Posted on 30 September 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

The best ending of the season? I think that was from Gatchaman Crowds, closely followed by Silver Spoon. Rozen Maiden had the potential to top both of them, but no, they had to come with that damn cliff-hanger!

And that is pretty much the only complaint I have about the final two episodes. The character development really was great, for a lot of the cast. Hina Ichigo, beautifully redeemed herself for a season of absence, Jun grew in both his versions and Suigintou… the reason she did not take Souseiseiki’s Rosa Mystica promises great things for the future.

The same goes for Jun: he always looked up to his younger self, and now it becomes apparent that younger Jun was great because he just never challenged his own weaknesses. Putting him in a coma will have a great effect on the rest of the cast, and put them into the roles that he previously occupied. Which brings me back to how this is the end of the season.

So yeah, whoever is producing this: you had better have planned a second season, instead of using this as a stupid sequel hook, putting off the decision for a sequel based upon whether or not the sales are right. Nothng has been announced yet, and that cliff-hanger could have been completely omitted and we would have had a satisfying finale. A bit of anime original aftermath for Jun, and Voila! That would have worked easily, and Tomomi Mochizuki can write that without a doubt to make it leave a good impression.

It’s not like I can hunt you down or something… but yeah. I’m watching out for that sequel…
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 29 September 2013 with categories: Uchoten Kazoku

The final third of Uchoten Kazoku to me… is probably its worst part. Allow me to elaborate why:

Basically it boils down to that the conclusion was too cliched for its own sake. And I don’t really say that for the sake of it being cliched, but rather the implications that this had on the rest of the series. Two implications really stood out:
– The frog, the second son. I really liked how he actually felt responsible for the death of his father. That was some really good drama, and I loved the episode earlier that was dedicated to his feelings about it. But no, the father was just caught by his brother who turns out to be this stereotypically evil bad guy who just justs after some woman. True, without being drunk there was a chance that the father would have seen through the trick, but nevertheless he doesn’t feel guilty anymore about his actions.
– Wat made Uchoten Kazoku great? Its dialogue and its focus on cultural values, customs and legends. The whole succession story just took too much time away from that, and unlike the first two thirds of the series it brought relatively few new things to the table. You can also see this in the character-development, which while there, could have been much more if the plot was a bit more catered to it. Benten for example: we never really got to see what goes on inside her head.

Does that make these four episodes bad? Nah, just not as good as what they could have been. These episodes still were fun to watch, and at least it did try to stay somewhat true to itself by never forgetting that the simple minds of the characters who on one point can be entirely serious, and then can be goofing off or really stupid again. The chaos in the final episode was a neat anti-climax, and the whole frying tram rocked. Uchoten Kazoku was definitely unique and really refreshing as an anime.

Yojou-han, Uchoten Kazoku. This writer needs to have more of his stories adapted to anime!
Rating: 5/8 (Great)

Posted on 27 September 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Tamayura


I’m not going to dedicate a post for my impression for the final three episodes of this series. It was just too boring to write much about. I guess that that gives a pretty accurate indication of what I think about this series.

Right at the start of Tamayura’s second season, I asked one question: why did this series, of all shows, get a second seaso? What can it add to the OVA and the first series? The big problem with this show is that now that it’s ended, I still haven’t gotten an answer to that question. Yeah.

So what does this second season end up doing? Well, in terms of characters… Potte starts a photography club. You’d think that that would train her leadership skills, but in the end only one girl ends up joining it. That one girl gets the most character-development out of the entire series, but it’s surprisingly similar to the development that Potte went through in the first season. The best part was probably the attention to Potte’s dead father. Again most of it was already done in the first season, but there was one particular episode that brought something new to the table.

And as for the side-characters… oh dear god. They were definitely the worst part of this sequel, because all of them have been reduced to simple stereotypes. In the first season they were diverse character. Here however, they eitehr are neutral, or force their quirk way too much, with hardly anything else. This series seems to think that once you have developed your characters, you can just leave them as they are and they’ll keep magically working. Quite a misguided idea!

As for the stuff that the characters do in this season… it’s okay. It’s still a good show to relax with and all, but everything they do is again so surprisingly similar to the first season: they go on random trips with Character A, they go to visit Character B;s house, they drop by Character C. Everything just strikes me as if the creators had no idea what to really do with this series once it started, and then just settled with some vague idea that just kept the status quo.

Tamayura was supposed to be the spiritual successor to Aria. Aria’s second season took its characters and developed them to actual characters. Tamayura’s second season likes to repeat itself. Perhaps those with more patience than me will appreciate it for what it is, but I’m quite a bit disappointed.

Oh and if you want to know why the second season has such a weird subtitle: ‘More Aggressive’ is just a bad translation to which the creators got the contextual meaning completely wrong. Sortof like that guy who got a Chinese tattoo on his arm.
One-Sentence Review: It’s not really necessary to watch this: it doesn’t really add anything to Tamayura, nor its characters.
Suggestions:
Aria
Kaze no Shoujo Emily
Maria-Sama ga Miteru

Posted on 25 September 2013 with categories: Anime Reviews, Silver Spoon


When Noitamina started airing two series per season, it was amazing. It’s a timeslot that on average tends to be aimed at a much older audience than usual, and having two series with the same mentality definitely helped to bring more diversity to anime overall. Unfortunately it’s a schedule that could not be kept up forever: last season saw a rerun, and this time there only is one new anime, with the name of Silver Spoon. But it’s worth the watch!

The series you can compare this to the most easily is probably Moyashimon. Both series are about agricultural college with an oddball entering. Where Moyashimon focused on plants and germs, Silver Spoon focuses mostly on actual farming, and farm animals. The big differences come in the way the series are laid out: Moyashimon is random, silly, and overall rather shallow, compared to Silver Spoon being very meticulously constructed, and deep. And don’t get me wrong, it can get silly at times, but even that is very well plotted out. Compare it to how precise the comedy in Full Metal Alchemist always was.

Watch this show for the depth though: this series takes a look at the less pleasant sides of farming. And it does so with such grace! It doesn’t shy away from showing the fact that the animals in this series are destined for the slaughterhouse. It managed to create these very sympathetic characters who all have different roles and views on it, and they’re all affected by each other’s actions: some people accept it like it’s normal, others really need to take more time. The main character in this series is actually a really good one, because he challenges that view in nearly all of the characters. Of his age, in any case.

Beyond that it’s just an all around fun series to watch that goes into a lot of detail in some of the other aspects of working on a farm. There’s a second season coming up, but you can just as easily view this series standalone. There are a few episodes that perhaps break a it of the flow, or go on for a bit too long with the drama, but overall it’s a series that’s well worth the watch.
One-Sentence Review: This show is about farming, and it shows this in depth.
Suggestions:
Moyashimon
Nodame Cantabile

Posted on 24 September 2013 with categories: Silver Spoon

Silver Spoon: you definitely have earned the right of the saddest death of a pig in any anime ever. The final four episodes of the first season put the focus back from the part time job, to the little piglet we saw in the first number of episodes. For me this was by far the most profound part of the series.

It definitely does help that there was a lot of development between the main character and the pig. I mean, it really had impact when the date for its trip to the slaughterhouse got closer and closer, and he just kept on growing.The creators played well with that, and it’s definitely done better than with Moyashimon: the series feels much more cohesive and with a purpose. The central themes of this series? Brilliant!

If I had to pick a least favorite part of this series, then I’d say that it’s the part that took place in the holidays. It feels detached from the rest of the series, it abandoned half the cast, which broke the flow of the series a bit. In Moyashimon it would have fitted, but not here where the series is so well constructed otherwise. Anyway, looking forward to the second season!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 19 September 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

Rozen Maiden, I applaud you. This series definitely has the best plot of the Summer Season series. In these three moments, this series really displayed that it was building up to something.

It’s great to see series that actually pay off. There are too many series that seem to be building up to stuff, only to not really do anything and go for a standard climax that just boils down to “defeat that bad guy” while doing drama things. Things like those are boring, and most often just pointless. Yeah, I guess that it’s all about the satisfaction of seeing an all-powerful being break down and all. But we’ve all been there. You need to spice things up.

I usually try to stay away from using other shows as examples, but ah. Screw it. I’m going to list some series that did this wrong (in my humble opinion, of course!). Slight spoilers may follow, but I’ll try to be as vague as possible.

K is a good example of a show that started off with promise, but didn’t do anything with it. And yeah, I know that it has a sequel coming, but that is no argument: I’ve said before that I don’t want to sit through an entire season if it’s just going to be build-up. It had all this build-up about these kinds… yet all of it didn’t really amount to anything: it was all very predictable, the characters took the most predictable turns in order to try and prevent things from going stale… not once did I feel like the creators were being really creative in where the plot was going.

Another area where this series could have gone wrong is in devolving into plain bad storytelling and devolving into plain stupidity. For that Tamako Market is a good example: you build up this nice and interesting family, who live in this interesting neighbourhood, only to completely derail the plot with that stupid prince subplot that never really went anywhere. And in the end, none of the build-up was really used.

Here, however. The first half of the series focused on the world of Jun who didn’t wind the key. It withheld a lot of characters. It put the entire cast of the show on a bus, save for Shinku and Suigintou, and focused on the intimate development between a very small set of characters. In these three episodes the characters went back to the other dimension, and it was glorious. Instead of one group of characters completely dominating the other, everything was balanced! Every character got his or her chance to shine and make impact!

A great example: in the second season of the original Rozen Maiden, Suigintou also made way for a different villain. However, here, her role as an anti-hero is SO MUCH BETTER. I love how she pretty much acknowledged that the reason why she held onto Suiseiseiki’s Rosa Mystica is pointless, and that she’s all doing it for “Father”. She’s neither good nor evil, she just has a huge price and doesn’t care about anything other than herself, and the creators haven’t overdone this by making her derail into either good or evil so far: she stayed true to herself, yet she also developed slightly, in the way that she stopped letting her pride get in the way of things that really don’t matter.

Also, Jun. I love what the creators did with him. For a while it was a bit weird how he created this new body for Kirakishou and all, but his development really put everything into place. The entire series is about people being trapped, trying to get out. In the past three episodes, a lot of characters actually succeeded in that. Jun did so by finally making decisions for himself. Going after his own feelings, rather than going with the flow. And the thing is: episode nine emphasized that his strongest bond is NOT necessarily with Shinku, the main doll of the series. Instead, Souseiseki is the doll HE made for himself. Not a replica or anything, it’s something he put together, outside of Shinku’s knowledge. The end of episode 11 remained vague about the outcome with the much hinted collapse of Shinku that could go either way here.

These episodes had so many things intertwine with each other, Really well done!
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

Posted on 7 September 2013 with categories: Uchoten Kazoku

In these past four episodes, Uchoten Kazoku really showed itself as a series, focused on the past. In the past a number of major things happened, and these four episodes really explored those in a ton of detail, showing both very carefully what happened, but also the different perspectives that the different characters have on it and how they ended up coping with them.

The big one is of course the father’s death. We got to see the perspectives of the people he left behind, but also of the ones who ended up catching and eating him. It did this really well and I love what an in-depth look we got into the whole process. Unlike the first third of this series it doesn’t jump around from one thing to the other, but instead ties everything together. This all is a sign of excellent storytelling. And after this it’s the task of the finale to really push things forward and be daring.

There is a lot to like about this series and it really plays around with its storytelling in this unconventional manner. Take the way it looks at the eating of Tanuki: it doesn’t try to be preachy and go “all people who eat Tanuki are evil!” and instead goes for a much more subtle message: yeah, it sucks for the Tanuki, but it’s part of life. I really like how this contrasts with the huge impact that the death of the father made. And I also did not miss the symbolism at the end of episode eight, in which everyone is just eating a bit of chicken: it’s part of nature.

What also really struck me is the second oldest son. His story of guilt was a very touching one. He already was lazy and didn’t do anything, feeling guilty about it, and then that happened. That scene at the well for me was the most emotional moment of the series so far for me.

I also want to give a lot of thumbs up for the animation here. PA Works’ series usually are gorgeous, but their style is very easy to recognize usually. This series looks like nothing they’ve ever done, and they still managed to make it look gorgeous. Some of the best camera angles and shots have some awesome uses of colours.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 3 September 2013 with categories: Tamayura

Yeah, the second season of Tamayura is all about Potte. The rest of the cast, with the exception of perhaps that new girl, don’t get to stand in the spotlights unlike what they did in the first episode. It’s about her coming to terms with her father, and further pursuing photography. The rest… is mere details. The question’s whether that alone is good enough. Up till now, this series left things to be desired. I was really waiting for this show to come with something really good.

That came with episode 9, which showed Potte meeting the other best friend of her father. I love this guy and how he thinks back to who used to be his best friend. The creators nailed this workaholic who has long since grown up and who gave up his passion for photography in order to pursue other things, and yet his old personality is still there. He’s still got the interest in photography, and the memories he made in his past.

For me this was the best episode of the second season so far. It got Potte thinking, it was heart-warming and genuine, and what also was very important was that it didn’t repeat itself.

The rest of the episodes need to be more like this. Obviously not the same, but Potte really needs to significantly develop (given how much buildup she’s gotten) and the show needs to take its concepts further in some way. I’m not sure how they’re going or planning to do that though.
Rating: 5.5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 29 August 2013 with categories: Silver Spoon

These past three episodes of Silver Spoon have continued very strong, and you still can see the series’ strength in the way that it combines comedy, personal drama, and the realities of farming. And all of them are really good!

First, the comedy: some episodes focus on it more than others (the crop circle episode focused on it the most), but the jokes are awesome, and not just random: they really are intertwined with the actual plot of the episode. It was an episode in which the characters made no sense, but they were so hilarious in their quest to just view this new big truck that was supposed to come out, and I love how creative they were in creating their own obstacles, making elephants out of mosquitoes.

The character drama here is subtle, but I really like it. Occasions such as when the male lead was surprised that people were more worried over him being gone than that he didn’t do his job: that really felt a great conflict for his character, since he never really was used to the fact that people care about him. The rest of the cast as well: they’re all seriously thinking about their future, which is very nice to watch.

And then, there is the farming. I did not expect this series to show a cow giving birth. That was heavy stuff, but I have to give props to the animators here: that is not an easy scene to just show on the screen, and they did it really well, and realistically (for as far as I know; I am not a cow gynecologist at all). The same goes for how it doesn’t shy away from showing modern technology taking over farms. Perhaps it didn’t show animal abuse, but it did show how hard it is for the farmers who didn’t adapt to modern technologies, how they basically can never go on a holiday, and how children are pretty much destined to carry over the business because there is nobody else.
Rating: 5,5/8 (Excellent)

Posted on 27 August 2013 with categories: Rozen Maiden 2013

Now that I’ve caught up four episodes of this series, I’m seeing even more what an amazing story this series has. It just took Rozen Maiden, and made something completely different out of it while still staying true to the original. That’s great, rather than just doing the same thing all over again. Of course, going into a different direction from the original when done bad, becomes really, really bad. But these kinds of series: they have their own idea and they just went for it, even though it’s completely against the mainstream.

What I think caused this, is that the original fans of Rozen Maiden have grown up, and therefore the series got to be aimed at older audiences. And it really was cleverly done: the annoying characters are nearly entirely removed: Suiseiseki is just gone, Kanaria has made a few apppearances in which she had a really good role, and Hina Ichigo is practically dead. The characters got older, and the themes got much, much more geared towards mature audienes.

All of the cute girls fighting is gone now, and it has made way for the focus on being trapped. Nearly every single character in this series is trapped, in one way or the other. Old Jun is trapped in his daily life, Shinku and Suigintou are trapped in the old world, a ton of characters are trapped by that seventh doll, who in her turn is trapped with her lack of body.

As a result, a lot of this series is just characters, waiting to be set free. Some take action, others just sit there, unable to do anything, but I really like this theme, and how well this show explores it by showing so many different perspectives. And it’s expecially fascinating to see how everyone deals with it. The small comforts they find, what they use for their hope, or the things they try to escape this emptiness. And also how they relate to the other characters, who are going through the same thing they are. Very touching stuff.

Oh, and the comic relief is still there, it’s only much more subtle. It actually juxtaposes the dolls against real life quite well. My favorite joke was how Shinku and Suigintou made this big mess of Jun’s room, and how after getting told off they actually kept the place clean, despite their huge egos.
Rating: 6/8 (Awesome)

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  • Bam
    (Friday, Aug 29. 2014 01:10 AM)
    @Raggers: so you’ll go about dismantling the World Bank and the toxic influences of mega-corporations on politics and the environment? That would take A LOT of effort and money then friend. Or even aim bigger and get at human greed and ignorance? (As identified by Siddhartha as the root of all evil)
  • Raggers
    (Friday, Aug 29. 2014 01:06 AM)
    At the end of the day, I only care about myself. While it’d be nice for everyone to go along singing happily, that just isn’t going to happen.
    If I were to give money, it wouldn’t be to sufferers. It would be better spent eradicating the root causes of the the problems.
  • Zo
    (Friday, Aug 29. 2014 12:43 AM)
    Well, you’ll forever be an idiot in my eyes bam.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Aug 29. 2014 12:40 AM)
    @Aidan: are you playing it on PC m8 ?
  • Zo
    (Friday, Aug 29. 2014 12:39 AM)
    For you ignorant morons, that’s roughly 94,000,000 million US dollars.
  • Zo
    (Friday, Aug 29. 2014 12:34 AM)
    Bam: I’m pointing out your hypocrisy. Ice bucket raised 3 billion rubles. You, raised none.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Aug 29. 2014 12:32 AM)
    @Zo: hahaha the reveal of the great hypocrisy. So you don’t really care about the victims of ALS neither so you’re whole defense of the ice bucket challenge is internally inconsistent and altogether fake. Nothing further, carry along little trolly, these definitely aren’t the droids you are looking for.
  • Zo
    (Friday, Aug 29. 2014 12:30 AM)
    Also, you say I’m a troll. What, because I have strong opinions? In which case, I laugh.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Aug 29. 2014 12:27 AM)
    @Aidan: not yet m8. I usually shoot them with arrows and get them to aggro forward, but I’m sure there’s a way to get up there (there’s a passage behind them).
  • Zo
    (Friday, Aug 29. 2014 12:27 AM)
    @Bam It’s the truth. You only do so to let yourself sleep at night.

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