Tag Archives: Anime review

Review- Tsuredure Children: Romantic Comedy Done Right

Of the two most popular romantic comedies this season, Tsuredure Children and GAMERS!, I would have to say that I enjoyed the former much more than the latter. Tsuredure children, while absolutely having flaws, was able to rise above those flaws and create something very unique and fun.

The summer 2017 anime was a tale of multiple high school couples who were in their first relationships, and as such focused on the awkwardness that comes with the character’s first love. Each episode features anywhere from 2-4 of the couples in the shows large cast either struggling to start a relationship or trying to maintain one.

Much like the slice of life comedy, AHO-Girl, Tsuredure Children is all about the characters. They are the show’s heart and soul, and without each of their unique relationship situations, the show would not have the same level of charm it does. The show thrives off the relatable awkwardness of each of the characters problems with their relationships. Masafumi and Ryoko, for example, were two of the funniest characters because their relationship was so one-sidedly awkward for Ryoko. All of her life Ryoko has been used to being alone and had accepted that she would probably just fail high school, but then came Masafumi, the student council president. He had no reason to approach her, but he did because she was smoking on campus. When Masafumi started to harass her, he also decided that he liked her, and because of this fast-paced evolution of their relationship, and Masafumi’s continual joking with her, Ryoko feels totally awkward.

Takeru and Ayaka are another great example of the show’s reliance on awkwardness for its comedy. The two enter into a relationship with each other towards the beginning of the show, but after that, they still aren’t really sure what to do, because they have never known what a relationship is, so they struggle even trying to hold hands, and as it turns out Ayaka has a bit of jealous streak.

Aside from those examples, most of the show’s relationships are genuinely funny and endearing in a way that almost anyone can appreciate. True to life, the characters struggle with trying to understand their feelings and convey them to other people.

When it comes to animation, the show seems content with being at about average quality, and the art style for the show is varied and colorful, typical of slice of life Rom-Coms. This, in my eyes, takes away from the show, as having the quality of the animation be a bit better for the 12-minute episode length would have been nice.

Music in the show isn’t a big focus, and you can tell that not much effort was put into it. For the type of show, the music is average and not really worth listening to on its own. It does do its job of setting the mood for the scenes, so sufficient is the best word.

Overall, a fantastic show. Tsuredure Children is what happens when you take a more creative route with telling a story as opposed to doing the same thing over and over. It is absolutely worth your time.

Review- AHO-Girl: Fast-Paced and Fun

AHO-Girl, man what a rush.

If there is one show I really enjoyed from the summer 2017 anime season, it’s this show. It uses a very fast-paced variety of humor to set up a great joke that doesn’t overstay its welcome. As I have mentioned before, AHO-girl is the best thing I’ve watched this season, and there are a couple of different reasons why.

The 12 episode series, produced by Diomedia, uses the same setup as a show like Nichijou or Azumanga Daioh and provides its own unique set of characters to play off of. Yoshiko, the resident Aho-girl herself, has a very one-track mind but often does not have much of an attention span. Her willingness to just about anything to get what she wants while ignoring any and all social cues is the show’s driving force of comedy, and it works well. Akutsu, aka A-kun, is Yoshiko’s childhood friend who, as we learn in the last episode, has a weird history with Yoshiko, to say the least. His unwillingness to let Yoshiko’s stupidity go unchecked manifests in him getting verbally or physically violent, to the misfortune of Yoshiko. There are times when he seems like a one-joke pony, but he does come off as hilarious in more ways in one, like when he is being harassed by the student council president, who just happens to fall in love with him. Sayaka, who becomes Yoshiko and A-kun’s friend, becomes an innocent bystander in their daily antics and suffers some of the consequences as well.

There are a few other side characters, like A-kun’s sister and Yoshiko’s mom, that are also fantastic and hilarious. A special shoutout goes to Yoshiko’s dog who is especially great and has some of the best moments in the show, like when he watches a movie with A-kun and the two immediately become friends

The animation, in the case of comedy anime, is less so dependent on overall quality than it is on being able to help in the delivery, and in that case, it does well. The animation keeps up well with the show’s variety of fast-paced and low-brow humor and is able to enhance the jokes in a way that brings them to life, as animation should. It’s overall above average.

The Music is nothing special but also isn’t bad. It is used to help with jokes like in any other comedy and does well to enhance the joke, but really doesn’t go beyond a typical comedy soundtrack. Considering how funny the rest of the show is, I had hoped this wouldn’t be the case, but sadly it was.

Overall, aside from a few aspects that are a bit lacking, AHO-girl is a great comedy. Its characters are its heart and soul, and on that front, it uses them well. The comedic situations that Yoshiko and the other are put in is enough to get anyone laughing. With just 12 minutes per episode, there’s no reason not to watch it.

 

 

Netflix’s Death Note: A Misunderstanding of Source Material

Netflix’s live action adaptation of the popular anime and manga series “Death Note” became highly controversial among the anime community when it was announced. Fans of the original speculated as to whether or not the project’s director Adam Wingard could bring justice to a series that to many is considered the pinnacle of animated storytelling. The trailers released several months prior to the movie’s release gave many fans hope that the movie could bring one of the most famous stories in popular culture to a live action medium, but the finished product has given fans of the original, including myself, much to criticize in the way of a good adaptation.

Adam Wingard’s vision of “Death Note” was different from the original, and that is a detriment to the film. In an interview with The Verge, Wingard admits, “I grounded it by taking this complicated story, and rooting it in this idea of a coming-of-age teenage tragic romance.” This, however, is the main problem with the movie. “Death Note” is not about a romance or a tragedy. “Death Note” is the story of a kid who gains the power to kill anyone by simply writing a name in a book and picturing a face. This power corrupts him and he slowly transitions from a hero of justice to someone who kills without hesitation. Netflix’s adaptation ignores this transformation entirely in order to appeal to a more mainstream audience, and the movie suffers because of it.

This is not to say that a different interpretation of “Death Note” would be a waste of time. In fact, it’s setting in America might actually make it a more genuinely interesting film. As an article by Rebecca Sun in The Hollywood Reporter points out, “America’s greatest storytelling strength isn’t its high production value. It’s multiculturalism – access to a wide array of backgrounds and identities, and an ability to find out what happens when they collide.” An interpretation of “Death Note” where themes of racism and racial injustice, or one with even more focus on the idea of America’s identity as the world’s policemen, as the movie briefly hints at, would have been much more interesting. Instead, Wingard chooses to focus mainly on a romance that has zero chemistry, and little relation to the original story.

Aside from Wingard’s inability to find a strong thematic direction for the film, there is plenty to like about the live action “Death Note”. The casting of the movie was generally phenomenal. Willem Dafoe’s voicing of Ryuk was the perfect choice, as he precisely captures the creepiness and looming danger that Ryuk’s presence signals for Light. Keith Stanfield’s performance as L was also an enjoyable addition to the movie. Even though L’s quirks like eating sweets and sitting on top of chairs were seen by many as not easily transferable to a live action film, Stanfield manages to bring his character to life without coming across as awkward.

The soundtrack is also worth mentioning, as it does a lot to hold up the movie. A considerable amount of thought was clearly put into the music and music placement in the film. It is especially visible during the final third when tensions between Light and Mia grow, and the two become visibly more insane. The fast and heavy music during the scenes where L confronts Light also add to the intensity during the movie’s best moments.

Unfortunately, it does not seem possible to call this movie great, and to some, it might even be a stretch to call it good. Wingard’s decision to depart from the core themes of the original while leaving nothing but a half-baked romance in its place takes away a lot from its standing as an adaptation. Wingard may have done well with casting and music choices, but trying to compare Netflix’s adaptation of the original anime series leaves a lot to be desired.

 

First Impressions: Bokurano: An Under Appreciated Thrill Ride

I’ve noted before on this blog that my experience with mech shows is limited, and that I had never really found a reason to explore the genre at all. After watching Eureka Seven, and also having seen just three episodes of this, I’m reminded that there plenty of great shows in the mech genre.

Bokurano’s story of a game turned reality involving 15 kids who get sucked into a war that they can’t leave is attention-grabbing. Not only are the kids very different in personality, their sense what to do in the situation that they are in is also diverse. Some are hesitant to start piloting a robot from a game that appeared without any explanation. Others, like Waku, innocently assume that it’s all still a game and that nothing will go wrong.

It’s also fairly obvious from this point which characters are probably going to be the most interesting. Masura, who’s arc looks to be coming up in the next episode, is implied to be very demented based on what he’s said so far. Although we don’t know much about, Yosuke also seems like someone who’s character will be a lot more interesting than implied. His shyness, while making him look innocent enough, might also be a sign that he is hiding something he doesn’t want others to find out about him. Takami, whose father is a member of the Japanese Diet, also looks like she is hiding something about herself in favor of appearing as a dignified daughter.

A topic that comes up in a lot of anime, this one especially, is the idea of doing something for the collective versus doing something for the individual. So far, the show has portrayed the idea of doing for the collective in a very negative light. After all, when they tried to work together to save the world from the first of the 15 aliens that are going to attack earth Waku ended up dying just for piloting the ship, even though he won.

Aside from the ideological aspects of the show, it still has some things to like about it. while the animation is older, and the CG doesn’t look as good as it probably did, It still holds up in quality. The character designs overall are a little plain, and at times it can be hard to tell characters apart.

Musically the show is nothing to ride home about so far. It works for setting up the scenes that it needs to, but aside from that, it hasn’t shown any outstanding qualities so far. The opening is nice to listen to and is somewhat reminiscent of Evangelion’s opening, albeit much less up beat.

I’m definitely excited to move forward with the show. I doubt I will be excited with anything animation or music wise that the show has to offer, but I am genuinely curious to see what the show does with its setup and what it has to say about that setup.

 

Review- From the New World(Shin Sekai Yori): One of the Greats(SPOILERS)

When I first started this blog for sharing my watching experience I wrote a review of Eureka Seven and said that it was one of the best shows I’ve seen to date. Two months later and I’ve watched another near perfect show. From the New World is not only one of the best anime I’ve ever seen, It’s also a piece of art that should be recognized for its wonderful dystopian story and masterful presentation.

To say that the writing is good is to sell this show short. Its brilliance begins with its premise: a story of a world torn apart by a war against a group of people who, in the course of human evolution, developed the ability to manipulate reality with his or her mind. In a new society set a millennium after the war tore apart the world, a town made up of humans with reality manipulating powers lives in relative peace.

What makes From the New World’s writing so interesting has a lot to do with the town itself. Most of the struggles in our main character Saki’s life come as a direct or indirect result of the leaders of the town, who generally comprise either the Ethics Committee and the Education Committee. Under the authority of these groups, the town has become what can only be described as a hyper-authoritarian state. The ability to move outside of the spiritual barrier that has been setup around the town is highly restricted. It is also found out later that the ethics committee has hypnotized all the groups of children accept Saki and her friends in order to make sure that they do not go against the committee’s wishes. This setup serves to show just how seriously the powers that they hold are taken. Someone with their Psychokinetic powers could easily kill thousands of those without it. As such, the Ethics Committee felt as though they had to protect their peace.

The show does make sure to call into question the morality of their policies of the Committees often. After all, they send out Trickster Cats to eliminate those who they feel are a problem, and they are openly hostile to those who question their authority. These actions are always shown in much darker and unforgiving light.

Saki and her friends ultimately carry the show. It is through their eyes that we see the corruption of the town’s leadership throughout all stages of their lives. Saki, the shows main character, is portrayed as someone who is constantly the learning. As she grows up she learns more and more about their town Kamisu 66 and what really goes on behind the scenes. It is through her that we find out about the trickster cats, the leader of the ethics committee Tomiko, and the treatment of the Monster Rats. She is both our main perspective of the world and also herself a bystander to its tragedy. It is also through her that we see a loss of innocence, both in herself and her friends, as they learn about the horrors of their history and about the society they live in.

Wataru is also an important character and one that complements Saki well. When she is in a moment of hesitation and she feels like she can’t move on it’s Wataru that snaps her out of it. We also see the world through his eyes, to a lesser extent, but as he grows up with her Wataru becomes a bit more cynical of the world than Saki. He is constantly making Saki evaluate the decisions she is going to make while also being there to protect her.

The Music in the show isn’t what I would call the greatest, but it is by no means bad. It does well to complement the tones of the scenes they are used in, whether those tones are romantic or horrific. I do have to mention one song, in particular, Kage no Denshouka Daisanbu, which while being one of the most prominent songs in the show is also the best song and is definitely worth listening to on its own.

It’s very hard to find fault in a show like From the New World given how perfectly executed it is, but then we get to the animation. Admittedly it gets better as the show goes on, but it the beginning it is really jarring inconsistent some of the characters look, especially during scenes when the characters are the focus. Although, I can definitely see an argument of this being intentional. As the show goes on the animation of Saki and her friends becomes more rigid and structured, mirroring her conformity to the society of the town.

I’ve had a lot more to say about this show because I feel like it deserves a good explanation of why it’s so great, and I hope this review has done it the justice it deserves. From the New World is a show that will stand the test of time because of its quality storytelling and ability to portray tragedy in all the complexity and nuance that a story like it requires. It is definitely a must-watch.

Shin Sekai Yori(From the New World): My Thoughts So Far(SPOILERS)

As long as I have been watching anime, about five years now that is, I can honestly say that shows like Shin Sekai Yori do not come along often. It is a show that not only presents a fascinating world, but also one with some very interesting ideas.

One of the things that stands out the most to me is the plot point that everyone in the society that Saki and the others lived in is made up entirely of Psycho-kinetics. Being able to control things with your mind isn’t an especially new idea, but when given to an entire population there can be serious repercussions, and the show presents that well. It portrays an extremely authoritarian society that gives the kids very little freedom when it comes to using there powers.

Speaking of that authoritarian society, the way they show it is both subtle but effective. In the first episode or so, The kids in the class are asked to read two different stories: one of an ogre, and one of a karmic demon. Saki and the others later find out on trip to into the woods that both of these stories come from illnesses that affect Psychokinesis users, but the only reason they find out this information is because of a wandering library that they weren’t supposed to find out about. We can assume based off of these scenes that this is a very restricted environment.

One of the other curious things that kept coming up in the first episode was the idea that now that the kids are the Unified school that they are now considered adults, even though they are 12 years old when the story starts out.

There is also the not very well addressed(so far, anyway)disappearance of two different students after not using their powers correctly. It seems to me that much like My Hero Academia, the powers that be are much more concerned with preserving peace and order than they are helping any individual, even to the point of making them disappear if they threaten that order.

If this seems a little incoherent, then no its not you. The show looks like it has so many things that it wants to do and say, and it hasn’t gotten the chance to do and say them yet. My recommendation, based on six episodes, is to give it a chance if you’ve been skeptical. There’s so much going on, but not in the sense that the show has no direction. Certainly, Shin Sekai Yori is a great work of art so far.

Nagi no Asukara: My Thoughts So Far(SPOILERS)

Honestly, I’m a bit ashamed of myself at not having seen this show sooner. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not my favorite by any stretch of the imagination, but there is something about this show that really draws me in and just makes me want to sit on the couch and keep watching. Even after only watching just 7 episodes, I’m convinced that this is going to be one of my highest rated show of 2017, up there with Eureka Seven.

The show has set up its story very well, with its rivalry between people of the land and people of the sea and that rivalry’s affect on the main characters being a focal point. It does this by showing the simple, more traditional lifestyle of the people of the sea and contrasting that with the busy, modern day Japan and how the differences in how their cultures have developed over a long period of time.

Another thing I find interesting about the show is the idea of the Ena, the mystical veil granted to them by the god of the sea that allows them to live underwater. The way its used to show just how different the two peoples are is fantastic, and it also feeds into the tribal mentality that both groups have.

The characters, while not extremely developed, are already showing signs of maturing as they find out more about the rivalry between the sea and the land. Hikari started the show being very immature and hot headed, but not even half way through the show he realizes the truth behind why people from the sea never come back, that they are banished from the clan, and realizes that this rule is only hurting the people he loves. This includes his crush Manaka, who he finds out possibly has feelings for a boy from the surface, and Hikari decides that he wants to change things through the Ofunehiki, a festival meant appease the sea god, which he tries to make happen with help from friends on the land. This maturing in just seven episodes from a 26 episode series gives me a lot of confidence about it going forward.

The aesthetic of the animation is also something I find myself a fan of. Everything in the show is tinted in a light blue, symbolic of the story revolving around the ocean and its people. The light blue coloring also highlights the emotional gravitas of the show, as the relationships between the main characters already seem strained, and seem like they will be getting more so in the future.

This is one show that as I continue watching continues to excite me, depress me, and go up and down like an emotional roller coaster. The idea of a relationship possibly being ruined by hatred between to groups is certainly not an original one, but I do think that this show will do it much better.

 

 

 

Review- Hellsing: Ultimate: About as Fun as an Anime Can Be

I find myself more and more looking at anime, and entertainment, through a more analytical lens. This is mostly due to having read How to Read Literature Like a Professor by Thomas Foster. After reading the book I couldn’t help but just look for the details of what was going on. Even though it was mainly meant for western literature, I still find myself applying its core ideas to anime. Hellsing: Ultimate, however, was a show that I could very easily turn my brain off and just watch the blood splatter everywhere.

Following the leader of the Hellsing, Sir Integra, and her powerful vampire servant Alucard, Hellsing Ultimate is a remake of the original 2001 adaptation of Hellsing. It follows the bloody, spine-tingling adventures of Hellsing’s work, and how it leads up to a war against a group of Nazi soldiers that escaped World War 2. The group now known as Mellenium seeks to start a war against England, and the leader of Millennium seeks revenge against Alucard.

Oh, and did I mention that there are Vampire Nazis in this show too? Cause that really is a selling point of this show. Anituber Glass Reflections often speaks about how a certain percentage of shows generally operate on the “Rule of Cool.” This essentially means that even when a show is lacking in factors like Music or characters, it is still able to be enjoyable due to the sheer amount of awesome on screen, and Ultimate knows how to use this rule to its full effect.

Ultimate takes an idea like vampires, which has had many different, often repeated, interpretations in popular media, and manages to make it fun again. Alucard’s demonic powers are beautifully animated, along with the rest of the show. Whenever he fought, my eyes were always glued to the screen, so much so that I would forget that I was hungry.

Aside from riding the “Rule of Cool,” Ultimate has a lot to offer in other categories. It’s soundtrack, while not being as good as the original 2001 adaptation, still manages to set the tone no matter what the scene, especially near the end of the show after the Major’s ship crash lands in London.

As I mentioned before, the show is breathtakingly animated, especially when it comes to the fight scenes. Each movement feels smooth and in place, aside from a few wonky slow moments. The color palette for the show almost always feels perfect for the setting at hand. Alucard specifically always looks fantastic in his signature black and red outfit.

The show is by no means dumb. In fact, there are many ideas that are worthy of there own analytical pieces, like the ideas of being a monster vs being human, but if your looking for the epitome of fun, then Hellsing: Ultimate is definitely worth your time.