15 of 25 episodes seen
In the beginning, Sword Art Online (SAO) looked like it could have turned out to be the best show of the year, no exaggeration. The premise of being stuck and unable to log out of a virtual reality MMO with the condition that dying in the game means you die in real life and the only way out is to clear all 100 floors was set up extremely well in the first episode. The second episode continued this with the first boss fight, supported by well-done animation and Yuki Kajiura's amazing-as-always score. At this point, hopes were high.
But it didn't last.
The following few episodes were side stories from the original novel that have little to do with the overall plot. On their own, none of these are all that bad, but together they become rather tedious and ridiculous, especially when you realize that the focus of each one is the main character, Kirito, befriending and helping a cute girl (despite the fact that the female playerbase is said to only be 10%), and in more than half the cases, said girl getting attached to Kirito in more than a "friendly" way. And these characters, if they appear later at all, never again play a significant role.
These episodes would have worked better if they'd been placed throughout the series between story arcs - though it later becomes apparent that this would not actually work - or released separately as OVAs or DVD specials. The best thing to be said about them is that they help to give the game world some more depth since they explain some game mechanics and show viewers how the various groups of players are going about playing the game, but the information is mostly superfluous and could have easily been given to us through the main story. Not that any of it ever gets used again anyway.
Then the main story continues and things get...worse.
It's at this point that an idea starts developing that perhaps the writer of the novels merely had a good idea for a story but didn't know what to do with it past the premise. The above-mentioned side stories were included when they were because the show is being broadcast in chronological order; when the main story picks back up, it's been two years since the last main story episode. Bonds between characters have been formed off-screen and over the half the game has already been cleared.
What a rip-off.
Before continuing with the story, let's look at the characters. We have our protagonist Kirito, a solo player who knows his way around the game fairly well as a result of having been a beta tester for the game. Okay, this is cool. We don't need 12 episodes of training to become the best in every show, a strong-from-the-start MC is fine. But that's not quite what Kirito is. Kirito is portrayed as essentially perfect in every way; he never loses a (fair) fight, he always has a solution, and all the chicks dig him. Basically, Kirito is a Gary Stu, a self-insert wish-fulfillment character with no true substance (have you heard of that before, anime fans?). He even gets a special ability not given to any other player just because he's that awesome.
Now let's look at Asuna, the only other character the show actually cares about. She is initially portrayed as a strong, individual female who has abilities on par with the male characters. Again, this was good at first. But it quickly becomes clear that she only exists as otaku bait. She's extremely popular and beautiful and all the guys want her...but she only wants Kirito. And despite the fact that she is supposedly a strong player, she's treated more like a prize than a teammate; Kirito literally fights for her freedom from her guild more than once. Yeah, she can't even earn her own freedom for some vacation time after all the work she's been putting in for the past two years. Sexist much? No MMO guild leader would actually be this anal, but hey, we need to make Kirito look awesome somehow.
And really, that's all Asuna is here for: to enhance Kirito's badass status. When he almost dies, she's there to cling to him and cry for him. When Kirito needs to look awesome, she's put in some kind of trouble and he gets her out of it. She also cooks for him because her cooking level is so high because hey, your waifu needs to cook for you, Kirito.
Tailor Twilight so that it appeals to boys instead of girls and send your awful fanfic to the printing press. Sword Art Online has been born.
No, I'm not joking. Screw action, screw plot, cue romance. SAO skips out on all the floor-clearing and boss-killing and decides to just have its main characters play house and do character development backwards. Nothing is believable about the relationship between these two characters. We see no real development between them since the show kind of just drops us into the middle of things after those useless side stories are over. And this is the focus for multiple episodes. Lots of cheesy, lovey-dovey dialogue, hand-holding, and sleeping is what we're fed. It's an otaku wish-fulfillment, folks; you're in a medieval world, you're the strongest person around, the cute girls all want you, and you don't have to work because magic (game mechanics) supplies everything.
Oh, and breast-groping. Can't forget the blatant fanservice!
Another thing I praised the show for at first was that it seemed like an accurate portrayal of what a virtual reality MMO would actually be like. But, as usual, SAO managed to crap on itself. The whole "beater" concept, a combination of the words "beta" for beta testers and "cheater," is laughably ridiculous and would never happen and obviously only exists to antagonize certain groups of players and give Kirito even more attention. We also see a group of players acting as an "army" of sorts going around forcing other players to pay taxes, even attacking an in-game daycare (LOL) in order to collect; this is dumb. Once again, a way to make Kirito and Asuna look like such sugoi people for helping out the needy children. Somewhere along the line the writer decided to make this a pseudo-medieval setting, taking what he wanted from the medieval era and what he wanted from MMO mechanics and not caring how they would make sense with each other. It's even written in the novel and alluded to in the anime that characters can have sex (but can't get pregnant, because that's no fun). Now that's taking cyber-sex to a whole new level. What would our wish-fulfillment world be without it?
But before too long we get to the climax of the first main arc, and after a couple miracles and deus ex machinas we can very clearly see that the author had no damn clue what he was going to do with his story after he had the premise down. The promise that was made to us has been broken and we, the viewers, are left with one of the most soulless shows to ever hit the airwaves. Any generic battle shounen at least gives us the action it promises and has better developed relationships and themes of friendship. Any generic harem at least knows it's dumb and only exists to appeal to that niche group of otaku who still enjoy it. SAO is a lie, a cheat, a traitor, and is worse than either of those. SAO wants you to believe it's good and smart, but it's so bad it doesn't even manage to achieve So Bad It's Good status. It's just terrible.
And now we're at the start of a new arc. Things...don't look any better. Kirito has added a new member to his harem in the form of a busty little sister/cousin (emphasis on that bust), because we needed some imouto fetish-fuel in here. Our antagonist is about as generic and stereotypical as they come, but that kind of fits because our new plot is about as generic and stereotypical as they come.
I've spent a lot of time on characters and plot without mentioning technical aspects because the technical aspects, no matter how good they are, really just won't change anything. They're there, and they're good; really, there's nothing wrong with them. Kajiura's music, when noticeable, is great and enhances the few good scenes the show has. The animation is also good. But neither is really amazing enough to be notable, so in the end, they just can't save a terrible piece of work.
And Sword Art Online is a downright terrible piece of work.
Story - 2/10: Good premise, atrocious execution.
Art - 8/10: It looks nice.
Sound - 7/10: Yuki Kajiura.
Character - 1/10: There are no characters in this anime.
Enjoyment - 3/10: It's fun to criticize.
Overall - 2/10. read more
65 of 65 episodes seen
It becomes obvious pretty early on with Cardfight!! Vanguard that whoever said "Don't judge a book by its cover" was...clearly not talking about this show. Yes, Cardfight is a show you can and should judge by its cover, as that judgment will determine whether or not you should watch the show. But I'll get to that later. Let's run the bases:
The story is basically thus: people play card games. Or rather, card game. Vanguard is the "big thing" in the world of Cardfight, as one might expect. For at least half the series, this basic idea is what the show runs on. It occasionally shows signs of wanting to do something more, but I have to be honest: most of it comes off as cheesy and laughable. But, well, that's only the first half of the series. Somewhere along the line, you start to be able to actually take the show seriously and like it. Its pacing seems slow at first (expected with 65 episodes of run time), but it's all the better to develop characters and situations with. In the end, Cardfight actually becomes a great story about learning who you are and understanding others through the lens of this card game. Power of Friendship is nothing new to anime, but it can still be done well, and Cardfight pulls it off.
Obviously it's not without its perks. If you're not into the card game thing (which really shouldn't be the case if you even pick the show up, but still), you'll have a hard time getting into the meat of things. Then there's the deal with Psyqualia; although the last couple episodes make it obvious that more is coming, we don't learn much about this rare ability that is very important to the plot. We don't know where it comes from, how it chooses people, how it really works, how it may possibly be controlled, etc. All we know is that it has a tendency to bring out the worst in people.
Nevertheless, the perks tend to be minor and shouldn't bother you too much if you go into the show knowing what to expect: lots of card games. And lots of card games you will get.
Art and animation is reasonable for what seems to be an average-budget kid's show. Many settings and details are rather plain, but the card fights are all well-animated and the monsters all look pretty cool and distinguishable. It's obvious where they put the effort, and really: what else would you expect?
Now, I could have sworn when I first heard him that the main character in this was voiced by a woman, but I was wrong. Seriously, for a long time Aichi sounds very girly and wimpy. It's odd at first, but you get used to it, and when Stuff Starts Happening, it gets better.Voice work is, again, of fairly standard quality; it's good, usually well done, and generally not poor. There is, at least, nothing for me to complain about. Music is quite well done. The second opening in particular is a great way to get hyped, especially in the final 15 or so episodes when things really start to get heated. In-series music stays suitably light-hearted. It is, essentially, "game music." It never takes itself too seriously (well, until the last episode), and this turns out to be for the better.
As I mentioned before, Aichi sounds very wimpy and girly for a long time. This is because he is. As an example, when asked what he would do in a dangerous situation, his response is to "always be sure I have a path of retreat behind me." I know what you're thinking: "Not another wimpy male lead! I'll pass!" And no, it's not the most pleasant thing to behold. But in a way, I was able to accept it. I remembered that this show is aimed more at kids than someone my own age, and since I knew it would go on for a while, I was able to bear it even though I didn't like it (just the character, not the show). I was rewarded in the end. Aichi gradually grows into a mature character with a backbone that I was proud to see through. As his ability in Vanguard grows, so does he. He learns to fight his fights, help others, and make a name for himself.
65 episodes leaves room for a lot of characters, but I don't want to go into full detail on all of them or I'll be here all night. Basically: the important characters all get their time, and the side characters get a reasonable amount, good and bad. Kai just seems like you're typical, stone cold, bad friend for a long time, and though he really only turns into a jerk with a heart of gold, seeing what he went through really makes you understand and relate to him as a character, and this also leads into the development for the series' main villain, Ren, who is a huge, overconfident (well, he largely does have the ability to back it up) asshole that you just can't wait to see defeated (note: that isn't a bad thing).
Skipping over a few characters to the negative side: Katsumi, an eventual friend of Aichi, is the comic relief who is...just not funny. He's a loser who thinks he's awesome, and the gimmick gets really old really fast and just never dies. That's the worst of it, but Doctor O, the guest commentator for tournament Cardfights, I think was also supposed to be humorous, and again, isn't. He's just kind of strange. But luckily, he isn't overdone.
Here's the important part of the review, as I hinted at in the first paragraph: if you read all that and thought, "Doesn't sound like a show I'd ever want to watch," trust yourself; don't watch it. You're probably not going to like it. I went into this wanting a show about card games just for a fun twenty minutes every week and got exactly what I wanted. If that's what you want, go for it; you won't be let down. But it has to be stressed: you really must know you want this if you're going to enjoy it. It's not going to surprise you and turn into something epic if you're not prepared to watch a lot of card games (65 episodes, remember?). You'll probably just drop it before you hit the ten episode mark.
Think about what you want. If you're ever thinking, "Yeah, I could use a fun show about a card game to kill some time," that is when you should watch this. It is very much a kid's show (read: not average MAL age), so you need to be either young enough or old enough to really enjoy and respect it.
Personally, I went into it thinking it would be as I just described: a time-killer every week. Watch some card games for fun. It was never high on my priority list, but I always looked out for it. But then somewhere along the line it turned into something more. It became highly anticipated, and eventually it was the show I looked forward to the most every week (and by Winter 2012 I was keeping up with 20+ shows). If you ARE willing to watch and have fun with the show's first half, you'll be more than excited to continue as you get further on in the series.
I don't consider myself the greatest of reviewers, but I wanted to do this show some justice and provide both sides of the spectrum: the kind of person who will like it and the kind of person who won't. Otherwise I feel most people wouldn't ever give this show more than passing glance and just write it off as some twenty minute commercial for a children's trading card game. And it largely is just that, but it's also more than that. It's nothing amazing, and it never tries to be. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's still a good series.
Now, I'm off to buy a starter deck and choose my new avatar... read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Being a slice-of-life, "story" is not what you should be looking for. As you can probably guess, it is largely episodic in nature, occasionally making a situation span for a couple episodes. It doesn't use this very well; at least half the episodes turn out to be useless, forgettable, and full of forced drama with some half-assed comedy. It attempts a "story" in the final few episodes to give the viewer a lasting impression but even that comes off as uninspired and unbelievable (can't say too much because spoilers, though). There isn't much else to say. HanaIro isn't meant to have a compelling storyline but even for a slice-of-life it falls short.
Aesthetically, I was again not pleased with HanaIro. Now I know the Kissuiso (the inn where everything takes place) is portrayed as a normal, almost dying business, but everything about it just looks so...boring. The colors, the decorations, the uniforms, etc. I can't imagine I'd ever want to visit this place, so why should I care about what goes on inside? The animation seems decent enough, but neither did I notice anything particularly amazing about it.
Oh, but there's fanservice! Watch out for it, because it isn't too common. Makes me wonder if the ratings were beginning to drop.
If there's anything I've loved about P.A. Works productions in the past it's that they've always had stellar theme songs. Both the OP and ED from the three series mentioned above have had significant time on my Favorites playlist, and Annabel's My Heaven from Canaan is one of my favorite songs of all time. Again, HanaIro disappoints. I listened to all the theme songs at least once (we get more than just two with this one, being 26 episodes and all), usually twice as I do with every anime, hard as that was with some of them due to a truly irritating voice, and I didn't even consider so much as downloading any of them. So I just end up skipping them. Insert music is just as forgettable considering I can't even conjure up any of it in my head. Voice work is not a whole lot better. I love Kanae Itou so maybe it was just the character, but I often had a hard time hearing Itou's voice on Ohana without wanting to turn the volume down. Most of the voices are just like the art: boring. I'm no judge of Japanese voice acting but I never felt anything special from the actors in this one.
Sadly, I found only two characters in this that I am actually somewhat fond of, and one, Ohana's mother Satsuki, doesn't even show up much. She's the only character in the show that I felt knew what she was doing, except when doing something awful like abandoning her daughter to work for her mother who has since disowned her (don't fear spoilers; that's the premise of the show). The other one was Nako, and I'm fond of her not because I actually find her to be a good character but because she's pretty cute and largely not retarded or annoying. So yeah, I don't even have much good to say about the characters I actually liked. Everyone else...ugh. Ohana is just a peppy idiot who can't even correctly figure out the status of her own relationships, Minko is a snotty brat, and everyone else is too dull and unimportant to even warrant mentioning. They are generally just given a base personality and stick to it with little to no development throughout the series. For a character-based show, that's pretty bad.
All in all, HanaIro mostly felt like a time-killer. It usually wasn't actually hard to watch, it just wasn't fun. It's a generic slice-of-life with little to set it apart from any other and nothing to make it good aside from a few choice moments of random absurdity that serve to give the viewer a quick laugh for how ridiculous it can get, and only then if you don't take it as seriously as it wants you to. It's pretty disappointing when the most memorable and enjoyable moments come down to a couple sub-5 second clips of Ohana being chased by a heron.
A mediocre piece of work from P.A. Works, HanaIro has truly been a disappointing experience. Here's for hoping Winter 2012's Another will restore my faith in them.
P.S. Why the hell is this listed as Seinen on MAL? I'd sooner tag it with Shoujo (this is not intended as an offensive comment to Shoujo fans or the genre, it really just feels more like one). read more
10 of 10 episodes seen
Moshidora says "Yes."
Moshidora is the story of how a young high school girl, Minami Kawashima, takes over for her sick friend as the manager of the school's baseball team using Drucker's Management as a guide with the goal of getting the team to the nationals. You may have read from other reviews and/or recommendations that Moshidora is not really about baseball, but about applying the ideas of Management to something other than just starting a normal business using baseball as the medium. This is not exactly wrong, but it is a bit misleading. Baseball is still a very important aspect of the story, it just isn't used in the way you may expect it to be. There is not a whole lot of focus on the actual games until the later episodes. That's not to say it moves slow; the first couple episodes may seem that way, but one must remember that Moshidora is still more about Management applied to baseball than baseball itself. The show isn't afraid to take it's time detailing the strategies being implemented in many ways, from asking each team member what they want to get out of the team to going out to other clubs and using their methods in a way that can be applied to various members of the baseball team.
Moshidora is, quite simply, a fairly normal story. There are no sudden plot twists as previously stated, and there is a certain amount of predictability, even cliches to the execution. However, at the end of the day, I believe that's what makes Moshidora such an enjoyable show. You don't need fantastical entities or magical worlds to have a compelling story and likable, believable characters. Moshidora is here to tell us that normal people still have goals to be reached, new ideas to try out, and stories to be told. Early on there is a lot of tension in the team and things seem to be falling apart, but by the end they've all learned how to work together, cover up each others weaknesses, and magnify their strengths through their motivation to push forward.
There are easy times, there are hard times, and there are sad times, but at the end of the day, Moshidora isn't throwing any curve balls; it knows what it wants to say and it says it well.
It may go without saying, but you don't need to be a fan of baseball to enjoy Moshidora. After all, I've never been a fan of baseball, but I loved this. Even Minami herself claims she hates baseball. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The story is mind-blowing and original, yet easy enough to follow that no one will get lost.
The art is fantastic. The character designs, the way they move, the way the camera pans in and out. Flawless mastery of animation can be found here.
The sound in this may make you want to go deaf because you know you'll never hear anything as wonderful as this in your life. It's not fair that I'm only allowed to give this 10/10; it deserves a 14/10 at the very least.
And if the sound deserved a 14/10, the characters deserve something like 1million/10. The characters are deep, realistic, and you will fall in love with every single one of them, no doubt.
Enjoyment? I may never watch anime again. Hell, I may never indulge in any kind of entertainment again because this is simply too amazing. Everything else feels like the shit a fly takes after eating a cow's shit that had been sitting in the grass for three weeks in comparison.
Perfection has been achieved. If there is a God, he's got competition. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The MAL synopsis is actually a bit misleading. For example, we know exactly why Zoroark is unleashing its fury upon Crown City: to save Zorua, whom Zoroark believes to be held prisoner by Kodai, and so Zoroark is being forced to do whatever Kodai says. It is why Kodai is doing these things that remain a mystery until further notice.
Meanwhile, Ash and co. come upon the escaped Zorua, befriend it, and decide to help it find Zoroark. This, essentially, is the main focus, alongside eventually helping Celebi and attempting to prevent the same disaster from twenty years ago from happening to Crown City again. While the time travel aspects of the story aren't really anything new, even for Pokemon, I felt it was still quite well-done in its execution. Zorua and Zoroark's ability to create illusions was used very well throughout the movie (with the possible exception of "I can't fly"), giving it actual purpose instead of having it exist more as a gimmick, which would not have been very surprising. Kodai also wasn't some totally useless villain. He really takes advantage of his ability to see the future to predict outcomes and get what he wants, making the threats feel very real. Needless to say, I was hooked on this movie's story pretty early on and I stayed that way until the very end.
As far as characters go, another thing I like about this movie is that they didn't put all the focus on Ash. Granted he's the main character, but it was refreshing to see them really focus on the relationship between Zorua and Zoroark and make it almost so that they're the protagonists instead. This is cool because they can freely develop characters that don't have a hundreds upon hundreds of episodes long series to get their development in, and they take advantage of that here. The two of them have a connection akin to a mother and her child, and this is shown very well and quite often throughout the movie as it essentially drives the entire plot.
However, fans of Team Rocket may be disappointed. They were here, but they could have been cut out and the movie would not have been any different. I'm pretty sure they didn't even interact with anyone except each other. Suicune, Raikou, and Entei, while they did technically fulfill their purpose, also probably could have been used more, since they were pretty important to the history of Crown City. And then Celebi was amazingly weak. Any Pokemon fan knows that it's among the worst of the legendaries, but it's still a legendary. How does a Shuppet take it down with a single Psychic? Oh well, the anime's logic has never followed the game completely anyway ("FINISH IT OFF WITH FALSE SWIPE" - quote not from this movie), so I guess that can be written off. Still weak, though, as a plot device, anyway, since even the anime usually agrees that legendary Pokemon are supposed to be a cut above in terms of strength.
So, is this recommendation worthy? To a Pokemon fan, I would give a definite yes. If you enjoy the other movies and/or the anime series at all, I think you'd definitely enjoy this. It would also probably be a good family movie. Teenage, non-fan audiences may get a bit lost, though, since, like other Pokemon movies, it does occasionally assume the viewer has certain knowledge of the Pokemon universe that people who don't play it or watch regularly may not pick up on, but they aren't really plot-essential either. The often cheesy voice-acting can also be a turn off at times. In the end, this is still a kid's movie, and a pretty good one at that. read more
8 of 24 episodes seen
I love the mystery genre. It's always been among my favorite genres, but since I don't tend to find much of it in anime it's taken a backseat at times. That's why I was excited for Gosick. A series focused on mystery, and to top it off, a unique (for anime) setting for it all to take place in. No more high schools with their swim teams and cultural festivals to rack up the clichés.
Meh. I should have just stuck with a high school anime. The mysteries, and I use that term loosely, in this anime are akin to the likes of Scooby-Doo, but that show was aimed at kids so it was supposed to be simple. This show is clearly aimed at an older teenage audience. What do we get? Well, let's run it down.
Obviously, in a mystery anime, the story is very important. What Gosick tends to do well (not always amazingly, but it can pull it off) is a setup. Most of the story arcs start off quite intriguing and have you thinking. What it fails at is the climax. Every single arc tends to end in a sort of, "Yeah, whatever" fashion because that's how our Moe Holmes does it (don't worry, we'll get to her later). We may have been interested as we were going, but at the end, how can you care? One mystery solved, moving on, nothing to see here.
Art and sound...are not very important to me. I like the setting, as previously stated, though the character designs are hit-or-miss. Victorique is pretty much a typical moe girl without any real unique qualities, and then there's cone hair brother. Seriously, I know this is anime, but that HAS to get in the way. On the sound side of things, the only thing I find worth mentioning is the ending theme, which is very good.
And then, the characters...Well, Kujo is pretty much your typical male lead. Not much to say there. Just wants to help the lead female and asks for nothing in return but "Thanks!" Plus he's always around her like he loves her or something...Oh, wait.
Then there's Victorique, one of the most unbelievable characters I've ever witnessed in anime. She can't be any older than 12, and yet she's the greatest detective the world seems to have ever known. But that's not all. I could buy her being some sort of prodigy. What's worse is that she has been confined to an area at the top of a library for a long time. And yet, somehow, she can fit all the pieces of a mystery together in a matter of seconds. To top it all off, she's tsundere! The following may be spoilers:
Kujo is walking along a road by a forest, thinking about having a nice, blonde-haired girlfriend. He sees a motorcyclist driving far away to the right of his position at a fork in the road. By the time this person reaches his position, they crash, are sent flying, and the head comes off because they'd driven through a wire spread across the road.
Now, let's forget for a moment that the bike would have swerved out of control long before crashing. Kujo tells this to Victorique, and what does she conclude? The killer is a blonde haired girl. Kujo was imagining it because humans are visual creatures and he must have seen the killer running through the forest after setting the trap out of the corner of his eye. And she's right.
And this is barely half of a full episode. Trust me, there's more to come, and it's even more insane.
There's also her older brother, cone hair. He's pretty much a moron who, despite being a grown adult and famous detective, can't solve a single mystery on his own and so comes to his kid sister for help. And yet, even though he needs her to keep his career, he's perfectly fine letting a 13-year-old boy attempt to protect her from a psychotic killer on a burning bridge while he runs on by. And then, when that same boy is about to fall to his death and Victorique grabs him to try to save him (again, forget that this doesn't actually make sense since Victorique is so light he'd have taken her down with him), what does he do? Nothing. While we don't see him as Kujo is actually being pulled up, we did see him in the shots immediately before that, so he was definitely there.
Enjoyment? I'm willing to suspend my disbelief (I need to be for anime) to enjoy a show, but this is stupid. It's one thing to create a world where people can transform, wield swords twice their size, and fly. That doesn't fall into the realm of disbelief because those are just the ways of that story's world. But Gosick isn't a world where little girls are super-detectives who read the show's script (Or is it? If it is, someone let me know so I can edit this). It's our world. In the 1920's, no less (so some of these methods probably hadn't even been thought of yet). I can't even remember how many times I practically shouted at my computer screen during episode 8 at all the absurdities they kept throwing at me, one after another.
I don't like complaining about other reviewers, but I don't understand how this has so many positive reviews and 0 negative ones. I can't call this a good anime. The only reason I can imagine people would actually want to watch this is if they like the interactions between the characters, which I find pointless but I can see others enjoying, especially loli-tsundere fans. It is not terrible, but I am sorely disappointed. read more
5 of 13 episodes seen
Story: Story? This has no story. Not one worth speaking of, at least. Two angels (and that term should be used loosely) have to go around killing monsters for some strange coins that do...what exactly? It's episodic. In fact, it's double episodic because each episode is actually two ten-minute episodes. If there's an on-going story here it hasn't started yet or it is just terribly written. Actually, it's terribly written either way; being episodic alone isn't bad if it's done well, which this show isn't.
Art: Honestly, I like what they did here. The style is massively different from anything we've come to expect from anime, and I welcome that. They did a good job of it, too. Not everyone will like it, but I think if this show had been animated like most other anime it would be even worse; at least having it look weird makes all the stupidity at least somewhat acceptable.
Sound: Another place this series actually excels. The OP is a great intro for the type of show this is, and the ED, though it does not really fit the show, is fantastic. A lot of the insert music, like that one fight song that comes on occasion, is also pretty good. The only real problem I had was the Engrish cursing; sorry, not very funny.
Character: Character? This show doesn't know the first thing about character. Shall I break it down?
Stocking: Sweets-loving goth.
Garterbelt: Gay priest.
Geek Boy: Self-explanatory.
Notice how I summed all of them up in three or fewer words each. There is nothing else to say about these characters. Nothing. The closest thing to development was that episode where Stocking started to get fat and decided to go on a diet and exercise, but it's not like she actually changed or anything.
I don't mind crude humor in general. A show like School Rumble has a good amount of sexual innuendo and there it was hilarious. But here? No. Panty walking out of the elevator singing about sex is not funny. Stocking getting fat because she ate too much is not funny. Garterbelt's afro exploding like an orgasm and raining his sperm everywhere is not funny. It's just sick. This show is disgusting, and not in a funny way. If you're a preteen male who giggles at the mention of sex you'll probably love this show. If you want to enjoy some form of intelligent entertainment past nose-picking, avoid this at all costs.
As it is, I've dropped this show, so don't expect me to update. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Story: First off, there is a time warp around episode 11 resulting in the first 10 or so episodes being much different than the rest. I found the first 7-8 episodes to be pretty much terrible. This looks like a dark, survival-based show but instead it was full of cheesy, forced melodrama and extreme Power of Friendship. It could have been much improved but it was somewhat important to set the stage for later where it gets much better. Starting at around episode 14 the story goes into character arcs, some of which are dull and predictable but are overall quite enjoyable and save the series as a whole. There's more I could say about it but anything else would fit better in the character section since that is ultimately what this series comes down to; not a plot-driven anime, but a character-driven one.
Art: There's no doubt this show is animated well. The opening to every episode is a bit misleading as to how gruesome the show really is but even so, the gruesome scenes are well-done, the character designs are mostly unique (a few characters look pretty similar to others later on, which may or may not have been intentional) and the animation is fluid. The occasional still shots look great and are used to very good effect instead of cutting into the motion like some might expect them to. There is plenty of detail with good settings and a well-placed atmosphere.
Sound: The OP theme is a good mood setter for the show and the ED is a nice closer, but other than that I can't really remember much of the series' music. This leads me to one of two conclusions:
1. There wasn't hardly any music present.
2. Any music that might have present was not memorable enough.
However, I can still give it a 7 because where it existed it was well done, the characters all sound good and believable, Joe's singing was great to hear, and even the parts that had characters speaking English did a good job of having certain characters speak more Engrishy and others speaking it more fluently. Using English at all can be seen as a noteworthy point of effort since not all anime series even do that with characters that are clearly meant to be speaking English.
Character: This is probably the most disappointing part for me due to the fact that this is largely a character based anime. Even giving it 7 might be a stretch. One thing you can notice is that *bad* guys are BAD while the *good* guys are GOOD; better-written characters would probably have more gray area, especially in a story like this where the good guys are reformatory inmates (so they like, you know, committed crimes to get where they are, yet it seems they all forget about that when they meet Anchan), but instead you get enemies that are pure evil in-and-out and heroes that will do anything for their friends and justice. The best examples of gray areas are when the heroes try to get revenge on their enemies, but even that is played somewhat softly and might not be what you'd expect from reformatory inmates.
Development was good for the most part. Most of them (yes, only most, not all) get a decent length story arc dedicated to their character, and although they can be a bit cliche they still get the job done well enough. They tell us about the character and their past, put them in some tough situations, and show some character growth. It feels as though the show should have been a bit longer for some further expansion (pacing was fast at some parts and a few characters got noticeably less screen time than others), though the way the show ended they might not be planning to make any more.
Enjoyment: As I said, I hated the start. I almost dropped it early on and, if I had, would have scored it 4. The latter part really saved it. I think what most people see in this is that it doesn't have any "moe" (Arguably. We do have Setsuko and Lilly!) which we all know is in abundance in anime these days. However, that alone does not make a show great, so while this show may be unique in its time, it is not unique in its genre, and that's where it can fall short.
Overall a decent watch. If you hate the first few episodes at least try getting to episode 10 and drop it then if you still don't want to continue. If you like it from the beginning, then, well, you should be golden. If you just want a break from the moe you might really love this.
This has been a twenty-minute review, later edited for some more detail. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Also note that I have not read the manga, so this review is entirely on the anime as a standalone project.
This anime can really be summed up with a single word: Average. There is nothing special about this anime, but it's not what I'd call bad either. It's just plain old middle-of-the-road stereotypical romcom shoujo. The funny thing is that I actually haven't seen a lot of shoujo romcoms, but everything about this show just screams "typical."
First, the story. If you can call it that. So far this show has just had a bunch of standalone episodes, with only a couple stories spanning the length of two episodes. This isn't a bad thing alone, but Kaichou wa Maid-sama! doesn't have anything to show for it. The basic idea behind every episode is:
1. Misaki does something boring, like work or student council president stuff.
2. She gets into some sort of trouble.
3. Takumi appears out of the blue to save the day like a knight in shining armor.
I'll be honest; I don't really remember every episode. But that's probably because they're all the same and thus they are all fairly forgettable.
Art and animation is okay. Just okay. Not great, not bad, just stained in the same mediocrity that the rest of the show exudes. Backgrounds aren't usually very detailed, the character designs don't really stand out, and there are often periods where the characters are reduced to mere blobs, usually used for some sort of comedic effect but without actually being funny. Misaki and Takumi are both pretty hot, but that's par for the course for a typical shoujo romcom, so no points awarded there.
Sound is actually pretty nice. The OP and ED are both fun (though I dislike the second ED), though neither are exactly amazing either, and some might find them completely forgettable. Most of the BGM is suitable to the situation, and the recurring victory theme is pretty catchy but has ultimately become overused in the show. I don't know much Japanese so I can't say much about the voice acting other than that I didn't notice any problems. Nothing seems wrong, but nothing about it comes off as spectacular. Yuu Kobayashi and Aki Toyosaki are in it, though, so that at least helps my enjoyment.
Character! Haha, I'm going to have fun with this one. The three main categories are: Misaki, Takumi, and everyone else. I'll get the two quick ones out of the way first:
Misaki: Tsundere. That's it. If you wanted to know something else about her you're out of luck, because that one word sums up her every thought and action.
Everyone else: Decoration mostly. A few of the one shot characters got a bit of development, but then we either never see them again or they show up as cameos. I don't even remember any of their names because of how forgettable they are.
Jesus...Oh wait, I meant Takumi: To picture Takumi Usui accurately, first think of Superman, Chuck Norris, and Jack Bauer. Now put them all together and you get Takumi Usui (he hasn't flown yet but I wouldn't be at all surprised if he suddenly revealed that power). He's perfect. No, perfect is an understatement. There aren't words to describe this guy. If he has any flaw, it's that he has no flaws, as little sense as that makes. He's smart, hot, athletic, clever, you name it. He's the only one that can beat Misaki in a SERIOUS card game (in this show, card games are serious business). He's always there to save his girl, and he even calls himself her stalker (is being creepy considered a flaw?). He'd be gay if he wasn't interested in our cute little protagonist (I actually thought he was gay when he was first introduced. Not even jokingly, I thought he was literally supposed to be gay), though I get the feeling he might actually be gay and is just trolling Misaki (there's more evidence of this as you watch the show). If the show had ended like that my score would have gone up by at least two points. Or if we'd gotten a School Days ending. That would have been pretty sweet.
The real problem with our characters as a whole is that there is no development (aside from the aforementioned occasional side character), nor any signs of developing. Misaki stays as tsundere as always (more "tsun" than "dere" of course), Takumi keeps the perfection act at 100%, and everyone else is shoved to the side. That isn't moving slow, people, that's bad writing. Takumi could be an alien for all we know. That's how little we know about him. Hell, it's possible he doesn't actually exist and he and everyone else's interactions with him are just a figment of Misaki's imagination a la A Beautiful Mind. I would not be surprised. All Misaki has going for her is that her family is poor and she works hard to pay the rent. That's it.
The above mostly holds true for the entire series, though there is a slight exception. This might be considered spoilers if you're paranoid, though I'll do my best to keep it out of that ballpark.
Hinata, Misaki's childhood friend, appears sometime in the later episodes. He gets development and actually sticks around. His presence also gives Misaki a bit of character development. Saying exactly what happens definitely would be spoilers so I won't do that, but it is, at the very least, worth noting.
So, after all has been said and done, why am I enjoying this (Yes, a 6 means my feelings of enjoyment for this show are positive, for all you four-point scalers out there)? Because at the end of the day, Kaichou wa Maid-sama! is actually pretty fun. Most of the jokes fall flat, but it's fun to laugh at Takumi's perfectness and predict what he'll do next (because it's glaringly obvious when he's about to show up). In other words, this show ended up being funny in ways it didn't mean to. My enjoyment would have been higher if not for the *extremely* clichéd parts and even a few sexist (for both sides) parts.
If you're sitting at episode 6-10 and wondering "Does it get better?" I will tell you right now: it doesn't. It stays the same. That may be a good or a bad thing for you depending on how you feel up to that point.
Should you watch this? Do you like generic Shoujo romcoms? Your answer should be the same for both those questions. If you like the genre you ought to like this. If you don't, this won't get you interested. read more