Posted on 8 April 2011 with categories: Anime Reviews, Yumekui Merry




If you’re looking for eye candy, then this is an excellent recommendation. Yumekui Merry is a piece of art, with some of the most artistic direction. Jut about every camera angle is interesting and dedicated to make its cast stand out. Every single background drawing is utterly gorgeous. With a rock-solid that brings a ton of life into the cast, this is a great show to watch, though it has its problems.

Shigeyasu Yamauchi‘s influence is all over this series. The camera-angles, the timing, the intonation, all is very carefully planned out really put some emotions behind them, and the animators and artists only back this up. If anything, this show is immersive and a terrific example of what can be done with the animation medium.

The bugs in this show are in the story. Most notably in how it’s way too short for 13 episodes and it failed to really understand what that means. In the first half we get a very interesting series that questions the nature of dreams, what would happen if they were taken hostage and the main characters are put on a wonderfully gray moral scale.

In the second half, though, the creators realized that the manga that this series is based on is in no way going to fit in 13 episodes and that there wasn’t going to come a sequel. They then try to wrap this show up with their own story arc that fails to wrap up anything, has a bad one-sided villain that doesn’t allow the story to go anywhere and specifically seeks out cliches, even when it has to resort to Deus ex Machina to get there. The delivery is still as good as ever, but the story that the second half of this series is trying to tell is just… unimpressive. It reduces a complex moral question back to cliches.

do bother to check out the first half if you have the time, though. It’s a wonderful little series with excellent characterization. It’s always nice to see Shigeyasu Yamauchi’s unique style of directing, but I do wish that he had been put on a story that… actually had the potential to show itself off. The big victim of this syndrome for the next season will be Deadman Wonderland. Seriously, don’t screw up yet again on a flaw that has struck so many series by now! It’s really getting annoying seeing so many shows end without ever getting to their potential.

Storytelling: 7/10 – Excellent timing and atmosphere, but loses points for the lazy way in which it tries to wrap itself up in its second half, especially with one heck of a deus ex machina ending that could have easily been avoided.
Characters: 8/10 – Excellent characterization, and really well animated. A few cliches here and there holding them back, though.
Production-Values: 9/10 – A visual feast. Period.
Setting: 8/10 – A very interesting premise, however the second half doesn’t use it as well as it should have been used.

Suggestions:
Digimon Movie 3 – The Golden Digimentals
Casshern Sins

Posted on with categories: Yumekui Merry



Agh, that was way too ambitious. With that, I don’t mean that this episode was rushed. This episode was well paced for the story that it tried to tell. On top of that, the direction was also as solid as ever, so there’s also nothing wrong with that.

Instead, this episode flopped because of basic storytelling. Mistletein has been built up as this unbeatable villain. Nothing could face her. At the start of this episode the creators had two very solid options to take her out: either fire that bullet once it charged up enough dreams, or kill the host. For some strange reason this episode found it a good idea to abandon both of these and end with a string of deus ex machina. That is nt how you use your build-up!

The bullet does get fired, but even that isn’t enough to kill Mistletein. And that’s the point where the writers realized that they wrote themselves into a corner and opt for the laziest solution: magically make Mistletein weaker so that she can actually get beaten. Suddenly from out of nowhere she actually takes punches, and to make matters worse: Yumeji also starts pulling random powers out of his ass. Oh, and Merry also conveniently gets the power to actually send demons back, in order to prevent destroying the dreams of his friend.

The weird thing is that this episode is contradicting itself horribly. Take Isana: this episode had a great moral at the end, about how the amount of dreams in the human heart was limitless. Having your dreams destroyed is bad, but you can recover from them. They could have done exactly the same with her and it would have made for a bittersweet yet very fitting ending. But no! She’s a cute girl and we can’t actually do things with her because otherwise the fanbase will whine!

All the while throughout this episode, the creators also refused to just kill off the host. That’s nice if you want to spread messages that killing is wrong. Only, at the end they just kill him anyway. I mean, he just disappears, completely unlike what happened to any other dream demon so far. What’s wrong with just showing him in the aftermath? It’s bizarre that this show wants so badly to be cliched that it actively introduces deus ex machina, just to get to these cliches, instead of getting an original conclusion by just letting things play out naturally. What the hell?

Overall, this series was a waste of potential. It was very good, and had an amazing first half, but Mistletein just was a bad villain. She’s just way too one-sided to make anything interesting happen. This show really suffers from being way too short. A very, very annoying trend that is the single biggest pitfall of anime in general.

I think that compared to other series that had to end early, the way that this series decided to solve it was below average. I can appreciate that the creators wanted to resolve the story, but they didn’t really resolve anything. It really would have been much better for this show to just continue with the manga and end somewhere in the middle. If that had happened, I would have been less annoyed than I am now.
Rating: – (Disappointing)

Posted on 1 April 2011 with categories: Yumekui Merry



I’ve complained that Mitletein wasn’t really a villain that was threatening. She wasn’t portrayed well enough for me to really get the feeling that I should be wary for what she was able to do, and felt like one of those stereotypical evil villains.

Okay, so this episode fixed that. It’s here where Mistletain set herself apart with her bold moves. Villains who play with their food are nothing new, but in this episode Mistletein really nailed both being ruthless and being playful. The way in which that teacher just outright invited himself to the house of his next victim. I like that boldness.

What I also like is how well this episode made use of its own setting for the finale, with the revelation that Leon couldn’t fire his gun because he needed to charge it with the equivalent of a bunch of corpses. It’s again wonderfully blurry on the moral scale, especially considering how Play’s death fit in all of this. Her death is convenient in the way that it allows that gun to fire, ,and yet it also destroys both Play and her vessel. And at the same time, in a fight against Mistletein, a death like this was bound to happen, with the way that she has been slaughtering her victims.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 25 March 2011 with categories: Yumekui Merry



Well.. that was one heck of a villain fail. “I’m about to kill you! So that’s why I’m going to let you go and wait a few days.” I’m sorry, but you really can’t use those lines anymore in fiction!

The direction still is excellent. This show does a terrific job at bringing its characters to life with interesting camera angles and dialogue that lets them play off each other really well. The concept of dream demons taking people’s hopes and goals hostage still is rock-solid. So imagine how amazing this series can be when it has an actually good backstory here. This series will end in two episodes, but that really IS NOT going to be the right time for it to end!

The soundtrack in this episode was exceptionally good, and really, before that downer climax this episode actually looked like it was able to make something out of its cliched villain. The build-up was just terrific as well and Mistletain worked together really well with the teacher. But yeah, if you’re just going to make her retreat in that anti-climax after having previously established her as ruthless…

Way to go in making yourself even less threatening than you already were.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 11 March 2011 with categories: Yumekui Merry



This episode only affirmed the strengths and weaknesses of this series. It was a build-up for the finale (this series will have 13 episodes, by the way. It’s officially announced now), but it still showcased its rock-solid characters, excellent acting, and unfortunately not very ambitious backstory.

This episode revealed the backstory of some of the side-characters and while it definitely was interesting, it also felt like they were having a contest of who could have the saddest past. one girl’s parents died in an accident, another guy grew up with his younger sister in the hospital. Twists like these are powerful, but they shouldn’t be used gratuitous.

In the end, by far the biggest mistake that this series made however, was not making John Doe the villain. He’s a much more interesting antagonist than Elcres or Mistletain, who currently are trying a bit too hard to be mysterious and therefore not giving any of us the chance to connect with them. John Doe and his army of talking cats: you could have built an excellent story around that, while still using the unique setting of this series.

I’m a bit harsh on this series compared to others, but I am comparing it to much higher standards than usual. After all, Yumekui Merry is good, but still nowhere as good as Casshern Sins. It also doesn’t help that it airs right after Madoka Magica, which has some similar elements here. I’ve said before that series with a simple plot can be just as awesome when executed well, but here we have a series whose plot just has too little interesting twists and turns that really prevent it from being a masterpiece. Sana about to be kidnapped… I’m sorry, but I’ve just seen that a few too many times by now and this episode just spent too much time on trying to build this up, and it still hasn’t happened yet!

Anyway, enough with the negatives. I mean, Chizuru did get some much needed backgrounds, and she is really promising to be a key part in making plot of the finale less dull, standing somewhere in the middle of Yumeji and Merry and Mistletain and Elcres. And I also remain convinced that Yumeji is a great main character for a guy his age. Instead of doing nothing but angst, whine or look helplessly, he looked for ways to save Sana, and yet this episode also showed him preparing for the worst-case scenario of Merry having to send her dream demon back. Seriously, dream demons holding the dreams of their vessels hostage is something that this series overall used really well.
Rating: * (Good)

Posted on 4 March 2011 with categories: Yumekui Merry




Ah, of course. The thing with Merry is that its plot is very unambitious. It’s just Merry fighting a bunch of dream demons, with next episode the dreams of one of the side-characters finally put on the line. The teacher indeed turned out to be one of the bad guys, and Tachibana is his next victim. The way this series progressed its plot is really where this thing lost points: it really should have needed more variety and creativity in those scenarios.

On the other hand though, we have the characterization. Nine episodes in, and I love what the characters have turned into. The unique direction plus the way in which the major characters discovered that they have been thrust into a ridiculously unfair setting in which the enemies are forced to take hostages that can not be saved. It created a bunch of excellent characters. This is what I mean by fleshing characters out: we’ve now got a good view of who the characters are, and how they behave, and causing even the simplest of conversations to be likable. Well, to me, at least.

What impressed me about this episode was how it immediately turned that clown Dream Demon ten times more interesting than what he was at the end of the previous episode. In this episode things weren’t as one sided; he started playing with the weaknesses of the lead characters.

Also, every time I take screenshots of this series, I’m just reminded of how awesome the graphics here are. It’s not just a matter of things that look good. Beyond that, the creators manage to stuff a ton of eye candy in each episode that just continues to change. There are so many awesome shots to take in this series, and they’re all so different from each other. Even though this episode hinted at a slight loss of budget with animation that was not as detailed as in some of the previous episodes, the creators still managed to put in many different poses, backgrounds and compositions here.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 25 February 2011 with categories: Yumekui Merry



Ah, thankfully this show is back on track here after that beach episode. The quiet scenes were as well directed and interesting to watch as ever, and the serious parts also showed a lot of new things about the characters. Yui’s father’s appearance also was probably the first time since a long while that I actually laughed again at “you brought home someone from the opposite sex. I’ll be a father in law now!”-joke.

Now, there is one major problem that I’m getting with this series: Elcles. This guy needs more screentime, because after eight episode we still don’t know much more about him other than than he’s really evil. And that perhaps he has something to do with Merry. I mean, the creators are currently doing a great job to blend the moral scale around Merry, so do that to the major villain as well. It’s going to make him so much more interesting. Right now the only hint at any kind of depth about him is that Merry is somehow related to that, but there are tons of other anime that do that.

Beyond that, this episode also further developed Isana and her dreams to become a professional painter. I can’t help but think that this is hinting that she too has some sort of dream demon, but in either case it’s foreshadowing something. Yumekui Merry probably isn’t going to become anything amazing at this point, for that its story just is too simple, but it still can get a pretty good climax out of all of the things it’s built up so far. Let’s hope that the creators also actually do that.
Rating: * (Good)

NB: currently I’m trying out Lulzimg. Is there anyone who can’t view the images at the top of this post?

Posted on 18 February 2011 with categories: Yumekui Merry



Aaaand we’ve got ourselves a beach episode here. I guess it was inevitable, with how the OP kept hinting at it, but it’s a good thing that this show is well written, otherwise it would have been a complete disaster, plus gg’s insert jokes are also getting on my nerves now (we know these fanservice moments are bad. You don’t need to make them worse!). This was very much a buildup episode, but at the very least the creators made sure that the random antics and the fanservice didn’t get in the way of the good parts of the episode: Merry and her sense of justice.

Merry and Yumeji… they’re a great lead couple. This episode again showed that even within an episode with such a badly overused premise of going to the beach with half the cast, the chemistry between them remains rock-solid. The past seven episodes have done wonders developing the trust between them, and seeing them play off of it really saved this episode for me. For a beach episode, it could have been much worse, and the creators also took their time to slightly develop the relationship between two of the side characters.

Plus, the characters kept talking about justice, so I was really expecting Merry to gather her composure just in time in order to save that young boy whose dream demon was about to be killed. And yet, Merry didn’t even notice it, and the boy just got his dreams destroyed. It’s definitely an interesting entrance for the new villain, but she really needs to get less stereotypically evil after this point. That will be fine if this episode was indeed hinting at what I think it was hinting.
Rating: (Enjoyable)

Posted on 11 February 2011 with categories: Yumekui Merry




I really have to praise the animators for the fight scene at the beginning of this episode, especially the inbetween animation was just amazing when Merry went berserk. And great graphics like these work even better when the characters themselves are good as well. I mean, Yumekui Merry did exactly what I hoped that Dragon Crisis would do to: overcome the simplicity and cliches of their characters and get a lot of genuine drama out of them. The drama in Merry is innocent, but not shallow or dumbed down like in many other series.

The rest of this episode was an interesting episode, considering that John Doe appeared with a bit of exposition. ah well, if there is any place where this exposition fits, then it’s an aftermath like this in which the main character needs to take a while to recover, and it’s also a good point for John Doe to step away from his villain role and become more interesting. Although we really need more of him in the rest of this series.

Also…. this episode confirmed that killing a dream demon also has major implications for its host, because they’re killed in actually two different ways. These dream demons can do nasty stuff to their hosts, but they also help cultivate their inspirations. Getting rid of them also destroys these ambitions.

I’d also like to note that I like what the creators did with the soundtrack of this one. The tracks don’t stand out in their complexity, they are fresh and nice to listen to, using unconventional sounds and tunes. Personally I really like it when a soundtrack does that.
Rating: ** (Excellent)

Posted on 4 February 2011 with categories: Yumekui Merry




I really like episodic series. Sure, they’re easy to screw up without the right execution, and their main storylines don’t become as smooth as series with a continuous story, but really: who cares? They’ve got plenty of ways to make up for that. This episode showed that even episodic characters are just awesome if they use each other to build up and flesh out the story. Seriously, this episode was amazing.

This was EXACTLY what I was hoping for when I started this series. Sure, the story started off with a number of cliches and all, but this was a really emotional episode that did just about everything right. The first half of this episode was full of wonderful slice of life that makes me take back what I said earlier about this show, in the way that the characters in this series don’t have the most interesting personalities: the way in which this episode fleshed them out was wonderfully down to earth and showed a lot of new things about them, like Isana suddenly liking a famous pop star. Or the fact that Merry has been lost and killing off other dream demons for ten years now. Yeah.

Then the second half came, and that was the point for this series to suddenly contradict a lot of what it had been building up for. Seriously, how many series this season have already done this right? Yumekui Merry gave another wonderful addition to the collection of amazing plot twists of this season: it turns out that Merry didn’t have the power to send demons back at all! In fact, there was no way to get back to the dream world in the first place.

The second half of this episode also wonderfully moved the lead characters into the gray area of morality: in this episode a character representing justice shows up. She’s very much like your average protagonist here: searching to exterminate every dream demon in order to get revenge on her sister and to stop their evil deeds.

The animation also was gorgeous and really inspired, even for this series’ standards. I mean, this just shows the amazing things you can do with generic character designs, if you’ve got the right artists and animation direction behind it.
Rating: *** (Awesome)

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  • k-off
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 05:21 AM)
    @Wicked Exactly, the main characters got thorough characterization and each of them got their own character arcs.
  • k-off
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 05:20 AM)
    Kokoro Connect’s Heartseed was just a half-assed character, he’s just in the story to contrive one angsty drama after another, with no interesting motivation or personality beyond “I feel like it.” The main characters were so much more colorful by contrast
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 04:50 AM)
    @Kaiser: sorry I was literally in the mountains. I saved that list and will get to the shorts soon.
  • wicked
    (Tuesday, May 3. 2016 12:04 AM)
    @kaiser Kokoro connect has the benefits of characters having relatable problems. Kids not really understanding their teenage feelings is a relatable thing. Kiznaiver characters have anime problems, like I feel no pain, or I’m cartoonishly obnoxious, which is not a problem as plot devices, but tenuous as a trait to connect the audience
  • SuperMario
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 10:41 PM)
    @Kaiser: yeah, like I said, the ending actually justify everything come before and that ranks really high on my book
  • SuperMario
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 10:39 PM)
    @mamamoo:On Kiznaiver, yeah I like the characters well enough,, they have a good chmestry altogether and those small moments are great.
  • AidanAK47
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 07:24 PM)
    @mamamoo, On matter of the plot, yeah its not really hitting a sweet spot. But I find the characters really likable.
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 06:05 PM)
    I like the idea behind Kokoro connect perhaps more than the whole show.
    I think I mainly watched it for Heartseed and Iori.
  • mamamoo
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 05:43 PM)
    Oh I didn’t even think of kokoro connect…and yeah I remember that being actually really interesting and enjoyable
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Monday, May 2. 2016 05:42 PM)
    @Mario: Had a look at El Clan/the clan, decent, solid undemanding thriller, liked it for what it was, had its moments and the ending surprised me a bit too.

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