Posted on 17 April 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, Yozakura Quartet - Hoshi no Umi

Yes. This is EVERYTHING that the original Yozakura Quartet TV-series should have been. Holy crap, talk about amazing action here. This was quite possibly the best action of this year so far. The dynamics and animation are… just totally something else. The fight against the giant golem in particular was just absolutely stunning. It’s not just the awesome animation, but also the creativity that went into it. I mean, how many others have characters summon a legion of stealth fighters from out of nowhere?

The direction really does wonders at bringing the cast alive. They’re all fun to watch, even outside of the action and this episode did not forget to insert some nice drama. Standalone it perhaps wasn’t that spectacular, but the way in which it was delivered worked out really well. The cast of this OVA is surprisingly large, but this show even makes the characters that it doesn’t spend any attention on stand out.

My one point of criticism is that sometimes the dialogue feels a bit uninspired. During the fight the characters just kept talking about special powers and who is stronger than who. I feel like there they could have tried a little harder but then again, the simple dialogue also has its charms.

And thankfully, there will be at least a third OVA in about half a year. Let’s hope that there will be more others to follow after that, because this show deserves a lot of airtime in order to fully tell its story.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,75/10

Posted on 4 April 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

Tansuwarashi is Production IG’s entry in the Young Animator Training Project, and it it absolutely adorable. It’s the only one of the for that I can really see work as an actual series: Ojii-san no Lamp was perfect with just 20 minutes, while Kizuna Ichigeki and Bannou Yasai Ninninman would have gotten really annoying if they were any longer.

A slice of life series about an office lady who finds a group of spirits in her closet though, I’d love to watch that. All of the characters just have this natural charm to them, even though there are many characters who are all pretty one sided. This OVA shined at making an entire happy family from them. And besides: when was the last time where we got to see an anime that featured an actual female lead who was neither a teenager nor a student? Those characters are even rarer than male adult main characters.

As for the animation, it wasn’t as impressive as the others, and instead it was very down to earth. The in between animation did get quite good at times, though.

Overall, the Young Animator Training Project was at its best when it combined its childish charms with adult issues. Especially Ojii-san no Lamp and Tansuwarashi were good at this. Meanwhile, the animation was particularly impressive in Kizuna Ichigeki: we can expect some great things from them in the future, as soon as they manage to get themselves some good sponsors and scriptwriters. It’s definitely been an interesting experiment.
OVA Episode Rating: 8/10

Posted on 29 March 2011 with categories: Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, OVA Impressions

The adults in Gundam Unicorn… are actually portrayed really well. Their maturity works quite well. And like I said before: the execution here is incredibly solid and if this wasn’t bound by Gundam cliches, I definitely would have liked it even more than I am now. There are plenty of characters here who take themselves seriously, are intelligent and make for a great war drama.

What annoys me about Gundam Unicorn is something that annoys me about a lot of other Gundams as well. They’re certain ideas and tropes that just continue to run throughout all kinds of Gundam Series that I just can’t get behind, and seeing those repeated over and over… I have to admit that those are killing my enjoyment of this series a bit.

To take this episode:
– The main character is the vehicle for a lot of “war is bad” drama.He inherently believes that killing is evil… and yet he flies around in a giant killing machine.
– There also is that mentality of “oh, us adults are old and fail. Let us sacrifice ourselves so that the youth can shine” that I just can’t get behind, even though the adults are portrayed as far more useful and reliable.
– Then it also suddenly brought up the skilled minor bad guy who does nothing but frantic yelling. Especially Gundam 00 abused this one heavily.
– Oh, and let’s not forget the lead character unlocking his hidden powers once he sees one of his friends killed. Realistic warfare? Hah.

Nevertheless, this all could have been much, much worse. You can see that Char actually is aware of all these tropes around the lead characters, and has constructed a pretty solid plan around them with much more details than you usually see. Meanwhile, while the main character isn’t the best advertisement for “war is bad”, his romantic interest is actually trying to resolve conflicts using diplomacy as the “Relena” of this series. That’s one cliche that I don’t have any qualms about: it’s good to have a voice of reason in Gundam series: someone who doesn’t constantly think about fighting.

Also, I have yet to see my to biggest annoyances of the Gundam franchise: the endless yelling and angsting, and the long strings of monotone battles that they tend to devolve in. If Gundam Unicorn can actually avoid these in its second half, then it can really get quite good. However, this episode already contained a hint to the former (that guy who just kept yelling). As for the second annoyance, though: those usually are the result of this series remaining too long in space, where there really isn’t much to do apparently. The end of this episode showed the characters descending to earth.

A descending scene that was really good, by the way. The song behind it was ridiculously cheesy, but somehow the direction made it all work all the characters finally taking a break between all the fighting in order to actually get through the atmosphere safely. That’s good build-up here, to end the episode with a completely different mood.
OVA Episode Rating: 8/10

Posted on 25 March 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

Bannou Yasai Ninninman shows off the junior department of PA Works. After watching this third installment of the Young Animator Training Project, I find it interesting to see that all installments have their own target audiences. Ojii-san no Lamp was meant for an older audience, while Kizuna Ichigeki was food for animation fans. Bannou Yasai Ninninman is targeted towards children.

Remember how Bugs Bunny always gnawed on carrots? Or how Popeye used Spinach as steroids? These things were all done in order to get kids to actually eat these things. I can only imagine that that was the inspiration for Bannou Yasi Ninninman, in which a little girl gets haunted by a very annoying carrot, paprika and milk spirit because she faints after eating them.

This OVA does a fine job of portraying the lead character as a little girl with her own problems, but where it really drops points is at how badly it wants to shove its message down the viewer’s throats. I mean, to go back to Bugs Bunny: he never outright told kids that they should eat carrots. Instead, what kids saw was this cool and cute animal with an unforgettable catchphrase that really liked carrots. In comparison, Bannou Yasai Ninninman goes: “yeah, you can save your friends lives if you eat your vegetables. It won’t taste nice, but it’ll solve all your problems!”

It also doesn’t really help that the titular Ninninman tries desperately to be funny. You know, that guy who keeps overacting in the hopes of being liked, only to end up as really, really annoying.

Like Kizuna Ichigeki, Bannou Yasai Ninninman only has one thing that makes it worth watching. For Kizuna Ichigeki this was the animation, for this it’s the characterization of the lead character: that is one thing that the creators nailed, and they did put forward a cute and innocent lead character. Oh, and that squid of her mother too, I guess.
OVA Episode Rating: 7,5/10

Posted on 23 March 2011 with categories: Black Lagoon - Roberta's Blood Trail, OVA Impressions

I expected this episode to be full of action. It wasn’t. The action scenes were small and instead this episode was full of dialogue and build-up. And strangely enough it was just as good as I hoped.

Roberta’s Blood Trail shows the strength of OVAs. I mean, it really feels like Black Lagoon has matured even more since the I last watched it. In any case the pacing of this OVA allowed the creators to really take their time: the slow pacing is used quite effectively to give just about everything extra detail. Seriously, this episode was full of people talking about themselves and each other. This really feels like one of those arcs that would not have worked at all as a TV-series, and therefore it fits the OVA format perfectly.

What’s also very typical here is that the creators pretty much put Revy out of the picture for the climax here: with both of her arms shot she won’t be part of the big climax of this OVA. At first I really thought that Roberta’s Blood Trail would be much in the same alley as the first Roberta arc, which was very much hinted by the first episode. Instead the ending seems to be turning out much deeper than expected, with everything depending on whether or not Rock’s huge gamble turns out well. It goes without saying that if the creators play it right they can reach an amazing conclusion with that.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,5/10

Posted on 20 March 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, Tales of Symphonia

Okay, so episode 6 was all about Regal and Presea, episode 7 took Sheena under the loop and now episode 8 comes probably with the least interesting couple: Lloyd and Collet. And don’t get me wrong, this episode still was pretty amazing, but the two of them just are the least interesting and received the least interesting upgrade from the game.

What I mean by that: in the games Collet got kidnapped quite a few times, but it’s not as extreme as here in the OVA where she was pretty much out of the picture for more than two episodes (especially considering how they were both 40 minutes). Lloyd meanwhile had to become a less strong main character, in order for the side characters of the anime to shine. In the games, he always was the one who pushed the story forward and carry the rest of the cast along with him. Raine pretty much was the only other character who could also do that. Here though, it’s the other way around: every side character takes you along in order to tell his or her story. In exchange, Lloyd needs to angst once in a while. He’s still matured, but he’s definitely a weaker character than in the games. Even in this episode that was supposed to focus on his development, we had characters like Zelos, Yuan and Kratos stealing the show.

Also, the comedy around Sheena was surprisingly good. And no, I remember none of the jokes she used from the games. Again, this really is an excellent adaptation. This episode only loosely followed the plot of the games; even less than the other episodes. Especially the fight against Rodyle was done nicely. In the games he just transformed himself into a monster because the characters needed someone strong to fight. In the anime, he instead uses this trap that allows him to nicely tease the characters in front of him and it also gave Presea another crowning moment of awesome.

And thankfully, this isn’t the end either. There’s a final batch of OVAs coming to detail the finale of this story. At this point the only characters that haven’t been taken under the loop are Zelos, Genis and Raine, and I’m really glad to see how much this episode kept hinting at how their stories will not be ignored: this episode really established that Zelos is working for Cruxis, and the end of this episode introduced Mithos, who will have a major impact on Genis.

I really wonder how the creators will handle Mithos here, though. I always found him a bit flimsy in the game. The characters never really questioned the really strange things he ended up doing (and thankfully the creators indeed did cut away the scene in which he [SPOILER] from Rodyle’s Human Ranch) and it was so obvious who he was and yet the characters never even questioned it.

the one thing that I really hope for in that final OVA is for the characters to pay a visit to Exire. I know that it has absolutely nothing to do with the story and all, but it really would be a wonderful addition to a certain character. I mean, this character just won’t be complete without it.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,5/10

Posted on with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

Kizuna Ichigeki is… weird. I mean, on one hand it is a martial arts OVA with strange character designs (designed by the guy who also designed the characters of Mind Game, by the way), but on the other hand the context in which it happens is just so bizarre and random that I’m not even sure whether the creators knew what they were doing.

This short shows the debut of Ascension, a completely new animation company. Overall, this short mostly impressed me because of its visuals: those were really good. The big problem here is that they didn’t get themselves a good scriptwriter.

In between the fights are these silly dialogues between the characters that are what I suspect supposed to be funny and charming, but mostly just end up random blabbering. Especially the grandfather is annoying: he’s the kind of guy who keeps making jokes because he thinks he’s funny, while he’s actually really obnoxious. The bad guys also have the flimsiest reasons to actually try to fight the lead character and serve no purpose whatsoever beyond being meat for fanservice. Just about the only thing that the scriptwriter did right was portraying the themes of family: together the cast does form quite a happy and sincere family.

Also, the cat. That freaking cat. That was by far the biggest “what the hell” of this short.

The actual animation however is excellent. The fight scenes in particular are fun and exciting, and a lot of care has gotten into the choreography. The way in which people move around and react to each other, it’s all been done very intricately and the animation really brings the characters to life. I see a good future for Ascension. They just need to find a bunch of good writers.
OVA Episode Rating: 7,5/10

Posted on with categories: OVA Impressions, Young Animator Training Project

The Young Animator Training Program is an initiative to create four standalone OVAs with the purpose of training new animators. Each short would be handled by a different studio, and each would get a certain budget for it. An excellent idea. Ojii-san no Lamp is Telecom Animation Film’s result. You know, the people from Secret of the Cerulean Sand, Uninhabited Planet Survive and Moyashimon.

For this OVA I was expecting this short slice of life story of Japan around 100 years ago, in which we would see a young boy and his grandfather’s lamp. You know, the kind of children’s slice of life that you see more often. As it turns out, I totally wrong about this. Instead, it paints a picture of the life of an oil lamp salesman. Only the first half of this OVA is about his childhood, the meat of this OVA is about him as an adult.

It turned out to be a poignant story, about the use of light in pre-world war Japan and the technological advancements. It’s not something you usually see, and this OVA actually has this great balance between its focus on lamps and the titular grandfather, with a strongly written ending. It may be a bit too dramatic at times, but this is nothing major.

As for the animation, we can expect nice things from the people who animated this in the future: the inbetween animation here is quite good and life-like. It’s perhaps nothing special for a seasoned veteran, but this definitely was a great start for inexperienced animators.
OVA Episode Rating: 8/10

Posted on 14 March 2011 with categories: OVA Impressions, xxxHolic, xxxHolic Rou

For the fans of Gundam Unicorn who are complaining about slow release dates: the intervals between new xxxHolic episodes is a whole whopping year!

But dear god, was it worth the wait. Unlike what I previously expected, this episode doesn’t really aim to answer any question whatsoever. In fact, it doesn’t even address the cliff-hanger that the previous episode left us with, and no new news about Yuuko appears anywhere. The length of this OVA was about half an hour, and its purpose was completely different from the first xxxHolic Rou.

What this movie did do was incredibly heart-warming, though. It’s an entire episode full of subtle character-building on Watanuki and Doumeki. I mean, the changes that the first xxxHolic Rou episode brought forth were immense. This episode fleshes this out brilliantly by somehow doing the impossible and giving the characters even more depth than they already had. Yeah.

I mean seriously, xxxHolic already was by far my favourite Clamp series, and this episode only made it better. This episode was full of quiet discussions between Watanuki and other side-characters like Mokona, Doumeki and his grandfather. Doumeki’s grandfather is just about the only one who didn’t change significantly, and even he had a wonderful portrayal in this episode, worried about his grandson.

This episode also showed a few flashbacks to Watanuki’s past. And seriously, if there was any series in which such a small recap like that would would, it’s this one. For one thing, it was great to see Watanuki sigh at what a moron he used to be, but it also really reminded how it’s already been five years since I first started watching this series, and it reminded what kind of huge changes the characters went through. If you add all of the pieces of development together here, you really get an amazing cast of characters. And I really don’t hope that this was the last of the xxxHolic OVAs.
OVA Episode Rating: 8.75/10

Posted on 8 February 2011 with categories: Kara no Kyoukai, OVA Impressions

Oooh! It’s really been a long while ago since we’ve seen such an episode, I was afraid that anime creators had given up on them and were too afraid to put them in. This was certainly a pleasant surprise here, because simply labelling this as an “epilogue” doesn’t do justice to what it actually is.

So basically, this episode was nothing but Shiki and Mikiya talking, nothing more. It was entirely set in one place: a lone road with in the background the people of Ufo Table having a contest to see how many snowflakes they could put on one single screen at the same time. Now imagine that for half an hour.

It’s here where you can really see Kinoko Nasu’s unique writing style. Many of you probably know that I love these kinds of “lots of talking” stories, and the excellent writing of this one, plus the extremely calm atmosphere make this epilogue definitely worth watching if you’re into that stuff. If you watched Kara no Kyoukai for the actions and graphics though, then you can give it a pass.

I really liked how this gave a complete new insight into Shiki, and this OVA is pretty much entirely dedicated to this. Because the creators let Shiki (or whatever you’d like to call the entity that was there) talk so uninterruptedly, it gave a lot of depth to her character and that made this episode so much more than just someone reading a boring essay.

Overall, at first I wasn’t too fond of Kara no Kyoukai when it first started. Looking back now though, I really love what it did. Not only did it create a full story, nicely closed off with this epilogue. That’s of course great, but what’s also great to see is the influence it had: it came with a really bold idea: to create a series of movies of which pretty much nobody knew whether it would work well or not. It worked really well, and the result? It opened up a whole new market for for example the Mardock Scramble, Votoms and Berserk movies. Kara no Kyoukai has some excellent writing, but even without that: if this series was never made, those three also probably would not have gotten green-lighted.
OVA Episode Rating: 8,5/10


Mail will not be published
  • Masky
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 08:03 AM)
    @Bam: Yeah, but simulating reality applies to certain types of games. Judging EVERY game by how realistic it is is silly xD
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:36 AM)
    @Masky: lots of game designers aspire for realism. Now this can be done for cosmetic purposes like face textures and lighting, practical with physic engines and movement, or contextual like believable character reactions and dialogue. Now some games thrive in being ridiculous and fantastic, but some want to create a realistic setting to further the emotional impact. Nothing wrong with that.
  • Bam
    (Friday, Nov 27. 2015 02:32 AM)
    @ratsgnoF: and happy Thanksgiving to you as well.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:43 PM)
    Anyway seriously though, I’d say it does actually make sense in context xD Since none of monsters are actually that threatening.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:42 PM)
    .-. I have no words, mainly because whenever anyone uses word “Realism” in context of video game, I want to say rude words xD
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:40 PM)
    I think he gave it a passing glance and felt it wasn’t his thing, I remember he also felt that he thought the idea of sparing the monsters wasn’t believable or realistic given that he felt if you were realistically placed in that situation yourself, the real thing to do would be to fight back out of fear.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:37 PM)
    Did he actually play the game though? I mean, did he actually discover it himself or did he just heard the spoilers?
  • Kaiser Eoghan
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:35 PM)
    I had a talk with a friend about undertale and he wasn’t a fan, he prefers other types of rpgs, the choice element also made him uncomfortable and that he felt the game was too punishing.
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:34 PM)
    @Kaiser: Puzzle elements, outside of sparing everyone, seem to be mainly just parodying video game puzzles. Like, only place where you actually have to solve actual puzzles is in Hotland, before that pretty much every puzzle is automatically solved, really easy or has some silly twist to it. Like the puzzle you can skip by pressing a switch in tree trunk. Can’t say I’m too fond of puzzles either, but I liked how game was making fun of them
  • Masky
    (Thursday, Nov 26. 2015 07:32 PM)
    Speaking of awful sense of humor and things that dorks like, just wanted to say that turns out I was right about Jitsu wa watashi wa in that main couple does get together before chapter 100(forgot what exactly, some where in 80-90 range I think). But they are such huge dorks that they do everything ridiculously slowly because they are that embarrassed, so they have had like just one date(in chapter 100). Not that I expect anyone to remember what the heck I’m talking about xD

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