Archive for the 'Anime' Category

06
Feb
16

Punch Line, From the New World

Punch Line

Punch Line is a comedy show about seeing lots of panties. Unfortunately, it isn’t very funny, and there aren’t many panties.

It tries to emulate the frenetic style of FLCL, and it certainly does in the first episode. After that, things slow way, way down until they nearly screech to a halt.

The main character is a kid who lives as a ghost. His spirit inhabits a — I don’t know what, halfway house, I guess — that is populated by several cute, busty chicks. One of them turns out to be a robot for some reason. One is a huge pop-star (and moonlights as a super hero), but lives in this dump with a bunch of other losers.

Any time one of these hot chicks flashes her panties, the kid gets excited, his nose squirts blood, and the world explodes. Fortunately, the world is reset, otherwise, it would be a pretty short anime.

Despite a unique and crazy premise, they don’t do anything with it. Instead of zany antics set in a Groundhog Day-style world, they have the kid fucking around with cinnamon, avoiding looking at panties (huge mistake for a panties show), and fretting over stupid shit. And one of the girls owns a pet bear. WTF, guys?

Verdict: Shitty

From the New World

I really wanted to like this. Really. I did. But I didn’t. Because it sucked.

I had read nothing but praise for From the New World. But it’s the kind of show that doesn’t know what the fuck it wants to be about.

It starts out in this weirdo version of the future where there is no technology, everyone has psychic powers, and, for some reason, everyone lives a lifestyle not unlike that of feudal Japan. Only the Japanese would be narcissistic enough to think that the people of the future would live like they did in feudal Japan.

Anyway, we follow a bunch of children (naturally) who have psychic powers. They begin to investigate the disappearance of their classmates. When children go missing, suddenly no one remembers them. There is some mind-control shit going on. Their investigation leads them to find some “lost technology” which is an AI library shaped like a translucent pig (facepalm).

The kids quickly forget all about their missing classmates and get involved in a conflict between factions of giant sentient rats. Fast forward several years, and the kids are grown up (12 years old – that’s grown up in Japan) and investigating another mystery. They forget about that one, too. Fast forward a few more years (now they are ancient adults, like 20 years old or something) and all of society goes to war with the giant rats.

A bunch of characters die, but it’s impossible to care. That’s really the underlying problem with this series. None of the characters give you any reason to care about them. As much as I wanted to care about them, they gave me nothing to work with. They are lifeless husks moving a disjointed story along. There is nothing to latch onto to make you emotionally invested.

Plus, they start and stop a bunch of plotlines that go nowhere.

Verdict: Shitty

21
Dec
15

Death Parade, Shana Final (Season 3)

Death Parade
Death Parade has an intriguing concept. It takes place in the afterlife, or rather the front gates of the afterlife. (Perhaps the bar of the afterlife is a little more accurate?) Anyway, when two people die at exactly the same time, they must go to a place called QuinDecim where they will be judged. One will be reincarnated and the other will go to the Void for an eternity of torment. The two people play a game, and the judgment is based on their actions in the game.
It’s an interesting concept for sure. Some of the deceased know each other intimately, others peripherally, and others don’t know one another at all. They all have died for a variety of reasons. They mostly come across as ordinary people, and no one is inherently good or bad. The characters are presented with voluminous shades of gray. As they play the game, their memories slowly return. The memories are usually painful. The arbiter of judgment, Decim, adds extra stress to the players in order to bring out their “true colors.” Their responses inform his judgment.

Continue reading ‘Death Parade, Shana Final (Season 3)’

27
Sep
15

The Devil is a Part-Timer, Otaku no Video

The Devil is a Part-Timer

Comedy anime rarely work. I’m not sure why. Are animators inherently unfunny? Is the Japanese sense of humor just that different? Does it have something to do with the translation?

The answer is: laziness. They think showing bouncy breasts, characters screaming at each other, and super-annoying misunderstandings are hilarious. This is the basis of humor in every single anime ever created. They rely on incredibly tired genre tropes instead of ever trying to fashion a new joke.

This series is labeled as a comedy, but it’s not funny. It uses all the gags outlined above, and fails to be funny even once. However, the series does have kind of a cool premise, and the story was interesting enough to keep me watching.

The Devil lives in an alternate universe. His armies of evil are beaten by humans, and he escapes to our universe. In our universe he has no powers. So, he resorts to getting a job at McDonald’s in order to pay the bills. Various members of his home universe trickle through to our side to be a thorn in his side and create plenty of drama.

The story of him trying to start a new life was good. I especially liked the attention to detail that the Devil didn’t know how to speak Japanese when he first crossed over, and everyone thought he was insane.

Sadly, the story doesn’t go anywhere. There are a few battles, and the Devil manages to save humans because he’s suddenly turned over a new leaf. He manages to do all this while getting a big promotion to Assistant Manager. I liked the concept and the general thrust, but nothing else happens. The story just stops mid-way through without any resolution. The anime is probably based on an unfinished manga. That would explain it. I’m too lazy to look it up, though.

Verdict: Average

Otaku no Video

Otaku no Video is one of Gainax’s weirdo pet projects, an OVA from the early 90s. They were just getting a foothold in the business, and had a couple of modest hits, but they hadn’t skyrocketed to success with Evangelion yet.

You can tell it’s autobiographical as hell. The main character is a normal guy who is in college, likes to play tennis, and has a cute girlfriend. He gets turned on to manga and the otaku lifestyle. From there, his personal life disintegrates. He loses the cute girlfriend, but gains a bunch of strange friends.

Eventually, they start a company making figurines (with questionable legality), and are wildly successful. This venture fails, too. Now, I was pretty interested in the story until this point, but this is when it completely falls apart. The main character picks himself back up, and is determined to become the “Otaking,” the greatest otaku of all. OK, sure, so what’s next?

Well, you don’t get to see what’s next. We flash-forward several decades, and the Otaking is old. He became the Otaking, but you don’t know how, and you don’t know what that means. He and his best friend go examine their defunct theme park (again, completely skipped over), and then ride a magic rocket with their friends (who are young again for some reason) to a special planet for Otaku.

Um, yeah.

This OVA is only two episodes long, but it needed to be three. We needed to see how exactly they got where they ended up. They forgot Act 3 of a 4 act play. And the utter fuck-up in the storytelling sinks this anime big-time.

The OVA is also punctuated with live-action interviews with “real” otaku. They are actually Gainax staff who are reading from a script. Most of these were woefully lame. I think I may have only laughed twice. And they seem to go on and on. Maybe some otaku and their waifus will find this shitty funny, but as a person with a job, a life, and a family, I didn’t.

Verdict: Bad

07
Jun
15

Chuunibyo, Fate/Zero

Chuunibyo
Is this yet another annoying, slice-of-life, moe bullshit anime, or a brilliantly subversive look at otaku subculture? To be honest, Chuunibyo falls somewhere in the middle. This series is about people who make the transition from middle school to high school and try to change their personal style. You know you’ve done something similar: go off to college, reinvent yourself, try to become someone new while forgetting those embarrassing things from the past. Chuunibyo takes it to the extreme. It’s about a few highly delusional kids who literally believe they have magical powers. The main kid tries to leave that shit behind because he knows it’s as dumb as fuck. Unfortunately, he keeps getting dragged back into this world by the main girl on whom he has a crush. One thing the show does that is interesting is showcasing magical battles. You see power-ups, gigantic weapons, and crazy finishing moves which are beautifully animated. Mid-way through the battles, however, we pull away from the delusions and see the characters battling it out with soup ladles or broomsticks or whatever. All that shit is in their heads. At first, it’s pretty funny. Sadly, though, it’s a one-note joke, and it continues throughout the series, wearing out its welcome.
As the show goes on, the main girl begins to realize that her delusions are holding her back from personal growth, and from dealing with the death of her father. She puts away her childish things, tries to grow up, and tries to have a mature relationship with the main guy. She struggles, and eventually the main guy tells her it’s OK to be weird and delusional. She goes back to her old ways. Then, the guy also goes back to his previously delusional ways. They end up together, happy and completely delusional. This is one of the most fucked up “morals” I have ever seen in any form of entertainment. Chuunibyo says that it’s better to live in a fantasy world and ignore your problems rather than face them head-on and attempt to grow. What a bullshit ending. Anyway, the show isn’t that great. While it does have a few worthwhile moments, it’s mostly a standard moe slice-of-life affair. There’s not much else here. If you like that kind of thing, go for it, if not, skip it.
Verdict: Bad
 
Fate/Zero
I claim a lot of anime is boring. I make that statement so often, that perhaps it has lost its meaning. Well, let me assure you, I absolutely, 100% mean it when I say that Fate/Zero is one of the most boring anime I have ever seen. I try not to review anything I haven’t completed. If I drop a show, I almost never post my comments about it, I just move on with my life. Fate/Zero, however, is a different beast. It was so fucking horrendously boring, I feel like it’s my duty to warn you about it. The show is actually a prequel to Fate/Stay Night, which I reviewed a couple of years ago. It was tolerable enough I felt like giving the prequel a shot. That, my friends, was a HUGE mistake.
Fate/Zero starts out with a 45-minute long episode of exposition. The old adage “show, don’t tell” got raped in the ass with this series. The ENTIRE EPISODE comprises a billion different characters talking and setting up everything that is to come in the series. They explain everything down to the smallest detail. The first episode is nothing more than a bunch of people standing around talking at one another. There is virtually nothing else. It was the most painfully boring thing I’ve ever seen in anime. The dialogue isn’t even witty or profound or satirical or playful. It’s just people talking and explaining the rules of the universe. ZZZZZzzzzzZZZZZzzzzzZZZZZ. I somehow managed to bring myself to watch episode 2. It was more of the same. More nothing. Nothing fucking happened in the first 70 minutes of the series. That was enough for me to put all the nails in Fate/Zero’s coffin. I dropped this series as hard as fucking possible. Maybe I’ll miss out on some brilliant plotting, but I don’t care. If a series is too lazy to even attempt to plot its events through actions rather than dialogue, it’s not worth my time. Fuck this show.
Verdict: Shitty
03
May
15

Madoka Magica Mega Review

The Series
Madoka Magica is a magical girl series in the loosest sense of the term. Rather, it’s a deconstruction of the magical girl genre. It is a dark, adult-themed drama with despair, loss, and consequences. While most magical girl series are about goodness and purity which allow the girl to save the world, Madoka Magica eschews all of the usual trappings. It still has girls with powers and cute costumes, but nearly everything else is different.
Madoka Magica is Faustian in a sense. The girls must make a deal with Kyubey, essentially selling their souls, in order to gain their powers and make their wish come true. Unfortunately, Kyubey doesn’t give them all the necessary information: like their bodies are now robotic husks with their souls trapped inside gems, or the fact that they will all inevitably turn into witches at some point. Kyubey, despite being an emotionless, almost neutral third party, turns into a great villain for the series. The deeper the show goes, the more you realize he is holding back. And it’s not that he’s holding back for secondary gain, no, he just doesn’t give out the information if it isn’t asked directly. It’s kind of like dealing with an Autistic person or something.
Plenty of girls jump aboard the magical girl train like Sayaka, Mami, and Kyoko. They fight witches in thoroughly exciting action sequences. Fortunately, there is plenty of action in the series. Almost every single episode has something going on. And as the series progresses, the stakes of the action increases. A sense of doom, which was subtle in the beginning, grows ever larger as the series progresses. They manage to raise the stakes time and time again, and do it in a way that feels completely natural given the ground-rules the series has set.

Continue reading ‘Madoka Magica Mega Review’

19
Jan
15

Btooom, Kill la Kill

Btooom

Bombs and boobs.

Despite having a terrible Engrish title, Btooom is a decent show. It falls in line with the genre of kids who have to kill each other in an arena like Battle Royale or The Hunger Games. Even though this has already been done a million times, Btooom still manages to bring something new to the table. It doesn’t matter that the idea isn’t original, what matters is that the show is executed in an interesting way. A popular online video game called “Btooom” features teams of people playing deathmatches, and their only weapons are various types of grenade and mines. One day, many of the games best players are kidnapped, dropped off on a mysterious tropical island, and forced to play “Btooom” for real. Each character has a unique grenade or mine, and must kill the others in order to win the game and get off the island. As you would expect, characters form alliances to try and improve their chances of survival.

The show is fun to watch. It manages to have a lot of variety and somewhat ingenious ways to use explosive devices. It has just as much of characters outsmarting each other than just winning by brute force. The characters are likable, and the plot moves at a quick pace. The ending leaves a bit to be desired, clearly they want to do a second season, but at least it didn’t stop on a cliffhanger. My only real complaint is that this show is inconsistent in the blast radius of the various explosives. Sometimes, it seems that a grenade will explode right next to someone, and they will be unharmed. But, whatever, it’s anime, it isn’t realistic. Btooom is worth a watch.

Verdict: Good

Kill la Kill

Kill la clothes.

Kill la Kill is the spiritual successor to Gurren Lagann. Those of you who follow me online know that I declared Gurren Lagann best anime of the last decade. And I still stand firmly behind that assessment. Naturally, I was extremely excited to check out this show, given its outstanding pedigree. And the show is really good. It puts an interesting spin on high school dynamics. In reality, high school is like a constant battle against annoying peers, jealous kids, exclusive cliques, and raging hormones. Kill la Kill takes that to absurd levels with the students literally fighting each other. The student council dominates the academy, passing down special uniforms to favored individuals that will boost their fighting skills. One day, a mysterious transfer student (anime trope alert), Ryuko Matoi, comes to school demanding vengeance for the murder of her father at the hands of the head of the student council, Satsuki Kiryuin. They each get special talking battle uniforms, and battle it out, blasting apart the school, and pounding each other with absurd levels of force. What arises from that is an even more absurd concept. The world has been colonized by “life fibers” which are evil alien organisms that have plotted to take over the world by forcing human to wear them as clothes. An insurgent organization, Nudist Beach, is trying to rid the world of clothes. Ryuko, Satsuki, and Nudist Beach ultimately team up to battle the life fibers.

The action in Kill la Kill is phenomenal. I haven’t seen a show with such fantastic battle, and such tremendous animation quality since, well, Gurren Lagann. There is also a lot of humor in the show to punctuate the onslaught of battles. Unfortunately, Kill la Kill isn’t perfect. For all its great points, the show is ultimately hollow on the inside. There is no character development, there is no deeper meaning, everything is taken at face value, and despite the worldwide battle, the show is surprisingly low-stakes. None of the heroes die. One dies, but it turns out to be a fake out, and he was fine all along. Characters don’t have to die to make a show good, but it goes a long way to show that there are real stakes, and there are real dangers against which the characters are willing to sacrifice themselves. As none of the heroes die, they can throw themselves headlong into every battle, and there is never any worry that anything bad will happen to them. Also disappointing is the fact that the heroes don’t kill either of the primary villains. Both of the villains end up killing themselves. So, even with all that fighting, the good guys were completely ineffectual. Overall, Kill la Kill was a lot of fun. It may be light, mindless entertainment, but it was incredibly entertaining mindless entertainment. It’s hard to recommend a show more than this one.

Verdict: Good

20
Sep
14

Gatchaman Crowds is Horrible

If only the series was as cool as this artwork.

“Gatcha, Gatcha-Gatcha, Gatcha,” sang main character Hajime.

“Strangle, Strangle-Strangle, Strangle,” sang BrikHaus as he strangled the life out of Hajime.

Seriously, Hajime is one of the most annoying anime characters in recent memory. She is a super-positive, Mary-Sue type who has earned the dual ire and love of anime fans who have watched this series. She is one of those characters who shouts all their lines, says incredible positive things all the time, and is unrealistically naieve. It’s impossible to think that anyone could be as dense as her in real life. So, when this is a show’s main character, things aren’t off to a great start.

Things don’t get much better with the rest of the characters. Three characters shout/scream all of their lines. Two characters are incredibly pseudo-gay, they are insulting stereotypes. Of course, there is the token quiet/shy loli character. None of the characters have any depth at all. They are all completely one-note. They have virtually no backstories, no personalities, and nothing to make them interesting at all.

Continue reading ‘Gatchaman Crowds is Horrible’




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