Posted on 20 February 2018 with categories: 2011 Anime Retrospective, Hourou Musuko, Tiger & Bunny

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It bares repeating for those of you who don’t know:

– For rating, I will use psgels’ 100 score system, but keep in mind that my barometer might be different than his. For instance, I consider 60/100 (not 50) as a line between mediocre and passable shows. 75/100 to 89/100 are recommended shows and from 90/100 upward are the masterpieces. In some rare occasions, I will include plus (+) and minus (-) but remember that they don’t have anything to do with the quality of the shows. (+) is awarded for shows that address the gender role thoughtfully, including shows that have strong feminine message. (-) is casted for shows with insensitive treatment to gender roles.

– There will be mild spoilers, as I will address the main theme of each show.

Wandering Son (AIC)

Boy, I know I’d come to enjoy this series given its thoughtful subject matter, but I’d never expect the show gets under my skin the way it did. Wandering Son turns out to be even better than what I expected. Yes, they nail it on the struggles transgender youth must face during their puberty, but at heart this is a coming of age story about coming to term with their own identity. Crossdressing is a way for the kids to express who they truly are, the self that they feel most comfortable with. One thing that struck me the most is how simple the show seems to be, but it’s anything but. From the soft watercolor background, to the simple and plain character designs (those are in the service of the show, as the main leads have their asexual appearances), to the way the story focuses on slice-of-life drama, to the equally soothing soundtrack. Everything seems light-weight at first glance, but inside it, there are many complex relationships and even more complex narrative. The transgender aspect never becomes to preachy or heavy-handed, for once, and the show makes itself clear that it never judges any of these characters. It’s just simply a normal growing up tale from a boy and his friends, nothing more, nothing less.

I also appreciate the anime for the fact that it left out entirely the first section of the manga, so many drama and characters have already been introduced before we get to know them. Fear not, since everything we need to know about the characters and their dynamic are showed and hinted subtlety over the course of its run. For me, the best parts of the show aren’t the subject matter it deals with, but the rich cast and their complex dynamic together. Take the latter for example, many characters form a very special relationship to each other (many has complained the characters behave too mature for their age, which I digress. We need more of these). And it’s these special bonds that made every single one of them interesting. Take Chiba’s love for Shuu: doesn’t matter how he changes, he will always be the special person to her. The same can be said for Yuki and Takatsuki. It often feels like they reach to a mutual understanding that other people can’t never comprehend. And I suppose sharing the same deep bonds as these makes up the reason why they can always rely on each other, even overcome their own issues to reach out for each other.

Shuu and Takatsuki made up two strong protagonists for this show, both because they’re trans who bothered by their own biological bodies, but also their special bond as well. Noted that while Wandering Son deals heavily in transgender issues, all the romantic relationships in the anime are heterosexual – most notably, Shuu and Anna’s love. Why? Because, of course Shuu loves her. Not in a physical attraction sense since I guess Shuu would never desired to kiss her, but in the intimacy sense where he loves her and cares for her like a sibling love. Is it make their relationship weird? Maybe. But it’s powerful nonetheless. Although I already enjoy the first half of the anime well enough, where they focus on the kids and their gender-bender Romeo and Juliet play, the second half is when Wandering Son hits me real hard. Insecurity plays another major role to these kids, as they are constricted by social norms, by the code of rules that dictates how boy and girls should wear and behave. Takatsuki comes a long way until she decides to cross-dress as a boy to school, but Shuu has it much harder by trying the same thing. The escalated tension when Shuu gradually believes that he should dress up in girl’s uniform because he feels comfortable doing so is one of the moment so powerful that it won’t leave my head anytime soon. It’s one hell of a statement right there and it’s more compelling than any LGBT campaign because it comes from very personal lenses.

As a side note, despite people often complain the show for the lack of proper closure, for me it ends in the best possible way. In that final moment, Shuu literally takes a step forward to the stage. That single image can signify many things: that he’s taking anew step towards the spotlight with his new body; that he finally let the dark and bullied past behind; that he moves on to the next puberty stage of his life. Shuu and his friends continue to live on beyond the scope of this little story.

Rating: 92+/100

Tiger & Bunny (Sunrise)

It’s amusing to note that these two shows received the same rating 87.5 here in by psgels, my opinions on these two couldn’t be more varied. Let’s start from its best components first, Tiger & Bunny is the show that has novel concept, a commercial Superhero reality TV show in the neo-modern city that looks like a glamourous version of Gotham. It’s a pretty cool idea and moreover, the concept of commercial superheroes and their ability “NEXT” have potential to develop into heaps of interesting scenarios. It helps that the show makes these superheroes and their moves as flashy and over the top as possible. Another plus for the shameless corporate sponsorship’ logos that pop up in the team uniforms. Flashiness and cool factor have never been this appropriate. The art design is awesome, especially the city itself that feels lush, noisy but gritty at the same time. The production values, for the most part, fulfil their roles quite remarkably. The fights are dynamic, and those action sequences are always damn fun to follow to say the least. The CG department, however, is wacky and looks out of place whenever the two leads are in the combat suits. Take Tiger & Bunny as a purely action show, it certainly satisfies your cravings.

But Tiger and Bunny is more than a mindless action show. It consistently develops into overarching arcs with more serious tone, and that, my friend, is where the show becomes hit and miss. On positive notes, these arcs make Tiger and Bunny more ambitious than your normal Superhero show and the main leads do grow a bit in their character development. The titular Tiger and Bunny, in particular, share some solid chemistry together. The show, on the other hand, has the Western Superhero and Hollywood as their inspiration and it unfortunately inherits the stupidity of Hollywood’s script as well. There is little to no grey area, the heroes are mostly your hero of justice and the villains get more and more evil as the story progresses. I don’t mind about some casual plot holes or some character inconsistencies because… you know, ACTION show, but the last arc, in instance, is so ridiculous and laughable bad that I have to mark the show down several notes. In this last arc, the whole superhero team suddenly becomes puppets with no personality, or even worse, betray their own personality. Kotetsu is being hunted by the police and being broadcasted live, and suddenly, all these developments are set aside for some more plot twists that go nowhere, fighting with Barnaby for no good logical reason and some other bullshits about androids. And I can never get why the main antagonist thinks it’s such a great idea to brainwash dozen of superpowered and influential people, instead of just eliminating Kotetsu in silence.

Character-wise, I regret to say that although spending 25 episodes with them, at the end of the day I don’t know, or care much about them. Both Bunny and Tiger are your stereotyped JUSTICED superheroes, with Barnaby’s backstory is the one we all heard before (Batman, anyone?). Other heroes each have their own episode that flesh them out a bit, but still ain’t enough to make them stand out at all. Villains are over the top in a no-good way and Lunatic (an anti-hero of sort) has never developed into his full potential. Overall, Tiger & Bunny is an adequate take on the same old Superhero genre that make some good use of the old ideas, especially in their brilliant main concept. The mixture of buddy actions, hero of the week, drama make this show consistently entertaining to follow, despite more often than not they follow the same old formula that been around since the creation of Western Comic.

Rating: 78/100

Welp, turns out I finished these two faster than I originally planned. Have you watched either Wandering Son or Tiger & Bunny? What is your take on those shows? Next time, we will meet a girl who plays karuta and a girl who is a NEET detective. Yep, I will review Chihayafuru and Heaven’s Memo Pad. See you in 2 weeks or so (this time is for real). Until then.

Posted on 18 September 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Tiger & Bunny




The past years have shown a sudden influx of superhero series. It started with Ultraviolet and the Batman movies, then Heroman came and Madhouse had its Marvel series. The best of the bunch however, is Tiger and Bunny.

What this show did was quite special: it didn’t just pick a bunch of superheroes and had them fight crime. It constructed a very creative concept and setting around them: making them tv-stars. In the world of Tiger & Bunny, cameras follow every movement of the heroes as they catch bad guys, and they have been turned into a television phenomenon. By turning superheroes into celebrities, funded by sponsorships, this show is both able to celebrate, and criticize modern media.

The characters really succeed in making such an interesting setting come alive. One of the biggest strengths of this series is how fun the main cast is to watch. Especially the episodes that focus on just a few of them and explore their characters shine in their dynamics. This series is able to create very strong stories that are above all very fun to watch, making this one of the most enjoyable series of the past half year. Nearly every single episode delivers, and at the end of the series the cast has grown tremendously with powerful changes.

The format of this series is that it consists out of two halves. Each half starts off with a number of episodic stories that are meant to flesh out the cast and build up the story, after which a continuous story produces a climax. The plot of this series deserves praises especially because of how well it builds up. In fact, this is one of those stories where the build-up is actually more interesting to watch than the finales themselves. The creators throw in a ton of details as they slowly show more and more about the multi-layered storyline, while at the same time creating interesting individual stories for each of the cast members. it blends in seamlessly.

For me, the major flaw of this series was really that the finales went fairly straight-forward, and just not as interesting as the rest of the series. The cliches that were brilliantly used in the majority of the series in order to achieve some very creative effects suddenly became just… cliches. And that stood out a bit. The journey to the destination however was more than worth it.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Weaves various plot-lines very nicely throughout the story, is very well paced and above all really fun to watch. Albeit the finales are the least interesting parts of the show.
Characters: 9/10 – Awesome cast, wonderful development.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Yoshihiro Ike’s soundtrack rocks, the CG works, but often moves jerky, and the 2D animation also has its moments of inconsistencies. It’s a very colourful and bright looking series, though.
Setting: 9/10 – This series is very creative with its premise, and makes brilliant use of it.

Suggestions:
The Big O
Zone of the Enders
Mobile Police Patlabor

Posted on with categories: Tiger & Bunny



Aw. To be honest, I found this to be a rather lukewarm ending. In the end, the best parts of this show were its build-up. This really was a series where it’s the journey that is important, not the destination. Both the Jake arc and this finale were the parts of Tiger & Bunny that impressed me the least. But hey, we’re getting a sequel.

The best way for me to describe this show would be “half-baked”. The creators kill off Kotetsu. Oh no wait, he’s just knocked out from the huge blast that conveniently managed to just destroy his suit. There are more androids! Oh now wait, there is a safety code now. Kotetsu is retiring. Oh no wait, he isn’t! Barnaby wants to live his own life now. Oh now, he isn’t, he’s just going to act like nothing happened!

I hate to call it, but I really think that the Sunrise executives had a role in this again. The thing with the sequel is that it wasn’t planned right from the start. The only single hint to that throughout most of the series was the fact that the entire city of Ouroboros was corrupt. My guess that originally the creators wanted to tie Maverick in with that. Instead, they were probably forced to leave open the option for a second season, which lead to the awkward plot twists in this episode that actually negated most of the character development for the different characters. These kinds of plot twists can be done well, but this was just too Ad Hoc and forced.. Because of that I’m a bit iffy about the announced continuation: I really suspect that the creators are going to have to write a completely new story on a really short notice. The last thing that happened was with Marie & Gali, whose second season was completely ruined by the inclusion of a scrappy.

Overall, I still love this show, but it didn’t make my favourite Sunrise series. My top 10 of Sunrise TV-Series probably looks something like this now:
10. Gintama
9. Seikai Trilogy
8. Witch Hunter Robin
7. Tiger & Bunny
6. Gasaraki
5. The Big O
4. Zone of the Enders
3. Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto
2. Cowboy Bebop
1. Visions of Escaflowne
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 11 September 2011 with categories: Tiger & Bunny



Now, this episode did pull a bunch of cheese balls for its penultimate episode. With that, I mean common tropes and cheesy cliches that get pulled over and over. Because of that I had a few problems with this episode, and unfortunately it’s been the least impressive Tiger & Bunny episode I’ve seen in a while.

Basically there are two main points that annoyed me. The focus on the power of friendship had its cheese moments, but it was perfectly in line with this series. What wasn’t in line was the robot guy. The creators have such an interesting villain with Maverick, and here this episode focused instead on this stereotypical evil guy that the rest of the series did so well to avoid, and who also pulled a number of strange actions that made it a bit too easy for the main cast to just escape I mean, if you’re an evil genius, at least remember to have more than one guy in your security department.

The second thing that bugged me was the end of the episode, which pulled the dreaded “let’s pretend to kill off our lead character”-twist. This twist annoys me in particular because hardly any show who pulls that actually pulls through with it. At the very least though; this episode did put a lot of meaning behind Kotetsu’s “death”: the decline of his powers has been building up for ages. It was a nice moment for this to really show.

At this point, I doubt whether this series will really have one of the best endings of the seasons, but it’s still possible to end with a bang. It really needs to use the build-up of this episode, plus give a good part to everyone involved. A standard ending however isn’t going to cut it for me at this point.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 4 September 2011 with categories: Tiger & Bunny



Now, this episode was build-up, so it was not as impressive as the previous episodes. That pay-off had better be worth it, because a show as awesome as this one deserves an awesome finale.

And yeah, I applaud the creators for avoiding the cheese when getting Barnaby out of Maverick’s memory control. Tiger’s attempts to get through to him had a great emotional response, and yet it was a simple insult that did the trick. That really was a great anti-climax, and at the same time it was a great conclusion to the bond between Kotetsu and Barnaby.

But Christ, we’ll already be ending in two weeks! This really strikes me as the show that’s gonna end with a one-episode epilogue (or at least an epilogue that will take a significant amount of time of the final episode for that epilogue), so we’re going to get the meat of the ending of this series next week!

The big potential pitfall I think will be that the ending is going to get too mundane: at this point, all of the mysteries are solved, and the struggles between the main cast are gone. It’s entirely about trying to defeat Maverick and that Robot now. This is really something where the creators are going to have to go over the top.

That ending is going to matter a lot, whether I’m going to rate this 90/100 or 87,5/100. These numbers may seem random, but let me put it this way: this series still has the potential to become my favourite Sunrise series of the past ten years. If that ending is good, it will probably stand on top of my current top 3 of Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto, Zone of the Enders and The Big O (Gintama unfortunately doesn’t count because of its second half). If the ending is mundane, it probably won’t make that top 3, so I’m really eager to see whether this series will be able to do it.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 28 August 2011 with categories: Tiger & Bunny



Um yeah. That’s possible too. I really kept wondering on how the creators would end up solving the memory alterations of Maverick. The previous episode built up an epic plan to do that, and it really looked like Tiger was going to have to try his best to both convince everyone, while not being too cheesy at the same time. Or just wait for Kaede to show up and zap everyone back.

It’s a bit weird at first, but as the episode went on I really appreciated what a great anti-climax this was. After all, this episode did avoid exactly what I was afraid of: cheesy monologues for every single one of the side characters. Instead, Tiger’s attempts were shown to have some subtle influences, but they just weren’t enough for the team mentality of the heroes who worked together. In the meantime, Sky High’s brilliant action of touching Kaede on the shoulder still leaves the perfect opportunity for Kotetsu to really scrape the barrel in trying to get the memories of his friend back: for a lot of different characters, this indeed would have been rather weird.

Added to that was that the characters were just incredibly enjoyable throughout the entire episode. Just about everyone shined and was fun to watch. The cast of Tiger & Bunny really has what I’d like to call the X-Factor for me: it’s hard to describe, but beyond well developed and acted, they put in this extra bit to make them even more interesting, and make them consistently enjoyable, even when they’re not doing anything. For me, this is one of the greatest heights a cast can reach. This series has had episodes that hinted to that very much in the past, but this episode sealed the deal.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 21 August 2011 with categories: Tiger & Bunny



Okay, so Maverick’s plan myay have holes, but it’s damn fun to watch it unfold. It’s bold and imaginative, and yet not completely stupid or overly complicated, and Tiger is really going to have to put in effort in cleaning his name. This episode was wonderful in showing his confusion in trying to figure out what the hell happened. He had no reason to doubt Maverick until it really became obvious what was going on through that news broadcast, so he was constantly trying to figure out what the heck happened. His acting was excellent throughout this entire episode.

Oh, and Kaede also stole the show in this episode. She really showed a different side of hers in this episode, and I loved the way she reacted to Kotetsu’s real identity. Now, furthermore: the creators introduced her powers for a reason, meaning that she’s not simply going to play the role of hostage. I’m really looking forward to seeing how she’ll end up getting used.

Now, the big challenge for the creators will be to convincingly return everyone’s memories. We’ve already seen how Maverick’s powers work: they malfunction when they start to believe something that contradicts their fake memories. Barnaby really believed that Jake didn’t murder his parents after Kriem’s confession and the fact that there was no Ouroboros sign on Jake’s hand. In other words: this really will be up to the scriptwriters. They have to take the current cast of heroes, and make us believe that they believe that Kotetsu (a complete stranger in their minds) isn’t a murderer. This can VERY EASILY lapse into cheese.

Oh, and on hindsight, I also want to praise the creators for the use of the red herring of Dorothy. It both was a great way to give character to Sky High, explain what Barnaby’s parents were doing, and reference back to The Big O (a uniquely great but underrated series). Sunrise, I’m really glad that you’re going back to the habit you seemingly abandoned five years ago, releasing all kinds of interesting and original premises. Here once again we have a show that worked out amazingly.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 15 August 2011 with categories: Tiger & Bunny



And with this, Maverick sold me: this guy is one great villain. Most of the time when an old guy is the main villain, just about all he does is sit on a chair and order around. This guy however has found a great use of his powers and position to attempt to wrap up his own past. It’s great to see that here, the villains don’t have this flimsy plot that depends a lot on “we are the strongest! muahaha!”, but instead one where they also use their heads, and make it profitable as well.

What’s more is that he also makes very good use of his control over the mass media and the status of Hero TV, where he can pretty much convict anyone he wants to, without any counter-opinion on TV. I will play Devil’s advocate a bit though, because it remains a bit of a shaky plot, considering the amount of people it involves. Maverick altered the memories of the people he drugged, but what about their colleagues? I mean, tiger was pretty well known. They will probably find it strange that suddenly these people don’t know who Tiger is anymore. There’s just one of them who needs to raise a voice, and there will be a bit of a problem.

I also love how well this plot is created on hind-sight. I mean, it was clear that Maverick was the bad guy, but the creators did this without obvious foreshadowing. It’s just that some of his actions subtly gave things away, but you could only see these when looking for the bigger picture. Take the city that’s shaped like Ouroboros’s logo: at first I thought that they remodeled the city after the logo, but instead Maverick probably modeled the logo after the city for some reason.

Think back to that one prisoner who got caught by Tiger, who was ready to give himself up and go to prison before Lunatic murdered him. On hindsight that didn’t really look like your typical criminal: he’d be pretty pissed that he got caught and had to go to jail, giving up his freedom. It seemed more like this guy was a prisoner that was used by Maverick. He probably got a lighter sentence if he cooperated. That logo could be linked to one of the prisons of the city.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 7 August 2011 with categories: Tiger & Bunny



This episode contained the big plot twist. The one that had been looming for ages now and had been hinted at numerous times. It’s again the characters who made it awesome, but I do have one problem with it:

The ending would have been a great cliff-hanger if it wasn’t so bloody overused. Maverick is a great villain, but he also falls victim to the “let me tall you all about my evil plans, because I’m going to kill you afterwards anyway”-syndrome. At least I can understand the reasoning of him: his powers are convenient, but take a long while to load, so without some kind of precaution, nobody is stupid enough to wait for that. It’s a good way to tell about his plans in order to buy some time. Just… don’t pretend that it’s a cliff-hanger and that we don’t know what’s going to happen next.

As for the rest of the episode… is it really that weird for Kotetsu to have trouble saying that he’s losing his powers? How does that make him a ‘retard’, when his pride refuses him to expose a weakness to his partner, who he always tried to look cool in front of. People really aren’t that eager to share their personal problems with others. In fact, just about every character in this series is full of inner struggles, and throughout the entire series we’ve had the people around them just guess what’s up. It’s not like this is Kimi ni Todoke, whore the characters spend an entire season dodging their issues.

This episode, on top of having the big plot twist, also probably marked the depth in this series, where the relationships between the characters are at their lowest. Tiger who tried to keep both of his promises has instead gotten into a big fight with both Kaede and Barnaby, and the next few episodes will probably focus again on him, trying to make up with them.

The big question mark right now lies in the kind of villain that Maverick is: one kick and he’ll be out. At this point, the climax will be either en over the top fight with Lunatic, or a plot to expose Maverick’s lies to the public: something that also could be done by people without superpowers.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 1 August 2011 with categories: Tiger & Bunny



Yeah, this really was meant to be a hard to watch episode. Finally Kotetsu mans up and settles down in order to raise Kaede… and then his partner breaks down. This was something that was bound to happen: Barnaby’s rise in popularity couldn’t last forever, and with this he didn’t just find out that Jake wasn’t the murderer of his parents, but someone has also been screwing with his memories.

Of course he doesn’t know yet that Ouroboros is as corrupt as hell, so he can probably only guess what the hell happened there. It’s a really scary thought of suddenly figuring out that half your memories may be fakes. My guess is that his mind was probably changed in those relaxing chamber thingies, in order to 1) divert attention from the real killer, 2) boost Barnaby’s popularity, 3) boost ratings, and possibly even 4) get rid of Sky-High, who still is by far the strongest hero out there. Just try figuring that out from Barnaby’s position, though.

Now, thanks to Kotetsu this episode wasn’t as enjoyable as the previous ones, but the creators were really deliberately trying to turn him indecisive. With this, I can understand the creators’ decision to make him retire a bit more: he will probably retire, but this will most likely happen at the end of the series. Just randomly quitting right now would be too irresponsible to Barnaby, while not quitting would be too irresponsible to Kaede.

These are some very interesting dilemmas here, and I hope that the creators won’t a) use something cheap by turning Kaede into a bad guy or b) come with some very convenient solution out of nowhere that allows Kotetsu to solve both. If this doesn’t happen, then the finale has just become even more potentially interesting.

Also, who the hell in that village has magnetic powers?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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Recently, sports anime have become a bit of a dying breed. Falling into the same hole as Mecha, aside from a passionate base audience, most are overlooked. There are the occasional hits like Haikyuu, Yuri on Ice, or Darling in the Franxx for Mecha, but those are few and far between, often taking years. Even […]

A quick and dirty review of Garo: Vanishing Line

What it claims to be about: A secret order of knights and alchemists, the Makai Knights and Alchemists, fight horrifying creatures called Hollows who prey on human weakness .Part of the media franchise spanning anime and live action shows, this iteration is set in modern metropolis and concerns the attempts of Sword, the strongest Makai […]