Posted on 18 June 2013 with categories: Spring 2013 Kaleidoscope

#1: Yahari Blahblah – 09: The main character’s pessimism: I’m really surprised at how well that has been done in this series. It really has depth: he’s not just wise-cracking his way through the series, nor is he wallowing in self-pity. He is who he is, and he is happy that way, even though his life could be so much more fun if he didn’t think the way he did and he wasn’t so cautious in avoiding disappointments. And even that part gets developed in this episode. This is the first light-novel adaptation with a stupidly long title that I actually liked, but even then this has exceeded my expectations.

#2: Majestic Prince – 09: The plot in this series is nothing special. The characters still show off their clichés. The villains are boring, the setting is standard. Yet why do I like this? Why do I find the characters so enjoyable to watch? Why do I find their quirks funny? What’s going on here?

#3: Hunter X Hunter – 83: What I really like about the Chimera Ant Arc is how well it explores the ants themselves, and how they gradually learn from their mistakes. They’re smart… for ants. That unfortunately is also why I don’t yet consider this to be the best arc of the series so far. At this point the ants have nothing on the Spider Troupe yet and the fights still are boring. Will that change or not?

Wtf of the week:

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z – 09 & 10: What on earth did I just watch? What was that? Why, Japan? Why!?!

Worst episode

Valvrave the Liberator 10: Oh boy. I’d like to talk a bit about the series from the “Code Geass”-school, or to be more accurate: the products of Ichiro Okouchi and Hiroyuki Yoshino, because I’m deeply concerned with what these two are doing. Hiroyuki Yoshino may not be involved in Valvrave, but the general trend is definitely visible. The two of them are prolific writers who get assigned to do the series composition of a lot of high-profile original anime, yet their philosophy favors sensationalism over everything else: they write series with shock value in mind, while at the same time having storylines that don’t even bother hiding that they’re ridiculous.

I say that it comes from the Code Geass-school, but I believe that this started with Mai Hime and Mai Otome. Mai Hime was actually a very good series that actually did a very good job at shock twists, but something happened in the transition to Mai Otome, which started to sacrifice good storytelling and likable characters for said shock twists (really, what happened there just did not make any sense!). Ever since that point, our lovely duo proceeded to write original scripts that just threw in shocks for the sake of having shocks, even though they are either really convenient, or just didn’t make any sense at all (and before this point they didn’t do that: these are the guys who wrote Planetes, Overman King Gainer, the adaptation for Angelic Layer) and indeed Mai Hime. A downside is that they use that to also drag down some really good directors in the process: Tetsurou Araki, Goro Taniguchi, Matsuou Kou, even Shoji Kawamori (in a less noticeable way though, probably thanks to Shoji’s ego). They’re all brilliant directors, but none of that brilliance shined through when they had to work with these guys.

So yeah, the rape. Let’s just say that I disagree with how it was used here. Valvrave is supposed to be this fun over the top and crazy series. With this, you just made it way too serious. I understand that they wanted to show that Valvrave can turn people into monsters. But don’t try to combine that with a student council election. That’s very bad use of irony, not to mention that I find that it looks very much down on rape and rape victims. With this episode this series also really started to take itself seriously. Why? Also, I glimpsed at a few of the reactions people had after this episode. And god. It’s times like these where I want to disassociate myself from the anime fandom…

Posted on 30 May 2013 with categories: Spring 2013 Kaleidoscope

#1: Hunter X Hunter – 80: Once in a while Hunter X Hunter comes with an episode that just stands out. This was one of them. The first half just oozed style and really was a big change from the usual atmosphere and I found it really well done with how it was just in black and white, and how it didn’t show the guy’s face at all. The second half of the episode… let’s just say that it’s the first time in 80 whopping episodes that this series managed to shock me.

#2: Yahari Blahblah – 05: The end of this episode. That’s where I understood the appeal of this series and where it really became better than its contemporaries, rather than just a series with potential. The first parts of the episode were a bit iffy, but at the end it really became apparent that the creators spent time on it: the male lead’s loneliness is actually well.

#3: Yondemasuyu, Azazel-San – 07: This was actually quite hilarious. Yondemasuyo Azazel-san is at it’s greatest when it’s just banter. The characters have a really good chemistry together, and I especially love the creative use of facial expressions as this show tries to parody the murder mystery genre. Of course, they then proceed to ruin it in episode 8 while trying too hard on being weird and gross again. Enough with the jokes about people’s nether regions already!

WTF of the past Weeks:

Saint Seiya Omega – 56: So. We have this ninja, who has been raised in an incredibly conservative ninja village. This ninja then hears rock music, it changes his soul and now he suddenly is performing J-rock in a band of power-ranger impersonators. Okay.

Posted on 12 May 2013 with categories: Spring 2013 Kaleidoscope

#1: Valvrave The Liberator – 04: Just… wow. Don’t get me wrong, this episode was incredibly cheesy. But at the same time it was just florious with how much confidence it brought that plot twist of its. I guess this is what I meant by this series just going over the top: screw logic, and just focus on creating as much fun as possible. So far, this is what Guilty Crown should have been: the male lead is the only one with special powers, and he just uses them to screw everyone who is against him over. The big potential pitfall right now is the characters. These types of series also seem to think that you don’t need characters to remain entertaining, but the whole trick of making these series last is by keeping them interesting. Otherwise it’ll just get boring!

#2: Hunter X Hunter – 77: I still find the ant designs to look a bit silly (a minor detail perhaps, but it does screw a bit with your first impressions), but I like the idea behind the Chimera ants a lot. The way in which they continue to evolve. And again, it’s completely different from any other arc in Hunter X Hunter before and I really admire that for a shounen series. But do the villains have actual emotional depth? There’s one way to find out!

#3: Yahari Blahblah (I still refuse to use the whole title of this show until it gets actually really good) – 04: What I liked about this episode was the use of that one really popular guy. It was a bit of a narrow-minded episode, but it raised some good points for the characters. At the very least, I’m really glad to see that this didn’t turn out to be yet another one of those brainless school series, but that it actually tries to bring some substance in, even though it’s got a bunch of cliched and annoying characters.

Other Notes:

Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge – 04: Now I see! The thing with this series is that the story is crap, yet the characters and the atmosphere are charming. This may seem negative, but it is what keeps me watching. I couldn’t care less about those killing thingies or whatever plot there is supposed to be, but the creators gathered together an interesting cast that stands out. There are some weird things though. Like that girl who got stranded in this episode. I’m not sure what to think of her.

Posted on 28 April 2013 with categories: Spring 2013 Kaleidoscope

#1: Hunter X Hunter – 76: Well, finally. It has taken a year and a half, but we’ve finally gotten to the actual new material of Hunter X Hunter with the Chimera Ant arc. I was fully set to start dedicating an entire entry to it again, but as I started typing, I realized something: I’m not really invested in this show. I’m not motivated to dedicate an entire entry to this series. I’m not sure what the main reason was. Perhaps it’s how annoying blogging the first episodes turned out to be, or how annoying it has been to wait so long for this point to come. My guess though, it’s the characters. Overall, the 1999 series at its height was much more engaging than what this series was at its height. This lack of character investment is something that’s quite important to me: oftentimes I was able to enjoy series with really shoddy plots due to really good or interesting characters, though the reverse (good plot with uninteresting characters) are rarer. Instead, I have the kaleidoscope, because I can’t deny that the plot here is really good. Episode 76 tells about the prologue of the series, which was originally meant to be shown at the start of the series. I preferred the latter (I like foreshadowing), but really: this works too as a flashback. Character building yay! Although that ant queen looks rather silly. And Madhouse still couldn’t get any good singers for their EDs?

#2: Majestic Prince – 04: This one surprised me, a lot. With a few exceptions, the characters are starting to move away from their stereotypes, and also: it’s still quite self-aware. Especially episode 4 was actually quite genuine for that blond woman as it showed her role in the story along with her background and her worries. I did not expect that.

#3: Saint Seiya Omega – 54: I’m still not quite sure what to think of the new series, especially the villains are really boring and all look alike. Yet, this episode still grabbed me with Yuna’s doubts about her strengths (also that was surprisingly blunt of Koga to say… “Why aren’t you fighting?!”).

WTFs of the week:

Yahari blahblah – 03: Half the cast of this show is a tsundere!

Valvrave the Liberator – 02: Oh my god, this show is really aiming to be a huge trainwreck. I mean, the plot is exciting and all with the whole personality switching, but dear god, the characters! “L-EEEEELF!!!!!”

Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San! – 03: Moloch is awesome. It’s not just his character. He’s this catalyst that makes every single other character awesome. Now that he’s gone this show has gone to bleeding ass jokes. I wish I were kidding. What the hell did I just watch there?

Danchi Tomou – 03: Even considering he’s young… there is a bit of a screw loose on Tomou. He seriously acted like half his age in this episode!

Posted on 19 April 2013 with categories: Spring 2013 Kaleidoscope

So, some feedback on my previous entry: it seems that people were actually expecting something else when I said that I’d do a kaleidoscope this season, and that is more of an entry with short impressions on a lot of different series.

I can get behind that. I also like to highlight a lot of different series. The problem is going to be to keep up with all of it. Ever since I got a life I can’t just consistently keep up with everything every single week, so be sure to expect some delays.

These entries won’t be complete, but every thursday, I’ll try to give a rundown of my favorite episodes of the series that I’m not blogging, along with disappointments or other noteworthy episodes that I happen to watch. Enjoy.

Top 3:

#1: Yondemasuyo, Azazel-San Z – 02: very rarely is a comedy sequel better than its predecessor. And yet, Azazel-san here had its best episode yet. With this I include all the OVAs and TV-series together. With the first episode I already said that Moloch is by far the best character of the series, but he really surpassed himself with this episode; it was just brilliant. The creators had so many hilarious ideas with how they made him pretend to be a stuffed animal and they built up their humour perfectly. Heck, this was the funniest thing I’ve seen all year.

#2: Hunter X Hunter – 75: Finally. After waiting for more than a year and a half. Throughout 75 episodes. We are finally about to get to the new material. Finally I won’t have to bitch anymore about the series just being a glorified recap. Anyway, the Greed Island arc was done better in Madhouse’s version compared to what Nippon Animation did to it (better pacing, better action, better acting, things flowed much better), but it remains for a large part a training arc that is just boring to watch. This final episode though was really good, as it showed some of the people behind the Greed Island Game. Just one thing: didn’t Hunter x Hunter have its own alphabet? What are they doing then toying with latin letters over and over here? And then the text on the cards for Greed Island is in Japanese… how do languages work there anyway?

#3: Danchi Tomou – 02: Oh come on, people. It’s been a week and still no subs? What is this? 2008? Anyway, Tomou is good. It’s slice of life without much happening, but the characters are quite endearing so far, and it’s about actually interesting situations. I actually quite liked how everyone just got out and had dinner outside on a whim. It’s full of these small relatable things, but sometimes it does go on for a bit too long (the smelly hands thing got awkward quite fast, and it just went on and on!)

Notes about Aiura: sorry, but being the fan of Ryousuke Nakamura I have to talk about this. The second episode still was funny, the voice acting was still very good, but there are some stereotypes. Well hidden stereotypes, but you can see that this was based on a mediocre manga.

Disappointments:

Karneval – 02: I’m not going to watch the second episode of everything, only the series that I thought had potential. Out of those, Karneval disappointed me the most. Listen, there is a difference between stupidity, and acting like you’re outright lobotomized. The male lead acts like a completely whiny kid with no grasp of who he is. The rest of the cast tries way too hard with their acting. If I dropped the Hakkenden, I also have to drop this one, because the Hakkenden was much, much more solid.

Devil Survivor – 02: You know what really surprised me? How boring this show is. I mean, even Persona had some fun elements when it started, but this… the characters are completely bland and I’ve already forgotten what half of this thing was about. The animators try, but I see no motivation whatsoever from the scriptwriters or directors.

Posted on 12 April 2013 with categories: Spring 2013 Kaleidoscope

To be honest, I am not sure yet which series I’m going to blog or not this season. I still need to make up my mind on that. Still, I feel like doing another kaleidoscope this season. Giving a small commentary on every episode I watch is going to be impossible, so instead I’m going to blog a different series each week, and on top of that I’ll cover the episodes that really stand out or catch my attention.

A fitting start would be the transition for Saint Seiya from its first half into its second half, because there are some really weird decisions made here… First though, about the conclusion of the first half: the animators really went all out for that, and I really like that. The story was cliched, but the really good animation and atmosphere really brought that to life and I love how much freedom they got for it.

And then… this happened. As I’ve said before, I was really looking forward to this because it shows the return of the Heartcatch Precure director. This is a guy who also directed Interlude, which was a really weird OVA that did have its flashes of brilliance, and I think that that’s what describes this first episode of Saint Seiya Omega’s new arc for me.

Because holy crap, who came up with that new character? What is this walking cliche doing, just forcing himself into the middle of the story, right from out of nowhere with that stupid outfit of his? I guess now that Koga has grown up the creators needed a new immature character to balance things out and all, but couldn’t he have been a bit more likable and less cliched? I mean, this is a cliche that only really bad sequels pull in order to drag out their storylines even more.

That’s not to say I hated this episode, but the weird thing is that I liked it for really weird reasons. I mean… that butler! I have no idea who he is, but I really felt sorry for him! The part where Seiya failed to kill that girl? I liked that a lot. That one golden saint? His speech about how shallow his own powers are really got to me.

And then on the other hand you have the animation that clearly had its shortcuts taken, including really cheesy transformation sequences (I know that there is a background from Heartcatch Precure here, but you don’t HAVE to include them, you know?). And then Koga just went and randomly pulled that giant unicorn out of his ass… So yeah, all in all this has me quite baffled on how it will turn out…
Rating: #%!*/8 (???)

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  • Friend
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:50 AM)
    @Bam Looking forward to it :)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:43 AM)
    @Emma: man, that would be my pleasure, but I have to do minimal work and you do the rest for it to look good lol
    I’ll message you as soon as I figure out how.
  • Friend
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:38 AM)
    @Bam Great! It’d also be fun to do collaborations as well. Could I see some of your work for that? You could send me a note on DA if you prefer
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:36 AM)
    @Friend: interesting. I have some weird looking spaceshift, building and character designs from Koji Morimoto so lemme know if you need me to send you the scans ;)
  • Friend
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:32 AM)
    @bam Yup :) I downloaded a free template from BlendSwap and took a screenshot of it wireframed.
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:30 AM)
    @Friend: war is definitely stained … but I’m mostly wondering about where you got that ship schematics from? =)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:28 AM)
    @Friend: I really like the other one as well. I also commented on the 1st one and added you to my watch, but don’t you dare look at my creations as from a pro’s perspective they are nothing but mockeries.
  • Friend
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:19 AM)
    @Emma @Vincent for my next piece, I might try drawing a representation of the New Macchu Picchu concept Vincent thought up.
  • Friend
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:14 AM)
    @Bam thank you for that :], I try to let the viewer take a step back and absorb everything on their own rather than having things immediately pop out. Like this satirical piece I did some time ago: http://fc02.deviantart.net/fs70/f/2014/187/0/d/kriege_sind_bunt_by_friendist-d7piwgz.jpg
    But I might try a flashier piece my next time, thanks. :)
  • Bam
    (Tuesday, Oct 21. 2014 06:10 AM)
    The water details are also lush, and I can already see that you have much experience with these types of sceneries. I would loved to have seen the serpent’s body crawling between the building as if constricting the town and hence nit immediately noticeable, but that’s probably just me.

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