Posted on 18 April 2019 with categories: Anime Reviews, Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019)

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known face in Japan. This new version intends to adapt the Light Novels more faithfully as it goes through several arcs from the source. All in all I consider this an average adaptation to its classic source. It has tons of issues, both production-wise and character-wise, although the arcs themselves are all quite decent.

There are reasons why Boogiepop still remains in the conversation of the medium till this day. The most distinguished feature lies in its non-linear, puzzling narrative. There’s a saying of “style over substance”, but for shows like Boogiepop it’s the styles that become the substance. Introducing dozen of characters within an arc, some have more significant roles than the others, floating in and out of time, sometimes within a dream; Boogiepop’s narrative is like a jigsaw puzzle. There’s bits and pieces the show throws at us during the arc, but until the last pieces fit in, should viewers see the full picture. This narrative style demands viewers’ attention throughout, and if you miss one bit of information you might feel at a total loss, hence I can see why viewers would turn off by it. But it’s a rewarding process for those who decide to stick with it as the story starts to add up and sink in the more we explore its universe.

The very strength of this disjointed narrative is that it provides multiple points of view, each character has different issues, they have different ways to view the world and all add up to bring the multifaceted layers of this universe. I also appreciate how each characters have different goals in mind, even the ones who don’t contribute much to the main plot like repressed homosexual feeling from one character in “Vs. imaginator” arc, or Makoto’s feeling of his father in “The King of Distortion” arc. They might not be relevant to the events of the arcs they are in, but they all speak to the same theme that Boogiepop trying to address since the first episode…

And that theme is adolescent growth. In Boogiepop universe, there are supernatural beings that exist beside us. These supernatural beings, however, are products of teenagers’ insecures. People’s fear and myth that form a physical manifestation of these beings. While I certainly approve this underlying message, the way Boogie presents these themes are both obvious and hazy at the same time. As for the former, the speech between Suema and Aya Orihata in “Vs. Imaginator” arc when Orihata about to jump off the balcony are way too heavy-handed when Suema tries to explain the whole “what does this series mean” speech to convince her not to jump. On the opposite spectrum, sometimes this underlying message can be too unclear and pretentious for its own good. I still can’t make heads or tails what progress Shiro Tanaka the Archer been through in the last arc since there’s little to no emotional attachment whatsoever. Indeed, this is the main weakness of Boogiepop, it’s more interest at being intriguing and not much about building up emotions or characters we can care for.

Boogiepop consists of 4 different arcs and an unusual 18 episodes airing. Out of these arcs I would say that the first arc “Boogiepop doesn’t laugh” is its worst (and the premiere isn’t the good way to introduce the show), not because the source isn’t strong, but it condenses the plot to much it becomes too linear for the show’s nature. Take note that none of these arcs are bad, they are messy, yes, but they all hold up well at the end and they bring the right atmosphere to the show. The only issue I can point out, is the visual where sometimes the characters go off-model, and CG crowds that stand out like a sore thumb. The score is at least intriguing and unusual. It uses electronic score with sometimes just stop abruptly in the middle of conversations, which again bring out the off putting nature of Boogiepop.

Finally, as I mentioned briefly before, the characters unfortunately isn’t the show’s strong suit. Part of it because of the disjointed narrative, and part of it because there are no real protagonist in this show. That is the reason why “Boogiepop at Dawn” arc fares so well because Nagita is the clear main character who drives the events. The worst of the cast, unfortunately, is Touka Miyashita. We learn little to nothing about her own character (except from she having a family issue as well) and for the character who supposed to be a vessel for the titular character, this is just not enough. Boogiepop is a mess, Boogiepop is emotional distance, Boogiepop can be frustrating to watch at times but its puzzle-like narratives can sink in and be rewarding for those who have enough patience.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Kouya no Kotobuki Hikoutai

Coming to Kotobuki, there are lots of aspect that catch my attention: it’s from a famed director Tsutomu Mizushima who can turn the most trashable and genre-able concepts into something intriguing; it’s an CG show about air pilots: it has extended aerial combat set-pieces. Watching it till the end, I have to tip my hat off to Mizushima. Kotobuki certainly isn’t for the mass, nor does it ever intend to, but there’s always a clear sense that this version of Kotobuki is how Mizushima envisioned it to be. For the strengths of it are pretty clear, at the cost of its own narrative, its characters’ depth or any thematic context. The thing is, I believe this show is a success, as it fulfills all goals that it set out to do. As for those of you who didn’t follow the show, Kotobuki is about the titular Squadron, an air fighter team for hire to protects goods from air pirates and the likes. As with his previous Girls und Panzers, Kotobuki spends a good chunk of its time for the CG aerial combats. It also benefits on a tongue-in-cheek style where the show pretty much eschews all the tropey conversations we usually find in anime for more realism and natural take. Lastly, Kotobuki favors small characters dynamics as opposed to conventional developments, as the result it might not have any deeper layer, the characters might not feel that developed, they are still a constant fun to watch.

I figure that at the end of the day Kotobuki will mostly remembered for their extended CG aerial combats. Those set-pieces usually take up half the length of an entire episode, but to its credits the show makes it with styles. The lengthy aerial dogfights are well choreographed, the CG animation looks realistic and most of all, the sound designs are sublime. Whenever the bullets hit the plane, for example, we can hear the metal sound. That CG visual comes with a cost, however. The characters animation looks stiff and in some case, their facial expression and the way their heads move stick out like a sore thumb. Narrative-wise, the plot moves really straight-forward. Since it has a length flight sequences, the rest doesn’t feel flesh out enough. There are so much else that I want to know more, such as the dessert world building or the characters.

Another feature that differentiate Kotobuki show from the rest is its rapid fire dialogues in a casual manners. Right at the very first shot, we get that very sense. Characters go on and on in random topics, most of the dialogues are unimportant or have nothing to do to advance the plot or deepen the characters. So why include these lengthy conversations then? It is because it feels natural. Characters bounce off each other seamlessly, and they feel as if they’re belong to this very world. It’s also fun to see these characters having their own speech patterns, their own way of speaking and behaving interact with each other. It helps that Kotobuki’s smart enough to follow up those mini-conflicts with their own tempo (one such example: the drawing girl reappears in the Big battle to give the disloyal guy hell). The Squadron cast, like I said, doesn’t flesh out that much, but they all have their own distinctive personality traits, and Kirie or Reona can still carry the show by their own.

I’m not really sold on the final conflict, as I see the “holes in the sky” subplot kind of comes out from nowhere. But apart from that the show ties up its plot threads nicely. Kotobuki might not be a great show, but it never aims itself as one, instead it enjoys itself thoroughly.

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Kemurikusa

Kemurikusa is your very definition of an overlooked gem, one that never really gain much discussion anywhere, but one that has a distinctive style from an up-and-coming auteur who has full control of his projects. Coming to Kemurikusa, all the attention it has came from the fact that it is created by TATSUKI, a mastermind behind global surprise hit Kemono Friends, in a season where the actual sequel of Kemono Friend also aired. While at the end Kemurikusa would never achieve the crossover status TATSUKI’s previous anime had reached, in an essence Kemurikusa is his more personal, more ambitious and overall a better one. It was his indie project back in 2012 for one thing, and throughout these years he consistently released short OVAs that help fleshing out the world. Kemurikusa’s style is so distinctive that it brings a fair share of goodies and baddies. Naysayers often point out the clunky level of CG animation style, but for me the production values look rather impressive.

It’s no wonder that with the amount of attention to details TATSUKI has over this project, the intriguing post-apocalyptic world building remains its biggest selling point. The Kemurikusa concept, about artificial energy and its variations based on the colour concept are highly-detailed, and add up to the mysteries of this world. It helps that we start through the point of view of Wakaba and the Kemurikusa girls, and they are as clueless as the audiences. Watching all the secrets unfold is like letting the worldbuilding sink in more and more. Episode 11, in particular, is a one big flashback that not only explains the current events, but also helps exploring the richness of the world that for me rank it amongst the most well-written settings in anime in years. In addition, the show successfully delves into the origin of Kemurikusa girls and their attributes with satisfying explanations that help deepening its concept.

Production-wise, Kemurikusa is unique. It’s something that you don’t see very often in this medium, if at all, in both good and bad ways. On the negative spectrum, viewers who isn’t familiar with this CG style might pass it off as unpolished and amateurish. While I can argue otherwise, it remains true that whenever Kemurikusa depicts the “impact”, it doesn’t successfully land the force/gravity of the objects. There’s one sequence in episode 7 when Kemurikusa falling objects but it feels as if they are floating instead. In addition, the CG animation can be jerky at times. What it lacks for these production inefficiencies, it more than makes up by its attention to details to the backgrounds, the strong use of color palette and the score/soundtrack. There’s always little details or info in the world-building to the point you can see every bit in its world is there for a reason and  it can be satisfied to catch on multiple watches. Kemurikusa also has a strong penchant for bathing its world with strong blue tone mix with red mist. The result is a world with strong personality that says so much about the show itself. Lastly, the score remains solid throughout. It isn’t flashy by any mean, but it fits very well to the tone of this world.

The characters are mixed-bag. While they have very clear set of goals with established personalities (it says a lot that with limited screen-time the Kemurikusa sisters still manage to leave their marks) and at the end I legitly care for all of them, the dialogues in particular can be grating at times. Wakaba is super-annoying at the start that he was a turn-off point for many viewers, but he gets better as Kemurikusa goes. At heart, Kemurikusa is an adventure show with a keen sense of hopelessness. The world is in total destruction. Everywhere the girls go, the are red bugs that cause further damage. There’s absolutely no signs of life at all. It is then fitting that Rin has to say goodbye to the sisters in order to reach the final destination. Well, TATSUKI’s aesthetic isn’t for everyone and can take some time to get used to, but there’s no denying that his works have their own charms and the world he created here is simply impressive.

Posted on 14 April 2019 with categories: About

To those whom it may concern this is a declaration of my retirement from the Star Crossed Anime Blog and this is a needlessly dramatic sentence. However when I consider my five years on this site blogging shows I feel that some dramatic gravitas is warranted. Now this post will likely be very long so I suspect that most will skim it at best or declare TLDR before moving on but I really feel like giving at least one last post to explain how I got here, why I kept doing this and why I am stopping. After Psgels abandoned the site without a word I felt it would be wrong to repeat that even if my leaving will be met with little lamentation. So bear with me as I take you back to the days of yore when the animated TV adaption of Fate/Unlimited Bladeworks was about to air.

I stumbled upon Psgels really out of nowhere after my old hangout of cartoon-world forums went dead and for some reason or another just stuck around talking to people on the shoutbox and commenting on posts. You may be surprised to hear that back then there was a rather thriving community on the site and we all basically knew each other. It was nice and gave me a place to talk about my interests when the place I am from people don’t even know what anime is, let alone talk about it. Then came the time psgels decided to make this site a multi-author blog and indeed it did seem to be his means of distancing himself from the site. He picked out a number of people from our Shoutbox community to carry on the site in his stead and let me say that I was not actually one of them. As a matter of fact I was put forward by someone else for the sole purpose of covering the new Fate show and nothing else. Seeing as I was the person with the most knowledge about the franchise and was interested in trying to cover it, I decided to offer to do so. With that Psgels reluctantly gave me access to post to the site. Yes, reluctantly. You see dear readers, psgels did not actually like me and don’t take that to mean that I hold it against him. I gave him plenty of reasons to dislike me, potentially even hate me. Nonetheless he gave me access to the site, though made sure to contact me through a proxy email and not his real email address which caused massive headaches down the line.
(more…)

Posted on 13 April 2019 with categories: About

I must say, though the spring season is usually a heavyweight in both quantity and quality for anime offerings, spring 2019 surprisingly has a condensed amount of shows airing. This might be the fewest First Impressions posts we’ve done in a while. I’m optimistic about the season, however. There’s a clear cut between the 7 shows we’ve chosen to  blog (well, 6 shows and 1 carry-over) and the rest. That’s another way of saying that I’m happy with our schedule this season. Without further ado, here’s Star-Crossed Anime’s coverage for spring 2019:

Mario: Sarazanmai, Carole & Tuesday, Fruits Basket

Lenlo: Kimetsu no Yaiba, One Punch Man 2, Dororo (carry-over)

Wooper: Mix: Meisei Story

This is where I would finish with a witty remark, but since I’ve just been reborn as a dancing kappa through someone’s butt, let’s just end it right here before I burst out singing.

Posted on with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Kenja no Mago

Short Synopsis: Some guy dies in a car accident (how many times has it been already?) and is reincarnated into an overpowered wizard.

Mario’s review:
As I mentioned in the Seasonal Preview, Kenja no Mago obtains a deadly combination: it serves as both an isekai and a magical high school harem. The result? The most blatant, shameless show that embraces all the tired tropes with zero tact. First, not only the protagonist is already overpowered, he has the knowledge of an adult and he has the memory of modern world. The level of he learning new magic reaches a ridiculous level as he literally blows everyone away with his power. So it sucks out all the fun when we know he will overcome everything, with ease. The supporting characters fare no better as they are cliched with familiar tropes, even down to their designs and their dialogues. The production is horrible as you can see in the above screenshot where the main character just floats around the still background. The world building is samey-samey with nothing interesting of note and guess what, cute girls with big boobs already line up to be his future classmates. When the show that only cares for making things easy for the protagonist, why should we care?
Potential: 0%


Carole & Tuesday

Short Synopsis: A runaway rich girl and a street-smart orphan meet in a bustling Martian city and decide to compose music together.

Wooper’s review:
This was undoubtedly one of my most anticipated shows of the season, and I’m happy to report that it’s pretty good! The animation is top notch, with attention being lavished on moments both big and small. From shots as complex as Carole’s hoverboarding scene down to the way a guitar case shifts when you pop one of its latches, the team at Bones really pushed themselves for this episode. The characters’ outfits are particularly stylish, with fancy dresses, belts, piercings, and the coolest pair of overalls Mars has to offer on display. The main characters themselves are well-worn types, but they’re backed by strong showings from two hungry young seiyuu. By the end of the episode, their passion for music makes their bid for stardom feel worthwhile, but there are some potential hang-ups surrounding the jam session near the end. The all-English lyrics are repetitive and simple, and pop music won’t be everyone’s bag, despite being Carole & Tuesday’s bread and butter. Luckily, there are already subplots and side characters populating the script, from an actress who wants to break into the music biz to the friction between A.I. composers and the old guard of record producers. Without these stories to offer extra information about C&T’s vision of the future, the series might have felt too conservative. Thankfully, its detours are doubly exciting due to the show’s colorful, detail-heavy nature. Check this one out if you haven’t already.
Potential: 75%

Helghast’s review:
Netflix is back to save anime once again by throwing a ton of money behind the very well-regarded director of Shinichiro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Kids on the Slope, Zankyou no Terror) and enlisting Studio Bones to do the animation. That kind of support pays off in spades when it comes to the glorious production values and soundtrack that would find little trouble in appealing to both Japanese and international audiences. For example, the character designs takes cues from contemporary anime and western influence to create a visually alluring cast that embraces the ideal cosmopolitan future of a terraformed Mar. While Yoko Kanno isn’t scoring the music, the Canadian composer of Mocky is more than capable of crafting the OST with his background of R&B, Funk and Soul that would complement the upbeat and futuristic tone of Alba city. I’m glad they went with the route of switching the VAs from Japanese to their English counterparts when it came to singing the songs. While it comes off as a bit jarring, it is a far better solution than having VAs attempt to sing at the musical levels that Carole & Tuesday demands. Speaking of VAs, I can hear Shinji (Fate/Stay Night) taking on the role of the all-knowing producer with his AIs and predictive algorithms. This sets up the multiple character threads that will no doubt end up intertwining together and clashing between the assembly-line manufactured songs and unrestricted freedom of Carole and Tuesday.
Potential: Should have streamed on a Tuesday but would still watch on a Thursday.


Sarazanmai

Short Synopsis: Three boys are transformed into kappa after angering Keppi, the successor to the throne of the Kappa Kingdom.

Mario’s review:
IKUHARA IS BACK. He’s one of my two favorite directors working in this industry (the other is the late Satoshi Kon), so I had a ridiculously exorbitant expectation for this one, and this premiere manages to match it with flying colors. Well, I still regard his Penguindrum premiere as the better one (in fact, one of my favorite opener of this decade), but this one comes very close to that bar. There’s his visual quirks, there’s his heavy symbolism, there’s his irreverent humor that is both bizarre and charming at the same time. His distinctive style won’t be for everyone, though. The sequences where our characters pop out from Kappa King’s butt can easily turn viewers off; and this episode lacks the dramatic weight (another one of his trademark) that only hinted very slightly at the end of the episode. Everything else though, is a knockout. The premise is so weird and fun that it’s refreshing to see how it folds out. The visual is simply sublime that at no point the REAListic backgrounds become a distraction, and the layers of symbolism so far work for the show’s benefits. I’ll be frank, Sarazanmai is everything I could ask for. Keep this up and I am a happy Mario.
Potential: 1000%

Wooper’s review:
This episode was an achievement in both visual presentation and symbolic saturation. The first of those two items is a straightforward compliment, but the second may be backhanded – Ikuhara and MAPPA have packed this thing to the gills with metaphorical objects, to the point where it feels overstuffed. We’re entering Penguindrum territory after just one episode, and your preparedness for this series will be a lot greater if you’ve seen that earlier work. There are cardboard boxes, cucumbers, bridges, and dishes all over this episode, representing the secrets and connections held by the three main characters, but they hardly pose any interpretive difficulties. The real wrench comes when the boys’ shirikodama are wrenched from their anuses, and we pass through several layers of reality with different art styles and functions. One is a miniature musical number, one is a dimly-lit combat set piece (against a giant screeching cardboard box), and one is a melding of minds where a character’s deepest secret is revealed to the other two. By the time you come out the other end, the episode is nearly over, and you’re wondering what the hell you’ve just watched. But that’s when the show hits you with a post-credits scene featuring two sexy policemen and a giant taiko drum, which makes even less sense than everything that’s come before. What ties all of these crazy elements together are the nostalgic background art, beautiful animation, and double-edged sense of mystery and fun. There’s no way to predict where the show will go from here, but its visual magnificence is likely to persist.
Potential: 85%

Helghast’s review:
I don’t know what those two above me are smoking but if you enjoy cross dressing, yaoi, anal, scat and bestiality all mixed up in a drugged-fueled psychotic dream, then this is for you. For the rest of us, RUN AWAY.
Potential: 0.69%

Posted on 12 April 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

One Punch Man 2

Short Synopsis: It’s more One Punch Man. Don’t act like you haven’t seen the original.

Lenlo’s review:
The best thing I can say about OPM2 is that it isn’t as much of a disappointment as I expected it to be. There are definitely issues, from some weird shots and angles to some lines not landing quite right, but production wise it’s better than I thought. The animation is there, it’s not a slide show, and someone is clearly trying. Plus, ONE’s writing still shines through! My biggest complaint though has to be the artstyle. From the weak lines around characters faces to the weird gradients on Saitama’s skin and Genos’s arms, it just looks… bleh. I’m not a fan of it. These characters already have designs, styles, from the first season that I loved. That its being changed now and replaced with this weird hybrid CG cyborg body is just disappointing. Plus many of the “epic” fights have this weird layering technique, where instead of animation inbetweens it just fades to the next frame? I hate that. I hate that more than anything else in this first episode. I am sure I can get used to it, and I will because I am going to keep watching it, but I won’t enjoy it. My only hope is that ONE’s writing carries what is, visually, an otherwise meh show.
Potential: 40%

Wooper’s review:
My favorite thing about the first One Punch Man adaptation wasn’t its flashy fight animation, but its commitment to the series’ absurdity. Saitama’s goofy marching after a devastating practice match, Genos’s alert body language whenever his boneheaded master seemed ready to drop some wisdom, and Mumen Rider’s earnest cycling in the face of overwhelming adversity all marked the series as a satire, rather than a simple beat-’em-up. The premiere of season 2 focuses largely on King, and while his situation is ridiculous, it doesn’t carry that same absurd flavor. Shots of his terrified or bewildered facial expressions get the job done, I suppose, but they’re too far removed from the thing with which they ought to be contrasted: his position as a Class S hero. He just mentions it over and over, without getting into a situation where that status guides the story. While we’re on the topic of how these events were arranged, does anyone else find it strange that we open with Saitama, Genos, and King all in the middle of the city on the verge of being attacked? It felt like an abrupt start to the proceedings, especially since One Punch Man expanded its cast and scope with this episode. That move toward an overarching story has me sort of concerned, but at least it gives Sonic something to do apart from languish in the background. In fact, plenty of characters are moving closer to the forefront of the series, but it’s anybody’s guess whether J.C.Staff will be able to balance them to the satisfaction of a rabid fanbase.
Potential: 50%

 

Isekai Quartet

Short Synopsis: The main cast of Re:Zero, Overlord, KonoSuba and Youjo Senki get teleported into a high school and shenanigans ensue.   

Helghast’s review:
With all of four of these series either wrapping up their latest season or having their sequel released some time in the far distant future, this is a easy and fun way to keep their massive fanbases happy and entertained. The animation is on par with those silly flash movies last decade, but the strength of show comes from the voice actors and having the ensemble from each franchise size each other up. It’s the group of misfit low-level adventurers thinking they can take on the overpowered monsters from Great Tomb of Nazarick while Tanya is brooding over getting screwed over once more by Being X. I found it amusing that the studio decided to compressed her entire story inside of a minute, complete with chibi art of her most violent acts, since Youjo Senki has the smallest fanbase out of the four. In a season where there aren’t that all that many hit shows and plenty of disappointment to spread around, Isekai Quartet is the most fun you’re going to have with an anime short that flips the isekai meta on its head and gives it the crossover that no one asked for but everyone needed.
Potential: 65%

Mario’s review:
I’ve watched 3 shows out of the “Quartet” this show parodies, and I have to say those shows are amongst better isekai options out there. Re:Zero, Tanya and KonoSuba are all in my top 5 favorite isekai of this decade, and while I don’t know much about Overlord, these four proves to be an interesting mash-up: 2 shows from Fantasy, one from alternative history and one from inside the game. Even with the Fantasy shows the variation of races and social status can be an interesting angle for this chibi show to poke fun if. So far, the very concept of these characters get incarnated again to the highschool settings is a pretty darn good parody. In addition, the humor works so far. Every characters keep their most distinctive quirks and they bounce off each other with ease. Konosuba cast and Tanya shine in this first episode in particular. If the show knows how to make the interactions from characters in different series spark, this will be one hell of a ride.
Potential: 30%

 

Sewayaki Kitsune no Senko-san

Short Synopsis: An overworked salaryman comes back home late… to find out that there’s a fox spirit in his house.

Mario’s review:
Damnit, right before the last two shows everyone has been waiting for, we have two shows that are absolute garbage. This one has only one thing going on: raise the cute level of that fox-deity who acts like a perfect wife for some sad sack loser. Well, I might sound harsh, but is there any point of having all the comfort – cute girl appear inside your house, food fed to the mouth, all the physical touching, and the laps to sleep on – while you don’t have to work to obtain it? You said he’s overworked so he deserve this? He goddamned brought it all himself. Healing might be what this show aims for, but this is a toxic healing. Our Senko is a perfect waifu material, the show is a one big wish fulfillment with a hint of fetishism on top.
Potential: We all need a deity-fox as housemaid in our petty life.

Real Potential: The worst premiere of this season hands down

Posted on 11 April 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Namu Amida Butsu!: Rendai Utena

Short Synopsis: Pretty boys who are deities and their jobs is to destroy negative energy from human.

Mario’s review:
When will this hot boys trend die down? Rendai Utena (not to be confused with Ikuhara’s Utena. That’s an insult!) spends 80% of its energy to introduce dozen boys with colorful designs who happen to be deities. What do they do in this entire episode? Cleaning the house, buying some goddamn milk and eating dessert together. The rest of its energy it addresses its main concept: they’re here to destroy vices, negative force within each human. I mean, dessert is nice and all but that’s the only entertaining part I can take out from this episode. The production is below par, the characters are nothing original and the concept isn’t that engaging or interesting. It doesn’t have anything offensively terrible, but at the same time it doesn’t leave much impact to me whatsoever.
Potential: 0%


RobiHachi

Short Synopsis: A down-on-his-luck freelance journalist flees Earth to escape a loan shark, but accidentally brings along one of his debt collectors.

Wooper’s review:
RobiHachi is Space Dandy by way of last year’s Double Decker, with 10% of the humor and 0% of the style. It sports a colorful sci-fi setting with flying cars and bustling city life, but only takes advantage of it once or twice in this premiere (the scene where Robby gets caught in an alien street crossing comes to mind). Apart from those rare moments of inspiration, it’s only a mildly amusing and below average-looking buddy comedy. Main character Robby takes life as it comes, while Hachi is obsessed with experiencing new things, and these traits envelop their entire personalities, rather than informing them. As a result, there’s a lot of bickering between the two, including a moment where Robby gives a lecture on smelling the roses, and a smooth sax solo starts playing as though he were Onizuka from GTO. Speaking of music, the second half of this episode takes every opportunity to cram boilerplate 80s rock into the background, even when characters are just talking to one another. I can only assume this choice was made to distract from the series’ limited animation, which punches below the standard of modern TV anime. Even Robby’s insulting rabbit butler is only good for a couple chuckles before the whole show collapses under its own weightlessness. Unless you’re really into space adventure/comedies, give this one a pass.
Potential: 20%

Mario’s review:
Hmmm, even the character design of Hatchi reminds me a great deal of last year’s Double Decker and the plot is a mashup of shows from the past (Space Dandy, Cowboy Bebop come to mind), so right at the first round the originality is already out of the window. Then the production isn’t something that I normally recommend, given it doesn’t impress me in any way. Furthermore, while I’d say the mains’ interaction is solid (hence the score), I don’t care much for either Robby and Hatchi individually. The brief callback to Robby’s misfortunate events is funny on paper, but when they display it on-screen, it falls flat. This premiere runs mostly as a prologue to the adventures between this duo as they travelling through planets, so I’d say that next episode is where the show showcases its true color. One important thing that the premiere fails to do, however, is that for a show that has “cool” factor written all over, it doesn’t offer half of the “cool” vibe it aims to achieve.
Potential: 20%


Gunjou no Magmel

Short Synopsis: A relief worker trained in supernatural combat travels to a mysterious continent to find a client’s brother.

Mario’s review:
Magmel is based on a Chinese manhua and it pains me to say that anime medium doesn’t have a good track with Chinese material. But I have middling expectation for this one based entirely one the first manga chapter that I read, with was a decent fun. Turns out that this first episodes material isn’t the same with the first chapter, but I’m still pleasant surprised on how much I enjoy Magmel so far. Its biggest strength right now is its setting that is both dangerous and inviting at the same time. The setting reminds me a bit of Made in Abyss, which is pretty decent praise in my book. It also succeeds on providing the sense of adventuring, of discover new area and monsters. This episode’s story works well as a standalone story and as a good introduction as how twisty this new continent can be. So far, I like the main characters well enough, and even the side characters have some legit moments there. The fact that it’s made by Studio Pierrot means that they can pad out this material with fillers and squeeze the most out of this show’s juice, but as far as “intriguing” goes you bet I am.
Potential: 50%

Wooper’s review:
The first thing I have to mention about this show is the background art, which is verdant and lush. It was really important that the series nail this aspect of its production, since it’s set largely on an unexplored continent where thousands of new species are lurking. That kind of setting should be as vivid on screen as it is in concept, and here Gunjou no Magmel succeeds. The second thing I have to mention is that everything else about the series bored me. The gigantic flashback to a one-off character’s backstory near the start killed its initial momentum, and his cluelessness until the moment of his death made him frustrating to watch. Main character Inyou’s stoicism isn’t a bad foundation for his character, and his willingness to kill a man he’d promised to save was appreciated (as opposed to the righteousness of most shounen protags). But he didn’t hold my attention despite his position in the dead center of the story, perhaps because of his overwhelming strength. The relationship between him and his robot-piloting maid wasn’t even deep enough to get my toes wet, either. I’ll admit that these are a lot of criticisms for a shounen series with a simple core concept. It ought to be judged largely on the strength and viability of that premise, and I think there’s lots of room for Magmel to do its thing in future episodes. That “thing” ought to look a lot different from this premiere, though.
Potential: 30%

Posted on with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Fairy Gone

Short Synopsis: A handful of fairy summoners must reenter society in the wake of a large-scale supernatural war.

Wooper’s review:
Getting into specifics about your fantasy world before fleshing out your characters is typically a bad idea. If you needed any more evidence to support this principle, Fairy Gone has you covered. Though its characters are all set against the backdrop of a recent war, they’re sorely lacking in personality or individuality. You might assume the show would hint at the psychological toll the war took on them, or their religious or spiritual lives (since fairies are so important to the story), or anything apart from their general stoicism, but it doesn’t. One of the characters, Marlya, is obsessed with meeting a friend from her past, but that’s about all we’ve got in terms of motivation. We’re sure to learn more as the story progresses, but this premiere doesn’t have a hook for propelling audiences toward those later episodes. Fairy Gone fares better on the technical front, sporting some decent action and P.A. Works’ pretty background art (the backstage room at the auction is especially noteworthy). Still, the show is grayer and grainier than their output has been in the past, marking something of a departure from their house style – even last year’s Sirius the Jaeger wasn’t this grim, despite its similar premise and tone. Director Kenichi Suzuki might be responsible for the change, but given his link to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and this show’s use of CG fairies as “Stands,” his involvement is likely to be remembered as a meme more than anything else. That’s kind of a shame, as there’s a decent show in here somewhere, but what came together in the premiere isn’t the best version of these ingredients.
Potential: 40%

Lenlo’s review:
3 minutes in and we have gone through 2 text crawls, 3 countries, 3 cities, and probably a time skip/flashback or 2. It’s hard to tell. Whew, is that not a good sign. Wooper hits the nail on the head when he says Fairy Gone cares more for its history/world than its actual characters. I hardly know or care about any of them, partly because the central goal is thrust on us so quickly. Marlya’s goal is to find Ver apparently, and she does so in the first damn episode. I don’t know these characters, am I supposed to care? As for production, the fights were… weird? There are elements of greatness there, the backgrounds and kinda CGI JoJo Stands. But once everything starts moving together and playing in the same scene, you start to notice a lot of jank. My read is, Fairy Gone clearly has someone who cares about it in PA Works, someone is passionate about it. But the actual production doesn’t really come together, all its separate parts just sorta… falling into place instead of being carefully placed there. If you can get past the jank, and not get bored to death after the exposition stops, then you might find something interesting here. But I wouldn’t expect it to be anything amazing.
Potential: 35%


Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin

Short Synopsis: A public servant in Shinjuku ward suddenly gets the ability to interact with supernatural beings.

Mario’s review:
Well, if you think tengu and angels eloping isn’t absurd enough, that’s just the tip of the iceberg of what Occult can offer. As the title suggests, it takes place at night, in Shinjuku ward. The show doesn’t really make this unique setting distinguishable enough, sadly. Most of it is because the visuals look unremarkable, and there’s no stand out element that could highlight the settings. The same can be said for its busy plot. The show introduces the main guy, establish its supernatural world before revealing, in the span of 10 minutes, that the protagonist has “special power” no one else has. It’s often the case that when the plot goes so fast, it has a harder time to let the events sink in. All in all, this is an alright but unremarkable entry. And be sure to check out the OP as it is one of the better moments out of the entire episode.
Potential: 20%


Hachigatsu no Cinderella Nine

Short Synopsis: A bunch of girls participate in their school’s baseball club.

Mario’s review:
This one turns out to be a nice surprise. While it’s in essence a CGDCT show, it’s charming enough and the execution is solid enough to make it an enjoyable ride. The visuals sometimes remind me of a lesser-KyoAni inputs, or more on point – Love Live’s level of visuals presentation, with cute character designs and bright backgrounds. The animation, however, is limited and there’s one point during the practice match the show is filled with powerpoint screenshots hovering up and down. The cast so far made up of girls with different individuality who come from different ground regarding baseball and so far I enjoy them well enough. This show won’t be a sport drama (hence lacks the competitive thrills), but if you regard it as a show where dozen girls with different traits join up for the same hobby in an Idol-anime fashion, you will have lots to enjoy here.
Potential: 40%

Posted on 10 April 2019 with categories: Some Quick First Impressions

Bokutachi wa Benkyou ga Dekinai

Short Synopsis: A high-score boy is asked to be a tutor of other talented girls.

Mario’s review:
Just fresh off from the Quintuplets show last season, we have another harem anime where main guy is a tutor for “hot, talented but somehow still needs tutoring” girls, and it’s pale in comparison in almost every department. The main lead isn’t particularly interesting for one thing, since he does very little to stand out from a normie harem protagonist. The show delivers some decent chemistry between him and the girls, but the girls themselves, despite spend majority of time together, share zero interaction whatsoever. Secondly, all the narrative beats this premiere goes through is predictable and uninspiring. We see some lame fan-service, we have the normal shtick of him saying misleading comments, we have girls already falling head over heel over him by the episode’s end. Lastly, the production is plain. The art-style is unremarkable and there’s nothing worth recommending on the visual side. Watch (or re-watch) Quintuplets show instead. They share the same DNA but the other show makes full use of its harem roots.
Potential: 10%


Kono Oto Tomare!

Short Synopsis: An annoying nerd prevents, then accepts a troubled delinquent’s application to the traditional koto club.

Wooper’s review:
The ubiquity of high school clubs in anime can lead some viewers to find them tedious, but I wouldn’t have considered myself one of them until recently. Series like Chihayafuru and K-On! are among my favorites, with the formula of finding new club members providing a way to explore both themes of friendship and their clubs’ focus. But we’ve seen an outpouring of half-hearted club shows in recent years, and even promising candidates like Kabukibu have fallen into template mode after a few episodes. My theory is that anime’s new 12-episode standard is to blame – a thought was strengthened by Kono Oto Tomare, which sprinted haphazardly through its opening chapters to enter the recruitment phase. Club president Kurata’s pitiful backstory (he failed an entrance exam because he was sick that day) is only fed to us after he stresses about the koto club for eight minutes. The blonde delinquent who wants to become its second member teleports around the school so they can share as many scenes together as possible, most of them being overly dramatic or laughably violent. A dark incident from the delinquent’s past is only revealed so the school’s current gang of thugs can recreate it thirty seconds later. As far as atmosphere goes, the voice acting is too shouty for the material, and there’s zero koto playing in the premiere (which would have been a welcome respite from its relentless drama). Of all the episode’s components, only the art was passable in my eyes, but it wasn’t good enough to bring me back for round two.
Potential: 25%

Mario’s review:
UNBEARABLE PROTAGONIST, ACT III

It’s another show about high school students and their club activities. On that angle Kono Oto Tomare is a solid entry. The subject of Koto club isn’t something we see that often, and what this episode does well is to provide the leads’ own connection to this Koto club. Although I can’t say I am fond of the wimpy male lead (his shtick: I HAVE TO PROTECT THE CLUB is especially annoying), the show does spend time to provide backstories from our leads and inform us their points of view. Unfortunately, apart from that part this first episode suffers from many more glaring issues. First, the pacing is way too quickly that it feels as it they try to rush the material to a certain point. Things happen, things resolve in a flick of fingers, and worst offender is everything that related to the unnamed bullying kids. It’s so obvious that they are there to be the most hateable bunch of kids and I don’t really appreciate any of that. And while the subject matter is koto, there isn’t much of what makes koto club appealing, though I believe we will get to that in later episodes. So in short, Koto has some good characters development, and if you enjoy their chemistry of this premiere, there will be a lot to like here. Beware though, the plot can become contrived in service of these characters’ development.
Potential: 30%


Shoumetsu Toshi

Short Synopsis: A girl, with a help of a vespa-riding boy, decides to visit her vanished home town to see how it has changed.

Lenlo’s review:
Jesus christ, Madhouse is doing this? Are you serious? Am I being punked right now? Because this is legitimately terrible, at least on the production side. Everything from the art to the animation looks like it wasn’t finished when it aired. As for the story itself, for the life of me all I can remember are a bunch of tropes. I have absolutely no desire to see more this.
Potential: 0%

Mario’s review:
Just like Yu-no at the start of this season, Toshi suffers from introducing way too many characters before the main event even kicks in. Toshi seems to be interested in its own mystery that it forgets to tell a proper story, or flesh out any character for us to invest in. Take the main lead who acts like a complete bonker, first established him as the man who honor his job, then at the end try to convince us that he’s good nature enough look after that girl? The visual looks stiff but worse, it looks implausible. Take several chase scenes where he doves his scooter up and down (and at one point, block the attack) like he’s playing Wii and when the torrent of knives come toward him and somehow he gets away from it with only scratches? The central mystery is solid, however. It’s clear that the girl is the main cause of this disaster and it’s interesting in the fact that it could go in many different directions. Character-wise the show remains duh (remember a guy who keeps saying “could be a worthy test subject”?), and I don’t think that aspect can get any better. Watch it if you like the central mystery because otherwise, it offers very little else.
Potential: 20%

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Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) (Winter 2019) Anime Review – 78/100

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known […]

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Hello all, and welcome to the Galaxy Brain episode of Paranoia Agent. Apologies for the lateness, but I really needed to wrap my head around this. Threads are brought  together, more questions are raised, and I am somehow entertained, confused and enlightened all at once. Lets jump in! Now I have so much I need […]

Dororo – 13 [The Story of the Blank-Faced Buddha]

Hello everyone and welcome to the Spring season! While we are still preparing our First Impressions and picking what interests us, carryovers from last season are picking back up. That of course includes Dororo, which left off on a huge first cour finale. Lets jump in! Before we get into the meat of this episode, […]

Paranoia Agent – 11 [No Entry] – Throwback Thursday

And so Paranoia Agent gets back on its weird tracks! This week week see what’s happened with Maniwa and the chief, Shounen Bat gets one upped and Kon get’s a little weird again. Lets jump in! I have to say, this was a unique episode. All of Paranoia Agent’s episodes are unique in some way, […]

Latest Reviews

Boogiepop wa Warawanai (2019) (Winter 2019) Anime Review – 78/100

Just like the titular character, Boogiepop Phantom the series has become some sort of urban legend itself in this medium. Its Light Novels are amongst the first Light Novel ever released, dating back to mid-90s. Moreover, the franchise has endured the test of time, as it inspires anime, live-action adaptations and Boogiepop is a well-known […]

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