Posted on 24 July 2009 with categories: Basquash!

Yeah, with this there is no question possible about the swap of directors: the directional style of this episode was really different from anything we’ve seen in this show so far. This is Kiss Dum. I was expecting this to be the moment for this show to completely jump the shark, but what the hell, it actually works!?

But yeah, this episode had a lot more emphasis on music. The new director likes to swap hot-blooded action scenes together with quiet exposition scenes, and so the atmosphere of this episode changed a lot of times from one to the other. It’s interesting how he didn’t mess up the continuity and developed it at the same time, though. You can see that the new animation director takes a lot less risks, and so the graphics don’t look as good as in the beginning of this show, but nevertheless I’m glad that the awesome background artists are still there, because at least they made sure for a lot of eye candy.

In a way, this change of direction was exactly what Basquash needed. I’m not sure what made the old director lose his touch, but ever since the desert episodes this series seems to have been missing the chaos of the first couple of episodes, and despite the character-development, this series became rather… generic, with not a lot of things that stood out. However, I can really see a hot blooded GAR finale work for this series. The past number of episodes were at least good at building up, and if the new director at least manages to use this build-up this can turn into a pretty exciting finale. What this series needs to pay attention to the most is to keep the level of cheese in check. While the drama thus far was mostly subtle, this episode definitely upped the cheese-level. That was one of the downsides to this episode.

Nevertheless, I like the new additions to the cast (especially the moon giant has lots of potential), this episode had lots of stuff going on and plenty of new revelations. Finally I’m getting a bit more excited with this series.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 17 July 2009 with categories: Basquash!

Okay… so this series has just delved into WTF-territory. I think it’s best to just quote Random Curiosity’s summary to show what I mean:

“Flora explains that, in the past, descendants of giants related to the creation of the universe lived on the moon. Earthdash was created by gods, and mankind’s playing of sports with balls stems from the fights of those gods. The legend is of someone with the ability to manipulate the ball of thunderbolts saving Earthdash and the moon, and the trajectory of that ball shows the shape of the creation of the universe.”

I mean, who in his right mind can come up with such a ridiculous back-story? And that’s just the tip of the ice-berg in this episode. From the moon they ended up at what seems to be the place where Iceman grows up and lost his arm and leg, called Dead Bottom. In there, Sera and Flora (who blew her cover, by the way, with nobody being really surprised) somehow end up working at a night club while Miyuki fixes their bigfoots which were badly damaged in the crash. Miyuki then runs into another tech geek who hates her last name.

Dan meanwhile ends up arrested from out of nowhere by strange masked people, and then ends up fighting in some sort of bloody arena to the death. He ends up beating his enemy with… a basketball. When he’s forced to kill his opponent, he runs away and a bounty is suddenly on his head. He then ends up in a weird place with huge lizards and another mysterious bigfoot. Yang meanwhile pops up from out of nowhere and hires a prisoner to kill off Dan.

Does it make any sense? No. Did I like it? I guess so, yes. The setting has definitely gotten heaps more intriguing with this episode. Setting aside the really weird story of how people are playing basketball today because that’s how the Gods fought with each other, Dead Bottom looks like a really interesting setting, that’s definitely shown a different side of the world that Dan and the others live in. This episode also debuted a bunch of new background tracks, and they really fit with the dark and mysterious image that comes from this city.

In the next episode, we should see the new director taking over. It’s going to be interesting whether he can give this show the finale it deserves.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 10 July 2009 with categories: Basquash!

I’m not sure what exactly it is, but Basquash has really been missing something lately. I know that I mentioned the lack of the chaos of the first few episodes and all, but there’s got to be something else… Still, despite this I definitely admit that this episode was a step into the right direction. There’s a lot of potential in this series’ second half if the creators pull it off right.

This episode started off with me facepalming at the complete rip-off of Gad Guard’s space cannon, though. I knew the two series were similar, but not in this way. While a simple rip-off is of course fine at times, and hardly unavoidable today with so many stories already created, the thing that bugs me the most is that while Gad Guard’s space cannon had a lot of hidden meanings and played a major role in the main storyline, Basquash’s Moon Cannon simply was a big cannon that transports people to the moon. Without any context, it suddenly becomes a whole lot less awesome.

But still, I have to admit that I liked the pathetic disguise of Mister Perfect, the show’s “new” hero. Very subtle indeed. On top of that, the princess got to meet her sister again, and I like the relationship between the two of them: her sister doesn’t hate her for leaving, and instead has understood that Flora has some very good reasons to follow Dan.

And then the actual trip to the moon. It was here where the mystery finally deepens a bit, and the moon indeed has more than just is advertised. For some reason, the unlit parts are filled with strange looking mechas, and for some reason a giant hand appeared and bounced the lead characters back to earth. Does this happen with every single cannonball that gets sent to the moon, do the moonpeople have some sort of grudge against Dan? Did the Moon Cannon people remotely adjust the trajectory of the cannonball to prevent intruders from getting to the moon? Or did the resistance caused by Dan, Iceman and Flora’s crazy attempts to climb on top of the cannonball and then into it create enough resistance to change the trajectory of the cannon ball so that it ended up in territories it shouldn’t be in, and therefore was bounced back.

I really hope it’s not the latter, since the cannon ball launch just broke every single law of physics imaginable…
Rating: * (Good)
Nice cliff-hanger.

Posted on 3 July 2009 with categories: Basquash!

Okay, so while this episode itself wasn’t that special, and just another basketball match, it did pique my interest again. This series was really into a bit of a mid-season lull for the past few episodes, with the plot really at a standstill because of that tournament, but this episode showed hints that this series is going to pick itself back up again.

Looking back, the only thing that the tournament arc was good for was the character-development: the actual matches themselves weren’t that interesting, but if you can see this as a way of character-building, then it did accomplish its task. In this episode, Dan matured up, he finally passed a ball to Sera so that he wouldn’t be the one to score and take the credit. Sera herself wanted to take revenge on her father, but in this episode some random dude comes up and kills the guy, and with this episode Iceman’s worries about his past have also been solved and we know that he has a fake arm. So yeah, while this episode itself wasn’t that interesting, it did create a lot of potential for the future. I’m glad that this arc is over, though. Aside from episode 12, it was a bit tiring to have to sit through it.

What this show needs to do now is make this second half interesting. This is also where the new director comes in when he’s going to take over: he needs to understand what this series is good at, and needs to make a storyline that brings out the best of this, instead of simply degenerating the series into “Dan’s quest to save his beloved Rouge”. It’s going to be really boring if that turns into the main focus for the rest of the series.

On a side-note: this episode showed a new OP and ED. To be honest though, they weren’t as good as the first ones. The OP is a cheesy j-rock song, and especially the new ED isn’t as catchy as the old ED, and simply became a generic j-pop song. Reeeaaaally not my taste.
Rating: (Enjoyable)
Rather dull basketball match, but lots of character-development

Posted on 26 June 2009 with categories: Basquash!

Nice. After the previous episode, I was expecting another rather silly episode, but this installment instead took itself entirely serious. Instead of going for the usual fun basketball matches that this series became known for, instead the focus fell to Dan and Rouge, and the romance between them. As it turns out, the idols had to take medications in order to e able to keep up with the basketball matches and not to disappoint their fans, but Roughe took this way too far, collapsed, and the episode ended with her returning to the moon without her having the chance to say goodbye to Dan.

This episode was really solid and well done, but it does have me worried about this series’ future a lot. When this series first started out, it managed to so well avoid some of the clichés and tropes of similar series, but for the past few episodes the clichés have really been heaping up, with this episode probably being the worst.

For example, it’s great to see that Dan now has more reasons to go to the moon than just for his sister: his motivations are changing, and that’s pretty interesting. HOWEVER, at the same time it reduces Idol Rouge as a simple damsel in distress. The romance so far worked so well because Rouge really was someone who fitted Dan: impulsive, strong and not afraid to speak her mind. The two filled in for each other’s weaknesses and that was fun to watch, but having her talents explained by an overdose of medication, bringing her back to the moon beyond her will so that Dan can save her. That was a bit of a disappointment, and the creators had better know how to handle this properly.

And yeah, I guess I could have seen this coming, but I’m still really disappointed by this: Miyuki. She was really fresh as Dan’s childhood friend, exactly BECAUSE she wasn’t in love with him. The two of them really were friends: they hung out together and had the same purpose: she worked as a mechanic, while he was doing his basketball. But unfortunately, this episode showed some really big hints that she is indeed in love with him. I mean, seriously! That’s about the biggest cliché in the book that you can think of!

While I still like this series at this point, something really has to happen in its second half to make it surpass the brilliance of the first third of the show. I really hope that the change of directors after episode 17 (at least, I assume that the changes are going to be noticeable from that point) aren’t going to make this even more difficult than it already is.
Rating: (Enjoyable)
Solid episode, but lacked the creativity that made me a fan of the rest of the series.

Posted on 19 June 2009 with categories: Basquash!

Ah, okay. Sorry for the little misunderstanding after the previous episode. According to this link here at MyAnimeList, it seems that the director changed after episode 9, while the chief animation director got replaced at the end of may, so probably around episode 17 or 18. Last episode simply seemed to have been the victim of a bad case of outsourcing.

Then at the same time, I did have my worries about the change of directors, especially since the previous two episodes really weren’t as good as the rest of this season. Thankfully, this episode showed that the new director most definitely understands the series he’s working with. This episode had everything that made this such a fun series to begin with: very fun action scenes, every single member of the main cast has his own story progressed a bit, and the themes of fandom finally return again in their brilliance. The only point at which you can really see that the directors have changed is the opponents that Basquash had to fight in this episode: they weren’t opponents, they were typical shounen enemies whose can only rely on one strategy.

But really, I don’t really care, since this episode and especially that fight was incredibly fun. The idea of running around with fake balls, changing your own hair color (in the most painfully bright colors), while letting the real ball slowly roll towards the target is so stupid, yet brilliant at the same time. I also loved how the creators treated this match as a kind of mini-episode inside an episode, complete with its own OP, ED, next-episode preview and even commercials! Add to that a crazy announcer with DJ-glasses (literally) and you have an awesome first half of this episode.

And in contrast, the second half of this episode was really the complete opposite of all the madness in the first half. In there, it was time for extra depth for most of the characters. Especially Iceman’s story is nowhere near finished it seems, and Sera also had her share of attention, since the tournament they’re currently playing in takes place in her hometown. My only complaint was Coco: while she did appear in this episode, she didn’t appear enough. ^^;

Rating: ** (Excellent)
Very weirdly paced, and yet it’s a really fun episode.

Posted on 12 June 2009 with categories: Basquash!

Well, you can really see that the animation director has changed, because the animation really is abysmal. Seriously, this episode was full of horribly distorted faces and rushed drawings. I think there were only two or three shots where you could see that time was spent on making them look good. The animation was very shoddy (just take a look at Dan and his basketball: physics don’t work that way!). Only the CG didn’t suffer from his influence.

As for the change of directors, you can also notice that, but at least this guy isn’t as much of a disaster as the new animation director. This guy thankfully is competent at what he does: he knows how to build up and flesh out characters, and the characters act natural enough. But something is definitely missing: the chaos and the randomness that made the first bunch of episodes so enjoyable.

In the first couple of episodes, there really was so much going on at the same time: every character had his or her own agenda. This episode… just concentrated on the little princess and Dan walking around town and Sera visiting the grave of her mother. The rest of the characters only had one or two scenes in which they really didn’t do anything and were… sleeping through the major part of this episode I guess. Oh, we did have Iceman who paid a visit to his rival again, but that also pretty much was a pointless visit.

All in all though, it’s a bloody shame that the staff was fired in the middle of the production. Satelight already is understaffed this season with no less than three series they’re working on at the same time. Guin Saga already showed that they lack the man-power to animate everything correctly, and this really isn’t the best time for them to create a production goof-up. The worst thing is that they’ve had this before with Kiss Dum, and even though this doesn’t look to be as big of a disaster as Kiss Dum turned into, it does show that the producers haven’t really been learning from their mistakes of keeping all of the staff-related business going smoothly.

It’s going to be really difficult for this series to surpass itself now. It’s now all going to matter whether the creators can develop the characters right, and plan out the basketball matches correctly.
Rating: (Enjoyable)
Really bad animation, though an enjoyable build-up nonetheless.

Posted on 5 June 2009 with categories: Basquash!

Very, very solid episode. My favourite part of this show has always been the Dan vs. Coco storyline, and this episode was entirely about that. On top of that, the romance between Dan and Rouge remains surprisingly enjoyable because of this. This episode was all about Dan, seeing Coco’s image in Rouge (probably because Rouge is the first female he sees as more than just a friend), and because of that he started remembering his past again, starts yelling and running around the baseball field like an idiot.

I also love how we see Coco in the background, carrying out her own agenda. She may show no emotions, but this episode really showed that she’s doing something that she likes doing. As it turns out she is much less scared of the past (probably because she learned to live with her disability, as opposed to Dan who still refuses to give up on her. Slash also made a good point in this episode: she could easily be playing a bigfoot with a few modifications made, and yet she chooses not to.

Overall that Slash intrigues me as well. HE (she?) was introduced as your typical evil overlord, but yet again she turned out to be someone completely different when s/he visited Coco for the information on Dan and the others.

One thing I do hope is that Dan’s going to stop yelling from now on. Especially in this episode, his screams were rather obnoxious to watch.

Rating: * (Good)
Very nice development for Dan, although the animation wasn’t that impressive.

Posted on 29 May 2009 with categories: Basquash!

This series is weird. Really weird. This episode again: it’s one of these episodes that’s not supposed to be good… and yet it is.

To give a quick summary: this episode had a hot spring sequence, including the girls comparing each other’ breast sizes. The three idols turn out to be able to play basketball. They challenge Team Basquash for a match. Then one of the idols accidentally bumps into Dan and the two fall in love, while one of the other idols falls in love with Iceman. Later this episode, our little princess (still pretending to be a guy) professes herself as one of the idol group’s top fans and starts singing while the rest plays basketball. I have truly lost count of the amount of fanservice clichés that this episode used.

I’m still not exactly sure why I didn’t hate this episode. Perhaps it was the fact that at this point you’d really expect crazy things like this from this series, Perhaps it was that point at which Pink Idol (I’m too lazy right now to look up their names) got hit by one of Iceman’s crazy Destroys, started crying like a little girl, and Dan completely forgot about his embarrassments and the game because it reminded him of Coco’s accident.

But yeah, I should have seen it coming that Dan would end up as a couple with Pink Idol, with Shoji Kawamori as the chief director and all. Still, in this case it’s a pretty fresh concept, since for once we don’t have a shounen lead falling in love with one of the lead females. But yeah, on the other side the inclusion of idols of course pretty much fits with the themes of this series: this is a series about fandom, and of course idols have their completely different fandom when compared to the basketball players like Dan.

Rating: (Enjoyable)
Fanservice, fanservice and more fanservice… and surprisingly fresh romance.

Posted on 22 May 2009 with categories: Basquash!

A bit of a strange episode, which takes us outside of Rollingtown as Dan and the others are looking for an opponent that isn’t scared of Iceman’s ‘destroy’-attacks. The plot takes a step back in this episode in order to focus a bit on the development of the characters and introduce the final bunch of main characters: those three idols we’ve been seeing in the OP. At this point it’s still unknown what kind of purpose they actually have in this series, but that should get a bit clearer after the next episode.

But yeah, if anyone here has a bipolar disorder, it has to be Iceman. This episode explores his past, and as it turns out: he kept getting kicked out of his former teams because he kept abusing his team mates with what was just his version of a passionate pass. Just like with Dan and coco, because he never said anything about it everyone kept thinking he was trying to destroy everyone (and really, who wouldn’t?) It definitely is a very strange sort of background. Still, I’m definitely curious about Sera’s back-story right now. Judging from the OP, it looks a lot more serious.

And that little princess of ours… she keeps moving further and further away from the regular image you’d have of an important princess like her. She’s athletic, doesn’t whine when she’s all alone in the middle of the desert, and she probably is the least spoiled princess I’ve seen in an anime. Though I do wonder what that strange voice was that she heard. This doesn’t really seem like a mystery-series, and yet the creators went that way with a mysterious voice that only one character can hear.

Rating: * (Good)
Not the best of the show, but the development on Iceman was appreciated.

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