Archive for the 'Anime' Category

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’

27
Jul
14

Robotics;Notes, Accel World

Robotics;Notes

The moe robot is what really sells this show.

Aside from having inappropriately used a semicolon in the title, Robotics;Notes is actually not a bad show. Unfortunately, it’s not a particularly good show either. Robotics;Notes takes place in a fictional near-future Japan in which giant robots are real. A high school robotics club is trying to make their own giant robot for display in an annual robotics competition. The first several episodes revolve around the club’s two members as they try to recruit new members, secure funding and parts, and deal with general stressors of high school life. These were the show’s strongest episodes. As the show goes on, it bites off more than it can chew with crazy conspiracies, completely unnecessary side plots, a pointless villain, and an idiotic moe AI we are supposed to feel sorry for. When Robotics;Notes was focused on the robotics club, it was interesting and funny and surprisingly fresh. When Robotics;Notes diverted its attention to so many other things, it quickly devolved into a mess. The conspiracies are lame, the pointless villain is indeed a waste of time, and all the side plots distract from what had been a good story about “real” robots. In the end, the show was good, but significantly lacking. It was the lack of focus that ultimately hurt Robotics;Notes.

Verdict: Average

Accel World

The main character is fat, which is unique for an anime, but that’s the only thing interesting about this show.

Accel World is yet another entry in the very long line of anime with great concepts that were squandered. The premise is that everyone has a computer interface tied in with their brains. They are able to use software to help with their daily lives. The main character is given a mysterious online game called “Brain Burst” which accelerates the synapses of his brain so much that the world appears to move in ultra-slow motion. This is a very cool concept. There are myriad ways in which he could use this power for good or evil. Naturally, being an anime, this intriguing concept is eschewed for punching people in the face. That’s right, the second part of “Brain Burst” is an online fighting game. Each character needs to fight others, and the fighting doesn’t use their special slow-mo powers. Nope, it’s just people punching and kicking each other. This comprises the bulk of the show. And since this is based on an ongoing light novel series which hasn’t concluded, there is no ending. Accel World is a waste of time. They took a great concept and threw it away immediately for generic, uninspired brawls in stupid looking costumes.

Verdict: Shitty

17
May
14

Attack on Titan Restored My Faith in Anime

“I can take him, no problem.”

My faith in anime was at an all-time low. I had thought about completely giving it up more than once. The last show I really enjoyed was Gurren Lagann and before that, Akagi. Those series came out in 2007 and 2005, respectively. Since this is 2014, that means there had only been two great shows in the last seven years. That’s pathetic. Nobody in Japan seemed interested in creating a good series any more. All they care about is selling moeblob merchandise which cater to the lowest pedophilic denominator.

And then I watched Attack on Titan.

I’m not going to say this series is perfect. It’s not. It isn’t the next Cowboy Bebop or Haibane Renmei. It has flaws. But it is a huge step in the right direction. It tones down the moe factor, ramps up the action, and even took the time to include a plot. These are the only things I ask for in an anime. Unfortunately, most anime are incapable of meeting these three criteria. Attack on Titan, however, made all the right moves.

Continue reading ‘Attack on Titan Restored My Faith in Anime’

29
Mar
14

The Wind Rises

Jiro and Naoko.

Hayao Miyazaki’s final film (until he un-retires again), The Wind Rises, is an excellent capstone to his already legendary career. The movie is decidedly less fantastical than the rest of his work, but just as emotionally moving as anything else.
The Wind Rises tells the story of Jiro Hirokoshi, a Japanese man who loves aviation. He has poor eyesight and is told he can never fly a plane, so he decides to do the next best thing: design airplanes. The film follows him from a young boy into his middle years as he toils to develop a new kind of airplane. The storytelling, while fictionalized, is quite riveting. You understand Jiro’s eagerness to build an aircraft, and you feel his successes and failures through each attempt.



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