Category Archives: Weekly Reviews

These are the weekly 5 episode reviews.

Black Butler

Quick & Dirty
Genre(s):  Comedy, drama, mystery, supernatural

Language:  Japanese
Initial Interest:  Low
Favorite Character:  Sebastian
Opinion:  Amazing
Likely to Finish: Did

 

 

Synopsis
One of the noble families of England—Phantomhive—has a butler, Sebastian Michaels. He has unquestionably perfect knowledge, manners, talent with materials, martial arts and much more. But for some reason, he serves a 12-year-old master…

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

 

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
This is once more my retroactive pre-viewing thoughts, as I watched the first disc for leisure and without preparing for the blog.

So Black Butler is one of those series that became so popular that I felt obligated to check it out. And for whatever reason they method I used to check it out was reading the manga. I went into the manga with no knowledge about the series aside from ‘everyone seems to like it’ so don’t judge me too harshly here. I hated it. I read the first chapter and was so bored I couldn’t justify reading further. Based on the first chapter the series was about a butler who was so perfect that nothing he ever had to do was a challenge. In the first chapter Ciel was having tea with someone important and everything that could go wrong went wrong but Sebastian still managed to make everything perfect in time without breaking a sweat. Why would anyone like this? So you can imagine how I felt going into the anime. Woohoo.

 

Favorite Character
Sebastian. He’s cool, pretty, and maybe just a touch evil. Also he’s a demon pretending to be a butler who uses cutlery as a thrown weapon, what’s not to like?

 

Overall Opinion
What they did well: I don’t know if I just missed it in the manga or if it isn’t there, but the anime had one very important scene at the very beginning that made this series completely different from the very beginning, Ciel making a pact with a demon. Also the first episode contained a little more demon action than I remember the first chapter having. Black Butler is all about the plot. Since the synopsis above leaves… well a synopsis wanting, I’ll go ahead and sum up: Ciel is the heir to a wealthy toy-making family in England whose parents were murdered. He then made a pact with a demon to take revenge in exchange for his soul. It’s fascinating watching how Ciel’s story unfolds and there are plenty of mysteries in between. The artwork is fantastic.

 

What they didn’t do well: While there are several characters in this series the only ones that really matter much are Ciel and Sebastian. The rest seem to be side characters and aren’t likely to be all that important. Grell there came in in the 5th episode, he might be a villain in the future but it’s hard to say. That being said, there isn’t really a lot to Ciel and Sebastian. Ciel is grumpy and bored and as a character he’s not really that interesting; if you took away the mystery of his backstory and revenge he’d be boring. And Sebastian isn’t much better. He’s a loyal butler and awesome at everything he does. He’s a demon so there’s a certain air of mystery to him, but again, there’s not enough personality to carry a show.

 

Scoring:

 

Next official review: Still to be determined. Full review for Black Butler on the way.

 

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Blue Exorcist

Quick & Dirty
Genre(s):  Action, comedy, drama, supernatural

Language:  Japanese
Initial Interest:  Medium
Favorite Character:  Rin
Opinion:  Awesome
Likely to Finish: Definitely

 

 

Synopsis
Humans live in the world of Assiah, demons in Gehenna. The two dimensions are not meant to interfere with each other, but demons still possess creatures in Assiah in spite of this. The humans who can fight these demons are known as exorcists. Rin Okumura is a boy who bears the curse of being Satan’s illegitimate son. His foster father sacrificed himself to save him from demons. To avenge his foster father’s death as well as to prove himself, Rin decides to follow the path of an exorcist.

(Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
I think this series was being featured as a skin on ANN at some point and it looked interesting so I made a mental note that I wanted to check it out eventually. So you know I’m mildly interested but I feel like I’ve had a bad run of series so I’m a little hesitant.

Favorite Character
I picked Rin. Once more there’s not too many choices. There are several other characters in the show that have been introduced, and I believe they’ll all get screen time eventually, but for now none of them are much developed. All the same I genuinely like Rin. He’s stubborn and a little silly but a good guy. I also greatly appreciated that when someone dared him to do something stupid he didn’t rise to it. It’s kind of rare to see a character say something like “I’m not gonna do it no matter what you say” and then actually not do it.

Overall Opinion
What they did well: I like the animation style on this one. It kind of has a throwaway plot in that there’s not really a desperate need for Rin to become an exorcist, but it’s still interesting and entertaining to watch. They’re setting up a pretty good and diverse cast of characters. And most importantly, they have a good grasp of the balance between drama and comedy. Also, I was amused by his blue flame horns.

What they didn’t do well: Uh… I’m kind of at a loss here. There was one part where I was really disappointed in one of the characters, but I can’t say that’s really a problem with the series, especially since I could see myself changing my mind if they went deeper into his background and justified it properly – which they could quite easily. Wait, I know, I hated the way the pronounced Satan. I get that some non-Japanese words are hard for Japanese people to pronounce but I know the long “a” sound (written as “e” in romaji) exists in their language.

All in all I’d totally recommend giving this one a shot, it seems like  it will only get better from her on out.

Scoring:

Next official review: I’m not sure yet, hopefully someone will suggest.

But what happened to Gantz?

Any of you who pay much attention to the “Next time on Moose’s Anime” line may recall it saying Gantz was up for this week. And if you’ve been with me long enough you may be expecting it to come next week, thinking I just decided arbitrarily to watch something else today, which I think I’ve done. I’m sorry if this is a disappointment to any of you but I will not be reviewing Gantz, at least not properly. See, a friend asked if I’d seen Gantz as I was wrapping up last week so I made plans to do just that for this week. And not wanting to make her wait too long for some input I went in search of it the moment I’d posted. And I found it, just barely, and watched exactly 1 episode. There are two reasons for this, one of which has more or less been an exit clause on the About page for the entire run of this blog. The reasons are as follows: 1) There was a lot of excessive swearing and gore. Now I’m okay with both of these things if they are done reasonably. Baccano had a lot of gore and I accept that that is a necessity of the series and it wasn’t handled poorly. And anyone who knows me reasonably well knows I haven’t got a problem with swearing. But in the first episode of Gantz both of these things were done tastelessly and generally without purpose. 2) Porn. There was a lot of porn in one episode for a series which isn’t actually hentai. So much so, in fact, that I’m calling a hentai exception. Really the whole episode made me feel insanely uncomfortable. Admittedly there is part of me that is still interested to see where they take the plot, but even that cannot overcome my deep loathing of what was presented.

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Kekkaishi

Quick & Dirty
Genre(s):  Action, comedy, fantasy, romance, supernatural

Language:  Japanese
Initial Interest:  Low
Favorite Character:  N/A
Opinion:  Poor
Likely to Finish: Never

 

 

Synopsis
Yoshimori Sumimura, a 14-year-old junior high school boy, is a Kekkaishi, an exterminator of monsters. He is vying with Tokine Yumikura to be the heir to the Sumimura clan. Tokine is older than he, and she is his childhood friend as well as his rival Kekkaishi. To save people from danger, and to make himself stronger, Yoshimori fights against monsters. (Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
Kaze saw this series at Wal-Mart and wanted to check it out. I don’t know if I care, that summary is very bland but I can see that there’s plenty of room for this to be awesome. However I do hope they explain how Yukimura can become the heir to the Sumimura clan over Sumimura, otherwise I will never understand.

Favorite Character
I fairly well hated every character that was presented in the first 5 episodes. There’s a character in the opening theme that looked cool and I would have liked to have met, but he apparently comes in later and I am unwilling to continue watching to meet a character who may or may not be any better. Mostly the competition here was between Tokine and Yoshimori. Technically neither is a particularly bad character, but I just didn’t like either.

Overall Opinion
What they did well: There is a lot of potential here for a good plot and there’s plenty of room for the series to get better. The characters seem to have believable motivations.

What they didn’t do well: My biggest problem with this series is that it couldn’t decide it’s genre. When dealing with ghosts and demons you can pick two roads, serious or funny. There is some middle ground of course, you can have a serious show with comedy elements or a comedy show with serious elements. But there’s a delicate ratio between those two things and Kekkaishi missed it. If felt like they meant to go the serious road with a little comedy but instead ended up with something split right down the middle, and I just don’t think that’s workable. Also, if epidode 3 was any indication, this series is going to be predictable. If you watch it and don’t feel like you saw the big reveal coming I’m amazed. Kaze and I both guessed it from the very beginning. Then in 4 they tried so hard to get the happy sappy ending that if felt force, rushed, and pointless. A series like this needs to understand that sometimes bad guys are bad or it can’t survive.

Scoring:

Next official review: Gantz (though there ought to be an unscheduled Black Butler on the way).

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Spice & Wolf

Sorry this took so long to get posted. I wish I could say I had a good excuse but “busy” stopped being true a while ago. Then it was a combination of the series I was supposed to watch I had to watch with Kaze and we never watched it, and just plain laziness.

Quick & Dirty
Genre(s): Adventure, comedy, drama, fantasy, romance, supernatural

Language:  Japanese
Initial Interest: Mild – High
Favorite Character:  Lawrence
Opinion:  Good
Likely to Finish: Possibly

 

 

Synopsis
Kraft Lawrence is a 25 year old peddler travelling from town to town selling and buying various things to make a living during a period much like Europe in the Middle Ages. One night when stopped at the town of Pasroe, he finds in his wagon a 250 year old pagan wolf deity girl named Holo. She appears to be that of a 15 year old girl, except for a wolf tail and ears. She introduces herself as the town’s goddess of harvest who has kept it blessed with good harvests of wheat for many years. Despite having the responsibility to watch over the town, she wants to go back to her homeland in the north called Yoitsu, she believes the people have already forsaken her anyway and that she has kept her promise to maintain the good harvests. She manages to bargain her way out of the village by making a deal with Lawrence to take her with him. As they travel, her wisdom helps increase his profits, but at the same time, her true nature draws unwanted attention from the church. (Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
I’m not sure how I feel about this one. The plot doesn’t really sound all that interesting. On the other hand, the artwork has caught my eye more than a few times and a friend I met recently says I have to see it and she and I seem to have very similar opinions with regards to anime. Here goes nothing.

Favorite Character
Once more I had two choices for who my favorite character was. This one is kind of a close race, I like Holo and Lawrence both, but in the final analysis I think Holo is just a little too cocky for me to really appreciate. Lawrence is just a nice guy, he’s likeable.

Overall Opinion
What they did well: I like the art style on this one quite a bit. Also, despite what sounds like a somewhat boring plot, the show seems pretty interesting so far. The characters are likeable. I felt like the opening theme fit the mood of the series but I can’t decide if I like it by itself, and the ending theme grew on me.

What they didn’t do well: Lawrence is a merchant so in these first episodes they spent a lot of time talking about business things, primarily currency value and trade. Some of it kind of went over my head and since it is, for the moment, the basis for the plot, it’s sort of important to get a clear understanding of what they’re trying to do. I would have liked them to either make the currency stuff clearer or less important. Also it irritates me that so far Holo hasn’t mentioned (as far as I noticed) what the village’s part of the deal was. Maybe they’re gonna reveal that later for added effect, but I have a feeling it just slipped through the cracks.

Scoring:

Next official review: Kekkaishi

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Dream Eater Merry

Quick & Dirty
Genre(s): Action, comedy

Language: Japanese
Initial Interest:  Medium
Favorite Character: Yumeji
Opinion: Neutral
Likely to Finish: Probably not

 

 

Synopsis
Yumeji Fujiwara was a young male student like any other. Then, 10 years ago, an accident left him with the ability to see auras and predict peoples’ dreams. Now he is having strange dreams in which he is followed around by cats whose boss claims his body is needed to access the real world. One day he meets a girl calling herself Merry Nightmare and claiming to be a dream demon who is trapped in this world; and Merry needs his help to get home. (Edited from: Wikipedia)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
This kind of has an interesting concept based on the synopsis, but I had to go to Wikipedia to get that synopsis… which makes me a little skeptical. I’m not one to knock Wikipedia, but I have to wonder what it says about a series when two large-scale anime sites have pathetic, one line summaries and IMDB is seemingly unaware of its existence but Wikipedia expounds at length. And it is quite a synopsis, I might add. Here I thought I had a knack for run-ons… I had to read that a couple times before I was quite sure what was being said. I edited it for the rest of you but if you want to read the long confusing version the link will take you there.

I’m kind of looking forward to it, hoping that it will be new and interesting, but I don’t really trust anime labeled action and comedy so it’s anyone’s guess how this’ll turn out.

Favorite Character
Yumeji wins this for two reasons. First, because I actually think he’s a good character. He’s a nice guy, he’s stubborn (which I can relate to), and he’s sociable in general which makes him pretty easy to like. The second reason he wins favorite character is because this is yet another series where there just aren’t many to choose from. If I’m looking at main characters then my choices are Yumeji or Merry and if I expand that to peripheral characters we add about three more people who have very little screen time.

Overall Opinion
What they did well: The series has an interesting concept which I honestly don’t think I’ve ever encountered before. You might be able to draw some parallels to Pandora Hearts but having watched only some of that quite some time ago now I’m not sure that’s entirely accurate. Certainly an interesting aspect of Dream Eater Merry is that not all Dream Demons are inherently evil. In episode two we were introduced to a girl who had a friendly Dream Demon cohabiting her body in order to experience human dreams. Then in episode five we get a pretty solid introduction to another Dream Demon who also seems to be a good guy even if she is a bit of a fanatic. I also think that this new character is a point of interest. She obviously has a deeper back-story but we’re only getting small fragments of it and I’d be interested to see where it goes.

What they didn’t do well: Honestly I’m struggling with this one. I can’t quite say what exactly was wrong with this series. At best I can say that I personally don’t find Merry’s situation all that interesting. She desperately wants to get home but in the meantime is experiencing different facets of reality that she really enjoys (like doughnuts). So given that she is helping people by being there and she doesn’t really seem too desperately miserable with Yumeji and Isana, I don’t really care if her goal of returning is ever achieved. Maybe part of it is that she hasn’t given a compelling reason for why she wants to go back other than “it’s home”. Additionally, since they’ve put Yumeji’s problems on hold for a while (without any real reason) his story is also not compelling.

On a more ‘I’m pretty sure this is a me thing’ basis – I absolutely despise Merry’s costume design. Those obnoxious gravity defying coat tails and the top that looks like it would totally showcase her boobs to everyone around during most of her jumping-kicking action scenes just annoys the hell out of me. The first episode was also pissing me off because her legs seemed to keep doing odd things that didn’t seem physically possible. Also, considering his overall goal of helping Merry find Dream Demons by looking at people’s auras, Yumeji really doesn’t seem to be looking at anybody’s auras. I realize there are some problems with walking around with your fingers around your eye like a spyglass but on various occasions he has talking to/passed/otherwise interacted with people that the audience knows have Dream Demons in them and he never once looks. As of episode…two? Three? He’s attending class with a person hosting a Dream Demon, and I suspect not the nice kind. It just bugs me.

I’m not going to say I recommend this one nor will I suggest avoiding it. It has a lot of potential to be great, I just wasn’t particularly interested.

Scoring:

 

Next official review: No idea, suggest away.

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Seirei Moribito

Quick & Dirty
Genre(s): Adventure, drama, fantasy, historical

Language:  English
Initial Interest:  Medium
Favorite Character:  Balsa
Opinion:  Undetermined
Likely to Finish: Possibly

 

Synopsis
Balsa the spearwoman is a wandering warrior, who takes on the task of saving lives, in atonement for a past sin. On her journey, she happens to save a prince, and is tasked with becoming his bodyguard. And he is going to need one, for his own father, the emperor, wants him dead. (Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
So this is one of the many series that are now available through Netflix streaming that I was mildly curious about based on the artwork but hadn’t even attempted to watch because Netflix hasn’t officially added subtitles as an option for viewing. I haven’t checked yet to see if it is subtitled anyway as some of the titles are. It doesn’t seem to be Funimation so there’s a chance anyway. It’s on Hulu also, I think, so I shouldn’t have too much trouble.

The thing is I was only mildly curious, as I said, based on the artwork. I had no idea what it was about. So at the suggestion of a friend I am going to be watching and reviewing 5 episodes for this blog but, having read the synopsis, I’m not really all that psyched. It could be interesting, or boring, or cliché. We’ll just have to find out.

Favorite Character
This is another one of those limited choices picks. There are a good sized handful of people  in the first few episodes but most of them are support character with very little characterization or relevance for the time being. While I’m fairly certain that Tanda will eventually develop into an actual person, and one I think I could really like, he hasn’t yet. So the default choice is Balsa… and really even she hasn’t been developed much yet. She’s strong and independent, but with a good heart. And I’m sure she’s much more likeable in Japanese. Sadly her English voice actress seems to lack much emotion.

Overall Opinion
What they did well: They’re building a solid story. I can see that there are some pretty big plot points that viewers may want to discover which will draw them into watching it. For my money I don’t believe the water spirit can be as inherently bad news as they’ve thus far implied and would like to see if my suspicions are correct. Additionally I would very much like to understand Balsa’s backstory and wouldn’t be at all averse to watching her grow enough as a character to rely more on those around her. They have also done a pretty good job so far of making a cast entirely of gray characters. Even the Mikado, who is at first attempting to have his son assassinated and later intending to kill him himself, can be seen in a sympathetic light – after all he believes it’s a water demon that will cause a bad drought, should he really choose his son over his people?

What they didn’t do well: The pacing on this is extremely slow, and while I can see that this is a story that flows best with this kind of pacing I know that many people cannot watch a slow series. I myself sometimes find it difficult and was more than a little bored through a good portion of these five episodes. Also, I personally believe the dubbing sucks. Granted I’m a bit biased, I enjoy subtitled anime more nine times out of ten, but there’s a difference between ‘I don’t like dubs’ and ‘Within the overall context of dubs, this one sucks’ and this one sucks. As I said above the woman voicing Balsa is not at all emotive and she isn’t the only one. Most of the cast sounded pretty deadpan to me and the person who seemed to do the best acting was Touya – a minor character that I don’t have much expectation of becoming particularly important. They’re also introducing a pretty wide cast, it’s becoming tricky to follow what names are whose and if they’re important or not… I had to look up Touya’s name just now, and I rather like him this far if only because he has personality.

This is one of those shows that I’m uncertain about. I can certainly see the appeal and I may yet finish it, but it has some problems that will drive the wider audience away.

Scoring:

Next official review: Dream Eater Merry – though as my brother is getting married next weekend it may be a bit delayed.

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Samurai Champloo

Quick & Dirty
Genre(s): Action, adventure, comedy, drama, historical, samurai

Language:  English

Initial Interest:  High

Favorite Character:  Jin

Opinion:  Mixed

Likely to Finish: Maybe

 

 

Synopsis
Mugen is a fierce animal-like warrior with a unique Bboying (break-dance) inspired fighting style. Jin has a more traditional style but don’t think of this as a weakness because his skills are amazing. The two contrasting samurai warriors are far from friends, yet their separate paths seem to cross anyways. Mugen is wandering aimlessly through the city when he stumbles upon a teahouse where he meets Jin and Fuu (A ditzy waitress, but don‘t think she doesn‘t have anything hidden up her sleeves). Fuu convinces them both to come with her in search of a mysterious samurai that smells like sunflowers and their journey begins. This modernized hip-hop tale breaks the barriers of the common, historical, samurai anime. (Source: AnimeNewsNetwork)

Pre-Viewing Thoughts
The thing about Samurai Champloo is that I have technically already seen all of the episodes I am now obliged to watch. Once, when it was on Cartoon Network, I expressed an interest in seeing it but was unable to owing to it being already partway into the series. My good friend Nisey had purchased part of the series and loaned me the first disc. I enjoyed it, and would have been interested in watching more, but I was never afforded the opportunity. Now it’s on Netflix. So I’m going to watch the beginning again, and then maybe, after I pause to complete this review, I’ll watch the rest.

Favorite Character
I picked Jin because I mostly find Fuu annoying and Mugen is too random for me to like him for two scenes together. Jin is soft spoken, intelligent, and strong. These are traits I tend to like in characters. I will say though, that I feel as though they character sinned him in episode three. That is to say, for a character that seems to value honor, intellect, and discipline it seemed extremely out of character for him to conspire with Mugen to ditch Fuu when they had both promised to find the sunflower samurai. I understand Mugen running out on her, he’s only in it for the fun and she was being obnoxious; but Jin should be duty bound to honor his word regardless of his own personal feelings toward Fuu.

Overall Opinion
What they did well: There’s a certain style to this anime that they seem to be fairly consistent with. To some degree this style works really well for the show, but it’s kind of a hit or miss. I really enjoyed the rhythm of this show the first time around and found myself caught up in it more than once this time as well. The characters, while being few in number, are pretty diverse in personality. And of course an important thing for any samurai anime, the fight scenes are done quite well.

What they didn’t do well: The style to which I refer above is, as best as I can describe it, somewhere between hip-hop and gangster rap. I imagine that most of you can understand the shortcomings inherent in that choice. First, it’s a little difficult to manage that visually for a samurai anime, and second a lot of people simply won’t enjoy it. It annoyed me most in the first episode when they kept running the animation like a dj at a club, the term escapes me at the moment, but that way of moving the disc/record/whatever a little bit forward and back to make that scatching/screeching sound. And the last place you want to annoy your audience is the first episode. Thankfully they seemed to have abandoned that particular tactic afterward. In the same manner Kaze remembers he disliked this series because it was too much modern in his samurai anime. Mugen curses pretty regularly, and while some cursing – perhaps even a lot of cursing – may have gone on during those days the degree to which it is used here makes it obvious that is is anachronistic. As an obvious example, when Mugen tells someone in episode 4 to send the toughest mofo they can find. Some of this may also be a result of bad dubbing, but given that it seems fans are increasingly tolerant of dubs, and may in fact favor them more these days, a poor dub is a serious offense.

Ironically, the best way I can think of to describe Samurai Champloo is to say it’s Cowboy Bebop only with samurai. At the same time, Spike and Mugen have the same English voice actor.

Scoring:

Next official review: Either Seirei Moribito or Dream Eater Merry, depending on whether I find time for Kaze and I to watch the episodes together.

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