Negima!?

Type: A remake, who knew?

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Synopsis: In what I’m pretty sure is just a Harry Potter rip-off, a young wizard from England takes a teaching job at an all-girl’s school. While there, he makes semi-romantic pacts with his students and makes them do various favors for him. In a good way.

Pros: Negima!? is an alternate remake of Maho Sensei Negima! a manga and anime about a young wizard and his class of school girls. The manga was actually made by Ken Akamatsu, creator of Love Hina! As such, both series have a similar brand of goofy humor and love comedy. You have a girl with crazy pink tales and obsession with Chupacabras, a robot and vampire, a Blond girl who keeps calling another girl a failure, a samurai whose way too in love with her charge, it’s great! This particular version, however, was also made by SHAFT and director Akuyuki Shinbo, who worked on such anime as Medoka Magica and Nisemonogatari. So like a lot of SHAFT and Shinbo work, Negima!? is full of easter eggs (The Black Rose Baron), ranging art styles, match-cuts, short skits, etc. Just think Monogatari, or even Zetsubou-Sensei. In fact, the only reason I know about Negima!?’s production background is because it reminded so much of Zetsunou-Sensei that I had to double check. So while I was expecting a very generic looking love-comedy/harem, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the show.

Cons: Let me put it this way, having SHAFT and Akuyuki Shinbo saved the show. At its core, Negima!? is still a fairly generic harem anime. Its actually kinda weirder because he protagonist is a 10 year old boy, and all his love interests are about 14-15 years old. And the fact that all the girls have to kiss the child doesn’t help in the gross factor. Just imagine if it was a 10 year old girl and 14-15 year old boys. Ewwwwwww. But SHAFT and Shinbo’s style makes it sort of work. Now, its not perfect. The story arcs aren’t really that interesting. A lot of the early episodes are repetitive, with all the problems being resolved with Negima kissing a girl. Sometimes the animation and story don’t mesh, and the opening intro doesn’t really match the tone of the show. The central plot revolving around the “Star Crystals” and “The Darkness” are mediocre at best, but the gags and character interactions surrounding it are great. These two elements manage to balance each other out, and you’ll end up remembering the good over the bad.

Watch it!?: It takes a bit, but you’ll get into it (4/5)

MVP: Asuna’s Pink-Tails

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Officially the only anime girl I like with Pink-Tails

Best Episode: Ep.14 “‘Frankly speaking, in the face of magic, scientific theory might as well be nonexistent.’ by Hakase” (I just love that falling out of the sky scene)

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Street Fighter Alpha: The Movie

Type: Why do we fight?

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Synopsis: The world is on the verge of being take over by an evil organization led by a mad man with psycho power, while warriors around the world fight among themselves to prove their strength. But whatever, lets talk about some weird kid from Brazil (and I ain’t talking about Shawn).

Pros: Street Fighter Alpha is my favorite Street Fighter series. For you normals, the Alpha series was a prequel series that adopted more anime like designs for all the Street Fighter characters. What I’m saying is, I thought it was cool to see people like Birdie, Dan, and Sakura in the movie. The plot is fairly straight forward: Ryu is afraid of turning evil, he gets a “brother,” the brother is kidnapped, Ryu tries to rescue him and has to decide if turning evil is the best way to go. In, out, and to the point.

Cons: I hate the kid in this. Ryu’s “brother” can actually be omitted easily. Especially because Sakura is RIGHT THERE. Her whole plot is that she wants to be Ryu’s apprentice. Why couldn’t she tag along with Ryu? Why can’t she be struggling with the Dark Hadoo? Oh. my. God. Sakura could literally fill in for Ryu’s “brother” in every way! In fact, every original creation in this movie is bad. Why isn’t Bison trying to get the Dark Hadoo (you know, like in the game!?). But overall, this is pretty OK. Not great. I don’t think Street Fighter really translates well into other media. (p.s. Zangief was weeeeird in this).

Watch this!?: Better than the Street Fighter IV movie

MVP: Sakura

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You need to keep fighting, to find that answer!

Best Moment: Sakura trying to find Ryu (will she ever win?)

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Kill Me Baby

Type: Baby, Please Kill Me

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Synopsis: A comic strip about two girls gets turned into a comedy anime. One of the girls is an assassin. The other is a high school student. Schemeel, schlemazel, Hasenfeff Incorporated.

Pros: In the comedy section of anime, their is a subgenre of shows based on 4-panel comic manga strips. Kinda like newspaper strips, but, you know, with an extra panel. A lot of great shows like, Lucky Star and Hetalia, were originally 4 panel manga, or “Yonkoma.”  Yonkoma shows usually follow similar presentation styles. Short scenes were the characters do a little skit. That’s basically what the show is. Yasuna and Sonya play the comedy duo. Yasuna is the goofy one, and Sonya is the stern one. There’s also a third girl named Agiri whose a “ninja” that offers her services at incredibly low prices! Act now!

Cons: Unlike its counterparts, Kill Me Baby isn’t all too unique. Well, that’s not the best term. It just doesn’t pop as much as Lucky Star or Hetalia, or etc. Yasuna and Sonya have to carry the show almost by themselves, while those other shows have much more characters to play with. This leaves a lot of the episodes feeling a bit stagnant. Kinda like reading a newspaper comic strip. On a less important note, the theme song for the show has been listed as one of the most annoying anime theme songs of all time (but I really liked it).

Watch it?: Watch it in chunks. Don’t marathon it. (3/5)

MPV: Yasuna

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Hola!

Best Episode: Can’t really pick (they all feel that same)

 

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Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions

Type: Chunibyo, meaning something like Arrested Development

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Synopsis: Love will save the world. Chunibyo will inherit the Earth. And delusions will make you taller and lose weight. This anime…deals with none of that. It’s just about a girl whose weird and a boy who use to be weird, but grew out of it. Then they start dating. It’s kinda cute.

Pros: The first thing that pops up at you is the art style, which is reminiscent of other Moe-Centric anime like K-ON!, or The Melancholy of Haruji Suzumiya. All the movements looks smooth, and yet soft. The story has your typical mixture of light novel humor and slice-of-life drama. Each of the characters, except for 2, have gone through spurts of living in “delusions,” where they pretend to be something magical like a “Dark Flame Master.” This is either because they actually believed in it, thought it was fun, or simply needed an escape from their lives. To the writings credit, the characters aren’t ridiculed for their beliefs, nor necessarily praised for them. It’s more like the show simply argues that you should let people do what they like and be themselves. The humor in the show is pretty good, as the “delusional” character’s eccentricities play well with the characters trying to put that part of their lives behind them. Interestingly, the show sometimes lets the character’s delusions give birth to pretty cool action scenes, so a lot of genres are played around with. The main conflict of the show comes from figuring out Rikka’s motivation for her “delusions,” and the whole “accepting harsh reality” troupe.

Cons: Admittedly, the plot is predictable. You know something bad happened to make Rikka act the way she does. I kinda wish she was just weird for the sake of being weird, but I suppose that would make her too much of a manic pixie girl. Rikka tends to switch from her act as quiet cool girl to moe-cute girl a bit too much for my taste. Its  indicative of the show’s slight identity problem: is it a slice-of-life dramedy or a moe show? If you think about the show or its characters too hard, its becomes a bit sad and awkward. That’s why most of the “cool” actions scenes are cut with what characters are really doing. But anime is really good at portraying sad and awkward, so I can’t really count that as a negative. And there is an undercurrent of positivity here. My only real complaint is the reveal that Rikka got her gimmick from Yuta, because it makes their whole relationship a bit too convenient.

Watch it?: You know, this would make a good movie (4/5)

MVP: Sanae Dekomori

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I never new pig-tails could be such effective weapons

Best Episode: Ep.7 “Reminiscences… of Paradise Lost” (hard dose of reality, plus the beach!)

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Prison School

Type: Boys are Gross

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Synopsis: Five boys enroll in a previously all-girl’s school. Awesome right? Really puts the “not if you were the last boy on Earth!” excuse to the test. Well, think again! Because the boys, in classic boy fashion, fly a little too close to the sun and get caught peeping at the girl’s bath. Now they must serve their punishment by being kept in the school’s questionably legal prison for a month.

Pros: Kinda like Shawshank Redemption, but if all the prison guards were replace by a busty girl who cannot physically button up her blouse. The entire show is about the 5 male protagonist being in “prison” while the Underground School Council think of schemes to get them expelled. What I loved was the character work, as each character has their own motivations and characteristics, and the small cast of 8-9 characters allows the show to utilize them efficiently. The show does a great job capturing the prisoners vs. guards aspects of Prison-centric fiction. In terms of story, the first arc is Kiyoshi trying to figure out a way to escape to go on a date. The second arc involves the student council using a snitch to set the boys up for expulsion. And the third arc is the boys getting out of their expulsion. Now, the original manga is famous for its gratuitous fan service, which is still in the show. What really surprise me is that for a show that exploits a lot of the kinkier aspects of humanity, like the fluids, I still found myself rooting for the boys. I bought into their brotherhood, and reminded me that male friendship is a beautiful thing, even if it means getting a stick up your butt from time to time.

Cons: The series adopts what I can only refer to as “awkward realism.” You know, the type of show that allows its characters to be pathetic, sexually desperate, and kinda sticky. Every episode has an “anime is weird” example. The fan service skews more towards the kinky S&M side, with some waterworks thrown in. Hell, one of the subplots is the protagonist and one of the Underground School Council members being stuck in a cycle of fate and urine. So proceed cautiously. I also wasn’t crazy about Meiko’s design, because I felt her boobs were a little too big. Like “how can she function?” big. I know she’s the mascot, but what looks good in print may not always look good in animation.

Watch it?: It will get weird on you (4/5)

MVP: Takehito

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The most noble of tacticians!

Best Episode: Ep.7 “Meiko’s Delicious Restaurant” (it was hard, but I think this captures a little but of everything)

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Mobile Suit Gundam-San

Type: Will this horribly cute war never end!?

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Synopsis: Gundam is about the horrible ramifications of was on the human spirit…but it can also be about a moron’s escapades in space!

Pros: Mobile Suit Gundam-San is a parody anime. It makes fun of the original Gundam series in small 4 minute segments. Great for Gundam fans with busy schedules. There’s plenty of fan service, juvenile jokes, and a weird subplot involving a bird dressed like Char.

Cons: It’s pretty stupid [I mean, I loved it, but lets be real]. You also really need to have seen the original Mobile Suit Gundam series to get any of the jokes.

Watch it: It’s only 4 minutes a piece. It’ll take about 30 minutes to get through. (4/5)

MVP: Char

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Is he really the red comet?

Best Episode: All of it (its really short)

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High School DxD BorN

Type: Capitalization ErrORS

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Synopsis: In a series that has survived way longer than anyone thought it would, we see Issei Hyodo continuing to live the good life. He’s got a dragon armor powers, he’s attached to a very powerful demon family, and every girl he knows are smokin’ hot babes that like to sleep with him naked. This season, he gets a power boost, a fight with the god Loki, goes a little aggro, and gets another kiss from his demon king. All in all, par for the course.

Pros: Yet another season of High School DxD is upon us, and I’m OK with that. As stated before, I’m a fan of this series. It’s a perfectly harmless boob-comedy. This entry continues the series tradition of breast centric humor, some demon fighting, and generic melodrama. The season is divided into about 4 story arcs. The first is a training arc, where Akeno and Koneko get more backstory. This results in Koneko becoming yet another member of the “We love Issei” club. The second story arc involves fighting the god Loki. The third story arc involves Asia getting kidnapped and Issei going a little crazy. And the last story arc involves Rias. Each arc is serviceble, and I did get emotionally invested in the third and fourth arc, since they involved arguably the two main heroines. I watched the English Dub, and by this point, you can tell they’ve given up any semblance of seriousness, its amazing. As for characters, well, the only real standout moment was when Issei noted that he know the girls all liked him, but he’s still afraid of getting close to anyone after the events of Episode 1, Season 1. I thought that was a nice touch, and is something that’s stayed consistent throughout the series.

Cons: The thing about High School DxD is that it doesn’t get any better or worse. It must be popular, because it got an English Dub the same year it was released. The boob jokes are still front and center, the pacing is still wonky, and the show simply has too many characters to explore properly. I honestly forget some of their names. This season adds more characters, which doesn’t help. It also adds the norse mythology into the plot, which I’m sure won’t muddle anything. Story wise, my one real complaint would be the Koneko arc. Mostly because she falls for Issei way too fast. She goes from relative annoyance to undying love like someone flipped a switch or something. I feel that the series is drawing dangerously close to crossing the harem threshold of “girls chasing the main character” to “sister wives.” For me, that’s when most harems go from campy fun to problematic.

Watch it?: I wonder if they’ll be a fourth season? (3/5)

MVP: Rias

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I keep misspelling it “Rise”

Best Episode: Ep.7-9 The Asia Kipnapped Arc (Gotta save the Demon Nun!)

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Infinite Stratos 2

Type: Mecha Girl’s School continues

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Synopsis: So apparently, the totally unique anime about a battle school full of girls and the one guy they all like got another season. Did not see that coming. This time, the waifu allies spend most of their time competing over their boy and are joined by two Russian sisters. There’s also this subplot involving an evil organization, but they aren’t that important. There’s fan service to be had!

Pros: I find myself still liking this show. Now, it’s been a minute since I’ve seen the last one, but I feel that the fan service was ramped up a little. With all the main players already introduced, I think there was more time for sexy gags and what not. This season is about 80% love comedy, and 20% action, so the whole thing has a light tone.  I watched the english dub this time and loved the use of accents, expect for Charlotte, who sounded more swedish than french. The season introduces two new love interests in the Sarashiki sisters, and they get a pretty solid arc around mid way through the season. Story wise, a new villain group called Phantom Task are introduced. They usually attack the group during some sort of activity, like a play or trip. While their story is not concluded, they are presented as a viable threat to the main characters. The actions scenes are good, and the series has blended 3D models very well in their fights. I also forgot that this is the rare light novel battle school anime where the male protagonist isn’t a powerhouse mary sue character, which was refreshing. I mean, he’s still kinda generic, but still.

Cons: The entire season sort of felt like a nothing season. It’s not that nothing didn’t happen, its that it didn’t happen enough. There was no real pay off at the end of the season. Three important things were introduced this season. One, the Sarashiki sisters, which was the only plot point with a beginning, middle, and end. They are introduced, their core drama is explained, and their story is resolved. Hell, the conflict wasn’t even about the male character! (It was about a sibling rivalry) though I do feel he got off super easy considering what transpired. The second was adding Phantom Task as antagonists, whose story ends in a “you should probably read the light novel” kind a way. And the third is about Ichika’s training, which is dropped half way through. Character wise, too many are present to explore properly, especially with the new additions.

Watch it?: Good fun, lackluster story (4/5)

MVP: Charlotte

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No waifu, no laifu

Best Episode: Ep. 7-9 The Kanzashi Arc (good conflict. I also recommend Ep. 5 for silly fan service)

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“Must See” Anime of the Last 10 Years [4 Years Anniversary]

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Another anniversary, and another struggle to think of something neat to do. I can’t do my favorite anime again, and I’m not desperate enough for “Top 10 Side-Boob in Anime” (that’s the 13th anniversary). So instead, I’ll talk about something I’ve noticed in my years  of anime viewing. And that’s those “must see” anime that seem to pop up every year. Now, is this just me naming well known anime for an easy list that’s mostly click-bait? You bet it is. Enjoy! Continue reading

Mobile Suit Gundam 0079

Type: I watched this while playing Xenogears

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Synopsis: It’s War! The Principality of Zeon (who are totally not evil, pinky swear) has declared its independence from the Earth Federation (who are totally not corrupt you guys!). With heavy casualties on both sides, Zeon begins to take the advantage with their devastating new Mobile Suits. Luckily, Earth has the one thing Zeon can never beat: a merchandising empire based on a severely anti-war story!

Pros: When you think about it, the Gundam franchise is like the Star Wars of anime. A clearly influential mega franchise that forever changed the course of world wide pop culture. It also premiered 2 years after Star Wars, which I’m sure is a big pink laser sword sized coincidence. I know that Gundam has gained a reputation as a home for whiny teenage pilots, but I wondered how much this was a result of a post-Evangelion world. Turns out, Eva borrowed heavily from Gundam (which is pretty obvious when you think about it). The original Mobile Suit Gundam is a strict anti-war anime with a whiny teenage protagonist. But without spending an entire thesis analyzing this show (which you could totally pull off), I’ll just say that the show does a great job justifying all the troupes that it would birth in the “Real Robot” genre. The premise is that humanity is at war with itself. The protagonist, Amuro, is caught in the middle of a battle. His escape ship, White Base, is attacked and is threfore severely in need of able bodied men and women, which is why so many of the crew are young volunteers. The first third of the anime is like the modern Battlestar Galactica, a skeleton crew trying their best to get back to Earth while being hounded by the enemy. Amuro is more or less drafted because he’s got the most experience with the new experimental “Mobile Suit Gundam.” He’s whiny because he’s not a trained soldier but everyone expects him to pilot Gundam and keep everyone from dying. That’s a lot of pressure. But by the second third, Amuro becomes a soldier after experiencing the horrors of war. The last third delves into more sci-fi mind reader stuff. The beauty of the show is that every story “arc” is an exploration of the cost of war, either for families, couples, or the individual. People die. A lot. And except maybe the people in charge, there are no “bad guys.” In several instances, the “evil” Zeon soldiers are portrayed are regular folks. Look, its really hard to talk about something this influential. It’s a good show. Watch it.

Cons: This show was released in 1979. The animation might be a big obstacle for a lot of people. Which is a shame, because this show stands up extremely well. I admit, I did not expect  a continuous plot line from a show from the 70’s mainly known for selling toys. But this thing is quality (except for those kids that are allowed to stay on the ship for some reason). Maybe, maybe, it drags a little at the end, and I kinda wish the Mobile Suits weren’t so brightly colored, but that’s a minor gripe.

Watch it?: I’m annoyed that I didn’t watch it sooner (5/5)

MPV: Amuro

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I heard this guy doesn’t get the happiest of endings

Best Episode: Ep13. “Coming Home” (the cornerstone episode)

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