Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Season 1 Part 1

Well, the spring season is in full swing and I am fully behind! I realized I have picked too many shows to review. Starting in on the season I have also realized that there is a certain amount of shows that will have to be dropped as time goes on, some not quite making it past their two episode limit (every show has two episodes to make a good impression and get itself started). So, let’s get started on the Spring Season!  As per usual, we’ll move from best to worst. I’ve had to split the season up again, simply because I’m starting to fall behind trying to watch everything and this post would be ridiculously long if I included another five shows. While the second episode of Deadman Wonderland is not available to me right now, I will say that thus far it is my favorite of the season.

Hanasaku Iroha
The animation quality alone made me look forward to Iroha and it certainly delivered with its plot as well. Masahiro Ando, an excellent director who has worked on several of the most popular anime (Gundam Seed, Wolf’s Rain, Evangelion), is doing yet another bang up job, especially since he is in charge of almost every aspect. The show itself is a slice of life, no giant robots or evil nobles are stopping main character Ohana from achieving her goal, which is really just to survive. When fanservice makes an appearance it is done in a subtle way, or serves some purpose (that’s right, fanservice can be relevant to plot). The characters all relate together well , and the music is subtle enough to carry scenes on their own. I can’t say this is surprising as Shiroh Hamaguchi is in charge of the music and he did the same great job in Final Fantasy VII. While not Wandering Son quality animation it is still rather nice to look at and not nearly as harsh as other shows this season. Hanasaku Iroha is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
+Character Design
+Episode direction
-Perverted author
-Cranky grandmother syndrome
-No clear plot

Tiger and Bunny
Imagine a superhero show. Now imagine a mech anime. Combine them and we get Tiger and Bunny, where perhaps the most hilarious premise is the product placement (boy, do I want a Pepsi Next now). Despite the product placement it is a fairly entertaining show and the characters are all quite amusing. The standard hero regime does not seem to be ever present just yet, and there is more of a focus on the pseudo-mech plot. The only female hero is, in fact, also an idol, something highly reminiscent of Macross. There is a reason for this, as director Keiichi Satou is fairly at home in the Mech world having worked on Big O, MazinKaiser, and several Gundam arcs. He manages to combine it with the superhero genre fairly well. Music is your standard superhero fanfares and helps carry the action quite a bit, something Yoshihiro Ike is quite experience having worked on mostly shonen shows. As a fan of both superhero shows and mech shows, I am quite excited to continue watching this show, almost as much as Heroman.  Tiger and Bunny is currently streaming on Anime News Network and Hulu.
+Superheroes in pseudo-mechs
+Fun characters
-Product Placement
-Reality TV show producers
-Random CG sometimes

Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi (World’s Greatest First Love)
Here it is. The yaoi of the season. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, seeing as the plot for it is a fairly typical love story. The only exception being, of course, the fact that the couple is two males. Chiaki Kon is well experienced in the world of romantic anime (and even non-romantic if you don’t consider Higurashi to be), and it certainly shows. Nothing is too rushed, and when the little instances of fanservice designed to make fangirls giggle with glee occur, they are done superbly (if you oversaturate anything with fanservice it loses all value). The music is fairly upbeat, as it should be seeing as it is also a comedy, and Hijiri Anze does a good job of bringing it subtly in. Of course, this show is not for everyone, because I said it is yaoi, and unless you enjoy that you will not enjoy it here. What makes the plot good outside of it is the sheer ridiculousness of some scenes: a literature editor who ends up working for shoujo manga is something that could only happen in Japan. Sekai Ichi Hatsukoi is not streaming on Crunchyroll.
+Character Design
+Comedic Effect
-Yaoi [if you aren’t a fan]
-Strange character shifts

She'd be adorable if it weren't for this.
We, Without Wings
There are so many things wrong with this show I’m not even certain where to start. Let’s start with the summary Anime News Network has: It's winter in the big city of Yanagihara, and young people will meet and fall in love. Takashi is a boy who plans to escape to another world, but is held back by thoughts of his younger sister Kobato and girlfriend Asuka. Shusuke is a poor part-timer who has to work with student-author Hiyoko in spite of their initial dislike for each other. The antisocial Hayato makes his living as a handyman until he is visited by a girl name Naru. Within the first two episodes there is , at no point, a mention of this plot. If it’s in there, I missed it amongst all the fanservice. The characters should not be all that suprising considering Kumi Ishi, the same character designer for Rozen Maiden is also the chief animation director. The amount of jiggles and panty shots are ridiculous, and is even more so when its compared to the amount of fan service in Highschool of the Dead. Yet it’s not the animators fault, as Kumi Ishi also worked on several excellent animated works (Cardcaptor Sakura, Perfect Blue),  its largely Shinji Ushiro’s direction that is leading this show astray. I have not seen any of his other works, but given the fact that I saw seven characters named in seven seconds, I’m not sure I want to. Not even music acts as a redeeming quality, as there is just a lot of random genres thrown together, and there isn’t even a musical director listed. Almost everything I can say is basically summed up in the screen shot. Unfortunately, this series is being dropped, though perhaps I will visit it again later to see how it turns out. We, Without Wings is streaming on Crunchyroll.
-Excessive Fanservice
-Poor Music
  -Confusing exposition

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Final Winter Review

Well, the seasons have officially come to an end. I know I run about a week late, but I would rather run late and watch free legal streams than free illegal ones. Any screen shots that are used belong to their respective owners and companies, and I do not own the rights. There are two shows that have to be done a little differently than the others: Madoka and Gosick. Madoka will be broadcasting the last two episodes back to back in about a week, so I cannot comment on it just yet. Gosick is continuing into the spring season, so I will only be reviewing the first twelve (a full season). As a result they will not be counted towards the top and bottom scores of the season in this review. So who made it to the top this season and who fell flat? Let’s find out.

Unlike Victorique...
Gosick started off good, but slow. As it moved farther into the show it began to reveal itself as a show that solves mystery with the characters trying to solve their own. As of episode twelve none of this has been fully solved, and like Detective Conan it can be a little repetitive. Find a mystery, solve it. Here’s some overarching plot, moving on. Even with this flaw (if you want to consider it one, I personally do not), the characters are charged and blend rather well together. There is no one character that acts as a plot hog, which is impressive as a large portion of the show is spent figuring on the mystery of Victorique’s character. If this were to be placed in the season ranking again, it would certainly rank quite high.
+Overarching Plot
-Long development
-Disappearance of the overarching plot
-Blatant villain (how haven’t the characters found him yet)

FREEZER BURNED (LOWEST RANK): Koreha Zombie des ka?

This was totally worth it though.

Oh Zombie, you started off so well and so humorous. You even picked up a fairly interesting villain. Unfortunately he was an interesting villain guilty of godmodding. Yes, that’s right, godmodding. He was that kid in elementary school who calls shield before you tag him. They do of course defeat him, but the battle is somewhat anticlimactic and the viewer is left unsatisfied. In fact, the series completes itself before the twelfth episode because it was just complete fanservice. So unfortunately, Zombie,  you have a bad case of freezer burn. Koreha Zombie des ka is streaming on Crunchyroll.
+Moe Necromancer
+Catchy Ending Theme
-Godmodding Villain
-Strange exposition

IN THE FREEZER: Yumekui Merry
Unlike the power of friendship!

Much like it’s first few episodes, Yumekui sort of loses its pace. Or rather, it gained too much of a pace. Within two episodes the main villain is revealed, introduced, and defeated in the finale. Perhaps most frustrating about the final battle is the fact that Merry’s innate power shown in an earlier episode is never brought up. Ever. And perhaps the biggest annoyance is the power Yumeji seems to gain: his will. Yes, that’s right. The one thing that can possibly protect a human from a dream demon is your will. He still was unable to win without help from others, but I feel as though “the power of will” was both a cop out and a little inspiring. The only reason Yumekui is scoring higher than Zombie is because it pulls off the final battle so well. All the character stories are resolved (with the exception of Merry, who is unable to return “just because”) in a timely manner and by the last episode, no fan service required. While it is based off a manga, there has been no second season revealed as of yet. And that’s why Yumekui never quite made it from the freezer. Like Merry’s quest to go home, it will stay frozen for a long time.
  +Fight Sequences
  -Plot Resolution
  -Goals (don't encourage the NEET's!)
  -Plot device never touched upon again (Merry's power)

IN THE OVEN: Wandering Son

He is most certainly not a zombie.

While one of the nicest shows of the season, Wandering Son didn’t quite make it to the top of the top. It is certainly a great show to satiate your anime appetite, especially with its artwork, the finale is a little confusing. Shuichi seems to have finally grown into himself, but whether that means him giving up on his personal feelings to become a female and undergo a sex change or that others have finally accepting him is a little unclear. Now, the finale is actually the twelfth episode, the tenth and eleventh having been combined and so some things may be explained in the expanded version of the series. For now, however, the fact that there is no definite answer is a little confusing. And yet, the open endedness is appreciatable. Wandering Son ends with a warm feeling, like the feeling one gets when standing in front of an open oven door. And so, it certainly garnishes a high review. Wandering Son is streaming on CrunchyRoll.
  +Ending Theme
  -Ambiguous Antagonists
  -Quickened Exposition (final episode)


No it's not, that's not Haruhi!

Yutaka Yamamoto never ceases to amaze me with his story ideas. In an interview in The Otaku Encyclopedia he said he was aiming to move away from moĆ© anime, as well as the fact that he was working on a great project for 2010 (it made it out in 2011 so that counts). Fractale ends in an amazing conclusion to the series, pulling everything together and nicely concluding the show, something that all anime should do. I only had a few issues here, one of which was the fact that there is always the “god” character in his shows. It all started with Haruhi…and I will say no more without revealing the ending. The other is the endless cycle that seems to be invoked, though I suppose with lack of access to a certain place, history will not be doomed to repeat itself. In the end any issues it had seemed to have worked themselves out, especially since you are able to see the whole series in a new light. Fractale is available on Funimation’s YouTube channel.
  -Existentialism (God again?)
  -Future Implications

Madoka Magica  will be reviewed separately. Look forward to the Spring Review in the next blog post. Unfortunately there are a lot of things I want to watch this spring, but don’t have the time to review them all in one go (the spring season is MASSIVE)! So, consider it Spring Review I and when I finally get the time to watch the next half we’ll consider it Spring Review II! Look forward to these shows in part I:
Sekai Ichi
Tiger and Bunny
Astarotte's Toy
Hen Zemi
Abnormal Physiology Seminar
Deadman Wonderland