Love Tyrant

Type: It’s amazing how quickly they abandon their original premise.

Synopsis: The show is about a notebook that makes couples, not corpses. No! It’s about three new angels how have to foster love or lose their souls. No! It’s about a generational divide between mothers and daughters. No! It’s about a socipath corrupting a young cupid. No! It’s a harem. Wait! It’s all these things and more!!!

Pros: Love Tyrant is a manga based anime with a bit of a muddled plot. The gist is that the cupid Guri creates a love contract with a boy named Seiji, which eventually includes the yandere Akane and her obsessive sister Yuzu. The humor comes from the mixing of these four very different personalities, with Seiji playing the straight man. The show emphasizes the “comedy” part of love-comedy more so than other shows. It gives Love Tyrant a bit more of a unique taste than it’s fellows in the genre. My particular favorite running joke was the characters forgetting what the premise for the show was (i.e. that they have to make couples or lose their souls). I also liked it when Akane violent rage played off against Guri’s playful personality. In fact, Akane and Guri’s over the top personalities make them some of the strongest characters I’ve seen in any harem. Each of the females main cast have interesting backstories involving a struggle between heaven and hell and a family drama, with Seiji acting as an audience inaugurate whose along for the ride, which is what a good harem show should try to shoot for.

Cons: As stated above, you do forget what the original premise is. It’s not crucial to the show, but still. The only episode that really follows the premise is episode 2, so of course it’s the weakest episode. I highly recommend skipping that episode (it involves a student-teacher relationship, which makes it unfunny and icky). And the show doesn’t really break the love-comedy mold. It just stretches it to add more irreverent humor. Stabbings, parodies, boys-love, the show is just a very funny harem show. Oh! And I forgot to mention one of the best characters in a show of great characters: Shikimi. Shikimi is the primary antagonist of the show, and is so delightfully evil, it’s great! Shikimi is Akane’s cousin, and almost always steals the show with her manipulative personality and sadistic nature. The show makes you feel scared of her, but also strangely attracted. The only real bummer is that the show may not get a second season, which sucks because the next story arc fully introduces and explores Akane, Yuzu, and Guri’s mother.

Watch it: The manga’s great too! (4/5)

MVP: Shikimi

While Akane is best girl, Shikimi can’t not be the best.

Best Episode: Ep.10 “I’m Here to Stay the Night x I’m… Growing Up, Too” (slumber party!)

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Masamune-kun’s Revenge

Type: The kind you shouldn’t think too hard about

Synopsis: Because really, a show where our hero’s mission is to essentially seduce a girl for the purposes of cruelly breaking her heart is something a sociopath would do for sexual gratification.

Pros: Ok, to be fair for what is stated above, our protagonist Masamune has a reason for doing this, immature are it may be. When he was younger, Masamune was “rejected” by his childhood crush Aki “because of his weight.” I use quotation marks because we all know this is a big misunderstanding. And if you didn’t, well, sorry. Masamune dedicates himself to becoming physically attractive in order to launch his “dead of love” plan, where he’ll make Aki fall in love with him and then dump her like she did him. Two interesting story points come from this. One, Masamune’s reactions to being treated differently because he’s good looking, which the show doesn’t really play with enough. I know that this is because Masamune doesn’t really blame others for his previous appearance and unpopularity (he was a bit of a snob), but a little social commentary would have been nice. And two, Masamune’s incredible inexperience with girls makes him flustered every time he gains a step forward in his seduction plan. That were the comedy in this love comedy comes from. So while this in no way revolutionizes the genre, it’s a funny little show with a novel gimmick.

Cons: The show has pretty typical light novel slight ups, which is weird because this is based on a manga. Are we finally reaching the convergence points where light novels and manga become one!? By saying this, I mean that characters aren’t really explored all that much. For example, we don’t really get to know a lot about Aki despite technically being the main heroine. All we know is that she’s rich, eats a lot, is a mega tsundere, and hates all men because her childhood crush left her without saying goodbye (I’m sure that’s in no way related to our main story, let’s just forget I mentioned it). She’s know as the “cruel princess,” because she enjoys rejecting all would be suitors harshly, but the show also tries to make her out to be a kind girl at heart. Like, she’ll call your penis small, but she’ll also pay for your therapy bills. She’s portrayed inconsistently is what I’m saying. And at 12 episodes, the show only really covers one story arc, the Neko Fujinomiya arc, were a pretty girl comes to vie for Masamune’s affections while not being completely honest with him. Masamune’s suspicious of Neko’s true intentions are suppose to mirror that of Aki’s towards him, but he doesn’t really learn anything from it. In fact, by the end he decides to double down! Which is weird, because in the dub he literally says “if this girl wasn’t such a liar, we could have had something real.”  Of course, being a girl in an anime, Neko’s motivations are more innocent than Masamune’s (she was sick, which is why she was so secretive). Still, it’s a funny light show if your in the mood for that.

Watch it?: Yeah, but never forget that this is a show were a teenage girl is being emotionally manipulated into having feelings for a boy for his own selfish satisfaction. (4/5)

MVP: Masamune

You’re a psycho, but your misadventures entertain me.

Best Episode: Ep.8 “It’s Not You” (Does Masamune go for the busty girl who totally wants to jump his bones, or stick to his plan to traumatize a chick that dumped him with he was 10? Anime is sometimes exhausting.)

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Eureka Seven: AO

Type: All you need is the original.

Synopsis: A blue haired boy joins a peace keeping organization in order to stop giant coral reef aliens from blowing up. This is in contrast to his father, who joined a pirate ship in order to hit on a pretty girl. But since the father had more episodes to play with, his comes out to be the more interesting story.

Pros: This anime is difficult to talk about because it had a lot of potential. The protagonist is the rare son of former protagonists whose following his own story instead of continuing the previous story. The setting is a slightly altered version of the real world, fought with political commentary. And the mecha are mainly piloted by pretty teenage girls. Later on in the series, the show even introduces the idea of alternate realities and time travel just to add a little bit of sci-fi spice into the story. An adult Eureka and Renton also show up in this story, so fans who saw the 2005 show as teens can now see their old heroes as grown ups like them. The show is at it’s most interesting when it explores all these factors, especially the last two. It’s just a shame that it fumbles it all so badly.

Cons: I’ve been doing this review thing for a while, but I still lack the words needed to communicate exactly what went wrong with this series. Because on paper it has everything it needs to succeed. It ticks all the generic anime mecha boxes: a boy pilot with daddy issues, robots that can only be piloted by teen girls, not so subtle jabs at American foreign policy, and psudo bulsh$t sci-fi. It’s also a sequel to a well known (kind of) show. But it all feels…hallow. The show has no soul. It all felt too by the numbers, nothing felt earned, and it never took that extra step after a big twist or reveal. “Betrayals” are almost immediately reversed, only one important character dies, romances are only hinted at, and the alternate reality stuff is not explored nearly enough. They don’t even show Eureka raising Ao by herself to understand why Ao loves her so much and resents his father. This is going to sound weird from a guy who likes to keep things light, but the show is just not mean enough. Eureka Seven was mean. Renton was beaten repeatedly by his own side! Holland kicked his 14 year old whining behind constantly, because he was not a father, he was a pirate. Eureka didn’t fall for him immediately, she didn’t even like him that much until 25 episodes in. And the kids of the show were plagued with all these new feeling that they didn’t know how to handle because they were teenage kids, while the adults were haunted by their past actions and still didn’t know who to handle certain emotions. But in AO, everyone loves AO. All the adults are extra nice to him, all the girls eventually have crushes on him, and Ao even forgives his dad after like a 5 minute skirmish. We never get to see Ao deal with the smaller, confusing moments in life that would make the audience empathize with him. He’s never shown to be weak, or rash, or awkward, or selfish. All this actually made me dig a little, and it turns out that the show was directed by the same guy who did Eureka Seven, Tomoki Kyoda, but not written by the same guy (Dai Sato). This would explain the dissonance I got while watching it. I’ll be honest, part of the reason why this show annoyed me was because Eureka Seven was one of my shows. An early anime that caught me as a teenager that I would watch at 4:30 am-5:30am before going to Calculus morning classes. It’s a show I’m very familiar with, and its sequel just does not satisfy me at all.

Watch it?: Let me summarize my points: you don’t sympathize with the protagonist, the plot is rushed, too many ideas are crammed in, you only get excited for the parts when Eureka and Renton show up for their one respective episode, you’re still left with a bunch of questions about what happened to everyone else in the original show (like Eureka and Renton’s other adopted kids) and the show has the gall to save the interesting alternate reality stuff for an online-only episode. (3/5)

MVP: Eureka and Renton

Sorry Ao, but your parents are just more interesting

Best Episode: Ep.13 “She’s a Rainbow” (hey, it’s Eureka!)

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Tsugumomo

Type: When your mom’s friend starts to hit on you.

Synopsis: In Japan, there’s this myth that if an item is possessed by a spirit, it gains self-awareness, often with the caveat that the item has to be 100 years old. In anime, characters often use anthropomorphized items as weapons/lover, especially when their human form is a cute girl. However, this become a bit awkward when the demon items are passed own the generations, and they start to tease you with their naughty bits.

Pros: Tsugomomo is what you would call a great commercial for the manga. I say this with no malice. In 12 episodes, the anime sets up the plot, the world’s rules, and provides you with enough sizzle to want more. In the show, a young man inherits his mother’s obi, a sash, that is actually a demon possessed item (a tsukumogami). They end up fighting together against the recent increase in evil tsukumogami and spirits. Of course, the obi takes the human form of a cute girl and Kiriha, whose power level determines her body shape. So she can become a mature beauty, or loli jail bait, but either way she’s still a flirty hot head. The protagonist, Kazuya, is surrounded buy spiritually inclined women, from a chibi-God to a well-endowed servant, to a thirsty child hood friend, making this a harem show as well. And boy, they do take advantage of that. And it always, ALWAYS, caught me off guard. I mean, just don’t expect that many blowjob jokes in a anime manga series, yet here we are.

Cons: In 12 episodes, you only get an introduction to the world. In a lesser show, the “read the manga” ending would be irksome. But this show is of a quality that it can get away with that. It has the right mix of action and comedy to keep you entertained. The only this it doesn’t do well is drama. Because the show is pretty light hearted, both in tone and art style, the more dramatic moments don’t land. For example, in one episode Kazuya and Kiriha have to stop a wig tsukumogami from attacking students. The big reveal was that the tsukumogami is possessing the dead corpse of a young girl who killed herself after her friends mercilessly bullied her for liking a boy. Pretty dark stuff, but none of it has any impact because you still have Kazuya and Kiriha bickering like an old married couple. So don’t watch this for the stakes. Watch it for the fun stories and characters, serviceable action, curb ball episodes, and moments that make you say “did I just see that!?”

Watch it?: I’m probably ganna read the manga later (4/5)

MVP: Kiriha

I loved that her speech patters where so formal, yet so rude

Best Episode: Ep.8 “A Certain Day in the Kagami Household/The Super Popular Fragrance” (a silent episode and and echii episode, what more could anyone ask for!)

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Dagashi Kashi

Type: A show about nothing, nothing but Penny Candy!

Synopsis: Candy shop. Check. Manic Pixie girl, check. Manic Pixie girl with big boobs. Check.

Pros: Maybe not that simple, but come on! The opening sets the tone for the entire series. How is Hotaru, the resident pixie girl introduced? First doing a backwards bow, second by hugging her breasts. That’s kinda how the show treats Hotaru, as a sexy weirdo. She’s not a bad character. In fact, she’s a super fun character. All manic pixies are. She’s an over the top candy fiend and her English voice actress plays her to perfection. I just wanted to point out what were dealing with here, because the anime is also super fun. It’s a slice of life anime that’s really light hearted and silly. Every episode explores a scenario set up by Hotaru using candy as a catalyst. I’m not sure if the penny candy is real or not, but if it is, it really reminds me of Mexican penny candy, down to the wrappers! But Hotaru’s antics only work if she has someone to play off of. Enter Kokonotsu, the male protagonist who Hotaru is trying to convince to take over his father’s dagashi shop. What I liked about Kokonotsu is that he’s very much a teenage boy. While he can play the typical “nice guy” protagonist, he’s still very well aware of Hotaru’s beauty, and would love to be more popular with girls, and goofs off with his best friends about pervy stuff from time to time. Both Kokonotsu and Hotaru make a good comedic pair, which all you need in a comedic anime.

Cons: On the surface, this show seems like a funny show with candy as a gimmick. But it’s actually a little pervy. Some of the jokes are definitely NSFW. Hotaru’s physique aside, they throw some dirty jokes at ya. Kokonotsu staring at Hotaru see through shirt I can understand. Hotaru being covered in “yogurt” is something else. A lot of verbal and visual innuendo going on here. So if your not into that type of humor, maybe look elsewhere. There are some sweet moments though, like when Kokonotsu’s dad complimented To, implying that maybe To’s dad isn’t round? Because you don’t really see alot of characters outside of the main cast. The only other thing to look out for is the fact that the anime doesn’t really “End.” It finishes. Whether or not Kokonotsu stays at the shop or leaves is not resolved, nor does he become a couple with Hotaru or childhood friend Saya. It’s a “read the manga” ending.

Watch it?: Almost as good as actual dagashi (4/5)

MVP: Hotaru

Dagashi-Kashi-04-7

How is candy so arousing?

Best Episode: Ep.4 “Fugashi, Fugashi, and… / Glico, Glico, and…” (the essesnce of Hotaru)

 

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Harem Anime: An exploration of Anime Sexual Cooperatives in 20th Century Social Consciousness [6 Year Anniversary]

Or, “Why anime nerds like shows about one dude getting with a bunch of hot chicks, and what makes for a good never-in-a-millions years, grow out of this adolescent fantasy, visit Utah: it’s not that great, harem show.” Continue reading

Koro-Sensei Q

Type: From the makers of Dragon Quest (not really)

Synopsis: Did you know that Dragon Quest was originally known as “Dragon Warrior” in America? It wasn’t officially called it’s original name until Dragon Quest 8 in 2004. Speaking of that, did you also know that Nintendo released a version of DQ8 for the Nintendo 3DS? I head it has a few new features, and it’s a great way to experience the game if you didn’t get to it back in the day. Definitely one of the best entries in the series. YES, even better than Dragon Quest 5 and 7….oh right! The review. The anime is Assassination Classroom if it was a comedic RPG.

Pros: As stated before, I have a soft spot in my heart for comedic anime spin-off parodies. And this one was no different. The premise is exactly as stated before: Assassination Classroom if it was a comedic RPG. It’s Assassination Classroom without any of the drama. Aside from the setting and tone, everything else is the same. Koro-Sensei still “teaches” the misfits of Class-E under the idea that they will one day kills him. Only instead of being an alien, he’s a Demon King. Karasuma is a knight instead of a government agent, and Irina is a seductive witch instead of a seductive assassin. The show itself is fairly short, 10 minutes, with interstitial to break up the scenes.  Fans of the original series, or RPG spoofs, will get a kick out of it.

Cons: Like most parodies, viewers will need a passing familiarity with the original source materials to get the full experience. The jokes are mostly funny, although I do feel the rely more and more on boob jokes as the series goes on. Two characters get more of a spotlight this time around: Okajima and Ristu. Okajima’s lewdness is played more for laughs, and Ritsu is allowed to be more comedic this time around instead of cutesy. And, yeah, that’s about it.

Watch it?: It’s pretty solid overall. Funny and quick. (4/5)

MVP: Ritsu

If you ever have a question about continuity, a wizard did it.

Best Episode: Too short to really pick (but ep8 was a freaky friday riff!)

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Appleseed: Ex Machina (2007)

Type: At least the title is honest

Synopsis: Get ready for some implied cuckolding! After escaping a hellish warzone in favor of a futuristic utopia, our heroes Deunan and Briarieos must face an even greater challenge: a cute boy! Enter Tereus, a cloned copy of Briarieos before he was turned into a cyborg, genitals and all. Can Briarieos possibly live with the fact that Deunan will probably instantly fall in love with Tereus because her feelings only run skin deep. That despite all their time together in the battlefield, all the trust they’ve built, and the love they share, that she’ll still run off with someone who has his old hair cut. Welp, ignoring the fact that Deunan repeatedly says she’ll only partner with Briarieos as he’s her one and only, let’s trade her off to Tereus. That’s what she obviously wants.

Pros: For a sequel, Appleseed: Ex Machina does a better job at setting up the world right off the bat. It opens with a quick summary of the world, which did a lot better job at explaining the lore than the entire first film. Post Apocalyptic. Utopian city. Cyborgs, clones, and humans. Done. While there is some plot involving collective consciousness or whatever, the real draw is the love triangle the film establishes between Deunan, Briareos, and Tereus. Well, to be honest, the actual high point is the relationship between Briareos and the other two. This is every much a Briareos movie. It defines his feelings towards himself and Deunan very well. This film does a much better job at showing that Deunan and Briareos are in a romantic relationship, which the first film only really implied it. It’s only pretty organic. A quick peck here. A quip there. When Tereus is introduced, we see Briareos insecurities pop up, not only concerning his relationship with Deunan (the whole, “would she love me more if I were still “normal?””) but with himself. This type of thing happens in most relationships, where it’s because someone loses use of a limb, or gains weight, or ages, or just feels that way one day. And like Deunan, a partner could try to reassure them that they love ’em anyway, but like in the film, it’s may not be enough to be convincing. So what happens? The person with insecurities pushes their partner away, the partner finds someone else, and the whole things becomes a self-fulling prophecy. In my opinion, this relationship based story was way better than a conspiracy about computer or whatever.

Cons: I kinda don’t like the fact that Deunan is basically ignored or disregarded when it comes to her relationship with Briareos. Like, no one takes her at her word that she’d rather have Briareos than Tereus. I get that this film is set from Briareos’s perspective, and that his insecurities makes him distance himself from her, but you can’t just give her away, man. She’s not pokemon card. The film does propose that their is some romantic tension between Deunan and Tereus, which is fine. She’s human and he looks exactly like her boyfriend whose being a jerk at the moment. And I do like the fact that she admits that Tereus confuses her, because it demonstrates some ownership of female sexuality. Besides this, the actual plot involving a computer overlord is largely unimportant, and rather trite.

Watch it?: Better than the first!

MVP: Breareos

Why do you have my face!?

Best Moment: Deunan kissing Breareos (the casual pecks do a lot of establish a relationship)

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Appleseed Alpha (2014)

Type: Weird name, cause it’s the third movie

Synopsis: In a story that makes way more sense, two soldiers are traversing the wasteland after a horrible world war. They in the search for “Olympus,” a mythical city said to have escaped society’s collapse. Along the way they must fight those who wish to restart the war that ruined the world. There, doesn’t that make much more sense than cloned robots or whatever?

Pros: I chose to review this movie instead of Appleseed’s direct sequel for two reasons. First, since this was a reimagining, I felt it was prudent to watch it to increase my level of investment in the franchise. Second, I didn’t know that this was the third movie and watched it by accident. Oops! Anyway, being made in 2014 gave this movie some major advantages over Appleseed (2004). Obviously, it’s computer animation improved tremendously. I’d compare it to Red vs. Blue season 10 in quality. The quality of the voice work has also improved, with quips and overlapping dialogue even inserted here or there to give off the sense of realistic  speech. And the story is much more straighfoward, giving you a better idea of Deunan and Briareos as a unit and as individuals. Keeping the story in the wasteland instead of Olympus was a nice touch too, as it kept everything down to Earth. Overall, I’d say watch this version of Appleseed if your curious at all about the series.

Cons: The animation is still janky. Not as janky as before, but you will notice a few lims moving unnaturally. The antagonists aren’t that interesting. They’re your typical fanatics trying to “reinvent the world” by using a big killer robot. In this movie, the real draw are Deunan and Briareos, and the colorful people the interact with in the wastes.

Watch it?: This is probably the only one you should watch.

MVP: Deunan and Briaroes

I finally bought them as a team

Best Moment: The verbal jabs (whoever was the English Voice Over director did good work!)

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Appleseed (2004)

Type: Finally, an anime about Johnny Appleseed!

Synopsis: Thank you. I’ll show myself out.

Pros: Appleseed is a sci-fi computer animated anime movie about humans and their relations with clones, or “Biroids.” A main conflict stems from the old human vs another species troupe. Sometimes it’s androids. Sometimes it’s clones. Sometimes it’s apes. Humanity is just not a friendly animal when it comes right down to it. The idea is interesting, and the movie does show glimpses of the discrimination the Biroids face, such as forced sterilization. To bad the whole story is a mess.

Cons: The whole story is a mess. The movie tends to cut between the past and the present, making it hard to determine what is happening when. The setting is also confusing. From what I gathered, a big war broke out, and some humans managed to build a Utopia called Olympus outside the carnage. One of the last soldiers fighting the war, Deunan Knute, it taken to Olympus becuase…reasons? I mean, I know it’s because her mother created the Biroids and owns the movie’s Mcguffin, but the film doesn’t do a good job at explaining that. Like, how can Deunan be a legendary soldier, but also be like 18? 19? Why was she still fighting a war that ended 2 years ago? Are we just going to ignore those weird mutants at the start of the movie? If everything is in 3 dimensions, then how come everyone moves awkwardly?…At the end of the day this movie can best be described as a starter anime. Ya know? Like, an anime you may find by accident at a video store or Youtube. You watch it because it looks vaguely cool, but later on you discover that Ghost in the Shell exists and just chalk up your previous enjoyment to a rookie mistake. What I’m trying to say is that this is the kind of movie you find at the $5 bin. It’s a movie your Uncle gives you to try to prove he’s with it. It’s the kind of film that low tier internet anime reviewers try to call bad without saying it’s bad because they don’t what to sound mean. Ya know?

Watch it?: Naaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah

MVP: Anime face in 3d

Anime eyes know no dimension

Best Moment?: That time a Bioroid randomly asked Deunan what it’s like to fall in love (those dumb artificial creatures and their feelings)

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