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Spring 2016 Anime`

Here’s the OO short take on this season’s anime`.

Yes


Kisnaiver – Eerie SF with some very cool spiritual overtones.
Mayoiga (Lost Village) – Atmospheric, eerie, tense. YES.
Pan de Peace – lighthearted but with enough plot to prove interesting. Short episodes, though. May not pan out. Hehe.
Re Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu – Humorous fantasy that riffs off MMORPGs. Unpredictable and intriguing.
Seisen Cerebrus – Sword/sorcery fantasy with some darker elements. We’ll see.
Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou – A cooking/music mashup. Crazy but it might work.

No


Ace Attorney – Somewhat interesting, but overdramatic.
Anne Happy – Too much shojou dazzle. Sickeningly sweet.
Bakoni! – Idea is not bad, but it gets pervy fast.
Big Order – Ridiculously fast-pased, doesn’t-add-up gifted thing with nonserious music.
Bako no Hero Academia – Overdramatic superhero show + profanities.
Endride – Generic buddy fantasy with overdone music. Not involving or interesting.
Haifuri – Nothing trashy, but shallow and by the numbers.
Hundred – Not a bad superhero/gifted setup, but it’s ruined by an undercurrent of perv.
Kuma Miko – Slice-of-life, some humor, but perviness.
Onigri – Certain kinds of perverts role-play. This one’s for them. Ugh.
Sakamoto Desu Ga – Over-the-top series about a guy who is ridiculously cool. Just not interesting.
Space Patrol Luluco – Silly and mindless. Great ending theme song though.
Sansha Sanyou – Aimed at the jr. high set, but at least it’s not Pretty Cure.
Usakame – Hyperfast linguistic pun/slice-of-life/non-sequitur mishmash with poor art and oversexed characters.
Wagamama High Spec – When the characters discard their clothes in the first 30 seconds, you know what you’re in for. Ugh.

Winter Anime` Season 2016

Here’s the OO short take on this season’s anime`.

No


Dimension W – retro-futuristic shonen-fest with a pervy fembot.
Hai to Gensou no Grimgar – Fantasy RPG that ends up in pervert land.
Haruchika – Sigh. Starts off good but goes into homo land pretty early.
Koukakaku no Pandora – Soft-core pornography. Ugh.
Musaigen no Phantom World – Pervert time.
Nijiiro Days – Too mainstream and sappy for me, but nothing messed up.
Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R – Shojou dazzle overload. Gah.
Ojisan to Marshmellow – Painful and pervy.
Ooyasan wa Shishunki – It’s that nasty combo of cute and loli.
Oshiete! Gaiko-chan – Pervert time and minimal animation. Double fail.
Schwarzesmarken – An especially unconvincing mecha series with mass profanity.
Shoju-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu – Guy meets girl to write a yuri game. Uh, no.
Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju – Boring.

Yes


Active Raid – Feels like a mix of Gunparade Orchestra and Majestic Prince!
Boku Dake ga Inai Machi – Odd, erie. Definitely worth watching.
Divine Gate – A little stereotypical school/gifted thing, but the main character is interesting.
Luck and Logic – Looks like it could be good. Superhero, but enough depth to be interesting.
Prince of Stride – Semi-stereotypical and formulaic, but it has an innocent heart. We’ll see.
Sekkou Boys – Hilarious. I can’t wait to see how this develops.
Sushi Police – Pretty funny.
Tabi Machi Late Show – Wistful, slice-of-life/coming of age, and cooking. A bit slow and minimal animation, but we’ll see.

The Place Promised in Our Early Days: Beyond the Clouds (for this review, Beyond…) is a 90-minute animated movie by ComixWave. It takes place in the near future and is told in a bittersweet coming-of-age retrospective narration. It’s a soft SF setup that involves parallel worlds. All of these things appeal to me, which is why when they don’t work, I feel more let down than most, and Beyond… lets you down.

The overall problem with Beyond… is the usual lack of focus and editing that plague anime` movies; there’s simply not enough done to make it shine, and so it ends up as this less-than-stellar, but not altogether bad concoction. The material is often slice-of-life (which isn’t bad by itself), but it doesn’t crystallize moments and then use them to connect to the plot trajectory. Too many things are unexplained. [Warning: spoilers ahead!]

Take the loose connection between Sayuri and the parallel worlds, for starters. Then, why is it a problem if a parallel world overwrites a certain square mileage? How did they figure out that the tower was actually a weapon? What is the NSA doing in Japan (probably the most annoying stretch of all)? While I can understand that Takuya and Hiyakuri like Sayuri, that is always more suggested than shown. Yes, she’s supposed to be this soul out of time, but the movie doesn’t really make the case for it, or it’s just too subtle for non-Japanese people to get. Yes, there’s SOME work there by referencing the poet Miyazawa Kenji, but really, a movie needs to SHOW more. Why Hiyakuri falls for Sayuri isn’t really shown or explained, and the whole time you wonder why Takuya let her go; that’s not explained either. The movie concludes convincingly ending on a bittersweet note though, so points for that, but the plot, pacing, and editing are serious minuses.

The animation style is not photorealist, but a softer detailed style when it comes to scenery, vehicles, landscapes, and so on. The characters share the same color palette, and aren’t given the same level of detail, but it works and isn’t jarring. There are quite a few beautiful scenes of stilled time, and you almost get the experience of having been there, smelling the wind, and feeling the hot pavement beneath your feet. Very well done. The music is minimal except for the main theme, which is emotive but never really expanded; the closing song is haunting and the quality of the singer’s voice is excellent.

Emotionally, the movie collapses under the weight of its own sentiment. Even the retrospective narrated style doesn’t save it (and it actually has problems because the whole story isn’t told through Hiyakuri’s eyes, so why is he narrating something he couldn’t have experienced?). It’s often lovelorn for no purpose and descends into irritating mawkish sentimentality. Editing and a few different scenes would have saved it, and brought the other themes into greater relief.

Speaking of themes, the growing up theme works, the love theme frays (due to the parallel worlds and the hospital angles). War is mentioned just as something that people want to start for no real reason, and its cost is shown a few times, demonstrating a typical pacifist non-understanding of war. Positive and critical references to prayer and a single God appear, but these are strictly to gain human love. I don’t recall any profanities. Some arguably sensual shots occur here and there, but nothing overt. On the whole, nothing bad, but nothing monumental either.

Thora does a great job on the subbing. The font is easy to read, and even the song at the end is done (kudos!). They even did many of the signs so you can see what the narrator sees. The translation appears accurate, but I didn’t focus on that. I only watched it once and I might watch it again someday, but probably not — I just don’t have the interest to sit through the whole thing again.

Hunt your favorite torrent holes if you want it. I suspect it is actually available to buy, but not subbed or dubbed.

Have you ever been to a neighborhood that’s just being built? Have you ever been inside the model homes when they weren’t finished (and were prepared to run away real fast if someone yelled out, “Hey you kids!”)? I have, and seeing what looked good on the outside and what didn’t pan out inside is probably the best way to describe Atelier Escha and Logy — Alchemists of the Dusk Sky.

The early episodes are beautifully animated, and the theme music is top-notch. So far, so good. The setting also draws you in, being a slowed-time, wistful, slice-of-life steampunk tale of an alchemy bureau in a small town. However, you soon realize that the pacing isn’t meandering, it’s immobile. When characters are developed, the whole episode just becomes back story for that character, and their relationships to others aren’t explored at all. Then the obligatory fan service episode shows up. After that, everything finishes in a rush to explore the one thing that’s been obvious since the first or second episode. It all feels like a less polished, less emotional To Heart. Even the ending collapses into a maudlin pit of mush; the bittersweet tinge doesn’t save it.

Save your time and your eyeballs. There’s no real reason to watch this as it never turns the corner and it delivers so much less than it promises. With that said, there’s nothing objectionable except for the fan service episode and that’s the usual hot tub obscured nudity for no real purpose.

Welcome to the graveyard, Escha and Logy.

Anime` Summer 2014

This season features lots of middle-school-esque shonen series. Seems like they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel.

No


Akame ga Kill — It’s one of those shows that a heavy, serious concept that is not dealt with seriously. Lame humor. Pointless gore, to the point of sadism and torture. Big-time suck.

Argevollen — Looks like a military/mecha thing with some shonen overtones. Probably not bad if you like shonen. I don’t, so skip.

Bakamatsu Rock — Shonen + Music = Lame. This is the kind of show that you’d expect J.C. Staff to make. Watching this will make you stupider.

DRAMAtical Murder — Generic shonen dystopia, plus homosexual undertones. We’ve seen this before, several times. Gangs, too cool for school. Boring.

Free! Eternal Summer — Shonen swimming. Ugh.

Francesca — Silly, middle-school-oriented light gothic. You just don’t do light gothic. Geez!

Locodol — Looks generic, nonoffensive, middle-school-esque. Not my thing.

Nobunga Concerto — Retelling of Japanese history by future people interfering in the past; boring and elitist. The animation style is that emotionless 70’s style, too.

Love Stage! — Shonen-ai.

Sabagebu! — This doesn’t work for the same reason that K3! didn’t work. Girls + guns doesn’t work if it’s overly cute. Also the animation style is pretty basic.

Secret Princess Himegoto — Cross-dressing panty-shot time. Perverts, line up. This one’s for you.

Maybe


Glasslip — Although not a True Tears clone, it has a high number of similarities. I’ve got a soft spot for the music, the wistful, slice-of-life nature. I don’t think it will be as deep and seems kinda soap-opera-ish.

Yes


Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun — It’s a shojou anime` about a shojou mangakata (who is clueless) and the girl crushing on him. Very cute and very funny.

Tokyo Ghoul — Bloody and violent but deep. Gothic and vampiric. Will the series follow through on its tensions and intimations of truth?

Yami Shiabi — The quality isn’t always there, but when it is, it’s great. Looking forward to more short, spooky short episodes.

Have you ever found a series that was watchable, but nothing more? Such a series doesn’t inspire you to turn it off; it doesn’t inspire you to pay attention usually, and it just keeps your attention because it has a modicum of a plot and it doesn’t suck? Such series never turn you off because just when you’re about to find something else to do, they drop in a poignant moment, some character development, something humorous, or something unexpected. However, these moments happen far too rarely for such a series to ever emerge from the sea of mundanity; they just surface now and again. As you might have expected with such a long lead in, yes, Love Live! School Idol Project is just such a series.

The setup is an interesting one — a school is going to close due to lack of attendees, and some of the girls vow to save it by becoming school idols. This, they reason, will drum up enough interest in the school to keep its doors open. The first season brings the girls together as they overcome ordinary obstacles to become an idol group, get approved by the school, hone their talents, compete in the contest (the Love Live!). The second series sees them compete in the Love Live! again, but this time it’s a multi-tiered event.

Why this doesn’t work, although it has every reason why it should, is that there are nine girls in this group. Yup, nine (hence the name of the group, Muse, for there are nine Muses, if you’re into that whole Greek myth thing). It’s hard enough to make three characters with distinct mannerisms, personalities, and dialog. Four is harder still; five, very difficult, and well, you get the idea. Nine main characters requires a truly masterful writer, and unfortunately, this series doesn’t have one. Instead, the series went for threadbare characterization. The girls end up being (except for Nico) gross generalizations and stereotypes. Honoka is the happy slacker; Kotori is the maid; Maki is the artist; you get the picture.

I wish I could point to some outstanding feature of this series, but I really can’t. The plot, while familiar, doesn’t have any novel touches to rescue it from being humdrum. The voice acting is decent, but not spectacular. The animation style is slightly better than average, although pains have been taken to make the girls dance realistically. What really weighs the series down is the completely generic music. With all the great J-rock and J-pop artists out there, somehow, this series couldn’t find a single one to write even a half-decent song. Music doesn’t have to be awesome for a series to work, but it can’t completely stink when the series is about music! As a further letdown, the show featured four separate teaser songs that themselves weren’t bad, but intercut clips of the show, whetting your appetite only to reveal something ordinary.

On the plus side, there’s very very little offensive here. Some of the girls’ dance moves are occasionally sensual, but that may be in the eye of the beholder; no gore, no violence, some occasional profanity. Nothing positive theologically, but nothing negative either. The usual Shinto shrine rituals show up, and the usual Japanese themes of friendship, hard work, and teamwork are in the spotlight.

The tone ranges from believable and earnest to schmaltzy, saccharine, and overdone, with most of season two falling into the latter category. The pace also slacks off a lot in the second season. I get the feeling that they ran out of ideas for season two, and so just recycled the general plot from the first and threw in predictable character development as a filler.

Anyhow, this show is available at the usual torrent holes.

If you’re in the mood for something fairly generic but not horrible, try season one.

My conceptions of anime` are being shorn.

You could always count on J.C. Staff to make boring, predictable shonen-fests, and the instant you saw their logo pop up, you knew it was time to jump ship. Selector Infected Wixoss (S1) blew that all out of the water, because it has been good — more than that, it has been excellent. I was looking forward every week to a new episode, and each episode satisfied and yet left me hungry for more.

The animation house wasn’t the only strike against Wixoss coming out of the gate: it also revolved around cards. Yuck, cards! Almost every card series has minimal plot, no depth, and no originality. Those series exist just to move product as far as I can tell. The only series in recent memory that cut against that grain was Fantasista Doll. Yu-gi-o fans — stop. I don’t care.

The series starts by introducing Wixoss, a card battle game that has recently become popular. The main character, Ru, plays it with her grandmother. However a certain few people receive a living card, and owning it makes them a selector. Once a selector contracts with the living card, and the selector wins three battles against other selectors, then his or her wish is granted.

I won’t go into any more detail, but Wixoss is also a magical girl series — a dark one. Think Madoka Magica Puelli. Wixoss takes that kind of setup, adds flawless characterization, a taut plot, always appropriate and unsettling music, all in finely-detailed gothic Romantic fashion. It’s heavy; it’s deep; it’s emotional; and it never falls apart or turns into excess.

The animation style is where some may complain. I’d say it’s on the same level as K-on (season 1); darker tones dominate. It’s not super-detailed, and it’s not minimalistic. The money and the time went into crafting an overall effect (colors, cinematography) rather than realism. The same goes for the voice acting. It’s not about virtuoso performances, but acting done so well that the actors disappear into their roles. Tama has the kind of voice she needs to have, for instance, and each character is perfectly identifiable by his or her voice. What really strikes me is not the quality of particular aspects of the show, but rather that everything works together to create a gothic monolith. Nothing grates. Everything compliments.

And the ending? A lot of series seem to have no idea where they are going. Here, it feels like there is a master plan, and the plot just couldn’t fit into just one season. A lot of things are up in the air, but it doesn’t feel contrived. I can only hope that season 2 continues with the same quality and doesn’t turn into a parody of itself like Chuunibuyo did. Please, let it not be!

No trash; rare profanities. With the Romantic setup, the characters are facing things larger than themselves, and so there is this grappling with the supernatural, an awe present. Also, Ru’s character develops from someone who doesn’t participate much in life to someone who is willing to sacrifice, even herself, for her friends. So that great truth is on display.

I’ve been watching the Horrible Subs version and they do a good job. Download from the torrent hole of your choice.

Highly recommended by OO.