Tag Archives: 2014

Ping Pong: The Animation

Type: It’s like mini-Tennis

Synopsis: How come Mini-Golf doesn’t get the same respect? Is it because it’s a little goofy? Are we SO afraid to be silly that we can’t endorse something built on fun? Because no one, in the history of Earth, has ever enjoyed Ping Pong. Even the boys in this anime don’t seem to enjoy it. Well, Peco does. Everyone else treats it more like a job, obsession, or personal mission statement. God, Ping Pong sucks. The game, not the anime, which is actually pretty great.

Pros: The big hook for this anime is that it was directed by Masaaki Yuasa, the director behind stuff like Kick-Heart, The Tatami-Galaxy, that one episode of Adventure Time, and 2018’s Devilman Crybaby. The guy’s know for having a unique style to say the least. And that’s the best way to describe this anime. It’s not groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it is unique. There is not other anime out there like it, and that’s surprising given that it follows the sports anime cliches pretty closely. But since it’s based on a Manga, that’s not surprising. The story follows Peco and Smile, two friends on the school’s ping pong team. The arrogant Peco is beaten one day by the new imported ace from a rival school. Humiliated, Peco quits the team for a while, leading his coach to focus on Smile, a talented but reserved person. The story follows their and their rivals’s growth as individuals, using Ping Pong as an analogy for life, like any other sports anime. Peco learns the value of humility and hard work. Smile learns to accept vulnerability and desire. And other players learn other things, like accepting your limits, being part of a team, or learning that fun and drive aren’t segregated concepts. The story’s not complicated, because it focuses on the character’s inner turmoil and conflict, and uses the “dramatic showdowns” to further along the character’s emotional arc.

The animation is the other hook this anime has. It uses a sort of rougher sketch style that accentuates the character’s movements and stances to enforce exaggerated realism. No one really moves or looks perfect. In fact, sometimes characters move and stand oddly. Which is exactly how people move and stand in real life! Everyone in this anime looks different, moves differently, and I cannot tell you how much I appreciate that. For example, Peco moves loosely, while Smile is stiff and a bit uncomfortable. But amazing, both of these character’s postures change to reflect their growth at the end of the series. Seriously, you can compare how each character stands to check how the events of the story affected them. Despite looking obviously drawn, this anime may also be the most realistic looking anime I’ve ever seen. (P.s. A great example of this is the killer opening). I honestly thought this was made in 2017, it’s that good looking.  It looks weird enough to scream ANIME, but is well made enough to say Anime. In fact, this is one of the few anime I’d recommend you introduce to any of your non-anime friends or family members.

Cons: I know I talked a lot about stances, but for real. This anime does stances right. Speaking of stance, one draw back about this anime is that there are a lot of still frames where characters just stand around and talk. Or a lot of jump cuts to static action scenes. Classic cost cutting measure. Another thing, I’m aware that I made fund of Ping Pong at the start, but I actually didn’t mind it in this show. The exploration of Ping Pong was entertaining. My personal research (the internet), revealed the Ping Pong is actually pretty ping overseas, particularly East Asia, Europe, and Africa. Not being from there (USA #1!), I don’t really get it, but I liked it nonetheless. I fact, this anime made me realize something: I don’t really hate sports anime. Every sports anime I’ve watched for this site has been enjoyable. I think I only hate The Prince of Tennis. Yeah..Screw you Prince of Tennis!

Watch it: Literally the most fun you’ll have with Table Tennis (5/5)

MVP: Dragon

I’m really glad he mellowed out in the end.

Best Episode: “Yes, My Coach” (the real turning point, though honestly almost any of the episodes could be watch by themselves and be marveled at. It’s that good.)

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Ai Tenchi Muyo!

Type: Sponsored by the city of Takahashi, Okayama

Synopsis: Come visit beautiful Takahashi, Okayama, home to the beautiful Bitchū Matsuyama Castle. Be sure to also visit Raikyū-ji, a Buddhist temple with a historic garden. That’s all I could find on the Wikipedia for Takahashi!

Pros: This anime is also based loosely on the Momotaro, or Peach Boy, legend, and serves as a 20th Anniversary special for the Tenchi Muyo! series. We’ll get to how well the show represents the franchise later. Since Tenchi Muyo! holds a special place in my heart, this entry has been on my list for a while. As luck would have it, it’s got an English dub with all the original actors (except for Ayeka). So for a long time fan like myself, the best part was hearing Petrea Burchard play my girl Ryoko one more time. And the story really is the strongest when the original Tenchi Muyo! cast take part it it. The core characters get updated looks, which are pretty good (though Ryoko and Washi apparently grew a few cup sizes during the franchise break). And while the show says it has 50 new episodes, there’s about 8 minutes each with credits. So it’s really more like 10 regular episodes.

Cons: First of all, the show did a poor job of detailing Takahashi, Okayama natural splendor and charming locals. If I was the city council, I’d ask for my money back. Because all I know about Takahashi right now it that it has all girl’s high school that is severely understaffed, may have buried treasure, and suffers from dimensional breaks. It makes be reconsider my planned stay at one of their numerous and affordable 5-star hotels (free wifi included upon request). As for the show itself, the length of the show makes watching it inconvenient. While the episodes divided up, the story lines aren’t. So 3-4 episodes are really just one big story cut up to bloat the episode count. The plot isn’t all that special: Tenchi becomes a student teacher at an all girl’s school, and sexy misunderstandings happen. Being anime, the teenage girls naturally all hit on their new teacher, making feel all types of uncomfortable. To it’s credit, the show does try to utilize it’s short episodes by mixing in two parallel stories every 3-4 episodes. One parallel story follows Tenchi escorting a young girl in the past, while another shows Tenchi’s home life with the original girls. These serve as nice breaks between stories, though they do make you wonder they can’t be the main plots. Teenage anime boobs is probably the answer, I guess. Things do ramp up towards the end, with all the story elements coming together rather nicely. Except for why the Feudal Japan girls look exactly like the student council. Speaking of which, how are the new female characters? Ai Tenchi Muyo! basically adds a new harem for Tenchi to interact with. And it falls into the typical harem overcrowding problem because of this. Five characters in a harem is fine, moreso is hard to follow. But let’s review anyway: Rui and Yuki are nice comedic foils, Tori is pointless, kinda the same with Hana, Hachiko is fine, Beni is a good stoic addition, and Momo is…Momo. Yeah, Momo’s good girl “let’s all be friends” gimmick was not fun, and doesn’t really mesh well with Tenchi Muyo’s humor. Even Sasami has a playfull side. Plus, Momo’s speech defending the love between a teacher and student was weird. Ultimately, I just don’t know who this anime is for. If it’s for long time fans, then why focus on a new cast. And if it’s for new people, why use Tenchi, Ryoko, or the others in the first place? And easy fix would probably be using a new main lead, like GXP and Geminar did, but it’s a little late for could ofs.

Watch it: Skippable, but maybe hunt for the Ryoko scenes (3/5).

MVP: Ryoko

Because she’s always MVP

Best Episode: The Tenchi at Home episodes (a little too dispursed to track down the episode numbers).

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Appleseed Alpha (2014)

Type: Weird name, cause it’s the third movie

Synopsis: In a story that makes way more sense, two soldiers are traversing the wasteland after a horrible world war. They in the search for “Olympus,” a mythical city said to have escaped society’s collapse. Along the way they must fight those who wish to restart the war that ruined the world. There, doesn’t that make much more sense than cloned robots or whatever?

Pros: I chose to review this movie instead of Appleseed’s direct sequel for two reasons. First, since this was a reimagining, I felt it was prudent to watch it to increase my level of investment in the franchise. Second, I didn’t know that this was the third movie and watched it by accident. Oops! Anyway, being made in 2014 gave this movie some major advantages over Appleseed (2004). Obviously, it’s computer animation improved tremendously. I’d compare it to Red vs. Blue season 10 in quality. The quality of the voice work has also improved, with quips and overlapping dialogue even inserted here or there to give off the sense of realistic  speech. And the story is much more straighfoward, giving you a better idea of Deunan and Briareos as a unit and as individuals. Keeping the story in the wasteland instead of Olympus was a nice touch too, as it kept everything down to Earth. Overall, I’d say watch this version of Appleseed if your curious at all about the series.

Cons: The animation is still janky. Not as janky as before, but you will notice a few lims moving unnaturally. The antagonists aren’t that interesting. They’re your typical fanatics trying to “reinvent the world” by using a big killer robot. In this movie, the real draw are Deunan and Briareos, and the colorful people the interact with in the wastes.

Watch it?: This is probably the only one you should watch.

MVP: Deunan and Briaroes

I finally bought them as a team

Best Moment: The verbal jabs (whoever was the English Voice Over director did good work!)

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Lord Marksman and Vanadis

Type: Vanadis also means Freyja, the sexy war goddess.

Synopsis: In an anime that I thought was based on a game, but is actually based on a light novel series, we see, well we see a bunch of stuff. To keep it simple: Lord Tigre is the count of a peaceful but valuable region who grabs the attention of many people, including several War Maidens, powerful female warriors chosen to wield mythical weapons. Through a bunch of medieval warfare, Tigre and crew are able to defeat an evil count who tries to usurp the throne.

Pros: You know, for a series that mainly portrays women, powerful women at that, I talked a surprising amount about the only male lead. The patriarchy is a funny thing…Anyway, one of the best things about this anime is the level of competency that all the characters show throughout the series. For example, the War Maiden’s Elen and Mila are portrayed as skilled and powerful warriors with tactical minds for battle. And they rarely, if ever, need Tigre to “rescue” them, even in the mist of battle. In fact, the the Elen and Mila  fight alongside Tigre, often back to back or shoulder to shoulder, and never really lose their sense of purpose. Elen and Mila never abandon or consider abandoning their posts to live with Tigre. I really appreciated this character trait, since it gets really tiring to see characters give up their current goals all for the sake of an infatuation. On the flip side, I also really liked that Tigre has actual skills and goals as well. He wasn’t just a “good, average guy” harem protagonist. He was incredibly skilled with a bow (usually portrayed as a female-only weapon), and a avid hunter/tracker. These skills are consistent throughout the series, and explain why most characters would be initially impressed by him, and then grow to admire him after getting to know him. This made Elen and Mila’s predictable romantic interests for him feel organic. He also loses his fist battle with Elen, which was a good way to define both their skill sets. He held his own for a little bit, but smartly lost to the supernatural war maiden.

Cons: Boob anime. This is a boob anime. Look at Elen. Look at her lieutenant. What are they feeding these girls!? Aside from that, this anime is only a small taste into the light novel series. Sorta like a very long commercial. It’s not like the show shills the rest of the series with annoying references to “that man” or tries to foreshadow the next story arc at the finale of the anime. But there are a lot of things we never see. For example, there are said to be about 8 War Maidens, but we only get to see 5 in the series. Two are main characters, one’s a cameo character, one’s a brief villain, and one shows up here and there to be all menacing. The other 3 are shown in the opening, but nowhere else. The looked cool, but too bad! Learn to read pleb! Outside of that, the story is also a bit hard to follow. Things tend to move from one battle to another, as different factions are fighting for the throne, with Tigre caught in the middle. (P.s. One interesting tid-bit: In the show, Tigre is given a magic bow that allows him to have power equal to, or possible greater than, the War Maidens. I just found that to be a bit…interesting).

Watch it?: Give it a go (4/5)

MVP: Tigre

He also tends to grab boobs when he’s asleep. Some sort of hunting instinct.

Best Episode: Ep.2 “The Return Home” (Tigre and Elen join forces!)

 

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Rage of Bahamut: Genesis

Type: Not to be confused with the Super Nintendo version

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Synopsis: To put in bluntly, the show’s about a demon who forces a con man into traveling with her while not knowing that she’s the key to reviving a world threatening Dragon. If you want it not so bluntly, you tease, the show’s about an afro-man who tries to get into a lady’s pants by telling her he knows the way to a mythical city. This backfires when the lady turns out to be a super powerful demon who stormed heaven to steal a magic key that can revive the world ending Bahamut. Along the way, they’re joined by a noble but unlucky knight and a zombie loli.

Pros: There’s not two ways about it. Rage of Bahamut is very pretty. If you want proof, look up the opening scene between Favaro and Kaisar. It’s practically movie quality. In fact, there quiet a bit of good animations scenes throughout the show. Like the Favaro and Amira dance in ep. 02, the giant crab battle in ep. 04, most of the fight and action scenes, and everything in ep11-12, etc. But the strongest aspect of the show are the characters of Favaro and Kaisar. Favaro is, in no uncertain terms, a scoundrel. He lies, cheats, steals, manipulates, and is basically motivated by his own well being. You even see it in his fighting style, which is dominated by misdirection and slight of hand. In all honesty, Favaro is the most entertaining thing about the show. He’s just so scummy, it’s great! Then you have Kaisar, whose much more noble than Favaro, but also has way more tunnel vision, often to the detriment of the situation at hand. He’s a buffoonish hero with a sad backstory that explains his love/hate relationship with Favaro.

Cons: While watching this show, I had a few consistent thoughts in my mind episode through episode. These were:  “this show is very pretty,” “Favaro sure is fun,” and “something’s missing…” It’s this last thought that troubled me the most. Because, by all accounts, this show should be great. It clearly had a high budget, strong directors, and a good main cast. But then I started to look at the show as a whole. And as a whole, the show’s kind of a mess. As you pull back from the central premise of a demon and a rouge traveling together, you get a big plot involving multiple angels, multiple demons, Joan of Arc for some reason, and a soon to be revived Dragon. These elements over complicate things, especially as they become more prominent as the show goes on.  The travel between Favaro and Amira was fun enough, especially with Favaro having to come up with new reasons for the long trip and Kaisar continually hounding them. Speaking of Amira, can I ask what the hell happened between episode 1 and 2? Because for some reason Amira goes from a quiet bad ass demon to a rather childish ditz in no time flat. Amira actually got increasingly on my nerves as the show went on, especially when a lot of her achievements are gradually revealed to be partially because of outside force. Overall, the show is pretty to look at, has fun moments, but I can see why it’s not talked about more. (p.s. It’s also got a horrid opening. Just awful).

Watch it?: Based on an online card game! (4/5)

MVP: Favaro

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Keep rockin’ the fro’

Best Episode: Ep.1 “Encounter Wytearp” (amazing scenes. very exciting)

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Dai-Shogun: Great Revolution

Type: Bad Animation

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Synopsis: You call this a “Great Revolution,” despite the fact that it’s not great and there is no revolution depicted at all.

Pros: The anime is basically a feudal Japan story with the occasional giant robot. It’s about trying to convince the illegitimate son of a shogun to take the title, all while dodging assassination attempts. That’s where the action comes in. The twist is that the main character has access to a giant robot called “Susanoo”, but only as long as he’s a virgin. That’s where the comedy comes in. And ironically enough, the person sent to protect his virginity is a busty ninja girl with curves for days in a loin-cloth kimono outfit. No wonder the shogunate died off.

Cons: The animation is horrendous. The anime uses this weird flash-hybrid style of animation that just does not work. It makes movement look awkward and fake. FAKE in an animated show about giant robots. I don’t really have a high standard for animation quality, but damn does this look bad. It took me about 3 episodes to notice, and once I did, the illusion was shattered. Story wise, the plot is fairly innocuous. The only real interesting bits are Keiichiro comically tries to lose his virginity, only for ninja girl Kiriko to stop him.  The lead is a typical hot blooded, prideful character. With the exception of the flat-chested fox demon, all the women have giant breasts. The main male villain is stereotypical evil. The only real character of interest is Hōkōin, and even she’s just a evil demon lady. All the other auxiliary characters, like the “cool” pirate, the female Shinsengumi, and the swordswoman that follows Keiichiro around, are not that interesting. That’s really the long and short of Dai-Shogun: it’s just not that interesting.

Watch it?: You can live without it (2/5)

MVP: Hōkōin

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I’m a FAN of her. Get it? DO YOU GET IT?

Best Episode: Ep.3 “The sex witch Hōkōin strikes!” (sex witch!? What’s that!?)

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Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san

Type: Gaaaaaaaaaaaaay!! Horaay!

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Synopsis: A cat person who acts like a dog and a dog person who acts like a cat meet, fall in love, and I assume rent a small, but affordable, loft together after graduation.

Pros: The anime is obviously based on a short gag manga. The comedy mainly comes from Inugami’s high energy and Nekoyama’s bashful nature. The most common set up is Inugami saying or doing something to imply her love for Nekoyama, and Nekoyama being embarrassed about it. There is another character, Aki, who usually plays the straight man between Nekoyama and Inugami when called upon. The comedy usually lands, and I liked the interplay between the characters.

Cons: As usual with 5 minutes series, it goes by fast. There is no real story to speak of beside the relationship between Inugami and Nekoyama. Some other characters are introduced, but Inugami, Nekoyama, and Aki are the only real interesting ones. Aside form Nekoyama’s bashfulness, a lot of the jokes are innuedo. The only time I would argue that the show goes a bit too far is when Nekoyama gets drunk and starts to fufill some of Inugami’s masochistic dreams. But overall, a fun little watch.

Watch it?: As usually, I recommend this short series (4/5)

MVP: Nekoyama-san

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I’m a cat person.

Best Episode: All of them? (again, short series are only 30-40 minutes tops).

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Persona 3 The Movie: No.2 Midsummer Knights Dream

Type: Oh, I get it, it’s like wordplay

Synopsis: Because “midsummer” refers to the movies setting, and “Knight” refers to the cover girl Aigis, whose is like a robot knight. I see what you did there Persona 3 The Movie: No.2. 

Pros: Like the title implies, this movie covers the second act of Persona 3 the video game. We’ve established our core characters, so now we have to introduced our auxiliary characters and out main antagonists. Just to keep score, and not counting minor characters, that jumps our cast number from 5 to 12. And while that is a lot of people to keep track of, the film mainly focuses on 2 subplots, namely Aigis’s introduction and Ken/Shinjiro’s relationship. I actually feel that the Ken/Shinjiro story is better off in this condensed version than in the game, which stretched it out between long gameplay segments. You get a better sense of Ken’s youthful admiration of Shinji, of Shinji’s past with the group, and the overall impact that the resolution of the his subplot has on everyone. Plot aside, this is also the movie with the beach scene, festival scene, and love hotel scene, reminding you that Persona is the most anime RPG out there.

Cons: By watching the second movie, I’m starting to notice a few of the most consistent flaw in the Persona 3 movie series. Namely, the disparity in animation quality in dialogue scenes vs. action scenes. This movie was released a year after Person 3: Spring of Birth, and Person 3: Falling Down was released within a year after this one. This quick turn around means that the films were most likely made simultaneously and on a tight schedule, so some shortcuts had to be used. For example, the film used a still image montage for the opening beach segment. And if you noticed, most dialogue scenes involved close ups and little movement. The only parts that seemed to be afforded time and attention were the fight scenes. A lot of the cast is also shunted or minimized in this part of the story, which is fine unless your a fan of them.

Watch it?: Better than the first, but unless you’ve played the game you can skip it.

MVP: Shinjiro

He’s suppose to be 17, but I always thought he was 34.

Best Moment: The opening love hotel scene (it’s funny and I’m basic)

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The Irregular at Magic High School

Type: slooooooooooooow

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Synopsis: Tell me if you heard this one before. A high school full of super powered teenagers, mostly female, accepts a male student who is placed in the lower ranks due to a technicality. But the boy’s actually a secret bad ass that never does anything wrong, causing the female students to all quiver in unison. At least no one has pink hair in this one.

Pros: The Irregular at Magic High School has all the trappings of a generic light novel anime based on a magical battle school. Except for the main protagonist, Tatsuya. While Tatsuya does have all the circumstantial trappings of a magical battle school light novel hero, such as a harem of girls who love him, the uncanny ability to succeed in any situation, and secret powers, his main character trait is being stoic. That’s not be calling him bland. He literally does not feel emotions, having repressed them early in life. While more light novel action heroes are usually a little bumbling to give off an image of geniality, Tatsuya does not. He never laughs, rarely smiles, and most of his expressions are reserved for dry humor or affection for his sister. This calm demeanor almost justifies his level of skill and mary-sue like ability to solve any problem. Plus, his quiet but handsome attitude is kinda hot, so you can see why most of the girls naturally flock to him. Story wise, first arc is the strongest, since it sets up this whole social conflict between people with magic, people with weak magic, and people with not magic. These themes of inequality and discrimination make the anime seem like it’s going somewhere, even if it ultimately doesn’t.

Cons: It’s just so boring. The anime has three arcs: The School arc, the School-Tournament arc, and the War arc. The first arc is the most interesting and the most promising. It introduces a world were magic is real, and magicians are trained as soldiers from an early age. In the most elite of elite magic school, the student body has developed their own social cast system: Blooms and Weeds, based on test scores. This echoes the larger world issues between Magicians and Non-Magicians. Tatsuya, being a “weed” with great skills, throws a wrench into this system. That’s cool and all, and lasts about 7 episodes. The next arc is the tournament arc, which Tatsuya’s high school wins, even though the first anime opening had the audacity of framing one of the competitors as Tatsuya’s rival (false advertisement!). The last arc is a war arc against some terrorists or something, but honestly, I was checked out by then. The only real interesting thing about the last arc was the reveal that Tatsuya is secretly a soldier, but the show kinda reveals this in the firs episode. So story wise, I don’t recommend this anime. What about character wise? Nope on that either. There is no character development here. Like none at all. The only person who actually changes and evolves is a character in the first arc who joined a terrorist cell and later regrets it. But that’s it. And I don’t even want to mention that explicit incest between Tatsuya and his sister! I don’t want to be that guy, but their relationship is an abomination and will cursed them to the fiery depths of hell. (P.s. There’s also this weird hue over the show that makes it seem that everything is slightly glowing.

Watch it?: Maybe the first 7 episodes. (3/5)

MVP: Tatsuya Shiba

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I found his cold demeanor refreshing

Best Episode: Enrollment I-VII (the first arc)

 

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Chaika- The Coffin Princess

Type: Gothic Lolita confirmed

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

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

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

Watch it?: Very fun (4/5)

MVP: Toru

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

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

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