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Posts Tagged ‘comedy’

Squid Girl

Shinryku Ika Musume (Conquer, Squid Girl!) is a humorous, kawaii anime that focuses on the plans of Ika Musume (Squid Girl) to take over the world, starting at an oceanfront cafe, the Lemon. Each episode has three vignettes that feature some degree of character development and plot (in other words, Lucky Star, this is not). The whole perspective is that of “innocent outsider learns about Japanese culture and the world”. It’s not novel, but it does work well.

The number of profanities is low; there is occasional sexual humor (one of the characters is a lesbian and this is always lampooned), and even rarer, sexual camera angles. There is no depth as far as theology or theme goes, except extolling friendship.

The intro theme song is addictingly upbeat and catchy. The ending theme song is slower, more emotive, but just as effective.

Here’s the short OO guide (* indicate standout episodes):

1- Ok, this is pretty kawaii, fairly humorous, and slice-of-life. It’s a little bit shallow, but it’s also open-ended (meaning, that there will be some development and not just a static existence). The humor isn’t surprising, but it’s mostly non-sequitur type stuff that does the job. It is, at the least, watchable.
2 – Not as good as the first, but the translation (WhyNot subs) is better. The last third is the funniest. It’s still kawii, just not as much character development.
* 3 – Funniest one so far, especially the last third.
* 4 – As good if not better than 3. Some character development, some plot development.
5 – OK. 2nd one is hilarious; last one is touching.
6 – Good. Some funny bits and some character development.
7 – Eh. One sexual bit that’s unnecessary.
8 – The first two are just ok. The last one is hilarious!
9 – The first two are cool; the third one is questionable.
10 – Ok. The first one is hilarious. The last one is heartwarming. The middle one is mostly stupid.
11 – Just ok. No trash but not really all that funny either. The last one is the funniest but it has the only stupid part in it. Gah, Sanae is just icky beyond words.
* 12 – Heartwarming. A very good end.

I’d say it’s worth watching as a break between your usual animes. Crunchysubs, Underwater, and WhyNot? are doing it, and of the three, the most reliable is WhyNot?. FFFpeeps actually has some translation errors that radically change the meaning of the dialog. Download at the torrent hole of your choice or from the FS sites!

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Yumeiro Patissiere is a foodie anime`. It traces the trials and travails of Amano Ichigo (yes, her last name is Japanese for strawberry) as she follows her goal of being a confectionary artist. She is given an invite to an esteemed school for patissieres, the St. Marie school, and immediately finds herself thrown in to the highest skilled group, all based on the invite. As the series unfolds, she improves her skills, makes friends, and learns a thing or two about the Sweet Spirits.

The series starts well, hits an early dip, and then takes off from episode 8 onwards. From there on, it’s usually good, but you can tell that some episodes were simply better planned and designed than others. Towards the very end, you can tell that the anime` is leaving out bits of the manga given how events happen without any buildup.

There’s not much moral resonance here, except that Amano’s humility is front-and-center. She has her place in the world, she never gives up, and it isn’t all about her. Other than that, it’s just a light-hearted “chase your dream” kind of deal. Profanities are uncommon (most are mistranslations, I’d bet); no gore or violence, and extremely rare risque` bits. In short, it’s quality entertainment, but nothing deeper than that. Still, you’ll probably grow to care for the characters as the series goes on. Because there are 50 episodes, here are the highlights:

1,2
8,9,10
15
19
27,28
30
33
35
39,40,41
47
50 (finale)

The rest aren’t bad; none are truly awful. The series leads straight into Yumeiro Patissiere Professional, which looks to be not as well done. We’ll see.

Anyhow, there are no batch files up, and many groups are doing this, from Wasurenai, to Horrible, to Serios. If you look at any decent torrent hole you’ll be able to find them.

It’s worth watching this and enjoying it, just don’t expect anything on the order of D-Gray Man or Tokyo Magnitude 8.0.

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Full Moon Wo Sagishite (Looking for a Full Moon) is one of the exemplars of the magical girl genre, right up there with Hime-Chan’s Ribbon. It undergirds the usual transformation/maturation motif with doom, because the main character, Mitsuki, is fated to die in one year. Plus, it features enough romantic complexity and humor to make the series well-rounded and not simply a genre effort. It is quite emotional and convincingly so.

Mitsuki’s dream is singing, and the principal reason why she sings is so that she can reach Eiche, who has left for America. Her grandmother is opposed to all forms of music, however. One day, two shinigami appear (those who transport souls when the person dies), only they have messed up and have come one year too early. Mitsuki learns of this and becomes even more dedicated in pursuit of her dream.

Given the target audience, I’m convinced that most of the profanities here are mistranslations, but be aware that there’s usually a few of the tstsch/itse in each episode. The animation itself takes a sympathetic perspective towards Mitsuki, instead of an exploitative one; the number of perv shots you can count on one hand. However, Meroko’s outfit is a bit much and that’s in every episode. No gore.

The music deserves a shout-out; it is across-the-board excellent, evocative, emotional, and well-produced. Songs will stay with you long after an episode ends, and I’ve looked around to see where I can find the soundtracks to the show. Unfortunately, the only places that have this now are import shops and they are charging ridiculous prices. So watch out: the music is that good.

The usual OO guide is as follows, with * indicating excellent episodes.

* 01 – The opening theme is catchy and fun. The intro has some arguably loli parts, but once the show gets started, those concerns are washed away. This show has incredible potential. It has everything needed to make it beautifully emotional, tragic, and yet hopeful within this small sphere of an individual life. I’m looking forward to what’s next. We’ll see how well it delivers. The ending theme is cool.
02 – Not bad, but not as great as the first episode. Lower key and kinda off/on. Mitsuki lies a few times.
03 – A few funny parts, one emotional part, a good end, but the rest is way too complex and unnecessarily so. The part about her doc being an ex-idol was funny.
04 – Ok, this is good.
05 – Another good one. Mitsuki has to act like a 16-year old b/c she’s doing a photo shoot, so just appearances won’t cut it. She’s innocent, but also immature. Still a few dodges from the truth, which really weren’t necessary. A good episode besides that.
06 – Ok, but it’s cool to see the inside of a studio and Mitsuki’s reactions to it. The actual plot with Namini is cheezy.
07 – Ok. Finally an ep that’s not entirely stand-alone. I mean, each of them follows linearly, but this one had some connection to the past. I just wish there would be more of a story arc. The ending song changes; the debut song really doesn’t fit the MC though.
08 – Trite, but at least there’s more connection to the prev episode. The formula is getting old here.
09 – Better. More of the past is revealed.
10 – Ok, I’m tired of the whole nearly self-contained nature of each episode. As far as plots go, this wasn’t bad, and it had some depth to it, but it’s all they could do in 20 minutes and so it feels shallow.
11- Ok.
12 – Nothing special. Like a slice-of-life episode. Funny end.
13 – Eh, overly emotional, stand alone episode.
14 – Ok.
15 – Not bad. Some character development, but not a lot. A kind of cute side plot.
* 16 – Plot and character development. Madoka appears with her rotten, vengeful attitude. A cliffhanger ending.
* 17 – Very good.
* 18 – Very good.
*19 – Excellent. Lots of character development. Some funny moments too. Finally Mitsuki comes clean and stops lying to her manager and her doctor.
* 20 – Excellent. Connected to the previous episodes and character development.
* 21 – Very good. Pretty much vs. Madoka.
* 22 – Beautifully heart-warming, hopeful, and triumphant, as well as innocent. One of the best episodes of the entire series.
* 23 – Hilarious. A laugh riot.
* 24 – Great. Full Moon’s second single is decided, Oshiga-san learns that Mitsuki’s dad was in Route L, and Madoka connives to undermine Mitsuki again, plus the foreshadowing of the producer.
25 – Still self-contained, but a bit of trouble is introduced that doesn’t wrap up at the end — Takuto’s memories begin. Realistic treatment of the recording biz.
26 – Connections to the past, some funny parts, the fact that Mitsuki was born out of wedlock is not cool. Mitsuki has no feelings about it, which seems very strange. Her grandmother’s feelings are now at least understandable.
27 – Just shy of very good. Character development.
* 28 – Some character development. Focus on Mitsuki’s friend at school. Touching, warm-hearted, and funny.
* 29 – Excellent.
30 – Very good. Some unneeded profanities, but good character development, and some funny parts.
31 – Ok. Takto’s jealousy is getting kinda old and the lesson here is silly.
* 32 – Good. Semi-standalone.
33 – Ok. Somewhat heavy.
34 – Good. Faint connections. Emotional. Just shy of very good.
* 35 – Excellent. One profanity (tstch has also been translated as ‘darn’ or ‘crap’). It’s heavy and shot through with fear, almost a horror feel. More connections forward and backward.
* 36 – Very good. Mitsuki’s reaction at the end seems hard to believe, though.
37 – The obligatory Christmas episode. Not horrible. Some character development, actually.
* 38 – Wow. Another emotional blowout. Excellent.
* 39 – Excellent. Emotional, flashbacks, and longingly looks forward to the next.
40 – It’s good, surprisingly emotional, and well-done, but the profanities and a flash of skin towards the end hold it back from being excellent.
* 41 – Another excellent one. The ending is surprising and a blow. Mitsuki’s emotions are kinda predictable and unbelievable in one place, though.
* 42 – Just crushing.
* 43 – Again, crushing.
* 44 – Devastating, and like 41-43, connected to the past and with intimations of the future. Doesn’t end with everything wrapped up. Man. This is what the series promised from the beginning.
* 45 – Wow, another excellent one.
* 46 – Absolutely crushing, but it ends well. At last, the dawn.
* 47 – Beautifully heartwarming and yet, tragic. Awesome combo.
48 – Very good. Only a lame camera angle on Meroko detracts.
49 – Not bad. Definitely connected to other episodes, and doesn’t end with everything all wrapped up. A little bit of cheese.
* 50 – So incredibly wonderful that I didn’t think I could take it.
51 – Good, a great ending, but also a total mistranslation (GD). C’mon FSG. Get real.
52 – Not bad, a little over the top, but it ends on an up note — I know, it’s kind of amazing that they pulled it off. It’s not as convincing as it could be. It’s a bit rushed, but I am impressed with stories that end happily and do so without being utter cheese, and FMWS does so. The theology is…eh…I can see some parallels to the truth, but I don’t think it was really thought through.

The problem with this series is that it takes too long to get to the good stuff, that so many of the shows follow the same formula, that Mitsuki learns anything from Takto’s jealousy-inspired harangues, and that for much of the series, there’s no character development. Mitsuki seems a bit underdeveloped as a character, sometimes, but I think that’s because doing so allows the primary audience (young girls) to pour themselves into Mitsuki’s place. Also her singular focus on a guy is unhealthy both emotionally and spiritually. If you place all your hopes upon someone who will let you down, when they do, you’ve got nothing left.

As a result, this series is both emotionally powerful and yet unhealthy. I think if it were shorter it would have been a better series, and also one more poignant. Don’t get me wrong; the good episodes are good, and it ends well, but it spends too much time in territory that almost makes you feel without hope, knowing that the fragile hope Mitsuki has is doomed, yet this continues on and on instead of coming to a quick end.

Anyhow, if you are an emotional person, watch this with care. If you’re not and you just like fluffy happy stuff, this series isn’t for you because of its undertones and the last third of the series. Also, for guys we have to be careful because seeing episode after episode of Meroko’s outfit is a bit much.

A.F.K is the fansub group that did this series, although another group (I forget which) is doing the DVDs. To download this, search for it at your local torrent hole and find the 8.4 Gb release from A.F.K. The files are hardsubbed AVIs, and if you want to get a good idea of the series, download the first episode and then some from 19 onward.

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I’ve held off on posting because I hate to see a series crash and burn. Even more, I hate being taken for a ride (or admitting that I don’t know how to pick good series, whichever works). I think I’ll keep around the early episodes, though, because they were that good. In the end, the series went nowhere, not because of its pace, but because the writers didn’t have a map and so just made it up as they went along. It’s a real shame. Anyways, here’s the short OO guide.

* 1 — Ooh, this looks good. A post-apocalyptic fantasy world, with symbolism, excellently-detailed backgrounds, believable characters, and very little garbage. I’m in. The opening theme is half-good; the ending theme is mostly good. It starts off with heavy emotion, a black-and-white world with only a few spots of color.

2 — Again, the usual excellent artwork, good characterization, even if it’s a little bit stereotypical, a cool setting, and the past irrupts into the present. I wish they’d do more with the latter, but there’s no trash, no profanities, and it’s endearing. I’m not sure where the plot is going, but I’m afraid that it won’t add up to much. I’m not seeing any big conflicts on the horizon; a slice-of-life pace is nice, but I’m worried about the lack of dramatic tension.

3 — It’s only a bit much, but the dramatic tensions and the import of the episode are top-notch. I could have done without the profanities, though. You get a feel for the greater echoes of the series, here, and it’s soulful stuff.

* 4 — A little bit more subtle than last time. The grande past is again mysterious; charming innocence; character development, and a sense of the smallness of humanity and yet our importance in it all. This show has the real capacity to be wonderful; stekki, and this episode has it.

* 5 — This is wonderful. The past is an endless ocean subsuming the present; there is both glory and sadness in this; some character development (Kurehana has a crush), and we get to see the edgy side of Noel. No profanities; no trash. The pace is slow, here, and I don’t mind it — I just worry that nothing will have happened when we reach the end, you know those lame “return to the beginning” kind of plots.

6 — It’s still beautifully drawn, and the subplot of Yamina and the orphan girl is touching, but I’m not so sure about the whole thing that the army is making wine to sell to supplement their incomes. I guess it’s cool that they’re not constricted by the oppressive laws of the land, but on the other hand, it does seem dishonorable. Kanata is charmingly innocent as usual. The ending song grows on you.

7 – OK, the typical anime` fail begins. The show ends with moral relativism, embracing paganism along the way; well it’s worse than that, actually it states that there is no meaning in life, and therefore we can create our own meaning (self-deification). Whatever. The music is good; the characterization is a little off; the war scenes are cool, but if it’s all in support of selfishness, well, I just can’t hang with that. So you don’t want others to suffer? Wow, how noble; no-one wants to suffer!

8 – Not bad. A little risque material, but mostly it’s just slice-of-life and humorous.

9 – The series starts to swirl down the drain. Yes, this episode features arguably loli shots of girls in panties (not exploitative, but it never is at first), and the destruction of absolutes continues. This time it’s Kuraha-chan’s faith in the Desert Wolf. I’m pretty sure that the series will wrap up in some kind of typical Japanese metaphysical head-game. My interest in this show has dropped by 50%.

10 – Forgettable

11- Takes an anti-war turn with the typical facile argument “we’re all the same”. No, we’re not, and that logic has long since moldered into dust. I’m out.

Yes, there was a twelveth episode, but I couldn’t be bothered to watch it. Welcome to the graveyard, Sora No Woto.

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Onegai My Melody (official site in Japanese) is a humorous, warm, good-hearted shoujo anime` with a good bit of character development and parody riffs on anime` themes and Japanese culture in general. It’s cute, but never just cute, and often satirizes super-cuteness.

Plotwise, three visitors from Mari-Land (a counterpart to the human world populated by cute stuffed animals) enter the human world for reasons that the show slowly reveals. Upon discovering talking stuffed animals, the main human characters (Uta Yumeno and her friends) as well as Kenichi Hiragi, are perplexed and shocked. They get over that initial reaction, and soon find themselves drawn into the chain of events that prompted the three visitors to come to the human world.

Morally speaking, the number of profanities are low, sexual content is very rare, and a few positive mentions of God crop up from time to time, though these are cultural with no deep theological understanding. With that said, one of the main themes of the show is ridiculous nature of unjustified resentment, with the logical follow-up, the need for forgiveness, occasionally on display. Other themes include seeing things as they really are (instead of what you want them to be), and the usual Japanese (and American) emphasis on hard work. The series runs fifty-two episodes with another series following right on its heels. That’s a good thing because the last episode doesn’t conclude.

The series is very good for what it is — a funny, enjoyable, sometimes emotional series with general moral truths sprinkled throughout. It features strong characterization, usually tight plots, parody, and well-rounded, likable characters. There are more than a few excellent episodes. If looking forward to the next episode week after week is a sign of enjoying the series, then this series passes that test. Onegai My Melody is a quality show, worth watching for sure, and even worth buying if it ever is officially subtitled or even dubbed.

For now, enjoy the fantastic work done by Eggplant subs here. The short review follows, with excellent shows starred.

Episode 1 — Not bad. Sets up the light-hearted nature of the series, introduces most of the characters, and delivers a few laughs. Higher on the shoujo dazzle than I’d like, but does reveal the sensitive and understanding insight into the minds of teenage girls.

Episode 2 — Eeh.

* Episode 3 — Excellent. Mana picks up on Uta’s fireworks with Kogure. Quite a bit of humor. Sensitive and emotional. One profanity. A rarity in that it explores how a socially isolated teenage male feels.

Episode 4 — Between good and very good. Funny, more of Uta’s family dynamics. Intro Lamb.

Episode 5 — Between good and very good. We see what Mana likes in a guy. Pretty funny. A little bit of lame Shinto stuff though. Not capitalizing the g in God? Bleah. Intro Hedgehog-kun.

Episode 6 — Just OK.

* Episode 7 — Very good. Mana dogs on Miki’s poetry (and Miki is an Emily of New Moon that can’t write poetry), which is hilarious. Another sensitive episode with emotions, and character development. Great quote: “I’m on the winning team of life!” One profanity.

* Episode 8 — Great. Mana feature, lots of character development. Three profanities (mistranslations?).

* Episode 9 — Another great one. Koto feature. The Kuromi note scene is great. Quite a bit of character development. We get to see what Koto’s life is like. A very obvious truth is stated — Koto has it together more than Uta does.

* Episode 10 — Very good. Kanade feature, character development, and a few LOL moments.

* Episode 11 — Great. Uta’s dad feature. Lots of humor. Intro the idiot couple.

* Episode 12 — Excellent. Features Shirzoka, one of Uta’s classmates. Hilarious.

* Episode 13 — Excellent. Very funny and loads of character development. Uta-chan looks way cute.

Episode 14 — Just OK. One profanity.

* Episode 15 — Very good. Heartwarming, plus some insight on the idol world and references to enka.

Episode 16 — Lame.

Episode 17 — A little better than average. The main conflict is nothing special, but Baku has some great lines. He also shows up in a cheerleader outfit. Intro My Melo’s family.

Episode 18 — Lame.

Episode 19 — Pretty good. A nice change of pace with the Yumano family and My Melody going to the beach. Loads of character development. The fight scene is all the samey, but the rest of the episode is good.

* Episode 20 — Excellent. More than usual character development. Miki gives up on Hirogi-sama; others notice that Kogure has a crush on Uta. Some theology references that are humorous and faintly Christian in nature (a plus as always). The ending conversation between Baku and Hirogi is priceless. Fairly emotional too.

* Episode 21 — A must-see. Hilarious music, great character development, and Kuromi is charmed to act like My Melo. The number of inventive plot twists and humorous moments is off the charts.

Episode 22 — Pretty good. Some funny parts especially towards the end. One profanity. The featured character looks kinda loli, though.

* Episode 23 — A standout episode. Kuromi as a human girl is goth-foxy to the max! Lots of humor. Tight plot, and the relationship between Baku and Kuromi is given more depth. (For pics of Kuromi in her human form, see this post).

Episode 24 — Lame.

Episode 25 — Just OK. One profanity. A few funny bits, and a cool ending, but that’s it.

* Episode 26 — Very good. Feature Koto and her friends. Funny stuff with Uta making puns and the fighting spirit clocks. Plus, My Melo tries to work out. Running gag of “blubber mug”.

Episode 27 — Good. Some funny parts, but the most interesting thing is the plot.

* Episode 28 — Great. Lots of humor, more Japanese language puns than you can handle, and more character development. Plus a foxy weather babe.

Episode 29 — Good. Very funny, a bit too much shoujo dazzle, but the ending rocks. Character development. New ending theme.

Episode 30 — Good. One stupid nod to Darwinism, though (and what a huge humorous missed opportunity that was). Otherwise funny. Not too much character development.

Episode 31 — Good. Hirogi’s plans come close to being made obvious, even to Uta. Some fairly funny parts, but nothing really memorable. Minor character development. We learn that Kuromi is jealous of Uta, though.

Episode 32 — Ok. Too high on the shoujo dazzle for me. A handful of funny parts, and a close call with Kogure revealing his feelings for Uta.

* Episode 33 — Very good. One of the best ones in a while. Two profanities, but you can barely hear them. Lots of humor; more than average character development.

Episode 34 — Ok. A few funny parts. One risque` mention.

Episode 35 — Not bad. The main conflict is lame, but the background about Baku and how he spends his day is interesting.

Episode 36 — Good. Silly but hilarious. No character development, though.

Episode 37 — Ok. Second half has some funny moments. No character development here either. One profanity. Mana featured.

Episode 38 — Lame. What is up with goth-lolita thing? And that’s no mistranslation. The plot had potential but it was just too much. In this case, less could have been more. The ending was ironic, though.

Episode 39 — Good. Heartwarming and some a nod or two to absolute truth.

* Episode 40 — Very good. A return to form.

* Episode 41 — Very good.

Episode 42 — Good. A bit high on the cuteness factor, but there wasn’t any stupid stuff, either. A day in the life of My Melody.

* Episode 43 — Very very good. Some true LOL moments and a lot of dramatic tension. Uta confesses. Total cliffhanger ending, though.

Episode 44 — Good. Some funny parts; the plot is interesting, and I guess Hirogi’s decision was inevitable, wasn’t it? One cuss word.

Episode 45 — Eh. Just kinda there. They tried to put too much into one episode and as a result there’s not enough time given to the emotions.

* Episode 46 — This is a good one. Uta’s feelings are explored, honestly; a hilarious revelation from Kanade.

Episode 47 — Pretty good. No character development, and a few humorous bits. One profanity. It’s warm-hearted but nothing stand-out.

* Episode 48 — Good to very good. Baku’s family comes to stay with My Melo. Quite a few funny parts and a smidge of character development.

Episode 49 — It’s OK. Some funny parts and an unexpected ending. Another total cliffhanger ending.

Episode 50 — It’s a little bit better than OK. Another total cliffhanger ending. One or two great humorous moments. It’s really up in the air whom Uta will choose.

* Episode 51 — A bit overdramatic in places, but funny. Good character development.

Episode 52 — Very overdramatic and it doesn’t really end! It leads straightaway into a new series, so I guess that’s ok.

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Today, Toradora! (official site in Japanese) jumped the shark. Episode 16 captures why the show has a heart of tin — not gold, not silver, not even brass, but tin. It combines together the most dramatic (and often ridiculous) moments of high school with overly-sentimental emotions, long plots where important things are hidden from the audience for the sake of making the plot longer, stupid amounts of profanities, poor animation quality, pervy and prurient moments, all of which results in a warm, mottled, mess not unlike vomit.

When the series succeeds, it does so by tamping down or eliminating some of its excesses, but these keep cropping up like a bad case of jock itch. Yes, jock itch, because once you scratch it, it feels good, but you’re still infected. So I can’t recommend this series except as an exercise in self-torture. The promises bestowed by the initial two episodes and referenced occasionally further in are never realized, and the innocence gives way to distracted horndogia. It’s just not worth the effort anymore, and I can’t keep ignoring the fact that the show gets it wrong far more often than it gets it right. Here’s a short summary guide for the first 16 episodes (season 1 + partial of season 2).

* Episode 1 and 2 — Classic, innocent, great. (Ep 2 starts with the dark/prurient intro which has jack to do with the show. Skip it. The ending song/sequence is much more faithful to the heart of the show).
Episode 3 — Fleshy, lame language, retarded risque` stuff, about 1 minute of good stuff.
Episode 4 — Eeh, ok. It’s not dumb like episode 3, and there’s more background on Tiaga, but not a lot happens here. There’s one emotional scene at the end, but that’s it.
Episode 5 — Another middling episode. No profanity or risque` stuff this time, but neither is there anything really emotional. Ami shows up and there’s some plot complications because of it. One cute scene where Taiga and Ryuji get mistaken for bf/gf.
Episode 6 — Pretty much the same as last time. Too much time spent on Ami, when she’s an unlikeable character. Ends with a cliffhanger. Next episode looks really lame.
Episode 7 — I’m afraid that the series has tanked for good. Profanities, retarded and typical school risque` scenes aimed at dumb horny teenage males. I’ll give the show one more chance and then that’s it. I hate Ami as a character and I have no idea why so much time is spent on her.
Episode 8 — Half-good. Some of the innocent teenage romance that appeared in ep 1-2 returns, effectively saving the series. Still, there are stupid parts that make me wonder if I’m just being jerked around. Tiaga reveals how she feels about Ryuji, here, although not exactly. He’s way too subservient, though. I’d have told her to get lost a long time ago.
Episode 9 — Worthless. Two profanities and lots of risque` scenes.
* Episode 10 — Two profanities, one scene involving risque` material, but Ryuji turns her down. There’s a lot of character development here and the series gets emotionally complex. It’s a worthy episode with the exception of the risque scene which could have been handled a lot more maturely, despite Ryuji’s correct actions.
Episode 11 — Worthless. Tons of profanities. The quality of this series is ridiculously variable.
* Episode 12 — Very very good. Four profanities. Tons of character development. Why can’t every episode be like this one? Why is the quality so variable from episode to episode? I mean, they started out in ep 11 by rehashing a familiar theme — the hs cultural festival, and treated it lamely. Here, they imbue with all of the togetherness and romantic conflicts that lift it above the de riguer treatment they just gave it. Once again, the characters are real, honest, and 3-D, even Ami.
Episode 13 — Fair. One profanity, and one stupid risque` thing. What Minori says is questionable, but you can see it as just her trying to put a name to the way she feels when someone else has her friends’ attention. It is a great thing to see Taiga happy and to see her dance with Kitomara.
Episode 14 — Below average. There’s some character development, but not much given the length of the episode. Way too many profanities. Here it’s pretty much confirmed that Ami wants what she can’t have — Ryuji.
* Episode 15 — A complex and emotional episode that reminds me distantly of the original To Heart series. One profanity. One risque thing at the very beginning. It’s worth watching a few times to have it all soak in. There’s many things going that we aren’t given the motives for, which feels a bit like bait-and-switch, though. Everyone seems to have a hidden motive but Ryuji.

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One thing I’ve discovered is generally anime` based on games are nothing but disappointment squared. Sure, there are exceptions, but Gunparade Orchestra, sadly, is not one of them. The structure of the series is to blame, because it starts over with a new set of characters every nine episodes, so by the time you’ve gotten to know Sara and the rest, it’s time to begin again. Not only that, but the characterization and plots get markedly worse after episode eight, so even if you stick around, there’s nothing to see. I understand now why Conclave stopped after ep. 8.

This leaves me in a strange position. I truly enjoyed the first chapter (ep 1-9) , but I couldn’t get into the rest of the series for the aforementioned reasons. So I’ll just give my short review of ep 1-9 and tell you where you can get them. Fair?

Gunparade Orchestra is, in the words of some anime` site I’ve forgotten, a mecha/comedy/drama/romance/slice-of-life series, and it’s one of the rare ones that works. The first nine episodes are more than competent. The animation is well-done, the music is used appropriately (and itself is better than average); the dialog is tight, and the characters, sharply defined and interesting. The Hard-boiled Penguin rocks! Additionally, the balance between serious emotions and humor is carried off effectively. It’s never artificial or unreal.

There’s usually a few profanities per episode if that, and only rarely something risque`. While there are no theological themes as such, God is referenced positively on a few occasions, and common themes are the importance of heroism, respect, life being about more than your job — putting first things first.

Ep 1 — Very good. You get to know Sara Ishida and are introduced to the dysfunctional company. A few unnecessary profanities. You have to do research or have watched Gunparade March to understand the world and the Phantom Beasts, though because the series assumes you’re already familiar with it. Alternately, you can watch the episode a few times. 🙂 The intro song is great.

Ep 2 — Very good. More background on Sara and mutiny simmers just beneath the surface. Tense ending. One profanity.

Ep 3 — Very good. Tense.

Ep 4 — Excellent. Emotional.

Ep 5 — Good. Origin of the phrase “muscles mean justice”. Several profanities but a dramatic (in the good sense) plot and emotional tension.

Ep 6 — Good. Interesting plot. The origin of the phrase “Total victory over public baths.” Humorous and victorious. One risque` scene, and more profanities than usual.

Ep 7 — Excellent.

Ep 8 — Very good. Several profanities, though. Tight plot, and the company finally comes to respect Sara’s leadership.

Ep 9 — Just OK. Long fight scenes can be boring and this one is. The very end is moderately good in that it provides some closure, but you still care about the characters and this is the last you’ll ever see of them — so in that sense, it’s the worst possible ending. Their story ends here.

Episodes 1-8: Conclave
Episodes 1-24: Gunparade Orchestra on isohunt

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