12 of 12 episodes seen
But it was surprising to see that, aside from an early bath scene and swimsuit episode, this anime doesn’t show much skin. I suppose the writers knew having too much fanservice can distract from the times the show gets serious.
Yes, the show tries to become serious at points. Emphasis on “try.” When the show tries to take itself seriously, it usually suffers from either a narrator that spells everything out for us or situations that just make one think “really?” For example, it’s difficult to enjoy Otohime Ryugu and Taro Urashima as a couple because their “look at other women, ‘don’t you love me?’” dynamic is a comedy routine one moment and a serious point of drama for the next. How seriously, or not, are they supposed to be taken? There’s also resident maid Otsu Tsurugaya, whose backstory might have worked better if there was more build-up to it instead of the mood whiplash given in one episode. There are some characters, such as Liszt Kiriki, that show a lot of potential to be interesting in a second season because there’s obviously more to him than meets the eye, but as the story is now he’s simply speculation fuel.
Thankfully, the show isn’t usually serious and at least gets the comedy right. Ryouko’s tsundere behavior, Ringo Akai’s deviancy, and Ryoshi Morino’s haplessness are old hat, but they play off each other well. Otogi Bank also gets a new client every episode, so the dynamics between the three main characters change just enough to give a little bit of freshness. That’s a good thing, since Ryouko, Ringo, and Ryoshi are the ones the viewers will see the most of. Their development is not the most stellar piece of storytelling ever written, but it’s charming enough to make one grin at least while watching the show. The narrator, who muffles most serious moments, works everywhere else in the show when she’s hamming it up to go along with whatever antics are happening on-screen.
But like I said, the narrator only muffles most of the serious moments. Ryouko and Ringo’s backstory, though quite forced given the actions of the latter (without spoiling anything, let’s just say “kindred spirits” is taken to an extreme here), is impactful since it’s something that’s been slowly built up before it was revealed, and lacks a narrator that says anything in favor of characters who show everything. This seems like empty praise, but if a moment in a story can be better by simply having more time to build up to it and not using the comedy element (the narrator, in this case) it had otherwise, then the story overall would be much better for it because it feels like the lighter moments before the drama meant something.
As it stands, though, the anime is a case of trying to pull in the viewer with lighter moments and comedy, which it does successfully, and then trying to make an emotional impact with serious moments, which it does less than successfully. It’s one thing to have a show that’s held back by not having enough episodes, which is coincidental, but it’s another thing when a show is held back by conscious decisions on the part of the writers/staff. Compound those two together, and this anime can be frustrating to watch since it shows it can be much better than what it usually is. It’s not that it’s usually bad, it just has too many flaws to be called good, and its strengths don’t stand out as much as they should. I certainly enjoyed Okami-san & Her Seven Companions, but I can say the same for a lot of anime, so all I can say now is: you’re okay, next show please. read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
That’s where things go wrong but more on that in a moment.
The first several episodes of Da Capo III were actually very nice to watch. The episodic approach was different from the previous Da Capo’s but that alone didn’t make it worse. Since Da Capo and Second Season, Da Capo II and II SS, and Da Capo III are their own continuity it’s reasonable for them to be different in nature. Series’ newcomers didn’t need to watch the previous shows to understand Da Capo III and previous fans can enjoy the change of pace with this in mind. The spotlight episode for each heroine and a swimsuit exhibition episode (literally) don’t try but they didn’t need to; it’s harmlessly delicious eye-candy fun.
But then the first several episodes passed and the show tried to tell a story. Keyword being “try.” It starts by bringing up a conclusion to an old thread that was the only semblance of a story from the earlier episodes that had no build-up to its conclusion and is later disregarded by one of the characters; hand wave of the year ladies and gentlemen. But worse still was the main story. It involves a mysterious loli introduced early on trying to make friends and Rikka Morizono implied to have known her and Kiyotaka in a previous life. The mysterious loli’s plot importance is revealed and it makes her newfound friends sad despite spending only one or two episodes with them. The plot point itself sort of falls flat because of a lack of build-up and Kiyotaka makes nothing of Rikka’s flirtatiousness despite how the show builds her in relation to the main story so the viewer’s stand-in—er, I mean, Kiyotaka can open endedly choose the girl he likes.
That’s about as much sense as the story makes. I say the plot point sort of falls flat because it does make sense if you’ve seen Da Capo II and II SS except for the fact it contradicts what happened in them. Furthermore, requiring that knowledge means there’s a direct comparison to Da Capo II and II SS meaning the harmlessly delicious episodes are pointless to Da Capo III’s story. Da Capo newcomers will be lost and Da Capo fans will be offended the moment Da Capo III tries to tell a story like its predecessors did.
The only saving grace for Da Capo III is how polished and delicious this eye candy is. And while pure skinservice fun isn’t bad on its own, this show is like walking into an ice cream parlor and getting all the sweet girls—er, I mean, ice cream you can get before you’re suddenly expected to eat a poorly done proper meal right as you reach the high of the ice cream’s deliciousness. The end result isn’t delicious at all and tastes like Da Crapo. read more
11 of 11 episodes seen
Keep in mind: this is an 11 episode anime that spotlights seven characters equally despite the story arcs being about only two of them. This wouldn’t be a problem if the literal five out of seven character interactions Koyomi goes through contributed to the story but unfortunately that’s only a third of the time. When Koyomi isn’t getting advice from the other characters about Karen and Tsukihi’s problems, he’s in pointless conversations and fanservice scenes. The pointless conversations and fanservice scenes can’t be for character development because their development peaked in Bakemonogatari, they can’t be for reintroducing the characters because there are scenes where at least two of them are together and thus could have reintroduced more in one shot, and they can’t be for its own sake because Nisemonogatari has the pretense of a plot that gets overshadowed and makes most of each episode’s content to be filler. And despite Koyomi lacking Meme Oshino’s help, it shouldn’t take seven and four episodes to resolve Karen and Tsukihi’s problems because he at least has Shinobu Oshino’s valuable insight being a supernatural being herself, making what little advice he gets from the other characters somewhat pointless.
Not that the conclusion to Karen and Tsukihi’s story arcs is good, though. The latter ends in philosophical talk that’s difficult to take seriously because of how bad the rest of the show is and the former is even worse because it turns out to be a wild goose chase. It would actually be good if it didn’t have filler to pad itself out or the conversations and fanservice wouldn’t be pointless if the show didn’t have the pretense of a plot. But as it stands, this anime has nothing real to show for itself; kind of ironic considering a recurring theme in this show is fakeness being more genuine than realness and “nise” roughly translating to “fake.” Yeah, Nisemonogatari is real; real annoying, real bad, and real pointless. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
And when I say “delightful to watch”, that also includes the vibrant and fluid visuals. Tsurugi Yagami’s lab coat flutters with her every step, Kagami Yagami –feels— like she’s carrying massive weapons, and Tama Yagami’s dress moves as if she’s ready to hop in any direction. When the characters aren’t showing off the liveliness put into them during one of the show’s slick fight scenes, they’re often moving against a still backdrop—for example, an early scene where Sasami Tsukuyomi changes into her school uniform—to create a theatre-like effect with antiquated charm. Sasami-san@Ganabaranai is visually creative and moves as good as it looks.
But while the characters aren’t as creative as the visuals their dynamics make up for the lack of originality. A dynamic-heavy story must avoid repetitive relationships and it does by writing nearly every character to interact with each other. Whether it’s the subtle difference between refusal and denial Kagami shows to Tama and Sasami or Tsurugi’s serious streak against Juju Tsukuyomi, almost every scene has a new dynamic or develops an existing one. For Sasami-san@Ganbaranai, this means dried up archetypes are refreshed by a drink of personality that’s both familiar and new.
But what’s entirely new is the story itself. Never before has an anime made sense so little justified with reasons so much. Whether the world melted into chocolate or a video game took more than a player’s spare time, the story casually slips in background about the odd happening; it certainly needs to as there’s a method to this literal madness. Yet the story itself always makes sense despite how insane it gets and becomes more impressive still considering one of the threads is time travel. Developing this much understandable nonsense in 12 episodes makes Sasami-san@Ganbaranai’s story excellent if not unique.
But the anime isn’t flawless by any means. There’s a plot point about Juju that’s implied instead of explained and the last three episodes introduce a character whose development makes no sense. Nevertheless, the motivation to make this much story and character development believable to anime-only watchers in such short time topped with great visuals makes Sasami-san@Ganbaranai a labor of love that’s ironic in itself; if “ganbaranai” means “unmotivated”, I’d rather be @lazy. read more
Aug 19, 2013Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai. Speci... (Anime) add
3 of 3 episodes seen
But the shift in focus didn’t affect season two a lot as the only problem it had was Kuroneko’s rushed story arc. By itself, season two is still good. But as the OVAs rolled around to conclude the series, it exposed a lot of season two’s problems that don’t affect it otherwise.
The OVAs’ most obvious flaw is Kuroneko’s story arc. In season two, Kuroneko’s romance with Kyousuke was short and inconsistent. There were only one or two episodes showing them going out as a couple with little to no sense of how much time has passed. Her romance needed more episodes or a coherent sense of time passing to be believable for what happens in the OVAs. As for the inconsistency, she acts giddy about being Kyousuke’s girlfriend despite her intentions to break-up with him. Season two treated Kuroneko’s story poorly and it shows in how ineffectual her story arc in the OVAs is.
Then the OVAs decide to have Manami and Kanako have their own finality with Kyousuke despite how irrelevant they were throughout the series. Kanako’s angle is bearable since it’s something that happens in passing that didn’t need development in season two. But what the writers try to do with Manami is only using the childhood friend card and nothing else. But as season two didn’t develop Manami then this was all they could manage. That is again another problem the OVAs made to where there wasn’t an issue before.
But the most damning thing of all is the final pairing. Actually, screw it, it’s Kirino and Kyousuke. You knew it was coming. But anyway, their shamelessness over their relationship isn’t a problem at all. The problem is that while Kirino was clearly always in love with Kyousuke between the incestuous Visual Novels she played and her backstory, it’s not exactly clear when Kyousuke fell in love with Kirino. To be more precise, there’s no moment in season two that acts as the Silver Romance Bullet™ that shows Kyousuke trying to hide or deny any feelings since he acts the same as he always did. The best thing that can be said about the final pairing is that Kirino got a lot of development in season two to make her more believable in the OVAs. At the expense of other characters and unfortunately the other half of this romance.
And therein lies the problem with the Oreimo 2 OVAs: It makes problems that wouldn’t matter otherwise by trying to throw every character a bone while Kirino got the whole damn skeleton. A skeleton that Kuroneko got caught in during season two and buried the rest of its characters in the OVAs. The only appropriate response to the way this series has ended is “Ore no Anime ga konna ni Hidoi Wake ga Nai!” read more
13 of 13 episodes seen
Actually, we’ll go with that last one because the more I think about it the more I realize most of Angel Beats!’ problems aren’t really problems. That and the fact Angel Beats! isn’t trying to be Kanon or Clannad.
In fact, the only similarity Angel Beats! has to Kanon and Clannad is its connection to Key. That’s it. Kanon and Clannad are lite fantasy dramas with comedy while Angel Beats! is a fantasy mix of drama, comedy, and action.
Maybe Angel Beats!’ biggest problem is being compared to shows it isn’t trying to be.
This isn’t to say Angel Beats! isn’t without its problems. While Naoi’s story arc is emotionally intense during the moment it’s ridiculous on the outside looking in since nobody can die. Yes, the show uses a near-death experience scenario despite the lack of mortality and despite the “you can’t die” rule being used for jokes. Thankfully Naoi’s story arc is the only time this happens. There’s also a final villain of sorts but the reasons for his actions are either non-existent or come off as extremely pretentious. Though at least he comes and goes pretty quickly.
But the most pressing issue is Kanade’s backstory. Once it’s revealed, everything else about the show suddenly hinges on trying to fit her story somewhere because the writers seemed to forget what a timeline was. On the upside it makes you realize why the show is called Angel Beats! and why the opening is called “My Soul, Your Beats” and it –does— come at the end of the show so it isn’t noticeable beforehand. It still hurts trying to think about it though.
And that’s about the extent of Angel Beats!’ flaws. Maybe it could have used more episodes to develop the characters it didn’t develop. But when you look at what it does in 13 episodes instead of wishing for excellence and hoped it was longer (coughClannadcough), it’s emotionally satisfying and believable most of the time. I say “most of the time” because the only blemish on its otherwise competently developed cast was Hinata; compared to the backstories of Yuri, Kanade, Otonashi, Naoi, Isawa, and Yui, Hinata’s background is underwhelming. It’s believable enough for a teenager though not quite what the others went through.
And when the show isn’t being emotionally intense it’s either action-packed or packed with comedy. If you watch this show and expect a good reason for why the characters are playing baseball, have a hard time accessing their own weapons depot, how Kanade, Yuri, and Shina learned to fight, why it’s seemingly okay for someone to carry a halberd on school grounds, have concerts to give free meal tickets, or how you can make weapons from dirt, you’re watching the wrong anime.
Angel Beats!’ setting ditches the subtlety of lite fantasy and just decides to mostly have –fun— with its fantasy elements. There’s no rhyme or reason for why the characters are messing around most of the time. And you know what? There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Angel Beats! does have legitimate problems as I’ve explained; pointless baseball and rocket chairs in the afterlife are not one of them.
There’s nothing wrong with a show just wanting to have fun for its own sake. Especially since it’s purposeful where it counts as it pulls heartstrings you didn’t know were being pulled.
And yes, I am fully aware I’ve talked about Kanon and Clannad a lot here but, to be honest, Angel Beats! wouldn’t have half the criticism it does if it didn’t come off the heels of those two shows. I’m not saying Angel Beats! isn’t without its problems but if you were expecting more Kanon and Clannad you might want to watch something else.
Remember to watch Angel Beats! for what it is instead of what it’s not and you’ll have a fun, action-comedy anime with moments of emotional brilliance. read more
Jun 28, 2013Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shi... (Anime) add
11 of 11 episodes seen
Apparently a Hell of a whole lot.
But let’s start with the good. The character interactions between everyone as –friends- were actually very nice to watch. Not because they were endearing but because it was anything but; that incredibly awkward feeling between people who haven’t met in a long time is conveyed so well when they’re all interacting as –friends- (more on this later). The show also packs a strong emotional punch and becomes a stand-in for how all of the characters are feeling. AnoHana is excellent in that regard.
That is, until you start looking at why everyone is becoming so emotional in the first place.
Most of the show’s story revolves around the ghost of Meiko Honma coming back after dying in a tragic accident 10 years ago to have her wish granted. The only problem is Jinta Yadomi is the only one who can see her, meaning he’s running around trying to grant her wish, whatever it might be, while his (former) friends question what exactly is wrong with Jinta when he’s seemingly interacting with nothing and talking to himself. The tension toward his friends rises because Jinta can’t expect them to accept their best friend is back from the grave. This is despite how Meiko can –interact with the objects around her-. Yup. Avoiding all of this drama is as simple as Meiko picking up an object in the presence of her friends and it’s further exacerbated by how the show points out how a lot of drama could have been avoided if she interacted with an object while around them. Oddly enough I wouldn’t have noticed if the show –didn’t- point this out; failed damage control much?
Now remember what I said earlier about the interactions between everyone as –friends- being very good? Well, the show also has interactions between the characters in a web of –romance-. Every guy who knew Meiko was in love with her and every girl that knew Meiko was jealous of her. 10 years prior to the show, this makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is how all of the characters feelings toward Meiko remain largely unchanged even 10 years after her death. No matter how strongly one feels toward someone or how devastated they are after their death, it is something that eventually heals with time and certainly should only be an occasional memory after 10 years. But nope. Everyone is still devastated over Meiko’s death because lolanime. The heavy themes in AnoHana require a realistic touch but instead they get a bombastic slam.
If you’re looking for an anime with an emotional punch, AnoHana can certainly deliver. I found myself choking on my emotions despite how a lot of things were messed up. And while I normally don’t disregard my feelings in an anime like this over some irrelevant plot points, it’s when those plot points actually matter to the emotions that I feel cheated. Jinta and company may have remembered the name of the flower they saw that day but this is one show I’d rather forget. read more
25 of 25 episodes seen
As a coming of age story, it shows a believable mix of the highs and lows that come with childhood, adolescence, and adulthood but only shows the character’s emotions as they are. This neutrality toward the characters lends itself to the show’s social commentary on privilege, race, and sexuality because the lack of demonization or pedestal placing on their reactions to the society around them offers different viewpoints without saying who’s right or wrong. And in their society are the supernatural abilities everyone has adding an element of science fiction. Making a good story from the science fiction, coming of age, and social commentary genres is difficult separately but Shin Sekai Yori uses a needle of neutrality to weave these threads into a near flawless shape.
But although it’s an excellent mix of content, Shin Sekai Yori does not easily surrender its value. It answers all its questions but often leaves more questions than answers. This story structure mimics the way the characters gradually learn about the world around them. And it is that replica of their perspectives that can make Shin Sekai Yori difficult to watch; it requires commitment not everyone will have.
The characters themselves are very well fleshed out and provide a feel for why they act the way they do. They each feel like real (supernatural) people. Unfortunately their development doesn’t match their characterization. The lack of change works for Saki given her eventual place in the story but the lack of change on Maria, Mamoru, and Shun raises the question of how much the events around them are affecting them. But it’s Satoru who steals the show as he gradually develops into someone that could be mistaken for another character. That said, Shin Sekai Yori’s characters are overall well-written though some are better standouts than others.
The show’s world itself looks as bleak as many of its mysteries. The best way to describe Shin Sekai Yori’s visuals is a subdued color palette for a bleak feeling punctuated by lively color splashes that ironically don’t have a different mood. The latter in particular is where the visuals stand out, as they’re always experimental but always purposeful. Using a sharp contrast of black and white, for example, to show the teetering between sanity and insanity for one character compared to the shades of grey everyone else’s minds are in. Or a certain weapon that’s as psychedelically colorful as it is deadly.
Audio-wise, the soundtrack is scarce, subtle, but highly effective. Very often the score is less like music and more like ambience that voices the show’s atmosphere rather than giving the show a voice. The show has no opening sequence in the traditional sense but the music during the early part of each episode is more haunting than words can describe.
This anime’s flaws are few and far between. But the high bar to entry may warrant a raise or drop in score depending on your patience. The characters don’t standout as much as the show’s story or audiovisuals but they in themselves are still –good- characters. Shin Sekai Yori might be a difficult anime to watch and it’s not the best one but don’t be discouraged from trying it anyway; this saga From The New World is still very good. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Individually, most of the characters don’t show much personality range outside of the show’s serious scenes. Kyousuke Natsume is the cool best friend, Masato Inohara and Kengo Miyazawa are dumb and smart muscle, Komari Kamikita and Kudryavka Noumi are Japanese and part-Russian versions of the same ditzy loli archetype, Haruka Saigusa is a playful prankster, and Yuiko Kurugaya is a seductress. Despite these stereotypes, Mio Noshizono shows some liveliness after her story arc. Riki Naoe and Rin Natsume are reasonably developed throughout the show; Riki slowly asserts himself as he helps his friends through tough times while Rin slowly learns to let other friends into her life. In fact, friendship is a main theme of the show and is apparent in the character interactions through good times and bad. What Little Busters! lacks in individually compelling characters is made up for with endearing character dynamics.
However, the questionable visual direction undermines the characters and story. The show doesn’t lack fanservice; cleavage close-ups, folded legs almost showing panties, and the occasional non-explicit nude shot. The fanservice makes sense with Yuika given she’s a seductress but it’s forced with the other heroines. The fanservice in the first story arc’s serious scenes raises the question of how seriously to take the story. Thankfully, the fanservice is kept to the show’s less serious scenes after the first story arc and eventually becomes negligible. Story-wise, there’s not much to criticize in terms of writing but some scene transitions and lack of attention to detail don’t do the story any favors. In particular, there’s a scene in Haruka’s story arc where a storm begins –between episodes— specifically for a dramatic moment as the rain recedes as quickly as it started, and a plot point about Mio makes no sense considering where she was standing during the episode prior to her story arc. Little Busters!’ visual direction is a problem because it weighs on the viewer’s mind during the show’s best scenes.
Even then, the show’s best scenes are very good. Little Busters! successfully pulls your heartstrings as you realize how attached you are to the characters. It’s easy to think nothing of the less serious scenes with every character, not be affected by their sad scenes, and question whether you care about them.
But it’s not the sad scenes that make Little Busters!. Little Busters! is made by its ability to evoke an emotional peak in the viewer through heartwarming scenes instead of sad scenes. To elaborate, reaching an emotional peak through heartwarming scenes relies on a principle called “something lost VS something gained.” It uses “something lost” for sad scenes to steel your emotions, then uses “something gained” to catch you off-guard in an unexpectedly heartwarming scene. But this is easier on paper than in practice; making you emotional through sadness is easy but making you emotional through happiness is nothing short of amazing. In practice, Little Busters! perfectly uses “something lost VS something gained” resulting in some very emotional moments you won’t expect.
And strengthening those emotional scenes and every other scene in the show is very good music. The high notes and quick tempo of “Magic Ensemble” express Komari’s feelings to spread happiness to those around her. The slow piano playing of “Approaching Light” confesses nostalgia for Mio. The jumpy techno sounds of “Grief of a Noisy Girl” are charged with Haruka’s energy . And the hint of an orchestra in “Exotic Toybox” shows Kudryavka’s part-Russian heritage. Little Busters!’ characterizing pieces are very good because they’re distinct enough to be standalone.
But Little Busters!’ music isn’t only character songs. The slow and low-note “Lamplight” is one of the series flagship pieces that might be more noticeable in the second season, Little Busters! Refrain. But J.C. Staff delivers mixed results with the first season. The endearing character dynamics only makes up for the lack of individually compelling characters, the strong emotional scenes are hindered by visual direction, and the very good music doesn’t make up for the rest of the show’s flaws. It’s frustrating Little Busters! is neither good or bad. But in light of the second season, I can only hope J.C. Staff can “Refrain” from making the same mistakes twice and improve their craft as the Little Busters! saga continues. read more
12 of 12 episodes seen
Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai solves the problem of how a harem anime tells its story because of the story itself. The series revolves around Keima Katsuragi and a demon girl Elcea de Rux Ima (Elsie) who hunt and capture Loose Souls that have possessed people—all girls—by using the emptiness in their hearts. To drive out and capture a Loose Soul from its host, the emptiness in their hearts needs to be filled with love—cue Keima’s romantic involvement. When a Loose Soul is driven out and captured, the girl loses all of her memories about Keima and the Loose Soul possessing her.
The brilliance of the story is twofold: The romantic interest built up for each heroine is self-contained (omnibus format) while still affecting Keima and Elsie’s development throughout the show (single route). It’s the best of a self-contained story and a continuous story.
But having the best of both worlds presents its own problems. As a continuous story, Keima repeatedly falling in love stretches the suspension of disbelief even by anime standards and such a problem doesn’t happen in single route harem anime. As a self-contained story, let it be known the omnibus format has its own problems of trying to properly develop each heroine within a limited time span. Fortunately, the heroines are all developed as much as two or three episodes will allow. And while they aren’t the most complex characters around, they don’t need to be when they’re all distinct from each other to please the heroine taste of as many viewers as possible. Added with the limited amount of time Keima spends with each heroine in-universe and it’s apparent they couldn’t be developed as much as one might want because of those time constraints.
Visually there’s not much to talk about. The colors and designs vibrantly represent all of the characters whether it’s the normally apathetic-to-the-real-world Keima, the bubbly could-bounce-anywhere Elsie, or even the placid and unassuming Shiori. There’s nothing to fault here but nothing that stands out too much either. Audio-wise, the music track that sticks out the most is the one that plays whenever Keima successfully romances a heroine; most of the show’s music is noticeable in every scene but not enough to stand on its own while occasionally using a lack of music to good effect.
The show isn’t anything more than good but that isn’t a criticism against it. After all, it’s uncommon for a story itself to address the storytelling problems a harem anime usually has. Being a combination of the single route and omnibus format approach lets the series take a unique role as a show that finds success from being a hybrid of two very different ways of storytelling. Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai’s lack of flaws and solid strengths make it a very solid anime that can be enjoyed by almost anyone. read more