Monthly Archives: April 2017

Your Lie In April

Type: Oh man, get ready for the emotions!

20184

Synopsis: Love means never having to say your sorry. Wait! Wrong thing. Also, a very bad saying. If your in love, then you should never be afraid to say your sorry. Like, “sorry I got home late without calling,” or “sorry I ate the last pizza slice,” or “sorry that your life dedicated to music has brought you nothing but pain and misery, but hey, at least the blonde one likes you.” Feeling safe enough in your relationship to apologize sincerely is the sign of good communication and a healthy couple.

Pros: In complete honesty, I have been avoiding Your Lie in April for a while. Because its a anime famous for making its audience cry, and I don’t like crying. My eyes get red, I start losing precious liquids, certain existential questions start popping up, its a whole thing. But I finally decided to bite the bullet and give it a try. Surprisingly, the anime has a lot more humor than I though it would, and never veers into drab and dreary territory. It’s more of a happy tragedy. Sad stuff happens, but the message is ultimately about moving forward. I didn’t actually end up crying, but most probably will. The story is about a former pianist named Kosei Arima, and how his life changes upon meeting a free spirited violinist named Kaori. A lot of the plot involves getting Kosei to play the piano again by getting him to overcome the psychological trauma he endured by the life and death of his mother. While most shows would deal with this in two-three episodes, this anime makes it the central story for half the series, which I appreciated. There are actually four subplots in the series. Kosei’s grief is one of them. The other is Tsubaki’s crush on Kosei. And while there is a love triangle between Kosei, Kaori, and Tsubaki, it’s never overdone. Tsubaki never jealously confront Kaori, and in fact goes out with someone else for a while. Imagine that, anime characters trying not obsessing over one person and actually dating around. Huh. The next subplot involves Kosei’s rivals, but they really only reinforce Kosei’s story than anything else. And the final subplot, and main story for the latter half of the series, involves Kaori. Every story in every episode had a weight, like it meant something. Oh, and the music is obviously fantastic. I’m no classical music expert, but I do love the piano and violin, and I loved what I heard.

Cons: This thing is very predictable. By the first episode, you know exactly what’s going to happen. You can tell just by the character troupes. Kosei is the sullen protagonist, Tsubaki is the energetic childhood friend, and Kaori is the manic pixie girl sent to fix all of Kosei’s with her wacky personality. The only character that subverts expectations is Watari, as the surprisingly wise best friend, and he gets the least screen time than anyone. Which is why I don’t really consider the Kosei-Kaori-Watari love triangle a thing. It was mostly in Kosei’s head. The love triangles in this are very courteous. I would say that the character are even a little too considerate of each other’s feelings for one another. Kosei doesn’t want to interfere with Kaori-Watari, Kaori doesn’t want to interfere with Tsunaki-Kosei, and Wateri doesn’t want to interfere with Kaori-Kosei. Which works very well in this story, but don’t go looking for dramatic love confessions. Except for Tsunaki, whose whole story arc is dealing with her love for Kosei. Notably, Tsubaki is also the only non-musician with narration (which doesn’t always translate well). And Kosei’s inner monologues about Kaori do straddle the line between poetic and silly from time to time (“your existence means freedom,” what!?). Speaking of Kosei, man, his mom was a pretty shit mom. I know she was dying or whatever, but damn, I can’t help but feel happy that Saki’s dead. In fact, if I could change one thing about this story, I would dial back on the portrayal of Saki’s abuse of Kosei. At least, the physical abuse. I feel that having her be a emotionally strict mother was enough to get the point across, but having her beat Kosei regularly makes it impossible to sympathize with her. On that note, Saki’s motivation for giving Kosei years of therapy bills was to make sure that Kosei was able to look after himself, but Kosei does have a father. A father that’s never home and allows his wife to beat their child, but a father none the less. Its not like he was going to be orphaned or living on the street. I guess her life was pretty pointless. Oh well! Aside from that, I would actually keep all my criticisms as is. Which is a weird thing to say, but I feel that the anime is almost perfectly balanced, and changing anything else would ruin it.

Watch it: A bit troupy here and there, but damn, it’s good (5/5)

MVP: Tsubaki

50d499cf6e2e92abeb605a1c11c386b3

Why do the childhood friends always have to do the heavy lifting?

Best Episode: Ep.13 Love Sorrows (I don’t feel sorry for Saki, but it was important that Kosei forgave her)

Tagged , , , , ,

Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Type: Medoka Magica’s more upbeat little sister

Ouo9h43

Synopsis: In the future, the Japanese government asks young girls, around the age of 12-15, to fight monsters from a different dimension in order to protect the magic tree that is protecting humanity. They mainly recruit these girls using phone apps, because kids and their phones these days. The app says you can be a hero, and it even gives you cute fairies as sidekicks for free! Of course, once you get nice and addicted, it ramps up the difficulty of the monsters and that’s when you finally notice the in-app store purchases and start thinking….man, I could really use that power upgrade, and the use of my legs isn’t that big of a price.

Pros: Yuki Yuna is a magical girl anime. Specifically, the subgenre of dark-magical girl anime. This means that the big reveal is the price the characters have to pay for being magical girls. Without spoiling it too much, I’ll just say that I liked the “price” being paid, because it was drastic enough to be meaningful, but not too big to be forgotten. The girls don’t have to give up their lives or anything, and the in some ways, the price is optional. It gave the characters a lot for agency in their decision to use their powers and ultimately made them seem like the “heroes” they aspired to be. This differs from Medoka Magica, the current dark-magical girl measuring stick, because there the price was pretty much an ultimatum done for selfish reasons. Yuki Yuna differs from Medoka in that it’s pretty positive. Yuki Yuna stays pretty light until Ep.8, with everything up till then being pretty typical female slice-of-life stories with good humor, like the new girl becoming friends with everyone, the young girl learning to be more confident, gossiping about love only to discover that none of them have any juicy stories because their in middle school. This is mixed with stellar actions scenes, so you never get bored. Compare this to Medoka, which gets dark at Ep.2. After Yuki Yuna’s Ep.8, things start to spiral, as the truth of the girl’s powers are revealed. What I liked about the reveal is that is was dark, but it didn’t overdo it. It didn’t come off as malicious, and there’s no “evil” organization controlling everything. The girl’s sacrifices are honored and rewarded. If anything, it’s a system whose tragedy lies in it’s necessity.

Cons: For as show called Yuki Yuna is a Hero, the title character is not really present all that much. There is a character named Yuki Yuna, but she isn’t really the protagonist, and she doesn’t act as a audience surrogate. Her only role is being the most “optimal” hero. In fact, Fu Inibozaki is a more likely candidate for main character. But the show really is more of an ensemble story. Speaking of the story, while watching it, I kept waiting for the shoe to drop. Ya know? I knew that this was a dark-magical girl show, so every episode I asked myself, “is this the one where it all goes to hell?” But since this happened so late in the show, fans of this kind of dark twist may be annoyed at the time it takes to get there. Don’t watch this show looking for a tragedy like Medoka, because you won’t find any. This anime strictly adheres to the happy ending troupe. No one dies, no one’s feelings are hurt, and the girl’s sacrifices are even mitigated by the end of the show. I’ll admit, that last part was regrettable as it lessened the impact of the girl’s decisions. I do wonder, however, how people who watch it blind may react to the show. Now let’s talk spoilers: In the show, the girl’s have to sacrifice something to unleash their full power. The people in charge of recruiting don’t tell the girls this because ignorance is bliss or whatever. But, as the show suggest, this leaves tremendous psychological scars on the chosen girls. Worse yet, because the sacrifice is required for an optional second transformation, a power boost if you will, there really is no reason not to tell the girls. A little “hey, you have this secret weapon, but only use it as a last resort because it will cost you something precious. ;)” text would have been sufficient.

Watch it: More upbeat than Medoka (4/5)

MVP: Fu Inubozaki

ca0f6ef525cc40084d6247e0eaa4ef64

Girl Power!

Best Episode: Ep9. “Those Who Know Grief” (that breakdown really got to me)

Tagged , , , , , ,

Cyborg 009 VS Devilman (OVA)

Type: Dawn of Trends

cyborg009vsdevilman

Synopsis: I was rooting for Devil Man.

Pros: Cyborg 007 vs Devilman follows the classic superhero vs superhero story points. The two heroes fight one another because of a misunderstanding, it turns out there’s a bigger threat, they work together, hugs and kisses and goodnight. The plot is more Cyborg 009 heavy. After the fight with the Olympian styled cyborgs, the Cyborg 1-9 are alerted to the dangers of a “demons,” run into newer cyborgs, and then have to fight cyborg/demon hybrids. The Cyborg side of the story is more proactive, giving them more presence in the story. On the other side, we have Devilman, who sorta just reacts to the plot. His involvement doesn’t become justified until the halfway through, when his girlfriend(?) is kidnapped to get his devil genes, or something. The crux of the story relies on the fact that both sides find the others existence possible. Having fought god themed cyborgs, Demon Cyborgs aren’t too crazy, and Devilman will mostly fight anything. I actually really found myself liking the Devilman aspects of the show. In a way, it completed its mission of making me curious about one of the franchises. As crossovers go, mushing these two seemingly antithetical franchises made in the 1970’s together worked surprisingly well.

Cons: I’m going to put this out there: I am not a fan of Cyborg 009. And it is for the pettiest reasons. Back in the day, Toonami replaced Rorouni Kenshin with Cyborg 009 on their 6pm slot, moving Kenshin to Saturday Nights. This occurred before the resolution of the Kyoto Arc, meaning I had to stay up late to watch Kenshin, which was now once a week instead of every day. As you can imagine, child-me did not appreciate this. And even since, I’ve been very bitter towards Cyborg 009 (even though I know that it was probably some dumb program managers fault). So naturally I found myself rooting for Devilman in this and resenting the plot heavy Cyborg 009 elements. That being said, this mini-series is very cannon plot heavy. It seems to occur after a big arc for Cyborg 009 and an early arc for Devilman. This was clearly done for the benefit of long time fans, because new viewers will feel lost and confused. In fact, I’d hazard to say that this film is meant to be a cannon occurance instead of a stand alone adventure. Did this make me a fan of Cyborg 009? No. It’s still not for me, and I still find Cyborg 009 and 002’s power redundant (if they both and super speed, we keep both?).

Watch it?: Now I wanna read Devilman (4/5)

MVP: Devilman

maxresdefault

I just think he stands the test of time better

Best Episode: Ep.1 Cyborg 009 vs Devilman (hero fights!)

Tagged , , , , ,

Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

Type: Like Battlestar Galactica, if it was about boats and was more chill

O235D_2FrOs.market_maxres

Synopsis: One culture’s a military based futuristic space alliance, the other culture’s a community based sea faring people. Their the original ideological odd couple!

Pros: This show has really strong first two episodes. The anime opens with the large, if slightly generic, space battle, but quickly transitions to rustic sea based setting. The protagonist, Ledo, is a pilot of a mech who crash lands on a ocean planet. His mech is discovered by the scavengers of a large ship fleet community. When he wakes up, both he and the ship’s authorities are wary of each other. But, in perhaps one of the more mature moments I’ve seen in anime, the chose communication over violence. So the first two episodes are simply each side trying to get a bearing on each other. The commentary on community and social groups presented in this anime is fascinating. One one side you have Ledo, a member of a clearly technologically superior society. But his society is also highly militant, having been in a very long war, so his outlook is very singularly focused. If something does not benefit the community directly, it is useless. This applies to things like fun and games, to things like Families, as families aren’t efficient enough to produce soldiers. On the other side you have Gargantia, another community based society, but one that is more flexible. Instead of efficiency they focus on balance. Both sides have good and bad outcomes. Ledo’s community have little patience for emotion or the weak, but they have made extraordinary advances in technology, while Gargantia’s community clearly have more freedoms, but they also have crime and poverty. The majority of the show is basically Ledo having to integrate into Gargantia’s culture, right down to having to learn their language and trying to apply his specific cultural skills into Gargantia’s. So this show has a secondary immigration theme as well. It is in these aspects that Gargantia is the strongest in.

Cons: While the show has a strong opening, it has a very weak finish. The last 3 episodes turn into a generic action-drama, where the protagonist is met with a person from his past who forces him to reevaluate his beliefs. It falls short of the show’s quality story up to that point, and feels way off based given the show’s slice of life tone. It’s also superfluous, as a revelation in earlier in the plot already made Ledo question his beliefs. In fact, the entire last story arc felt more like it belonged in a second season rather than here. Maybe the writer’s wanted to tie everything up? Ep5 had a similar problem at the opposite spectrum, trying to be the “funny episode” with some fan service and stereotypical transvestite shows.  Hardy har. On a more subjective note, I had a problem with the show’s overall ideological argument. From my perspective, the show strongly argued for cultural assimilation. Everyone always tells Ledo to learn the language, follow their rules, get a job, and adhere to their customs. Which is fine, whatever, their house, their rules. But no one ever asked Ledo about the cultural knowledge he can contribute. The boy is literally a space man with a talking robot! But no one ever asks him what he knows about technology, battle formations, the local solar system. His machine has a unimaginable amount of information, but the people of Gargantia have it move boxes and catch fish. The commander of the fleet doesn’t even meet with him (which is an incredible security lapse if you ask me). The show is not unbiased in comparing Ledo’s society with Gargantia’s. Gargantia is great, and Ledo’s filthy space savages can teach them nothing. Ledo is forced to join the Melting Pot, but a Melting Pot only works if all aspects fuse together. If one aspect overpowers the other, you have a recipe for a bad soup and a bad society.

Watch it: Everything up to Ep.10 (4/5)

MVP: The Setting

8636929483_efbf1cf137_b

I love a Fleet Communities in Anime. Quarians, the 13 Tribes, etc.

Best Episodes: Ep1&2 “Castaway” and “The Planet of Origin”

Tagged , , , ,

Little Witch Academia

Type: Second Verse, good as the first…wait, what?

Littlewitchacademiacover

Synopsis: A little girl goes to a magic show and got her parents to sign her up for lessons. But like Karate and Ballet, she’ll probably give up when it gets too hard.

Pros: The Little Witch Academia franchise is an interesting little bit of anime trivia. Backed by Trigger as part of a young creators thingy, the series has gained a dedicated fan base. Why? Because it’s really charming. Being Trigger, the animation is amazing. It has a great all-ages vibe without sacrificing any of the story sophistication. But I’ve said all this before. Watching this part really cleared up some of the things in the sequel. Specifically Akko’s origin. This being a more Akko centric episode, I got a better sense of the character’s standing in the Magical School, while the second gave a better sense of the flaws.

Cons: I still don’t get the deal with the supporting characters. They aren’t especially fleshed out or explored. The problem is that the story starts with Akko already in school with her friend group fully established. Had this been a story of how they met, then great, and I hope the creators get the chance to show that eventually. Don’t get me wrong, this is great, and I want more, but as the “first” part of the franchise, I was expecting a little more.

Watch it: Its 30 minutes of quality programming

MVP: Akko

1442368455-826d56e75ecde78cd8f576152f4db981

Theirs magic in all of us

Best Moment: Akko getting poisoned by her friends (witches, am I right?)

Tagged , , ,

Inferno Cop

Type: Yeah, this is a weird one.

InfernoCopDeathPenalty_060114_230616_20150102122748.png

Synopsis: Yeah, this is a weird one. I guess Japan finally discovered that they could combine flash animation and the internet together.

Pros: Yeah, this is a weird one. The only reason I’m even reviewing this is because it was made in Japan and is animated, technically making it an “anime.” The premise, if you can call it that, is that a cop with a burning skull for a face is a cop with a burning skull for a face. It’s nonsensical, random, cheap, and dammit, I can’t help but falling in love with it.

Cons: Yeah, this is a weird one. The only reason I’m even reviewing this is because it was made in Japan and is animated, technically making it an “anime.” The premise, if you can call it that, is that a cop with a burning skull for a face is a cop with a burning skull for a face. It’s nonsensical, random, cheap, and dammit, I can’t help but falling in love with it.

Watch it?: Yeah, this is a weird one. (4/5)

MVP: Inferno Cop

Mfw+watching+the+whole+show+_eaaf35e4967c67dd16f49fcb79a65398

Yeah, this is a weird one.

Best Episode: The one were his head is on fire (yeah, this is a weird one)

Tagged , , ,