Category Archives: Dramedy

The Pet Girl of Sakurasou

Type: Typical Light Novel

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Synopsis: An art prep school, which I’m sure is sure hard to get into and requires a lot of effort, has a special dorm designated for trouble making students…for some reason. And by “trouble making” I of course mean weirdos. Even by art student standards. One of them has cats. FREAK. That same cat dude, Sorata, has given up on his dreams because he doesn’t really feel good enough to try, but that all changes when a beautiful art genius moves in and becomes the subject of his awe and resentment because she’s a natural born art genius. She also clearly lives with Savant Syndrome, given her explicitly stated inability to take care of herself, but the show glosses this over and calls her “eccentric.” Because hey! Anime!

Pros: The Pet Girl of Sakurasou is a melodramatic slice of life story with comedic elements. The comedy comes from a group of eccentrics all living under one roof. You have the energetic one, the playboy, the computer snob, the lazy dorm teacher, the emotionless genius, and the straight man in Sorata and Nanami. One of the trade make gags of the show are the skits between Sorata and one of the other characters, usually involving quick quips between Sorata and one of his dorm mates over an embarrassing or frustrating situation. Like trying to teach the art genius Shina how to cook. Or trying to convince Nanami that it isn’t what it looks like. These are great, and I highly encourage you to look for these short scenes on online even if you don’t watch the show. The melodrama comes from Sorata and Nanami, the two characters how have a dream and must deal with the trials and tribulations that comes with following a dream. The show does a really great job at depicting the emotional struggles one faces with trying to achieve a dream or goal, especially in the arts. Particularly when faced with multiple failures and false starts even after working yourself to your physical, mental, and emotional limit. This is especially true with Sorata, who is introduced as someone who would rather not even try due to fear of failure. The character of Shina is particularly interesting in this respect, as she’s often the subject of resentment and jealousy due to her natural ability and easy successes. She is used to represent the darker and often unwarranted feelings one gets towards other people’s professional or personal success, even though your often not angry at a particular person, but at yourself and the situation. The rest of the show just involves love triangles and the power of friendship of whatever.

Cons: The show’s story beats are very predictable. After the first two episodes, you can pretty much tell how the rest of the episodes are going to go. For those wondering, it goes: silly, sad, angry/resentful, sad again, uplifting, and finally happy. If this doesn’t happen within one episode, it will happen over two or three episodes. But the show doesn’t really break this cycle. It makes a lot of episodes easy to skip or gloss over. And ironically, much like the other characters of the show, my feelings towards Shina are mixed. One the one hand, I liked her emotional growth (even if it was because of “love”), and she was a good comedic foil for Sorata. On the other hand, her inability to do even the most basic personal tasks does not really balance out her Mary Sue like abilities. I get that her not being able to take care of herself is suppose to make her endearing, but it really just made her kinda annoying to watch. Even I found it hard to sympathize with given her amazing art skills. I think that if the show had played her condition as more serious than comedic, it would have been easier to like her. I also found myself not really caring for Misaki and Jin’s love story. They were alright characters, but their plots don’t really impact the plot in any significant way. Maybe it works better in the books? And lastly, I felt that the whole “chasing your dreams is hard” would have worked better with a slightly older cast, like between 18-21. My biggest dream in high school was beating Kingdom Hearts 2 to get the secret ending, not preparing myself for career setbacks.

Watch it?: Good, and maybe even great to some people. (4/5)

MVP: Sorata

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One of the realist depictions of emotional in all of anime.

Best Episode: Ep.5-6 “The Serious Girl of Sakura Dormitory” and “The Blue After the Rain” (funny, sad, dramatically over the top, love triangle, a good showcase of the show in general)

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Chaika- The Coffin Princess

Type: Gothic Lolita confirmed

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Synopsis: A not as cool as you think with the name COFFIN PRINCESS girl is on the search for the remains of her evil Wizard Emperor Dad so she can bury them. I mean, it’s not like an evil Wizard Emperor would ever do something messed up to his own body parts….She ends up hiring two saboteurs to help her along the way. Now, why  the people hiding the body parts didn’t just give the Coffin Princess and her friends decoy body parts is another story. I guess they don’t want anything to compromise their bragging rights of owning the shin of the last great Wizard Emperor.

Pros: As anime based on light novels that don’t really have a definitive ending goes, this was pretty fun. The action’s good, the animation’s good, and the characters are good. Well, some of them are good. Mainly the three leads, Chaika, Toru, and Akira. Chaika speaks in broken Yoda speak, which made her a little more of a unique moe character. Toru break away from the typical whiny or mary sue mold for male leads by having actual motivations and opinions. For example, the initial reason he joined Chaika is because she promised him more battles, which really appealed to him as a sabateour (basically a ninja) in peace time. And Akira was a great comedic stoic, even if her love for her unmotivated “brother” is well worn material. The trio’s journey to find the missing body parts of the dead emperor is a great frame for world building, and we get to meet a lot of interesting characters. Not to mention that the fights in this are pretty well made, Toru and friends usually end up out thinking their opponents rather than trying to overpower them. Hell, one of the last fights ends with a subtle stabbing. (p.s. This anime also has one of the grossest moments I’ve ever seen. It’s in the last episode. Only in anime!)

Cons: The plot for this anime is fairly predictable. Once the second “Chaika” is introduced, you pretty much know what’s going to happen. Hell, the anime even opens with “Chaika” being given an ominous warning. To save you the 2 seconds it would take to figure it out: Chaika is one of several clones created by the late Emperor to collect his remains in the even of his death. This is most likely so he can resurrect himself and get revenge or whatever. The different versions of Chaika are cool, as they each amass a different type of entourage. What’s actually holding the anime back more are the “Gillett Corps,” the shows main “antagonists” who are following Chaika and friends. They’re made up of 2 other lolitas and other boring people. I actually skipped the scenes where they showed up, and lost almost zero events that were plot relevant. It’s almost like Chaika and friends were so charismatic, that the author has to throw in dead weight to balance it out. Speaking of Chaika and friends, I’ve stated above that I really like Toru. He’s a more introspective and tactial lead than I’m use to. But his status is hurt by the story giving him the stereotypical origin of having a sweet girl die in his past, thus motivating his training and skills, and his secret crush on Chaika. Come on Coffin Princess, you can do better than that.

Watch it?: Very fun (4/5)

MVP: Toru

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Turns out having a lead who actually thinks before he acts is a good thing.

Best Episode: “The Valley of No Return” (too silly not to like)

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Black Cat

Type: Tries to fit in waaaay too much

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Synopsis: In the most basic terms, this is an B-level anime about a disgruntled government employee who travels around with a bounty hunter and a teenage girl. But honestly, the “main character” is the most uninteresting part. I was way more enthralled by oddly cute story about a father figure taking his charge for ice cream, fireworks, getting her tones of books, and letting her hunt down criminals by utilizing her super soldier abilities. Maybe my tastes are maturing….

Pros: As stated above, this anime is a really fun B-anime. I’d put it right up there with Outlaw Star and Negima!? There are really 2 main plots that run parallel to each other in the anime. The primary plot is about Train, an ex-government assassin who’s on a quest for revenge against the man who killed a girl he kinda, sorta liked. I mean, they only met for, like, 30 minutes combined, but she was being all manic pixie. Boys like that. Train’s rival starts a revolutionary terrorist, “Apostles of the Star,” who drive the main plot. The other plot involves Eve, an artificial life form who’s powers drive the plot of the last arc. But really, the anime is mostly about 3 people going on wacky adventures with one another. That’s when its at its best. Train’s the wacky one, Sven’s the straight man, and Eve’s the deadpan girl. And sometimes they’re joined by Rinslet, a sly con woman. The three had great chemistry, make a great comedic team, and I honestly could have lived with the entire series just being them going on jobs.

Cons: There is actually a lot wrong with Black Cat. The story is rushed. The original manga was 20 volumes. The show is only 24 episodes. That’s practically a volume per episode. The show tries it’s best to cram in as many characters and villains as it can, but most are forgettable. I mean, yeah, Creed’s obsession with Train was unique, but he’s outfit was just too much to take him seriously. And the Apostles and the Numbers aren’t really given enough time individually to establish themselves as credible threats. This is a rare case where the “read the manga” ending would have been better than the “let’s get as many plot points as we can” ending. You never really get a chance to “know” any of these characters. And the English Dub dips in quality one too many times. Train’s story is ultimately uninteresting, and he’s more of a poster boy than compelling protagonist. Eve’s story isn’t as fleshed out as I would have liked it. And Sven isn’t really given an arc at all. He has a quick flashback and that’s it. I liked Rinslet’s addition, but she usually stayed at arms length most of the time. But the most jarring this about watching this show is that ep1-7 feels very removed from the rest of the show. The first seven episodes are the intro arc, which is way more melodramatic and dark than the rest of the show (the first arc is literally all at night). And Train is way more of a emo anime boy than the happy go lucky guy he is later. I would actually not recommend watching ep1-7 first. I would actually watch these between ep10 and 11, or even until ep20. I think this anime would have been truly great if it’s story had been given more episodes to breath.

Watch it?: For all it’s faults, it’s still a fun ride (4/5)

MVP: Sven

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This is an alternate version of Kenji Harima. This is my headcannon now.

Best Episode: Ep.8 “The Sweeping Cat / A Traveling Cat” (adventure!)

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Mobile Fighter G Gundam

Type: Super Fighting Robots!

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Synopsis: So what do you do after your Mecha series has gone on for 15 years with waning popularity? Some people would double down on what brought them to the dance in the first place…but screw that! Who needs introspective war narratives when you could have Giant Robots beat each other up real nice!!

Pros: One of the most interesting things about Mobile Fighter G Gundam is the history surrounding it. The anime premiered on the 15th anniversary of the Gundam series. It was a franchise reboot, and the first to diverge from the original “Universal Century” timeline. This newest entry into the Gundam franchise moved away from military stories to a outlandish martial arts story. And it worked! Fighter G did revive the Gundam franchise. I know that it was the first Gundam series I watched. It’s had clear influences on other media, from Gurren Laggan to Pacific Rim. And funny enough, Neon Genesis Evangelion would premiere a year after. The premise, which is very Shoen inspired, is that each nation now lives in orbiting space colonies. Every 4 years, they hold a world tournament where national representatives fight one another in Gundam Mechas. So you wind up with things like the Canadian Gundam fighting the Russian Gundam, and etc. This was the funnest aspect of the show, seeing what each nation’s Gundam looked like and fought. It may not sound very intellectual, but it was very fun.

Cons: This was very much a “boys manga” anime (even if it wasn’t based on any manga). There’s only one Female pilot in the entire show. The story is exactly what you think it is. A passionate protagonist enters a fighting tournament to help his family. He finds 4 rivals; a cocky American, a Posh Frenchman, a Stoic Russian, and a care-free Chinese teenager. Hmmm, America, Russia, France, and China, where have I head those names put together before….(also: sorry Britain, someone had to go!). The story will not blow your mind. It mostly goes from fight to fight. Tonaly, it’s a complete 180 from the rest of the Gundam franchise. So traditionalist won’t really enjoy it. And the animation hasn’t help up in the strictest sense.

Watch it?: Great Fun (4/5)

MVP: Domon Kasshu

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Pilot of the GOD GUNDAM

Best Episode: Ep45. “Farewell Master: Master Asia’s Last Breath” (master vs student)

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Black Butler

Type: So many historical inaccurate

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Synopsis: The Earl of Phantonhive, also known as the Duke of Short Pants, also know as Lord Protector of Boys Love, has a problem. He’s alive, and so are the people the killed his mother as father. The problem is, he would like them to not be alive anymore. You see the dilemma here. Now, he can’t simply use his vast, vast, vast fortune, connection to the Queen of England, and his own notable genius to find these people. Instead, he sold his Soul to a demon butler to get his revenge. Even though the Demon Butler can’t leave his side. Or do anything without a direct order. And was possibly responsible for the Plauge. But kids, am I right?

Pros: The anime’s strongest asset is its characters. Black Butler has a set of amazing characters, from the haughty Ciel, the always debonair Sebastian, and the comedic servants. They are quiet versatile, working in comedic and serious moments. The anime is mostly made us of “cases.” As the Earl of Phantomhive, Ciel is the “guard dog” for the British Crown, often sent to various locations to root out corruption and wrong doing. Ciel is portrayed as a very good tactician. His family’s fortune lies in sweets and games, which allude to Ciel’s talent for manipulation and his young age and temperment. Sebastian often accompanies him as his highly skilled butler, sometimes comedically so, and he’s always used as the Mcguffin that saves the day. Then there’s the comedic servants: a pyromaniac cook, a cooky maid, and a jolly groundskeeper, how as indispensable as the comic relief (since the show can get dark on you). Like I said, it’s a solid group.

Cons: The anime’s story is kinda bland. It starts off strong enough, but loses it’s luster as it goes. The whole angel subplot was weak. And there was this one dog episode, Ep.7, that felt out of nowhere. I don’t wanna see dog fights. I’ll get that fix from Pokemon, thank you very much. I also felt that the story jumped the shark too quickly on the Jack the Ripper case. From my research (Wikipedia), it seems that the anime veers off from it’s manga counterpart around halfway through. For my money, Ep.7, ep17-20, and ep.22-24 are the worst story arcs of the bunch. Ep.21 stands out because it gives use the origin of the servants, which was fun. The any does delve into some darkish territory, in a psudo Victorian horror kinda a way. Your enjoyment kinda depends on your tolerance for bloody mysteries and arrogant protagonists. Oh, and your feelings on implied romance between a teenage (?) boy and his handsome adult butler.

Watch it: Pick and choose episodes (4/5)

MVP: The Servants

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My favorite characters

Best Episode: Ep.1 “His Butler, Able” (Comedic Downton Abbey)

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Yuki Yuna is a Hero

Type: Medoka Magica’s more upbeat little sister

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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

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Girl Power!

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

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Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet

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

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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

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

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

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Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic

Type: Arabian Nights starring Jake Gyllenhall!?

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Synopsis: In a time long ago before, there was a movie franchise of movie franchises called Aladdin, of Studio Disney. So popular was the story that it sprang forth two direct to video sequels, a cartoon show, and some pretty good video games. It’s also the reason why this wasn’t just called the “Adventures of Aladdin” or something. Copyright is a scary thing. Anyway, this stars a little magician called “Aladdin” with a non-talking Genie and “Alibaba,” a thoroughly not old woodcutter. Oh, and sometimes it also has a slave girl named Morgiana, but according to the show, she’s not super important.

Pros: I’ve said this before, but I always find anime adaptations of non-Japanese stories really fascinating. In this case, the anime borrows heavily from One Thousand and One Nights, one of the definitive bedrocks of modern fiction. Having never read the collected works (It’s on my list), I can’t really speak that much about the allusions the anime uses. What I can say is that the Magi anime itself is pretty good. It sets itself up as an adventure story, but quickly becomes a sociopolitical tale with social inequality as it’s main topic. The villains used in this are often drunk on other own power, either because of owning slaves, or holding titles, or simply being powerful. A lot are simply bullies, which irritated my a lot, meaning that they work as villains (because you’re not suppose to like the villains!). And because most of the story arcs boil down to the harshness of inequality, something that has stayed consistent throughout history, the plots often pack an emotional punch. Just look at Morgiana, a slave from early childhood with the mental scars to prove it. The use of the colorful world was a great juxtaposition with the ugly actions of some of it’s inhabitants, as well as the power source of the true antagonists being hatred and negativity. I should also mention that the openings for this anime are really good. Not artsy, as they mostly use scenes from the upcoming episodes, but they were really fun to watch.

Cons: A story set in the Middle-East, and you couldn’t give one character a tan? For reals!? Hollywood gets a lot of flack for white washing its films (deservedly so), but anime ain’t exactly innocent of this either. Like, why is Morgiana of the “Dark Continent” (cough Old 1800’s Racist English Name for  the continent Africa cough) a pale girl with red hair? Why does Alibaba have Blonde Hair and Blue Eyes? This is almost as bad a Gods of Egypt, which I’m sure will stay a topical reference…Anyway, there are other problems. For a story whose opening sells itself as an adventure series, Aladdin and crew don’t really do a lot of traveling together. And despite all this talk of Dungeons, you only get 2 in the show. A lot of the story arcs just have them hanging out in one city at a time. You never see them hit the road as a group, which would have been fun. Speaking of groups, I feel that Morgiana gets short changed, probably because she’s “the girl.” The anime is more of the Aladdin and Alibaba story. Spefically, Alibaba’s hero’s journey with Aladdin as his wizard advisor. Morgiana’s just there for the ride. Story wise, this is a meaty anime. Some arcs drag, like the Balbadd story. Ultimately, my biggest problem with this anime is that I feel that it sells itself as a fun adventure story, but the levity never arrives outside of a few boob jokes. It’s really more like a disingenuous Fullmetal Alchemist.

Watch it?: Yeeeeah, but do realize it does feel long. (4/5)

MVP: Morgiana

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Always has the best fights

Best Episode: Ep6 “Warrior Tribe Fanalis” (showcase of the anime’s story structure)

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Ghost Hunt

Type: Ghost Facers!

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Synopsis: Based on a Light Novel that ran for 2 years, which inspired a manga that ran for 12 years, is this anime that ran for 25 episodes. Its about, you guessed it, a group of Ghost Hunters. You get a little bit of everything. You get a Paranormal Researcher, a Monk, a Shrine Maiden, a Priest, an Onmyoji, and even a teenage girl for good measure.

Pros: Ghost Hunt is an anime comprised of several different “cases,” each involving some sort of paranormal activity. Some involve Ghost, while others involve Psychics, or Demons, or etc. One thing I really liked was the use of different specialities when dealing with the paranormal. A lot of different cultures and faiths are represented, from Buddhism, Christianity, Shintoism, to  modern technology. It’s a nice representation of the quirky fact that people all over the world have developed different ways to ward off evil spirits. The characters of the show end up using “real world” methods for fighting ghosts. So if your interested in paranormal activity, this is a quick primer. Some of the cases do get good, though they quality fluctuates. I loved the character of Mai, as her often overemotional delivery brought much needed energy into the show.

Cons: Honestly, its a little long. The show covers 8 different cases, and with 25 episodes, that’s about 3-4 episodes per case. And outside of Mai, none of the characters are well executed enough to warrant such attention. The problem is that the support cast are all outside contractors. The main characters are Mai and Naru, the latter running a paranormal research agency. Naru brings in the support characters to help out on cases. Every case in fact. Makes you wonder why he doesn’t just put them on staff. As such, there’s always this distance between the audience and the supporting characters. You pieces of personal history here and there, not that’s not much. Then there’s Naru, whose a really unlikable. He’s the stereotypical “cool” character, whose quite, prideful, and keeps things to himself. To quote Naru himself, he uses “strategic secrets.” Narratively, this is used to create situations that make Naru look evil, only to reveal after the fact that he’s actually super nice you guys! See, he wasn’t going to curse 600 students, that’s crazy talk. He was just going to make it look like he was and not tell anyone his plan, even though he had no reason not to tell the truth. Isn’t he the best and cutest?! Sadly, the brunt of this plot structure comes at the expense of Mai, who is often used to call Naru on his bullshit, only to be proven wrong at the end. Story wise, it has a monster of the week vibe, kinda boring at times, the animation doesn’t hold up, and the Opening, OH MY GOD, that was the laziest thing I’ve ever seen.

Watch it?: Overall, kind of bland. (3/5)

MVP: Mai Taniyama

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The Liveliest Hunter

Best Episodes: Ep18-21 “File 7: The Bloodstained Labyrinth Part 4” (scary, and the first anime I’ve encountered to mention Japan and China’s harsh history)

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Assassination Classroom: Second Season

Type: Also known as “Graduation”

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Synopsis: The kid’s in Class E start their second semester with the same goal, Kill their Teacher and get P.A.I.D. Except, as the they soon discover, they’ve grown attached to their hyper fast, multi-tenticled, yellow world destroying Instructor. Can these 14-15 year old’s kill the only Educator that every truly cared about them? (No. The answer is No. They’re babies. Of course they couldn’t).

Pros: The second season of Assassination Classroom get a proper 25 episodes. 24 real episodes and 1 epilogue. I thought I’d start off with that, because the 22 episode thing from season one always bugged me. Like any long season, the anime is split into two main story arcs. The first arc mainly deals with school related stories, like school festivals, finals, and vacation. There are some big revelations and character moments, but it does feel like a bit of a retread of the first season, at least thematically. The last half delves into Koro-Sensei’s past, and the classroom’s ultimate decision on whether or not to actually kill him. And, to it’s credit, the show does actually end with an answer to that problem. The season definitely feels like the last half of a complete story. While it does lack some of more sillier moments of the first season, it makes up for it with important and often impactful character moments, especially for the students. Nagisa in particular shines (as the lead, that’s pretty obvious, but still).

Cons: As stated above, the first half of the season does feel like it meanders a little too much. It’s a continuation of the first season more than a sequel season. Old story arcs are resolved, but new story arcs aren’t really introduced until later on. I found the resolution of Kuro-Sensei’s story underwhelming. Without giving too much away, the final battle involves his first “student” and the scientist that gave him his abilities, but neither of these villains where really all that engaging. Assassination Classroom’s strength was always in the relationship between Kuro-Sensei and his students. Anything else felt superflous. Which is why I never really cared about other assassin’s trying to kill him, or the Agent Karasuma and Irina. Even Koro sensei’s backstory was weak and cliche. The real climax of the story is Koro-Sensei’s students deciding whether or not to go through with the assassination. Not a big dumb tentacle fight. (I should also mention that the second to last episode draaaaaags on).

Watch it?: I liked it, but Your Milage May Vary (3/5)

MVP: The Nagisa-Karma fight

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Maybe one of the best fights I’ve seen in a while.

Best Episode: Ep. 17-18 The Paintball Match Arc (The show at it’s best, thematically and narratively)

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