Posted on 27 July 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews

Upon hearing that Castlevania would be getting an animated TV series my first reaction was that of unpleasant surprise. Part of the reason was because of the video games infamous history with adapting their stories to other mediums but my main reason was that being familiar with the Castlevania games, I knew the story was by far the weakest aspect. I have played a number of Castlevania titles though my main experience is with the so called “Igavania” titles which helped birth the Metroidvania genre. Let me say that story was not the reason I came to love the franchise, as a matter of fact the story rather went beyond “Dracula has revived, go kill him again.” However against all odds this series has managed to pull a rather enjoyable story out of the bare bones that was present in the game it was based on, Castlevania 3. I believe the main reason behind this story turning out to be a good video game adaption has to do with the writer being a famous comic writer by the name of Warren Ellis. Not being much of a comic fan I have only read a couple of his works like Planetary, Transmetropolitan and Crecy but based on those I can tell he has skill.

The story of this series isn’t anything to gush over but does serve well in using the little story in the games and fleshing it out to a better degree. It reminds me a lot of old anime ova’s from the 80s with its high level of violence and gore while sticking to a simplistic but enjoyable story. Make no mistake this animation isn’t for children with swearing and corpses abound. I admit that with the large amount of anime I watch it is rather refreshing to experience something that doesn’t have the usual Japanese tropes. Our main character Trevor Belmont is the one to get the most screentime in this short hour and a half season and he certainly makes for a fun main character. Starting your introduction with a drunken brawl is certainly a plus in my book and he is a good mix of playful and skilled without delving into overpowered territory. Other characters didn’t quite get as much screen time to really get a grasp on their characters but they were believable enough to get invested in.

The main cast only really assembled in the final minutes of the last episode. The villains on the other hand were on the weak side with the demons being sidelined by the church who really get treated as ignorant and greedy as all hell. Not saying it’s an inaccurate depiction but they do come off as rather one dimensional when any priest is automatically a murdering scummy psychopath. I hope that with this there role in the story is more or less finished with the end of the season as the first episode does nicely make Dracula’s motives much more compelling. He sadly didn’t get much of a role in this season but clearly the story wanted to focus on a minor villain first before taking on the main one. Our main villain for this season happens to be a bishop and I can pretty much sum him up as the same character as Frollo from Disney’s the Hunchback of Notre Dame. Religious, insane and so mistakenly sickeningly self righteous that he makes you want bash his head in with a sledgehammer.

This “Season” is only four episodes long and feels more like a hour and a half pilot episode. If I had to guess I would say that these four episodes were to gauge interest in the series due to the negative view of video game adaptions and considering just how quickly a second season of eight episodes was greenlit it looks like the response was quite positive indeed. In the continuation of the series I hope they keep up this level of quality but I also hope that they have much more monster variety as the enemies were primarily variants of demon creatures. Part of what makes Castlevania great is the huge cast of enemies from monster movie and myth. You didn’t just fight demons in Castlevania but ghosts, goblins, fishmen, werewolves and a whole host of monsters including Death himself. It would be a massive shame for the series to not capitalise on that and instead keep the monsters as dull demon creatures.

Animation for the most part is excellent with some occasional stumbles but excelling when it needs to. Music overall was fine but I do wish for a rendition of the iconic Bloody Tears or Vampire Killer songs. For fans of the games there is details sure to make you smile such as platforming on clock gears which I am sure any Castlevania fan is familiar with. However this doesn’t require knowledge of the games to be enjoyed either as the story very much stands on it’s own. Overall I would consider this to be one of the strongest Video Game adaptions to date though that may not be high praise considering it’s competition. If you happen to be burned out on anime or just looking for a nice change of pace then I do recommend checking this show out as it’s short and sweet.

Posted on 5 July 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Tsuki ga Kirei

It’s hard for me not to go overboard on Tsuki ga Kirei: out of all the show I’ve followed this season, I resonated the most to this one; but even when I’m judging this show objectively, Tsuki ga Kirei is one of the most perfect one, in a way that it achieved exactly what it set out to do, and achieve it flawlessly most of the time. The story that they tell – detailing the first love relationship of our young Kotarou and Akane – is decidedly simple, mundane but honest that it feels more like a love story taken from young best mates. It has that “sincere” quality, something that the anime medium often cranks it up to the max with “moe” and exaggeration everywhere. Not here. Tsuki ga Kirei has great flair of visual storytelling (something that benefited from being an original show, they don’t tie up to your usual LN and manga visual cliché), using show-don’t-tell approach that often focus on small moments and little gestures than big emotional melodramatic scenes. The characters never play off their roles, they’re the most natural group of kids that feel exactly kids their age: naïve, inexperience and pure. This show ends up at top of its genre as I consider it the most effective romance anime out there. In short, I freaking love almost everything about this show.

What Tsuki ga Kirei will be remembered the most for lie in real depiction of first love relationship. The more you watch romance anime, the more you surprise at how simple, yet distinctive achingly honest this show aim for. Ordinary romance anime would spend its entire time on how boy gets girl, throw in some other love interests that make them realize how much they mean for each other, and if we’re lucky we might actually see they confess to each other in the end. Tsuki ga Kirei is an entirely different beast, we got the confession right at the end of episode 3, and from there we follow every stage of that relationship and see their love progressing. Moments like Kotarou had to search the internet on what people do when they’re dating, finding a way to spend time alone together, or thinking how to continue their love after graduation – all feels so real and progresses so naturally that I suspect anyone who have been in relationship will find a thing or two from this show that speak directly to their experience.

Moreover, they understand that in order to make this relationship work, we have to relate to Akane and Kotarou and they did a damn fine job at that. Both have their own lives and their own troubles to deal with, so we can see them as characters who have distinctive personality, with well-defined goals and struggles. In one of the episode, they both reach a new low in their personal dreams, as Akane underperformed her track competition and Kotarou got a call from a real publisher just to receive an advice that he had no talent in serious writing. Then in small moments when those characters act without much thinking, it’s a treat to see how their personality plays out: I love how every time Kotarou get excited he will punch the light’s chord in his room, or Akane whenever she gets nervous she will press that pushie hard. Their circle of friends also adds to the naturalism of the story and although they aren’t developed much, they clearly belong to this universe.

The visual storytelling is another great strength of the show. As both Kotarou and Akane are introverts and tend to keep their feelings inside without saying out loud, it’s showing their subtle gestures, their glances that we get to know a lot about them. As a result, this show is decidedly quiet, there’s not much monologue going on but that is the reason why this show feels just like in real life. The designs are simple, again emphasizing on subtle over excessive details. Great shot compositions everywhere. This is one of the rare show where I can argue that the visual components play as an important part of the show and they achieved it almost exactly what they’re aiming for.

Another factor that feel like a character itself that I feel the need to acknowledge, it’s LINE. Just like kids their age, Kotarou and Akane’s main communication is through LINE and we witness a huge chunk of amount that they exchanged through LINE, as they are, no shortcut. It’s just like how real kiads would do and to achieve this effortlessly is no small feat at all, so congrats to Tsuki ga Kirei for its respectful use of social chatting. The shorts in the end also a part of this show’s identity, as they depict the love relationships from Kotarou and Akane’s friends with more bawdy and comedic tones, which in turn made that world so inviting to watch.

Although the show succeeds most of the time in term of production values, I can still see some production troubles from the show and the delay in airing in later half further reflected that. Tsuki ga Kirei does suffer from that as in one of the episode the production values just fall apart. But I’m genuinely surprised that after that disaster episode they managed to keep up a consistent quality and the more I know about their trouble backstage, the more I’m in awe about their efforts. It’s obviously a product of many sleepless nights from the production team so I thank studio Feel for their outstanding performance.

And all of what I was written above was just how I access the show objectively and that kinda demerit one of Tsuki ga Kirei’s most appealing factor: it’s right down charming that touch the hearts of viewers with its bright and delightful portrayal of pure love – I don’t deny I fall under its spell, actively care for the couple and goddamnit I just want them to be happy together. Tsuki ga Kirei is breathtakingly intimate in narrative scope and I know I will remember the show and its characters very fondly. Arigatou.

Posted on 4 July 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Seikaisuru Kado

Seikaisuru Kado was a title which caught my attention for a number of reasons. For one it’s visuals showed not a single teenager in sight and a cast mainly consisting of working adults. Another is that it deals with a premise not often tackled in anime, Philosophical Science Fiction. The story features an alien being who lands on earth and gifts humanity with revolutionary devices which could throw the economic, social and political climate into pure chaos. Our main characters are a Japanese Negotiator by the name of Shindo and an Alien being from something known as the anisotropic who refers to himself as ZaShunina. While I wouldn’t call the cast great, I do say they perform the needs of the plot well and are interesting enough to engage the viewer. Well up until the point where there characters are forced to change due to the direction of the story. There are examples of anime tropes which only cheapen the serious atmosphere of the stories tone such as a scientist girl who eccentricity is at a far too unbelieveable level. Though sadly anime tropes show up in other parts of the show as well, mainly in the rather rushed romance of the second half.

A positive aspect of this series is that it has some of the best CGI integration I have seen to date in a anime. In most series CGI is jarring and breaks immersion but here the CGI is included well enough to keep things looking natural. It does use a combination of 2D and 3D visuals and it is noticeable when it changes between the two. However I never had a moment watching this series where I was just taken out of the experience completely by shaky 3D work. The CGI also works wonders in displaying ZaShunina’s alien nature as his cube structure is a pure prism of visual marvel. The music likewise processes a grandiose and majestic feel which illustrates how this is the turning point of mankind. On the technical side of things I would consider Kado to be a success.

But when it comes to a storytelling standpoint this is where Kado fails. At first things look good as there is a focus on the diplomatic systems reaction to the sudden arrival of an Alien entity, while the Alien itself is slowly growing accustomed to human ways and learning about human culture. From the outset it feels like Kado is revving up to really dive into some deep topics but as the series continues you will find that these topics continue to get pushed into the background and not addressed. The series focuses more on ZaShunina introducing the amazing device and then implementing it. But when it comes to the long term ramifications to integration of such advanced technology, then this series instead decides to ignore it and move on to the next gift. You see the introduction and integration of the device, but never the conclusion. It appears as though the writer was never interested in these ramifications but instead in pushing some generic themes of humanity instead.

In the end Kado is a story that starts with a lot of potential and looks to bank on that potential within its first six episodes. However it moves away from a multifaceted issue to have a more black and white conflict instead. The story and characters suffer for it and it concludes in an ending that’s nonsensical, disappointing and terrible. As a result Kado is a series which most would likely regret watching as you see great ideas tossed aside to portray a stereotypical good vs evil conflict. Ultimately Seikaisuru Kado is evidence that just because someone is writing the story does not mean they know the best road to take it and in the future I hope there are those who see just what this series could have been so that they can fulfil its lost imaginable value.

Posted on 2 July 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Id-0

Here comes one of the most under-appreciated anime of this Spring season. ID-0 has many hassles that keeps viewers away from watching it: Netflix exclusive, full CG animation and a plot that just plain weird and a bit incomprehensive at first view. I originally took it as nothing more than fun spooky little-seen show until I realized that ID-0 is a well-crafted one. Both in terms of productions, worldbuilding storytelling or characters’ development, they’re all above par. ID-0 also succeeds on introducing their main concepts that not only plausible on the surface, it hints on deeper implications regarding those concepts and the show handles those issues competently. The discovery of the Orichalt – the red crystalline mineral that floating in space – has allowed humanity to travel through space and live outside other planets. In order to look out for more Orichalt, human creates “I-Machines”, the giant robot that is functioned by transferring human consciousness into robot’s operating systems – a robot body with human mind. It’s important to remember those two details since the show explores its theme from there.

The first implication from the show’s concept, which perfectly aligned with the lead Ido’s main character arc – is how much of this I-Machines version independent from its host? Are they the same identity with the host body, or are they their own selves? Normally, it shouldn’t be a problem since human uses I-Machines as a means to perform work in harsh environments. Loose the I-Machines and they will trance their mind back to their original body. No big deal. The Escavate team, a team of Orichalt-pirate, contain many exceptions to that rules. They lost their physical body forms due to different circumstances, thus the I-Machine bodies are their owns now, called Evertrancers. Ido has no recollection of his past, and his ID was erased (hence ID-0). Throughout the series, it’s his personal journey of finding out who he was, and whether or not he’s still Ido the Excavator or the embodiment of his past real self. Another member of the group, Rick – another Evertrancer, adds some more layers regarding this “self-existent” theme as well. His current soul is a copied version of his original consciousness, meaning he has no “real” body and no “real” soul, he’s Rick yet he isn’t Rick. He carries the same personal traits as the original Rick, has the same memory but he’s ultimately his own individual now. Their current I-Machine versions are who they are now, with the consciousness that run totally independent from their former host.

And I just barely touched the ice-tip of ID-0 themes, so let’s dig in further. Now looking back, I really love the concept that Orichalt is already something irreplaceable and invaluable for the humanity from Day 1. Everyone keeps talking about it, all their activities aim to get more of those Orichalt to begin with. It just shows how humanity has taken Orichalt for granted, so that when the Rajeev (the wandering planets) appear, we can sense the high stake of the situation. I also enjoy the philosophy behind this Rajeev. Just like how Joker was inspired to challenge the very concept that Batman has built, for everything that too good to be true for our human race, there will be some sort of drawback, a kryptonite that attack directly to the advancement that we gained. These wandering planets’ main purpose is to consume Orichalt, and they have developed their own intelligence on top of that – a worthy enemy to destroy the human kind. Although the solution come a bit far-fetch as best: teaching them the love of humanity so that they can learn about humanity and leave us alone (Yes, you heard it right), I still firmly believe this is a well thought-out main conflict for this series.

ID-0 also suggests a far darker implication to this Mind-Trance system, albeit a bit under-developed as they don’t have time to progress that angle. It’s the “immortality” theme. A secret organization, using the techniques as a mean to transport their mind to their younger clone to archive living immortally. For me, this actually sounds very intriguing because it’s entirely possible. If there is a second season of ID-0 I would love if the show goes darker and focus on these themes like this. Seriously, there is many interesting variables to the concept that I really want to explore more. All of that jut to highlight how well-crafted the world settings are. Well done, ID-0.

Now, I realize that I have delved too much on its themes without giving you an actual critique, so I will do just that below. ID-0 is a prime example of having a great pacing. The story almost never drags, while still allowing many of space for the characters to breathe and all the developments progress quite naturally. In other words, top-notch. The cast’s overall chemistry is another highlight for me. They have easy chemistry and they bounce off each other extremely well. It helps that each of them has their own voices so when the show putting them altogether, their diverse voices are more than enough to shine through. They’re not the deepest bunch by any mean but nearly all of them have enough development to work with. I’m a bit sad that Maya isn’t given enough spotlight in the end (this is, after all, Ido’s story), she serves more as our lenses to that brand-new world more than a flesh-out or deep character, but I am fine with that. In other spectrum, the main antagonist of the show, Adams, unfortunately is one of the worst character that brings the show down a note. Apart from his obvious inferior-complex to Kane and his eight-grade symptom of the world has to revolve around him, he has no real personality to speak of and he terribly overacts all the time that it’s hard to take him seriously. The sequence where Adams reveals Ido’s past is a kind of convenient and way to-your-face approach that personally turned me off, but other than that obvious misstep ID-0 manages to maintain its beat thoroughly.

The CG animation does feel stiffs at times and it takes some time to familiar with the animation, due to its mecha robots that floating in air- premise, but this is one of the few series that not only the CG animation is done right, it has its purpose; as robots and space, and spaceships are all components that CG can be used the most effective. In addition, the character designs are attractive, characters look their ages and even the I-Machines versions have so much personality for each member of the team. Sanzigen continues to be a studio that has its firm grasp on making convincing CG anime so thumb ups for the studio for this amazing anime. This is a solid anime offering, a firm 8/10 rating for me. Definitely the best show that no one watch this season. Now, I just hope that Netflix knows what to do with this little gem.

Posted on 29 June 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews

I remember, back in our first impression of this series, Aidan remarked that Grimoire of Zero isn’t your typical LN-adaptations, but he didn’t know what to make of it. To be honest, after watching an entire cour, I’m still unsure what to make of it myself. This show has some serious flaws, yet despite all that I never find myself losing interest in it. I guess the biggest strength this show offers is the rock-solid chemistry between Zero and the beastfallen Mercenary, and in the end, I do get out of it wanting more of these two’s adventures. They also put some serious thought into its sorcery world building and overall while Grimoire of Zero can never raise above exceptional level, I have quite a good time watching it.

One of the first head-scratching factor about this anime is the decision to adapt the whole full season for a single first volume. I watched a fair bit amount of Light Novels-adaptations anime so I know that usually it’d take between 6 to 8 episodes for one volume AT MOST. Here they intentionally stretch out to 12 episodes, meaning some of the time the plot has too stretch a bit thin; and for my money with all the developments, they could condense the story into 6 episodes – half of its actual length. For example, Grimoire of Zero took quite a bit of time until we get to meet Thirteen (episode 5), then it took 3 whole episodes for Mercenary and Zero to finally reconcile. On the other hand, stretching the story enhances the slice-of-life feel in the first few episodes, and making the show much more room to breathe. That decision of adapting only first volume, to sum it up, has a fair share of good and bad points, but that was one of the reason that made Grimoire of Zero different from its LN fantasy offerings.

Second factor that baffled me is the show’s tones. I don’t know how to explain this clearly, but I always feel this series is mono-tone. When they try to mix with other tones, it’s embarrassing. They failed miserably at comedy because of that mono-tone. For the most glorious example, the sequence where Zero and Thirteen stopped in the middle of the fight for lunch break was so off-putting it was actually (unintentionally) hilarious. Or when it wants to tackle seriously about the dark, cynical side of human (part when the girl using the Mercenary to protect herself from other beastfallens) or the true flesh-lust nature of beastfallen, it didn’t leave much of an impact. Other times, when the show tries to amp up the romance (“what is Kisssss?), it falls completely flat. Yet, despite all that, the tone the show usually goes for – not quite slow, methodically but not action-packed either – is always strong and engaging that it still holds my interest till the end. Weird, since I can’t still put my finger on what exactly the show’s general tone is.

Then the characters, which are decidedly a mixed bag all around. All the main players are developed smoothly throughout its run. Apart from the amazing chemistry between Mercenary and Zero (which for me light up the screen every single time), Albus, Holdem, Thirteen and most notably Sorena all have their time to shine. Other characters, unfortunately, are quite plain and sometimes quite offensive (I’m looking at the guy who has a fetish for Zero’s clothes) and this is unforgivable considered that the show has so much time to develop those characters if they really want to, but they just didn’t give a damn. There are inconsistencies at the end for example: the Sorcerers of Zero attack the kingdom to kill Thirteen, and the guards fight back. After Zero negates the use of magic, you expect them shaking hands in peace immediately? *you might say I’m a dreamer – but I’m not the only one lala*. Albus and Holdem are a good addition to this arc, strong enough for me to care about them, but just about enough so that when they gone I don’t miss them much. This, after all, is the adventures of Zero and the Mercenary.

The sorcerer and witch backdrop is an intrigued world building itself and at first I enjoyed seeing there are many races from completely different backgrounds that live independently in this world. Not sure if this is just this arc, but later on the show goes heavily on those sorcerer’s themes which detail the division amongst the witch’s world: the Sorcerers of Zero, the Rouge witch and Sorcerer of the State; it doesn’t bring much impact. Moreover, I do feel that the final reveal revolving Thirteen’s role is a bit of a convenient one, and despite the whole witches’ war just don’t do much to me, I still find it provides some great details regarding its world settings. So, great details, but shaky development.

In term of production, this show is slightly above-average. There nothing exceptional to speak of, although the animation quality is rather consistent. In the end, one thing for sure that Grimoire of Zero never fails to be intriguing, whether or not it is intentional is up for debate. Despite its uneven approach, I’m still looking forward for its sequel, as the main catch of the series, the chemistry between Zero and Mercenary, will become more prominent in later volumes. And honestly that is more than enough to get me on board.

Posted on 28 June 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Uchoten Kazoku

(Note: Since psgels didn’t give his final review to the first season, this review is for the entirety of Eccentric Family. If I had to grade the second season alone, it’s 90/100).

Doesn’t matter how you look at it, the Eccentric Family is a unique show, in a way it feels and tastes like no other shows out there, both in and out of itself. Everything surrounding it feel magical just like its world: the series is the only anime show that promoted as a city ambassador (Kyoto Special Goodwill Ambassador), the second season that no one see coming (especially at the time the first season ended the second book hasn’t even written yet), P.A Works studio became the leading unit in production committee of this second season, meaning they are passionate about this series and they have total artistic control over it (as for how influential the anime studios usually have over the decision of their work. Nil. Most of the time they are slave who draw and deliver what were told. Sad fact). This is one of few series where I can see a lot of love was put into those details, from the love of their characters to its rich world settings, to Yasaburou’s various adventures. Of course P.A Works does a magnificent job to visualize that world, but I also credit the success on Tomihiko Morimi’s adept writing. Eccentric Family is at heart a character-driven series, and he’s simply one of the best in this industry when it comes to character writing: eccentric cast of characters who distinctive, whimsical but always insightful and intriguing. I have a lot to say about this world so let get right down to it.

The Eccentric Family’s first and foremost strength comes from its magical-realism Kyoto world where human, tengu and tanuki live together in harmony. I am not at all exaggerating when I say that this setting is my personal favorite anime settings ever. Magical-realism has always been right up my alley: the mundane, ordinary world that mixed in with magical elements that serve as a normality to their world. And sure, in this world a lot of strange things happen: tanuki who transform into human shape and fool around until they get caught and turn into a hot pot tanuki, human who float in the air in broad daylight, a tiger (and bear) appear in the middle of the city. Just by the look of it, this world promises to provide a lot of fun, but this show even goes much more further than that: all the settings that not only gorgeous to look at, they all have strong sense of personality that feel like they get stuck in that specific moments: when you see the rooftop you immediately link to Benten, Yasaburou and the moon; when you see a flying house you would think right back to the Daimonji Festival and the stupid fights between Shimogamo and Ebisugawa’s family.

And to support for both its sense-of-wonder attitude and its magical-realism settings, The Eccentric Family is a masterclass at portraying an impossibly huge interior space that looks much grander than it supposed to be***: the Painting of Hell that literally pull you through hell with Onis doing wrestling and eating ramen; the 3-stories bus that has an upper floor of open air onsen and bamboo pathway; or a shogi board that can suck you into a secret room. Not only that warped sense occurs in space, it happens in time as well. There is a 2-epsiode worth of playtime that dedicated to Yasaburou’s various adventures in a span of a single day, where he enjoyed a public bath, went through hell, watching Oni wrestling, enjoyed mixed onsen, having crazy dinner party and witnessing his uncle got shot. See, those events feel much longer than it supposed to be. This is on purpose, of course, since what is a better way to highlight the enjoyment of busy carefree life by crazy events one after another?

In addition, the Eccentric Family’s greatest strengths come from its characters. The first season contains a great diversity of cast, but that quality really shines through in the second season as the new additions not only fit very well with the old cast, they even outshine them in many moments. Each of them has their own voice, has great arc to develop and their chemistry are natural, warm and insightful. Here comes one of the decision from the P.A Works that I find worth applauding, they never probably introduce a new character to us. Most of the time the new characters just walk in and have a normal conversation with our main casts and we have to work out their name and their role to the story. It helps that nearly every single one of them has their own way of speaking and their own personalities, so it’s not that hard to differentiate one from another, despite a relatively huge cast. It also helps that through we can tell so much about their characters through subtle gestures, so much as the Eccentric Family is one rare show that I can fall for new characters within the first few minutes (I remember you very fondly, Seiran). Our main protagonist, Yasaburou, is an interesting character to follow, throughout the course although all we see about him is having as much fun as possible with no consideration for responsibility, he takes care of everyone arounf him in his own way and in the end, he reaches a personal grown on balancing between those two factors. It’s up in the air if he’s constantly thinking of everything or constantly thinking nothing at all being led by his fool’s blood; but for him anyway, these are the same goddamn thing.

But by all mean, even 95 percent of the time this show treats their characters thoughtfully, the remaining 5 percent whenever the idiotic twins and Soun appear, they unfortunately drag the show down. These characters are the type that we all love to hate, so they possess their annoying traits… all the way, being annoying for the sake of annoying. I have since warmed up to Soun, but the way he came back to life kind of demerit his meaningful death. Another factor that happen in second season, is that sometimes they reprise the events of the first season (the Daimonji festival, the Nise-emon election), and whenever they do that they can’t bring the same impact as the first and seem like they rely on the beaten path.

While the first season focus more about familial bond, the responsibility one would strive to do versus the fun one has to experience through life, the second season follow that freedom sense, but touch on other themes such as self-identity (in term of Nidaime and Benten: one is a tengu who refuse to be one, the latter is a human who wants to become a tengu. None of them are happy), and the fate of love. The romance part is what surprise me the most as I would never expect I would ship for almost all the lovey cute little love here. I also give my hat off to the character designs, as each of the tanuki have human and tanuki counterparts, and we have such huge cast here but nearly every one of them is distinctive and attractive. The animation is thoroughly consistent and the music is really, really well done. In term of production value, I really have no complain.

The Eccentric Family has a lot to recommend on, I would argue that distractors can read the show as un-focus at times, because it feels like they set up for one crazy set-piece after another without a central conflict; but take heed that the majority of its 2-season runtime is about Yasaburou wanders around his city, tries to live the life to the max so it has its merit. I just say this simply; this show is brimming with love in every scene and with shows like this I know why I fall in love anime medium in a first place. The Eccentric Family already has a special place in my heart.

 

***If you want a real-place equivalent to this, I’d say it’s like the Old Quarter in Hanoi. From the outside you can only see a small pathway between 2 old houses that only wide enough for a bicycle to get in, then you get through that pathway, turn to some small alleys, go up-stair, pass through some small apartments and TADAH: a bookstore, a store and a café located inside all that maze. I was utterly amazed but there’s no chance an outsider would know such a place without the help of the local. And I do worry what going to happen if there is a fire there?

Posted on with categories: Anime Reviews, Little Witch Academia

The Little Witch Academia series has been something that’s a long time coming. Ever since Studio Trigger made the original Anime OVA back in 2013 I have been hotly anticipating the time when it would be fleshed out into it’s own anime series. I love both the original OVA and the enchanted Parade so this series was one I was really looking forward to. So the question remains. Is Little Witch Academia a good series? Absolutely, out of the 25 episodes of it’s runtime I only didn’t enjoy one episode. This series was very fun and a worthwhile watch. However, is Little Witch Academia a great series? And therein lies the greatest problem with this series as a whole. For you see my friends, Little Witch Academia holds the potential for greatness and very closely skirts the line to becoming a truly great series. There are standout episodes which show a small glimmer of what this series could have really been. However instead the series plays it safe and sticks to a rather cartoonish format of episodic stories. It’s excellent character cast is unfortunately underutilised aside from some single episode stories and the main plot it develops within it’s second half more or less fizzles out into something more tame.

So to those watching it can be frustrating to see how this series opens up roads to great storytelling possibilities only to take the road of least resistance. Thus my greatest advice to any viewer is to not let yourself be fooled into thinking that this show will have a dynamic shift into a greater story arc. Throughout it’s run this is a simple story with simple objectives. Thus if you can come to accept that then you can enjoy what Little Witch Academia has to offer. Again, this really is a good show and has the kind of fun sensibility that very few anime can pull off. It’s a show that wouldn’t look out of place if put in a Saturday morning cartoon block and for those that woke up on mornings to tune into these kinds of shows as kids it will certainly hit that sentimental spot. If you aren’t part of that demographic then this may be a harder sell as I could see others get tired of the inconsequential episodic stories and a general lack of character development. Some characters get small changes but for the most part have simple characterisation. Akko in particular tends to have sporadic development as she tends to waver between growing as a person and then falling into her old ways.

Animation can have hiccups but is pretty stellar and charming throughout the board. You can really tell that a lot of heart went into this series production, even if it likely drove the animators to exhaustion. This show has it’s fair share of Sakuga sequences that show there is some real talent at Trigger. There are also references galore throughout the series from callouts to old cartoons(Hanna Barbara, Disney, Dexters lab) to previous trigger works and to even oddballs like 1984, Pawn Stars, Hellboy and Dinotopia. Keep a keen eye and you can spot dozens of callouts within the framework. OST is suitable but has some great versions of the main theme and a very good opening theme. Overall I do recommend this series. It isn’t what it could have been but what it is is hardly anything to scoff at. It’s one of the surprisingly few anime you can show to a young child without worry and maybe even blossom another fan of this medium. If you feel burned out by current anime and need something that’s a bit of a change of pace then LIttle Witch Academia is a fine recommendation indeed.

Posted on 11 June 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, World Animation

In Window Horses, or its full name Window Horses – The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming, many characters keep asking the main protagonist, a Stick Girl in an otherwise fully formed character designs, why is she wearing a chador, in which she’s unable to reply. It’s her first trip to go overseas, so she just tries to fit in. For she’s blank state, you see, having little to no idea about the outside world, or even the poetry world. Rosie Ming, her name – herself a half-Chinese half-Persian who living in Canada, working in a fast food restaurant while writing poems (to be more exact, singing poems) as her hobby. She self-published her first book title “My Eye-full Poems by a person who has never been to France” and her greatest wish is to travel to France, the land of love and poetry. God listens to her well it seems, as she receives an invitation to attend to a poetry festival… in Shiraz, Iran. Throughout the course of the film, in a stranger land, she has a chance to listen to the voices of others, to staying open and curious with different cultures from different generation and learns a bit about herself and her family situation.

There’s one thing I can say for sure, Window Horses’ most obvious charm come from the fact that it feels like nothing else you’ve seen, especially in animation medium; the film whose main setting is in a poetry festival, a main character that is multiracial and the cast contain characters from many different backgrounds. Partly due to its unique appeal, the director Ann Marie Fleming had a bit of difficult time funding it, so she decided to crowdfund the project instead and it took her nine years to finally bring this lovely feature to life. The main character Rosie, a Stick Girl, has been the director’s own avatar for most of her career (the director herself is a half-Asian), and her simple design, both mean as a blank page, who despite not having a lot of experience, goes out to the world with curiosity and willingness to learn the world and all the things she can from other people; and as a simple likable character we can all root for and feel empathy with.

While the main plot is about Rosie visiting Iran, Window Horses isn’t strictly about her tale, but she serves as our window for the tales of other poets, the tale of Iran, and the tale of her father, who she come to believe that he had abandoned her and her Mom when she was young. Putting together, those tales are messy and over the place, but that is exactly the point to demonstrate how inspiration can come from every corner of the world; it’s the love of art, of poetry that brings those people who have vastly different ethnical backgrounds and different experiences in life all together. In one of her poetry quest, she is handed a poem by a Chinese poet Di Di (in Mandarin of course), who requested her to recite his poem in English with her own take. In order to do that she has to translate them into Persian, and then from Persian to English; thus in a process she has a chance to learn more about both of her ancestors, the Chinese and the Persian.

The humor of Window Horses is on the bright side here, in fact, its whimsical and light-hearted nature really help strengthening the mood and the theme of the story. This trip, after all, is more like an adventure for Rosie, where every new thing she learned, every people she met brimming with curious eyes. She quickly remarks in most of the things, mostly innocent deadpan questions like “How is it everyone here knows everything about everything”. The struggles she experienced for her “offensive content” to the Persian culture, for example (ya know, in Iran, solo performances by women is considered mildly offensive and have been banned), or the background story of exiled Chinese poet Di Di, both show us the difference in cultural perception, and add the richness to this little world.

Another main portion of the film is about each poet reciting their poems, and the history of Iran and important figures in Persian poetry culture, in which each part is showcase of visual inventiveness from different directors, who experiment with new styles to fit the content of the poems they are representing. (Fleming’s main job in those segments was to composite them into a cohesive whole). The history part doesn’t really sell it for me, mostly because it feels more like an educational Discovery Chanel on TV rather than fitting into this plot’s content; but the poem parts are easily one of the best strength of Window Horses. The director Fleming gave a smart decision to have all the poems reciting in their own languages without the subtitle. As a result, us as viewers don’t really understand what they’re talking about, but feel it. It’s the beauty of poetry. It’s not about the meaning, but the rhythms. Fleming also commented later in her interview that she wanted those poems to be some kind of code, viewers don’t need to understand it because they might get distracted from the main story, but if they wanted to, they can dig deeper to those contents because ther’s a whole world of art buried underneath it.

And then her little story about her parents, especially her father’s life come into light and was told to her by different people, most of them have known him at some point of his life. Her father’s backstory come a bit heavy-handed at times as it again touches upon the Iran Revolution and the refugees, but they do it without the expense of emotional drama of familial bond at its heart, so as messy as it is, it has its merits. Rosie’s grandparents, voiced beautifully by Nancy Kwan and Eddy Ko (If you have no idea who Nancy Kwan is, she was one of the first Asian-born actress played a pivotal role in the acceptance of actors of Asian ancestry in major Hollywood film roles) have some really great scenes of overprotective grandparents who must do anything to avoid their kid getting hurt, but hurts her instead by not telling her everything.

Wildly imaginative, sensitively portray the richness of multi-cultures and the love for poetry, at the same time bright and optimistic enough to bring hopeful sentiments to some otherwise grim and dark topics and a full delight from start to finish, Window Horses is a total winner in my book. Although feature a wide array of cast, it’s ultimately a personal story of Rosie to reach the world, learn few new things from other, appreciate more about her backgrounds and grown into her own at the end. Window Horses is a little story that worth telling.

Posted on 20 April 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews

I remember back in the first impression of last Winter season, I regarded Demi-chan as a better Monster Girls slice of life subgenre over this one. But as the season progressed, while Demi-chan run out of its steam quickly, this one picked up its pace after an underwhelming first episode to become a much more worthy title of last season, to the point many critics (according to ANN critics) hailed it as one of the best show out of 2017 Winter season, behind only to the modern masterpiece Rakugo. Do I agree with that consensus? No, God, no. They obviously don’t watch ACCA, and I would argue Scum’s Wish or Tanya are better options. Dragon Maid is a warm little show that have some neat things to say about dysfunctional family and a high production values for its genre, but it never raises above exceptional level to me.

In fact, now looking back, the premiere episode of Dragon Maid was a bad representation of a whole show. The premise of a female dragon decides to live in a human house as a maid and devotes herself to that role, loves her host unconditionally is a wish-fulfilment and convenient one. That episode also played up the slapstick tone of dragon making a mess trying to fit in with human environment, which became less and less prominent as the show went on. They also played up the comedy which was a missed opportunity because while Dagon Maid is very solid at humor, they never meant to be in a forefront. The show improved dramatically from second episode with the introduction of Kanna and the show shifted the focus to slice-of-life approach, but the first episode already did the damage to discourage anime watchers into this show.

The humor of the show is on the risqué and bawdy side and I really do prefer this type of humor than over the top silliness, but I also agree that sometimes they got too carried away. The yuri love at the centre between Tohru and Kobayashi-san is well grounded; but the same can’t be said for the running gags of yuri undertone between two primary schoolers of Kanna and Riko (sometimes Kanna is a perpetrator for example, in which she “innocently” staying too close to Riko). More cringe-worthy, Lucoa and Shouta running gags of gigantic bouncing boob gave a huge backlash to more serious anime watchers as it appears the older (dragon) woman sexually assaulted the young shy boy. Well, for the love of God I’m not that serious about the issue but bouncy boob jokes do get old fast.

But at its core, Dragon Maid is a sensitive portrayal of a dysfunctional family and what it means to share happy moments with the person you love. Kobayashi-san, a thirty something workwoman who prefer to be left alone than having any real relationship is a perfect protagonist for this tale about family. Sometimes she remarks that it’s her who unsure how to express her feeling. Most of the time she doesn’t contact her real family not because they are having a tense relationship, it’s just her who feels detached from the family. There’s a real, honest look at the heart of modern day lifestyle, when individual starts drifting away from any real connection and this series is all about establishing that real connection.

The second theme Dragon Maid of underlined is the very definition of “family” and “where we belong”, as Tohru, who born a dragon, comes to live together with a human. The show addressed many times that the human world isn’t Tohru’s place, and because human’s and dragon’s lifespans are vastly dissimilar, what will happen to Tohru once Kobayashi reaches her end? Does lingering on the life that clearly don’t belong to you worth taking at all? As this series says, yes, because feeling is true. The other theme about family this show also addresses is the parental relationship, especially those from Kobayashi-san and Kanna. There are many touching moments where Kanna looks up to the protagonist as her mother figure (as a dragon she was exiled from her family) and Kobayashi-san tries her best to fit in that role. Secretly buying the stationary that she loves, tries to finish work early in order to aatend her play. Those intimate moments come from a very real place that doesn’t matter if the premise is phony (dragon appears as maid girl, duh), as long as your heart is in the right place you still hit jackpot.

True to its “sharing the moments together” theme, many of the show’s best sequences lie in the slice-of-life activities the characters have with each other, be it as bizarre as dragon’s fights, anime convention (where real monsters appear as themselves), or as mundane as spending a christmas holiday in kotatsu, preparing dinner or having a sport festival (there must be one in every slice of life high school show huh?) or performing a play together. The cast is mostly likable, especially Kanna who takes the anime world by storms. I also find the different length in each segment to be effective. Sometimes it plays for entire episode, sometimes it chops off and we have 4-koma like format, which actually adds to the final punch and the laid-back atmosphere of the show.

As KyoAni is the studio behind this show, it goes without saying that the show have a great treatment in productions values. The characters facial expressions are varied and spot on, the animation- where it needs to be, especially during dragon’s battles, is energetic and exciting. From what I gathered the studio actually modified a bit in its last 2 episodes from the manga source, which for me enhanced the main emotional core and successfully ended the show by overcoming its biggest external and internal threats.
All in all, Dragon Maid is an enjoyable anime. The show has relaxed atmosphere, engaging chemistry between its main cast, great animation and have some deeper and more intimate moments than its usual slice of life fare. Still compare to KyoAni canon I can’t help but think this is an inferior one with questionable fanservice. It’s heartwarming but lack certain quality to raise above the rest of a pack.

Posted on 8 April 2017 with categories: Anime Reviews, Scum's Wish

I remember after watched a movie called “Requiem for a Dream” a few years back, I felt devastated for an entire week. The ending hit me so hard that after finished that movie I had to walk around my area for 2 hours in the middle of night to settle my feeling and I thought to myself, “What’s the point of being too hard to the characters, those who have feeling and dreams just like any of us?” Then it hit me immediately. The movie is an unflinching look at the bad side of drugs and how it corrupts people. People like you and me. I finished Scum’s Wish feeling the exact same way. Scum’s Wish is an anti-romance series, a show that excels on portraying ugly aspects of romance relationship and the line of that love versus physical love. I don’t blame you if you feel emotionally-drained watching this series. It was supposed to be that way and for all the dark sides the show evokes, Scum’s Wish always give more thoughtful and honest treatments than most of other anime out there. The way the show handles the bright side of love though, couldn’t pull so much punch as it aimed for.

I do believe the title “Scum’s Wish” really give you an idea of what this show is about. The “Wish” part of the show is its exploration of unrequited love. This unrequited love trope appears everywhere in the show to the point it could be considered as a deconstruction. All these feelings so pure and strong it begins to be eaten over by desired; hatred and obsessions. In Scum’s Wish, everyone falls hopelessly in love with another person who don’t return their love, become blinded and damaged by that obsessive love and in the end, they had to leave that love to move on with their lives. “If it’s a special kind of pain, they’ll be able to become stronger”. Scum’s Wish argues that it’s a painful process to let go with the love of your life, but it’s a necessary step in order to grow up and become a fully-formed person.

But it’s the “Scum” part that gives makes this show provocative and controversial, for all the right reasons. Unable to let go of those one-sided loves, the characters of the show start to use physical means to get what they want. The show keeps progressing its confidence take on the line between physical desires and emotional desires, on how the characters keep using the former as the substitute for the latter, but end up being lonelier and more suffering. Also in Scum’s Wish, all characters really self-aware on the muddy situations they get themselves in, but charge forward anyways. They know what they do will fill them with regret and disgust, but they continue to do it for their own selfish gains, be it to escape from the frustration that they can’t be with the one they love, trying to get every little moment they could out of the loved one, or just use physical attraction as an approval of their power – hence Scum. Those moments where the characters struggling with themselves, most notably Hanabi’s young version loathes current Hanabi are one of the darkest, yet effective sequences of the show.

For a show that has little action and with a mundane high school settings, the visual presentation and the direction of the show are surprisingly very solid. I agree with most of its visual choices, ranging from the using of panel like in manga that represent both multiple perspectives and establish the space between our characters; the stylized key frames that make us feel like time has stopped in those moments; the text screens that represent more as a visualize of characters’ thoughts; the constant use of visual motifs like fallen rose pedals, characters facing the bright, more innocent selves that detailing the increasingly corruptions of the cast. The music; in particular, stands out in Scum’s Wish, as each segment has a different distinctive musical score that really help elevating the mood of each sequence.

The characters in the show are unfortunately a mixed-bag for me. We have really strong leads of Hanabi and Mugi who constantly have to deal with their personal issues, and the show successfully keeps peeling their skins for more nake, more vulnerable of themselves. With a show that aims more on pushing provocative themes than actual characters’ study, there are some characters of the cast are decidedly presented as one-dimensional from the start. Both Akane-sensei and Moca fall comfortably in their usual character’s stock, one is a bitchy bitch who love attention from men and jealousy from girls, the other is an elegant princess who dream for the prince to come. The show presents them as cliché in order to deconstruct how flawed their ways of thinking are. When they shrug off that extreme side of theirs, however, they become stronger and happier in the process. Moreover, I find Ecchan love towards Hanabi one of the most complex and appealing romance in this show. While the female cast if this show is consistently great (even with limited time on screen, Mugi’s senpai still come off as a painful and conflicted character. Strong character’s writing here), the male cast unfortunately doesn’t develop fully enough. Four-eyed sensei drags the show down and he feels more like a walking stick than a normal person; that guy Takuya is portrayed in mostly insensitive light that I feel he was more a trash bin with all the bad traits male inhibits; and Atsuya’s role in the show feel awkward and a bit forced towards pulling Ecchan out of her mess.

While the way this show handles its dark, twisted web of broken romances is effective and thought-provoking, the last third of the show it loses some of its impact as the show tries to resolve all of its relationships. With things are messy and complicated as they are, the ending feels a bit too clean and sometimes overreached. I can’t buy that love between Akane and Narumi for example, I feel like Hanabi and Ecchan can’t go back as friend, bot with that short time span and I feel the ending of Hanabi and Mugi, while appropriate, is underwhelmed. The best strength of Scum’s Wish is its ability to grab you and never let you go, but its impact is lessened greatly towards the end.

As a whole, Scum’s Wish is still a solid drama. Not so often in this medium we see a more realistic and dark aspect of love and romance like this one. The fact that I keep comparing this show to other movies really speak to this quality of Scum’s Wish: the show is structured and presented more like live-action TV show than an anime one (in fact, the live-action drama is currently streaming as we speak). For all of its devastating and depressing details, at its peak Scum’s Wish manages to pull many raw and naked emotional punch that many other shows don’t dare to address. Scum’s Wish is ultimately a painful and uncomfortable experience, but that what growing up is all about.

CHANGE USERNAME
Anonymous1637770
Also it can be tricky selecting a season sequel since some old series had like 50 to 100 episodes, what counted as a season then?
Anonymous1637770
@Kaiser-Eoghan - It's more common in videogames (especially Capcom) than in other mediums. Megaman 2, RE 2, Street Fighter 2, Dino Crisis 2, Marvel vs. Capcom 2, etc.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Actually in a rarity, a sequel season is better than the first.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Which makes my enjoyment of sangatsu so strange.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I generally do not like game/sports orientated shows.
Kaiser-Eoghan
That you slightlySuper-erMario and superwooper!
Kaiser-Eoghan
And my reaction to the show is such, that I enjoyed it enough to make such a huge pot about it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Also I want Akari to be my mom and Hina is adorable without being annoyingly so and Kana Hanazawa is doing a good job voicing her.

And whoever said it is right, the op/ed songs are worth listening to, for once I’m not skipping them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
At this point it feels as if by the end of the series I’ll come off it thinking that I don’t want to say goodbye to these characters.
I don’t think as of just yet it complete lives up to honey and clovers legacy though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I never cared about Harunobu initially, but recent episodes have changed this.
Dull parts of the manga are easier to get through for me in the anime due to Shaft elevating the material with one of the better uses of their visual gimmicks.
Giving the series another chance, even though I won’t fully embrace the humour, it does now and then manage to make me laugh a little.
Kaiser-Eoghan
The bullying arc centering on Hina and the shows treatment of it is better than most anime bullying stories and has provided the most emotionally rewarding aspect of the show.
Characters that are assholes like Kyouko’s boyfriend, Kyouko herself I’m finding somewhat more sympathetic and want to see more to their personal drama.
Kaiser-Eoghan
However I do genuinely think that the series does a good job of allowing dramatic moments to creep up on the viewer, that early scene of Hina crying over her mother, Rei’s family flashbacks, Akari’s concerns about Hina/the stuff with her dad, all the scenes with Kyouko do carry an effective and solid dramatic weight to them.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I feel it starts very strong, making a great first impression, then kind of has these dull moments that make it sort of a slog at times to get through, unfortunately I have no interest in chess/shougi and no knowledge the show tries to give me is going to stick or allow me to embrace that.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Through jumping back and forth between the anime and manga, I can say I have no caught up to where I will now watch March comes like a lion on a weekly basis.
Anonymous1636224
The blood of the innocent will flow without end, mmmmmm this is why I love Inuyashiki
Anonymous1636224
Mmmmmm the suffering of all those innocent people feeding his God boner, this is why I love Inuyashiki
Lenlo
Oh yeah, thats not a knock against it. Just noting they dont *need* much animation
SuperMario
Well, the nature of Mahoutsukai is slow-burned, so it makes sense they focus more on static, quiet moments
Lenlo
Was that blade 2022 thing supposed to be an example? Because I wasnt a fan. It was stylish sure, but difficult to follow.
Lenlo
Maho is a good looking show, I wouldnt call it a great animated show.
Lenlo
The issue for me is, theres just not alot being animated most of the time. Usually its a pretty slow moving anime, so most of its time is talking and still shots. It doesnt need alot of animation, so it doesnt have it.
Lenlo
@Niel, I think Mahoutsukai can have good animation when it wants to. Like the water viel in episode 10 looked good (Though im not sure how much of that was after effects)
Anonymous1635607
uhhh creepy
Anonymous1635589
the blood of the innocent will flow without end, mmmm this is why I love Inuyashiki so much
Amagi
I think the security is the same as here, it's just that Japanese people are less likely to rip stuff (correct me if I am wrong). It seems like ripped anime, manga and so on are basically always uploaded by Americans, Chinese people or someone else.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was surprised heavens feel was camripped I thought security in japanese theatres was stronger.
Amagi
Yeah it's also screening in Germany, I will watch it in February, together with Heaven's Feel, Mutafukaz, Kimikoe and a few others.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*on Europa cinema
Kaiser-Eoghan
Nanoha new film to screen next February in the US, come in Europa license it for over here dammit....
Kaiser-Eoghan
Did have some down moments though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
And I guess contrasting Luke with his old self goes some way.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Saw the preview screening of the new star wars, still feel the new trilogy stands inbetween the originals and prequels, fufills its duty as a *** star blockbuster , some genuinely hilarious high camp moments, awful tokenism, Snoke is a shit villain, but two scenes with Luke actually have a pathos to them and I liked the chase/action scenes when they happened. Nobody cares about the acting/dialogue
AidanAK47
But there are times when it goes way too far and you can barely make out what is even supposed to be happening. Or characters go so off model that they are unrecognizable. It can be immersion breaking. Much like uncanny CGI.
AidanAK47
@Niel, I do agree that it's annoying to see people complain about animation when they clearly have no idea what they are talking about. Like those inbetween frame screenshot people. But I will say I appreciate on model characters more so than chaotic movement. When the off model stuff suits the tone of the scene like that blade runner part, then it's fine.
niel
I also don't want to see someone imply visual=animation for the hundredth time. Are people really that ignorant of the technical/artistic aspect of the media they consumed?
niel
It just depends on what works best in given scene and the aesthetic they want to go for. People can complain all they want about off-model stuff, but if they really only want that the they won't be getting nearly as much of those impactful scenes as there are now. So many of the ways people complain about it is really irking to me.
niel
normal/low action scenes is different from being on-model during the action sequences and just the ones that need some extra impact in general. https://youtu.be/rrZk9sSgRyQ?t=6m45s
niel
But that depends on the situation though. And I'd argue that being consistent and on-model during
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter/Niello/Mario: Ideally I want it both ways, fluid animation AND consistent model visuals, all the while never sacrificing choreography.
SuperMario
But really, who am I to say. I'm the dude who prefer beautiful shot composition myself
SuperMario
The same can be said with Shinkai's movies since he always prefers static, beautiful shot that people tend to overlook that his animation is quite poorly handled
Vonter
You're right, but art direction does alleviate limited animation, I mean the old Berserk anime, kinda has a lot of slideshow moments. MahoYome has nice backgrounds, and despite the samey faces, at the very least doesn't come from the same mold as other series. Still cutting corners with chibi segments is was a mistake.
SuperWooper
Is it any wonder that people prefer things to be static/on-model? They want to see characters who look consistent and familiar so they can relate to them.
Nie
MahoYome being the biggest offender of people getting triggered to any kind of statement about the show's animation not being good. And it's absurd because the show's animation really isn't great at all. It's good with distracting people with pretty pictures, but animation-wise it's still mediocre.
Nie
@SuperMario: Not much. Just stuff like "Art is part of the animation weather it's beautiful backgrounds or just amazing looking characters. It's not all about how they move. If it was, CG would be considered great animation" multiple times. I've just been finding myself being replied with these kinds of comment non-stop since the start of the season.
SuperMario
@Niello: What happened exactly, if you don't me asking?
Nielllo
If I hear someone says AMB has good animation one more tie I might actually lose it. It's amazing how people who apparently know nothing about it try to defend this and other people who don't know anything are actually supporting the guy.
Niello
So with Fate Apocrypha episode 22 out, I'm just now learning that people think webgen style is horrible and they prefer static scenes with pretty visual over actual quality animation. WTF. I can't comprehend this. Are casual people who watch animation in general really that oblivious to the art they have been watching?
Lenlo
Berserks Dynasty Warriors style game looked better. Also, Mahoutsukai should be up tonight/tomorrow. Turns out, Christmas is a busy time of year at this job.
Amagi
*worse
Amagi
Especially when you consider how good CGI can be by now, look at Houseki or Kado. But Berserk was the worst thing I saw in years, many scenes felt worst than sequences of PSX games
Amagi
@SuperMario: Same. I love Kon and also consider Paprika's OST as the best. @Lenlo: Me too. I honestly even enjoyed the movies but the new series was atrocious
Lenlo
HIRASAWAAAA! HAAAAAI YOOOOO.
I miss the 90s Berserk.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I was also quite fond of his soundtracks for Berserk. AIIIIIYE FORCES : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NkYYYew8CUI
SuperMario
@Amagi: I'm a big fan of Kon so I've watched everything from his. Even bought a book about his works. About the soundtrack, I listened to them as well but not regularly, compare to pprika OST which I downloaded and listen to a lot
Kaiser-Eoghan
Although not completely a manga, Usagi yojimbo also has an anthro character.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Millennium actress is partially inspired by the actress Setsuko Hara.
Amagi
@Kaiser-Eoghan: The anthro-animal manga is even a topseller as far as I know. Haven't looked into it yet, though. Maybe I will do so.
Amagi
Speaking of it, I am still hoping Dream Machine will happen some day. Kon died believing it would happen
Amagi
@SuperMario: Have you tried the other Kon movies like Millennium Actress once? Thought they were really good and Hirasawa is responsible for the OST there too. Or Paranoia Agent which was (IMO) very good as well https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0nttSKBJ38k (OP)
Niello
Eoghan: Enjoy... ;)
Kaiser-Eoghan
While I haven't read this, its very strange to see a manga about full anthro animal characters: http://kissmanga.com/Manga/Beastars
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: So based on that I will try devil lady. Thanks.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Vonter: That'd be me who made that post. I thought dororon enma-kun was wonderfully ridiculous and Devilman gorishly entertaining, Shin Mazinger Z was probably some of the most fun I had with an anime, but violence jack took it way too far though so I guess I'm aquainted with nagai's work
Vonter
I don't remember who was looking for something noir in anime. I was looking among several series from Go Nagai. And watched some Devil Lady. I don't remember if noir is exclusively detective stories, but this anime, has those high contrast shadows, eerie music and is shot like some japanese horror movies I've seen. I don't know if it changes along the road but so far it's very suspenseful.
SuperMario
I only know him through his works in Berserk and Paprika but his music never fails to amaze me
Anonymous1626471
@Amagi: Ghost Bridge is my favourite. I just find it very calming. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeh5aJsxlbw
Amagi
Susumu Hirasawa is one of my favorite musicians/composers. I don't even know what kind of subgenre this is. There aren't any other music groups I know who do similar stuff
Nielllo
@Mario, Already saw that video before.
SuperMario
Check this out... I don't even know what the freaking instrument he's playing, but it's spellbound https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PjalQjAomH0
Niello
Just when I thought Houseki no Kuni took the prize for best animation I was treated with Apocrypha. This week is amazing.
Niello
Big name animators all over. They really threw everything they've got here.
Niello
Woooooah! OMG Apocrypha ep 22 animation is sick! So that's why the animation in the first half of the show is so lackluster and basically just darn awful.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Its not entirely odd to bring up Heydrich in relation to the occult either, apparently he was said to be part of some whackjob order.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Hmmm, that girl from Dies irae, Anna Schwegln is aptly named, also shares her name with the last executed person for witchcraft, who was Bavarian German, which i'm told by an Austrian friend were particular right-est leaning politically.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Of course unfortunately its often the opposite that happens, nothing is worse than an ending that ruins everything.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, how I love being surprised by something. That feeling where you''re watching something shakily held together, simply okay or good, then suddenly in the second half or last stretch your score of it goes massively up.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I can kind of understand the wanting to go home and watch something easy mentality instead of challenging but even though I'm guilty of escapism, I'm tired somewhat of "sillier" stuff, its often enjoyable but its get overly reptitive and I wish I could find more philosophical/political/imaginative things.
Amagi
Yeah the show is great because of its theme, the setting and chemistry girls have as well as their (lack of) knowledge about basic human things. Each episode thematizes this in a different way but there isn't much you can talk or say about it when you already explained the topic in detail.
SuperMario
On the other hand, I don't have much to talk about Girls' Last Tour this week. It's still good, but with this episode I feel that I'm running out of concrete thig to say about the show
SuperMario
Haha both Houseki and 3-gatsu have a good showing this week. I have a lot of things to talk about Houseki in particular
Amagi
This week's Houseki is jurassic park
Amagi
*-ati - I think Netflix and so are at least giving a few new impulses which isn't too bad. I don't think the typical anime series will disappear because of that.
Amagi
At least in comparisation
Amagi
I think it's just sad how often I see wonderful series selling 500 BD/DVD or maybe even less. Most series don't sell more than 1500 or so and the rest is usually at ~3000-5000 which is still pretty low.
Amagi
Yeah, it's one of my pro-Netflix arguments as well. Another problem is that anime (not counting manga) only make money through dvd/bd sales since they air at night, whereas Netflix or daytime tv series don't depend on the latter so much and since anime BDs are so expensive the only ones who buy them are the more extreme fans.
AidanAK47
Might be in part due to the workaholic nature of their society that makes escapist fantasy and empty entertainment more appealing than usual. Ultimately these are the people anime is made for so opening up the markets gives more deserving shows a fighting chance.
Though that isn't to say that western taste is perfect either.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, That's part of the reason I think some westernation might be a good thing as from what I seen the Japanese have truly terrible taste in anime. Sales charts from Japan just make me shake my head.
Amagi
God, the preorder anime lists are atricious. The only one that seems to sell acceptable (around 6k) is Mahoyome. Series like Inuyashiki have 80 pre-orders so far, Shuumatsu Shoujo 977. Idol shows sell good of course, including that male/bishounen Idolmaster
AidanAK47
@Anon, I read it but kinda fell out due to it's releases being slow.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Actually if you check the manga recommendations section, you'll see there is a post about it here.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Anon: Yes, it was interesting to follow a story that dealt with a characters homosexuallity that was outside of the yaoi/yuri mould.
Anonymous1620968
Out of curiosity, has anyone on here read Shimanami Tasogare?
Niello
Where are we up to with Inuyashiki?
Lenlo
Well alright then. Episode 9 out of 11 and that happens. Was not expecting that
Lenlo
Ooo something happen this week? Im about to watch it
Kaiser-Eoghan
It feels just as rushed and awkward in the manga.
Amagi
I noticed this too
AidanAK47
Inuyashiki has balls of steel to pull that in this particular episode number.
Nielllo
Finally got around to reading Helck, and it looks like it's going to go into that pile of good-shounen-that-won't-ever-get-animated right alongside Psyren.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Imagine trying to buy the dvds of the show in public.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Aidan: Gentle remind that the prism ilya movie is out and subbed.
AidanAK47
Still surprised the second and third seasons got dubbed.
AidanAK47
@Angel, I replied to one of your comments before but the rundown is no official word yet but maybe next year.
Angel
Or no? Someone please tell me!!
Angel
Going to happen?
Angel
Is fate/kaleid liner prisma☆illya 3rei dub
Amagi
I dislike it when manga bait me into reading due to the first chapter and end up being some very generic stuff afterwards. Nobody stays for B if he started something for A, authours should expect that.
Lenlo
Really, Juuni should stick with the 3D. That fight in ep 9 looked pretty good. 3D is clearly what they are good at
AidanAK47
@Niello, It's not Chatango. It's a plugin for wordpress called Wisechat.
SuperMario
@Niello: yeah, Juuni caught me off guard this week. The production of Juuni is unfortunately shaky, but well, strong writing can save the day
Niello
Btw is this chat still Chatango?
Niello
This week episode of Juini is surprisingly good compared to how the show usually is with its backstory. Although the part where Ox tries to explain to Tiger could definitely use some visual buff.
SuperWooper
in the future*
SuperWooper
Pretty cool that Juuni Taisen had that kind of emotional heft this week, though. Might be one of the 2017 shows I sample the in the future.
SuperWooper
I think the occasional comments with an episode title and nothing more come from people who mistake the shoutbox for a search bar.
SuperMario
@Anon1614688: juuni taisen... made me tearing up this week. Honestly didn't expect that. Damn you, Tiger
Anonymous1614688
juuni taisen
Amagi
Had some complaints regarding Children of Whales but the latest two episodes were pretty good.
Amagi
@Anon: You explained it better than me.
Anonymous1614307
Kaiser: I actually have the exact same opinion of Natsume and Mushishi. Both are excellent, but Natsume just does a great job with a small core cast and a very simple premise
Anonymous1614456
who likes naruto
Kaiser-Eoghan
Mushishi does have good stories, but it was always a manga I'd dip in and out of, on and off for years, never marathoning it, wheras Natsume was easier to read several chapters of in one go.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I think its because Natsume has more pathos.
Kaiser-Eoghan
*more than
Natsume weirdly ended up becoming this comfort manga for me with a higher consistency rate .
Kaiser-Eoghan
I will state that I hold the terrible opinion that I like Natsume Yujinchou than Mushishi but at the same time completely recognize that Mushishi is probably the more ambitious, better show.
Niello
So it becomes a cycle of "this is an interesting set up" (except that the new Kino isn't even good at that) and then they fucked up or Kino/Shizu fucked them up even more, then move on. Without the emphasis on philosophical nature of the set up they present like in the original Kino, there really isn't that much point to it.
Niello
With the new Kino it's more about messing people up, occassionally observing and hardly ever improving. The anwsers or solutions to the problem they present is never really talked about in a rational way.
SuperMario
@Anon1614318: maybe you should give the old Kino a try. What I don't like most about the new version of Kino is that both Kino and the new guy are sketched as hero. The old Kino manages the tone right as well. There were some really dark tales and most of them thought-provoking. Can't say the same for say...Country of Cooking
Anonymous1614318
I don't know, it might be interesting to actually dig deep into the differences between episodic series with this kind of style to see what works and what doesn't.
Anonymous1614318
I guess it's a matter of the chapter they chose to adapt were not really the better ones but the ones where the protagonist is more of an active role. Not totally against that, but it feels like the protagonist is just OP all the time. At least with Mushishi Ginko isn't able to save everyone all the time.
Anonymous1614318
I guess it's supposed to be more allegorical, but most of the time the allegory is not really meaningful enough. I thought it would be more along the lines of Mushishi, which is kind of similar in setup, but better in most other ways.
Anonymous1614318
What keeps me sticking around are some of the nice background arts and generally pleasant use of color, but admittedly most of the episodes aren't really engaging in a meaningful way. Most of the time its just Kino/Shizu show up, find out town's gimmick, then save the day. I prefer the episodes where the townspeople are more than just flat background characters.
Anonymous1614318
It's interesting to see how this new Kino season is being received from folks who've already watched the original. This is my first real exposure to Kino, and I kind of like it, but even without watching the original, I share many of the same complaints Aidan and most of the others have.
Amagi
I am also kinda sad he's just some 2* servant in fgo, but his power is special and he's physically weak, so it's understandable.
Amagi
And again, Shakespeare is just great but the character is, sadly, kinda wasted here considering how much screentime he has.
Amagi
@Aidan: Yes. Plus, maybe more characterization or background for some servants. The anime would have that time without Sieg and his romance sub plot.
AidanAK47
@Amagi, Those being remove Sieg and more Shakespeare?
Amagi
And man Apocrypha is pretty good but it would be twice as good if it had those two changes Aidan always mentions in the reviews..
Amagi
@Kaiser: I think the male in Kino was a mistake. Having two PoV sounds good, but he's basically just a male Kino, he even looks like her. Someone vastly different would have been way more interesting.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I'd guarantee that sangatsu no lion would be high up, but FINALLY this weekend I'll be catching up.
Niello
@Kaiser, Ugh my phone gitched. What I meant to say was that background was unexpected. Now I see why you're enjoying CotW though.
Niello
@Kaiser, That's unexpected.
Kaiser-Eoghan
I enjoyed how outright surreal Arakawa was.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: It bothers me that they're stuffing multiple tales into single episodes.
Kaiser-Eoghan
Ah, excel saga, I wonder what I would think of it now, its been years.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: I actually respect Aidan's coverage of it.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Niello: Yes that edgy villain kid in COTWs was annoying though.
Kaiser-Eoghan
@Amagi: I don't care much for the male character that leads some of the episodes in this new adaptation.
@Niello: Its a non-mainstream shoujo that isn't set in a school, moves at a quick enough pace and has some nice background art/chara design, I grew up on shoujo fantasy manga also so theres that.
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Featured Posts

Juuni Taisen – 11 [To Treat a Man to Beef From His Own Cow]

To the surprise of no one, Rat wins the race by breaking in the right place at the right time with the right weapon. This is by no mean a coincidence, because later on we learn about Rat’s real power: “Hundred Paths of Nezumi-chan”, in which he can see 100 various outcomes and thus picking […]

Mahoutsukai no Yome – 10 [We Live and Learn]

Welcome to week 10 of Mahoutsukai! Finally, oh so finally, we have are given some backstory on Elias! Our mysterious male(?) lead gets some explanation. We also get the start of a Chise only arc and finally some more information on Lindel. Lets jump in! As the main focus of this weeks episode, naturally I […]

Dies Irae – 09[A Mother’s Sins]

DIes Irae isn’t making this easy for the anime only watcher, as we get confused montages of Lisa’s backstory and oddly of a character whose relevance doesn’t come till a much later date. I would say it’s rather spoiler-ish if the info wasn’t presented in such a haphazard way that no one could really decode […]

Girls’ Last Tour – 10 [Train – Wavelength – Capture]

Girls’ Last Tour examines the concept of time and space this week, as the girls riding on a lonely moving train. The train design fits right in with this world: a long metal box that functions all by itself and contains many now-dysfunctional robots – corpses of the machines. Since last week we learnt that […]

Kino’s Journey -The Beautiful World- – 10[Kind Country]

Another remake of a story from the old series and while this one is adapted quite well, maybe even arguably better than the old version, it unfortunately lacks the same impact. The main problem comes back to the thing which ultimately holds back this season as a whole, story choice. For you see in the […]

Houseki no Kuni – 10 [Shiro]

This week proves to be the most action-packed episode Houseki has been offering so far and unconventionally, it’s Dia who takes the central stage at facing the most ridiculously overpowered Lunarian Titan to date. Well, I said “unconventionally”, but when the narration and the execution (the camera work, in particular) come together in such neat […]

Fate/Apocrypha – 22[Reunion and Farewell]

Breaking my usual routine today just to give an opinion on this episode but this episode made me feel compelled to get out my opinion. We have another action packed episode with three contestants out of the war and boy did they go out with a bang. Many will notice that the animation for this […]

Inuyashiki – 9 [Shihjuku People]

Welcome to another week of Inuyashiki! This week we have incredible sequences of terror, fearless Directors and death flags! Lets jump in. Obviously, the first thing we need to talk about this week is Hiro. A lot has happened in the few hours since Hiro attacked the Station. Interestingly, yet weirdly, Hiro has garnered a […]

Fate/Apocrypha – 21[Antares Snipe]

When Apocrypha slows down, it’s story shows it’s cracks. But when it’s an action showcase it actually becomes quite entertaining. The characters don’t have the time to be developed but they shine in combat when they clash, sometimes showing parts of themselves the series otherwise doesn’t allow for. Astolfo for one was actually useful for […]

Latest Reviews

The Reflection Review – 45/100

The superhero genre has been undergoing a surge in popularity in recent years. From the Marvel movies in the West to anime series like My Hero Academia in the East, super heroes are everywhere.  As such, for good or ill, it was inevitable that we would get a merging of the two. The Reflection is […]

Made in Abyss Review – 91/100

There are few series which can capture the mystery and wonder of a fantasy world as well as Made in Abyss. Their world is dangerous, brutal and unforgiving but beautiful, wondrous and exciting in it’s presentation. The story is of a ordinary girl called Riko and a mysterious cyborg boy called Regu traveling down the […]

Classroom of the Elite (Summer 2017) Review – 54/100

Here’s a perfect example of a Light Novel adaptation schlock that has some interesting concept but terrible presentation. Youkoso usually starts the episode with a thought-provoking philosophical quote, and then (in one episode in particular) they followed up with a boob shot. It sums up exactly how I feel about this show. In service for […]

18if (Summer 2017) Review – 68/100

Allow me to skip over the last episode coverage for this full review of 18if, since I was too underwhelmed by the finale to have anything concrete except pointing out how messy the ending was. The first thing you need to know about 18if is that it’s a multimedia project (along with a mobile game […]

Princess Principal (Summer 2017) Review – 82/100

Princess Principal has emerged as a true sleeper hit for this admittedly sloppy Summer Season. A joint project from indie studios that bring us my favorite anime of last year Flip Flappers (3Hz) and “better than it has any right to be” Girls und Panzer (Actas), Princess Principal records the missions of five cute spy […]

Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul Review 80/100

“Dance!” I have been a  reader of this blog for a long time. Indeed it would not be wrong to say that psgels and the current crop of writers have helped maintain my interest in anime for the last decade. So now here is my chance to give something back to this excellent blog. Shingeki […]

Katsugeki Touken Ranbu Review – 63/100

Every Anime season we the viewers are shown a number of adaptations, often made after Light or Visual Novels. It’s an already written story with an established base, a smart business decision. In recent years studios have also begun pulling from the Video Game market for their shows. Pieces like the Idolmaster series, Kantai Collection […]

Kakegurui Review – 61/100

This show is one that makes conventional reviewing difficult as your enjoyment of your series will likely determine on highly subjective factors. For if I was to put this under scrutiny on matters of f-plot, setting and characters then it will end up lacking in all categories. The plot is just watching Yumeko face members […]

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There was never going to be a epic fight with every creation squaring off against the overpowered and invincible Altair. That possibility died when the creators threw the copycat of Blank at her only to have that plan backfire horribly. Besides, it wouldn’t have been a satisfying conclusion to Altair’s story to have her be […]