12 of 12 episodes seen
Now, before you argue that the quality of the story is irrelevant, consider the following. If GJ-bu wants to show cute girls (and a boy, though on the verge of being considered a girl as well) doing nothing but random stuff, then first it must get the viewer to actually care about the girls, otherwise it's just irritating rather than endearing. That's what good storytelling does, by offering a bridge between the world, including its characters, and the viewer. The problem is... this show doesn't have good storytelling.
While most shows at least try to construct a basic conceptual setting for the story to take place, this one decides it doesn't need to. Instead, we are thrown into the middle of an unknown place, with anonymous faces doing strange things we don't understand. Who are they? What are they trying to achieve? How do they relate with each other? There are many other questions, but these are the least you have to answer to convince the viewer that your characters are humans and not moeblobs walking around. GJ-bu's characterization is done through a few dialogues there and here and a few, very few, scenes outside the club. That's all you get.
Maybe the story just wasn't well executed, but the characters could still be good, right? Indeed, conceptually it's possible to elaborate interesting characters, but fail to fulfill their potential in practice. That's not the case of GJ-bu, which defines its characters in terms of clichéd stereotypes and refuses to give them any further depth. It's not that they lack back-story or psychological investigation, they just weren't meant to have any complexity to start with.
One-dimensional characters can be done well as long as they remain entertaining and/or charismatic, but to do so they must have interesting features and interactions with other characters. Characters from GJ-bu just do the same things over and over again, taking for granted the viewer's interest because of the cute and silly things going on. There's pretty much nothing fresh about the scenes, since they revolve around stereotypes doing their things.
As one would expect, if the storytelling is bad and the characters are poor, the jokes aren't exactly a masterpiece of humor, specially because they rely heavily on the characters. Shion, for instance, is very knowledgeable about many topics, but lacks common sense, as the stereotyped genius she is. That's it, there goes about 90% of all jokes about her, and not particularly creative ones. Oh, eventually she reveals that she would like to have a younger sister and has Tama fulfill that role because it's cute.
Yes, "because it's cute" and "because the public's desires must be satisfied" seem to be the main driving factors for GJ-bu. You've got tsunderes, maids, all kinds of hair colors, cat ears, little sisters, foreigners, heck, there's even cross-dressing for the girls and Kyoro. Everything is meticulously engineered to appeal the viewer through a specific stimulation. If the show had used at least half of the time spent on this planning towards making the characters and their context actually interesting, a great deal of its problems would have simply disappeared.
Now that we've got the bad things out of the way, let's focus on the bright side. Since visual appeal is relevant to GJ-bu's purposes, it tries to build its own style, as colorful, cute and comfortable as possible. These efforts are mostly successful, but the character designs are easily forgettable, nothing you haven't seen in other moe shows, and the animation is only average. As for the soundtrack, it's pretty catchy, and a lot of effort is put into the ending's themes... still, they end up sounding quite generic as well. As a whole, though, the production values are all right.
Now, after all of this, it could be concluded that this show is lame and boring, incapable of doing anything remarkable on its own. Well, there's nothing remarkable for sure, but surprisingly, it's still enjoyable. That's the ultimate secret of GJ-bu: it knows what it's doing. It was previously said that everything is meticulously engineered to appeal the viewer, and this becomes evident as the show goes on.
GJ-bu's focus on quantity rather than quality may lose points in artistic and creative value, but it's an important trade-off. You don't like this girl? Oh, then have another, and another, and another, all with distinct specifications, until you have one that you like. The stereotyped personalities are very helpful because otherwise it would be difficult to do this. Real people have common mindsets and physical attributes due to sharing the same environment, many have similar goals and ideologies, are constantly changing or trying to change, show different sides of themselves depending on the context... Stereotypes, on the other hand, are static, simple, and make sure that two characters will be as different as possible.
But surely there must be at least one grumpy old man who isn't charmed by any of the show's attempts, right? No problem. It may sound crazy, but GJ-bu doesn't deliver enjoyment solely from the viewer's love; hate is also effective. The series tries so hard to be cute and funny with its endless list of clichés, shallow characters and situations, fetishes and repetitive jokes that it turns into a laughable parody of itself for those who are not amused and become increasingly cynical. For example, the fact that the maid spins around every time she appears may either be seen as endearing or a pathetic attempt at being endearing. Both are acceptable, because GJ-bu doesn't care if it's being loved or hated, as long as it's not being ignored.
GJ-bu is, quite literally, an anime for everyone. It has generic written all over it, but you end up either loving or hating it because it goes so overboard in applying all sorts of tested formulas. Truth be told, if you are a fan of this kind of series, has no problems with underdeveloped characters and poor storytelling, and want something with a sort of relaxed atmosphere and all types of cuteness, then try GJ-bu, as it probably won't disappoint. Otherwise, it's not advised to take the risk, but the show could be good for a few laughs; if not genuine, then mocking. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The plot is very standard, as you can read in the synopsis: normal guy receives the "call to adventure" after his friend has been captured, and it turns out he is some kind of "chosen one". Thus, he needs to defeat the bad guy. The problem is not the lack of originality, specially since there are some pretty interesting ideas, but the lazy storytelling. There's not enough time to actually care about what's going on, yet the movie insists on throwing plot element after plot element, until it simply ends, without even having a proper sense of closure. It's not an open ending, just a sub-par ending.
The animation itself is not bad, though obviously dated, and the battle sequences have some nice fluidity. However, none of this helps a lot when everything seems so bland. Have you ever seen the stereotypical shounen heroes that teen boys create when they are learning how to draw inspired by manga/anime? That's Seirei Tsukai's character designs for you. Odds are, you'll forget the characters' faces within 48 hours after watching it. As for the soundtrack, it's nothing spectacular, but decent enough.
It's possible that the lack of engagement is not because of the plot, but rather the characters. There are lots of examples of characters who are capable of stealing the spotlights and carrying the plot all by themselves due to their charisma, while some works choose to develop the main cast as a whole and offer meaningful relationships which the reader/viewer cares about. Similarly, poor characters can ruin the entire experience.
You'll probably not hate the characters, but you won't like them either. They are just actors fulfilling their roles on the stage, bi-dimensional figures moving around. This is supposed to be a sort of coming of age for Kagura, who sees himself completely alone in the world now that his sole emotional support has been gone and must awaken his inner powers to get the girl back, as a man. It could be charming, if it wasn't so literal. Kagura has no visible signs of actually maturing or coming to terms with his problems, he just pulls a magical power out of his ass and saves the day.
Yet, after all of this, Seirei Tsukai manages not keeping the viewer entirely bored. But don't give it much credit, as most of it derives from a feeling of nostalgia which summons the "inner kid" inside of people. It is, after all, an adventure filled with dangers, abilities and battles, such as Dragon Ball, Hokuto no Ken, Yu Yu Hakusho and other classics.
But the ultimate question for a battle shounen is: are the battles interesting? Well... they are nice to see, but hardly memorable or unique. And that's a shame, because the characters have such huge and almost unlimited abilities due to being able to manipulate elements. Compare this to JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, which can consistently deliver exciting battles with simple abilities used in extremely clever ways, and you'll see that there's no real competition. Still, you shouldn't be very disappointed if you want to see some powerful warriors kicking each others' butts.
So, who is Seirei Tsukai recommendable to? Mostly nostalgia fans from the 1990's, and even so with some caution. Ultimately, however, it's just a superficial journey to the past, without anything remarkable on its own.
(Reviewed for the club "Reviews for the unreviewed") read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
First of all, do you see that pretty interesting premise for the plot in the synopsis? Yeah, forget about it. The main plot is told in the first few minutes and the rest of the OVA dedicates itself to a side story which is pretty much filler, so no revengeful gods, unconventional love or something like that. This is by far one of the greatest flaws here: you've got yourself some good enough source material for an entire series, yet choose to pick a random story and go with it.
Despite all of that, the story for the OVA is actually pretty interesting, so it's partially forgiven. The main character, Minako, is looking for her friend, who disappeared after he went to a certain orchid specialist's mansion. Minako finds herself in a very dangerous situation when she faces the siblings Touko and Kaname, both hiding some bizarre secrets... It's not a complex plot, but it certainly works and fits within the overall tone of the manga: dark, tragic and containing some twisted love stories.
The visuals are very good and able to successfully express the melancholy and morbidity through an overall Gothic atmosphere. Despite following the shoujo traditional art style, the characters have more mature looks to match the story nature. The main problem is the animation itself. Sure, many series and OVAs at the time had some awkward animation consisting of still frames in dramatic and action sequences, but it still looks very dated. To the OVA's merit, though, some of the scenes are quite stylish.
A good soundtrack helps tremendously in building a great atmosphere, and Deimos no Hanayome realizes that... sort of. Well, the musics themselves are good and most sound effects are okay (except a certain annoying and completely unnatural scream), but the transition between background sounds is done very poorly: the music just stops in the middle of the scene, then pops up again later, with very little fluidity.
The characters are the weakest part of this, since the main characters are only fully fleshed out in the manga and there is not much time to develop the bad guys. That's why they should have settled for either really adapting the original plot or making a complete standalone OVA with nothing to do with the manga. However, there is a huge problem which unfortunately manifests in the manga as well: all of the characters have their dumb moments sooner or later, and when they do, it's really dumb. They go from the basic "I'll reveal my whole backstory before I kill you, like a classic villain!" to "I've got evidence, experience and good reasons to assume that I'll be killed, therefore I'll walk straight into the danger without any plan! ". The backstory is interesting, though, and that is the only redeeming feature.
This OVA had the recipe for disaster with underdeveloped characters, technical inefficiency and failure to grasp the original plot, but the engaging suspense and nice visuals saved it. In the end, it's still a disturbing story with an interesting development, so horror fans should definitely give it a chance. If you enjoy more mature shoujo stories, Deimos no Hanayome might be for you as well, but be warned that it's basically advertising for the manga and doesn't try to hide that fact.
(Reviewed for the club "Reviews for the unreviewed") read more
95 of 95 chapters read
The story starts out pretty simple: our crippled Joestar hero, Johny, gangs up with Gyro Zeppeli and aims for the top in the intense Steel Ball Run race. Each competitor has his own unique motivations, abilities and means to win. Add the wackiness of the Stands to the mix and you've got yourself one hell of a ride, much like previous installments of the saga. But Steel Ball Run goes one step beyond and throws in characters/factions with their own agendas, a large conspiracy and personal quests.
That doesn't mean the story is complicated, but it definitely has interesting plot twists, intense conflicts and engaging character dynamics. Everything just flows so well that it's easy to get sucked in by the manga.
The art gets even more refined, making brilliant use of Araki's trademark style to highlight emotions, grant impact to a scene or simply serve as true feasts to the reader's eyes, specially with the rich character designs.
Gyro and Johny are likely the best JoJo protagonists to date, despite not topping Joseph from Part 2 in terms of badassery. They are far from perfect, but that's what makes them fascinating: they keep struggling with their inner demons, which are also their greatest enemies, in order to continue advancing, revealing more and more aspects of their personalities in the process. Their bond of friendship is quite powerful and authentic; even meaningless interactions are a lot of fun to watch. Oh, and Gyro's charisma is a huge plus.
The rest of the cast may not be as developed as Johny and Gyro, but they still shine. For starters, you've got Dio, who is again that bastard we all love to hate, manipulating everyone he can to achieve his personal goals. There is also the sympathetic cowboy Mountain Tim, the conflicted Hot Pants, the hilarious comedy relief Pocoloco and many other remarkable characters. The main antagonist is also great, using all of his experience acquired in combat, political power and honest, strong patriotism to pose a serious threat for the heroes.
As usual, battles are one of the biggest focus of the narrative and the main driving force behind the characters' growth, by putting them against desperate situations which demand a strong resolve and difficult choices to be made. While the Stands were becoming stronger and stronger in the previous arcs, Steel Ball Run brings most of them down dramatically. There are few overpowered abilities, making the battles very strategical and a lot demanding of the users. This is highlighted in battles such as the one against Axl Ro, which literally makes everyone involved face their sins, specially Johny and Hot Pants.
If you're up for some exciting, yet intelligent battles, a great cast of characters and one of the most bizarre races of the entire universe, then JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Steel Ball Run is for you. And it doesn't matter whether you are an experienced reader of the JoJo saga or a total newcomer, because the Steel Ball Run excludes no one!
(Reviewed for the club "Reviews for the unreviewed") read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
Quality-wise, the movie holds the tradition and invests on eye candy visuals to grasp attention — since this job isn't very suitable to the plot or characters, but we'll talk about these latter. Fluid animation and CGI effects are elements essential in order to build some exciting action scenes, which absolutely cannot be removed of a Pokemon movie. The character design... well, it's the same as always: generic and childish, but it's part of the franchise's style, so you can't avoid it. The sound? Oh, yes, there is sound. It's not like Pokemon's voice actors lack emotion, though that's precisely the case of the soundtrack, but probably the lame ones are the characters themselves. Not even Wakamoto Norio could do something to help if he wanted.
Speaking of characters, that's a somewhat difficult to analyse item in the franchise's movies: you can't discuss about the protagonists because their development happens in the original series, since the movie is merely another adventure, but you can't simply discard them. Nevertheless, what doesn't change is the fact that characters serve, amongst other purposes, as means to get the viewer's empathy or hate. Phantom Ruler Zoroark fails at both, whether at the good or the bad side.
Let's start with the villain perspective for a change: a one-sided dude who wants power at all cost despite any consequences. Oh, we've never seen this type before, right? The interesting part is that he really doesn't give the vibes of a big bad guy many times. I mean, he is bad all right, but who is he against? The three legendary dogs, Celebi, Zoroark and Zorua. The previous two don't seem much of a threat, but have you ever tried to mess with a son in front of the mother? Don't even try, as that's definitely not a good idea. And his ability doesn't help too much because he can see an immutable future, meaning no one can change it.
As for heroes, you have Ash, his usual gang and a couple of random guys. This time there isn't even a back story or something, they are simply pawns used to face the villain. Actually, facing the villain isn't really their jobs; instead, all they do during the whole movie is: distract enemies, help setting traps and other minor chores. The rest us up to Zoroark, Raikou, Entei, Suicune and Celebi. Look, Director-san, Writer-san, no one is saying that Ash needs to be a legendary hero destined to save the world in every single movie (I don't even like him), but c'mon, he is the freaking main character!
Surprisingly, the narrative is pretty good for a Pokemon movie. Of course, this whole time travels/future stuff has been explored many times, twice just in Pokemon movies, but the plot flows well enough. Little by little the pieces come along: first there is a problem, then our heroes try to solve it, while at the same time we have a cunning villain making his moves and the legendary dogs trio observing the situation. Eventually the good guys figure out the villain's plan and use his own scheme to defeat him. A pretty straight forward approach, but it works.
Anyway, the main question remains: "Should I watch this?", to which I can answer with another interrogation: "Well, why not?". Phantom Ruler Zoroark is overall a nice family movie, although teenagers who are not fans may want to skip this, offering mindless fun with cute, likable and innocent monsters fighting against an evil ambitious man. Just think how many moral lessons the parents will be able to elaborate! ... Not really an exciting thought, but there is some good amount of action scenes for those with a fare for adrenaline. As for the fans who withstood every single movie until now, one more shouldn't hurt. read more
26 of 26 chapters read
Why is Ane Doki so enjoyable? Let's start with the story: like in many mangas of the genre, there isn't really a main plot. The chapters are quite episodic — with very few plot development —, focusing more on the characters and their relationships. As it was already stated, the premise is generic and the development is predictable. The situations aren't very original either, since many of them can be seen in other works. What saves the story, though it doesn't make it less mediocre, is the way it's told.
The author doesn't try to put fancy plot devices or crazy twists to make the manga popular. Instead, she tries to handle the story as simply and naturally as possible, wich turns out to be a very good decision. In result, the story is completely captivating. The reader will find himself wishing that the protagonist chooses Girl A, or maybe Girl B, wondering about that other girl's mistery and making guesses about how the relationships will progress.
If the story can't captivate the reader, the art doesn't help a lot. The character designs are simple — without many defining features —, the minor characters couldn't be more common and the backgrounds are normally left aside or drawn in a very simplistic manner. Even so, you can't say that the art is bad, since the visual as a whole is quite delightful and the characters' looks match their personalities well.
The characters are simple. Really simple. Their personalities are already known by ecchi fans, their actions are predictable and the single person the female characters have a romantic interest in is the protagonist. Again, the author doesn't botter thinking of deep, complex characters. She shows that she can handle these types of characters (a protagonist who doesn't know who he likes, a girl that is like an older sister, but turns out to be something else etc) and isn't afraid of clichés. Since the reader already knows these characters, it's easier to sympathize with them.
With characters easy to see through, fitting character designs, a delightfull visual and a generic, but captivating, story, Ane Doki is truly a feast for those with simple tastes. Again, you should read it without too much expectation or thinking. In the end, that's the manga's purpose: to entertain, without appellation, anyone willing to read it. The only real issue is the conclusion: it seems too rushed and the reader can't help but wonder what could happen if the manga hadn't been canceled. If you can overcome that, Ane Doki should be a good way to spend time. read more
3 of 3 episodes seen
Read or Die is about an agent trying to stop some bad guys from killing everybody. It doesn't get any deeper than that, really. What makes the story interesting is the originality. For starters, the main character is able to control paper and her alias is "The Paper". Oh, and did you think she is some sort of spy working for a secret agency? Not exacly, she works for a secret brech of the British Library. Yeah, the British Library.
The villains are I-Jin, clones of historical figures. So you should expect to see things such as Gennai Hiraga using a lightsaber, Jean Henri Fabre controlling insects and Beethoven killing people with his music.
There's not that much to say here. As expected of a short OVA, the quality is very good, despite having been produced in the beginning of the century. If you aren't picky about the art in an anime, this shouldn't bother you.
Again, not much to say. The voice acting was satisfactory and the musics were used in the correct moments, creating good atmospheres/situations.
That's where the OVA shines: the characters. Each of the protagonists is very interesting and charismatic, from the tsundere Nancy to the superstitious Drake. The protagonist, Yomiko Readman, is the exact opposite of what you would expect from a top agent: impulsive, book otaku, clumsy and often fights in a very odd, but creative, manner. She is and adorable character able to manipulate paper and create a variety of weapons and tools with it.
Unfortunately, there is few space for character development. But even limited by 3 episodes, the show is able to establish a connection between the spectator and the characters. Read or Die is very action-oriented, but the characters are a very important part and their moments of interaction are simply wonderful. The lines aren't superficial or mechanical, but natural and full of life.
Not only the show has originality, charismatic characters, a simple and interesting story as nice action sequences. The I-Jin have unique abilities and the protagonist can use paper to build airplanes, swords, shields etc. Now put these guys in a fight. You know what you get? Amazing and incredible fights, that's what.
With so many awesome moments, you will probably want to see them again, so the rewatch value is very high.
If you want to see the sort version of the review, here it is: just watch it. There is no need for a detailed analysis to understand Read or Die. Maybe you like it because of the action, maybe because of the originality, maybe because of the characters, but in the end, you just like it. read more