Encouragement of Climb

Type: Can’t spell Encouragement without Courage

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Synopsis: Here’s the deali-o. Aoi is a high school student whose afraid of heights and kinda anti-social. This was working great for her so far, until she runs into her old friend Hinata, who makes her keep a childhood promise of climbing a mountain together. Sadly, Aoi couldn’t pretend to not notice her, because their in the same class.

Pros: Every episode is only 3 minutes. If you don’t have time to watch this, you may need to reflect on your time management. It’s a typical slice-of-life anime with a female bent. The character’s are kinda cutesy, there’s humor, but nothing raunchy, and the main story is about Aoi becoming a more open person. All in all, an easy to digest cute anime.

Cons: There was this weird moment at the end where the girls were changing in the locker room that made me think “who is this for?” My assertion that this was made for a female audience may have been mistaken. This is probably more for a moe audience. That would also explain why some of the girls look a bit too young to be high school students.

Watch it: You can knock this out in less than an hour (4/5)

MVP: Aoi

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I also fell off something once. It’s not something I’d like to repeat again.

Best Episode: Too short (you pick)

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Time of Eve

Type: No Robots were harmed in the making of this anime

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Synopsis: In this little cafe in Japan, probably, I mean, the anime isn’t sure so why should I be? Just because everyone looks, acts like, and speaks Japanese. They could be in Detroit for all I know! The cafe, called Time of Eve, serves as a little refuge for humans and androids to interact with each other freely. There’s also a lot of talk about the Three Laws of Robotics: Serve the Public Trust, Protect the Innocent, and Uphold the Law.

Pros: I was super apprehensive about watching this show once I learned what it was about. The only worse than a sad robot story is a sad dog story. Luckily, nothing super depressing happens to any of the robots in the show (well, except that one guy). The plot is mainly about Rikou learning that androids have feelings, such as his own android, Sammy. The show is a sci-fi drama, exploring the social facets of a life with androids. Should they be treated as people, can they fall in love, do they have emotions, all these topics are explored. Something in the vein of A.I. and Bicentennial Man, or even a more serious version of Chobits. Everything from the shaky cam to color pallet has a near-future vibe to it. And with only 15 minute episodes, its a fast watch.

Cons: I honestly kept expecting things to do dark really fast, but it didn’t, and I am grateful. I already saw the Animatrix, I don’t need to be reminded of man’s inhumanity again. The stories don’t go beyond the main characters going to the cafe and dealing with their own prejudices and preconceptions about androids. The story alludes to a bigger political battle in the background, but nothing ever comes of it. So its an intimate story, but at the same time it feels unfinished. (P.S. Episode 4 is a particularly sad robot story, so I’d advise anyone not wanting to cry to skip it).

Watch it?: There’s a compilation movie of the show, so you could also watch that (4/5)

MVP: Sammy

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I wish there had been one episode from her point of view

Best Episode: Ep. 3 “Koji & Rina: Lovers of Eve” (Is love a human emotion?)

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100 Followers: Let’s Break Kayfabe

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Hello! This is GentlemanOtoku, and I’m super exited to reveal that the blog has achieved 100 follower! Yes, I understand that some people just follow to be cool and don’t read the articles, but whatever! A W is a W no matter how you get it. For this special post, I’ll finally explain what the exact deal is with my posting layout and review system. Trust me, I’m as exited to find out as you are. Continue reading

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Hajime No Ippo: The Fighting!

Type: The Sweet Science

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Synopsis:  Ippo was nobody. But that don’t matter, you know? ‘Cause Ippo was thinkin’, it really don’t matter if he lost a fight. It really didn’t matter if that anime guy opens his head, either. ‘Cause all Ippo wanted do is go the distance. Nobody’s ever went the distance with a boxing show, and if Ippo could go that distance, you see, and that bell rings and Ippo’s still standin’, we’re all gonna know for the first time in our lives, see, that his show weren’t just another bum sport anime from the neighborhood.

Pros: I hate sports anime, but I didn’t hate Hajime No Ippo. I actually really enjoyed it. Ippo’s drive to be the best, the sacrifice he and other boxers make to follow their dreams, the psychology behind each fight in and out of the ring, the clearly corrupt calls, all of it. In a weird way, Hajime No Ippo both glamorizes and bluntly presented the sport of professional boxing. I think why this anime worked better for me than say The Prince of Tennis, is that boxing as a sport is very easy to romanticize. This is why movies like Rocky are more popular than Friday Night Lights and Coach Carter. Baseball stories are a close second, but probably only in America. You can really relate to the effort put into boxing because it mainly deals with one individual vs. another. Each of Ippo’s opponents have a backstory, even if it eventually boils down to trying to be the best. Ippo himself is very charming, as his meek persona outside the ring works well to balance his all-business attitude inside (he also appearently has huge genatelia that everyone makes fun of!). He kinda reminded me of Kenichi, Histories Strongest Desciple to be honest.

Cons: The story is fairly simple. Ippo has to learn a specific lesson or technique before a fight, he fights, then he wins and moves on to the next guy. Rise and repeat. The only variants are the character involved. Some of the fights also starts getting repetitive. Don’t get me wrong, this is probably the most intense cinematic boxing you’ll ever see, but that doesn’t mean they’re all masterpieces. What’s interesting about Ippo is that you get a shorthand introduction to the world of boxing, including the business side and economic and health reality for fighters. It’s actually pretty realistic at times, and Ippo himself ages from about 17 to 20, so it was neat to notice the subtle changes in him. I would have liked more scenes with his eventual love interest Kumi, but eh. To be honest, outside of the this being a boxing anime with repetitive story arcs, I can’t thing of any bad things about it (except maybe that his initial rivalry with Miyata goes nowhere).

Watch it?: If you like boxing stories, you’ll love Ippo (4/5)

MVP: Ippo Makunouchi

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Him vs Tomorrow Joe, who would win?

Best Episode: Ep. 66 “My Takamura’s Tears” (he fights a bear!)

 

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Say “I Love You”

Type: Make me a Sandwich first

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Synopsis: In a tales as old as time, but song not as old as rhyme (because that’s logically impossible), a unpopular girl grabs the attention of the most popular boy in school. Now get THIS, not only is the boy tall and handsome, he’s caring, affectionate, and knows when to get aggressive if you know what I mean *wink* He also has a trouble past…oh, if only someone would understand him!

Pros: Sexist jokes aside, Say “I Love You” is pretty good. Not the best shojo show I’ve ever seen, but still enjoyable. It follows the same basic shojo formula of shy girl meets pretty boy who fall in love with her realness and helps her get more friends. To the show’s credit, Mei and Yamato start dating by the third episode, so the show is mainly about them being in a relationship and falling in love (like in real life, not anime life). The first four episodes are them getting together, then a filler episode, then seven episodes with love rival Megumi. What makes this anime a little different from its brethren is the amount of physical affection depicted in the show. Now, “physical affection” isn’t the same as “sexual affections,” and that’s key here. The characters in this show (mainly Mei and Yamato) tend to hug each other in a manner that comes off as very intimate. Even I had to turn on the fan a few times. There’s also a fair amount of kissing, which I appreciated in the context of a high school romance anime.

Cons: So while the show has a fair amount of good characters and scenes, it is very by the numbers structure wise, almost to a surprising degree. Apart from the above mentioned premise, the classic cliche’s all show up. A love rival shows up to steal Yamato, a love rival shows up to steal Mei, it turns out Yamato has a clingy younger sister, it turns out Mei was taking care of a stray cat in a cardboard box, etc. The show is also notable in its neglect of its supporting characters. Most shojo stories tend to explore the love lives of multiple couples, but in Say “I Love You,” couples are established and then put off to the side (ex: Asami and Kenji). Of course, if the show had 24 episodes instead of 12, this may have not been the case. Finally, I found Mei a bit too shy. I feel she should have shed some of that as the show went on, and I found Yamato a little bland. He was a bit too ideal and the only real character trait of note was his occasional selfishness, or maybe coldness? apathy? distance? A tendency to help others but sometimes overlook the feelings of those closest to him. God, if he would just let me in…

Watch it: “I fell in love with that roundhouse kick” (4/5)

MVP: Kei Takemura

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Man, I want that mohawk

Best Episode: Ep. 2 “Fried Chicken Flavored” (not ganna lie, that last scenes gave me the vapors)

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Haganai NEXT

Type: Protagonist with Selective Deftness

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Synopsis: After a group of lonely people gradually gravitated towards one another to form a “friends club,” they noticed that this was an anime and there was only one boy in the group. So they pretend to play erotic games and film independent student films, while each girl secretly falls in love with their male member. Of course, its only secret because the dude doesn’t want to risk breaking up his group of friends. No one wants to be Yoko.

Pros: Man, I really missed this show. It’s just so damn funny. Once again, Rika gets the best dirty lines, but the rest of the cast still contributes the occasional “bitch” and “fuck” here and there. The show has progressed from the introductory first season, so a slow burn story arc is introduced, involving Sena, and funny enough, Rika. The group dynamic is still the strongest point of the series, as are the hilarious situations they get into (ex: BL Gaming). Part of this is because each character has more depth than your typical harem cast. This stems from the fact the the characters joined the “Good Neighbor Club” to make friends, not because they all fell in love with a random boy. The does happen, because anime, but it felt a lot less forced than in other shows. I could actually imagine any one of the girls ending up with Kodaka.

Cons: Maybe it’s because I haven’t watched the first season in a while, but did they ramp up the fan service or what!? I also feel that Yozora was a bit underwritten this time around. Throughout the season, she is clearly in love with Kodaka, but can’t express it, making her very jealous and angry when he get female attention. This is her only storyline throughout the season. It makes it easy to forget that she was the one that started the club in the first place. The characters of Kobato and Maria are still pretty annoying as well. There was also a slight twist involving Yukimura that irked me a first, but didn’t really change much overall. The season ends of a cliff hanger, and I really, really, really hope the show gets another season to tie up loose ends.

Watch it?: Dude, I still think you have to (4/5)

MVP: Rika Shiguma

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A perv, but hey, still has a heart of gold.

Best Episode: Ep. 2 “Homo Game Club” (exactly what it sounds like)

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The SoulTaker

Type: I DON’T KNOW WHATS GOING ON

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Synopsis: Well, that’s a fib. I do have some idea of what’s going on. It’s not like I just use these things as background noise, ha,ha,ha….So, a long time ago, an alien from an extinct race arrives on the moon. He makes a deal with a doctor there to save his dying daughter in exchange for releasing a deadly virus that will create another alien by mutating the populous. This results in the doctor’s own grandchildren becoming aliens. Flash forwards 17 years later, where the doctor is desperately trying to kill the aliens he helped make, while his grandson tries to save the life of his twin sister who’s soul was split into fragments to protect her/stop her from killing all of humanity. Yeah, I don’t believe me either about the lying thing.

Pros: This show was very ambitious. Once you get to the end, you get a clear picture of what it was trying to do. Without spoiling much (except for the core twist up above), let just say it gets very Evangeliony. The plot involving searching for different aspects of a person’s identiy was pretty cool, and it’s got very stylized animation, something along the lines of Monogatari and Zetsubou Sensei. Angled framing, heavy shadows, liberal use of color, etc. I also liked the fact that most of the main characters’ motivation was trying to save someone they loved (which is kinda another spoiler when you think about it).

Cons: I’m still not sure what exactly happened in this anime. Something about aliens for sure, and mutants, and…ninjas? Ninjas showed up for some reason. I’m still not sure why. The thing about SoulTaker is that it’s kinda sloppy. It throws you into this weird world without properly establishing what it is. Are we in the future? Another world? The post apocalypse? Is everything science or magic, or both? We know that Kyosuke is looking for his twin sister Runa, and that her soul has been fragmented and is being hunted down. Ok, cool. A little creepy when the fragments hit on Kyosuke, but I can work around that. But then we add mutants, and aliens, and evil doctors, feuding organizations, and a bunch of other stuff that doesn’t make sense because I turned by head for two seconds. It was frankly a little exhausting to watch.

Watch it?: This does spin-off into a magical girl show (3/5)

MVP: Runa Tokisaka

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A pretty interesting villain, until she go too handsey with Kyosuke that is.

Best Episode: Ep. 11 “Demon on a Deserted Island” (the plot appears!)

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Elemental Gelade

Type: Why won’t anyone let these crazy kids be together!?

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Synopsis: A young sky pirate-in-training one day accidentally stumbles upon a legendary “Eldel Raid,” a specifically female race (because anime) that can transform into weapons. They’re mostly an exploited race (because patriarchy), and everyone really wants to exploit this super rare girl for their own purposes. In hindsight, they could have just asked her to join their side instead of trying to force her. It wouldn’t have been difficult. She barely woke up from years of sleep, so she was probably super impressionable. Ew, that sounded kinda gross. Double ew, pointing out how gross it was only made it more gross.

Pros: This is either a super good average anime, or an average super good anime. The animation is right at the middle, and the story is fairly predictable. But for the life of me, I couldn’t help but get invested in the story. Maybe the slight repetitiveness of key plot points did it. In almost every episode, Ren is nearly kidnapped, or Elder Raid is abused, or Cou bonds with Ren more. The constant hammering of the Elder Raid plight as second class citizens and the various situations that could manifest as also helped. Or maybe I just had a light-hearted adventure ich that needed scratching. Whatever the case, I found myself really rooting for Cou and Ren’s relationship to thrive, and was a little anxious when a potential problem occurred (like Ren nearly being kidnapped a lot). The show’s also pretty funny in that older anime style, with gags and off-comment ribbing that’s really been lost in recent years.

Cons: I watched this in a huge chunk, so my own opinions could have a bit of bias. The anime is very bye the books, meaning that if you have a good-ish handle on manga stories, you’ll know what will happen. As mentioned above, the animation is nothing to write home about, and neither is the action. And while the story does its best for explore the different relationships between humans and Elder Raids, from abusive partners to separated lovers, some of the story arcs drag on a bit. The last arc, for example, was six episodes. The show also never explained what where the Elder Raid come from, why they were only women, or why they can live for so long.

Watch it?: The last line was, “I wonder if we can breathe up there?” (4/5)

MVP: Cisqua

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Funny and based on a Darkstaker’s character

Best Episode: Ep. 8 “The Edel Hunter” (added depth to the story)

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Steins;Gate the Movie: Burdened Domain of Deja Vu

Type: It’s weird, but it’s almost like I’ve heard this title before…

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Synopsis: Set one year after the events of Steins;Gate, the mad scientist Kyoma Hooin, or Rintaro Okabe, is now unstuck in time after he and his friends accidentally created a time machine. It falls to his sorta girlfriend, but not really, they annoy each other but still make out sometimes, Kurisu Makise to saves his temporal existence. Now if she could only figure out a way to make him open up that doesn’t involve wreaking the space-time continuum.

Pros: Once again, I am a sucker for time travel, so I naturally liked this movie. One of the things that distinguished this movie from it’s anime progenitor was it’s lead. Although a third of the movie takes place from Okabe’s point of view, this is very much Kurisu’s movie. She’s basically put into the same circumstance that Okabe dealt with in the anime, having to use time travel to save a loved one. I loved her reaction to this. Being more of a pragmatist than Okabe, Kurisu carefully analysis the problem, and her resolve flip-flop between her brain and her heart. Her having to deal with the complex and negative consequences of time travel herself, like Okabe before her, puts her in a much for equal footing with Okabe, making the partnership and eventual romance they developed in Steins;Gate feel all the more genuine.

Cons: Aside form the lead, their’s nothing much to distinguish this movie from the anime. The animations is about the same quality, which is weird considering that the animation is usually the first thing to be upgraded in anime movies. The story is also very in line with the anime, making the movie seem more like a OVA than feature film. I’m not saying that the film had to go to Back to the Future-esque adventures, but something bigger would have been more appropriate. Maybe a prequel movie detailing the original Suzuha’s life in the dystopic future would have been better. I’m not saying I didn’t like this movie, because I did. I love Steins;Gate, both in the Japanese and English dub, and I loved Kurisu’s story, its just that the Steins;Gate “movie” didn’t feel much like a movie to me.

Watch it?: Yes, because Kurisu’s adventure is worth watching.

MVP: Kurisu Mikase

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One of the very few Female Time-Travelers to star in a motion picture

Best Moment: When Suzuha put on Daru’s Hat (I fan girled out like crazy when that happened)

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Kurokami: The Animation

Type: BLACK GOD

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Synopsis: [Inhale] Thousands of years ago a group of mystical beings called the “Tera Guardians” and Humankind sealed away an evil god called the Masagami. As punishment, the god placed a curse on Humans called the Doppeliner System, which causes a person to die if he/she meets their doppleganger. The god also cursed the Terra Guardians by reincarnating a portion of itself in their royal bloodline, causing them to kill one member every generation. In order to stop all this and protect his sister from execution, Prince Renshin sets out to revive the god and finally kill it. This sets up the whole plot, and would have made a fuck ton more sense if it was explained right away instead of diddling itself for twelve episodes [exhale].

Pros: There’s something in this show. There’s a slight sliver of potential for something greater, but it never quiet reached it. For example, Keita was reluctant to join Kuro early on because it was dangerous, which is something not many protagonists do. I really found the Doppeliner System very intriguing, and a whole show could have been made around the idea that meeting your doppleganger causes your death. That’s why I found the few episodes of season 2 (ep.13-16) the most interesting. In fact, season 2, or the second half, of the show was far in a way better than season 1. There’s a time skip, friends became enemies, enemies became friends, twists occur, and the motivating factors for the plot were revealed. Kuro became a much more capable fighter in season 2, and the show as a whole seemed to have more energy. The credits even did this cool thing where it would update depending on who was the antagonist was at the time. It didn’t need to do that, but it did. There’s a fight in every episode, which can get a bit repetitive, and some characters aren’t full fleshed out, but the relationship that eventually develops between Kura and Keita hold it together.

Cons: The first half was bad, largely because Kuro and Keita didn’t contribute much in the final fight, and the Tera Guardians were boring. I could care less about the whole “Pure Land” story, which is sadly the main plot. I even willing to give it a pass in season 2, when the Terra Guardians were relegated to leftover antagonists after the defeat of Renshin in season 1. On that note, let’s talk about Renshin. In the show, he’s revealed to be a dark hero, someone who did evil things for a noble reason. Except, it didn’t make any sense why he kept his motivations secret or vague. Why didn’t he ever say “Hey Kuro, the clan was going to kill you because you’re the reincarnation of an evil god, but I talked to mom, and we decided that I’m going fight the evil god myself and free us and humanity from our curse fate. So to summarize: I’m good, clan’s evil, let’s have ramen.” Renshin’s motives were kept secretive for superficial dramatic purposes only, which is why it felt forced and nonsensical. I did, however, like his dumb rock song that played during his fights. Other than that, I felt that Kuro got beat up way too much in season 1, its kinda too violent in places, the the supporting characters were underwritten, and that the entire thing felt rushed. Since this is based on a manga, it’s safe to assume that the writers tried to pack in as much as they could in 23 episodes, which is why I think season 1 is generally lacking.

Watch it?: The second half is genuinely better (3/5)

MVP: Riona Kagure

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She should have had at least one episode to herself.

Best Episode: Ep. 13 “New World” (Time Skip!)

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