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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Osomatsu-San

Type: Hustle-Hustle, Muscle-Muscle

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Synopsis: There are no bigger a@#holes than family. Especially when that family happens to be your brother. Or brother. Or brother. Or brother. Or brother. Or brother.

Pros: Osomatsu-San is a revamp of a very old gag comedy based on the misadventures of 6 identical brother, or sextoplets. The original 60’s manga and anime focused on the brother’s antics as elementary schoolers. The new 10’s version focuses on their antics as jobless 20-somethings. In typical Japanese 2010’s fashion, the brothers are all loser NEETs, and a lot of the episodes focuses on their failed attempts to get jobs, girls, any semblance of a respectable life, etc. They’re each horrible to each other, but in that special way that only brothers can be. The other episodes are mostly random parodies. In fact, the first episode was banned from re-airing because it overdid it with the parodies and crossed over to copyright infringement in Japan. I have to say, this is one of the most unique comedies I’ve come across in all my years of watching anime. Maybe because it ran 25 episodes and focused on adults, not high schoolers, but I can’t really think of another anime comedy like this one. The main characters are all greedy, selfish, and immature, but dammit, that’s what make me laugh at them!

Cons: The comedy can get a little mean at times. Like, Western comedy mean. There are many skits where the punchline is that someone gets killed. Or gets a pole up their butt. Or accepts their fate as dateless wonders. You’re suppose to laugh at the characters. Which is why the brothers always have to lose at the end. Because it’s suppose to be funny to mock them. Which it is, but this is different from most anime comedies, which asks to you laugh at the situation, not the characters themselves. It’s “oh, this guy walked into this girl getting undressed, what a silly turn of events!” not “oh, this guy walked into this girl getting undressed, how stupid of the girl to not lock the door!” And, from a purely American perspective, and I could be alone on this, but the characters of Iyami and Hatabo felt outdated and just didn’t click for me.

Watch it?: You know, it gets a bump just for being so damn unique (5/5)

MVP: Chibita

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I now understand why he briefly became the main character in the 80’s

Best Episode: ep.1 “Osomatsu-kun Returns” (banned or not, it’s a really good intro)

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Terra Formars

Type: Get your A@# to Mars!

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Synopsis: Man has always dream of the red planet. Man has also always stepped on cockroaches. So what happens when peanut butter meets chocolate? Well, a whole lot of gore for one thing.

Pros: Terra Formars is about a manned mission to Mars going horribly wrong. About 3 times. This anime is about the third time. In a nutshell, humans tried to terraform Mars by sending roaches to spread algae. This backfired, as the roaches somehow mutated and evolved into super soldiers in the span of 500 years. Humanity, in its infinite wisdom, decides to go back to Mars to get some samples, and kill everything they don’t understand, because humans LOL. Initially, the anime gave off a real Gantz vibe, being ultra violent and leaning towards more “realism” in it’s animation (though really, this just means they did more with shadows). But it has a good sense of levity, and lacks the nihilism of other survival anime. The characters each had cool animal based powers. But what I really found fascinating were the Terraformers. Because you start off thinking their mindless monsters, but when you see one up close, they have, wait for it: clothing. Both functional and ornamental. The bugs have developed culture, and use rudimentary but effective tactics that compliment their superior physical abilities. They always felt like a threat, not just cannon fodder, which was impressive given that they all literally look alike.

Cons: How do I put this…this anime is good, but you can watch it with the sound off in the background of your room and still get the gist of it. It doesn’t require nor grab your attention. It’s not a “deep” anime. It’s animal people fighting roach people. The reason why the plot doesn’t hook you is because the plot hasn’t actually started. This anime only covers the “introduction” arc of a manga, even if seemingly important characters died in it. It’s interesting, but I feel that the really juicy story stuff hasn’t happened yet. It felt like I was watching a really long OVA. But the story even feels thin for 13 episodes. The anime crammed in way too many flashbacks at the expense of the overall story. Works better in chapter by chapter manga, but not in anime. To put it in prospective: the entire anime, from ep3-13, is about 1 day. They stretch this one day of fighting bugs with what felt like filler back story. Stories that weren’t that interesting. The only one that really intrigued me was Adolf’s, because his story actually ties into the effects the Terraformers have had on planet Earth. That aspect was really interesting: how would nations reach to knowing theirs a potentially hostile species on another planet. The rest of the backstories were just about the dudes losing their girlfriends. Seriously. It’s the motivation for 3 flashbacks. Most of the other astronauts are there for money. In all honesty, the interactions between characters told me more than any of the flashback could hope to tell me. The anime should have just focused on the mission. The anime did get me interested in the manga, I admit, but as an anime in general? It’s kinda an easy pass.

Watch it?: The bugs are cool, but the people aren’t (3/5)

MVP: Adolf Reinhardt

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Unfortunate name, but great character.

Best Episodes: ep8-10 The Reinhardt Arc (you poor bastard!)

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Student Council’s Discretion Lv.2

Type: Student Council Anime Lv. 2 (really)

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Synopsis: There’s this school that decides on who will rule their student body based on popularity. So naturally everyone in student government is a pretty girl. One seat is open to the person with the highest grades, allowing a pervy dude a seat at the table. Last season, it was revealed that the pervy dude secretly does all the council’s work to allow the girls to goof off. This was done to repay them for helping him out of his depression during his freshman year. Now, all the girls all leaving him, but he has 10 more episodes to help them contribute absolutely nothing to the student body.

Pros: Fun fact, this season actually premiered in 2012, the first year of this very review site. But since it was coming out weekly during that time, I decided to hold off watching it until it was finished. Ah…better late than never? The anime is 10 episodes ( well, it’s really 9 episodes and 1 prequel). The plot is that the student council, or at least all the female members, are leaving. Two are graduating, and two are moving. This puts the protagonist Ken in an awkward position. As revealed in season 1, the only reason he joined the student council was to make sure the girls had fun. His whole “harem master” character is just an act based on the only archetype in fiction who supposedly makes all the girls around him happy (it’s later revealed that he’s actually quite popular in school). It’s dumb, but endearing, and put a lot of his actions in a different perspective. The show itself is still funny, full of parody and references. The emotional arc is the impending student council separation, but it’s never overdone. Each of the girls get a private moment with Ken to tie up loose ends. We even learn about the people involved in Ken’s “cheating” scandal during middle school, which kinda makes you question what exactly was meant by “cheating.” Overall, a good send off for a show that’s a lot more clever than you’d think.

Cons: The show has the classic harem problem of too many girls, too little time. The show has the 4 main female protagonists, but it also has a bunch of supporting characters that take up a lot of time. I may have thought that Ken’s moments with the student council was short and sweet, but other may view it as throwaway and anticlimactic. Speaking of Ken, we get to meet his former love interests, his step-sister Ringo and childhood friend Asuka. They were the girls that Ken “two-timed,” but they describe it so vaguely that I would have liked a proper flashback to their relationship. I know he feels that he broke their hearts, but it’s two years later and they seem pretty happy about it. And finally, I kinda would have liked to see whose going to replace the student council and keep Ken company. But I guess that’s a whole other story.

Watch it?: Yes. It’s so fun watching people waste time (4/5)

MVP: Ken Sugisaki

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It’s all a scam! He’s not that pervy!

Best Episode: Ep.3 “The student council gets a job” (world president!?)

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Real Talk on Popular Anime (5 year Anniversary)

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Ok, it’s been five years. Time to stop playing nice, and start getting REAL. Here are by subjective, totally personal, should not be construed as actual basis for quality/these anime are probably super great and I just have bad taste, opinions. Get ready for some truthfacts! Continue reading

Gun x Sword

Type: On the verge of greatness

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Synopsis: Gun x Sword is about a guy with a sword. Well, it’s not really a “sword” sword. It’s more of a remote control for his Mecha suit. There is a guy with a gun as well, but he only shows up here and there. The anime really should have been called “Gun x Claw” since the protagonist is hunting a man with a metal claw for a hand, like in The Fugitive. Wait–the other protagonist Wendy carries a gun. Is she the “gun” in “Gun x Sword?” That actually makes way more sense. Holy crap, I can’t believe I just figured that out…

Pros: This anime is a very good anime. Yes, that’s the phrase. “Very good.” The premise is simple enough, it’s about a guy named Van hunting down a man with a claw who killed his bride to be. In the first episode, Van meets a girl named Wendy, whose brother was kidnapped by the same man with the claw. For a third of the series, the two set out in some pretty great episodic adventures and eventually tie together at the end, where everyone they meet come together to help Van and Wendy defeat the man with the claw and his crazy schemes. The anime does a good job of hiding “The Claw,” for a good while, and I really liked his depiction. The Claw presented himself as a soft spoken man, but never took the “I’m actually really evil” turn that a lot of villains do, especially when their plans are thwarted. He’s crazy, sure, but he developed a cult of personality around his crazy. The anime is filled with interesting characters, from the con woman Carmen 99, to the El Dorado Five, the SICKEST heroes this side of the Power Rangers. The anime has interesting and fun stories, great characters, and an overall swell plot. It has all the elements of a great series.

Cons: But, Gun x Sword never quiet reaches that apex of greatness. It’s hard to describe why. It doesn’t have that “It” factor. It’s strange, because it has everyone most fans and cranky critics would love. It has episodic, stand alone episodes. A lot of them are parodies, which I loved. It has a connecting narrative that doesn’t overpower the present story being told. It has fun and memorable characters. And it has villains that, that-oh, that’s the problem. It has weak villains. Outside of “The Claw,” the villainous New Original 7 (it makes sense in the anime) aren’t that interesting. You have two little kids who are annoying, especially the boy. You have a rich dude, I guess, who does nothing and dies later. And you have Wendy’s Brother, who got brainwashed way too easily. Van’s friend, who turned out betrayed him to the Claw, was somewhat interesting, but he could only really die given the story. That leaves Fasalina, the Claw’s right hand woman, whose interesting in her devotion to the plan. But honestly, a large part of her appeal is her unique fighting styles, which mixes stripper moves and sticky substances. I’ve never seen that. The main protagonists aren’t that strong either. Wendy can get away from being bland since she’s the audience surrogate, but Van doesn’t have an excuse. Van doesn’t really have an arc outside of “making friends.” He acts the same in episode 1 as he does in episode 25. His lazy gimmick was interesting, as was his violent outburst when The Claw was involved, but I never felt that I go to know him. I would have liked an episode dedicated to just his life as “Van the Drifter” (and no, the flashbacks don’t count). The show’s real strengths are it’s stand alone episodes, which area littered with great supporting characters. The last chunck, which is all plot related, is great because it brings all the characters together, but the villains bring it a bit down. If I was going to compare my feelings for this anime to anything, I think it’d be to Planetes. Both are anime that are of solid quality, but it just doesn’t reach the levels of other shows of a similar nature.

Watch it: Again, it’s a good show. I liked it. (4/5)

MVP: El Dorodo Five

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Adios Amigo!

Best Episode: Ep.3 “Heroes One More Time” (most of the episodes are good, but this one has five robots turn into a bigger robot!)

 

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Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie [Fighting Game Week]

Type: An actual good movie!

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Synopsis: Col. William Guile, one of the greatest martial artists in the world, travels the global tournament circuit, using it to conceal his top secret mission as leader of an elite group of top secret international street fighters known only by their codename, Street Fighters! Wait, oh crap! Wrong one….Eh, close enough.

Pros: My long journey is over. I finally found a good adaptation of a fighting game. To tell the truth, I probably should have started here. Street Fighter II is an adaptation of Street Fighter II. You know, the fighting game that revolutionized the industry and basically gave birth to an entire sub genre? This film actually treats its source material with respect, FINALLY delivering great fighting scenes. The animation is on point, and so is the story. Basically, this evil tyrant called Bison is collecting powerful fighters, targeting two martial artists named Ryu and Ken specifically, while Interpol agent Chun-Li and Air Force Captain Guile try to hunt Bison down. The film does an admirable job cutting between the Ryu/Ken and Chun-Li/Guile pairings. But the best thing about this film is that is actually feels like a film instead of a game tie-in. Hilariously, the film ends with a ad for the Street Fighter movie made in America, and I kinda hope that part of the reasons this movie is so good was to spite the US live action version (though that film is a definite so-bad-its-good entry).

Cons: From a fan’s perspective, maybe some of the characters are slightly off character. Like, I don’t think T.Hawk is that eager for fight. But all the Street Fighter 2 casts are included, even if they came varying lengths in cameos. Now, let’s all be real here. One of the reasons this movie is so famous, aside form it’s quality, is because of the full frontal shower scene involving Chun-Li. And while I would argue that his is a bit gratuitous, it’s actually done for a stylistic reason. It’s set up as an omage to classic horror/suspense films, with Vega as the “slasher.”

Watch it?: If your going to watch any fighting game movie, make it this one.

MVP: Chin Li

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I liked her delightful nature

Best Moment: Chun Li sitting on Guile’s car (Guile almost ran her over!)

 

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Street Fighter Alpha: Generations [Fighting Game Week]

Type: Prequel to a Sequel

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Synopsis: Ok, look, here Ryu’s basic backstory. Ryu was raised by a martial artist named Gouken, whose brother killed their master after succumbing to the “Dark Hado,” or killing intent. When Ryu was around 23, Gouken was killed by his brother. Enraged, Ryu fought the evil Gouki (or Akuma), but lost, as he tapped into the Dark Hado as well. Intrigued, Gouki lets Ryu live so he can grow into a worthier challenger. Ryu, ashamed at his lose and confused about the Dark Hado, goes on a world journey to find other strong fighters and finds his own strength. Eventually, he is able to overcome the Dark Hado through the Power of Nothingness, finally defeating his own weaknesses. This movie, yeah, doesn’t really cover any of that.

Pros: I really liked the animation style used in this. It was a little muted, but the action was perfect. It was able to portray the energy that Street Fighter matches deserve. The story was alright, as the Ryu-Akuma story is probably the most straight forward story in the Street Fighter franchise. Nothing about over the top evil organizations here. Sakura makes an appearance, which was neat. Always fun to have her around.

Cons: While I found it muted, others may find the animation and quieter moments a little dour. And the story is strictly non-cannon. Just take the fact that Ryu wears street clothes as all the evidence you need. The core story remains the same. Gouki killed his master and brother. He wants to fight Ryu. Ryu struggles to control the Dark Hado inside him. But the details are changed. The Dark Hado is now a blood line technique instead of a side effect of training. Ken does not appear until the very end. It’s implied that Gouki is Ryu’s father (which, to be fair, has been a long standing fan theory). Oh, and Ryu beats Gouki. That’s something. Street Fighter fans will probably be annoyed, and normal viewers will probably find this pretty to look at. (And honestly? This is probably the most understandable Street Fighter anime to date).

Watch it?: Completely Optional.

MVP: The Animation

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Damn, they looked good to me.

Best Moment: Sakura vs Ryu (we fight, to find that answer!)

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Tekken: The Motion Picture [Fighting Game Week]

Type: So. Not. Cannon.

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Synopsis: Kazuya Mashima has a blood feud against his father, Heihachi Mashima, for throwing him off a cliff when he was a little kid. This is the plot for Tekken 1. This plot, ah, this plot does not stay consistent in our little “motion picture,” which throws in Cyborgs, Kangaroos, Hong Kong PD, and killer dinosaurs, who aren’t suppose to show up until Tekken 2! (Tekken is kinda a weird series).

Pros: Full disclosure-I am a huge Tekken fan. It’s my main fighting game series. I’ve played every entry, (though I played Tekken 6 on the psp). I still remember getting Tekken 3 and discovering that you have to block in a fighting game. So personally, it was a hoot noting all the glaring plot errors in this. Everyone else though…..

Cons: From a strict anime/film stand point, this thing is a mess: They try to mash Tekken 1 and 2 together, making Jun Kazama and Kazuya Mishima childhood friends. Setting the entire Iron First Tournament in a Battle Royal like island. A Sloppy story with truly cheap animation. The dialogue is laughable at best. Who approved this? Who saw this and said, “yeah, that’s a good idea. Let’s sale that.” This was released at the end of 1997, with Tekken 3 having been released a few months before in arcades, with a home release the following year. So maybe this was released to catch everyone up on the Tekken story? (Which makes no sense now that I think about it, because Tekken 3 is largely a soft-reboot of the series). I just cannot fathom why this was made so poorly. Because Tekken has a reputation as one of the most cinematic fighting game series in the industry. That’s part of why I fell in love with it. But this, this was embarrassing.

Watch it: Just go on Youtube and watch the victory cinematics.

MVP: No

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No.

Best Moment: No. (No)

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