Posted on 9 July 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

Welcome to the Biba show where it all comes down to a cage match between steampunk megaman Ikoma and the Titan Kurokeburi version of Memui for the fate of Japan.

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With Ikoma out of the picture, Biba’s revolution comes strolling into the Shogun’s capital with the ease of a hot knife going through butter. I was expecting a bit more resistance out of the Shogun’s amazing artistic main city but the brisk pace of Kabaneri demands that everything must explode and the story hurried along before getting too far into the details. As quickly as the top dogs of Shogun are introduced, they are discarded in favor of Biba and the antics of his Hunters. Even when it comes to glimpses of Biba’s past, which could have been fascinating, are much too brief to provide any meaning commentary or salvage Biba’s flaky backstory. Biba’s reveal as a Kabaneri is particularly guilty of that since it begs the question of how he went from a twelve-year-old general to a mad scientist.

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Since I’ve already beaten the narrative horse to death, what about the main draw of having Ikoma come in and save the day while explosions go off everywhere? Sadly, the climax of the finale was fairly lackluster despite all the pretty colours and great animation that has been consistent throughout the series. The music was nice with 1coma and Aimer’s version of Through My Blood making their first appearance but it didn’t quite fit right with Ikoma powering up to Super Saiyan levels. His appeal as an engineer that could innovate out of any situation was ignored in favor of having him obtaining lazer powers that could flip over a freight train coming in at full speed. It had the spectacle but none of the foundation of the earlier episodes. It was only after that Biba was dead that Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress became instantly better with Memui throwing Ikoma into a improvised trampoline and shedding the taint of the last five weeks.

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Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress ends up resetting its narrative back to episode six with the train speeding off into the sunset with the addition of the remnants of the Hunters. The Kabane still roam across the entire the country and our heroes are still on the move with their outlandish dreams of rice paddies fields and start fresh again without the downward spiral of his introduction unlike how Guilty Crown had to go through an entire 26 episode slog before being put out of its misery. Hopefully once Biba is disposed off, the shackles of his failed legacy can be disposed and focus on what made the series so great in the first place.

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There is immense potential in continuing this new franchise from Studio WIT as I love the steampunk/historic Japanese mashup, the aggressive characters, action, music and visual style. For the first seven episodes, it was extremely entertaining and fun and it would have been an easy 9 or 9.5 score if it could keep up the momentum. Unfortunately, the story and character development didn’t live up to the hype and I left with a show that was one half utterly amazing and one half Guilty Crown. I would love to see more Koutetsujou no Kabaneri in the future but there is no doubt that this is the disappointment of the season for me.

7.5/10

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Posted on 23 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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After the Horobi’s laser light show and having Biba-sama completely dominate the narrative with his super cool looking henchmen, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is back on track although it’s on different rails for here on out.

Imprisoned by the Hunters and being caught in the middle of the impending final conflict between the Shogun and Biba, the crew of the Koutetsujou manages to recapture some of the things that I loved about the series up until the end of episode seven. Having the Ikoma and his crew come up with a plan to overcome the odds while jabbing at each other with their character interactions  and break out of imprisonment is exactly what is needed to bring this show back into focus. The music was an improvement over the unsettling soundtrack of the last two episodes although it didn’t reach the highs that had been set earlier by Sawano. The only thing that couldn’t be helped but be mediocre is main target of Biba-sama as an over-dramatic bore that drag downs Kabaneri’s second half.

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Biba-sama’s backstory is certainly brimming with potential as he was casted out as a pawn between two political factions that had different views on how to deal with the Kabane. Being twelve years old and in charge of a military campaign draws a lot of parallels with Arslan Senki which could have garnered some sympathy for this dashingly handsome villain in his tale of being betrayed and slowly dismantled by the Kabane. However, the few scenes that featured the young Biba-sama only highlights the problems with the twelve episode format of Kabaneri as his villainy have a far greater emotional impact if the show could have spend just ten minutes on fleshing out his initial campaign against the Kabane instead just a few moments.

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This is the second time that Ikoma is being casted off the train and it doesn’t look like it he’s going to get back on anytime soon. A brainwashed Memui booting him off and his most certainly dead bro of Takumi are the two biggest shockers of the episode. I’m not too fond of using the mind-altering drug trope as it strip a character of its agency and reduces them to a plot device, but at least Memui put up a decent fight before getting the needle treatment and the green stone is obviously the trigger to snap herself back.

While Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress isn’t a trainwreck, especially when compared to the other flaming dumpster fires of this season, it could have been much better. Episode ten did much to slow the but the final forty minutes has it work cut out to keep it from descending further into the mediocrity that is Biba-sama.

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Posted on 16 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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What do you mean this episode writeup is weeks late? What you mean that I have to combine them?

Screw it, we doing live.

The plot thicken as Koutetsujou no Kabaneri continues to barrel on through with but the new additions to the story are a sign that its hype engine is starting to overheat and catch fire. Featuring mortars, steam-powered motorcycles, night vision headgear, and a handheld gatling gun, Biba’s Hunters reminded me of the Equalists from Avatar: The Legend of Korra but with a far more menacing look and firepower that doesn’t disappoint. Equally impressive was the tactics that they employed which offered greater mobility and flexibility compared to the static firing lines of the Bushies guardsmen. Even the new addition of the new Kabaneri, Horobi, offers a new fighting style that focuses on adding to the gymnastics of Memui as opposed to the brute force of Ikoma.

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While the action has remained good with tons of Kabanes and human being killed left, right and center, the tone surrounding all the flashy moves has been changed to being more gratuitous

and lacks the buildup for it to be effective. Having Horobi go from being Biba’s lover to a Kurokeburi doing a rendition of Attack on Titan to an Alex Mercer copycat (Prototype) spewing a lazer cone of death had me experiencing a bit of whiplash and apathy for the sudden escalation of everything while sacrificing story quality and character development. This problem can also be attributed to background music as it goes for the dramatic and dark choirs and drums as I find myself missing the cheesy insert songs that flowed so much better in the previous action sequences.

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The biggest shift tone and direction in Kabaneri can be placed on the shoulders in the arrival of the main antagonist, Biba-sama. Teased and hinted throughout the series, his presence throws supercharges the narrative to outlandish proportions with his experimental technology and superweapons. As a character, he has some nice quirks like being mechanically inclined like Ikoma and also dashingly handsome but the twisted ideals forged by a past that is filled with betrayal by his own government are the dark edgy cliches that I expect from an mediocre anime. On the surface, his future without fear seems to have many things in common with Ikoma. As his hostile takeover and massacre of the current station shows, his vision involves wiping out the Shogun authority and creating a new order with his freak experiments unlike Ikoma’s ideals of cooperation and a brighter future. He certainly reminds me of Gai Tsutsugami of ill-fated Guilty Crown where the seemingly good guy is turned in the big baddie that everyone else has to take down although Kabanari is in a better position to be the superior product.

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For a twelve year old Kabane killing machine caught between her loyalties of her newfound companions and personal savior of Biba-sama, Memui acts quite predictable in this clash of opposing ideals. Going from her carefree attitude to being an easily manipulated tool of Biba isn’t a bad way to interject some character development and drama but the compressed season format isn’t the right fit to do so given all the other wacky shit that been going on in the past two episodes. I’m willing to give a pass on the erratic behavior from Memui provides she sees the errors of her ways and goes back to kicking ass alongside with Ikoma. Judging by her actions which directly resulted in another station being overrun by the Kabane and becoming a victim for Biba’s sickening experiments, she is definitely having second thoughts about aligning herself with Team Biba.

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In Ikoma’s case, he has gone completely from seizing the initiative to merely reacting to the ever encroaching influence and power of Biba-sama. It a little sad see a character who is able to mygver his way out of situations with his piercing steam gun and be the unifying force for the Hayajiro be reduced to repeating the same few lines begging to Memui and fighting with his back against the wall.

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From the onset of the series, I made a prediction that Koutetsujou no Kabaneri would lie somewhere between the megahit Attack on Titan and the disappointing dumpster fire of Guilty Crown given that both shows. These past two episodes have taken a markedly different tone than the rest of the series which has me leaning towards the latter rather than the former. However, unlike my fellow blog writers who have declared that the Kabaneri Hype train was going to turned into a literal train wreck from the very beginning, I have hope that it will right itself and deliver an epic finale. My outlook isn’t based on blind optimism but rather that I can still see a path where Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress could redeem itself. By having all our protagonists team up and take down Biba-sama in the fun loving way that defined the first half of the series while hopefully patching up its storyline. In contrast, Guilty Crown was way past the point of no return by the time it reached the latter half of its runtime.

But seriously, the amount of Kabane lazers needs to be toned down.

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Posted on 2 June 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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Can the best show of the season to continue be even more epic than a giant Kabane chasing after a train armed with a tank cannon?

Get ready to be disappointed because the Kabaneri hype train stops for a shopping trip in this episode.

After six episode of running away from Kabane and fighting off enemies on a speeding train, it is inevitable that Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress would give its cast a chance to wind down and let loose before the next leg of their journey. The show does a good job of balancing out its supporting characters by giving them meaningful screen-time alongside our main characters. Between Memui’s first shopping experience with the ladies of the Hayajiro, the bromance of Ikoma and Takumi sticking it to the Bushi and the constant shipping between Ayame-sama/Kurusu, there is plenty of lighthearted humor to go around.

The Tanabata was a good excuse for all the ladies to dress in Yukata clothing.

It’s not all fun and games in the station as the cold and hard reality of the Kabane infection rears its ugly head in a couple of place even though not one of the those glowing zombies shows up. As the encounter shows with the Hayajiro conductors and the boy, whose father was sent flying into the station as a Kabane, there is no place for sugarcoating the bitter truth. However, the latter half of the episode, while it acknowledges that the world is a hellish unforgiving place, pushes a narrative that is hopeful and looks forwards. Just look at Memui’s cynical views on her own dual nature and Ikoma’s rebuttal of his goal of reversing the Kabane side of her.

It’s more than just mere survival.

It’s about going past that and dreaming about a bright future. While Memui’s wish for a belly full of rice is laughably simple and Takumi ‘s appetite for three hot beautiful wives, it all points to a place where the Kabane simply doesn’t exist anymore.

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With Memui’s brother/Hunters coming into town, it sets up the main conflict for the latter half of the show with its attention turning towards other human factions having ulterior motives and setting their plans into motion. Afterall, he is the one who turned little Memui into a Kabane killing machine and the foreshadowing of a sinister plot is bound to have the squishy humans turn their weapons on each other.Even though the action is missing from a show that is all about killing Kabane in the most brutal and spectacular way possible, Studio Wit still manages to deliver a less hectic episode that can stand on its own through its characters interaction and cheesy music while pushing the story ever so slightly.

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Posted on 21 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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If you haven’t heard by now, the second season of Attack on Titan has been delayed till 2017 because Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is far too awesome for Studio Wit to handle in a single year. I really couldn’t care less about the delay since I already know what’s going to happen in season two but Koutetsujou no Kabaneri doesn’t concede an inch when it comes to future episodes. I certainly couldn’t predict the evasive maneuvers the Hayajiro pulled off when escaping the Kabane-Titan is chasing nor the epic showdown in the end but there are few details to note before we get to the fireworks.

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These past two episodes have been Memui-centric with her mysterious origins playing into her current brooding about being weak or strong. Haven’t been bitten by a Kabane, it raises the question of how she became a Kabaneri either through being injected with the virus or some other means. There is also the issue of the fused colony and how that thing came into being. Instead of being a collective Kabane or manifestation of the Kabane in its purest form like I suggested last week, it more of single special Kabane that centrally manages all the biomass on itself, either living or dead. If Memui’s brief hesitation before delivering the final killing blow is any indication, the Kabane shei recognized is probably someone from her ill-fated group.

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Whereas Icoma’s backstory had a Kabane chomping on his sister, Memui is a victim of the fear and paranoia seeping into the people that are to supposedly defend the remainder of humanity. I’m just glad that Icoma just doesn’t really care all that much about the philosophical nonsense and proceeds to blow through a horde of Kabane. Just look at his setup at ensnaring the Kabane and using explosives to funnel in his opponents. I did felt cheated that we didn’t get to see the full fight between Icoma and the Kabane because it would have been awesome to see him in his gladiatorial style when compared to Memui’s far more elegant method of Kabane-killing gymnastics. The second half of the episode more than made up for that omission with its fast-paced high-stakes action sequence.

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This is where the Rule of Cool trumps any concerns for the actual physics when it comes to standing in front of a massive Type 48 Cannon, releasing the pressure limit by undressing or having enough weight to influence a speeding train from derailing. There was a show that aired not too long ago called Rail Wars! and it had the exact same situation where the occupants had to shift their weight to prevent the train from derailing on a turn. Physic calculations were done and it was concluded that it had practically no effect in preventing the train from derailing. Another nitpick that I make is the line of rifleman standing in front of the Type 48 Cannon. A gun of that caliber would produce a shockwave strong enough to throw those dudes right off the train when it fires.

Infantry stay behind this arrow so that they don’t get BTFO.

Infantry stay behind this arrow so that they don’t get BTFO.

I could go on about all about the unrealistic things but when the entirety of KABANERIOFTHEIRONFORTRESS is blasting in the background while the Hayajiro is just one step from doing a multi-track drifting maneuver and everyone is fighting for their lives, those inaccuracies tend fall to the wayside. I just love the imagery of the entire scene as there was so much good frantic action taking place in the approaching dusk as it reminded me of what made Attack on Titan so popular. Studio Wit continues to up the ante when it comes to delivering jaw dropping set pieces and episode six doesn’t fail in the least.

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Posted on 18 May 2016 with categories: Anime Reviews, Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri, Other:

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This will be the first time in my anime blogging career that I have ever done one of these anime OST review. It should be known that I have a complete bias for Hiroyuki Sawano as he has become one of the biggest composer for anime in recent years in some of my favorite anime shows. His musical style tends to emphasize heavy rock, orchestral, choirs and electronica in a bombastic manner. It not that he isn’t capable of other genres as he has shown to be quite proficient but his loudest and epic soundtracks receives the lion’s share of attention. Some of his works featured in shows like Blue Exorcist, Guilty Crown, Attack on Titan, Kill la Kill, Seven Deadly Sins, Aldnoah.Zero, Seraph of the End, and Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn. Sawano also composed the soundtrack for Xenoblade Chronicles X as well as various Japanese live-action drama throughout his career.  

If there is one legitimate complaint about Sawano’s music, it’s that he tends to rely too heavily on the same few singers for the vocals in his anime compositions.Thankfully, he incorporates more singers into his latest work including EGOIST, Eliana, Cyua (performed for Guilty Crown and Kill la Kill ) and Aimer. Describing his latest work on Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is little tough since he likes to reuses the same style but it would be something along the lines of the dramatic vision in Attack on Titan combined with the epic beats of Aldnoah.Zero.

Standout Tracks:

KABANERIOFTHEIRONFORTRESS, Warcry, JAnoPAN, Through my Blood, 88城, Grenzlinie, Ktetsu上-abdli, 1coma, icon

Strong Background Tracks:

KGK, ComeBack音, noname

Impressions:

KABANERIOFTHEIRONFORTRESS – The main theme of Koutetsujou no Kabaneri with Eliana being the main singer and is what ət’æk 0N tάɪtn was to Attack on Titan. While ət’æk 0N tάɪtn had an absolutely sick drop with Mika Kobyashi vocals, I felt that this theme was more consistent in its buildup and execution.

Warcry – As heard in episode two and five when Memui goes to town on those pesky Kabanes, this insert song comes with all the terrible and cheesy lyrics of mpi

JAnoPAN – This odd track is more along the lines of SiTE-n0w1 (Aldnoah.Zero) where it had this funky dancefloor beat and peculiar voices. I have been never been a fan of mpi as his English singing really sucks but the intensity of the latter half has me interested in where they decide to insert this as Memui goes further down the hole.

Through my Blood – Featured in episode four, it’s a tossup between Mika Kobyashi and Aimer’s version bundled with the ED CD single.

88城 – I didn’t get all that riled up by the first half of this song even though it was had this sweeping sound that you find in your typical introduction in a movie. It is the second half that got me excited as it was

Grenzlinie – Uplifting song with Cyua on vocals that starts off soft and ends off in on an epic note.

Ktetsu上 abdli – Not a big fan of piano solos but the first half of the track has this depressing jazz-like feel to it like a person who is moping about and wailing at random things. It’s not a bad thing as it does sound quite lovely in a morbid kind of way as it spirals down in oblivion in its second half. Featured in episode three where Memui impales a pregnant lady that had the misfortune of turning in a Kabane.

1coma – The definitive theme for Icoma. I would says that this describe about the resolve of our main character that grows into this epic orchestra version of Through the Blood as he gains the means to realize his purpose of protecting people by kicking ass with his own steam gun.

icon – Different version of the ED where Eliana sings in English as opposed to EGOIST/Aimer’s Japanese. I prefer the original version as the Japanese and interplay between the two voice makes for a more pleasant experience and the cheesy English lyrics proves to be too much.

Should you purchase this soundtrack? The answer would be a resounding yes as I found myself placing ten out of sixteen soundtracks onto my music player. Hiroyuki Sawano manages to find his way again after his rather subdued work on Seraph of the End and comes out with a smashing OST to a show where the there are definitely no brakes on the zombie-killing train.

Posted on 14 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

Sometimes being a badass isn’t enough.

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On the journey towards the Shogun’s stronghold, the Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress hype train finds itself staring down a massive glowing thing while Memui is fracturing between her newfound companions and her past. Memui’s motivations aren’t all that hard to see given her ability in smashing Kabanes into the ground and following the young master’s orders. An old acquaintance, that looks like Snake from Metal Gear Solid, observes that this is only her redeeming value and it does much to blunt the progress she made in connecting with the people aboard the Hayajiro. There was this picture in my mind that Memui’s master had a super awesome plan to save humanity but the scene where Memui’s friend is executed makes it seem that he isn’t all the benevolent to begin with. References to weapons being stored up for human targets by the Shogun authority will no doubt pay off later down the storyline but more pressing issues are at hand like the Black Smoke and removing the obstacle off the track.
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The action doesn’t disappoint with Memui’s assault on the boiler room that mirrors her fight in episode two with a few additions like using a cloud of suicide bags as an offencive tool. Even the music is the same but with the lyrics taken out lending itself to being a foreshadow of the limits of her personal fighting power. It’s just too bad that the sheer volume of enemies proves to be too much for Memui’s as cool as that entire action sequence was. I prefer her when she was just cheerfully murdering Kabane with a carefree demeanor as opposed to recklessly fighting out of a sense of pride and desire to be a useful tool.     .

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What exactly is that massive Titan-Kabane that everyone refers to as the “Black Smoke”? It is simply a bunch of individual Kabanes glued together to form a megazord or is this an entirely new creature that is the physical manifestation of Kabane virus? The close-up view reveals all the Kabanes being mashed together but the eerie sludge-like movement and glowing eyes say otherwise. Those new upgrades to the firepower to the steam rifles and Katanas better come in handy because this “Black Smoke” Kabane doesn’t like a pushover at all.

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I showed my friends, who have seen Attack on Titan but were not following current airing anime, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and were instantly hooked. It then turned in a marathon session where we caught up to the current episodes and they told it was already better than its predecessor because of its pacing, music, characters, setting and the maddening wait for the next episode. I would be inclined to agree as it ends with the Hayajiro standing alone against a zombie-titan while the Kabaneri duo are off doing their own thing.

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Posted on 6 May 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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Episode four comes out swinging with tons of action, resolves its internal tensions and looks forwards to its second arc with hopeful optimism. There are no brakes on the Hayajiro, especially when the Kabane launches a surprise offensive and interrupts the cliffhanger that was going nowhere fast thanks to Kurusu’s intervention.

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I was worried that the continuous bickering over the Kabaneri and retarded decision making  would be an annoying barrier but thankfully, those concerns were swiftly dashed away.  Nothing was more satisfying than seeing a sword-wielding Kabane slice his way through the would-be conspirators and then a good chunk of the hapless passengers unlucky enough to be caught in the wrong place. It is worth noting that Memui recognize the Kabane type as a Wazotori only adds to her mysterious origins and that she knows much more than she lets on.

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Wit Studio knows how to animate fight scenes and they definitely do a good job having some well-executed sword fighting mixed up with ranged combat. All the fighting inside and on top of the train carries the Attack of Titan vibes that catapulted that production studio to the forefront. That being said, there were some animation quality issues that I could see in several scenes such as the still frames and other oddities in the more fluid sequences Hopefully, it won’t be a repeat of what happened in the latter parts of Attack of Titan, where there was a significant drop as the animators scrambled to complete episodes.

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Ayme continues to turn the corner from being a timid daughter living in the shadow of her father to being a rather daring leader. Pivoting around from being relinquished of the masterkey and picking up a weapon to lead the defense from the Kabane horde, she continues to grow as a character that speaks of courage and badassery especially when it comes to her awesome steampowered bow. While the mechanics of how such a bow can operate are highly questionable, it is no doubt a very unique and cool looking weapon in a setting that is already steeped in steampunk design philosophy. Another great part is the music that is layered on thick and heavy with Sawano’s traditional styles that only ramps up the intensity as the fight progress through the train as well as the two insert songs. I felt that while the first song was pretty good, it went on for far too long with the key change being evident of that fact. However, the extended outro that coming from a different part of the full ED was a nice touch in rounding off the first arc.

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All the distractors are either dead or send cowering into a corner, everyone gets along and the Hayajiro is chugging along into the sunset. The first four episodes of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress were highly enjoyable to me and as the numbers from MAL indicates, this is the most popular and highest rated show (JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable doesn’t count) airing this season. Buy your tickets and get onboard because the wild ride is only getting started.

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Posted on 30 April 2016 with categories: Currently Watching:, Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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There are no brakes on the Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress train even when it goes for a pit stop to pick up some water and say a prayer for the dead. While my fellow writers firmly believe that Koutetsujou no Kabaneri will disintegrate into a trainwreck in terms of the story and characters, I boldly predicted that this will end up become the anime of the season for the many in the anime community and episode three absolutely does not disappoint in the least.

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For an episode dealing with the aftermath of fleeing a overrun station, it was jampacked with stunning moments like Ikoma blow up his zombified sister, Ayame-sama getting in some stabby brinkmanship, Mumei impaling a infected pregnant women with two swords and revealing the feeding necessity that all Kabaneri process. I did find that the prejudice of the Bushi guardsmen and the civilians to be tiring with all the finger pointing going around. Thankfully, Memui makes all the right moves in response to this hostility by never backing down from a fight and goading her agitators into a brawl instead of pointlessly pleading her case like Ikoma. By following up on a rigorous training regiment to make him a more effective shield consisting of beating the shit out of him over and over, there is something deeply refreshing about having a female anime character that stands out so drastically from all her cookie-cutter counterparts. With the revelation that is steeped with the likes of Valvrave’s own vampiric protagonists, perhaps the prevailing fear and prejudice against the Kabaneri isn’t baseless after all. It takes our misunderstood and underappreciated heroes and switches them into powerful beings burdened with a necessary evil. Mumei already relishes in this aspect and given Ikoma’s motivations and his history with the Kakane, he is going have a very bad time coming to grips with the dual nature of Kabaneri.

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Three episodes in, there are a multitude of questions that remain unanswered like where the big storyline of Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is heading and the nature of the Kabane. There are glimpses of the bigger picture with Mumei’s overall objective of reaching the Shogun’s main stronghold and the Kabane research facilities but the immediate needs of the Hayajiro with its ongoing concerns of food, water, repairs and survival will probably take precedent for the next little while. If the episode four previews are anything to go by, there will be plenty of gory action before this train pulls into the next station.

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Out of every single anime show that is airing this season, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress has the all the best action, animation, music as well as being the single show that I look forward to the most watching each week. I can’t tell you whether or not it’s going to turn into a flaming mess but it is certainly going to be one pretty wild ride before it concludes.

~HelghastKillzone~

Posted on 20 April 2016 with categories: Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

If you been following this site for a while, you may have noticed that someone new has made his first post. My name is HelghastKillzone and I’ll be the newest writing member of the Star Crossed Anime Blog. Before I go into the finer details, here is a little history on what anime means to me.

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Just like any typical person growing up in the 90s, anime in my childhood consisted of rushing home on weekdays from elementary school to watch Sailormoon, Pokémon, Gundam Wing and whatever Fox Kids or YTV  decided to throw in on Saturday mornings including the short-lived Escaflowne. Over the years, I picked up series here and there, from Hellsing to Evangelion to 5cm per Second but I never followed anything week to week until the Fall 2013 season. My actual blogging career started that year in the spring with MeepingAnime.com (now known as azureminds.com), ProjectOtaku.com (now defunct) and finally, SeaSlugAnime. I have covered such shows as Chaika, Captain Earth, Aldnoah.Zero, Zankyou no Terror, Psycho-Pass 2, Seraph of the End, Unlimited Blade Works and ERASED on an episodic basis as well as having written up on older shows, movies, seasonal preview and the low-hanging fruit of top ten lists.

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My tastes tend to lend towards the more mature and darker end of anime but I’m not closed off to indulging myself in the more lighter, moeblob, ecchii side of this wonderful animated medium. I will admit that there are large gaps in my viewing experience like the staples of Cowboy Bebop, Stein;Gate and Ghost in the Shell. It’s on my to watch list but I have a hard enough time in keeping up the latest and greatest but I would still love to hear your suggestions on what I should watch next. If you trouble grasping on what I would enjoy, my online alias and accompanying display picture is a perfect example of what exactly you’d expect from me. HelghastKillzone is from the Sony’s FPS franchise of Killzone for which I love the gunplay, visuals and aesthetics but the story is something left to be desired. The display picture, though, isn’t from the video game but instead, taken from the movie of Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade, which is one of the very few anime I have awarded 10/10. If you are still unsure what where I stand, I suppose writing up a top ten anime show article for myself would do the trick.

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As for my personal life, I live in Vancouver, Canada in the North America unlike the my other European contributors on this site. I hold a political science degree with some other lesser diplomas and certificate to go along with it. I do find it a little sad and ironic that my best phase of writing came after I received my bachelor degree where it was all about analyzing perspectives and pumping out papers. As for my working life, I’m actually a serving member of the Canadian Armed Forces for the last eight years and is looking to further my career within governmental agencies  In my spare time, I play extensively in this little-known MMOFPS game call Planetside 2 under the same name. If you have heard of this peculiar game then I suggest you hit up the Connery server for some sexy times.

For the spring season of 2016, I will be covering Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. Unfortunately, due to a work-related trip, I won’t be able to do episode three piece until this Monday.

Calling it now. Anime of the Season.

LINKS

Go on and say bad things on my MAL Profile:

http://myanimelist.net/animelist/HelghastKillzone

Previous Articles:

http://www.seaslugteam.com/author/helghastkillzone/

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SuperMario
@Animosh: don't mention it. I'm glad you enjoy it. I don't take credits in this case since I myself haven't watched it yet. I love it how this community is willing to try other medium and not exclusively anime
Animosh
Really surprised this isn't more well known. Not that there's been much competition, but it's easily the best (western) cartoon I've seen this year.
Animosh
@SuperMario: thanks again for recommending Lastman! I just finished it, and it was a lot of fun. It doesn't have much depth, but it was incredibly entertaining: it just keeps throwing these bizarrely over the top action set-pieces at you without pausing, it oozes style, and its soundtrack is killer (it reminded me a bit of Hotline Miami). And it can be pretty damn funny too. It even ends strongly.
SuperMario
"I swear if I see some nonsense like her not being able to stay “Professional” due to having a boyfriend then I will have to strangle something" --> is that why you had screenshot of kitties up there?
SuperMario
@Kaiser: little sister has a strong chance to be a protag in the last arc. I'm genuinely surprised that Futaba is the main girl in this arc thou
Kaiser-Eoghan
I want to see the little sister looking scared in bunnygirl agrain.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Yay! Sing and eiji are doing something and Ash's freakout while melodramtic and ridiculous was still bleak, learn a bit more about Blanca which is good. Didn't like the goofy bit with yut-lung.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Not intellectually non-intellectual enough for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Bunny-girl has redeemed itself. Also my favourite part of this weeks episode was 7 or 8 minutes before the end .
SuperMario
I mean, just reading that title alone I might check out what this movie is about. lol
SuperMario
Well, I come across an unusual film title today. A Japanese film called "When I Get Home, My Wife Always Pretends to be Dead"
Kaiser-Eoghan
The Lafalle arc (as thematically I probably engaged the most here)and the final arc both elevated this series for me, even though I did enjoy the bit with Vann early on.
I’ve heard people don’t like the ending it hit with me.
Really solid.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Dramatically this even kind of clicked for me and the antagonist surprised me as did twintails girl and bestghosts eventual roles, comedy isn’t exactly funny but I did laugh at points.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Apparently I got third time lucky with Mizukami, because I found this a very fresh take on the re-incarnation genre while actually DOING something worthwhile with it, his pacing/story telling style definitely feels a better fit to me in a short manga like this.
Kaiser-Eoghan
After a degree of indifference to planet with and only liking Biscuit hammers last arc, I ended up approaching Spirit circle expecting to not really have any opinion on it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Just my kind of weird.
Anonymous3093267
sword eyes
SuperMario
Here's another experimental animated short for you, Kaiser, Tango (1981) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lo8O8lYDzIU
SuperMario
@Animosh: yeah the second part was released in VOD earlier this year and I watched it. Prefer the 1st one much better
Vonter
I don't know why, but I thought you were talking about Tomorrowland. That Disney movie that bombed and everyone seemed very lukewarm about. I suppose because I don't know exactly what was the problem with it, didn't see much discussion about it.
Animosh
@SuperMario: I think I've seen World of Tomorrow, but not 100% sure. There's apparently a second part out though, and I definitely haven't seen that!
Animosh
And Umfeld (https://vimeo.com/umfeld) is also worth mentioning. It kind of consists of shorts, it's technically animated (at least in part: it mixes real footage and CGI I think?), and it's definitely weird. It's a very polarizing work though. I love it, but it wouldn't surprise me if most people here hate it.
Animosh
Some other things that came to mind: Tim Burton's "Vincent" (it's stop-motion, but whatever), Loom (https://vimeo.com/24069938) and E-Baby (https://vimeo.com/25435555). And the stop-motion shorts by Lee Hardcastle are pretty fun, if you're in the mood for some needlessly disgusting horror.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: I enjoyed embrace of the serpent which has the same director as Birds of passage so I'll keep an eye out for it.
SuperMario
@Kaiser: I'm going to see Roma and Birds of Passage this weekend. Really excited for both
Kaiser-Eoghan
As for the she-ra thing well, as I've gotten older I probably have avoided kids stuff more.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I don't want to see tokenism being seen as acceptance when it isn't, it feels that people are putting forth the idea that something is only being/can be accepted because its being portrayed in a tokenistic way.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its fine, obviously to have strong female characters, Ripley in Alien, Sarah Conner in Terminator, awesome....Rey in star wars....no.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think too often shows and films, American ones today, are tokenistic or clicheed with inserting issues, merely just throwing them in or tacking them on for the sake of ticking boxes rather than any earnesty or doing anything.
Anonymous3086853
@SuperMario - I do. Yet at the same time it was a bit outside of my comfort zone, watching something like this considering that (let's be honest) msot shows are men oriented. Even the ones with great female characters. This one despite having tomboyish girls is mainly about these girls with male characters having supporting roles. I suppose that's were the uneasiness lies in my case.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Mario: Just got done watching both earlier, his dark humour jives well with me and I liked the concept.
SuperMario
@Kaiser @Animosh: if you haven't seen World of Tomorrow plsssss check it out. I can't recommend it highly enough
SuperMario
@Vonter: Maybe it's a good things that shows for general audiences like this have queer context. Don't you think?
Anonymous3086853
Also because I'm a bit immature, this show is kinda gay. There's a lot of ship baiting moments, one same sex couple in the last episode and rainbows, pastel colors, emasculated male characters and some female crossdressing.
Anonymous3086853
The weakest aspect is that several secondary characters get lost in the shuffle. Kinda like Big Hero 6 in which the team had personalities but just didn't had the time to develop in any meaningful way. Still both the main cast and villains were good and like I say the protagonist and antagonist had strong arcs for a first season.
Anonymous3086853
So I now finished watching She Ra, and it got even better as it was building towards the season's end. Thes strongest aspect is the rivalry between Adora and Catra, the chemistry is very strong, kinda like Optimus and Megatron or Xavier and Magneto. In which both parts seem equally capable and to have mind games with the other.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Oh hey cool, rain town is done by the Penguin hhighway anime movie guy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
It looks like I haven't seen Don Hertzfedlts World of tomorrow films.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Also Prince Achmed and How Wang-Fo Was Saved.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah. yes, thanks animosh, I had a look at Rain town there, I like the style it was done in, it achieves the emotions its trying to convey well without needing dialogue, piano score actually helps rather than hinders.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Glassy ocean, that was another short I watched lately.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Oh inka isha is country doctor.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I know Mario has seen this style on animation, but anyone else see any oil on glass animation?
Kaiser-Eoghan
I actually prefer robot carnival to genius party but liked both.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Zepo, The Pride of Strathmoor were recent animated shorts I watched.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Recently I watched two shorts, death and the mother and pleasures of war.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'd say any eastern european short films would be worth anyones time.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm not familiar with rain town or Inaka Isha .
Amagi
Kaiser: Have you seen Inaka Isha from Kafka?
Animosh
In the meanwhile, though, I'd also be very interested in recommendations! The shorts I mentioned are among my favorite animated works, so if you know anything similar, please let me know. :)
Animosh
For western animation I really like the Don Hertzfeldt shorts. And there was this short called "Rain Town" that was really impressively animated. I'm sure there were others, but my long-term memory is pretty lousy. If something else comes to mind I'll let you know.
Animosh
I'm pretty sure you're already going to be familiar with all of my favorites, but here you go: Morimoto's shorts are all fantastic (Dimension Bomb, Beyond, Noiseman Sound Insect, etc), and two others that come to mind are Cat Soup and Kigeki (or Comedy) by Nakazawa. There are also some great collections out there (like the Genius Party ones), but again, you've probably seen those already.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If anyone has any suggestions for weird short animations, I'm looking for excuses to watch some more and I'm in the mood for them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Masky: Mario's youtube link had cgi models of rem and ram in the video.
Masky
I'm confused when was Rem even mentioned
Kaiser-Eoghan
I only ever watched he-man and stuff related to it in passing when I was younger, Conan was more my thing back then.
Kaiser-Eoghan
For so long I'd always referred to she-ra as she-man.
AidanAK47
@Mario, What is this heresy!
....
....Rems always cute.
Anonymous3084910
Hilda is fine, though is very laidback kinda like a young reader's novel. It has its moments but its fantasy with slice-of-life coming of age.
Anonymous3084910
@SuperMario Yeah I know, She Ra is the twin sister of He Man. But strangely it seems Dreamworks may not have the right to those characters. It was a marketing idea trying to bring more girls to that universe but like most girls show from the time it had a very flat depiction of what little girls want to see.
SuperMario
Sorry Aidan, I know it's blasphemy but I have to post here. Enjoy the OP song with the twins https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v9MUjISNm0U&index=4&list=PLU56jBSlcHw8-ol9Hi4lJ0GR0tU6EOf2a
SuperMario
I'll probably check out Hilda. Heard a lot of hypes about that show
SuperMario
@Vonter: I've heard of She-Ra, she's the female counterpart (well, sister) of He-Man (the most powerful man in the universe and the secret identity of Prince Adam). Sounds silly but I'm not even kidding
Vonter
All in all, despite not being a big thing, I think is an enjoyable recommendation. My only nitpick is that it maybe too light hearted for some kinda like above My Little Pony but below something Voltron. Also despite being less childish than the original is still kinda of girly with lots of pastel colors although it balances it a bit having girls being more tomboyish in different degrees.
Vonter
Like with Voltron it amuses me seeing anime tropes being played through western lens. Since I'm a bit hesitant to say that could this count as a harem series despite not being male gaze moments? Also having the most sensible hotspring episode I've seen.
Vonter
In this one this She Ra has pathos. A bit like Korra there's doubt in her role and also a complicated relationship with her rival. I do like the role reversal in the knight's tale this clearly is, in that most roles that would be played by men are played by women in this story. Matriarchy, displacement of both femminine beauty but also empowerment.
Vonter
So I've watched some of the new She Ra from Netflix. So far I'm in, it's not deep but it's quite charismatic. I do like there's more pathos in regards to these characters which pretty much were confined to their archetype to an extreme like the original Power Rangers.
Kaiser-Eoghan
It manages to make watching something like running engaging, when I'd otherwise probably not watch the sport. Also, last week the show ended up popping into my head when I was sitting around doing pretty much nothing and made me think "Ok fuck it, not sitting around doing nothing, going to go out for a run around the block"
Lenlo
I also agree, characters losing in sports is important. They can't start at the top, it makes the series lose meaning
Lenlo
I quite enjoyed Kaze Fui this week. I think your correct that the one who got the reality check was Kurahara, who thought he was the only one able to actually make it. I also thing that he has a competitive streak a mile wide, and might be a little afraid of failure. Doesnt think the team can make it, so why bother
Kaiser-Eoghan
Think I wasn't i the mood for honda-san this week even though I laughed.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Y'know I like it when sports series actually show the characters you know...actually lose.
Anonymous3083989
Huh, interesting in this episode of Kaze ga that it's Kakeru who got a reality check during the track meet since he was beaten by two other runners. I think we're due for an episode soon where he has to confront his past demons instead of fleeing from them.
Anonymous3083626
@Kaiser-Eoghan - Aging in fiction, I think has more to do with the story than the characters. I mean the jokes about Ash Ketchum, Detective Conan, Archie. The Flinstones tried to make different stories by aging Pebbles and Bam Bam. Or Batman having two Robins graduating into their own heroes. But in the end dynamics change, hence why most cartoons don't age the characters.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Which is why when aging does occur in anime/manga, such as in vinland saga or nanoha for example, its appreciated.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And of course, animated characters often don't age much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can remember enjoying the simpsons movie back when I watched it, but thinking about it it really was just an extended episode. Really the show peaked with the who shot Mr Burns episode. Catching bits of recent episodes and seeing them use modern stuff while they never age seems weird too.
Amagi
I do think series are allowed to move forward though, I am kinda interested in the Pkmn movie for example. But certain shows should just end, Simpsons for example was a parody of the 90s, it just can't work in a more modern setting IMO.
Amagi
I stopped with the Simpsons when Maude was killed/died, it was just a step in the wrong direction they should have never done and it killed the series for me. I disliked it before already though, I think I noticed the series getting worse since season..9? Or 10, not sure anymore.
Amagi
Anime for Dorohedoro announced.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Therefore ruining the fanservice fun for everybody.
Kaiser-Eoghan
My favourite beach episodes are ones where it rains and they end up not being able to go.
Kaiser-Eoghan
After that it was just the film for me.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Actually, regarding the simpsons, the episode I stopped on was sometime in the early 2000s, Homer was stuck on some island resort or something.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I suppose it was just as much a case of falling out of watching/playing too and then there being so many episodes/games catchup was impossible. I probably should read the manga someday.
Anonymous3081957
@Kaiser-Eoghan -Kinda like Sponge Bob, Power Rangers or The Simpsons, I can't blame those who move forward, It's imposible for a show to go that long without losing steam. I did check the Sun and Moon first season and while I think the personality and energy is better it doesn't exactly push the concept forward. Still somehow Pokemon is still a phenomenon.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: Very strange hearing a Pikachu talk with Ryan Reynolds voice. But my days of pokemon are behind me.
KyokoHyuga
?????
KyokoHyuga
who likes pokemon here
SuperMario
@Amagi: I think the person who made the sub for Maquia did a pretty neat job. Not perfect but the translation flows well
Vonter
We've seen realistic Pokémon fanart, but how does a movie looks when it attempts it. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8CKgQFo5U8
Amagi
How are the subs for Maquia? I only heard anons complain about it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*dealing with
Kaiser-Eoghan
Though you should really torrent it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
There is 1080p stream on kiss anime, if you hate deal with the ads on that site the 4up stream on anilinkz has the best quality of the available links
Lenlo
Where did you see Maquia online? I still need to watch it. PM it to me on discord maybe? Pretty please? <3
SuperMario
One fact that not many people know is that Penguin Highway is penned by Tomihiko Morimi. It indeed has many Morimi's signature inputs
SuperMario
This year, I'm doing well with catching up anime films (kudos for Australian's Madman who always license these titles very quickly). So far, I've watched Mirai, Maquia, Penguin Highway, Let Me Eat Your Pancreas and My Hero Academia the Movie
SuperMario
So I watched two anime movies this last week, Penguin Highway in theatre and Maquia online. Both of them are pretty solid in general, especially Penguin that has magical realism elements and some great chemistry. Whereas Mari Okada's writting still rubs me in the wrong way sometimes
Lenlo
D: He did, back in August actually apparently
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Lenlo: I heard Dino's voice actor died.
Kaiser-Eoghan
If we all took Goblin slayers attitude to trolls, then we would more easily ignore the trolls =P
Kaiser-Eoghan
Big twist in the golden kamuy manga.
Animosh
@SuperMario: remember that in the voice drama Rikka mentioned talking to Yuuta in their classroom during the ball game. Pretty sure it's about that.
SuperMario
@Animosh: i just watched the episode and noticed the lyrics as well. "The Promise" seems vague at the moment. Could be between Yuuta and whoever fits but I agree the "save someone from boredom" is about Akane
Animosh
You learn something every day. ;) Honestly though, I actually skipped the opening, so I hadn't even noticed that it had been translated until others pointed it out. And most of the time the lyrics are just cheesy one-liners, so I usually don't pay much attention to them either. But once in a while there's some nice hints hidden in there...
Kaiser-Eoghan
Y'know I never really ever paid attention to the lyrics in anime openings, I'd never thought to.
Animosh
The Gridman OP has been translated for the first time, and there's some pretty interesting reveals in there: it mentions a "promise" made in a classroom (so now we know how Yuuta and Rikka bonded in the past - glad it wasn't a simple confession), and talks of "rescuing" someone (presumably Akane) from boredom. So I guess she'll join the good guys eventually?
Lenlo
1200 words. I need to stop writing so much.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I haven't seen last weeks episode of Irozuku or this weeks =< I'm waiting now for a bit to see if the series paysoff.
Animosh
Goddamn those magic segments in Irozuku were stunning! It's a shame its humdrum drama can't live up to its visual beauty, but I'll take it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think Ash's design is based a bit on River phoneix.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Sorry Eiji but your Ash is in another castle.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@CoolerAnon: I was about to say that. Kidnapping gets used alot in shojo.
Anonymous3072040
Yeah Ash is basically Princess Peach
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: I share your concerns, I don't know what studio is doing it. Some people want it to be mappa, some don't want it to be polygon pictures to adapt it. Its and long and violent manga, with some very funny at times dark humour, it could end up rushed and/or censored.
Anonymous3072021
As much as I love Dorohedoro I'm unsure if I should be happy or worried at it getting an adaptation, it isn't exactly the kind of story I imagine being easy to adapt well.
Lenlo
Yeah, I am touching on that in my writeup as we speak. The compressed story is causing Ash to be captured every other week.
Animosh
I agree Banana Fish was great this week though! My only gripe is that I'm getting sick and tired of seeing Ash get kidnapped again and again. He just escaped a couple of episodes ago! And he's just a lot more fun to watch when he's out there doing stuff.
Animosh
In a way the fights actually feel more realistic to me than those in Banana Fish. Sure, they're fantastical, bizarre even, but its battle system has a clear internal logic, and generally no power is infallible (each has its limitations). In Banana Fish the fights are rather poorly thought out by comparison. Their purpose is more to make Ash look cool than to give him realistic hurdles to overcome.
Animosh
@Kaiser: what sets Jojo apart from other battle shounen for me is how ridiculously creative its fights can get. Part 2 already shows some signs of this, but the introduction of the Stand system in Part 3 pushes it to another level, and in Part 4 the fights are consistently awesome. There are no simple beam struggles here: every fight is a battle of wits, between people with wildly different powers
Niel
Vinland Saga anime, and Now Dorohedoro just got announced. i'm really liking this trend.
Lenlo
Lots to writeup on Banana Fish this week.
Lenlo
Just finished it, I really like Blanca.
Lenlo
Because Jackie Chan and his stunt crew are some of the best in the world. There is a reason he has to insure his guys from his own pocket. No agency will take them
Kaiser-Eoghan
I have no idea how the hell Jackie Chan is still alive.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Action works best for me when I really feel that theres danger involved. Thats why when some actors do their own stunts, you can fear for the actors life, and also the character.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And thats why I'm a big fan of all that Chinese martial arts stuff from the 60s and 70s, that really expertly crafted chereography.
Lenlo
As for action, I like good choreography more than any super powers. Its why Cowboy Bebop, Seirei no Moribito, Sword of the Stranger and some Naruto fights are fantastic.
Lenlo
Im about to watch this weeks episode, so this chat makes me hopeful. I agree Ash and Eiji are the backbone of the series, and yeah me and Kaiser both agreed that the Gang war aspect was pretty weak, though I thought the finish with Arthur wasnt half bad
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I think Banana fish has a great grit to it for this reason.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'm even more thankful to Banana fish too for that it keeps the action within the bounds of out of fantasy.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I've always been kind of a guns and swords and kungfu gut.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Black lagoons great example of anime action I can get behind.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I always found weapon combat and fist/kicking combat more raw and real,tangible than beamspam.
Anonymous3070972
But yeah if you're not a fan supernatural power fantasy action shounens, then maybe not your cup of tea, and that's totally cool
Anonymous3070972
Oh also if I'm recommending a fight from part 4, I'd say check out Highway Star
Anonymous3070972
Kira is a pretty cool villain though; he's always underpowered compared to the main heroes, but manages to somehow get out of the situation with luck or smarts; if nothing else, I'd recommend watching some Youtube clips
Anonymous3070972
*Turn off. lol.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its more than, even when I was younger supernatural power fantasy action shounen never appealed to me.
Anonymous3070972
Admittedly JoJo always has bad with exposition though, and always will be just due to the style, so that can definitely be a turn on for some people
Anonymous3070972
If you like slice of life with hijinks and a murder mystery combined with cool battles, you'll like part 4
Anonymous3070972
Yeah I can see why you might not like part 1 & 2, they were made in the 80s; I'd recommend part 4 and part 5 (ongoing rn) tbh, I feel like those are better for a modern viewing experience
Anonymous3070972
I used to think that BF's greatest strength was the plot; know I realize it's really about Ash & Eiji's connection first and foremost: as good as the plot can be, Ash & Eiji's relationship is absolutely the backbone.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Also that scene where Ash is thinking to himself, looking over Eiji.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nah, I pretty much gave up on jojo midway through part 2.
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