Tag Archives: 2013

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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Little Witch Academia

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

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

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

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

Watch it: Its 30 minutes of quality programming

MVP: Akko

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Theirs magic in all of us

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

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Inferno Cop

Type: Yeah, this is a weird one.

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

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

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

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

MVP: Inferno Cop

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Yeah, this is a weird one.

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

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Space Pirate Captain Harlock

Type: Should I count a 3d movie?

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Synopsis: So a bunch of jerks fly around in space being jerks while a bunch of losers rule humanity by being losers. In this movie, the losers send a baby loser to infiltrate the jerks, then the jerks go back home and start fighting with the losers, then the baby loser gives everyone a flower so they’ll stop fighting.

Pros: The 3d animation is gorgeous. I can’t say that modern gaming consoles aren’t catching up, or already there, but the movie is still very pretty. The backgrounds and space ships are the real winners here. The faces, well, let’s keep this positive. Speaking of needing to keep things positive, here’s the thing about the plot: it’s told backwards. By that I mean that the key motivations for the characters are reveled around the middle of the film in flashback. This kind of narrative structure usually works really well in tv and comics, but its a bit trickier in film. Due to the time limitations, keeping information like this hidden seems more forced than in other mediums. In the film, you meet Harlock and Yama before you know their backstories. As such, Harlock comes off as a brooding-egotist, and Yama comes off as whiny. Then you learn their about their past and you like them more because their motivations make sense. But until this information is reveled, it’s hard to like the characters in this film. For example, this review is based on my second attempt at viewing this movie. A few years ago iIn my first attempt, I quit halfway, right before backstory dump, because I could not stand any of the characters. But those backstories are worth it, and I kinda wish they had been the focus of the film. They’re that interesting, particularly Harlock’s. The whole political story involving Earth, Harlock, and the powers that be would have made an awesome origin film.

Cons: I’ve mentioned my problems with the structure of the film. Animations wise, the only real issue is with the faces. One of the reasons why a lot of movies with 3D animations tend to lean more towards the cartoony side is because they can play around with the faces more. But in cases such as Harlock, movies try to mimic humans expressions more realistically, and fail. The faces here are stiff. Not bad, but stiff. I should so mention that for die hard Harlock fans, this is a whole new backstory and set up. Now plot wise, theirs only one big thing I have a problem with. Spoliers ahead. In the film, the big turning point is when Yama discovers a flower on a barren Earth, which cases Harlock to change his plans and fight again. But how did Yama get to Earth? He was on a ship with his brother on board, so he couldn’t have just walked off. He may have stolen a ship, but why go to Earth? What possible motivation did he have? To die? Maybe. But we get no indication. No inner thoughts. In the end, the big deus ex machina revolves around the seemingly random actions of some kid. Like a lot of things with the story, this was really sloopy. (P.s. Does the ending imply that Yama is the Harlock of the old anime? Does that even make sense?)

Watch it?: Pfff….nah.

MVP: Isola

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His motivations were clear from beginning to end.

Best Moment: The final scene between Nami and Isola. (the most emotional moment)

 

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Amnesia

Type: Huh? What am I doing here?

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Synopsis: Wait, this seems…familiar. I feel like, like I’m suppose to make some sort of comment on an anime that only vaguely connects to the actual source material. It’s meant to be, funny? No, that’s not right. Nothing seems that funny here. Let me think! Ugh, I feel like a college girl who lost her memories and keeps bouncing around parallel worlds that have me dating different pretty boys in Kingdom Heart cosplay.

Pros: Amnesia, the anime, is based on Amnesia, the dating sim, which is based on Amnesia, the mental condition. While I’ve never played the game, the anime looks like it follows the framework of a visual novel game very well. I could actually see where the game would make you make decision, reach checkpoints, and start over. My particular favorite aspect was the premise. The protagonist (no name ever given) has lost her memories, and keeps waking up in different worlds where her love interest changes. What I liked about this was that this is the perfect justification for the “route” set up in visual novels, where you choose to be romantic with one character. In the anime, this manifest in 1-2 episodes where the heroine “dates” each of the male love interests. I love this, because one of the things I’ve always wanted to see from a harem show, and this is a harem show, is seeing how the protagonist and a love interest would interact as a couple. You get exactly that in this anime, and because the protagonist is always sent to another world, you get to decide which paring you liked the most. The anime does what it should, it makes you feel like your playing a visual novel dating sim without having to actually play it. And the characters are all out of high school, which helps. (P.s. I liked the running joke of the manager changing personality every quantum leap).

Cons: Oh, my, god, what are these boys wearing!? Seriously, the look liked rejected Kingdom Hearts character designs. Is that dude wearing a chocker!? What’s with that guy’s multitude of useless straps!? Is that…is that just the bad guy from Pokemon Black and White!?But seriously, there outfits were very distracting. Not only that, but I think this show also stole a music clip from Kingdom Hearts, specifically from “Dearly Beloved.” Seriously, you compare. Outside of possible plagiarism, the fact that I could tell some of the story points makes the anime a bit predictable. I feel that the fairy subplot was too much, but only towards the end. Oberon’s inclusion in the first 3 episodes was a great way to ease into the premise, and he does disappear for most of the show, only popping in here and there. Which is good, because he gives horrible advise (why not just go to the hospital? What possible negatives could there be?). In terms of characters, the show is meant to make you pick which character you would like the protagonist to be with. I liked Kent because he seemed invested in putting effort into the relationship, as well as keep communication open. But you can like who you like (except that the anime said that Kent is the best, so he’s the best, #OTP, I was right–no, you shut up!). The protagonist herself is an interesting case. On the one hand, she can come off as very passive, and mostly lets other people, usually the men, tell her what to do. On the other hand, having lost her memory and being sent to other worlds, she came off as more observant to me. Like she was simply adapting to her surroundings, getting as much information as she could about her new situation. But maybe that’s just me. That being said, and OVA about the “original” protagonist would have been interesting.

Watch it?: Good pacing. Interesting story. And a killer English dub. (4/5)

MVP: Kent

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Best Husbando

Best Episode: Ep. 7 “VII” (literally the only guy who would listen to her story. Again, best Husbando)

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Wanna Be the Strongest in the World

Type: Idol’s becoming wrestlers exposes the business!

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Synopsis: The angle is that An idol decides to become a wrestlers after one of the veterans insults a fellow idol. Classic babyface run, and the idol’s celebrity helps draw a pretty huge crowd. The only real drawback is that the idol is green as grass, but she’s given a mega-push because she’s semi-well known. BECAUSE ONCE AGAIN THE COMPANY DECIDES TO BACK SOMEONE THEY WANT OVER WRESTLERS WITH ACTUAL SKILL AND TALENT THAT THE FANS CHEER. #IF HAGIWARA WINS, WE RIOT.

Pros: This got me excited, because I am a HUGE wrestling fan. The anime follows the struggle of Sakura Hagiwara, a Japanese Idol who turns into a Pro Wrestler mostly out of pride. Believe it or not, the depiction of wrestling in this show is fairly accurate. Wrestlers are very defensive about their sport, which makes the set up of the anime feasible. And wrestling training is fairly intense, with many a pro-atheletes naming wrestling work outs one of the most grueling in the industry. And there is a lot of pride in wrestling locker rooms, which makes what Hagiwara goes through, from the 100 man throws to having to earn her first win, pretty indicative of the actual wrestling industry. In fact, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if the 100 man throws test is an actual thing in Japanese wrestling. The story is surprisingly engrossing, as Hawigawa is given a “babyface,” or good guy story of the never-say-die fighter. She loses quiet a bit, which makes sense considering that she starts off as a singer, not a wrestler. The whole thing is played straight, and is a standard sports drama. And the actual action is made to look pretty good, though Hawigawa’s inner monologue does get repetitive. I liked it.

Cons: This is a boob anime. Which is fine in and of itself. But the show does its best to give you those crotch close-ups. And of course, a lot of the holds have the female wrestlers make a weirdly suggestive expression, blushing very much included. Perviness aside, the show has a lot of wrestlers that are sadly not fleshed out due to the short length of the series. So this anime become yet another fighting girl show with one-dimensional characters. The story follows 4 arcs: Sakura’s road to victory, a fight with the world champ, the introduction of Moe Fukuoka, and the battle with the mysterious Blue Panther. The Moe arc was the only one I wasn’t crazy about. Moe’s another rookie who want to become a wrestler, and is given the same treatment that Hawigawa was given, making it a bit repetitive. Not to mention that’s she’s more of a natural than Hawigawa, being a Karater champ, so there’s not real motivation to cheer for her growth. That’s another thing. Unlike in real life, the wrestling in this show is a shoot, meaning that the punches and grapples are very much meant knock out the opponent. This is kinda a shame, because I would have loved to see a show that talks about angles, and working ‘heel,” and putting guys over. But I that kind of show really would expose the business.

Watch it?: Even if I stifle my own bias, it’s still a solid show (3/5)

MVP: Sakura Hawigawa

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Sakuramania is running wild!

Best Episode: Ep.3 “Give-up” (I marked out for this one)

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Danganronpa: The Animation

Type: Like Hunger Games, or Battle Royale, or whatever reference you prefer.

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Synopsis: It’s a survival game with high schoolers…hey! Don’t go yet. You didn’t hear that it’s also based on a visual novel….hey! Give it a chance at least. This one has a sadistic teddy bear in it!

Pros: Danganronpa is a visual novel series based around the theme of “despair.” This anime is based on the first game, “Trigger Happy Havoc,” and is a murder mystery. The set up is that 15 students are trapped in an elite high school and forced to kill each other. Its a mystery because the rules state that once a body is found, the students have to figure out who the killer is. If they fail, the killer goes free while the rest die. The last person surviving wins and is rewarded with fame and fortune. The anime follows a set formula: A murder happens, an investigation happens, and then a trial happens. One of the first things you’ll notice is the art style. The colors are vibrant and each of the characters are given unique designs, which helps make their death a bit more meaningful. The trial scenes, which are usually just the characters talking to each other, are spiced up with cool video game style animations and transitions, masterfully blending two mediums together. Ditto for the executions. And at only 13 episodes, the show moves at a very brisk and meaningful pace. Overall, the show has a unique look, an interesting cast of characters, an intriguing mystery, a sense of humor, and a cool set up. Well worth a watch.

Cons: The anime does get a but troupee. Its a survival game anime where a boy and girl form an alliance early one, the characters each betray each other for no real reason, a suicide occurs, and it all ends like you’d think it would. Even some of the mysteries and twists are cliche, though the show does call itself out on a few of these. In term of characters, a lot of the designs, while unique, also come off as overdone.Their meant to give you a quick visual summary of the character’s traits, as the show doesn’t have time to give depth to all 14 students. So some come off as one dimensional. The show is also very back heavy, meaning the the last episodes, particularly the finale, are stuffed with revelations and lore (and a weird lack of budget). My only real gripe that during the trials, when the murder has been accused, the characters tend to break down and admit it, turning into weird caricatures of themselves. Which again, was on purpose from a creative standpoint. Interestingly, I think this show does recognize it’s weaknesses and addresses them, or at least owns up to them. Everything the show does feels intentional and confident, so these are more nitpicks than anything else.

Watch it?: A strong recommend (4/5)

MVP: Kyouko Kirigiri

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Super High School Level Detective

Best Episode: Ep2-3 “Not Normal Arc: Kill and Live” (though I like other arcs better, this one is a good intro to the formula of the show)

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BlazBlue Alter Memory

Type: Time Travel + Fighting Game Story, Oh Boy!

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Synopsis: OK, anime fighting game plots. Yeesh. From what I could gather from the Wiki, a long time ago humans made a God in order to control time. This backfired, so they created a second God to kill the first God. This resulted in a time distortion and an evil organization trying to take take over all timelines. Then, there’s Ragna the Bloodedge’s story, the most wanted man alive who destroys government facilities after his brother betrayed him and took their sister, only to run into several artificial girls that look just like his sister, and one of them maybe or maybe not fusing with him to become the terrible monster of legend because of a time loop. Oh yeah, time loops.

Pros: I know I’ve been watching more and more anime based on video games. It’s not really on purpose, I’m just curious about them. Since most anime don’t adapt culturally relevant stories for me (cause I ain’t Japanese), video game stories that I’m familiar with are a nice compromise. That being said, I know that anime based on video games is for a very niche audience, and I wanted to experience that, hence BlazBlue, a fighting game franchise I know nothing about. Admittedly, the anime came off as confusing at first, but by the midpoint, it got me invested enough in the characters to do some research in the Wiki. Like most fighting game stories, the strong points are the characters, not the overall story (which is messy as F@#$). I really liked the Nu androids, and Noel’s story with her friends and military career, and felt they should have been the main focus. Ragna’s story is alright (but grouchy), especially when you delve deeper into it, but I feel he would have worked better as a cool secondary protagonist. He could still save the day, but not be the main focus. And Terumi, for as much as I wanted to punch the smug assh#$$ in the face several times over, was a very effective antagonist. I also liked Rachel Alucard, being the first “young girl aristocrat” troupe character that I liked.

Cons: The story. Just, just give up on it. It’s an anime story on top of a fighting game story. It never had a chance. Anime type stories in games are rarely coherent because they usually have to go on much longer than for TV. It’s obviously harder to keep a story straight if you have to stretch it for a long time. Add to that, however, the fact that this is a fighting game franchise, which often gives each of it’s characters a story line, stories that don’t often mesh well as a whole. And the main conceit of the plot is Time Manipulation. Time Manipulation! The anime also tries to condense what I believe is the first plot of the game in an anime, which means a lot of characters that don’t get a lot of breathing room are introduced, discarded, or simply ignored. And it would simply take too long to nitpick at why certain characters do or don’t do certain things (Why doesn’t Jubei kill Terumi? Why is Jin so insane? Is the reason why Rachel saved Ragna because of the Time Loop? Was Tsubaki such a good friend if she was more willing to kill her best friend instead of the boy who didn’t even like her? And if Ragna falls in love with a robot that looks just like his sister, does that mean he want’s to bang his sister?)

Watch it: Maybe it’s help clear up the story. Maybe. (3/5)

MVP: Valentine Alucard

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Refined.

Best Episode: Ep.8 “The Mechanical Soul” (Ragna come off as nice for the first time)

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Hyperdimensional Neptunia

Type: Henshin-A-Go-Go refefence!

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Synopsis: We’ve seen guns turn into anime girls, animals turn into anime girls, and now, gaming consoles turned into anime girls! We go the Playstation, we got the Wii, we got the Xbox, we got…Sega. Yeah, lets have that sink in.

Pros: Look, I’m a big gaming nerd, so I can’t say I didn’t find some enjoyment from this series. The whole “Hyperdimensional Neptunia” franchise is a real gaming franchise that parodies the game industry from a Japanese viewpoint. It was fun to see the Playstation and the Wii and the Xbox as”real people.” We even get the 3ds! I was a little thrown off that Sega was included, mostly because Sega doesn’t make consoles anymore. But Neptunia was my favorite character, so I give that a pass. I also really enjoyed the little verbal easter eggs that were dropped. The action was pretty good, and my favorite segments were the slice-of-life moments that were used 2 out of 3 times.

Cons: First off, if you don’t know anything about gaming, you’ll still enjoy this. If anything, the amount of fan service will probably keep more viewers away than the premise. The story is….alright. It starts off with a “Friendship Pact” between the four gaming nations after years of war. I liked that aspect of it, with the second to last arc exploring what a console war would look like. Since I love gaming, I was a little disappointed with some character choices. I thought the Nintendo Analog should have been different. Older. Like a “Bancho” style character, as Nintendo is the oldest company still making consoles. But instead, she was depicted as a “flat chested” quiet/mean character. That’s a pretty weird depiction for the company that saved the game industry. And where was the Gameboy? Or Dreamcast? Or any of the older consoles? Did they just disappear? Did they transform? What’s the deal here.  I also really hated Peashy, a bratty child character added about three episodes in. She was ANNOYING and full of herself. I wonder why the analog for PC gaming would be characterized as rude, foul mouthed, immature, and trollish……

Watch it?: I am genuinely surprised automobiles haven’t been given this treatment (3/5)

MVP: Neptune

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Based on the canceled Sega Neptune

Best Episode: Ep. 7 “The Fruits (Deep Purple) of Revenge” (I also hate eggplant)

 

 

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Infinite Stratos 2

Type: Mecha Girl’s School continues

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Synopsis: So apparently, the totally unique anime about a battle school full of girls and the one guy they all like got another season. Did not see that coming. This time, the waifu allies spend most of their time competing over their boy and are joined by two Russian sisters. There’s also this subplot involving an evil organization, but they aren’t that important. There’s fan service to be had!

Pros: I find myself still liking this show. Now, it’s been a minute since I’ve seen the last one, but I feel that the fan service was ramped up a little. With all the main players already introduced, I think there was more time for sexy gags and what not. This season is about 80% love comedy, and 20% action, so the whole thing has a light tone.  I watched the english dub this time and loved the use of accents, expect for Charlotte, who sounded more swedish than french. The season introduces two new love interests in the Sarashiki sisters, and they get a pretty solid arc around mid way through the season. Story wise, a new villain group called Phantom Task are introduced. They usually attack the group during some sort of activity, like a play or trip. While their story is not concluded, they are presented as a viable threat to the main characters. The actions scenes are good, and the series has blended 3D models very well in their fights. I also forgot that this is the rare light novel battle school anime where the male protagonist isn’t a powerhouse mary sue character, which was refreshing. I mean, he’s still kinda generic, but still.

Cons: The entire season sort of felt like a nothing season. It’s not that nothing didn’t happen, its that it didn’t happen enough. There was no real pay off at the end of the season. Three important things were introduced this season. One, the Sarashiki sisters, which was the only plot point with a beginning, middle, and end. They are introduced, their core drama is explained, and their story is resolved. Hell, the conflict wasn’t even about the male character! (It was about a sibling rivalry) though I do feel he got off super easy considering what transpired. The second was adding Phantom Task as antagonists, whose story ends in a “you should probably read the light novel” kind a way. And the third is about Ichika’s training, which is dropped half way through. Character wise, too many are present to explore properly, especially with the new additions.

Watch it?: Good fun, lackluster story (4/5)

MVP: Charlotte

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No waifu, no laifu

Best Episode: Ep. 7-9 The Kanzashi Arc (good conflict. I also recommend Ep. 5 for silly fan service)

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