Posted on 17 September 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kuroshitsuji II




Okay, you can say a lot about Kuroshitsuji II as a sequel to Kuroshitsuji. But at least it has BALLS.

In today’s anime, in which it’s very difficult to come up with really interesting plots and storylines, and people rather try to stay at the tried and true, Kuroshitsuji came, made optimal use of its creative freedom, discarded the manga it’s based on completely, trolled just about everyone who watched it and came up with quite an interesting concept for its sequel. This lead to many good things, but also many bad things.

But still, out of all of the series that premiered during the past summer season, I really can’t deny that Kuroshitsuji II had the best plot out of all of them: it made the best use of its episodes, it was the least afraid to include some caring yet thought out plot twists, it was very good at building up its own storyline and actually using this and overall I have to say that I enjoyed most of it.

But the biggest selling point of this series is without a doubt the new cast of villains, especially Alois and Claude. The two of them are like a trainwreck: completely derailed but yet so interesting to watch. Especially the antics of Alois are consistently captivating, and you can see that the creators had a lot of fun portraying him as this insane teenaged noble. The creators realized this very well, and so they prepared a number of plot twists that really attempt to bring the best out of these two characters.

On the flip-side, this is a series that likes trolling its viewers. This is especially noticeable in the way that it follows a very awesome first episode with a completely disappointing and badly executed second episode. And in fact, the first third of this series has just about everything that made the fillers of the first season so tedious to get through. Episodes 2 to four are a bit of a test of patience, they’re necessary for the plot and all, but this series makes no attempt at hiding its vast array of annoying characters.

After that though, this series really gets better than ever. Its humour gets snappier, the way the series uses its unique selling point of god-mode butlers gets used better than ever, both for the serious purposes and the over the top silly ones (which work more and more as the series goes on).

This series also has the weirdest allocation of animation budget I’ve seen in a long while. The animation in this series ranges between average to very smooth,like what most series do. However, the creators have this very interesting tendency to spend the most frames on the most random scenes, especially on hands or lip-syncing, while the action-scenes usually have average animation. And don’t get me wrong here: it actually works pretty well. Those detailed scenes add an interesting amount of life to the characters, and the action scenes are kept interesting by the plot twists anyway, so they don’t really need any stellar animation.

I have ranted about Kuroshitsuji, I have ranted about the fillers, and I have ranted about the ending of this sequel (which, the more I think about it, was actually pretty good), but really: we need more series like this. Series in which the creators disregard any conventions and just go with a bunch of interesting ideas that actually lead to some unique stories.

Storytelling: 9/10 – Well paced, fun, tense and exciting and manages to get the best out of the plot and characters. At times it might not seem like it knows what it’s doing but in 50% of the cases it’s just trolling.
Characters: 9/10 – Alois and Claude may not be the deepest characters, but they’re delightful to watch. This sequel also gives an interesting new dimension to Ciel and Sebastian.
Production-Values: 8/10 – Strange uses of budget that somehow work. Oh, and Yuki Kajiura has an insert song somewhere.
Setting: 8/10 – Makes optimal use of its creative liberties with a seemingly endless supply of interesting ideas for the plot to work with.

Suggestions:
Touka Gettan
Futakoi Alternative
Ga-Rei Zero

Posted on 16 September 2010 with categories: Kuroshitsuji II



Look… just look at this picture. Got it?

In memory of

Ciel Phantomhive

Who died at Aug. 26th, 1889

That would have been the perfect ending here. That was how this episode SHOULD have ended. I mean, the creators wouldn’t be crazy enough to actually try and revive Ciel, right? They’re not going to do something as stupid as negating the entire ending of the first season. They couldn’t, right?

So yeah, we got trolled here; big time. Dear god, reviving is one thing, but get this: in his last moments, Alois forged a contract with Johanna that turns Ciel into a demon. Because he is a demon now, he can’t die, yet his contract with Sebastian is still running, even though there is no way for Sebastian to absorb Ciel’s soul. So yeah, Ciel and Sebastian will actually be able to live together FOR ALL ETERNITY. Bloody Nora, they actually went there. This series actually was entirely meant to realize the wish of the squealing yaoi fangirls to have those two together until doomsday.

I’m a bit bewildered by all of this, especially on how I’m going to write the review for this series. I mean, was this episode bad? It was perfectly told if you ignore the things it tried to tell: everything took its time to let all of the revelations play out, the second half of the episode was well produced in how the creators portrayed Ciel saying goodbye to everyone. I have no problems with that.

Now, whether or not the big twist is bad, here’s the thing: I have seen a ton of bad endings at this point, and this episode really looked like none of them. Usually, the endings that disappoint me are either the ones who lack ambition (as in, they resolve things fine but the way they do it does no justice to the build-up that it has gotten), ones that fail to resolve anything (it really depends on the rest of the series and how those delivered whether I dislike or accept those) or ones that are just too rushed.

This episode was neither. The creators knew exactly what they wanted to do (dammit!), they knew exactly which revelation they wanted to save for when, and they knew exactly how to plan everything out, not just in this episode, but throughout the entire series. I mean, how often did this series troll anyway? It feels like it trolled both the fans of Ciel and Sebastian as well as the fans of the new approach, twice or even more.

I’m really going to have to sort out my thoughts for a bit for the review of this series.
Rating: #^% (Akjsdfh)

Posted on 12 September 2010 with categories: Anime Reviews, Kuroshitsuji II




So, yes…. I caved in.

Here’s the thing: for the past summer season, there have been three series that stood out to me: Shiki, because it had the best atmosphere, Occult Academy, because it had the best execution, and Kuroshitsuji II, because it had the best plot (a possible fourth on this list would be Sengoku Basara Two because it had the best action, but that entirely depends on its final three episodes). Because Kuroshitsuji II did what many other series failed at, and became more interesting to watch than I could have hoped for, I guess that I just was obliged to check out that first season now – not all of it, mind you. This is one of those series that at times seems to be actively trying to be bad with its random stories and insert-episodes, so this is a review of just the episodes 5-8 and 17-24. If you want an impression of the entire series, just note that I couldn’t make it even past the second episode. Twice.

Without the random annoying side-story, Kuroshitsuji becomes quite a snappy and diverse series about the occult in England around 150 years ago. There are a few holes in the plot here and there, but they’re all simple enough that they can be just guessed, so I can recommend this method of watching for the people who are interested in Kuroshitsuji’s darker parts, but have no indention of sitting through hordes of uninspired light-hearted moments that only take ten seconds to become annoying.

Because I must say, those darker parts were quite worth it. This series sells itself with bishies doing the most impossible stunts, but behind it is an interesting and quite often disturbing world with quite a bit of intrigue. The lead character Ciel starts out as a bit of a questionable lead character, but he turns out to be quite an interesting anti-hero who has given up on life, just for the sake of his revenge. The darker parts of this series is where the unique selling point of Kuroshitsuji also really shines: Sebastian fits right in with this dark atmosphere, and even the few anticlimactic uses for his powers turn out to be hilarious, like they should be.

Having said that, though, I do want to say that I still like the second season of Kuroshitsuji better. Alois and Claude (and Johanna possibly too) are by far the most interesting characters in the entire franchise, and these two really made a huge spectacle of the second season. The first season tries, and it has some neat villains too by the way, but none of them really get close to how fun it was to just see those two flamboyant characters parade across the screen. Sebastian and Ciel are interesting, but in the end they aren’t really the most complex characters and there is no development between them either. Especially Ciel makes a number of rather strange and stupid decisions throughout the series.

Still, I liked the plot here, the creators put in some very interesting ideas for Ciel to tackle, and overall I had no problems getting though this series and I quite enjoyed it. Kuroshitsuji is a strange series though. I can easily have seen the first season as 13 episodes, and my guess would be that it would have been much more accessible and balanced than that it is now. And yet for some reason this show paraded all over with its bishies and shallow side-stories, even though beneath it is actually pretty good. This isn’t another case of Kobato, whose first half was simply inoffensive before it could get to its good part. Kuroshitsuji’s random stories are annoying beyond belief; they are completely different from that it really is about, and I really don’t want to watch anything more of that.

Storytelling: 8/10 – Good atmosphere, well told, a pretty good sense of build up.
Characters: 8/10 – Nothing special or well developed, but an interesting cast nonetheless with a nice chemistry to watch.
Production-Values: 8/10 – To me, the second season was also better in this aspect, but the art looks consistently solid and the soundtrack is also pretty adequate.
Setting: 8/10 – Okay, it’s England with a lot of liberties taken, but this series makes very good use of these liberties to show a very interesting setting here.

Suggestions:
Suteki Tantei Labyrinth
Trinity Blood

Posted on 9 September 2010 with categories: Kuroshitsuji II



You know, for most of the duration of this series (I’d say a bit less than two thirds of it), I thought of this as a bit of a silly series that had nice ideas. But I’m more and more forced to take this show seriously at this point. I mean, the creators here did something that I really want to see in a whole bunch of more and other anime: take full advantage of its creative liberties; instead of going through the tried and true formula, it really played around with its plot and characters.

And really: this just seems to get better and better at this rate. I really loved this episode, and the way it used this quiz maze in order to show Alois’ inner torment. Combine that with the fact that he forced Claude to reveal that he’s been used as a cheap tool to get to Ciel, the characters really perfectly used each other in this episode. I really love these types of episodes, and to think that the creators used it as the semi-final episode.

\With one episode left, it’s either going to be a complete success or a total disaster, and I really feel that it’s going to have a major impact on how I’ll end up rating it. And seriously: I’m seriously willing to rave on this series if it doesn’t end up chickening out at the last possible minute. At this point, this series has exceeded my expectations twice: the first was with its first episode, and now again with its final episodes it has become much more fun than I could have expected. Please don’t let that final episode ruin things, because I really liked how Johanna pretty much stabbed everyone in the back for her own goals. Talk about neat plot twists.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 3 September 2010 with categories: Kuroshitsuji II




It’s great to see that even now the creators are still developing the entire story and coming with new twists. Last week I mentioned like this series felt like it was one of those stories in which the creators make up the events as they go along. This episode surprisingly proved that statement wrong, suggesting more like the entire series had been planned carefully beforehand.

Seriously, the twist in which it was Alois’ little brother who made a pact with Claude in order to get rid of all of the villagers was a very nice one: so Claude simply created a random reason to form a pact with Alois, blaming Sebastian who had absolutely nothing to do with it. These demons have the weirdest habits in their attempts to make their souls as tasty as possible. I also loved the reason the creators found for keeping one of the villagers alive in order to explain what happened. Also, what the heck was Ciel’s eye doing inside that maid’s throat? o.O

But seriously, though: after the initial episodes, the plot for this series turned out to be surprisingly non-linear. I mean, the plot is chock-full of fanservice, but it has been surprisingly well plotted and planned out, in order to make the story as interesting as possible. It really makes me think about whether they also have a cool ending in mind, or are just working to a scenario in which Ciel and Sebastian can live happily together.

Either way, this episode again showed how much fun the creators themselves seem to be having with this series. This episode was chock-full of those tiny details like interesting camera angles, nice ideas and all kinds of strange antics from the butlers, from yelling out loud how tasty Ciel’s soul is to pulling a bunch of film out of Claude’s servants’ eyes. Oh, and Alois returned as well… somewhat.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

Posted on 27 August 2010 with categories: Kuroshitsuji II



Now that Alois is gone, this series did lose a big part of its fun factor, but this episode seemed to realize that and really had fun playing around with the rest of the cast to make up for it.

I mean, a plot to brainwash Ciel and make him think he’s Alois? That’s quite intriguing. If anything because of how the end of this episode promised Sebastian to go completely insane in the next episode. That shinigami that attacked Sebastian with that lawn mower also was another one of those crazy ideas I loved.

Not to mention that, even though this episode had quite a bit of action, the scenes that the animators spent the most frames on yet again was Claude’s hands as he was crocheting. It looked very good and realistic, really. But why that scene, of all places?

Now, the only thing I’m a bit worried about is the conclusion here. I mean, at this point the creators can easily revert everything back with another Deus ex Machna again, because at this point, this really seems to be one of those plots that the creators make up as they go along. I really want to see this show end with something epic. I don’t really care about the depth, this show never was one of those where you can expect that.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 20 August 2010 with categories: Kuroshitsuji II



It’s like the creators made the first episodes crap on purpose.

Seriously, the creators had pure gold with Alois, and yet for some reason they dedicated for consecutive episodes on the silly adventures of Ciel&co. I mean, this episode was awesome. It’s hard to imagine that it came from the same creators as the ones who wrote that silly random flood in the second episode.

I mean, where to begin. This episode was all about Alois’ back-story, and it fully played with the insanity of this character, and how it came to grow. On top of that, the whole backstory behind everything also reached the point in which it actually gets interesting. Alois wants Ciel because Sebastian killed his younger brother in the past? It’s quite interesting to see that he has completely different goals from Claude. Not to mention Alois ACTUALLY DYING at the end of this episode. Bloody hell!? What purpose is that ring going to make in the rest of this series?

Not to mention… Yuki Kajiura!? It’s awesome to suddenly have an insert-song of her appearing again. It also looks like this is going to be the new ED, which makes it even more interesting.

2010 really has been a major year for A-1 pictures. It’s not exactly their best year (heck, they made Birdy the Mighty in 2009), but I really like how their series have been so experimental this year: they’ve been trying out a ton of different things, not just in Anime no Chikara, but also in Ookiku Furikabutte with its unique direction, and Kuroshitsuji as well. Alois may be insane, but he’s one heck of an interesting character to watch. At this point, I somehow understand why there isn’t going to be an Anime no Chikara in the upcoming fall season, though. My guess is that it has more to do with manpower than with popularity. I mean, how many series are they working on in 2010? 7? (including the long-running Fairy Tail). I’m amazed that they kept up such a good quality for most of them: despite a number of hiccups here and there they all had their own parts in which they’re memorable (Fairy Tail excluded perhaps because I’m not watching that one anymore and Togainu no Chi because it hasn’t aired yet).
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 14 August 2010 with categories: Kuroshitsuji II



Hey, I’m back from holidays.

Anyway, I’m understanding the appeal of Kuroshitsuji now This episode was just so ridiculously camp and over the top that it makes for great entertainment. It’s obviously nothing really deep, but I’m having a hell of a time enjoying the creativity that has been put in these battles between Alois and Claude and Ciel and Sebastian.

Also, THANK GOD Ciel finally turned into someone more than a damsel in distress this time. Overall, I’m not sure whether the cast was any deeper in the first season, but one of my complaints is that aside from Sebastian, Alois and Claude (and perhaps that one maid of Alois), the rest of the cast is pretty interchangeable. Every episode here seems to have a bunch of different side-characters, but they all just look like each other. You could just swap all of them for the same character and it would not have made any difference to the plot. In the same way, Ciel had a pretty interesting concept with his revenge and all, but most of the episodes I’ve seen him in simply make him into someone who either does nothing or gets kidnapped.

Either way though, the side character of this episode, while he pretty much sucked as a character, really fitted its over the top atmosphere. I think my favourite pats here were when Sebastian impaled the triplet servants with a single spear, along with the actual climax of the episode. I’m not sure why, but the creators seem to be having a lot of fun with Alois. The way he’s animated, along with his facial expressions are completely different from everything else on this show. There are really a ton of characters that are overacting and chewing the scenery in this series, but he is of a completely different class here.

As for the mystery: well, it really turns out that Alois was the bad guy behind the bad guy, giving Ciel an actual reason to get another revenge. Only two major questions remain right now: why is Ciel’s soul so damn tasty? And under what kind of condition did Alois make a pact with Claude? They’re both pretty standard questions, so I doubt that this series is going to be making any more points with its mystery right now, so at this point the final number of episodes need to rely on these over the top battles, along with the interesting dynamics between the four lead characters.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 5 August 2010 with categories: Kuroshitsuji II



“I will now use this ladder in order to try and defeat this almighty demon butler”. “I will now use this bowly thing that produces music in order to brainwash everyone around me”. Now that’s what I’m talking about. Screw those god-mode powers: anyone can give that to their characters. But when the creators put those hilariously ridiculously executed ways to achieve their goals: that’s really something of the Kuroshitsuji franchise.

Especially the way in which Sebastian ended up countering that brainwash device: creating his own concert of water-filled wine glasses, even though he… could have just smashed the entire thing.

Anyway, the plot. Finally we get some stuff explained. So… why did Sebastian revive Ciel? Well… it turns out that he wanted to give Ciel a second chance at revenge. Okay. So apparently, this all has to do with the fact that somehow, Ciel is special. Special enough for Sebastian to want to steal his soul twice, and Alois to collect him like a stuffed doll. The problem here is Ciel’s memory loss, which somehow complicates things. I admit, it’s quite a decent explanation. Here’s the thing though: Ciel’s hidden powers, or whatever it is that makes him special, are still a complete McGuffin. They’re just there to give this second season a plot, nothing more.

Either way, I enjoyed this episode a lot. The way in which it it made such stupid stuff so epic. The soundtrack was especially good at this. I also love how the entire episode was pretty low-budget, with the sole exception of some of Claude’s hand movement. I mean, out of all the things to spend the most animation frames on, this is quite an interesting idea. Or do fangirls nowadays have hand fetishes?
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 29 July 2010 with categories: Kuroshitsuji II



Now this is more like it. I was really beginning to get tired of these half-assed build-up episodes, and this episode was a huge improvement as it returned back to the main story of this sequel. Finally, we get to see Alois return. The thing with Alois is that he may not be developed yet, but he’s such an enigmatic character. He’s so unashamedly full of himself here, and his presence is for me just enough to keep watching this series.

On top of that, though, the mystery is finally getting interesting. The previous three episodes were deliberately kept so seemingly out of continuity, and this episode finally gave a bunch of hints about what happened. Sebastian explained it as “amnesia”, and apparently he asked some of Ciel’s friends to keep this a secret, and pretend nothing happened.

So, for some really strange reason here… Sebastian actually revived Ciel, along with those three servants (who also died at the end of the first season, right? At this point, I really fail to see the point of a demon who makes a contract with some human, just to be able to eat his soul… only to revive him again. I hope that the eventual reason behind this is going to be more than just a McGuffin. With these kinds of things, you can just define a bunch of magic rules that explain everything. The question is going to be how well these fit, but we’ll see.

I’m mostly curious to see where Alois fits in all of this: what was Sebastian doing in his mansion, and why that somehow ended up bringing Ciel back. Claude especially seems like more than just another butler who is harvesting souls. I also hope that this episode marks the end of the stupid adventures of the previous three episodes. I can see why they’re necessary to build up and all, but that’s no excuse for their poor execution.

Oh, the servants however… they were as annoying as ever. This episode also introduced a bunch of Indians (who have their own theme music, apparently), and they too are obnoxious. I really don’t want to know how often they appeared in the first season…
Rating: * (Good)

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  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:54 AM)
    Same with action scenes: I might like realistic grounded sword fights, with the battle settling after a few swings and slashes. Others might enjoy over-the-top sequences, with aerial flips and ridiculous power moves.
    This concept can be expanded to the enjoyment of romance, slice-of-life, historic, and any other subject matter. If someone’s a grownup adult and doesn’t realize such a fundamental concept, than they seriously lack critical thinking and social understanding.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:51 AM)
    @Mike: this became very apparent to me after the initial Space Dandy reviews. Some people hated the juvenile humor and the T&A, while some others loved it for its sincerity and unpretentiousness. Who was right in this scenario? People clearly have different senses of humor, and neither is more correct than the other. People jumped on the positive reviewers’ throats, calling them ‘sellouts’ or ‘retards’, while the fact of the matter lied in different tastes.
  • Mike
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:39 AM)
    @K-Off @Bam I’d have to agree. One glance at any seasonal preview will show that, and psgels certainly didn’t hide his bias when he reviewed Galilei Donna for example. I enjoyed seeing him get upset that the Anime did not accurately portray the architecture in his native Netherlands.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:36 AM)
    It’s the same with review scores. It’s just a relative metric used for comparison. For example, if a reviewer gives a series an 8 and another a 9, it simply means that they thought the latter was slightly better than the former. It’s all subjective, since only hard-boiled facts could be assessed objectively. A person’s enjoyment of a work is purely based on their personal preference.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:32 AM)
    A number score doesn’t imply objectivity tho. When I worked as an EMT we would ask the patients to rate their level of pain from 1 to 10. This wasn’t done so we could compare their rating to some pain database, but rather so we could tell after a procedure if their pain has gone up or down.
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:21 AM)
    @Vonter A conversational and opinionated format does not equal inconsistent and shoddy posts, I did not imply otherwise . Also, ratings. I’ve talked to Mario myself and the both of us don’t take it seriously. We’ll criticise and evaluate certain topics, yes. But that does not make us “critics” in the sense of the entertainment journalism industry, that emphasizes objectivism over personal opinion, which is what we specialize in as a blog. Which is the point I was making.
  • Badesh
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:18 AM)
    Guys with no life couldn’t write as eloquently. It’s a thing you learn from actual living. If you stand by your side, loving your self for your own opinion, you will learn that others stand by theirs.
  • Vonter
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 09:08 AM)
    @K-Off I think that’s cutting it short. There’s a consistency and I suppose effort in putting the posts together. As for conversational, I’ve find the shoutbox to be moreso. As for critic, is a person who judges, evaluates, or analyzes literary or artistic works, dramatic or musical performances. Given the blog gives scores, there’s evidently an evaluation involved.
  • K-Off
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 08:51 AM)
    @Bam @Kevin Funniest part about this is, that myself, psgels, Mario, Helghast, and Aidan are not even critics. We’re writers of a blog, a format in and of itself purely conversational and opinionated.
  • Kevin
    (Tuesday, Jul 26. 2016 08:46 AM)
    @Mike Who’s the one without a life now? You’ve been on this dump for 8 years. Go fuck yourself and go outside for once.
    I’m officially done at this point. Tired of psgels, tired of this bullshit ass circlejerk. As of right now I hope you realize how much of a no life cunt you lot are. Fucking fags.

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Joker Game Review – 50/100

When experiencing the wave of new anime each season it can get rather tiresome to notice all the teenagers fighting supernatural forces while gathering a harem through seer luck or similarly tired concepts. So when something like Joker game comes along and takes a road less traveled with it’s story, naturally I am well on […]

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Mayoiga Review – 78/100

Mayoiga has to be one of the most misunderstood shows in recent years. On a surface, the premise alone has a lot of potential. The idea behind putting 30 people, each of them has very different set of personalities, together in a bus to a mysterious lost village, in order to start over new life […]