Posted on 1 August 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara

Here’s a strange twist: the creators decided to revive the single most annoying character of the first season. Okay.

This isn’t a bad thing per se, it’s all going to depend on how the creators handle her. Ichi wasn’t necessarily bad, she just got on my nerves due to the poor balancing of the first season, combined with the fact that she DIDN’T DO ANYTHING. She was really being set up as the useless character here, which was really obnoxious considering the huge amount of screen-time she received.

HOWEVER, this is where the character-development kicks in. In the first season, she had plenty of reasons to be useless. With all of those reasons dead now, she’s bound to be different here, and she’s bound to evolve, especially when the creators went through such trouble bringing her back to life (or rather, making use of the fact that her death wasn’t 100% confirmed. Make sure that this is the last time that you pull this, series!). I mean, that haunting scene in which this series shortly changed into a horror atmosphere was really good!

Also, while this is the typical time-slot for big budgeted action series, It still is great to see that we can have episodes like this, with long dialogues that intend to build up this atmosphere and the action, making sure that it’s as interesting as possible, rather than a bunch of random endless action scenes. The dialogue here works because of this build-up, as it’s able to keep in this atmosphere of the series.

Meanwhile, Toyotomi, I like him much better as a villain than the demon lord of the first season. The latter, while really badass, only had one gimmick, and apart from that he just sat on his chair, being evil throughout most of the series. Toyotomi actually does stuff, he has a past, and he isn’t as outrageously evil either. That scene in which he spared Date Masamune may have been a bit cliche, but it did show that this isn’t really a fight between good and evil, but instead it’s just a complete chaos in which many different parties with the same goals are trying to create peace while getting as much power to themselves as possible.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 25 July 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara

Whoa, was that Ishikawa Chiaki who suddenly performed an insert-song in the middle of this episode? Awesome, the creators here are certainly making sure to make this one a spectacle. Usually I’m not a fan of overacting, but this burning passion was exactly what prevented the first season of Sengoku Basara from standing out.

In any case, I’m glad to see that the second season is so much better balanced here. This episode was all about Maeda Keiji (who seems to have been upgraded to a lead character in this season) versus the rest of his clan, as he tried to stop them from engaging into a pointless battle.

I think that what makes Sengoku Basara more interesting than your average action series is that even though there’s a clear villain here, it’s still a complete chaos, where a lot more conflicts are going on. On top of that, the characters themselves aren’t stupid fighting machines (that’s one thing that the first season did right), but instead things lie far more complex, and I like how even though this is supposed to be an action series, it still puts a lot of focus on this dialogue.

Also, I believe that this was one of the first fantasy series that has the balls of actually animating the fact that the bodies of the characters are strong enough to stop a freaking katana. It’s great to see this actually get animated, rather than the usual thing in which we see some sort of flash, but don’t really know what exactly happened, and why someone isn’t sliced to death when being struck by such a killing weapon. Sengoku Basara isn’t the best game adaptation by far, but it definitely has the right intentions. That swordfight in the middle was definitely well coordinated.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 18 July 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara

Of course, I’d rather see more of the old production IG, with is mature and imaginative premises of Real Drive, Chevalier or Ghost Hound. But really, this isn’t bad either. I’m really willing to give this series a chance now that they got rid of the old director (who, ironically, is directing another show that I’m blogging this season). Seriously, the first season had the ingredients to become a great action series if it wasn’t for this guy.

With every series, it’s different how much influence the main director has over the series as a whole. With the first season however, that influence was so dull and average that it lacked passion. There was overacting, and characters with ridiculous powers, but the overall atmosphere of the series didn’t make use of any of it. There was just one exception to this: episode 2. Naoyoshi Shiotani (who also created the amazing-looking third OP of Blood+) just took over the entire episode and delivered one heck of a creative episode. But that also was part of the downfall of the rest of the series: it just couldn’t live up to that particular episode and it looked like it wasn’t even trying at times.

With the new director, I hope that he can achieve this balance between its action and plot. Because with Production IG behind the helm, it’s definitely different from your usual over the top action scene, with its anatomically correct character-designs, large emphasis on dialogue and surprisingly thorough historical references. I’m not expecting the next Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto here, but still an action series that entertains, and yet does remain with a good storyline.

The past two episodes have yet to surpass the second episode of the first season, but they were a massive improvement over its other episodes. The set-up for this sequel is in ways similar to the first, in which we have one ridiculously over the top bad guy being badass, while his right-hand man pulls all sorts of sneaky tricks from behind the scenes. Their presentation is a lot better though. This episode also hinted at how they’re going to be more than bad guys, and actually tried to flesh them out for about half a minute. That’s also a pretty good sign, considering how the previous bad guy, while badass, also just sat on his chair for entire episodes.

The animation still makes use of CG people, but thankfully they’re only used for the background, and nothing that goes on in the foreground (which is what the first season tended to do at times). The animation overall is pretty detailed, and the animators also take care of these small things as animating the characters’ chins when they talk. There was one particular shot in this episode that just showed a piece of sky when Katakura Kojuurou was getting beat up. That was a bit lazy, but some of the other shots of Date Masamune attacking made up for that.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 11 July 2010 with categories: Sengoku Basara, Some Quick First Impressions

Sengoku Basara Two

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is very loosely based on a famous historical figure.
Hell yeah! Best soundtrack of the season! A series that once was a dull samurai adventure has now become an epic hot blooded action series. The original Sengoku Basara had great ideas and intentions, but also a very soul-less direction that succumbed under its own expectations, so I wasn’t that fond of the announcement of a sequel. But heck, the new director really turned this kitty into a tiger. The creators got rid of a lot of the CG, which also really helps. The clashes between guys with superpowers for once is done justice, with over the top speeches and a snappy direction that for once makes the over the top powers of these people awesome, rather than just over the top. As for the story, the original series had a lot of intrigue, but it was all just so boring because it was so bad at building up tension. That’s not going to be a problem with the sequel though, based on this episode, so I see no way in which it won’t be able to beat its predecessor.
OP…um…ED…um…Insert Song in the Middle: Definitely fun, energetic and epic.
Potential: 85%

Asobu ni Iku Yo!

Short Synopsis: Our lead character’s harem include a best friend, rich silent girl, alien.
You know what? The plot of this thing wasn’t half bad. This episode focused a lot on the build-up of a campy action series, full of evil organizations with weird chat-rooms, high school girls who look dumb and cute, but are actually what seems like terrorists, an alien landing on earth. This wouldn’t be half bad as an entertaining action series if it can deliver the things that it promised in this episode. But yeah, who am I kidding? Every single part of this episode that involved the lead character was utterly terrible. His acting, the way that girls flock to his side for no particular reason (he already has a harem of three girls here, none of which are given any attempts at explanation), his character is horrendously dull. It’s basically AIC and its harems again. As for the lead female… imagine having a cat grow boobs. That’s pretty much her.
ED: Dull ballad.
Potential: 20%

Boku Otaryman

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is an otaku and salaryman. Hence, otaryman.
So, this OVA got released back in January, but I figured that it’s not too late to take a look at it now that it’s finally gotten subbed. Otaryman is another one of those unfunny comedies, aimed at otaku, but with a slight twist: for once it isn’t wish fulfillment. Instead, it’s a “this could be you” type of series. Its lead character is a complete loser, and this series knows it. It raises some nice points, but most of the time it drags on. If you’re not an otaku, then I don’t see any reason why you should check this one out.
OP: Catchy soundtrack, uninspired plot.
ED: Attempts at being funny that just aren’t.
Potential: 10%

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