Monthly Archives: March 2011

Infinite Stratos

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: Low

Favorite Character: Chifuyu

Opinion: Excuse me while I go throw up

 

Synopsis

Infinite Stratos (IS), a weaponized exoskeleton system, has become the dominant tool of warfare and conflict. Unfortunately for the men in society, only women are able to operate Infinite Stratos… with very few exceptions. One of those exceptions is ORIMURA Ichika, an orphan raised by his older sister who is herself a famous IS pilot. When his compatibility with IS is discovered after he accidentally touches an IS at the age of 15, he’s given a scholarship and enrolled in a school that specializes in training IS pilots. Which of course means an… intersting life surrounded by girls for this shy, unassuming boy.

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

This is another pick by Kaze and he picked it because he was under the impression that it was all mech things and fighting. Both of us were a little disappointed to read that synopsis and discover it’s a harem anime. I’m not particularly looking forward to this series. The art looks good but I just don’t care about that plot. It actually kind of annoys me because it sets up for some badass female characters and then makes the hero the rare guy that can be awesome too, most likely reducing all those badass women to a series of inartistic boob jokes. Don’t misunderstand me though, I have enjoyed harem anime in the  past. I was a big fan of Tenchi when it was on Cartoon Network and I enjoyed Ai Yori Aoshi (mostly) when I watched it in an anime club. We’ll see what happens when we watch it.

Favorite Character

I picked Cifuyu because, being the related to our main character, she’s the only one who doesn’t want to get in his pants. And she abuses him constantly, which is extremely refreshing.

Overall Opinion

What they did well: The art isn’t bad. The concept is awesome. In episode 4 they introduced a plot point that might be interesting if they ever get around to caring about it again. The personal IS designs are neat.

What they didn’t do well: So I have watched harem anime that I liked, they can be done well. But this wasn’t one of them. Every single girl was totally hot for Ichika from the moment they laid eyes on him. In episode 5 we finally got another boy and I’m pretty sure he’s hot for Ichika too*. That’s right folks, our main character has a magic penis. Occassionally we get nice fight scenes but mostly it’s just fanservice, fanservice, fanservice. I knew by the end of the first episode that I wasn’t going to like this series and I was right. It felt like the creator had two ideas, this awesome action battlesuit anime and a porno and got them mixed up in the pitch; imagine – a battlesuit porno. And for some reason I cannot fathom somebody was okay with that.

A friend actually suggested this to Kaze on the basis of cool battlesuit so obviously some people like this series. It probably helps if you’re a boy because you don’t have to be thoroughly disgusted by the obvious need every woman has to be with a man regardless of looks or personality. Personally I would never suggest anyone watch this ever. It was painful.

*After searching for pictures of the characters to put above, I’ve discovered that Charles will eventually become a woman (or at least grow boobs). Don’t ask me how that happens, I don’t know and I don’t intend to find out.

Next Official Review: Theoretically Baccano, but no promises.

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Full Review: Romeo X Juliet

Two warnings before I begin. First, I am not marking for spoilers. I would, but everything I feel the need to speak about happens to be all spoilery. Therefore, spoilers abound here. Second, there is not going to be anything nice following. Having watched the end of Romeo X Juliet I am compelled to rant at length about its shortcomings. If you like this show, even a little, you may not want to read on.

 

 

What they did well: Kaze really liked the armor designs. Most of the characters (that weren’t evil) were likeable.

 

What they didn’t do well: Everything else.

I said in my 5 ep review that the characters are very flat in that they are either good or evil and there is no in between. That’s still true. The winner of the ambiguous loyalty prize is Hermione who very much wanted to kill Juliet until she managed to have a real chat with her and discover that she wasn’t a manipulative bitch after all. At that point she disappears from the show almost entirely.

Tybalt appeared in like episode 6 and I was predisposed to like him. He had a cool character design, he came in kicking ass, and he is voiced by Okiayuu Ryoutarou (I think I’ve mentioned I’m a fan). But after saving Benvolio’s family from assassination he vanished. Reappeared to save Juliet from an obvious trap at the request of Francisco, disappeared again. Reappeared to be one of the people kicking ass in the final fight. He literally could have been written out of the script and it would have made absolutely no difference at all. And he wasn’t really fighting for anything in the first place. So I didn’t really like him much at all. I wish they had written him out.

To me the whole series kind of dragged on a bit. Around episode 12 I started wanting it to be wrapping up but they kept going for twice that. Most of the episodes between there and the actual end episodes felt unnecessary. I had been meaning to take the series in one sitting and post this review on like Sunday, but I had to quit around 17 and couldn’t bring myself to finish it until proper anime craving struck last night at around 9. It just felt like it was meant to be a 12 episode series but when they got there they weren’t done so they made it a 26 episode series, but even they couldn’t make it last that long so it fell down to 24.

And last but not least there is the end. I knew going into this that there was a good chance that they would both die at the end. I also knew that there was a good chance the reason would be stupid, like they both kill themselves because they can’t live in this world without each other. But Romeo X Juliet surpassed all imagining. For those of you reading this having not seen the series I’ll fill in some of the weird blanks. See, Neo Verona is a floating island/continent in the sky and once upon a time it was sustained entirely by two enormous trees. But these trees, like god, are opposed to sin so at some point when someone committed some grievous sin one of them died leaving the second tree, Escalus, to hold up the world. Escalus was doing the job rather well but apparently it was getting tired so it was dying too. Now Escalus has this spirit lady looking after it named Ophelia. Ophelia tells Juliet that she has the seed of Escalus inside her and that if she sacrifices herself the tree and everyone else will live. I wasn’t happy with the prospect of Juliet killing herself to become a tree, but it beats doing it because she’s sad. But Romeo finds out and he, Curio, Francisco, and Tybalt bravely fight to stop her from becoming a tree. And they win! Yay! Except Romeo and Ophelia have just killed each other and he is now dead….crap. And then Juliet in all her wisdom decides that since Romeo is dead she’ll be a tree after all. What was the point of that entire episode of fighting? They saved her from becoming a tree so that she could become a tree. Who wrote this crap? So they die and everyone else is happy forever more.

Also the nitpicky things that annoyed me: Juliet decides to dethrone Montague as The Red Whirlwind so that it’s not a Capulet thing, it’s a Neo Verona revolution thing. But they immediately unmask her and she spends the rest of the series riding out as Juliet. And at the end Tybalt takes Petruchio’s little siblings for a ride on Celio but how the hell did he find Celio in the middle of a dense forest in the first place?

 

I didn’t like it. I maybe liked it a tiny bit more if we assume that I don’t already hate the original. I don’t recommend it. Just read the play, it’s shorter and it might actually be less frustrating. Plus there’s that whole thumb biting scene which is just awesome.

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Romeo X Juliet

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: Medium

Favorite Character: The Doctor

Opinion: We shall see

Synopsis

This is a story of a young and tragic love, set in the aerial city of Neo Verona. Tyranny rules this island in the sky after the Montague family took control 14 years prior. The disparity among the wealthy and poor is apparent in the present state, the earth dries and water stagnates. The sky itself is wrapped in a deep dense fog. Both Romeo and Juliet’s lineages are of present and past ruling families of Neo Verona. Romeo is the son of the current Montague dictator, Juliet (a beautiful woman) masquerades as a man (Odin), she’s the last descendent of Capulet the previous rulers who were killed by an assasin’s dagger 14 years ago. Her true background is not to be revealed to her until her 16th birthday. The cruel hands of fate introduces 2 people who will become “Star Crossed Lovers”.

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

This is another one that I have mixed feelings on. The art caught my attention the other day so that’s a plus. But honestly I’m not a huge fan of Shakespeare. I’ve never read any of his comedies and I just don’t enjoy tragedies, and of course Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy. That being said, one of my all time favorite movies is loosely based on Romeo and Juliet, so with enough adaptation decay I know I can enjoy the story. I’ve heard Romeo X Juliet has a fair amount of adaptation decay so it could be awesome…or everybody could still die in the end. We’ll see.

Favorite Character

I picked the doctor but this show has a pretty good cast overall. I like Romeo and Juliet and Benvolio is okay and the dragonhorse (Cielo?) is cool and Cordelia and whatever those other’s names are too. They’re all pretty good. But I like the doctor as the brave and good hearted everyman character rather than a central character. Plus he kind of finishes up episode 5 in a spectacular manner and that being what I have just seen, leaves an impression.

Overall Opinion

What’s really interesting about this series for me is that it kind of flips all of my personal impressions of Romeo and Juliet. I always thought of the Capulets as the more noble and wealthy family but here the Montagues are the aristocracy. If I had to color code I’d have made Romeo red and Juliet blue (or white) and here it is the other way around. Mercutio, who amuses me in the original by making jokes about his own death while dying, seems to be a total dick in this adaptation. I guess in a sense for me it’s like they just took all the names and switched them or something, it’s kinda weird to watch.

What they did well: The characters are likeable. The costumes are fun. The story is different but still knit together very nicely. Also, I like that Juliet is cross-dressing and playing a very Zorro-esque role. They also make little references here and there to the original play and others written by Shakespeare in a tasteful way that feels like a nice tribute to the source.

What they didn’t do well: While the characters are good they all seem to have pretty cookie cutter roles. The heroes are all good and the bad guys are all bad. The closest we get to sort of bad but also kind of good is Benvolio and I think he’s really just good but knows better than to be a reckless hero. They put William Shakespeare in as a character and it feels more like a joke than a tribute which, despite my not being particularly fond of the man’s work, kind of annoys me.

Overall I have yet to decide on this one. It seems to be an interesting series so far and I’m inclined to enjoy it. But it also gives me the feeling that one or both of them is still likely to die in the end and I just don’t enjoy that. Certainly if you aren’t worries about a tragic ending you might enjoy it. If you’re a Shakespear purist I’d stay away from it. And if you’re like me and want the happy ending I’ll just have to get back to you. Fortunately I have some free time coming and I’m putting this on priority.

Next Official Review: Infinite Stratos

As a side note, the above mentioned free time may lead to extra updates this week, look forward to it.

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Durarara

 

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: Low-Medium

Favorite Character: Kida

Opinion: Awesome

 

For a more fun version of this lineup click the link below and watch the opening.

Opening Theme

 

Synopsis

Ryuugamine Mikado is a boy who longs for the exciting life of the big city. At the invitation of his childhood friend Masaomi, he transfers to a school in Ikebukuro. Masaomi has warned him about people he doesn’t want to cross in the city: a champion fighter, an informant, and a mysterious gang called “Dollars.” Nervous from Masaomi’s stories, Mikado witnesses an urban legend on his first day in the city, the Headless Rider astride a black motorcycle. From then on, the existence of supernatural cases and a gang called the Yellow Turbans will rise to the surface, and Ikebukuro will pushed to the breaking point.

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

 

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

My feelings going into this are really up in the air. I really don’t think the synopsis of this anime sounds particularly interesting. The thing is, every time I see a screencap or artwork from this series it catches my attention. I’ve checked the source for a lot of pictures only to find Durarara as the series. Also it seems at least marginally popular and I’ve gotten into a habbit of checking out popular series lately, though usually to my disappointment. I was going to do this last week but since no one had made a request I wasn’t obligated and couldn’t muster the drive to do so. This week I’m determined so here goes.

 

Favorite Character

I really liked Kida pretty much from the moment he came onscreen. Apparently I enjoy his lame sense of humor because I was cracking up when he offered Mikado the three options as to who he might be (“One: Masamomi Kida, Two: Masaomi Kida, or Three: Masaomi Kida”). There’s just something awesome about his energy whenever he’s onscreen.

 

Overall Opinion

This series is a sucker punch. I read the synopsis and Kaze read the synopsis and both of us thought it didn’t sound interesting at all really. And then I watched the first episode and he caught the last half of it and we both sat up and paid attention.

What they did well: The opening theme, if you didn’t click the link and watch it, is amazing. It sets the mood of the series from the first second. I especially love how they built in a space in the theme where they insert the tedious ‘last time on’ recap smoothly so that it’s not this obnoxious period of boredom. Really, I feel Durarara has mastered the art of the recap. So far just about every episode has sort of recapped bits of other episodes without making it feel like worthless recap. Somewhere towards the end of episode two I realized I was watching episode one from another angle. It’s brilliantly done. Durarara also manages to blend the serious with the ridiculous in a seamless fashion; I’d like to give a better explanation of how they do it, but it defies words.

What they didn’t do well: I kind of understand why the opening theme takes the time to tell you everyone’s names, there are a bunch of characters and I’m only kind of grasping some of their names. I’ve got Kida, Mikado, Sonohara, and Selty, everyone else I had to look up. It also really annoys me that they gave Selty a voice. Selty is a Dullahan (apparently a Celtic fairy with no head), she has no mouth with which to speak and she doesn’t speak. Whenever  we hear her voice she is texting, either on her phone or the computer. So why did they feel the need to put a voice there? She’s not really talking and it sort of takes away from the character presented.

Personal Prediction: The girl with the scars around her neck is Selty’s head.

 

Try it. Just try it. If you don’t like it then you don’t but it’s worth a shot. It may very well surprise you, it sure surprised me.

 

Next Official Review: Suggestions?

 

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Kenichi The Mightiest Disciple

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: Low

Favorite Character:

Opinion:

Synopsis

Shirahama Kenichi is an average student who has earned the nickname “Weak Legs” from always getting bullied. One day he meets a cute girl named Furinji Miu who helps him build the courage to begin training at a mysterious dojo where she lives. Here Kenichi faces intense training from masters of many different martial arts styles as he attempts to become stronger.

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

This is another series that my husband saw a preview for and asked me to watch with him for the blog. Honestly I’m not crazy about the prospect. I’m not as interested in fighting and martial arts as Kaze is and I don’t think the artwork looks particularly impressive. I’ll give it a shot because he asked me to watch it with him, but I’m not holding out for it to be the best anime ever. I may like it, hard to say. I like a wide range of things and it wouldn’t be the first time I enjoyed a fighting anime that he picked out.

Favorite Character

I just… there are no words. They’re all so stupid I can’t decide.

Overall Opinion

What they did well: This series is hilarious in the most ridiculous way possible. Every single character redefines stupid with every scene and somehow manages to amuse all the same. It was also pretty fun seeing how Kenichi improved. They honestly do make him struggle for each increase in ability with intensive training that Kaze tells me is fairly accurate. Lastly it’s kind of nice to see a girl character who can kick just about everyone else’s ass. I’m not really into feminism in any real sort of way, but occasionally it’s nice to see a girl who doesn’t scream whenever bad things happen.

What they didn’t do well: Every character redefines stupid with every scene, and I’m not joking. Also Kenichi keeps driving me nuts with his attitude. He is progressively getting stronger and at a rate his peers cannot fathom but he still shakes like a scared rabbit and whines about being too weak with each fight. I understand feeling he may not be able to win, but you’d think at some point he would just suck it up and say ‘Then I’ll train more’ rather than ‘Oh noes the pain’. Then there’s the fanservice. Miu has boobs of phenomenal proportions and they feel the need to fling them around pretty regularly… I’m not completely opposed to well placed fanservice, but the people who made this show wouldn’t know subtle placement if it kicked their ass as severely as Miu herself could.

Overall I’ll recommend this one with qualifiers. If you like comedy, take even a mild interest in martial arts, and don’t mind gratuitous fanservice then give this one a shot because it’ll probably make you laugh. If comedy or fanservice are a real turnoff for you then steer clear of this one, you’ll hate it.

Next Official Review: You tell me.

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