Archive for the 'Anime' Category

19
Jun
16

Parasyte, Samurai Flamenco

Parasyte
Parasyte is about aliens who have come to Earth to curb human population growth. How do they do that? By being deadly as hell. These little critters invade the head of unaware victims, killing them in the process. The parasites live on, though, occupying the head, living off the bloodstream, and eating other humans for sustenance.
There are a lot of cool things about Parasyte. The most obvious one is how crazy-dangerous the parasites are. They sprout bizarre fangs/swords and decimate their victims before devouring them. It’s very well animated and kind of disturbing at first. It’s really a top-rate body horror scenario from the beginning.
Our hero, Shinichi, is lucky enough that the parasite who attacked him accidentally inhabited his arm and not his head. He is able to communicate with it (naming it Migi), and uses it to defend himself against the other parasites. Migi gives him powers of his own, but he’s pretty weak compared to the other parasites. The two of them use teamwork and ingenuity to outsmart and kill their opponents.
Parasyte is a clever anime. It uses an old concept (e.g. Invasion of the Body Snatchers), but puts a fresh spin on it. At times it can be horrifying, at times it can be funny, and at times it can have you on the edge of your seat. There are a lot of cliff-hanger endings which are annoying, but the show is so well-written, it’s hard to get too mad at it.
Parasyte also has a deeper message about the ecology of our planet. Human are destroying it, and if we don’t change our ways, we’re going to kill ourselves. Essentially, since the parasites look human, they represent a stand-in of the human race destroying itself. Don’t worry, though, the message isn’t beaten over the viewers’ head. You can easily ignore it if you prefer. But if you did that, it would be kind of pointless.
Anyway, this was a really fun show, and definitely recommended.
Verdict: Awesome
Samurai Flamenco
Samurai Flamenco is one of the weirdest anime I have seen in a long time. It’s weird because of its vastly differing tones and style. Every 4-6 episodes, it shifts into an entirely different show. The main character is a male model (he’s really, really ridiculously good looking) who wishes he could be a superhero like the kind he watched on TV as a kid. The show starts out kind of like Kick-Ass; he becomes a superhero (aptly named Samurai Flamenco) in a completely realistic world. He has no powers, stops petty crimes, and can get hurt. So far, so good, I was really into it.
Then, the story has a sudden change into real powers. He comes across genetically engineered humans who transform into monsters and explode when they are defeated. Flamenco tracks down the villain’s lair and defeats him in a climactic battle fit for any standard superhero anime. But it doesn’t end there. The show continues on, shifting tone again. It turns into a Voltron-inspired series with multiple “Flamencos” of differing colors who have giant robots that can combine into an ultimate robot. There are a couple more shifts, until the final one which jettisons the zaniness for a completely out of left field foray into an insane kid-turned-mad-bomber scenario, and the show becomes serious again.
It’s an odd show, and the varying tones can certainly be off-putting. It liked it enough to watch the whole thing, but it isn’t a show I would ever watch again. It’s fairly middle of the road in terms of acting, directing, action, animation, etc. It doesn’t offer up many deeper themes or concepts. It’s enjoyable but ultimately forgettable.
Verdict: Average
09
Apr
16

Beyond the Boundary, Ping Pong

Beyond the Boundary

This is yet another one of those frustrating anime that could have been great, but was squandered by Japan’s unceasing desire to pander to the lowest common denominator. The story has already been done a million times before. The world is inhabited by all sorts of supernatural beings, but only very special people can see them.

The main character is a guy who is half-human and half-monster, and apparently immortal. This allows him to get stabbed, burned, and mutilated in various ways without any lasting results. His love interest is a shy, annoying, screechy girl with glasses who hunts monsters, and came to town to kill him.

The animation is fucking fantastic. Almost every single episode looks like a goddamn movie. The character motions are fluid and dynamic, and they fly around on-screen brandishing weapons and leaping away from supernatural explosions.

Unfortunately, the animation is all this series has going for it. The rest is insanely trite. The girl and guy like each other, but the girl won’t admit her feelings. They screech and holler at one another. The other characters are requisitely weird, and are as developed as a piece of cardboard.

In the end, the girl dies, but then comes back to life for no reason at all, teaching us there are no consequences. It was pretty lame overall, and I was super disappointed. It’s too bad they wasted so much money on the animation budget. Instead of doing that, they should have just made a second season of Berserk or something.*

Verdict: Bad

*Yes, I know there is second season of Berserk coming. I wrote this post before it was announced.

 

Ping Pong

This is a pretty fascinating anime with some of the worst animation I have ever seen. The character models are hideous, the animation is about as close to stop-motion as you can get, and the character designs vary from episode to episode. Prepare yourself for a lot of speed lines and jerky movements.

Even so, Ping Pong was absolutely enthralling. The story was great. It was about two childhood friends who bond over table tennis. One comes out of his shell, working hard to become the best. The other, much more extroverted friend, doesn’t take the game too seriously, relying mostly on his natural talent.

They manage to incorporate a good deal of drama and teenage angst, but make it believable and relatable. The only thing that pissed me off was the story’s confused message. It seems to think that people with natural ability will best people who practice a lot. Unfortunately, that’s not true. People with natural ability can be good, but they won’t beat people who take a sport seriously and practice day-in, day-out. Other than that, I enjoyed this anime.

Verdict: Good

 

 

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’




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