Posted on 1 October 2011 with categories: Bakuman, Shinryaku! Ika Musume, Some Quick First Impressions

Fate/Zero

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is about to fight in a holy war for a holy grail.
Okay, so this was completely different from what I expected it to be. When I started watching, I had something along the lines of Fate/Stay Night in my mind, only better, so I expected some sort of teenaged harem-set up with a lot of action. What I got had no action whatsoever, there was no harem present whatsoever and there were no teenagers at all! Instead of action, this entire episode consisted out of people talking to each other. Awesome! The animation budget was surprisingly limited: only the background art was great, though the animation itself made use of a lot of shortcuts, and far-away shots. Yuki Kajiura also delivered a solid soundtrack, although I wouldn’t classify this among her best. Overall though, this seems like an intriguing series where you need to pay it a lot of attention in order to be able to follow it. This episode gave a solid start, introduced some interesting concepts (I also liked the small details like the magic typewriter). It’ll probably take a while for this one to get going, but the script will probably continue to be interesting until that happens.
Potential: 85%

Bakuman II

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is a mangaka.
I do want to stress that I’m not guaranteeing that I’m going to blog the series whose prequels I already blogged before. The competition this season is just too strong for that. Instead, these shows also still have to prove themselves. Not particularly by delivering two awesome opening episodes, but by showing that they’ve got enough potential. Having said that, this episode of Bakuman had an effect that I did not experience at all when watching the first season: I can’t believe that it just took up 20 minutes. In my mind, it felt like it was much longer. For this series’ standards, a lot really happened this episode and instead of dragging on, it kept a steady pace and introduced a lot of new and interesting characters. The animation also feels lightly better than what it was before. Can this pacing be kept up for the rest of this season though?
OP: The OP still is pretty dull, though. The kind that sucks the energy right out of me.
ED: Better than the first ED, especially as it goes on.
Potential: 80%

Shinryaku!? Ika-Musume

Short Synopsis: Our lead character is still trying to invade earth.
Creating a good comedy sequel takes effort, especially when its predecessor already was very good: what are you going to do to match it? Will you still have enough ideas to fill a season? Won’t the comedy get stale? With Squid Girl, at least we’re not having one of those comedy sequels that immediately drop down in quality: it was still pretty funny, albeit nowhere near the best episodes of the first season, so we’re just going to have to wait to see whether this show has what it takes to remain funny (also, what the hell was Tomomi Mochizuki doing there?). Nevertheless, the first signs of decay are starting to show. There are various jokes on the verge of being overused, and this episode did not shy away from them. I also felt like the direction in this episode wasn’t as sharp as in the first season. These need to be fixed in the next episodes.
OP: What happened to that excellent first Opening? This was so bland in comparison!
ED: This feels composed at the last minute in a rush-job.
Potential: 65%

Posted on 2 April 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Bakuman




Bakuman was the slice of life series of this season. It shows the struggles of two guys as they aim to get their own manga published in Shounen Jump (or Jack, as it’s called here). It’s slow-paced and really not much happens for the standrds of a 25-episode series, but if you like the kind of series that take their time to tell a story the nit has nice things to offer.

Bakuman is slow, but never stagnates. It is a shounen jump adaptation itself, and in the same veins it’s constantly pushing its own story forward, albeit with tiny steps at a time. Moritaka and Akito grow into solid main characters, and also the side-characters all have their charms. The show also offers a nice look into the process of making a manga, along with the process of getting such a thing actually published.

Nothing really stands out for this show aside from a few select episodes, but it’s a perfect series to just sit back, watch and relax to. Its content and plot are definitely interesting to keep your attention, though it is a hard show to get into. It takes quite a while for the characters to get some signfiicant development to the point where they’re actually interesting enough, and this show is full of shounen cliches until that point. Becuase of that, I can’t fully recommend this series yet before having gotten the chance to judge its second season (because yes, that ending does leave you hanging a bit without resolving much or making much come together).

Overall Bakuman should have used its time a bit more efficiently. I know that the screenshots above make it seem like really exciting, but that’s just because the manga it’s based on is fast-paced. The anime isn’t. There are really few series that can claim to have as much time as Bakuman to tell their stories, and with that in mind the pacing does move rather slow and overall, too little happens for a 25 episode series. It does a lot of thing sirght, though.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Slow, but solid.
Characters: 8/10 – The cast of this show is dynamic and interesting to watch… as soon as they’ve received some development.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Neither impressive nor flawed, the animation is simple but does what it needs to do.
Setting: 8/10 – The analysis on the manga making process isn’t anything deep, but interesting nonetheless.

Suggestions:
Touch
Glass Mask 2005
Hikaru no Go

Posted on with categories: Bakuman



A decent ending. It’s not bad, but it didn’t stand out either. It was probably the most shounen episode of this entire series: the lead couple got through, while some of the minor rivals did not and have to wait for their next chance. Not very exciting, although the creators did do a nice job on the build-up and the arduous wait.

Overall, Bakuman never really made itself stand out, aside from perhaps one episode in the middle (the one where Niizuma Eiji suddenly decided to write the wrong manga and where Moritaka and Akito suddenly switched over to a battle manga). Bakuman has been more of a show to just casually watch, which it did nicely, and it kept my attention, but I’m still feeling like I’m missing something here.

In any case, for a series that you all forced me to blog, it was pretty interesting. I still really like the way that I’ve been having this contest for four years now, and yet you somehow always manage to pick out a different series: Gundam 00, Tytania, Kimi ni Todoke and Bakuman all were wonderfully diverse, and I’m definitely going to do this again for Autumn 2011.

Now that most of the Autumn 2010 has ended (with the exception of Star Driver, which will end tomorrow), it’s also time to look back on the past Autumn Season. And overall, I’d call it interesting, fun, yet also underwhelming. The thing is, that Autumn Seasons always have many more series than Winter Seasons. And yet none of the series that premiered during Autumn 2010 came close to matching the top three series of Winter 2011.

It had a lot of interesting (Yakumo, Letter Bee), unique (Panty and Stocking, Soredemo Machi) and hilarious (Milky Holmes, Squid Girl, Kuragehime) series, and yet none of them really stood out or ended up as amazing, and all of the ones that did have ambition were held back by something (almost always having to do with being too short and failing to actually notice that). We’ve had more major seasons that only showed four shows to continue past 13 episodes, but the shows that did continue were absolutely amazing. Take Spring 2008: Himitsu and Real Drive were some of the very few series that were actually long, but they really were some amazing and unique series. Here, Letter Bee, Bakuman and Star Driver: they all just didn’t want to be the hit of the season, it seems. Instead, it mostly stands out as an overall very fun season to watch, because again: there were a lot of fun and interesting series.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 27 March 2011 with categories: Bakuman



Aah, it’s like Kimi ni Todoke all over again!

Leaving that aside though, I liked what this episode did with its pacing: it went fast, then slow, then fast, then slow again, alternating between the developing the romance and the manga publishing. This show has always had its fast paced and slow-paced moments, but I don’t think that they ever meshed together as well as this episode, especially its first half. This kind of balance was especially missing in the first half of this series.

The worst part of this episode was the way in which the creators tried to introduce this new characters. “Oh no, I’m not conspicuous at all. I’m just reading a magazine here”. I mean, I can understand hiding the face of your villain for building up tension, but in a manga writing anime it just has no purpose and just ends up looking silly, especially when they try to play it straight like that.

Overall, if I had to congratulate the creators of the anime for one thing, it’d be making me think that the pacing of the anime went up during the past episodes, while in fact they animated even less of the manga for each episode. To me, someone who hasn’t read the manga, it did not feel out of place, unlike the first half that was in retrospective rather boring to sit through. At this point, I don’t think that I’d recommend this series, but that mostly is because of the reason that this series doesn’t feel complete at this point. With that, the first half just isn’t worth it. It’ll be up to the second season to change that.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 20 March 2011 with categories: Bakuman



So, one advantage of that slow pacing is that the episodes that DO have a lot of stuff happening really end up standing out. This episode really caught me by surprise and it was one of the best episodes yet. The change of pace was really welcome, and it showed a ton of new stuff.

Basically the entire premise of this episode was that it showed the start of a whole bunch of new manga from nearly all of the important characters. Also, finally we actually got a good glimpse of what the stories were that they wrote were like. They were only short blurbs, but it’s great to see actually something more than some random pictures here and there of which we don’t know how they tell their story.

The reactions of everyone were what sold this episode to me, though. This episode was full of emotions. Mostly cheerful ones, making this a very uplifting episode. Ideally I would have wished that the entire series was this dynamic, but at least we’re seeing the build-up really pay off at this point now. At this pace though< i can really see the second season becoming awesome. If it makes good use of the build-up of this first season and remains as dynamic as its best episodes then it can become an excellent coming of age series. In any case, if it wasn't for that second season, then I this really wouldn't have been a good place to end this series... Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 5 March 2011 with categories: Bakuman



Three episodes left, and this show comes with an anti-climax. Interesting, that after all of the build-up of the previous episode, all that the characters did in this series was get fired up, try out some stuff, realize that they don’t work and continuing where they left off. If anything, this was an episode to boost their confidence and resolve, more than anythings else, and I’m not sure whether the right place for that is so near to a major cliff-hanger.

Also, am i the only one who felt that the audience for Miho’s event was a little… stalkerish? I mean, it was just creepy in \the way that they just kept staring at her without saying anything, or even looking at each other.

Overall, I think that this is the part where this show is getting a bit repetitive. The interesting part about this episode was the way that all of the mangaka commented on each other’s stories and all, but this was the umpth time in which we saw the lead couple in a minor setback, only to get more motivation to go on and create their story. It probably won’t be a problem for the rest of this first season, but the second season does need to pay attention to this.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 26 February 2011 with categories: Bakuman



Quite a strange build up at the end of this episode, when suddenly it turned out to be that some random J-rock idol decided that he wants to become a mangaka. Now, things can often get quite disastrous when people like that suddenly think that they’ve got talent and use their popularity to give themselves a boost in popularity, but there are of course exceptions. I wonder what kind of approach Bakuman will take to this, but for that we need to wait till next week.

In either case, it’s going to be bad for Moritaka and Akito because the fangirls will make it very difficult for them to rank in first in these manga power rankings. Most of this episode was really about fleshing out their goals of becoming the first: showing them work hard and missing sleep in order to catch their deadlines.

Oh, and that thirty-year-old guy also is making some progress, in quite a strange way, working together with this eccentric girl. The character designs of the latter probably point to the fact that she’ll be a major character later in the series. In any case it’s a bit late for her to make any impact on the first season, with only one month left.

Speaking of which, I wonder whether the creators are going for some sort of cliff-hanger, or whether the story is just going to stop for half a year (assuming that the second season airs next Autumn season). I do hope that at the very least, this thing is going to end with some sort of strange hook. Looking back, Bakuman’s first season has been quite good, but it still has a few too many episodes that were just too slow, but it’s not like it was like Nurarihyon no Mago whose first season was nothing but build-up. If the second season keeps up this pacing, it’s got quite a good chance to become a great series.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 19 February 2011 with categories: Bakuman



One thing I noticed is that in this second half, the creators (of the anime, I mean), have felt a bit freer with the drawings in this series. I don’t mean freer from the manga, but instead freer from the fact that this is aired on NHK. The drawings are messier, the camera angles are more creative, and especially this is a good example of it. Heck, there have been plenty of series that aired on the NHK Educational characters that were completely unconventional and kicked ass (Giant Killing for example).

This episode again was great.The characters in this series, safe from perhaps Miho, are starting to feel like genuine high school students. They’re genuine and at this point they’ve become pretty well fleshed out with believable characters. This episode also formed a major benchmark: if they didn’t make this episode’s goal, Moritaka would not have made his goal. On top of that, I also laughed harder at the jokes in this episode than with any other episode of this series so far. Great sign.

Also, this episode had this strange quirk of introducing timeskip with that random woman who was handing around fliers of some sort. Neat addition. On top of that, is it me or are the voice actors in this series also getting better?
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 12 February 2011 with categories: Bakuman



Ah, the episode of “let’s break up only to get back together at the end”. It’s often used, because it can get a lot of good stuff out of the characters and get them to view things from a different side. Bakuman made well use of that, and this episode was once again excellent.

I especially liked the way Hattori subtly tried to get the both of them back together again. I loved it when this guy gets fired up: he just switches back and forth between composed and energetic. Moritaka and Akito also were great in the way that they continue do talk to each other. I’ve probably said this before, but for a shounen jump adaptation, there really is a ton of dialogue in this series.

The strange thing is that from the different poses here, I can see how this once was a hot blooded series about making a manga, like with the strange over the top expressions that sometimes pop up in the middle of a sentence. Those probably would have felt much more in place with a faster pacing, but it does achieve an interesting little effect here. Most slow paced shows try to be as accurate and detailed as possible, while this show tries out all kinds of poses and artwork. Although some of the artwork remains rushed and unfinished.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 5 February 2011 with categories: Bakuman



Akito’s brother… am I the only one who got Light vibes from him?

Anyway, it’s taken a while, but I’m liking this series quite a bit at this point. After the Nurarihyon no Mago debacle, I really began to fear for series that took their time at the start, but this thankfully proved to be a good example of how to do this. We’ve seen eighteen episodes of development into these characters, and it’s paying off quite nicely at this point and turning Akito and Moritaka especially into well rounded characters.

This episode also reminded me of how this is coming from the Death Note authors: we’re talking about a shounen jump adaptation here, and yet this episode was filled with dialogue (though admittedly it’s not as extreme as it was in Death Note). It’s what made this episode really interesting in any case.

Even though the tone is apparently very different compared to the manga, I do understand now why everyone forced me to blog this show. Even the series’ weak side, the romance, got progressed quite a bit in this episode. Akito and Kaya actually feel like a genuine couple now, and this finally sparked Moritaka to do something about his own as well. The past episodes have also upped the pacing a tiny notch, and if the creators can keep this up for both the rest of this season and the sequel, this could turn into quite a satisfying series in the end.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

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