Tag Archives: 2016

Yuri on Ice

Type: Yeah, I know.

Synopsis: What can I say, a man has needs. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Pros: This anime is actually the story about a figure skater staging a comeback back into the international competitive male figure skating scene. That’s about it. Yep. Nothing else…expect for it’s status as watershed anime that proved that same-sex male relationships can be part of a commercially popular anime. I mean, Revolutionary Girl Utena and Free!, but Utena was about lesbians, and Free didn’t really have any romance in it. Not so with Yuri on Ice! The main relationship is between Yuri, a struggling figure skater, and Victor, the current world champ who takes an interest in him. Victor plays the goofy flirt while Yuri plays the sensitive shy one. They have a fun dynamic that can turn surprisingly emotional at times. Their in a relationship in all but name (they even trade rings for crying out loud!). In fact, the relationship transitions from idolization to emotional support fairly organically. Outside of that, the show has pretty good humor. The various skaters that are introduced get defined pretty well, especially for a 12 episode series. The sport aspect means you get to see different figure skating routines every few episodes. And as a guy that’s never been interested in figure skating in his life, I found the routines fun to watch. I really liked the one’s that used non-orchestral music. (p.s. I liked the opening song. I’ve heard it before and thought it was an actual rock song)

Cons: Here’s the thing about sports shows, it needs to have sports in it. Meaning that a large chunk of the show will take place during the game/meet/fight, etc. But anyone’s who’s ever seen a sports anime know that it’s more interesting to see the characters train and interact before competing against each other. I did say that I like the routines I saw during the show, and I meant it. The animation used for them was extremely impressive and fluid, and everyone on the animation side should be proud of themselves. That being said, the show tends to repeat routines, especially for Yuri and Yurio. And the show also jumps very quickly between competitions, only giving 1-2 episodes between them, so a lot of the show takes place in a skating rink during game day. So what you have is an anime that spends the first 6 half establishing Yuri’s hometown friends and personal motivations, then rushes the last half with competition after competition that all start to blur with each other. I mean, I didn’t even know that this show technically covers a whole year until I reread that episode descriptions for this review! (p.s.s. I also wish that Yuri and Victor’s relationship wouldn’t have a hint of ambiguity to it. The show’s 99% there, and it would be hard to argue that they’re not gay, but that extra 1% of honesty would have been nice).

Watch it?: One of the IT shows of 2016 (4/5)

MVP: Victor Nikiforov

He loves his boyfriend, job, and dog. I respect that.

Best Episode: Ep.3 “I Am Eros, and Eros is Me?! Face-Off! Hot Springs on Ice” (you can actually see that transformation from cutlet bowl to world class athlete)

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Nanbaka (Season 1 and 2)

Type: Don’t let the great promotional art fool you! It’s really kinda bland.

Synopsis: For real. I actually started watching this for about 6 episodes, them stopped for about month to watch other, better anime. That’s how much this show failed to keep my attention. I even caught up on regular shows I haven’t seen in years before picking this up again! (I’m talkin’ Brooklyn Nine-Nine season 3 and 4, Bob’s Burgers season 7, Victoria season 1, and Steven Universe season 5)

Pros: On paper, this anime is a comedy with an all male cast. Something in line with shows like Hetalia. It’s selling point is that you get to watch all these cute boys do silly things while deciding who’s the best husbando. It also has great advertisement art work. And in all honesty, the show excels when it focuses on the slice-of-life aspect of living in an anime prison. The comedy comes from the fact that the prisoners treat Nanba Prison like a dorm stay rather than a punishment. Instead of having to deal with the real world, they get to relax and hang out with their buddies. Sadly, this goes away rather quickly.

Cons: This show has a tone problem, and you can really see the manga aspects of this show early on. The show starts as a comedy show, but turns into an action drama at about episode 4. The thing is, the show know this. It acknowledges that this supposedly silly show has some dark elements to it. After all, all the prisoners are in prison for a reason. But it’s adherence to drama and action really takes the show down from a quirky comedy to just another generic anime. The only real dramatic stuff I like is the brief flashbacks into the character’s past. I feel that if the story really wanted to inject drama into this “comedy,” then the backstories were enough. It would make the audience sympathize with them and understand why they enjoy prison life so much. The first season mostly focuses on Jyugo, while also introducing all 1 billion extra characters. Focusing on Building 13, with 7 characters was enough, I didn’t need the rest of the prison right this minute. Jyugo’s past trauma was all well and good, but making him some sort of scissor man was the moment that this anime officially jumped the shark. I didn’t even now that anime could do that. It felt like the author got a dip in manga 4 weeks in and panicked. The second season is more focused, revolving around the revolt in Building 5, which also has a neat Chinese theme going. I kinda like the idea of alternating between different Prison blocks for story arcs, and this season came the closest to fulfilling that potential. That being said, it also ends in a cliffhanger, so f#$ it.

Watch it?: Maybe if your doing time (3/5)

MVP: Hajime

Maybe we’re all the real prisoners!?

Best Episode: Ep.2 “The Inmates Are Stupid! The Guards Are Kind of Stupid, Too!” (this is suppose to be a comedy anime!)

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Shonen Maid

Type: Boy Maid

Synopsis: He’s a boy who’s also a maid. That’s the joke.

Pros: The basic story is really just Cinderella, only with a boy and nicer guardian. In the beginning, young Chichiro’s mother WORKS HERSELF TO DEATH, leaving the 4th grader to fend for himself. He manages to escape grave poverty thanks to his rich Uncle, who happens to run into him on the same day. Understandably emotional over the death of his only mother, and wary of an extended family that never lifted a finger to help him, Chichiro is hesitant to accept the kindness of strangers. Blood relative not withstanding. So his Uncle does what any sane person would do, and takes advantage of Chichiro’s almost manic desire to clean by hiring him as his maid. Not butler, because Maid outfits are cuter. Most stories revolve around Chichiro getting use to his new life and his new family. This eventually leads to him learning more about his mother’s family, with some hints about why they were estranged. Chichiro’s age actually works well with this kind of story, since it explains why he wasn’t told much about his family, and justifies his behavior. (It also goes a long way to explain his androgynous looks).

Cons: There’s nothing really wrong with this show. It’s a solid story. But there’s also nothing incredible about it. It’s biggest positive/negative is that there’s isn’t any overall conflict in the story. There’s no end of the season fight between Chichiro and Madoka, where they have to reaffirm their love for each other at the end. The biggest conflict is Chichiro feeling a little weird when he discovers that the nice old lady he hung out with was his estraged grandmother. The jokes are all solid. I especially like Chichiro’s adoration of all things cleaning. Chichiro’s slowly developing relationship with Madoka is cute. The only real cringy moments were stories involving cats, or involving a male idol group that shows up sometimes. Both weren’t great. The cat stories were a little too sweet for my liking. And the idol stories felt tacted on.

Watch it: A pretty good, middle of the road anime (3/5)

MPV: Chichiro’s love of cleaning

I also appreciate a good cleaning session

Best Episode: Ep. 1 “Those Who Don’t Work Don’t Eat” (he’s a boy, but also a maid!)

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Space Patrol Luluco

Type: To infinity, and beyond!

Synopsis: Wait, wrong space cops. This is actually a story about a normal girl who learns a little lesson about what normal actually means….by having her father be frozen and being forced to work for an understaffed and under trained police force while also sorting out her complex feelings towards her criminal mother and budding sexuality. Normal girl stuff.

Pros: The show is produced by Trigger, everyone’s favorite pseudo-indie anime company. Like, they don’t make millions of dollars, but they can still afford to release season long anime every few years. Anyway, Luluco was their latest anime in 2016. The animation style was a mix between mostly Panty and Stocking and a little Kill La Kill during the action. I think the Kill La Kill song even plays at some point. The show is full of references to other Trigger/Gainax shows, with full blown, and surprising, cameos at a few points. I haven’t talked about the story because Luluco is your typical Trigger side-project farce. Most of Luluco’s adventures are silly stories with a punch-line ending, with the climax being about a girl’s first love. At 10 minutes per episode, it should take you under two hours to finish the whole series.

Cons: I liked the show. Fun plot about space hijinks. It does drags a little in the middle when the Space Pirate shows up, but I’ll forgive it for plot reasons. But I’ll be honest, I wasn’t very enthusiastic while watching it. Maybe I’ve watched too many Trigger/Gainax shows, but the magic just wasn’t there for me. Which is ironic, considering Little Witch Academia cameos. Speaking of, this really felt like a side project. Something for the team to do while finishing Little Witch Academia, Trigger’s actual next anime release. Luluco felt like Trigger’s Greatest Hits: The Anime to me. The show literally ends by fighting an galactic entity who can’t understand emotions! I don’t know, maybe I’m just a jaded old man who can’t remember what it’s like to be a 13 year old girl in love for the first time. I guess time makes fools of us all…

Watch it?: I mean, JUSTICE, right? (4/5)

MVP: Luluco

She got a space bike at the end.

Best Episode: Ep.11 “I Never Knew” (Legends never die!)

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Dagashi Kashi

Type: A show about nothing, nothing but Penny Candy!

Synopsis: Candy shop. Check. Manic Pixie girl, check. Manic Pixie girl with big boobs. Check.

Pros: Maybe not that simple, but come on! The opening sets the tone for the entire series. How is Hotaru, the resident pixie girl introduced? First doing a backwards bow, second by hugging her breasts. That’s kinda how the show treats Hotaru, as a sexy weirdo. She’s not a bad character. In fact, she’s a super fun character. All manic pixies are. She’s an over the top candy fiend and her English voice actress plays her to perfection. I just wanted to point out what were dealing with here, because the anime is also super fun. It’s a slice of life anime that’s really light hearted and silly. Every episode explores a scenario set up by Hotaru using candy as a catalyst. I’m not sure if the penny candy is real or not, but if it is, it really reminds me of Mexican penny candy, down to the wrappers! But Hotaru’s antics only work if she has someone to play off of. Enter Kokonotsu, the male protagonist who Hotaru is trying to convince to take over his father’s dagashi shop. What I liked about Kokonotsu is that he’s very much a teenage boy. While he can play the typical “nice guy” protagonist, he’s still very well aware of Hotaru’s beauty, and would love to be more popular with girls, and goofs off with his best friends about pervy stuff from time to time. Both Kokonotsu and Hotaru make a good comedic pair, which all you need in a comedic anime.

Cons: On the surface, this show seems like a funny show with candy as a gimmick. But it’s actually a little pervy. Some of the jokes are definitely NSFW. Hotaru’s physique aside, they throw some dirty jokes at ya. Kokonotsu staring at Hotaru see through shirt I can understand. Hotaru being covered in “yogurt” is something else. A lot of verbal and visual innuendo going on here. So if your not into that type of humor, maybe look elsewhere. There are some sweet moments though, like when Kokonotsu’s dad complimented To, implying that maybe To’s dad isn’t round? Because you don’t really see alot of characters outside of the main cast. The only other thing to look out for is the fact that the anime doesn’t really “End.” It finishes. Whether or not Kokonotsu stays at the shop or leaves is not resolved, nor does he become a couple with Hotaru or childhood friend Saya. It’s a “read the manga” ending.

Watch it?: Almost as good as actual dagashi (4/5)

MVP: Hotaru

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How is candy so arousing?

Best Episode: Ep.4 “Fugashi, Fugashi, and… / Glico, Glico, and…” (the essesnce of Hotaru)

 

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To Be Hero

Type: A Superhero Tale

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Synopsis: In a world of Men of Steel and Supersoldiers there stands a lone figure in the night, protecting us from all that may cause us harm. He is Ossan, the sh$tty father!

Pros: To Be Hero is a short, 11 minute an episode, series about a father who is transformed into a fat and ugly superhero. Since he can’t turn back, and all the words out of his mouth tend to sound perverted, he cannot stay with his teenage daughter. He tries his best to stay close to her, despite the occasional weird alien trying to kill him. The show mainly uses absurdist and toilet humor to get the comedy across. But the real hook of the show is the relationship between Ossan and his daughter Min, as Ossan’s transformation forces him to reflect on some of his selfish actions as a father and husband. The show never forgets to remind you of it’s central conflict, and thus retains your attention.

Cons: As said above, the show’s humor comes from absurd situation and toilet jokes. Hell, Ossan is actually a toilet salesman. That’s his job. So don’t be surprised if the show’s humor turns you off early on. Even I needed to take breaks from it, and the series is only 120 minutes long! The show can be crass at times, and a lot of the skits are more silly than funny. The show is kinda sloppy. However, it does have a strong ending, and those not wanting to watch the whole thing could simple just watch episodes 1,2 and 13.

Watch it?: It sticks the landing (3/5)

MVP: Min

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She’s kinda the lynchpin of the show.

Best Episode: Ep.12 “Stay with me Daddy!” (I want to be a superhero…)

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Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan

Type: Girl Talk

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Synopsis: A nice girl who happens to dress a certain way and another nice girl who happens to dress a certain way are best friends, because screw you society!!

Pros: Galko-Chan is a typical 8-minute anime series about high school girls talking about nothing for 12 episodes. The gimmick here is that the group of girls is comprised of a “Lady” character, a female “Otoku,” and “Gyaru,” which is roughly just a girl who likes make up and fashion (a flashy girl). The interesting thing about the show is that Galko, the titular character, is often judged due to her physical and cosmetic appearance. She has a big breasts and likes to dress nice, so everyone thinks she’s promiscuous, or at least hopes she is. The entire anime’s moral is “just because someones dresses a certain way, doesn’t mean they are a certain way.” Because, in truth, Galko is super nice and gets flustered easily. She’s more like that really good looking person you knew in high school that was nice to everyone, but you were always too intimated to talk to [and you can’t think of anyone, guess who you were ;)]. Most of the show’s comedy comes from the talks between Galko and her friends, particularly Otako, who likes to tease Galko with inappropriate topics, like nipple size and the like. Now, not having been privy to much girl talk in my time (I’m just not a “girl’s” girl, ya know?), I don’t know how much this appeals to women, but the show does feel like it’s more centered for a female audience than male (Galko’s design aside).

Cons: Like most anime with short episodes, the jokes can get very one-note and repetitive. There are only so many times you make make fun of Galko’s presumably big nipples. There are boys characters in this anime, but they’re mostly around to fantasize about Galko. Like most things in life, this could have used less males around. And from a personal stand point, I found Galko’s design ludicrous. I get that it’s the joke/moral, but come on! I’ve seen—I mean, I’ve heard of hentai with mose subtle designs. And I also think the “lady” character, Ojou, isn’t that important, despite being a “main character.”

Watch it?: As always, short anime are always recommended (4/5)

MVP: Otako

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Teasing friends is always fun

Best Episode: As always, too short to chose (all 8 minutes)

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Persona 3 The Movie: No.4 Winter of Rebirth

Type: Yaaaaaaaaawn

Synopsis: Huh? Wha? Ja? What was I going again? Reviewing…something. Oh [yawn], oh yeah, the Persona 3 movies. Man, they are not that interesting. Anyways, the hero dies at the end. That’s how Persona 3 ends.

Pros: If you’ve stuck around this long, you already know. Good action animation. (p.s. Bless you).

Cons: Why are these movies so BORING!? This movie spends it’s first flippin’ hour with the cast moping around. The characters are told by an annoying character that no one cares about that the world is going to end. They can either-wait, before I continue, can I just say that I have never liked the late addition of Ryoji into the Person 3 story. The game tries to make us like him because he’s a happy go lucky scamp who comedically hits on every girl he sees. But he really just comes off as a third wheel that the game tells us to care about. Had he been a playable character, maybe, yet here we are. I gladly killed him at the end. Anyways, the cast is bummed because they can either erase their memories and live in ignorance of the End, or fight against the inevitability of death. They win, but not without the protagonist dying to save his friends by becoming Jesus or whatever. There. Play the game instead.

Watch it?: These movies were not a good idea. What a disappointment.

MVP: Shin Megami Tensei: Persona 3 (2006)

Having a game in the middle makes the story waaaaay better.

Best Moment: The End (as in the end of all this time wasting)

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JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond Is Unbreakable

Type: Let’s party like it’s 1999!

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Synopsis: Once again, a perfectly normal show is being called “bizarre” just because it revolved around people who have psychic battle that sometimes result in someone turning into a rock, or collecting pocket change, or fusing a cat and a flower together that can shoot air bubbles. The show even tries to make itself presentable by using the setting of a peaceful suburban town…where you can eat at a restaurant the cleans your pores and go to a beauty shop that rearranges your face. Just what is so “bizarre” about that!

Pros: Ok, real talk, Diamond is Unbreakable is one of my favorites Jojo arcs. I flip flop between Diamond is Unbreakable and Phantom Blood. And, in all honesty, Diamond is Unbreakable is much more consistent, being Part 4 in the Jojo series. By this point the author is a seasons pro, stands have been introduced, and the stories are becoming more varies. Part 1 was a gothic shoen series. Part 2 was a martial arts shoen series. Part 3 was an adventure shoen series. But Part 4 is more of a slice-of-life suspense series. Basically Anime meets Twin Peaks. The story is mainly about this seemingly unassuming town named Morioh, which is actually home to a gaggle of strange, arguably bizarre, residents that each have weird powers called “Stands.” These powers can as straight forwards as turning invisible, or as specific a stand that turns pieces of paper into pocket dimensions. Like Twin Peaks, a lot of the best episodes are stand alone incidents involving Morioh’s abnormal residents. The show introduces some of my all time favorite Jojo characters, from the hard working Koichi, the love lorn Yukako, the mangaka Rohan, the stingy Shigekiyo, and the surprisingly compelling grade schooler Hayato. Episodes can range from deadly serious cat and mouse duels, to figuring out if the lunch your eating is actually a stand. I would actually argue that Diamond is Unbreakable is the easiest entry point for those curious about the series, but aren’t into the whole “fight-fight” shoen scenes. You can watch a random episode and not feel lost. You can follow it week by week. You can even marathon it. It has all the benefits of a slice of life show with a pinch of strange thrown in. The characters are great, as the main cast (and even some auxiliary characters) get their own episodes to shine. The show has 3 main arcs: The hunt for the Arrow, some downtime, and the search for Kira. Kira really takes over the show about a third of the way in, and his weird but deadly demeanor has made him a fan favorite antagonist, rivaling even Dio! (p.s. I also loved the color palette the show used, nice choice!)

Cons: Even though Diamond is Unbreakable is my favorite arc, it’s not without it’s flaws. As said above, a lot of the episodes are stand alone stories, with some feeling less important that others. So some points of the series may feel like the drag on too long (cough Highway Star cough). It feels like the author meanders between stories, probably returning to the main plot when his editor told him to. But your mileage may vary depending on your tastes in stories. I should also point out that because this is Part 4 of the Jojo saga, less attention is paid to the main protagonist. While Josuke Higashikata, illegitimate son of Part 2’s Joseph Joestar, if a good character and probably the most genial Jojo in the series, he can go long stretches of time without even appearing. The story often switches focus, sometimes going to Koichi, or Rohan, or even Kira! This is actually a trend that started in Part 3, and has arguably made subsequent Jojo’s feel less impactful. It doesn’t really hurt this story, but it seems like we get to know Josuke less than Jonathan or Joseph Joestar. Now, on to more subjective remarks: what the hell happened to the animation quality this season? I noticed so many animation errors and model mistakes! Either this was rushed or less people were working on it, because brah, we got some messed up picture up in here. There was also a lot more still shots, though this could be a result of simply having more episodes. Also, no women. Well, that’s not fair. There’s like 5 female characters: Two are moms, one’s killed off, one’s a love interest for a supporting character, and one’s a ghost. And, sadly, the Jojo franchise has still not gotten over giving explanatory commentary during it’s fights. This ain’t wresting! When a cat plant throws an air bubble at a serial killer, we get what’s going on!b (P.s.s. It was recently made aware of a big plothole in the show: Why didn’t anyone ask Joseph to find Kira using his stand, despite being brought in to find Red Hot Chilli Peper for the same reason!).

Watch it?: If you ever wanted to watch Jojo, start with this one (5/5)

MVP: Koichi

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A personal favorite, I admit

Best Episode: Ep.21-22 “Yoshikage Kira Just Wants to Live Quietly, Part 1 & 2 (this season was very hard to choose from, with funny and exciting choices, but one is Kira at his most menacing)

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My Hero Academia [Anime of the Year]

Type: Do Good to Others, and Every Man can be an All Might

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Synopsis: World of Superheroes. Quirkless Boy. Mighty Hero. Plus Ultra.

Pros: My Hero Academia is about a boy named Izuku Midoriya who lives in a world where 80% of the population has super powers, and an established Superhero community. Midoriya’s dream is to become a hero like his idol All Might, but he doesn’t have any powers, or “Quirks.” It seems like he’s hoping against hope until he selflessly risks his life for a friend/bully, impressing All Might enough to bestow upon him his own superpowers. And this is just the first two episodes. The rest of the series is Miyoriya’s life in U.A. High School, a school for gifted youngsters (sister school to the Xavier Institute, I’m sure). The anime does have the name “Academia” in the title. While the school stuff is fun, and an easy way to introduce new characters, the real draw of the show is Midoriya. He has the heart of a hero, despite his twitchy demeanor and tendency for water works. He wins you over almost immediately with his fan boy love of heroes, and keeps your rooting for his through his determination to fulfill his dream, a dream no one believe in because of his handicap. It breaks your heart when he’s told its impossible, and you root for him when he overcomes a new obstacle. And In a simple but effective gimmick, Midoriya’s new quirk is a glass cannon. He can become just as powerful as All Might, but because his body isn’t use to the power output, he becomes incredibly damaged after a single use. So instead of powering through his obstacles, Midoriya has to think his way out of them (fun fact: Most Silver Age Superman stories did the same thing). He also has an in story reason for this, given his obsession of collecting data on heroes. Plus the fact that his quirk has to be passed down was a nice touch, and a good allusion to legacy heroes. As you can plainly see, I loved Midoriya and the show as a whole.

Cons: But that’s not to say that there aren’t bad things about this anime. For one, villains show up in the last few episodes, but they’re underdeveloped. The actual manga, which I devoured after watching this show,  does the same thing, switching between school arcs and villain arcs. The other heroes are also underdeveloped, with All-Might being the only one to get any real character development. The main theme seems to revolve around the term “underdeveloped,” which can all be sourced to the fact that the anime only got 13 episodes. It does have a second season, but a shoen show like this really needs more episodes in a season. But the first season has a cliff hanger ending. Because, as much as I loved it, you do get the feeling that you’ve only scratched the surface of the story in retrospect.

Watch it: Hit my Superhero feels button (4/5)

MVP: Midoriya

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Or, The Great Hero Deku

Best Episode: Ep.1-2, “Izuki Midoriya: Origin” and “What it takes to be a Hero” (The end made me cry. One of my newest favorite moments in all of anime)

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