Archive for the 'Anime' Category

12
Jan
18

Saga of Tanya the Evil, Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan

Saga of Tanya the Evil

The premise of Saga of Tanya the Evil is so ludicrous that’s it’s borderline genius. Here’s the setup: a modern day salaryman dies by getting run over by a train. In the moment before his death, he is condemned by God for being an atheist. The salaryman tells God to piss off, so God sentences him to life in a parallel universe as a prepubescent girl. This parallel universe is in the midst of a world war, which is partially fought with magic. The salaryman is now Tanya, who is ruthless, and quickly ascends the ranks of the military with her cunning and magical prowess. She also vows to get revenge on God.

This story could only work in anime, but it works fairly well. Watching Tanya worm her way up the military ladder is rather interesting. However, apart from a couple of moments, she doesn’t do much to live up to her ruthless title. The battles are fun and well-animated, and the story goes in unexpected directions. The biggest problem is the show has no ending. It just stops jarringly because they animated all the source material they had. As such, it reaches an unsatisfying conclusion with no showdown between Tanya and God. There are some pretty annoying moe side characters, but they don’t get the bulk of the screentime, and that’s a good thing.

This show is worth a watch at least once for the premise, but ultimately is somewhat unmemorable due to its non-ending. Apparently, there is a sequel film coming out in the near future, but unless it concludes the story, or at least has Tanya battle God, then I don’t see what the point of it will be.

Verdict: Average

The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-Chan

It’s no mystery that I’m a huge fan of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. It took the anime world by storm, and remains an anime touchstone. It had wit, charm, fun adventures, and effective drama. Like many, the two seasons and movie were not enough for me. I wanted more. So, I was ready to devour this spin-off series the moment it came out. Unfortunately, it’s a fucking bland, pointless anime.

The show takes place in an alternate universe where Haruhi never formed the SOS Brigade. Yuki is not an alien, she has a crush on Kyon, and she and Ryoko are a part of the literature club. The biggest problem with this series is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HAPPENS! It’s 17 episodes long, and it’s just Yuki crushing on Kyon, and Kyon being mostly oblivious until the end. There is a slightly intriguing story arc where Yuki meets another version of herself, which ultimately goes nowhere, and ends with Yuki in pretty much the same place she started.

The only times this show shines is the few moments when Haruhi takes charge, and is her classic, manic self. Unfortunately, those moments are limited, and the series drags most of the time. I don’t know what the fuck they were thinking animating this piece of shit. There are plenty more Haruhi novels they could have animated, and any of them would have been better than this garbage.

Verdict: Shitty

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12
May
17

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Being a fan of the Ghost in the Shell franchise isn’t easy. There are five million different universes to keep track of. Each iteration is its own thing, having the same characters, but entirely separate events. This is a good and bad thing. Good because you can ignore Mamoru Oshii’s shitty film versions, but bad because each time you get a new TV show or movie, you’re always starting over, there isn’t enough continuity.

My favorite version is the TV series, Stand Alone Complex. It is the most accessible due to its incredible action, interesting characters, and amazing soundtrack. Digging deeper, it offers up philosophical insights regarding human nature and identity, and humanity’s interaction with connectivity and technology. Even though I haven’t liked every version of Ghost in the Shell, this was the one that got me into the franchise, and made me excited to see the live-action movie.

2017’s live-action Ghost in the Shell is a failure. It is a hodge-podge of the entire franchise. It combines disparate elements from all the different universes. In doing so, it becomes confused and diluted. It is a mere soup of what makes Ghost in the Shell unique. They had a number of deep storylines from which to choose, and they attempted to tell them all in the most milquetoast way possible. Continue reading ‘Ghost in the Shell (2017)’

10
Dec
16

One Punch Man, The Seven Deadly Sins

One Punch Man

It’s really difficult to get excited about anime these days. It’s even more difficult to get excited about the superhero genre. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to watch an anime about superheroes. But you know what? I really enjoyed this one. I enjoyed it because it’s a satire of superheroes, subverting the genre every possible way, and taking nothing seriously.

One Punch Man is about an ordinary guy named Saitama who decides to become a superhero. He trains really, really, REALLY hard until he is so powerful he can defeat any enemy with a single punch. This is great at first, but eventually he gets bored with it. No one poses a challenge to him anymore, and he soon loses interest.

The story picks up when strange monsters start attacking the city, and Saitama reluctantly takes on a disciple, a cyborg named Genos. The two of them make their way through a world filled with terrifying threats and new superheroes. But despite it all, Saitama still can’t find a worthy enemy. Everyone’s head still explodes with a single punch…

One Punch Man is entirely fresh, funny, exciting, and original. Coupled with strong writing and incredible animation, this turned out to be one of the best anime in recent memory.

Verdict: Awesome

The Seven Deadly Sins

Set in the fictional world of Britannia, in a time of magic and monsters, Princess Elizabeth sets out in search of the Seven Deadly Sins. The Sins are a group of powerful, disgraced knights with bounties on their heads. She believes they were framed, and they are the only ones who can prevent a coup against her father’s kingdom.

What follows is a mediocre shonen series. There’s the usual power-ups, fighting, groping jokes, and slapstick “humor.” By this point, the genre is as bloated as a dead mule, and The Seven Deadly Sins does nothing to alleviate that. It is a decent enough ride, I suppose, fun while watching it, but ultimately forgettable. It is colorful and well animated, but doesn’t contain anything that hasn’t been done a thousand times before.

Verdict: Average

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)’




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