be such a big problem, but it kind of is when one of those characters is the main character. She never really knows what her role is in this series until it gets forced upon her in an entirely non-subtle way.
One-Sentence Review: AKB0048’s sequel is not as good or interesting as the first season, but it’s still quite an entertaining, albeit messy, animated musical.
Suggestions:
Macross Frontier
Simoun
Mouretsu Pirates

Posted on with categories: AKB0048

So, the finale for AKB0048. I’m going to combine these final four episodes in one entry.

Episode 23… did not start out well. I have no idea what happened here, but this episode felt really weird in which the characters suddenly detoured in this weird mushroom world for no reason other than to stall time. And I can understand building up for the finale, but when the characters randomly started singing with these weird creatures I can only imagine Shoji Kawamori poking his nose into the script here demanding some Macross references or something.

Things got much better in episode 24 which surprisingly focused on the fathers of Nagisa and Chieri. That had a surprising amount of depth to it, especially from Nagisa’s father, and I really liked that. The creators also with this dropped the whole Chieri’s father being evil-subplot, so I’m glad that the creators did not intend that as the eventual climax.

What they did intend as the climax became clear with episode 25, as people started diving into the other world: the AKB48 Theater. It really does symbolize well how this series has changed. The first season of AKB was all about criticizing the idol business. The second season however, is about celebrating it and all of its weirdness. The way in which it showed where AKB started was a really big hint to that for me. Personally I like the first season over the second because of that. But this was not bad either. There is plenty to like in the second season, just not as much. I mean I quite liked how the people from Akibastar changed as well with Des getting more on the foreground again.

Episode 26 had something to live up to, because my favorite episode so far was the final episode of the first season. So did the second season live up to that? Well, it spelled out its message a bit too literally. “Please don’t hate entertainment.” That message alone would have been incredibly cheesy out of context, unfortunately. Within context, I can see what they’re getting from, but I do feel that it lacks substance compared to the first season.

I also feel that Nagisa becoming a successor…. came a bit from out of nowhere. Suddenly they’re like “oh, here she is now!” It’s too sudden and forced for someone who used to be unable to do anything for a very long time. The ending was cheesy, though I did enjoy the part where Chieri just dived into that spaceship as if it was nothing, to tell everyone to stop fighting.

I think that this was a case of Mari Okada taking up too many series this season. AKB, Sakurasou and Zetsuen no Tempest all had endings that could have been more and lacked a bit of creativity. If she had more time then she could have done something interesting with them. With this though, she was oveworked. Ideally, she needs to work on two series at the same time, and no more. She has shown that she’s able to handle those and deliver some really great things. Three is too much though…
Rating: 4/8 (Enjoyable)

Posted on 10 March 2013 with categories: AKB0048

I’ve often noticed that series can get a bit boring when they tend to get more epic. I think that that’s what happened to me for AKB0048. The biggest reason is that it started off so original and different, but there are only so many ways in which you can deliver an epic action scene. Also, these two episodes did not have what originally made me like AKB0048 so much: the way in which it had such a critical eye for the idol business. I originally thought that this would not matter, but its absence does show in these two episodes..

I did like how the focus on this episode went to the center novas, and what happened to them, especially the photographer who went over to the dark side in order to attempt to get the best friend back, not to mention the way in which the Yuuko just blew up with her performance. That’s the kind of change that I did appreciate. The character development for the good guys in this episode was good.

DES though… are pretty lame villains. They are the kind of villains who are willing to destroy entire cities for the sake of progression. On its own not really bad, but we’ve seen these villains so many times before. They’re not fleshed out in the slightest. There’s nothing that makes them stand out, there’s no depth to them. That’s not really the best group of antagonists to feel sorry for.
Rating: 4,5/8 (Good)

Posted on 23 February 2013 with categories: AKB0048

In an attempt to catch up I’m going to combine two episodes in one for this one. But really: the only reason why I’m slow with this is my schedule. This really was a major episode for the characters. And not just one of them, but a whole bunch.

For a long while I kept wondering why Nagisa was the main character. This episode she got her chance, and she showed that it would be for her stupidity. She’s the only one stupid enough to suddenly make such a giant declaration when everyone is trying to be perfect. An incident that is bound to be able to get some publicity since the rules of AKB can be so strict sometimes. And yet she tries so hard. Cutting off one’s hair is a gret symbol for character-development.

And then there is Mimori, and I now see what the creators were trying to do with her. She grew from a walking boob joke to someone really interesting to follow in the way that she continues to grow, but in the end sacrificed too much, taking her body into neglect.

Kanata and Shiori meanwhile finally had a little moment together again in order to develop their relationship, and in particular the problem that Kanata still has not become a successor. Then there is the talk of the new Center Nova, who Hikari and Shiori are working towards becoming. It’s still build-up at this point, but the characters do a great job of showing why it’s so important for them.

And I think that is the strength of this second season. Like I expected, the focus is less on criticizing the idol business (it’s still there, though), but more on the characters. And so far, it has really succeeded in bringing out the emotions of all of the new characters. The huge case makes sure that it can keep switching between all of them and their stories. And it’s doing a pretty good job of developing them all. It’s the thing with series with a huge cast: you can’t have characters that are as well developed as with series with a small cast. The trick is the big picture: give everyone attention, and make the cast come alive. Highlight a few characters as the main characters, but don’t excessively focus on them at the expense of others. AKB does that pretty well.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 3 February 2013 with categories: AKB0048

Once while zapping, in a lazy mood, I saw one of those model talent hunt shows which required its models to bungee jump. I can only imagine that this episode meant to poke fun at that completely silly and pointless practice with the end of this episode, otherwise I cannot fathom the bizarre set-up of having a gigantic hole with at the bottom a giant power-off switch. Nor why DES mechanics have a wide availability of bungee jump cords available… or perhaps…

What’s interesting is that this episode revealed this series to be one giant joke. Des has been profiting from AKB0048 just as well, and it’s using its entertainment ban and offensive actions to make huge amounts of cash, not to mention that apparently they’re very interested in Kiraras. Because of that, this it explains why they never really were able to take out AKB0048: because they never tried. The question now remains how much of this show ended up scripted. Knowing Mari Okada… yeah.

In the meantime, more character-development, this time for the useless one. It showed that yeah, being useless also has its charm, especially when something pays off. The character-development for the rest of the cast also showed because of this: they were able to goow up and become more dependable. I mean just look at them: they just ran in and grabbed a bunch of machine guns and started shooting stuff… yeah. It’s not like my suspense of disbelief was still in one piece for this series. I do appreciate however that they completely failed at driving a mecha. In the context of that scene it worked well. They didn’t need to drive it accurately, it just needed to make a big mess. Which it did. DES probably left the keys in on purpose or something…
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on with categories: AKB0048

Now this was a tear-fest! An entire episode dedicated to the general elections. There were just so many heightened emotions as everyone got announced and had to make an acceptance speech. The creators stuffed in as much emotion as possible here. That’s the advantage of having a big cast: you really can pull off episodes like this and make it very interesting to watch. With a main cast of five people this would never have been possible.

Chieri was probably the only one who went a little over the top. It’s okay with being over the top, and I know that she was very emotionally distressed there, but to have her make the speech as if she were having an orgasm… that’s not really the right way to do it. The point that the creators wanted to make with her: that she accepted her own position for the sake of standing in the spotlights despite feeling bad about it. It would have worked so much better with a bit more subtlety on it.

Beyond that though, this really had the amount of happiness and emotion. The main characters who really were glad to have made it rocked (number one and number two, after all of the build up together worked really well). But also the small scenes with some of the minor characters worked. Characters who may in the past have had only a few moments were developed here. Everyone acted so differently here, a great way to flesh them out.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 25 January 2013 with categories: AKB0048

I hate, hate, hate CG dance sequences. Every single time they’re done, they look incredibly fake and out of place. But even that I can’t fault AKB0048, becaus its CG dance sequences are the best I’ve ever seen. Don’t get me wrong, they still stand out. But they’re kept short and concise, and the dance choreography is actually worth something.

Setting that aside, I still have no clue why this show manages to move me so. I mean, I am a fan of this series and all, but still I loved the end of the episode even thoughit was just the general election for the characters, preceeded by another performance for the idols.

Also, as for the walking boob joke. I have no idea whehter the creators heard me or something, but she showed a totally different and actually quite inspiring side of her in this episode. Heck, I really loved the climax when it was her who got to stand in the spotlights, instead of Chieri or Nagisa. In fact, both of them really had interesting roles in this episode: Nagisa still is in her underdog position, with no signs yet of moving out of it. Chieri meanwhile got to find out first-hand what it feels like to become popular, just because you’ve got influential connections. They’re still there: the subtle bites at the fans of the idols.

By the way, this series also sees its EDs as an extension of the series. The ending of this episode was wonderful because of how the ED extended the big surprise that preceeded it, instead of continuing with the usual ED. This is something that is easy to do, yet most series are too rigid for it. It’s a sign of good production and people using their heads there.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 14 January 2013 with categories: AKB0048

Now that we’ve got the obligatory string of first episodes out of the way, it’s time to focus on what really matters this season. I still say that the Winter of 2013 sucks, because in terms of original content there is very little that stands out, not to mention the lack of variety. In the end, for anime to move forward, this is the most important for a season overall, otherwise we’ll just get stuck in a string of endless sequels.

Nevertheless, there is a lot of great stuff in store the upcoming three months: the amount of sequels and continuing series that will all stand out on their own way is amazing here. It’s been a while since I’ve seen so many of them at the same time that managed to impress me like this. And this is series that all deserve their length they need to become even better, rather than being just some corporate sell-out. That’s the theme between the 10 series I’m blogging this season anyway: no pointless padding!

Anyway, AKB. This time we’re introduced to the the absolute horror. The thing that’s even worse than watching a bunch of idols: VARIETY TV! I really hate those kinds of shows. In the Netherlands they are already utter crap, but I can only imagine how boring they must be with Japan’s standards. So yeah, when this show started to poke fun at them inbetween the lines, it did make my day. First the characters being utter crap at it, and afterwards them succeeding by doing what? Having fun at dodgeball and losing their clothes? Speaking of which, Mimori has turned even more into a walking boob joke. Go fix that in the upcoming episodes.

Inbetween the promotional activities, there also was this plot going on. Most important twists here revolved around Chieri, and how she suddenly became incredibly popular after last week. And yeah, the reason behind this was pretty much her backstory: she made the news, on top of being a famous daugher. Because of that she caught the attention of a lot of people. Her speech did the rest. The question now is what her father is planning: he’s obviously trying to use her popularity now, but what for?
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 6 January 2013 with categories: AKB0048, Some Quick First Impressions

Minami-Ke Tadaima

Short Synopsis: Our lead characters are three sisters living together.
I watch Minami-ke really if I have nothing better to do: it’s not bad or anything, but the pacing is a bit too slow for me to actively watch it if I have other stuff to do. Having said that though, this episode did make me laugh. It’s got the type of humour that tries to be funny by being annoying: the entire episode was basically Kana (one of the three sister) being an ass towards everyone. And that did lead to some funny moments. There were other parts that were formulaic, though. For example, for some reason the creators found it a good idea to have these chibi-shorts in between the different sketches here that are just unfunny and just serve to turn the characters into caricatures of themselves. We’ll see. It’s not like there’s much competition this season.
OP: Dull and generic.
ED: Again dull and generic
Potential: 60%

Haitai Nanafa

Short Synopsis: Our lead character finds a magical girl from a tree.
Three minute moe shows again! Alert! This is even a remnant of past seasons that took forever to get released. I have no idea why. Out of all the 3-minute moe shows though, this one is the best, because it actually impressed me with something: it’s got eye candy! I really did not expect that, but this show’s art design looks really good actually, something that I really did not expect. The rest though…. it’s about a bunch of magical girls. This was just the introduction but its comedic timing felt flawed (bad build-up). It was nothing special, but heck: people actually spent some effort into this one so I guess it’s at least something and I guess it was charming… enough.
ED: Way too long, but again quite pretty.
Potential: 60%

AKB0048 Next Stage

Short Synopsis: Our lead characters are idols who fight in guerrilla concert against an evil government.
Hell yeah, one of the two bright lights of this season has finally aired. The gorgeous visuals along with the well produced songs are as addictive as ever, making this a really enjoyable animated musical. The characters themselves set themselves apart by being so energetic and expressive, so that even the pointless fanservice felt charming, rather than annoying. This episode served as the set-up for the second season, really: it gave a face to some parties that were previously just mentioned and it changed the way in which the idols are selected from some random force to viewer-based voting. I wonder how far it will go with this, actually: there are so many dodgy sides about this, and I hope that the creators get the freedom again to address this. This episode already started by hinting at how competitive it can be, but it needs to do more. But there are plenty of episodes left to do this. The villains, the people from DES, remain a bunch of idiots, though.
ED: Visually boring (recap), but a good song, and well used with the climax of the episode.
Potential: 85%

Posted on 23 July 2012 with categories: AKB0048, Anime Reviews



So, AKB was a series that not many people seemed to like, so with this review I’ll try my hardest to explain why it managed to win me over. And let me get one thing straight: it’s not like I’m some sort of idol fanboy. In fact, I hate the idol business. I really dislike J-Pop as a music genre. And I’m really not a fan of abusing moe and cute girls to pander to an audience. So yes: how on earth did this show manage to win me over?

For the people who aren’t familiar at all with AKB0048: AKB48 is an idol group, consisting out of a huge amount of teenaged girls who sing songs and do other cute things. This series is meant to promote them: the main characters are all played by various members, most of whom have no voice acting experience, and the plot is about a world in which music has been outlawed and the girls run around and perform guerilla concerts as a sort of resistance. Sounds like a recipe for disaster, right? Yeah, but here is the thing: the two main creators, the chief director and the main writer, are two of the biggest trolls around in the anime business: Shoji Kawamori and Mari Okada. And they were given a lot of freedom. I still don’t know who found that a good idea, but bless this person.

Now, to fully appreciate this series, you’re going to have to need to read inbetween the lines a bit. It’s indeed true that we have a bunch of idols who sing and fight evil enemy soldiers at the same time. But at the same time this series does some really surprising things as a show that’s meant to be a promotion of an idol group. I mean, usually these things are incredibly cheap and superfluous: cartoonified members of the group go on random adventures and try to be as cute or cool as possible. AKB0048 however, completely throws these conventions out of the window and starts to focus on the uglier sides of being an idol; how unfair the business can be sometimes, how hard it forces teenaged girls to work and how it forces some dangerous mindsets on them. This series, on one half is indeed cute girls doing cute things, but that other half is really dark to balance all of that out, with some really cynical messages at times.

Beyond that, this show also is just very well executed. The thing with this show is that nearly all voice actresses are completely new, so they don’t have a stereotype that they all try to fit in like what you’d have if people like Kugimiya Rie were cast and all. There are a lot of characters in this show, but none are unlikable or try to force their cuteness down the viewer’s throats. They’re all well-developed and all have engaging issues that actually differ quite a bit. Beyond that there is excellent animation and musical numbers: the performances in this series really work and its use of music is really excellent.

Having said all that though, the overall storyline of this show IS completely silly. The people who outlawed entertainment are nothing more than shallow villains, and somehow they keep getting beaten by a bunch of little girls despite being in armored tanks and mechas. For as much attention this series gives to entertainment and idols, so little it spends on the actual bad guys of this series. That really is the biggest weakness of this series: at times it will be really, really hard to maintain your suspense of disbelief. The sign whether you’ll like this show or not is probably at episode number two: if at that point the characters don’t interest you, then you’ll have a very hard time with this. That episode however does have the power to really capture its audience though, so if you’re interested in this series, do give it a chance and don’t be put off by the whole premise… too much.

Storytelling: 7,5/10 – An excellent animated musical, but the action scenes make no sense!
Characters: 8,5/10 – Large cast with actually likable characters, rather than characters who put too much emphasis on moe stereotypes. They actually got a balance here.
Production-Values: 8,5/10 – Eye candy! Great use of music and songs.
Setting: 8,5/10 – A very cynical and interesting look at idols that you would not expect from a show that’s meant to promote idols.

Suggestions:
Aquarion Evol
Macross Frontier
– Nerima Daikon Brothers

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:46 AM)
    And yet again at the end of the day Akane failed to do what’s the most important ethical thing to do and left people to possibly die instead of judging Sybil herself. I think the reason her psycho pass is clear might be out of stupidity.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:43 AM)
    @Emma: The plot was not only a mess but also incredibly flawed and contrived. Why would Sybil need to have to delete seemingly random brains considering that the are all supposedly asympttmatic to begin with? And if so then they should’ve done this a long time ago.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:40 AM)
    *This was
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:37 AM)
    One thing I forgot to say regarding earlier complaints about the second psychopass season is that you have people who were getting lost in regards to what was going on in the plot due to what a mess it was.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:35 AM)
    The was a pretty awful, although expected turn in the latest two brynhildr chapters regarding Hatsuna and the tonal jump in the latest chapter was terrible.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 03:34 AM)
    Yup Psycho Pass 2 finale was just as underwhelming as you lot say, so now I share the sentiment. Even the 1st season’s wrap up wasn’t all that satisfying so they kinda suck at that, but this just felt like they gave up trying tho.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 02:57 AM)
    I have heard of directors admitting bullshit before, Von Trier is said to have done so and I love the ground that man walks on.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 02:56 AM)
    @Emma: yeah, he mentioned that many elements of NGE where simply for visual flair or to elicit a response from the viewer, which to me is fine.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 02:55 AM)
    And both of you have a point about the power fantasy thing. Would also like to add here that a writer, writing is essentially a power fantasy to an extent as he or she essentially is elevated to the position of a God that has full control over their own world and characters.
  • Emma
    (Friday, Dec 19. 2014 02:52 AM)
    Has Anno mentioned himself that he knows when he’s just messing around?
    Also I like his wife’s works a fair bit and more.

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