Tag Archives: 2012

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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Kamisama Kiss

Type: God kisses

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Synopsis: Nanami was a high school student in Japan, till her father left her family in horrible debt, in one of those crushing scenes. What was she to do, where was she to go, she was out on her fanny. So she she crashed on the park but a stranger saw more. She had style, she had flair, the was there, that’s how she became the Land God!

Pros: It’s so shojo. I love it. The hero has those big ol’ eyes and colorful bubbles that show up when she feels happy. Or sad. Or slightly hungry. And the boys are all cute. Every single one of them. Even the hobo that turns Nanami into the Land God in the first place. As you can imagine, the story eventually evolves into a love story, where the hero pines for the fox spirit, which surprisingly happens halfway through.

Cons: It’s so shojo, I hate it. The colorful bubbles in particular were out of control. The hero felt the warm fuzzy socks every five seconds. It was one of those “oh, he said bless you after I sneezed, he must be the kindest man in existence.” I liked this anime, but I liked it when it focused on the funny. But instead, I’d say this is 75% romance, 15% comedy. I prefer when those numbers are reversed.

Watch it?: This Shojo had mojo (3/5) 

MPV: The Land God
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Why did he do this anyway?

Best episode: Ep.1  “Nanami becomes a Land God” (yep, lets just let all strangers kiss our foreheads)
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Say “I Love You”

Type: Make me a Sandwich first

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Synopsis: In a tales as old as time, but song not as old as rhyme (because that’s logically impossible), a unpopular girl grabs the attention of the most popular boy in school. Now get THIS, not only is the boy tall and handsome, he’s caring, affectionate, and knows when to get aggressive if you know what I mean *wink* He also has a trouble past…oh, if only someone would understand him!

Pros: Sexist jokes aside, Say “I Love You” is pretty good. Not the best shojo show I’ve ever seen, but still enjoyable. It follows the same basic shojo formula of shy girl meets pretty boy who fall in love with her realness and helps her get more friends. To the show’s credit, Mei and Yamato start dating by the third episode, so the show is mainly about them being in a relationship and falling in love (like in real life, not anime life). The first four episodes are them getting together, then a filler episode, then seven episodes with love rival Megumi. What makes this anime a little different from its brethren is the amount of physical affection depicted in the show. Now, “physical affection” isn’t the same as “sexual affections,” and that’s key here. The characters in this show (mainly Mei and Yamato) tend to hug each other in a manner that comes off as very intimate. Even I had to turn on the fan a few times. There’s also a fair amount of kissing, which I appreciated in the context of a high school romance anime.

Cons: So while the show has a fair amount of good characters and scenes, it is very by the numbers structure wise, almost to a surprising degree. Apart from the above mentioned premise, the classic cliche’s all show up. A love rival shows up to steal Yamato, a love rival shows up to steal Mei, it turns out Yamato has a clingy younger sister, it turns out Mei was taking care of a stray cat in a cardboard box, etc. The show is also notable in its neglect of its supporting characters. Most shojo stories tend to explore the love lives of multiple couples, but in Say “I Love You,” couples are established and then put off to the side (ex: Asami and Kenji). Of course, if the show had 24 episodes instead of 12, this may have not been the case. Finally, I found Mei a bit too shy. I feel she should have shed some of that as the show went on, and I found Yamato a little bland. He was a bit too ideal and the only real character trait of note was his occasional selfishness, or maybe coldness? apathy? distance? A tendency to help others but sometimes overlook the feelings of those closest to him. God, if he would just let me in…

Watch it: “I fell in love with that roundhouse kick” (4/5)

MVP: Kei Takemura

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Man, I want that mohawk

Best Episode: Ep. 2 “Fried Chicken Flavored” (not ganna lie, that last scenes gave me the vapors)

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Berserk: The Golden Age Arc I, II, III

Type: Egg of the King, The Battle of Doldrey, The Advent

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Summary: So these three movies are based on an anime which is based on a manga that’s been going on for over 20 years. Before you start being impressed, note that it publishes irregularly, so there are only about 300-ish chapters. It’s not One Piece, but maybe quality beats quantity? But for those of your still too lazy to read, these three movies summarize the best part of the story, the one with gross demons, gross humans, and generally gross turn of events.

Pros: Berserk, specifically this part of the Berserk story, is basically Game of Thrones made in Japan. Evil knights, scheming friends, sex and nudity, magical subplots, intriguing tragedy, the whole magilla. You follow Gutz, a loner mercenary who gets charmed by the beautiful Griffith to join his band of mercs, The Hawks. That’s part 1. Part 2 deals with the Gutz’s growing relationship with Casca, the only female Hawk. Part 3 is largely about the downfall of Griffith and the Hawks, and the dark events that lead to the rest of Berserk. The ultimately tragic tale of Gutz, Griffith, and Casca is at the very heart of this show.  A solid dark fantasy story with surprisingly striking art work. Fans of Hard-R medieval stories will get a kick out of this.

Cons: Everything wrong that’s wrong with Game of Thrones is wrong in Berserk, but with an even more Japanese kind of way. Ultra violent (though not a much as the manga), truly horrific demons, rape, incest, a general cynical view of the world, and even worse roles for women. At least Thrones has Aria, Brienne of Tarth. I mean, Casca’s strong (sometimes), but she ain’t taking down no Hound anytime soon. Plus there’s the whole…maybe I shouldn’t mention it…fuck it: Casca get brutally raped by demons. That’s a thing that happens in the story, she become a simplistic invalid, and it’s disgusting. Like I said, it’s Japanese dark fantasy. The anime also uses a mixture of 3-D and 2-D animation which gives its a unique look and works…sometimes. Mostly for scenes involving the main characters. Then there’s the fact that this is just a retread of the original anime instead of exploring some of the other arcs in the manga, though this is admittedly the most interesting.

Watch it?: Only if you have a strong stomach

MVP: Puck

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He’s not in the story, but I love that little guy

Best Moment: Making references to the rest of Berserk in the opening title was a nice touch.

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Blood-C: The Last Dark

Type: Yet another scam

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Synopsis: Ok, so after a few hours of research I think I got the gist of this series. Saya is some sort of demon that can’t kill humans because of a curse. A man named Fumito captures her and makes a wager. He bets that without her memories, she will become a different person. If he wins, he promises to figure out a way to let her kill humans. That’s the premise of the anime series. In this one, Saya goes to the city and does stuff with computer nerds or whatever. We also learn that Fumito is actually obsessed with Saya. Still not sure about the talking dog though.

Pros: This movie clear up a few things about the original series, mainly Fumito and Saya’s relationship. Though nothing is ever stated outright, we can infer that the two had some sort of relationship that possibly dates back decades. Saya can’t kill humans and must feed on demons, but the demon population is dwindling. Fuhito’s family had made a  magical deal with demons to cut down on the human eating, which reduced their population over the years. Saya’s blood, however, can somehow break the deal. So most of the series events were Fuhito’s misguided attempts to ensure her future survival by making more demons. At least, I think. Aside from that, the fights are pretty good, and I like Saya’s new cold and serious personal.

Cons: Even though this movie does clear up a few things, the fact that I had to look it up is a bad thing. A lot of questions and topics are left unanswered (like what’s the deal with Saya’s red eyes?). It almost feels that the creators just assume that the franchise is going to produce more entries and are holding off given too much information. Don’t get me wrong, I like Saya, but franchises come and go, especially in anime. Blood-C just doesn’t have enough substance yet to truly become great. Had this been the last few episodes of the tv series, sure, but since this is a movie, it does little in hindsight. I also miss her much cooler red and black uniform.

Watch it?: If your going to watch it, do it immediately after Blood-C

MVP: Saya

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She’s way more bad-ass now

Best Moment: Fuhito vaguely explaining his motives

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Psycho Pass

Type: Crime Thriller

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Synopsis: In the future, society (or possibly just Japan) is regulated by the “Sybill System,” which determines who is mentally fit to remain in society. But if you’re likely to commit a crime, can think like a criminal, or even had a bad day and thought about burning your boss alive, you are screwed. It also turns out that some people can totally bypass the Sybill System and commit crimes while seemingly having a low Crime Coefficient. We call these people corporate executives sociopaths. That’s were rookie detective Akane and her group of criminally minded Enforcers come in.

Pros: This anime is a pretty straight forward sci-fi crime thriller. Sorta like Blade Runner (0r Equailibrium if you’re really nerdy), but not as subtle. What starts as a crime story soon evolves into a larger issue involving the age old topic of peace vs. free will. On the “peace” side you have Akane, a new detective whose thrown into the morally grey world of police work. She is accompanied by “Enforcers,” people who have been deemed potential criminals and work alongside the police to prevent real cops from having to think like criminals. This is an obvious flaw in the Sybill System right off, and from here the show builds an even larger story. Through the Enforcer’s work and the cases they tackle, we see how messed up society still is, even with the Sybill System. If I had more time, I’d probably mention the themes of technology, surveillance, repression, and the like. This is a show that’s not really afraid to go there, in terms of depictions and story events, and I appreciated that.

Cons: This show is pretty violent. But it’s not the normal cinematic violence, or even the over the top and gruesome anime violence. Pyscho Pass employs more of a casual, matter-of-fact violence that is quite disturbing. I myself had to look a way a few times. I’d also have to say that most of the supporting characters were underwritten, with most of the effort going towards portraying the antagonists of the show. Don’t get me wrong, they were fascinating antagonists, but I wound up not caring that much about any of the enforcers except Kogami and Tomomi. The ending was also bitter sweet, implying that nothing was really resolved in the end. That’s not a bad thing in terms of storytelling, but it is a bummer. (P.S. Akane is Criminally Asymtomatic, right? I mean, that’s pretty much implied here? Can we talk, or can we talk?)

Watch it?: A great anime thriller (5/5)

MVP: Tomomi Masaoka

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I’m a fan of old gum shoes.

Best Episode: Ep. 15 “The Town Where Sulfur Falls” (this really bothered me, so it must be good)

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Nekomonogatari

Type: Cat-Girl Ghost Thingy

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Synopsis: Taking place before the original series but not showing the events we really wanted, Nekomonogatari is about a cat spirit. Specifically, its about the time Araragi’s friend Hanekawa. You know, the one with the glasses and big boobs. The one that already go her own story arc in Bakemonogatari. So instead of finally explaining how Araragi became a vampire and was forced to enter the world of ghosts and oddities, we get 4 episodes about a girl in her bra and panties with cat ears.

Pros: By now, fans of the Monogatari series will know what there getting into. The traditional use of cut frames, bright colors, and of kilter conversations are still here. Araragi still runs the gamit of cool guy to spaz to perv. Its four more episodes of Monogatari (or a single movie depending how you look at it).

Cons: Going into this series, I knew beforehand that it was a prequel. However, I failed to read too much into the “Neko” part of “Nekomonogatari” and thought it was going to be about how Araragi became a vampire. So far, this is the only “oddity case” that hasn’t been covered in the anime side of the franchise. Maybe the books or the subsequent series cover it, I don’t know. But it’s staring to irk me. Nekomonogatari is good enough and its still Monogatari in terms of quality, but I don’t think we really needed to have Hanekawa’s story expanded. Her arc in Bakemonogatari was enough.

Watch it?: If you need more Monogatari, then sure (4/5)

MVP: Araragi

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Still a fun character

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Tsubasa Family, Part One” (boob latch)

 

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Sword Art Online (Part 1)

Type: The part that actually takes place in the game Sword Art Online

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Synopsis: A young man is trapped in a virtual world where he has to train digital monsters to–Oops! wrong show. I mean to say that the young man is trapped in a virtual world and must solve the mystery of why he can’t log out while dealing with his inner fears and anxieties–no, sorry, that’s a different show too. Let me double check my notes…o.k. This show does follow a young man who is trapped in a virtual world, where monster do exist but as enemies, and he does deal with emotion problems but mostly about why every girl that meets him want to date him. He also actually makes it out of the game half way through, hence the “Part 1” in the title.

Pros: As non-original as it is, the premise of a person trapped in a virtual world still intrigues me. The plot behind this show is that a about ten thousand people are trapped in an online game. If they beat the boss, they beat the game, and the protagonist is one such person who resolves to do just that. The result is an action packed anime with video game jargon and the occasional love story. The action is nice and flashy, but the love stories are hit or miss. The stipulation that “if you die in the game, you die in real life” made some of the early death scenes pretty emotional. It was also an interesting idea to have time move in real time, and the revelation that two year go by in the first fourteen episodes really helps solve some of the show’s pacing problems.

Cons: This show is good, but its not great. I wasn’t psyched about that fact that every girl, every single dingle girl, that meets Kirito falls for him. This felt a little too harem-esque to me. As mentioned above, I also felt that the show had pacing issues, with stories jumping around in both location and time. For example, in Episode 1, Kirito is a level 1 player, but in episode 2 Kirito is apparently so high level that his afraid to tell people. A quick scene maybe showing him grinding would have been since. I was kinda ticked that most people in the show didn’t just band together and rush the hundred floors needed to beat the boss, but that’s nitpicking (and I guess since most people were at level 1, it wouldn’t have helped). As for the Kirito-Asuna relationship, I liked it. It was fine. I actually would have preferred more duo adventures, or at least one episode showcasing an Asuna solo quest. The overall emotional tone of the show is also a little bit too melodrama from some.

Watch it?: All-in-all, its fairly entertaining (4/5)

MVP: Sword Art Online

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For being a game so intricate, it actually had a Cooking skill tree in it.

Best Episode: Ep. 3 “The Red-Nosed Reindeer” (because everyone called him names?)

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My Little Monster

Type: Humans are the only animal that go to war, whose the real monster?

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Synopsis: A girl with dreams and ambition meets a boy with slight manic tendencies, and the two fall in love. Sort of. I mean, he likes her, then she likes him, then he’s not sure if he likes or loves her, then she rejects him, then he says he loves her, then she loves him, then a rooster gets involved, its a whole thing.

Pros: Right off the bat, its really funny, especially for a Shojo show. There are some funny gags, my favorite being the small ones where male protagonist Haru gets happy or excited over the prospect of having friends. In fact, Haru and supporting character Natsume’s comedic desperation for friendship was my favorite part of the series. At these moments, the show felt like a cross between From Me to You and Haganai. I also liked the the protagonist Shizuku’s blunt and rational attitude, and the fact that her story line involves balancing her goals with her love life, instead of having to choose one or the other (I mean, she tried that, but it didn’t go well). And it may not be very gallant of me, but I laughed out loud whenever Shizuku was accidentally hit by Haru.

Cons: Personally, I disliked the more shojo-esque elements of the show. I won’t say that I disliked the moments involving character emotion or psychology, because that would make me sound like an unfeeling robot, but I do feel that these moments are a bit troupy. There are love triangles, personal anxieties, fowl, the works. Haru was also a problematic. On one hand, he’s a handsome loner with a heart of gold. On the other, he has substantial anger issues that he can’t control. At one point, it’s implied he was going to murder a rival for Shizuku’s affections. I feel that the title My Little Monster is implying that Haru may have legitimate psychological problems. It’s also pretty obvious that we’re not getting the complete story, which is a shame, because I’m interested in what happens next.

Watch it?: Possibly the funniest Shojo-Anime I’ve ever seen. (4/5)

MVP: Asako Natsume

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I love that she calls Shizuku “Mitty”

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Sitting Next to Yoshida-Kun” (this was a  surprisingly hard decision)

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Accel World

Type: VR’s a thing right?

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Synopsis: This short pudgy kid, perhaps the only short pudgy kid in a genre filled with slim and beautiful young people with fantastic hair, gets bullied and plays a lot of video games. Like any short pudgy kid that plays a lot of video games, he naturally grabs the attention of prettiest girl in school. She is of course an avid gamer herself, and recruits our round hero in her quest to conquer the leader boards. All kidding aside, that VR stuff looked pretty stellar right? Can’t wait to get my own!

Pros: Top notch animation, specifically in the character and background design. Accel World had three sets of character models for each character: the real world human, virtual avatar, and Burst Link fighter. The fact that they used all three, plus different background for game stages, shows that they put effort into making an anime that centers on video game rules and logic. I liked the idea that each person’s Burst Link fighter was designed to compensate for their specific fears and weaknesses (because what person creates a game character that’s not an idealized version of themselves?). The variety of fighting styles and attacks made for excellent fight scenes as well. Haru was also a daring character to use. While his cartoony design put me off at first, I actually found it easier to sympathize with him that more traditional looking leads. It also made it funnier when girls seemingly fell for him. This held true for his pig avatar as well, because I really liked the image of the brave little pig and Butterfly princess. That’s fairy tale stuff right there.

Cons: Haru’s unusual design may turn people off. Like I said, it’s very cartoony and sometimes looks silly during dramatic scenes (like in the opening). The series can be divided in half. The first 12 episodes introduce the basic concepts, characters, and backstory. In an impressive turn of events, the anime mentions that the game has 7 Kings that rule the game and actually introduce most of them. Why “7 kings” when half are clearly women is a tad confusing. On that note, the terms “Mother” and “Child” to describe when someone invites other players into the game became creepy when used by Haru and Princess Black Snow. Also, why that hell couldn’t PBS get a real name (her damn initial are PBS!!) The last 12 episodes are one full story focusing on Dusk Taker, the slimiest little jerk that you just want to throttle. I’m not sure if that’s a negative or a positive, which allowed him to carry such a long story arc. The series has an open-ended finale, which is a shame because I really want to know how it all plays out.

Watch it?: I got into this way more than I thought I would (4/5)

MVP: Ash Roller

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Giga Awesome!

Best Episode: Ep. 14-17 Dusk Taker Arc Part 1 (loss, betrayal, redemption, it had it all!)

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