Tag Archives: 2012

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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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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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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Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie [Naruto Movie Month]

Type: Naruto of Two Worlds

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Synopsis: Mission 9- Return to Reality

Pros: I loved this movie! Hands down the best Naruto movie I’ve seen thus far (I got 2 to go). The gimmick of the film is that Naruto and Sakura are transported into a parallel world. Everyone they know has opposite personalities or traits in some way. Hinata is brash, Choji is skinny, Tsunade is flat chested, etc. This aspect of the movie is rife with comedic moments and really makes up for the very serious Blood Prison. The other half of the movie, however, is a much more personal story. Because in the parallel world, both of Naruto’s parents are alive. Naruto’s emotional conflict over whether or not to embrace his alternate mother and father really reminds you that Naruto’s life is pretty tragic . He is, after all, a character that grew up an orphan and is only 16 at this point. The kid’s all by himself, which you sometimes forget given all the crazy ninja stuff that surrounds him (it also doesn’t help that the movie shows the death scene of Naruto’s parents, literally the saddest moment in the whole franchise and fiction in general). So it was nice to see how Naruto’s parents would treat him if they were still alive. The film’s a very intimate story, centering on the main cast dynamics and history, which are often the best Naruto stories. (On a side note, I also really loved the relationship shown between Naruto and Sakura. Not only because it’s a rare platonic male-female friendship in anime, but because, when you really think about it, Sakura is Naruto’s Best Friend. She’s stuck by him since the age of 12, and has literally saved his life on multiple occasions. Screw Sasuke, give Sakura a damn BFF bracelet!)

Cons: Not a lot of action. The film is surprisingly devoid of great fights scenes. I kept expecting for Naruto do preform some jutsu and everyone saying “hey wait a minute, Menma can’t do that!” Even the big battle between Naruto and the antagonist was resolved with one punch. In fact, the animation in this was unimpressive, and felt very much like it was made on a budget. The story was great, but this film was clearly made specifically for Naturo fans. The uninitiated may need to do some homework to enjoy it. And again, the antagonist was nothing special. If you don’t guess it early enough, he’s the “evil” version of Naruto. Why exactly he’s evil given the fact that his parents are alive, or why no one notices that he’s been missing, is never explained. And lastly, it does make me smirk that his all started because Naruto and Sakura were acting like sh#tty teens and complaining about parents and stuff. Again, it is sometimes easy to forget exactly how young they really are in the story.

Best Naruto Movie: Yes

Villain: Menma

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Forgettable Villain #9

Best Moment: The Hidden Leaf 11’s bath scene (I love it when all 11 get together. Plus, hijinks!)

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Kill Me Baby

Type: Baby, Please Kill Me

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

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

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

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

MPV: Yasuna

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Hola!

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

 

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Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions

Type: Chunibyo, meaning something like Arrested Development

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

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

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

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

MVP: Sanae Dekomori

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I never new pig-tails could be such effective weapons

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

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Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure

Type: Phantom Blood (ep01-09), Battle Tendencies (ep10-26)

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Synopsis: Part 1 stars an Englishman and his fight with his mean step-brother. Part 2 stars his grandson’s battles against old exhibitionists. I-I don’t know what so “bizzare” about it.

Pros: This anime is based on the extremely popular manga, Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure. The manga has like a billion chapters and has been running for 30 years. So why haven’t you heard about it? Well, it lacks some of the cross-promotional appeal for the big North American distributers. Plus, the author likes to name his characters after Musicians, which is legally tricky as well. Oh yeah, and it’s f#$ing nuts! A guy popped out of a horse body once, and that was only episode 4! That being said, this adaptation of Jojo is amazing. It perfectly captures the weird and awesomely glam aspects of the manga. The animation style and color pallet really made it seem like you were watching the manga come to life. The gimmick behind the franchise, and the reason why it’s lasted so long, is because the series follows succeeding members of the “Joestar” family. Part 1 (my favorite arc) follows the noble Jonathan Joestar and his rivalry with Dio Brandon, one of the best antagonists of the series, and a complete asshole. In fact, part 1 has the strongest first episodes I’ve seen for a series in a while, almost serving as a stand alone story. Part 2 follows Jonathan’s grandson Joseph, whose more cocky and clever (and my personal favorite Joestar, and the only Joestar to survive to old age).  This anime was partly done in honor of Jojo’s 25th anniversary, and sorta works as a prequel to the 90’s adaptation of Part 3, which is most fan’s favorite story arc. So it has some noltalgia points there. Honestly, this is an amazing adaptation of a legendary manga series.

Cons: While I loved the animation style used, some people may find it a bit blocky. Inspired by manga panels, a lot of shots use freeze frames and close-ups. This doesn’t always translate well. Ditto for the dialogue. There a points in fights, especially in ep. 10-26, where a characters will give exposition for a particular move used, explaining it’s purpose and strategy. “Joseph just did X because of Y!” This is fine for a manga, but in an anime, it’s better to just show, not tell. And while the franchise is know for it’s offbeat humor and unique characters and situations, it’s still a fight-fight shoen anime. So you still get the fight arc, the training arc, the rematch arc, etc.

Watch it?: You need to experience Jojo at least once (5/5)

MVP: Dio Brandon

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F@#$ING DIOOOOOOOOO

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Dio the Invader” (it’s like Jane Austen, but with punching)

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Blue Exorcist: The Movie

Type: Two demons and a baby

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Synopsis: Possible anti-christ Rin Okumura botches what was supposed to be a simple exorcism and wound up with a kid. Let that be a lesson for you kids, consider the consequences of your demon slaying urges.

Pros: My god, did you see those backgrounds!? They. are. beautiful. Plot wise, the movie hits all the typical anime-based-on-a-manga-anime film points. It starts with a action scene to show off the budget, then partners the main character with a new film-only character. They bond, but then something happens and the protagonist is forced to reaffirm his affection for the new person. Then the new character sacrifices themselves to return the favor, and everything goes back to the status quo. One the plus side, this did give us an excuse to explore more of the city around True Cross Academy, which we don’t get to do in the anime.

Cons: Again, very generic manga-anime film plot. The level of animation is a given, but the actual action is very front loaded, while the middle focuses more on establishing the bond between Rin and the bunny demon Usamaro. Usamaro is cute enough, but he’s the typical anime toddler. So I guess the biggest crime that the Blue Exorcist Movie commits is unoriginality.

Watch it?: The Background kinda make it worth it.

MVP: The Backgrounds

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Seriously, whoever designed them should get more work

Best Moment: When Rin wakes up and we get to see the newly animated city (pretty as hell)

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Sankarea: Undying Love

Type: Necrophelia!

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Synopsis: A young heiress named Rea has an incredibly overprotective and pervy father who tries to control every aspect of her life “for her own good. So first opportunity she gets, Rea offs herself with a potion made the town’s resident zombie freak. Turns out the potion was legit, and Rea become part of the walking dead, and puts herself under the care of an incredibly overprotective and pervy boy who tries to control every aspect of her undead life “for her own good.” They say women fall for men who remind them of their fathers (unless they listen to their mothers), but this is ridiculous.

Pros: So yeah, Chichiro totally wants to bang a dead chick. To each his own I suppose. The anime is pretty straight forward. A zombie fan named Chichiro makes friends with a pretty rich girl named Rea, and accidentally turns her into a zombie. She moves in with him, and he needs to figure out how to keep her from rotting away. The twist is that Rea is much happier and more alive as a zombie than she was as a human, because her father was overprotective and harbored unsettling emotions towards her. The anime has a mix of psudo-psychological drama with typical anime comedy and fan service. The drama comes from Rea’s side, and the comedy comes from Chichiro’s side. Chichiro has a pervy grampa, a dead pan sister, and a curvy childhood friend named Ranko. They provide most of the laughs, and Rea and Ranko provide the fan service. You wouldn’t think a show about a dead girl would have this much fan service, yet here we are. Chichiro himself is pretty funny, since he looks and sometimes acts like a cat, meaning he’s more of a tease than your regular anime protagonists. Seriously, everything on Chichiro’s side is awesome. Great love-comedy stuff. Everything about Rea’s family is icky.

Cons: Rea’s dad is creepy as f!@#!!! Ew, ew, ew, ew. That what gets the anime going in the first place! Rea is so skeezed out by her dad, that she decides to kill herself. Talk about problems. Because of this, the anime covers the extremes of dark psychology and silly humor. So one scene may show Rea’s dad taking naked pictures of his daughter, and the next will show Ranko rubbing her chest all over Chichiro’s face. The show is about 30% the former, and 70% the latter. Speaking of which, I am still surprise at the amount of fan service in this. Not offended or anything, just surprised. It’s also worth mentioning that Rea basically traded one freak for another, as Chichiro is often worried about Rea’s health and whether or not she will decompose, and he does at one point start recording her on a daily basis. Does no one see the irony in this! Though, in Chichiro’s defense, he does at one point say that Rea’s fate is hers to decide, not his or her fathers. The anime implies as second season that will deal with Rea’s decomposing mind and becoming a flesh eater, but we’ll have to see if anything comes of it.

Watch it?: Just skip the yucky Rea’s dad parts (4/5)

MVP: Ranko

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Weird crushes on your cousin aside, she was still pretty fun

Best Episode: Ep.6 “Because… I Met You” (zombie meets family)

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Girls und Panzer

Type: Tank Girls

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Synopsis: It’s like Bend It Like Beckham, but with tanks, and a different characters, and unrelated plot.

Synopsis: The anime is another entry into the sub genre that I like to call “moe-military.” In Moe-Military, cute girls participate in military war games as part of their high school life. So obviously, the best part of this anime are the military tank battles, which are a great blend of action and music. Very golden age of Hollywood stuff. In this, tankery is treated more like a sport than anything else.The main cast, Oarai Girl’s High School, compete against other schools in Tank battles. Each school are allusions to different countries, with the standouts being Russia, the United States, and Germany. Not only are these fun depictions, but they also allow yet another look at how Japan looks at other countries. Outside of the tanks, each girls has their own mini-backstory that each resolves themselves. Since this is a moe anime, the main focus in on friendship. Friendship and tanks.

Cons: Ok, lets get this out of the way. It cannot believe they used LIVE AMMUNITION in these tank battles. I know this is just a cartoon, but that really took me out of this show about high school girls fighting each other in panzer tanks. Also, despite not having any, this show had this weird focus on boys. Like, the main selling point for the tank club was that it makes girls more graceful and feminine, which will make them, in this order: better wives, better students, and better worker. I just found that kinda weird. The humor is…good enough, and the conflicts are pretty average. Again, the tank stuff is fun, but the school stuff? Not so much.

Watch it?: Maybe catch the tank battles on Youtube (3/5)

MVP: Kay

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USA! USA! USA!

Best Episode: Ep.6 “The First Round Reaches Its Climax” (cheat to win)

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