Category Archives: Full Reviews

This is where we put the full reviews, however few of them there may be.

Full Review: No. 6

Image

Quick & Dirty
Genre(s):  adventure, drama, psychological, science fiction

Language:  Japanese
Initial Interest:  Mid – High
Favorite Character:  Nezumi
Opinion:  Pretty good
Likely to Finish: Done

 Image

Synopsis
Sion is a bright teenager living a comfortable and promising life inside No. 6, one of this six remaining city-states created by The Babylon Treaty after the last great war devastated the world. On the rainy evening of his twelfth birthday, he meets a savvy adolescent who calls himself “Nezumi” (Rat) and is desperately trying to runaway from the authorities. For helping a fugitive of the state, Sion is stripped of all his privileges. Four years later, they meet once again. For better or for worse, Sion is about to unravel the secrets guarded deep inside No. 6. (Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
This is another post-viewing pre-viewing thoughts, sorry.

I can’t honestly remember what my initial thoughts were on this. I remember seeing something at some point that made me want to check it out. That desire was later increased by further images and such. But I sort of stopped watching anime for… well since my last review here (apparently a year and a half, wow) so I never got around to it. But I’ve been trolling around Tumblr for a year now (MumbleMoose) and some people I follow are really excited about Free! So I watched the first episode (all that is currently available) and was suddenly hungry for more anime. I wandered around a bit trying to decide what to watch when I remembered that this series was somewhere in my mental queue, so I watched it.

Favorite Character
I was pretty well on board with most of the cast, honestly. I picked Nezumi because it was really a choice between him and Sion (everyone else is sort of background/side characters) and I just like Nezumi a little better. He was kind of cool and totally badass and the further you got into the show the more you realized he was mostly just trying to hide how horribly vulnerable and wounded he really was. Plus he’s pretty and has a great voice (what can I say, part of me is very shallow).

Overall Opinion
What they did well: The characters are all pretty likeable. The characters were also pretty clean cut, their motivations and actions made sense and I never felt like anyone was completely out of character despite the fact that Nezumi believes this of Sion at one point.

What they didn’t do well: A lot of what I disliked about this series came down to it being too short. No. 6 has a pretty intricate plot that can’t very well be navigated in 11 episodes. They did the best they could but it kind of fell short. And now I’m going to explain that a bit more clearly in invisible text because it literally spoils the entire series, highlight to read. Otherwise scroll, it got lengthy.

So the overall premise is that we destroyed the world with war and left only 6 areas inhabitable which then became numbered cities. No. 6 somehow manages to become a big conspiracy with a massively controlling government which discourages reading of the classics (and probably most fiction books), art, and dissenting thought. Those who speak ill of the city or are otherwise deemed unwanted are rounded up and killed or driven out. This is about half the plot.

The second half of the plot involves a weird killer bee virus. People are randomly getting sick and super aging before a bee hatches out of the neck of their corpse. It’s a problem.

Additionally, we find out near the end that when they built No. 6 it was a forest and they massacred the people living there to try to get access to/control what seems to be some sort of bee goddess. Nezumi is the sole survivor of this forest nation and therefore despises No. 6 and everyone in it.

That’s a lot to cover in 11 episodes and they missed out a lot by not making it longer. We get a few brief sentences about the forest people that leaves a lot wanting. These few sentences are also essentially all we get of Nezumi’s backstory. This especially frustrates me because it’s heavily implied that he spent some time in the custody of No. 6’s officials which is never expanded on or explained very well. Theoretically they wanted to figure him out to help with the controlling the goddess thing but for most of the series it sounds like they had him for some time (a couple years maybe). Obviously this is also never made clear.

The bee thing is also really vague. In the end I couldn’t tell if the city was engineering the bees to kill their enemies or if they were a random anomaly the city was trying to handle while keeping secret or what. Eventually Safu, Sion’s childhood friend ends up being used to do something with/about the bees and fuses with the goddess to enact a bee massacre on the city. It isn’t really explained how or why Safu was an important component in the bee issue though. They also didn’t really explain how the goddess chose who died. You see a lot of the more affluent looking people die off in droves but you also see that the guy who was actively trying to overthrow the government get killed.

Really, even the general premise behind No. 6’s sinister government isn’t very well explored. We get to see No. 5 briefly and it isn’t nearly as strictly policed. There’s a scene where Safu comes home from No. 5 with an art book and they tell her she can’t bring it into the city. She’s also re-issued an ID bracelet that an elderly woman quickly comments on saying she knew Safu was from No. 6 because outsiders are usually really uncomfortable with the bracelets. But if there’s travel between the different cities (even limited travel) you’d think the people outside No. 6 might at least talk about how No. 6 is a bad/dangerous/weird place. But Safu returns to No. 6 oblivious to the strangeness of its system and only begins to question it when she finds out Sion has been labeled a criminal (apparently a murderer).

Sion’s appearance also annoyed the crap out of me. Everyone who gets infected with the bees ages rapidly and dies. Their skin turns kind of purplish, their hair turns white, and they die. But theoretically these cosmetic changes are the natural result of rapid aging. So when Sion manages to thwart the rapid aging/death part of being infected by having Nezumi cut out the bee, why does he get a weird mark wrapping around his body, white hair, and red eyes? I’m pretty sure the answer is because the animators thought it looked cool but that’s not really a reason.

Overall it could have been so much more amazing if the series had just been longer. 26 episodes might have done the trick but I feel like to really do the story justice it should have clocked in around 50. But it was 11. So we got almost no backstory for Nezumi, very little backstory for the world, slightly more backstory for No. 6. No real backstory for the area outside the city where Nezumi lived. And nowhere near enough build up.

Actually, that reminds me. How did the city outside No. 6 work? They start of saying that only these 6 areas were inhabitable but then there’s this entire city that is theoretically outside those areas. Was it just that it was close enough to No. 6 that it wasn’t in the uninhabitable area? Was the rest of the world actually okay now (even though N0. 6 is maybe 15 years old)? What was the deal?

Also, I really hated the opening theme, I wish they’d switched it with the ending.

In the end I actually did like the series, don’t get me wrong. I just think I would have liked it better if it had been long enough to really explore all the plot points.

Scoring

:Image

Next official review: No idea.

Okay, so obviously I haven’t been watching anime and writing for this blog for over a year. I feel like I’m ready to get back to it now. The trouble is that I feel so out of touch with anime that I don’t even know where to start. So if any of you are actually reading this, please please please suggest something.

Also, I’ve gotten a couple of comments/emails in the last month or so and if you’re one of the people who sent those, I promise I will reply soon.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Anime, Full Reviews

Full Review: Baccano

And once more the full review without the 5 episode review because after 5 episodes, knowing that there were only 11 more, I decided to just keep going.

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: Medium

Favorite Character: Firo

Opinion: I’m not sure

Apologies for the bad images, Google failed.

Or you can go here and see if the video will play.

Synopsis

Each of the stories in the series involves several unrelated plots intersecting and crossing each other as events spiral farther and farther out of control. Immortal alchemists, mafia operated speakeasies, and many other elements of pulp fiction mashed together for a world straight out of the movies.

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

 

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

First let me just say that the above has got to be one of the worst synopses I’ve ever read. Really it will only be excusable if the plot defies explanation. I’m not exactly sure how I feel going into this one. It doesn’t sound interesting but I’ve had enough people whose anime judgement I trust recommend it to make me curious. I also like the art style. Let’s begin.

 

Favorite Character

I picked Firo because he was a fun character over all. Also it helped that the only person he killed throughout the entire series completely deserved it, something that most of the characters can’t boast. He’s one of those characters that seems to get along well with everyone so he had to be pretty likeable I guess. I think he cemented his place as my favorite character when he got into a fight with Dallas and did all the fancy dodge and jump tricks with the hat.

 

Overall Opinion

I’m gonna say that this series was kind of gory at various points. I can’t really file that under either the did well or didn’t do well category because while I wasn’t crazy about the amount of gore, I also feel like it was a necessary result of the premise. The premise, by the way, is that a bunch of New York gangsters in the 1930’s somehow became immortal and how they did it and some extra stuff on a train. The timeline was presented in a kind of mixed up order which was both genius and obnoxious at the same time. More than once I had to walk myself through the appropriate order of things before I could understand what was going on and yet I think that it might not have been as powerful if they hadn’t thrown it in the mixer first.

What they did well: The story was really interesting. I found myself curious about various aspects of the story and how this character came to that and what happened after this event. There were a lot of characters but they made all of them unique and interesting and did a good job of getting their names across (putting name cards in the opening theme may have helped).

What they didn’t do well: They had a lot of characters for a 16 episode series which means that a lot of them didn’t get a lot of development and/or screen time. Also, while the characters were interesting within the context of the story I didn’t find most of them likeable. Pretty much all of them were murderers and criminals and generally not really very nice people. The two who were the dumbest criminals to never get caught were mostly decent people but they were so stupid that I couldn’t decide if I liked them.

 

Overall I just have no idea what to say about this series. I think I liked it but I just can’t say for certain. If you don’t like gore don’t watch it, otherwise I’d say give it a shot. You’ll know pretty quick whether you want to watch the whole thing or not, but whether you’ll know if you liked it at the end is another question.

 

 

Next Official Review: Dance In The Vampire Bund

 

1 Comment

Filed under Anime, Full Reviews

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.

1 Comment

Filed under Anime, Full Reviews

Full Review: Sukisho

First of all apologies for being late this week. Second, this is another full review without a 5 episode preceding it. Lastly, fair warning for all you fine folks out there, Sukisho is a shounen-ai/yoai/boy’s love anime. If you dislike this sort of thing, do not feel obligated to read the review or watch the series.

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: High

Favorite Character: Sora/Yoru

Opinion: Awesome

Synopsis

After falling out of a 4th story window, Hashiba Sora has lost his memory. He returns to his school to find a new roommate in his dormitory. Sora gradually begins to fall in love with his new male roommate, while trying to put together pieces of his past.

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

There’s a story that goes along with my introduction to Sukisho and I’m going to tell it regardless of relevance, feel free to skip to the next paragraph. There is a store near-ish my house that buys/sells/trades music, movies, games, and electronics. They have a section reserved for box sets that I scan whenever I visit to look for cheap anime. One day while doing this very thing I ran across Sukisho. The cover art caught my attention and I read the back of the box and it sounded interesting. The price tag said $4.99. I bought it. I’ve bought series I liked less for a lot more so to me a $5 series that sounded interesting was worth the risk. I watched it, it was awesome.

I watched this anime when I bought it which may have been more than a year ago now, hard to say. Then around the end of December I showed it to one of my good friends who I felt  could appreciate it as much as I did. She was the one who said that I should review it for Valentine’s Day, which I had to agree was a stroke of genius. Sadly it is now the day after Valentine’s Day, but close enough to still be fun.

Favorite Character

I say Sora/Yoru is my favorite character. For those of you who have never seen thing, and I’m willing to bet that’s most of you, Sora and Yoru have a Yugi/Yami thing going on. They inhabit the same body but have completely different personalities. Sora is kind of fluffy and cute (though not nearly as squishy as Yugi overall) and Yoru seems a little devious and dangerous. I do know what the deal is with the pair but I’m not going to spoil it. Yoru’s not a thousand year old pharaoh possessing  Sora thought, if you were wondering.

Overall Opinion

I once read a statement in which someone claimed that Char (from Mobile Suit Gundam) was “the gayest gay that ever gayed”. I hate Amuro and therefore find Mobile Suit Gundam fairly unwatchable, so I can’t speak to the gayness Char may or may not posess… What I can say without a doubt is that the person saying that never say Sukisho. This series is, without question, the gayest gay that ever gayed. Just so we’re clear, this statement is not meant to be offensive, if you watch the series you’ll have to agree, trust me. Or just let me explain a little.

Sukisho is actually the abridged title. The full title is Suki na mono ga suki dakara, shouganai yo. Which roughly translates to “I like what I like, so there” according to the series subtitles and “I like what I like, so there’s nothing I can do” according to me. In this series everyone is gay. You think that’s an exaggeration, and you’re right, but only just. Sora, Sunao, Ichikawa, Minato, and Nanami are all gay and Kai Nagase is in the last episode. There are like 15 characters total in this series, 5-6 of which are gay. Now, that’s not a majority by a longshot but most of the others are kids, barely in it, or the series just doesn’t explore their sexuality. Of the gay characters, one is not really main cast and of the not necessarily gay characters one is really main cast. And there are no straight relationships anywhere…except their one friend’s dad is apparently getting remarried and I think they imply it’s a woman, but these people do not appear onscreen. Are you convinced yet? Let’s move on to the review.

What they did well: There’s actually a really interesting plot mixed in with the insanity that is Sukisho and it’s interesting getting it all worked out. The characters are fun to watch as well. Some of this series was ridiculously over the top but it was still fun anyway. Also, I’ve heard some people complain that while there are countless stories/series/media where everyone is straight (which isn’t realistic even if some of you may want it to be) there isn’t really any where everyone is gay, so this one’s for them.

What they didn’t do well: This series has some glaring why the face moments* that cannot be overcome by a rational mind. First of all, Sora starts out in what I termed “The Gay Academy for Mascular** Males”. There are gay people left and right, including the two people who raised him, but he seems genuinely shocked anytime anybody talks about being gay (like in the first episode Ichikawa announces “I like Kai senpai!” and Sora spends around three episodes trying to ask him what he means by “like”). He reacts to his feelings for Sunao as you might expect a normal teenage boy to react except that saying things like “even though we’re both guys” and “is it okay” seems ridiculous in a world where the only relationships we see are homosexual. Then we have the end stuff where we find out what happened with Sora and Sunao as kids, while running away from the evil laboratory Sunao trips and twists his ankle, Minato and Nanami scoop up Sora but Sunao is left behind. We get three versions of this with varying levels of horrible mind screw but in all of them one thing is consistent, they had plenty of time to pick up both kids, why the hell didn’t they? And where are the cops? Really where are any emergency services? The basis for the actual plot part of this series is horribly illegal on every level but the characters who are being impacted by it don’t ever say anything about ‘we talked to the cops but…’, they just do it themselves. Near the end we light a building on fire but there’s no indication anybody is going to come to put it out. Also, not everyone likes the gay.

Overall I love this series. It’s priceless really and I picked it up for 5 bucks on a whim. If you don’t mind the gay, and you like some silly, I would recommend this series wholeheartedly.

Next Official Review: Undetermined.

*Why the face – it’s a joke I picked up from the series Modern Family, the dad thinks he’s hip to the texting lingo and says “WTF – why the face”. I’m willing to swear on here from time to time, but the f-word seems a bit much for an uncontrolled and anonymous audience so there it is.

**Mascular – a homosexual male. One of my friends and I were discussing something at some point and we hit upon the fact that while the word lesbian means a homosexual female, there isn’t actually a word in our language for a homosexual male. Gay is used most often but it actually applies to both male and female homosexuals. Therefore we came up with the word ‘mascular’. The specific reasons for that particular word aren’t really important, but I’m still trying to get other people to use it. Spread the word internet people, spread the word.

2 Comments

Filed under Anime, Full Reviews

Full Review: Marginal Prince

Today’s review is a little unorthodox as far as the format I’ve established thus far. I watched Marginal Prince this week purely for leisure, and while I though before I started that I ought to stop after episode 5 and do a 5 episode review, I really just wanted to go through it. I had initially intended, therefore, to watch 5 episodes of something else…but I’m not going to. Instead you get a full review of Marginal Prince without having a 5 episode review, but I’m not sure anyone reading will really mind.

Quick & Dirty

Language: Japanese

Initial Interest: High

Favorite Character: Joshua

Opinion: Mediocre at best

Synopsis

“Marginal Prince” based off of the hit love simulation game series for girls! Yuta studies abroad in a tiny, far away island in the pacific ocean name Alphonso where he enters the all-dorm, all-male Alphonso Gakuen. However, the school is really a place for the children of the famous . . . and the school specializes in classes on empires and alchemy! And one day, after studying enough at the school, the students become known as “Marginal Princes”! Learn about the stories of fate and trial as each of the students studies to become kings! (Source: MyAnimeList)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts

I mentioned in my Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood review that I adore Okiayuu Ryoutaro’s voice. This started when I heard him singing on the Gundam Wing soundtrack (Operation 4) as Treize and developed further when I heard him as the voice of Tezuka in Prince of Tennis. There is a lot of music for Prince of Tennis, which means a lot of Okiayuu Ryoutaro singing. I have a lot of this music on my computer and on CD, but I recently discovered that one of those songs that I thought was from Prince of Tennis was actually just Okiayuu Ryoutaro singing for the series Marginal Prince. That, I’m afraid, was enough to thoroughly pique my interest. So, knowing nothing about the series other than at some point Okiayuu Ryoutaro sang in it, I endeavored to watch it.

Favorite Character

My favorite character was Joshua. I’m not going to lie; most of the characters in this were pretty flat and not particularly interesting. And I know that probably a large portion of why I liked Joshua best was because he was voiced by my favorite voice actor. He was probably the most interesting character in the series, but that’s not particularly saying much.

Overall Opinion

I want to get a few things clear before I start breaking this series down. I literally knew nothing about this series when I started it. I came for the singing I was promised without any idea what the plot may have been. The synopsis up there is crap; it makes it sound a lot more interesting than the series is and has flat out lies. It reminds me of a comic I once read and a character called Bandai Guy. The subtitles on this were pretty bad. They came and went too fast often, they were grammatically incorrect, they were (I noticed a few times) just plain wrong, and when there was singing they were not clearly separated into ‘song lyrics’ and ‘dialogue’ or the song lyrics weren’t subtitled at all. I know bad subtitles will affect the viewing and enjoyment, so keep that in mind. Lastly, this series is based on a cell phone dating game. I have not played this game and cannot answer any questions about it.

What they did well: Some of the music was good, perhaps all of it but for reasons I will get to in a minute, it’s kind of hard to say. They also did a pretty good job of making character names clear.

What they didn’t do well: Let’s start with the most glaring issue here; being based on a dating sim, you would expect this anime to be a slice-of-life reverse harem anime. Think Ouran High School Host Club, if you’ve seen it. But it isn’t. It is slice-of-life or school-life, however you prefer to categorize, to an extent, but the reverse harem part is lacking a key ingredient – the girl. In this series Yuuta has just started at Alphonso Academy and he has left his sister behind. At the beginning of almost every episode he has a cell phone video chat with her where one or more of the other characters are brought in. Yuuta’s sister is, therefore, meant to be the girl. But she doesn’t have a name and you only sort of see her for the span of two seconds in one episode…toward the end. But I say it’s a slice-of-life to an extent and the curious reader will wonder what that means. Well, as it turns out Joshua is a prince. So after we’ve spent one episode with each character we begin this plotline about Joshua where he is meant to be king, feels obligated to do so, but doesn’t want to. Also, in episode 5 or 6 Sylvan starts doing something shifty and spy-like in the background. It kind of takes it out of the slice-of-life category. Also there is one more glaring issue with this series that makes me think it was meant to be another category altogether…

The music. Every episode contains a song, and I’m not exaggerating. So it starts to feel like maybe the creator really wanted to do a band anime but couldn’t get approval. Now, to be fair, apparently in the game you attempt to woo the boys to be rewarded with a love song. That’s probably the reason, but even if you give it the benefit of playing to the game fans there’s a glaring issue with the music. A lot of the songs are sung by characters in the middle of action. Or rather they are half sung by characters in the middle of action. The best example of this is Sylvan. Sylvan has parent issues, he misses his mommy who he hasn’t seen in a long time. So in his character episode he meets a woman who is about to see her son for the first time in years and feels a connection to her (as they often do in anime). Turns out her son used to be in with a bad crowd and they come to collect a debt, which here means beat up the pair. Sylvan, who is an otaku and interested in kendo, grabs a lead pipe and wields it like a katana, beating down the thugs with ease. But throughout the whole exchange Sylvan is singing. This would be okay if it was an inner monologue playing over the sequence kind of song. But in parts, between beating down individual thugs, Sylvan’s lips sync up to the song. So that the songs sort of take on a half in half out feeling and get awkwardly displaced (in my mind anyway). And they do this constantly. And it seems to get worse as the series continues, to the point where Joshua begins singing at some point and we get a full music video sequence complete with changing outfits and locations.

Next we have the issue of too many characters and too little run-time. In a 13 episode series there are 6 main characters (Yuuta, Joshua, Haruya, Sylvan, Henri, Red), one important-ish side character (Enju), and three throw-away extras (Michael, Yuuta’s sister, Butler).  So we don’t really have enough time to get to know any of them well. Each character gets one episode and then we focus on Joshua.

Lastly there is no real resolution. I’m not really gonna say much more about it than that, but unless I really didn’t understand what was going on, they absolutely refused to give a concrete end.

So overall, I really wouldn’t suggest it. Well, no, if you like to watch anime MST3K style, this would make an excellent choice. If you like to watch good anime for the sake of pleasure, I recommend looking elsewhere.

Next Official Review: Sukisho.

1 Comment

Filed under Anime, Full Reviews

Full Review: Kaze No Stigma

Here we have our second full review, Kaze no Stigma. My husband loved this series from the beginning because, as I said before, Kazuma is an undeniable badass, so we watched it over the course of a few days. I’m gonna try and structure this review a little bit better than the last full.

What they did well: The first thing that I think this series did really well was breaking the character stereotypes. I’ve already gone over how awesome Kazuma is so I’ll forgo repetition and move on to Ren. If you pay much attention to the pictures in these posts you may have noticed that Ren’s has changed. In my 5 ep review I said Ren seemed to be our resident squishy character. I thought this because in the first 4 episode he hugged people, cried for practically no reason, and got kidnapped. Classic squishy. So I chose a picture that reflected that opinion. But going through the rest of the series Ren proves that he isn’t very squishy at all really. In episode 5 he started fighting, which I though would be a one time event. But later he gets an entire plot centered around him fighting for a girl he likes and from there he starts escalating in cool. He does get kidnapped again towards the end, but he gets kidnapped by Bernhardt up there, the series villian, and only because he discovers his evil location before anyone else has even told him there’s evil afoot. And he doesn’t really get kidnapped in the helpless sitting around looking pitiful sense anyway.

Then there are Nanase and Kanon. Kanon, by the way, is annoying to try to find a picture of, there being an entire anime by the same name. They share a panel in the lineup because they are technically minor characters. But while I first assumed that they would only play the part of ‘Ayano’s friends’ and really have no importance at all, they kind of pulled out of that role a little at the end. Yes they were ‘Ayano’s friends’ and they played that role as one would expect, but they also each had pretty well defined personalities and played an important role in the final story arch. Kanon in particular took the initiative to spy on the bad guy (not Bernhardt, but an unknowing subordinate) and give most of the characters crucial information.

The story was also pretty engaging. Most of the story arcs were sort of episodic in nature but they were still entertaining to watch and they each had some small piece to contribute to the endgame. There were in fact only 4 episodes that I classify as filler and didn’t really enjoy watching all that much.

What they didn’t do well: At the same time, there were some character stereotypes that never cleared up. Ayano began the series as the useless girl, the weakling trying to prove her strength, and the one I forgot in the first review – the girl who doesn’t realize she’s in love even though everyone else knows. And she never got over it. Okay, you might make an argument about the ‘useless girl’ stereotype. She technically gave the final or nearly final blow to just about every big bad in the series…but each time required Kazuma’s help to attain enough strength, or finish it off for good. At then end, when she achieves the divine red flame she uses it to….do nothing really. And when they face off against the final big bad she tag-teams with Kazuma and Ren and doesn’t seem any stronger than either of them. And she stubbornly refuses to acknowledge her feelings throughout. Admittedly, I didn’t like Ayano from the beginning, so maybe I’m being a little harsh, but that’s how I saw it.

We also had Kirika in the mix. Kirika was one of the two characters that I said in the 5 ep review would be important but hadn’t been named yet, the other character was her assistant and not really important. Kirika was supposed to fall into the ‘busty blond’ stereotype, but even then she seemed to fall short. She was the head of the police’s special magic unit or something like that, but she did almost nothing the entire series. Even at the end when she was in charge of the investigation of the big bad, she got all her information from everyone else and then sent them to go and do the work.

Then we have the series itself. Now I really did enjoy this series. As I said there were 4 episodes that were basically just filler and the rest was plot things. But we get to the end and Bernhardt gets away, his organization is experimenting with a demon-human hybrid that they have not launched yet, we know practically nothing about why Tsui Ling was sacrificed, and we have no idea how or why Kazuma made a pact with the Spirit King of Wind. Actually, related to that, there was a line in the last episode or so that implied that he didn’t actually make any real contract, he just woke up one day (after his girlfriend was brutally sacrificed for…what exactly?) with the power to control wind…which, if that was really their intent, is the most obnoxiously stupid thing I’ve ever heard.

They set the series up for a second season but as far as I can tell there isn’t one, and that’s just annoying.

Overall I liked this series, I’d recommend giving it a watch if you have time. However, be prepared for a bit of a let down as far as a solid wrap-up goes.

4 Comments

Filed under Anime, Full Reviews

Full Review: Blassreiter

All right, my first full review. Surprisingly there’s only one big chunk that cries out for spoiler protection. There may very well be a slew of spoilers in the ungaurded bits, but not major series changing ‘I can’t believe you told me that early’ spoilers. Read at your own risk those who have not watched.

This series is pretty good. It’s interesting, has complex and believable characters. It also has a lot of three other things which might affect the viewing pleasure of different viewers. It has a fair amount of religion, it has a lot of racism (intentionally – it’s sort of a theme), and a whole lot of character death. If you want to know just how much character death we’re talking about…below are the 16 characters in the series, at the end there are exactly 2 of them still alive…and Elia, who is technically not a living being to begin with.

I just about watched this series in one sitting so I’d say it held my attention. It had a pretty involving plot. Trouble is the writers seemed confused at either end.

The idea is that Sasha was working on some nano machine medicine that would make children invulnerable to disease, very altruistic. Then Victor hijacked her research and turned it into a sort of super soldier program…for the church…whatever. Then he made a really bad choice and gave it to Xargin who went insane and decided to kill everyone. Beatrice explained that the nano machines sort of hyper-evolve humans, so what everyone thinks are monsters are really just us of the future…like X-men. That seems a little odd but willing suspension of disbelief holds up okay. Then they tell us two things which to me don’t make any sense in the previous context. First the Blassreiter is an amalgam that will rise above the others and gain superpowers and be like god. Why? Is “like god” in our evolution scheme somewhere, for one person, that most definitely will come to exist at that specific hyper-evolution time? They also tell us that the transformation between human and amalgam is triggered by extreme negative emotion such as anger, fear, or sorrow. Happy people don’t evolve. This is why Joseph is able to switch between the two forms so well, he has absolute mastery of his emotions, however it prevents him from being the best amalgam he can be because when you control the raging beast it doesn’t rage so well. Also for some reason hyper-evolution works pretty well on corpses…why?

Okay, that out of the way, here’s why I say they’re confused at either end.

We start off focusing entirely on Gerd and the XAT and by the XAT I should mean Amanda, Hermann, Al, Brad, Mei Fong, Wolf, and kind of Victor…but at the beginning XAT really just means Amanda and Hermann. Gerd becomes paralyzed from the waist down after being caught between Joseph and a psycho evil amalgam while fighting. Being a big shot racer who can no longer race with a really lousy girlfriend who just “isn’t brave enough” to be with a wheel-chair bound person, Gerd is miserable. Then  Beatrice shows up to give him a magic pill that will make it all better or kill him….or make him all better and turn him into an amalgam. Gerd now has the power to get his life back on track and decides to fight the big bad monster amalgams. We litterally spend the entirety of two episodes with Gerd and then a fair amount of four more. Joseph, our honest to goodness hero of the series, doesn’t even speak until the end of episode 2. Also, Joseph, who at any other time is capable of beating (and really killing) any other Amalgam besides Beatrice and Xargin in 2 minutes or less fails to kill the one he’s fighting in the first episode. And when I say he beats every other amalgam that fast I’m not exagerating. When he fights Gerd he has him at the end of his sword in practically no time, and only fails to kill him because the XAT appear on the scene to make him back off.

Then we have the other end which I have more problems with technically speaking.

The good guys are trying to power Joseph up by making him a ball of rage…makes sense…but it backfires, because everybody could see that coming. So Joseph goes on a rampage, tries to kill people, and generally is out of control. How do we fix this problem? Well not by having his sister talk him down with the power of love, which is what I expected. No, Blassreiter is a series that feels the need to introduce a new sympathetic character to sooth the savage beast. Normally I’m all for introducing new characters when necessary but here it didn’t really seem necessary and it came within the last like, 5 episodes. So now we have Snow, but we don’t really have enough time for her to develop character and emotional relevance before the series ends. On top of that, she showed up so that she could die saving Joseph. That’s right, Snow came in for a brief introduction and a heroic death. A heroic death that could easily have been written out completely, either by not having Snow at all and having Sasha or even Amanda talk him down, or by just not killing Snow in the process. I guess they got to this point, saw that the body count was sitting at around 50 and needed another death. That 50 is including non-named characters and is probably drastically low.

Then it turns out that Zwolf (the organization headed by Victor to fight the amalgams) at some point was making an anti nano machine agent but quit because….they didn’t really make that clear. Now that things aren’t going well and it looks like Joseph can’t hack it they decide to reopen the project. As soon as the anti-nano machine pill is completed Joseph heads off to face Xargin and takes the pill, allowing it to catalyze and become effective. So our final fight ends up being ‘can Joseph not die long enough for the pill to take effect’. That’s not climactic at all! But of course Joseph isn’t strong enough to beat Xargin because he hasn’t powered up at all. After getting stomped for a while Joseph almost dies. But for some reason Gerd and Hermann, who died killing Beatrice a little earlier, are hanging around in purgatory and hop into Joseph’s body to buy him some time. Why are Gerd and Hermann there? Why isn’t Snow, she was an amalgam, she died, she loved Joseph…she ought to be body stealing too but she isn’t. And once Xargin has stomped on their collective ass Joseph is back up and suddenly he has become the Blassreiter…for no real reason. But now that Joseph can beat him…he doesn’t want to fight. I think there was supposed to be a moral in there but I can’t help but feel there was no point in Joseph killing his once best friend through battle when they’re both about to die from the pill. Lo and behold…it works.

I’m okay with this ending aside from the wonky body-snatching bit…but we get a time lapse and the 2 characters who are still alive meet up. And then we get some shiny cop-out ending. Suddenly all of the dead people appear in semi-transparent to show how happy they are and give encouraging messages about the value of life…or something. I kinda stopped paying attention here because this was just lame. Some series can get away with this kind of thing…but this one can’t. This is a series that killed off almost the entire cast and didn’t hesitate to kill children regularly…there isn’t supposed to be a happy sappy “and it’s all okay” shoved at the end. This series spends a lot of time making things happen right. Every named character that died went on their own terms (except the bad guys I guess). So having them come back means nothing because you know they were okay when they died. Also since this series pushes the religious theme, we can sort of assume that their souls are in a better place within the continuity of the series. Having them come back is cheap and disappointing. It killed the end. So if you do watch this, and I still think you should give it a try if you haven’t yet, just turn it off when remaining character A meets up with remaining character B…there rest is pointless.

 

I feel kind of awkward at the end of my first full review because it ended up sounding like a rant about all of the flaws. You’d almost think I didn’t like the series and I really did. The trouble is there isn’t really any shining moment of awesome that I can point to and say “this part was amazing” so I end up spending a lot of time on the other side, the point where “this was kinda lame”. I guess I can say that I really liked the fact every ‘good guy’ died on their terms. There was never any “oh I got shot/stabbed/strangled by total surprise…they all managed to die for something. It was “I got stabbed/shot/strangled with full knowledge that I was able to protect something important to me. I don’t really like character death generally but the way it was handled in Blassreiter really forced me to accept each one. And in the end I did really like this series. I recommend giving it a try. Even if you’re not heavy into religion don’t use that as an excuse to avoid this. It is a heavy theme and important to the general goings on, but that’s really because this is a series where everyone honestly believes in god and therefore believe they are acting in his service. Somehow it seemed like a mild heavy theme, if that makes any sense. And the action is good too.

 

I guess that’s the end.

7 Comments

Filed under Anime, Full Reviews