Monthly Archives: December 2013

Afro Samurai: Resurrection

Type: Mace “Motherfukin'” Windu, Resurrection

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Synopsis: After becoming the baddest man on the planet, the Afro Samurai decides to take some down time by wallowing in his own sadness. Then his best friend, robot Teddy Bear man, sucker-punches him and steals his favorite headband. This is all according to the plan of his younger sister, Lucy Liu, who also plans on reviving Afro’s dad just to mess with him. It’s hard out there for an Afro Samurai.

Pros: If you liked Afro Samurai, you’ll love Afro Samurai: Resurrection. The action, animation, and soundtrack remain excellent. If someone were to rank the top anime in the “stylized action” sub-genre, Afro Samurai would be right up there with stuff like Gurren Lagann and Cowboy Bebop. You will never feel bored watching this.

Cons: If you didn’t like Afro Samurai, you’re not ganna love Afro Samurai: Resurrection. Once again, the actual story in the anime is it’s weakest link. You won’t really care about the story or it’s characters, you just want to see Afro fight dudes. The absence of Ninja Ninja also hurt the film, as he was the main source of comic relief.

Watch it?: Did I mention this was the fist anime to ever win an Emmy?

MVP: Rokutaro

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O.G. Samurai

Best Moment: The Bridge Scene

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Afro Samurai

Type: Mace “Motherfuckin'” Windu

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Synopsis: In a nutshell, everyone wants to be the #1 badass, but only the #2 badsass can challenge him or her, but everyone else is allowed to challenged #2. This is all symbolized with headbands, because of course it is. The current holder of the #2 Headband is the “Afro Samurai,” a nameless warrior hell bent on killing the owner of the #1 headband, who just happens to have killed his father. Now, all this pales in comparison to the fact that Samuel L. Jackson does the voices for Afro. That’s right, fuckin’ Nick Fury is in an anime!

Pros: The anime is very visually stylized, in that “let’s trade series length for the animation budget” kinda way. The hip-hop soundtrack was great, and helps this anime appeal to western audiences. The action is of course top notch, and the real strength of the show. The story, on the other hand, is a simple revenge story, though the #1 and #2 headband system was very intriguing. Short but sweet, anyone looking for a action packed samurai tale should really look up Afro Samurai.

Cons: Again, the actual story is kinda weak, and goes by very fast. We’re really only catching the tail end of Afro’s journey for revenge. I know not everyone likes them, but I feel one or two more flashbacks into Afro’s past would have rounded out the character more. Then again, maybe his silence says it all.

Watch it?: Did I mention it had Sam Jackson in it, with a soundtrack from RZA and The Wu-Tang Clan? (5/5) 

MVP: Ninja Ninja

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This would not have worked without Ninja Ninja

Best Episode: Ep. 3 The Empty Seven Clan (Mecha-Afro!)

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Guilty Crown

Type: Lost Christmas

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Synopsis: In this timeless holiday tale, Japan has all but become a colonized state due to an outbreak of a deadly virus on December 25th, 2029. Skip 10 years later, where this kid named Ouma Shu is caught up in this firefight between the terrorist group/early 2000’s garage band “Funeral Parlor.” The battle results in Shu getting awesome heart based powers (suck it Planeteers). Shu’s then tricked into joining the group with promises of smooches from pink haired girl Inori by the leader Gai. Then a bunch of stuff happens, Shu kills his incestous sister, he becomes “King” of his school (but not in the fun way), and everyone does a bunch of crystal. God Bless Us Everyone!

Pros:  This anime is beautiful. The animation was top quality, and the cinematography was awesome. And the music! I usually don’t notice these kinds of things, but whoever composed and directed the music deserves a raise. The actions was pretty cool too, especially the personality-based void weapons, and I always looked forward to a new one beings introduced. Story wise, the show can be split into two. The first 12 episodes were a mecha-like anime, right down to the outlaw group, quiet girl, and emotionally immature protagonist. The next 10 episodes were more of a political thriller, only with high school kids. You really get invested in the characters, especially in Shu. I won’t spoil anything, but lets just say, someone sorta becomes a prostitute. Plus, it has the one of the better wheel chair bound characters, possibly in all media.

Cons:  Firs off, screw Gai. That guy’s manipulation of Shu really bugged me, so much so, that it was hard for me to ever trust anything he said. Though, given that we’re supposed to sympathize with Shu’s point of view, this was probably intentional. I also thought that Shu’s and Inori’s relationship was never earned, especially when it was suggested early on that it was all a fabrication by Gai. Once again, screw Gai. The show’s main problem was that it was too short, so some story beats were glossed over. People go from friends to enemies and back again a bit too quickly. I also still have a few question: Like how did Inori meet Gai? How exactly did Shu’s sister turn evil? What was the deal with the serial killer and Daath kid? Why should I give a crap about anyone in the Undertakers? and is Inori just a famous pop singer on the side? I wish Guilty Crown would have have gotten at least another season worth of episodes. Other than that, some of the finer details of the plot are a bit convoluted, and on a rare occasion, the show gets too Nationalistic (though as an American, I’m not one to talk).

Watch it?: Best Christmas story since Rudolph. (4/5)

MVP: Ayase Shinomiya

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I wish we had gotten more of her

Best Episode: Ep. 15 “Confession:Sacrifice” and Ep.16 “Kingdom: The Tyrant” (I can’t believe they did that)

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The Sacred Blacksmith

Type: Should really have been called “The Knight Cecily”

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Synopsis: Basically, it’s about this Knight named Cecily Cambell. It’s her first day, and she gets totally owned by some random bum. She’s saved by this rude blacksmith named Luke, but is really impressed by his unique sword called a “katana,” and wants him to make her one. Then we all forget about this when the concept of Demon Swords are introduced, which are superpowered swords that turn into pretty girls because why not. There’s also this Old God named Valbanill whose curse became the foundation for modern society, but that’s beside the point.

Pros: I really liked Cecily Cambell. She had a real rookie hero charm to her, and you can’t help but root for her. She’s actively heroic, and lives up to the idea of Knighthood. The action started off a bit dull, but gets reeved up a notch when the Demon Swords are introduced. There are three story arcs, and I found the second one involving Charlotte E. Firobisher the best because it allowed Cecily to shine the most. The characters were likable, their dynamic was solid, and the humor landed well.

Cons: I disliked the fact that Cecily had to always be saved by Luke at the beginning, but the show does justify this by A) pointing out that Cecily is just starting out, and B) making Cecily more bad-ass as the show progresses. By the end of the first arc, Cecily is more or less able to hold her own. Aside from that, the show tends to gloss over characters that aren’t the main cast. I also felt that the show should have but in more effort when exploring Luke’s backstory. It was also weird that Cecily still wanted a Katana after all-but-mastering her own Demon Sword. Just saying.

Watch it?: Solid Anime with a valiant female lead. (4/5)

MVP: Cecily Cambell

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Since she’s a Knight, wouldn’t she be Lady Cambell?

Best Episode: Ep. 8 Departure -Resolution- (3 vs 1)

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Aesthetica of a Rouge Hero

Type: Aestherica means Aesthetic

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Synopsis: It’s sorta like a blind date, where the person seems to be kinda interesting at first, but as the evening goes on, you realize that they are utterly boring. This is especially annoying because you know that they have the potential to be great, but they’re just too lazy to go for it, and instead rely on too much cleavage and not enough interdimensional medieval story telling.

Pros: There were two sides of the premise that I really liked. First off, I was intrigued by what the idea of a school for children who came back from another world. The idea of young people getting accidentally lost in a strange land is a very old one, so basing a story around all these children being gathered under one roof had promise. On the other hand, I was also interested in the the protagonist Akatsuki’s adventures in the world of Arezard, where all the children seem to have gotten lost in. I would have loved to see his initial travels in Arezard, whether or not he met other Earth kids, and how he gained the title of “Maverick Hero.” Some of the fan service was also surprisingly racy, if your into that sort of thing.

Cons: If you noticed, everything good about the anime was based on the idea of the premise. The actual execution, however, was very weak. The show actually starts off at the end of Akatsuki’s adventure, and I actually had to check to see if I watching a Second Season (I wasn’t.) Too much of the story was being left purposely blank to create artificial mystery. This made the rest of the show feel largely unimportant, and I just couldn’t force myself to care about anything happening at Akatsuki’s school, of for Akatsuki in general. He came off like an arrogant jack-ass, whose gimmick of stealing girl’s underwear and harassing came off as more disrespectful than anything else. The show was just too generic, the characters came off as bland to unlikable, and the story felt half told.

Watch it?: No. Go watch something that feels less forced. (2/5)

MVP: Phil Barnett

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I like the idea of a Knight being called Phil

Best Episode: Ep. 9 “On A Night With Such A Beautiful Moon” (A good villain tends to add some interest)

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The Severing Crime Edge

Type: Hair & Murder

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Synopsis: Everyone has a fetish. This one weird things that society may judge them for. Some people like feet. Others like leather. Kiri Haimura likes hair. A lot. Like, its a sex thing. Luckily, he meets Iwai Mushanokoji, who’s basically anime Rapunzel. The two have a cute romance that’s sometimes interrupted by people trying to kill Iwai because their haunted utensils told them to.

Pros: Hands down, the highlight of the anime was the relationship between Kiri and Iwai. They were the cutest couple ever, and had the funniest scenes. I especially liked the fact that the two actually became a couple, a declared boyfriend and girlfriend, well before the season was over. Since most anime tend to drag this on till the very end, I found it extra charming. The premise was also fairly interesting. Iwai is the “Hair Queen,” who’s cursed with long hair and is the center of a killing contest. Anyone who possesses a “Killing Good,” a murderer’s cursed tool, who kills Iwai will get their wish granted. Bad part is, the most you use a “Killing Good,” the more addictive it becomes. Thus, the show has a nice love story coupled with an interesting psychological-action drama.

Cons: The pilot really threw me off. The episode itself isn’t bad in the least, it’s actually ever endearing, but it didn’t do a good job at setting up the rest of the show. Based on the pilot, this anime is about a girl with long hair and a boy that really likes to cut hair. The whole “Killing Good” thing isn’t introduced until the second episode. The pilot really felt more like a prologue, or even an OVA, than an actual first episode. In fact, this is kinda the show’s core problems. It’s sightly unbalanced between being a love-comedy and drama. So it’s weird when characters that were murderous psychopaths in one scene hang out with the main characters in the next.  “Killing Goods” also have a strange sexual understone to them that was very iffy. I’m also not sure if this was just me, but some of the action scenes had a weird colored screen put over them. Maybe it’s a censoring thing. (P.S. Scissors, not the most exciting weapon)

Watch it?: A pretty solid, if morbid, show (3/5)

MVP: Iwai Mushanokoji

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Long live the Hair Queen!

Best Episode: Ep. 10 “—Standing Babe-ation—” (A showcase of the entire show)

 

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The Mystic Archives of Dantalian

Type: The Adventures of Library Girl and Her Trusty Companion

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Synopsis: For years, Huey Disward thought his grandfather was a complete recluse who obsessed over books for the majority of his adult life. This turned out to be untrue. He actually obsessed over a young girl. That’s…better? Anyway, it turns out the girl is a magical library, a glorified Kindle really, and Huey agrees to help her collect forbidden books that are supposed to be secret, even though everyone in Europe seems to have one.

Pros: Right off the bat I have to point on The Mystic Archives of Dantalian’s theme song. It’s beautiful and perfectly set the tone for a post-WW1 show. That’s what I really loved about the show. It had the premise of magic spell books set in the backdrop of 1920’s Europe. There’s something classically romantic about that, and the show in general.  Most episodes are stand alone cases, where Huey and Dalian investigate a new rumored book, most of which end in tragedy. I loved this type of storytelling, because it had adventure, mystery, drama, and humor. I think this is the fist time an anime has made me feel like I was watching something based on a book. That’s a good feeling.

Cons: Whenever Huey and Dalian have to fight an evil book’s spell, they do this ritual where Huey physically extracts a book from Dalian and recites some nonsense incantation. That’s cool, but the anime used the same animation every this happened, which was a problem because  a lot of the episodes ended like that. There was also this mystery girl with silver hair that Huey seems to know, but it’s never really explained. The last episode implied that she was Pandora, but I would have liked an actual name rather than an indirect allusion. I also had a problem with the use of photorealistic backgrounds, but you get use to them.

Watch it!?: Like a good book, I couldn’t pull away. (4/5)

MVP: Huey Disward

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Keykeeper

Best Episode: Ep. 4 “Book of Soul Exchange” (Have you ever watched Misery?)

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