Queen’s Blade

Type: No, you shut up!

queens-blade-wallpaper-1280_960

Synopsis: What? No, really, what!? Look, I don’t care. I was having a rough week and needed something to decompress. Don’t give me that look! Whatever…Exiled Virgin (Season 1) and The Evil Eye (Season 2).

Pros: Queen’s Blade is about a fighting tournament between female warriors for the throne of the country of “Gynos.” Its not as horrible-I’m sorry, I know this time for positives, but for reals, “Gynos?”- as you would expect. I came into this thinking I was going to watch 12 episodes of fan service. What I got was, well it was still 12 episodes of fan service, but also a pretty interesting story about a fighting tournament. Season 1 introduces all the fighters and their reasons for fighting, ranging from revenge, duty, wealth, to becoming the strongest. The themes in the plot are actually a lot more complex than you’d expect. If they ever made a proper fighting game anime, this is kinda what you’d want it to be. Season 2 is the actual tournament, which I’m always a fan of. Every characters is established enough to carry their own episode, which they often do. The main character, Leina, often acts more as a narrative device to introduce the new warriors. Leina herself goes through an interesting, if rushed, character arc on her quest to gain a reason to fight.

Cons: “Gynos?” I mean, come on! Plus, Elina Vance-total bitch. I’m sorry, I don’t really like using that term, but seriously. A super rich aristocrat who hates the lower class and literally drove a young servant to demonic witch craft? You suck Elina! There’s also the issue of Leina getting strong within the span of one training session instead of slowly becoming stronger through loss and experience. That was a bit too shoen for my taste. Now for the elephant in the room. Queen’s Blade is one of the most sexually exploitative anime I’ve ever seen (and I’ve seen Battling Venus). Season 1 isn’t as bad Season 2, where it has a character that literally gets sexually assaulted by her evil staff. That’s some messed up shit right there. The thing is, if Queen’s Blade just covered up their characters by say 30%, and cut out the weird stuff, it would be a perfectly normal anime. Except for the character Nyx, and the two women with ludicrously inflated breasts, Queen’s Blade is not the most horribly sexploitative anime I’ve ever seen. Not by a long shot. The story is engaging and some of the characters are actually pretty admirable.

Watch it?: You come for the fan service, you stay for the story (3/5)

MVP: Elina Vance

aammmn

I hate her some much! She’s obviously a good character.

Best Episode: S1., Ep. 11 “Thunder: Struggle to the Death” (sister vs sister)

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Redline

Type: Awesome Pompadour

867-eiga

Synopsis: Its a racing movie. A space racing movie. A movie about racing in space.

Pros: Obviously, the visuals are incredible. It kinds looks like Gurren Laggan or Kill La Kill, but on speed (puns!). This is especially showcased in the races the open and close the movie, which almost attack you with their use of color and motion. This is the level of animation you expect anime movies to take advantage of. Being a sort of wackier racing story, each of the racers involved are your color mishmash of personalities, along the lines of Wacky Racers, but more adult and made in Japan.

Cons: The story is a little thin. Aside from winning the race, there are three side stories. One is about Sweet JP’s troubled past, another is the love story with Cherry Boy Hunter Sanoshee (Cherry Boy=Virgin), and the third involves the robot planet the race is taking part in. The main reason to watch the movie is for the race scenes, all this extra stuff is just to pad out the time in between. There’s also this one nude scene that felt out of place, but whatever.

Watch it?: A Very Fun Movie

MVP:  The TRANSAM 20,000

redline

Trans Ams kick-ass!

Best Moment: The race to the finish line (who’s ganna win!?)

Tagged , ,

Phantom: Requiem for a Phantom

Type: Repetitive Title

phantom_12316_requiem_for_the_phantom_12316_261903

Synopsis: A Japanese tourist witnesses an assassination from a supposedly god-tier killer and is kidnapped and subsequently trained by the killer for reasons. He’s supposed to be brainwashed into becoming a souless murderer, but he totally doesn’t. Instead, he spends the show trying to figure out how to escape his new life. First he tries to play along, then he runs away, then he plays along again, then the become a high school student…yeah it sounds like a weird path. But dammit, it hooks you in before you even know it.

Pros: This show is weird in that it’s a straight drama. There’s not real humor or crazy action scenes. In fact, except for a few bits in that start and some costume changes, this could have easily been done with real people. It’s pretty low key for the most part, relying on intrigue and plot twists to drive the series. The story is about Reiji, a guy who is forced into the life of an assassin and what that entails, with a continuous criminal power struggle in the background. The assassin stuff in pretty interesting, as Reiji and several other characters often lament their lives in the underworld. The mafia stuff is also great, particularly the parts involving Claudia, a surprisingly well executed femme fetale. Like any great drama, the show gets you to care about what happens in these characters lives (WHY DREI! You know Reiji didn’t play you like that!). It’s a great crime drama, probably the best I’ve seen since the first part of Gungrave.

Cons: So the show is also weird in that is has a so-so beginning and ending, but a great middle. The first part is about Reiji being turned into an assassin, a potential “Phantom.” This honestly felt the most “anime” to me, and I wasn’t sure whether I was going to like it or not. Then the second arc hits, taking place 6 months later with Reiji being a full blown mafia assassin, and that was great. He even take an “assistant,” with clear allusions to Leon: the Professional. The last arc, taking place 2 years after, and has Reiji pretending to be a high school student. This felt out of place (which may have been the point), and beings up a whole mess of questions. How old is Reiji? I though he was college age when this all started. How come Reiji seemed to age more after 6 months than 2 years? To be fair, all the stuff that took place outside the high school was amazing. The time skips gave a great sense of progression and consequence. I just wish it had been a little more consistent. They also never really resolved the fate of the whole evil organization known as Inferno, or how it started, but maybe that’s part of the point as well.

Watch it?: No jokes and I still loved it. (4/5)

MVP: Cal

phantom14-00014

Any kid that can quote Taxi Driver gets a Thumbs Up from me.

Best Episode:  Ep. 17 “Truth” (it hurts my soul!)

Tagged , , , ,

Nekomonogatari

Type: Cat-Girl Ghost Thingy

Nekomonogatari Kuro

Synopsis: Taking place before the original series but not showing the events we really wanted, Nekomonogatari is about a cat spirit. Specifically, its about the time Araragi’s friend Hanekawa. You know, the one with the glasses and big boobs. The one that already go her own story arc in Bakemonogatari. So instead of finally explaining how Araragi became a vampire and was forced to enter the world of ghosts and oddities, we get 4 episodes about a girl in her bra and panties with cat ears.

Pros: By now, fans of the Monogatari series will know what there getting into. The traditional use of cut frames, bright colors, and of kilter conversations are still here. Araragi still runs the gamit of cool guy to spaz to perv. Its four more episodes of Monogatari (or a single movie depending how you look at it).

Cons: Going into this series, I knew beforehand that it was a prequel. However, I failed to read too much into the “Neko” part of “Nekomonogatari” and thought it was going to be about how Araragi became a vampire. So far, this is the only “oddity case” that hasn’t been covered in the anime side of the franchise. Maybe the books or the subsequent series cover it, I don’t know. But it’s staring to irk me. Nekomonogatari is good enough and its still Monogatari in terms of quality, but I don’t think we really needed to have Hanekawa’s story expanded. Her arc in Bakemonogatari was enough.

Watch it?: If you need more Monogatari, then sure (4/5)

MVP: Araragi

monogatari-20-5-araragi-koyomi

Still a fun character

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Tsubasa Family, Part One” (boob latch)

 

Tagged , , , , ,

Sailor Moon (Season One)

Type: O.G. Pretty Soldiers

454764

Synopsis: I normally don’t do super popular anime, but dammit, I finally know what Sailor Moon is about! A long time ago, the Moon Princess and her friends are sent to Earth after her Kingdom is destroyed by the evil Queen Beryl. Years later, the Moon Princess is reincarnated as a young girl named Serena and given the ability to turn into “Sailor Moon” by a talking cat named Luna. Together, they reassemble the “Sailor Scouts” and fight Queen Beryl and her evil henchmen.

Pros: Although I’m the right age, I missed Sailor Moon the first time around because I didn’t have cable. But I did watch the Power Rangers, and this is basically the same thing. Just look at the story structure: One or more of the Scouts are doing something, the bad guys crash their activity, then someone throws a tiara and the day is saved. This would have made for great after school TV (though I wouldn’t recommend binge watching). It’s funny, in that early 90’s English dubbed anime way. I mean, why does Serena’s school friend have a Brooklyn accent? Better question, why weren’t their more random accents! I also liked that Serana was kinda a clutz and not a natural at the who hero thing. It made her relatable.

Cons: The show is repetitive, though I can’t say whether that’s due to North American editing or not. That’s right, I watched the old-school English version of Sailor Moon, end credit PSA’s and everything. I can tell you this much, Goku never told me that jealousy made people act differently. The more you know, I guess. I should add that this show is pretty girly. I mean, it was made specifically for girls, so that’s not really a negative. But I was confused over the common plot of these–middle school girls? high school?–dating clearly adult men. Maybe that’s a girl thing.

Watch it?: You really need to know what your missing (4/5) 

MVP: Serena

740388

I refuse to call her Usagi.

Best Episode: Ep. 31 “A Reluctant Princess” (Serena got real for a minute there)

Tagged , , ,

Battle Girls: Time Paradox

Type: Nobunaga, Tokugawa, Hideyoshi, the usual.

11170

Synopsis: A girl is sent back in time to the Feudal Japan where she meets all the big named Japanese Leaders that are forever stuck in the anime cycle of death and resurrection. Now there’s a thought. What if the cycle of rebirth also includes fictional worlds? Like, you die, then get recreated in some poor shmuck’s fan fiction. That would suck. Huh? Oh yeah, synopsis time. The girl finds that everyone is also a girl and there are no men in the past, because girls are pretty.

Pros: There’s nothing much to say one way or another. This is a solid mid-tier comedy with only a very little bit of Historical Drama put in. This means that any potential betrayals or attacks are immediately forgiven after the fact. I will admit that the character of Hideyoshi isn’t the most annoying small-blonde character in anime history, but she doesn’t do much. No one in this anime does much. Although, there is one episode that deals with a woman’s love for another woman fairly earnestly. So it gets points for that. A fairly easy watch with some chuckles here and there.

Cons: So aside from the usual slice-of-life stories, the main plot involves Nobunaga collecting this mysterious “Crimson Armor” that will let her take over Japan. This was basically just an excuse to introduce other notable historical gender-swapped characters. The no guys thing is never explained, neither is the talking dog (p.s.There’s a talking dog). Since you probably already get a feel for what this show is, can I say how interesting it is that Oda Nobunaga is usually the central focus in these types of shows. Whenever anime goes to the past, they usually hit up Nobunaga. For those who don’t know, Nobunaga was the first of the Three Great Unifiers of Japan, followed by Hideyoshi and Tokugawa. Just a fun fact.

Synopsis: Total middle of the road show (3/5)

MVP: Yoshino Hide

0f30f2c3151c8937b521725fb81b8ae91302680702_full

I wish her staff skillz had come more into play.

Best Episode: Ep. 02 “Confused Maiden” (Don’t get cocky kid)

Tagged , , , , ,

Romeo X Juliet

Type: Juliet X Romeo

romeo-moe-61020-sample

Synopsis: Two households, both alike in dignity until one destroyed the other some 16 years before, In fair Neo-Verona, where we lay our scene. From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, only this time its really the Montague’s fault. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life. Well actually, a crazy magic tree takes their lives, but that would be telling.

Pros:  I’ve said it before, but I love when anime reinterprets well known stories, particularly western stories. So what did they do different with Rome and Juliet? For starters, House Capulet was nearly destroyed by House Montague years before the show. The story actually revolves around Juliet, the last surviving Capulet, and her quest to restore her House and overthrow the tyrannical Prince Montague. As such, we get a lot of stories showcasing the cruelty the citizens of Neo-Verona suffer from Montague and the Noble Class. The best part is that Juliet isn’t just some lost princess. She actually established herself as a Zorro type character who defended the citizenry from oppression well before she learned she was a Capulet. A lot of the story is actually told from Juliet’s perspective, and we get to see her struggle not only with the pressure of reviving her House and the realities of leading a revolution, but also with falling in love with Romeo. Juliet’s personal journey is the core of the show, and ultimately why it succeeds. (p.s. You should also watched this in English, since they actually throw in some actual lines from the play in it).

Cons: I feel that Romeo character was underwritten. Unlike Juliet, Romeo doesn’t really go through a personal journey. He’s more or less that same character from the first to last episode. Fans of the original play may not like some of the character changes. I personally was irked by the personalities of Mercutio and Tybalt. In the anime, Tybalt is this cool and collected character, the opposite in the play, and Mercutio is a conniving power seeker instead of Romeo’s best friend. He doesn’t even die in the end, so we miss his calling out both Houses on their bullshit. I would also argue that Prince Montague should have hated all nobles, not just the Capulets. After learning his backstory, you can’t help but feel he was missing the forest for the trees. Finally, the ending was needlessly complicated. It does the cliche “hidden boss” troupe, where the real antagonist was some mystical being or whatever. This reeked of being an out to kill Romeo and Juliet at the end. Also, not an actual tragedy. In fact, the only tragic figure may be Prince Montague.

Watch it: The only time I actually liked Romeo and Juliet (4/5)

MVP: Juliet

screenshot_4_16109

Hell, even I’d follow her

Best Episode: Ep. 17 “Cruel Tyrant: Darkness, the Origin” (man, do Nobles suck)

Tagged , , ,

Sword Art Online (Part 2)

Type: Alfheim Online

tumblr_mbi1caca401rc391co1_500

Synopsis: Two months after getting stuck in an MMO, but not taking place in another season for some reason, video game nerddddd Kirito signs up for another monthly subscription to save his online girlfriend from a date rapist. This new MMO has a bunch of flying elves, which is…cool? Elves were in Lord Of the Rings, so I think that makes them cool. Kirito basically has a week to save the love of his life and prevent a totally legal marriage while she’s in a coma. Plus, he gets to fly around with a really busty blondy that may or may not be his incestuous sister. Anime everybody!

Pros: You know, the idea of Sword Art taking place in other MMO worlds is cool, and it would have been cooler if the show just bit the bullet and made Ep.15-25 another season. It’s nitpicky, but it would have made it simpler to separate both halves. The show still keeps its quality action scenes and gaming jargon, and I liked that Kirito got a Navi-like figure. Very Legend of Zelda. I also liked Leafa, in that I liked that Kirito traveled with another person for the majority of his time in Alfein Online.

Cons: First off, the incestuous sister story troupe needs to stop. None of this “technically not related” bullshit can make up for the gross factor. Second, I didn’t feel as emotionally invested in the Alfein Online storyline as I did with Sword Art. Kirito can’t actually die in this game, and you know Asuna will be rescued. Speaking of that, why did they have to marginalize Asuna so much? She went from bad-ass fighter to damsel in distress, in the worst possible way. She’s stuck in a bird cage, cries for Kirito to save her, and worst of all, she gets sexually harassed and constantly threatened with assault in almost every scene she shows up in. For a minute, it looks like she was going to escape and maybe work her way down the fortress while Kirito works his way up, but nope. Instead she’s attacked my tenticle monsters. For reals, that’s a thing that happens. The bad guy in this is also just the worst kind of slime. Also, for only having a week, Kirito seemed in no hurry and screwed around a whole lot.

Watch it?: Everyone lives. There, now you don’t have to watch it. (3/5)

MVP: Yui

Sword-Art-Online-Yui-Pixie-Transformation

“Daddy” was annoying, but she was very helpful when you think about it.

Best Episode: Ep. 19 “The Lugru Corridor” (Giant Summon)

Tagged , ,

Sword Art Online (Part 1)

Type: The part that actually takes place in the game Sword Art Online

wpid-wp-1392747130721

Synopsis: A young man is trapped in a virtual world where he has to train digital monsters to–Oops! wrong show. I mean to say that the young man is trapped in a virtual world and must solve the mystery of why he can’t log out while dealing with his inner fears and anxieties–no, sorry, that’s a different show too. Let me double check my notes…o.k. This show does follow a young man who is trapped in a virtual world, where monster do exist but as enemies, and he does deal with emotion problems but mostly about why every girl that meets him want to date him. He also actually makes it out of the game half way through, hence the “Part 1″ in the title.

Pros: As non-original as it is, the premise of a person trapped in a virtual world still intrigues me. The plot behind this show is that a about ten thousand people are trapped in an online game. If they beat the boss, they beat the game, and the protagonist is one such person who resolves to do just that. The result is an action packed anime with video game jargon and the occasional love story. The action is nice and flashy, but the love stories are hit or miss. The stipulation that “if you die in the game, you die in real life” made some of the early death scenes pretty emotional. It was also an interesting idea to have time move in real time, and the revelation that two year go by in the first fourteen episodes really helps solve some of the show’s pacing problems.

Cons: This show is good, but its not great. I wasn’t psyched about that fact that every girl, every single dingle girl, that meets Kirito falls for him. This felt a little too harem-esque to me. As mentioned above, I also felt that the show had pacing issues, with stories jumping around in both location and time. For example, in Episode 1, Kirito is a level 1 player, but in episode 2 Kirito is apparently so high level that his afraid to tell people. A quick scene maybe showing him grinding would have been since. I was kinda ticked that most people in the show didn’t just band together and rush the hundred floors needed to beat the boss, but that’s nitpicking (and I guess since most people were at level 1, it wouldn’t have helped). As for the Kirito-Asuna relationship, I liked it. It was fine. I actually would have preferred more duo adventures, or at least one episode showcasing an Asuna solo quest. The overall emotional tone of the show is also a little bit too melodrama from some.

Watch it?: All-in-all, its fairly entertaining (4/5)

MVP: Sword Art Online

SAOHF_12-05_Lovely-Field

For being a game so intricate, it actually had a Cooking skill tree in it.

Best Episode: Ep. 3 “The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (because everyone called him names?)

Tagged , , ,

Ah My Goddess! Flights of Fancy

Type: Also known as Season 2

1ea71e21c2c680_full

Synopsis: Keiichi is basically still living the swell life. After somehow ending up with the goddess Belldandy and her two not-so-wicked sister, Urd and Skuld, he’s more or less adjusted. He and Belldandy even manage to get closer on an emotional level, which is cool I guess. I mean, this kinda comes back to bite them when Urd’s mother, the LORD OF TERROR, decides to mess with them because why not? Can their love overcome the devil herself!? (Spoilers: Yeah, probably).

Synopsis: The animation seems to have gotten a bit of an upgrade between seasons, but not by much. I liked this season’s plot better than the first season. Aside from a few fluff episodes, the core story for season 2 is the growing intimacy between Keiichi and Belldandy, specifically on Belldandy’s side. This season, Belldandy experiences jealousy and possessiveness for the first time (she also gets drunk, which is always funny). Keiichi and Belldandy’s relationship are given several tests time around, and Belldandy’s new feelings boost the drama. Don’t get me wrong, this ain’t Days of Our Lives or anything, but I’m glad Belldandy and Keiichi were back to being the focus of the show after the lackluster second half of season 1. I also forgot to mention this last time, but I love the scottish influenced opening melody.

Cons: Again, nothing too bad or good. Aside from Keiichi and Belldandy, the other side stories are the inner turmoil between Urd’s goddess and demon sides, and a mini-arc about Skuld’s first love. A lot of episodes are still skippable, and you will most likely want to skim through a lot of this. Also, and I forgot the mention this last time, but this series has the weird habit of ending the plot two episodes early, meaning we essentially get two extra episodes for finales. That’s just weird.

Watch it!?: Did you know that Manga lasted 26 years? (3/5)

MPV: Belldandy

belldande-with-an-attitude

She was rounded out a bit more

Best Episode: Ep.20 “Ah! It Doesn’t Matter Where, So Long as We’re Together!” (there’s nothing quite as romantic as a private dance together).

Tagged , , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 85 other followers