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22 of 22 episodes seen
Our story takes place in a futuristic Japan where everything is run by the Sybil system. The system can check the career you're best suited for and scan your brain to determine how likely you are to commit crimes. This has resulted in a society in which “latent” criminals are caught and separated from society before they commit crimes when possible. However, that isn't always a possibility. So a special enforcement division works to solve crimes and bring criminals in or slay them according to Sibyl's judgment. The story of Psycho Pass follows this division as of the moment young Tsunemori Akane joins as the newest inspector. The story goes through several incidents, some of which are connected in ways that aren't readily apparent, before moving to the main plot. The hunt for the enigmatic Makishima Shougo who has some responsibility for multiple criminal acts including one that's haunted one of Division 1's enforcers, Kougami Shinya. No, that isn't a spoiler. They give that much away pretty quickly. I actually have nothing negative to say about the plot. Shocking, I know. The story is well-paced. It's interesting. It has some excellent twists. The morality is questionable and forces you to really think. The ending is strong. The major themes of the “isolating age,” “emotional repression,” and the time motif are all well handled. The story is also highly engaging, challenging the viewer not only with the morality, but with various mysteries and motifs. Nothing that happens is irrelevant. It all serves a purpose either thematically or as a factor in the main narrative. Actually, most do both. The world itself is very interesting and well constructed.
The characters aren't quite as strong as the story. Most of them are complex and well developed. I particularly liked the fact that the story managed to make both the protagonists and major antagonists competent. It's all too common to see a crime narrative make the protagonists act like idiots so that the antagonist will look stronger until the very end when they manage to find their brains. In Psycho Pass, they all come across as intelligent and any mistakes that either side makes are understandable under the circumstances. It makes the dramatic tension and narrative all the stronger. The more minor characters still have verisimilitude and feel developed, even with the limited screen time they get. My only criticism in this area is that the antagonists lacked developed motivations. You get a basic sense of why they're doing what they're doing, but it is somewhat weak.
The art is really well done and nicely detailed. That being said, there is some very violent and dark content. So the series certainly isn't for everyone. The futuristic tech looks interesting, I especially liked their depiction of futuristic chat rooms, and the action sequences really flow well. The character designs are nicely varied and well done.
The sound in this is really excellent. The ambient sounds and background music are both effective at building atmosphere. All the actors give good performances. The overall best were probably Nojima Kenji, Hanazawa Kana and Sakurai Takahiro. Even though there aren't any weak performances, those three are excellent.
The ho-yay factor is a 4/10. Yayoi and Shion are romantically involved, although you don't see much of their relationship. There's some in Yayoi's backstory and there's a case where they go to a girl's school which has some.
That was Psycho Pass. How does it compare to Urobuchi's other works? Well, it isn't quite as strong as Madoka, but it's stronger than Fate/Zero. It's a very interesting piece with a lot of depth, strong characters, a developed world and it ranks among the best dystopian works. My final rating for it is an excellent 9/10. I would recommend seeing it under the caveat that it does have quite a bit of violence, some of which is sexual. If that's going to be triggering or a general problem for you, you should not watch it. That isn't to say that it's handled badly, it's not. It's well-handled and respectful. Still, you don't want to expose yourself to that if you can't handle it. Next week, Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Waru... I'm just going to call it Watamote. read more
27 of 27 episodes seen
The story is really simple. Humans have been driven underground. In the underground Jiha village, two young men, Kamina and Simon, decide to breakthrough to the surface. But before they can manage the ceiling collapses, letting sunlight in and bringing with it a giant mecha and a young redhead named Yoko. The three defeat the mecha using a machine Simon found while digging and make their way to the surface. Simon and Kamina learn that humans on the surface have been struggling against beastmen and their giant robots known as Ganmen. They decide to take the fight to the beastmen and create a surface where humans can live in peace. From there you get a pretty standard action story. About the only element that stands out is the underlying theme of overcoming the past, while simultaneously carrying it within you. That's the most interesting part of the story. Unfortunately, the ending is pretty weak. A lot of what happens is also heavily exaggerated, often to the point of ludicrous. Which would be fine, except that they try to pull off several serious scenes. Naturally, they don't mesh well with the overall aesthetic and end up invariably falling short. This is also one of those series that doesn't understand evolution, but uses it as a plot point anyway.
The characters aren't particularly deep either. Most of them fall into a rather archetypal role and stay firmly rooted within that role. All of the major characters have their own rather trite arcs. All of which are rather predictable and you've probably seen before, and executed better, multiple times. The supporting characters lack even that basic level of development. They tend to have little to no personalities and they just kind of... exist. Most of them end up getting a few scenes, mostly for exaggerated comic relief, but ultimately say and do very little.
The art in this is not very good. The character designs are largely borked and kind of silly looking. The action sequences gravitate more towards laughable and over the top in their execution than intense. The final antagonist just looks really stupid. Several of the effects they use towards the end just look bad and the series has ridiculous levels of fan-service. On the positive side, the mecha designs are nicely done overall and the design changes when they do time skips are pretty effective.
The voice acting is exaggerated and over the top. Which can get grating at times. There's a lot of shouting as well and the music can get obtrusive at times. The best performance probably comes from Inoue Marina since she's less over the top than most of the other characters and she manages to convey some really good emotional elements, which is really the only element of the serious scenes that works.
The ho-yay factor is a 3/10. There is one canonically gay character in this but all he really does is flirt a bit. Unfortunately, he's kind of a stereotype. Although I get the impression that the presentation of his character is less out of malice and more the general trend of not being very well written that's common among all the characters.
That's Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, a series that's equal parts machismo, mindless action and over the top absurdity. Is it a masterpiece? Well, no. The art and sound are both rather sub-par. The characters and story are both kind of meh. Is it better than a lot of Gainax's other series? Well, it is entertaining rather than infuriating in its absurdity and it does have some interesting elements. So I'd have to say yes. The bottom line is that if you want something that can give you some cheesy entertainment, this isn't a bad choice. It's not as effective at it as Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, but it comes pretty close. Final rating, 6/10. It's a decent anime but don't expect it to nearly live up to the hype. Well, that's the last review of November. Going into December the request queue is: Psycho Pass, Dennou Coil, Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Waru, Kitakubu Katsudou Kiroku & Battle Athletes Daiundoukai. Next week I'll begin with a look at Psycho Pass. If you have a request of your own, just leave me a comment. read more
22 of 22 episodes seen
The story follows a young man named Kai and his friend Akiho, who comprise the robotics club of Tanegashima High School. But all isn't going well. They have no funding with which to finish their giant robot and the principal wants to shut them down. To further complicate matters, Kai stumbles upon a mysterious program called the Kimijima report. To its credit, Robotics;Notes does have some interesting ideas, its technology is futuristic but most of it does come across as plausible, and its main plot thread does have some good moments. However, the ending is weak and it's very slowly paced. It isn't until the 16th episode that the major plot threads start paying off. Up until that point it's all build up and the concepts they're working with really aren't interesting enough to merit that much build up. Consequently, a lot of the early episodes just drag. The major romance sub-plot also falls rather flat. They give you some idea that the characters might possibly care for each other beyond friendship throughout the anime, but they never give you a reason to care. Which resulted in me not being able to find a damn to give when they had their obligatory pairing up scene towards the end. In fact, the anime would have been stronger without that sub-plot. What there is of it is just cliched and they could've done everything exactly the same with the characters in question just being good friends.
The characters are definitely an issue in this. They're all very typical with little development and no surprises. You've got the kind of lazy shounen protagonist. The perky heroine who wants to catch up to the person she admires. The “tragic” figure who wants to chase his dream but can't as a result of familial disapproval. The weak but kind-hearted girl trying to overcome past trauma and, worst of all, at least in this series, the nerd with no social graces who spends too much time online and uses chat lingo in daily circumstances. You've probably seen all of these characters used multiple times with varying degrees of development. This is one of those series that uses them at their most basic. It tries to give them some development by giving each of them a basic character arc. The issue is that those arcs are predictable, to the point that you can probably guess some of the outcomes just based on this paragraph, and most of them are resolved with very little difficulty only to have the characters remain basically the same afterwards.
The art in this is okay. Some of the technology looks impressive, but the character designs are just kind of standard. The same can be said for most of the backgrounds and miscellanea. The robot fight scenes, what little there is of them, are okay, but they end before you can really get any kind of investment and yet they still manage to have too many pauses. Apparently the 5pb writers think that going slowly is tantamount to good pacing.
The voice acting is pretty good. Particularly Tokui Sora, Hosoya Yoshimasa and Nazuka Kaori. Sure, Nazuka's character annoyed me, but her performance was still good. The music is just really unmemorable.
The ho-yay factor is a 3/10. They hint at it at some points, usually involving Kona, but they never do anything with it aside from bringing it up.
And that's Robotics;Notes. It's not nearly on the level of Steins;Gate. There were some good ideas behind it, but the execution is overly slow and quickly gets dull and the characters are just bland. Final rating 5.6/10. It's slightly better than average. If you love robots, you may garner some enjoyment from it. Otherwise you'll probably just find it boring. Next week, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann. read more
4 of 4 episodes seen
So, the setup is that a young student named Sakura is living with an angel, the titular Dokuro-chan. She came from the future to change the past surrounding him. How? By beating him to death with a spiky club and resurrecting him multiple times. Her plan is great. You can probably already tell that it's not a serious show. So, what can you expect from the comedy? Most of it is either gross out humour, frequently involving gore over the top reaction humour or ecchi humour. The events themselves revel from having no connection to reality. Sakura's classmates and teacher just accept everything that happens without much reaction or comment. You'd also expect Sakura to be terrified of Dokuro, given her tendency to violently murder him with little provocation, but he treats her like a childish friend who just needs to be gently corrected most of the time. I'd suggest that he should call the authorities and get a restraining order, but she is a supernatural menace. So, who should he call? Why Ktulu's Supernatural Exterminators, of course. Our staff will use science and logic to prove within a .0005% probability that your supernatural menace doesn't exist, thereby causing them to vanish in a puff of logic. Wendy says “I had a ghost living in my house. He was friendly enough, but he was kind of an annoying tool. So I called Ktulu's Supernatural Exterminators. The representative who came to my house insulted everything from my intelligence to the décor, and when I called to complain they didn't understand what I was talking about.” To clarify Wendy's statement, we understood perfectly, we just didn't care. “But she was done in less than ten minutes and now I don't have that tool lurking around anymore.” That's Ktulu's Supernatural Exterminators. We promise efficient and effective removal of supernatural beings, but not good customer service. Our motto is “if you were smart, we wouldn't have to deal with it for you.” Call today, we're currently offering specials on sparkly vampires and green-haired kitsune stalkers. Now, back to Bokusatsu Tenshi. Another serious issue is the ending. They actually try to have a semi-serious, tense moment. Naturally, that doesn't work in a series that's already built up a very goofy aesthetic.
The characters in this are really lacking in dimension. You wouldn't expect them to develop much given that the series only has eight fifteen minute episodes, but they don't even come across as one-dimensional. It's like Highschool of the Dead, the characters are so flat they would be lucky to have half a dimension to them. The characters don't even play well off of each other for comedic purposes. Pretty much every joke has the same reaction from them. Dokuro gets violent, Sakura freaks out, their other classmates watch without reaction.
The art in this is pretty bad. Most of it is really undetailed. The only parts where they put in any effort are the gore effects and the occasional ecchi moment. And even then it's not all the time. Most of the gore effects consist of large quantities of blood spurting everywhere and they're pretty lazy.
The sound is the best part of the series. Mainly because of the opening, which has awesome music. The voice acting itself is largely either over the top or under-stated. The variation is pretty much based entirely on the character. Chiba Saeko, Takagi Reiko and Tobita Nobuo give exaggerated performances, everyone else gives really dull, emotionless ones.
The ho-yay factor is a 2/10. There's one throwaway joke involving Sakura and Zansu. It isn't remotely funny.
So, who would actually like this? If you're a fan of violent gross out humour, this is certainly one for you. If you think exaggeration is tantamount to humour, you'll probably like it. If neither of those statements applies to you, check out the music but stay away from the actual series. Final rating: 2/10. Next week I'll look at Robotics;Notes. read more
24 of 24 episodes seen
The story opens with our protagonist, Izaya (yes, I do know that's not his name, but the characters in this were so dull I never learned their actual names, even over the course of 24 episodes, so I'm going to refer to them by the names of more interesting characters played by the same actors) anyway, Izaya is spending some time at his apartment with a couple seniors from the same art University, the studious Chrono and the held back slacker, Jean Havoc. Reno, their teacher, brings in a young relative of his, Sayu. The story from their focuses on their everyday lives with particular emphasis on the love triangle involving Izaya, Havoc and Sayu or Chrono's unrequited love for the older Ridget while he tries to deal kindly with Amy's unrequited feelings for him. The biggest problem with the series is just that it's mind numbingly dull. It relies on you caring about the mundane lives of the characters, more on why that doesn't work in the next paragraph, although I'm sure you can figure it out. Most of the story focuses on soap operaesque romance elements and not the entertainingly cheesy type of soap opera in which the main character's evil twin has an affair with his mother-in-law and she thinks it was him or some such absurdity. This is the more mundane variety in which the situation is ordinary but over-blown. In addition to that, everything drags. There's a long scene about the characters looking for the interesting plot ideas... I mean a four leaf clover. The scene ultimately has no impact on anything else that happens either.
The characters in this are bland and one-dimensional. You'd think that a series with a clear character focus would take some time to flesh its characters out and develop them, but Honey and Clover has no time for such things. Instead, it picks a focus trait for each character, whether they're childish, uncertain, slackers or whatever and it never lets them grow or deviate from that. The biggest example is Havoc who gets an easy opening towards the end for some mild development only to elect to remain within the status quo because... developing slightly would interfere with his one character trait.
The art in this is... okay. The faces are drawn kind of oddly. They always look like their mouths are open. The scenery is fine. One thing that is odd is that Sayu's supposedly brilliant art is just incredibly mediocre. It could be a deliberate statement on how mediocrity frequently does get praised as “brilliant” for inexplicable reasons, but its more likely that they were trying to make art that looked brilliant and that's what they came up with.
The voice acting is passable. The actors certainly don't give their best performances, but they also don't have much to work with. They still all manage to do their jobs adequately. The music tends toward the soft and peaceful. It functions for the show's aesthetic.
The ho-yay factor is a 2/10. Havoc gets some homo-erotic scenes and there's one rather disturbing scene involving two brothers. The strangest part of that scene is that it has absolutely no purpose nor is it mentioned again. They could've left it out and lost nothing. So... they deliberately hinted at incest for no reason.
Honey and Clover is not a bad anime. It's just boring and, mostly, inoffensive. It feels like a creative writing project from a student who's about to graduate and doesn't care anymore. I can really only recommend it if you really like watching dull people go about their lives or you're suffering from insomnia. It may very well bore you to sleep. Final rating, 5/10. Next week, Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro Chan. I know, it's not the first thing in the queue, but everything else is too long to finish in one week. read more
4 of 4 episodes seen
Since the series is an anthology without an underlying narrative, lets look at the setup. There's a pet shop in a Chintown within the United States run by a man known as Count D. He sells regular pets as well as exotic ones to certain, deserving, customers. All of these pets come with a three condition contract. If any of these conditions are broken, then the shop assumes no responsibility for the consequences. In the meantime, a homicide detective named Leon is looking into Count D since so many unsolved deaths seem to involve customers of his shop. The stories in this are interesting. They have really good atmosphere, build up and legitimately creepy moments as well. They aren't scary, but they're the closest to horror I've come across all month.
The characters are very important in this series and not just the reoccurring characters like Count D and Leon, but also the characters who are the focuses of individual episodes. Count D's special customers are always there for karmic reasons and his rules offer them a last chance at redemption. Figuring out why they merit karmic retribution is one of the interesting facets and it's never something overly simplistic. Which results in having to spend some time getting to know that character. Some of the episodes do it better than others, but all of them do it fairly well. The characters of Count D and Leon are well developed as well. My one issue in this area is that Leon's co-workers, who show up occasionally in his scenes, come off as bland and under-developed. But each one probably only gets five minutes of screen time cumulative. So that's really a very minor issue.
The art in this is quite superb. The expressions are very well drawn. The animals are really cool looking. Count D's wardrobe is magnificent. That's probably a strange thing to say, but his attire is very well drawn and just well designed. The character designs in general are just really good. The art is excellent and really well detailed.
The voice acting is excellent particularly Seki Toshihiko as Count D. The music and sounds in general are also excellent. Which helps contribute to the atmosphere.
The ho-yay factor is a 4/10. Things between Count D and Leon get pretty homo-erotic. To the point where there are moments where you wonder if Leon is actually investigating him or trying to work up the courage to ask him on a date.
So, that's Petshop of Horrors. It has great atmosphere, compelling characters and interesting story lines. The art and voice acting are both excellent and it has a bit of ho-yay. It may not be frightening, but it does manage some creepy moments. My final rating on this one is a 9/10. I do recommend checking it out.
That does it for the last review of October. Going into November I have requests to review: Honey and Clover, Robotics;Notes, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Psycho Pass, Dennou Coil, Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro Chan and Watashi ga Motenai no wa dō Kangaetemo Omaera ga Waru. Next week, Honey and Clover. read more
Oct 23, 2013Danganronpa: Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukou... (Anime) add
13 of 13 episodes seen
Our story begins with our protagonist, Naegi, walking to his new High School. No sooner does he cross the threshold when he finds himself waking up in a classroom that's been bolted shut. An announcement plays requesting all students assemble in the gymnasium. He finds himself with fourteen other students and a stuffed bear apparently belonging to Harvey Dent appears claiming to be the Principal. They're told that they won't be allowed to leave until they graduate. And the only way to graduate is to kill someone and get away with it. Now, Naegi has to solve the mystery of just what is going on at Hope's Peak Academy, figure out how to escape, avoid getting killed and solve any death that happens or he, and all of the other innocent students, will be killed. This anime is very silly, but in a good way. It's like a very macabre parody combining murder mystery with the whole “students being forced/ strongly encouraged to kill each other” genre that was popularised by Battle Royale (which happens to be on one of my book shelves between the Handmaid's Tale and Suzuki Koji's Dark Watch.) Now, I don't just refer to it as a parody because the antagonist you spend most of your time with is a teddy bear. The character designs are also goofy, the tone stays rather macabre but avoids getting too dark by showing execution scenes in very muted colours and leaving the gorey bits to your imagination. There are also some rather silly scenes. To give one example, Kirigiri finds a clue in the underwear of one of the corpses. When asked why she would check there she shrugs it off as no big deal. It's not like she checked their socks or something. Let's move on to the mystery elements. This is an area where the series excels. The investigations go by very quickly, but they manage to give you all the information you need to either solve the case or figure out where the discussion should begin in the classroom trial. The only exception is the trial before the last one, in which they disclose very little but I'll let that one go since there is a good story reason for it. One thing that I really liked is that they managed to make the discussions interesting, even when the solution was obvious. So you never feel like you're watching a bunch of idiots flounder around to figure out something that should be obvious. This isn't Hyouka. My biggest criticisms of the series are that they leave a lot of unanswered questions , which I unfortunately can't ask since most of them involve spoilers, and the ending is pretty cheesy. Now, a lot of the series is cheesy, in a good way. The ending, however, gravitates more towards the facepalm inducing end of the cheesiness spectrum.
Most of the characters in this are pretty typical. Naegi is a lot like many other shounen protagonists, he's young and naïve but he's got a lot of heart and great potential. Many of the other students are also representative of rather flat archetypes. Maizono, Ishimaru, Hagakure, Yamada and Oowada to name few. Now, in all fairness, most of these characters are passable even if they aren't particularly deep. There are some very problematic elements to the way a few of the characters are handled. Particularly Fujisaki and Sakura. There are some characters with really interesting concepts behind them, but they never get fully developed.
The art is interesting. I already mentioned the goofy character designs and the execution scenes, but there are other facets worth discussing. A second way they tone down the gore is by having blood be some bizarre colour like bright neon purple or green. The evidence is also presented in such a way that it feels like a game. It gets brought up in boxes or contradictions will be illustrated by the image of a bullet shattering into a person when Naegi raises an objection. Which does give it a unique aesthetic.
They got some really stellar voice actors for this. Including Ogata Megumi, Ishida Akira, Hikasa Yoko and Sawashiro Miyuki. All of whom give great performances. The biggest issues are with Kujira and Yamada Kappei. Kujira plays a female character but gives a heavily masculine performance, which is one of those problematic elements with Sakura's character. Yamada just gives a very flat and kind of annoying performance. The music is good. It's used to accentuate the action pretty nicely.
The Ho-yay factor is a 1/10. This has no Ho-yay. I kept expecting there to be some, just because it is starring Ogata Megumi and I'm used to seeing her play characters with either a same sex love interest or at least a one-sided crush on someone of the same sex like Haruka, Yukito, Kurama, and Ayato. But no, she doesn't this time.
So, how is Danganronpa? As a horror piece, it doesn't really work. But if you have a dark sense of humour and you enjoy a good mystery you will likely enjoy it quite a bit in spite of its problems. If macabre elements creep you out or mysteries make your head hurt, it's not going to be for you. For myself, I give it a 7/10. It's a good anime and I did enjoy watching it. Next week, horror anime month ends with a look at some cute little animals... from the Petshop of Horrors. read more
26 of 26 episodes seen
Our story begins in 2009 with Kaido Yuji being put in Cryogenic Suspension for a strange condition that the doctor's hope to find a solution for before reawakening him. Remember when we developed that technology, froze all those people and completely forgot about all of it? That was a crazy year. He wakes up in 2031 to find that giant insect creatures called the Blue have over-run the Earth and a team of soldiers is under orders to bring him into space, for very stupid reasons. The first half focuses on their efforts to reach the space stations referred to as Second Earth and may Red Shirts lose their lives. The second half focuses on the battle against the Blue and many more Red Shirts lose their lives. You can probably guess some of the story flaws, but I'll extrapolate on most of them. The first problem is that the series is set too close chronologically. The earliest events take place a decade after the series started airing. Using technology we still aren't close to having. What was the point of setting it so soon? It just makes the series dated really quickly. You'd think they could have set it in the “not too distant future” without giving an actual date and it would have worked much better. By the way, the Blue are scheduled to appear in four years for those of you who like predicting the end of the world. I can't really go into the reason that they have to bring Yuji to second Earth without giving spoilers, so I'll just say it fails basic Biology and leave it at that. Another issue is the Blue's motivation. Once you learn it you will get a migraine from the sheer idiocy of it. I'm tempted to spoil it just to rant about it, but I will restrain myself. Then there's the ending. It follows one of the dumbest, oldest cliches in existence. The cliched nature of the series is a problem in general, but at no point is it worse than the ending. The series itself seems to be afraid of trying anything new. Every plot element seems to have been decided based on what a very generic sci-fi work would do which just serves to make the whole thing trite and predictable. The horror doesn't really work. There are scenes where they're obviously trying, but the attempts are just ineffective.
Then we have the characters. The only two important characters are Yuji and Marlene. Virtually everyone else is just a Red Shirt or they'll serve one basic purpose before being relegated to Red Shirt. That brings me to the biggest problem with the characters. There are a lot of deaths in this and they never give you any reason to care. “That character who was in all of two scenes and did nothing is dead.” Yet the series treats them as important and emotional, spending an absurd amount of time on some of them. Blue Gender, if you want your audience invested in your characters, you have to actually develop them a little. Otherwise it just seems like you're padding the series out by dwelling on the deaths of completely pointless characters. Even Yuji and Marlene are pretty dull. Yuji is your standard action hero. He starts out completely out of his element, but he adapts and becomes the big hero that everyone needs all without ever finding a developed personality to call his own. Marlene is more of your action girl who starts out tough but will get relegated to a background role when the plot calls for Yuji to take over. It doesn't help that Yuji is completely ungrateful. There are two cases in which his life is saved and he gets mad at the people or person responsible. It doesn't make him more developed or interesting, it just makes him annoying.
The art is pretty good. The Blue look interesting and the backgrounds are pretty vibrant, except when they're in space and they become kind of monotonous, but that does make some sense. The action sequences could have been good, except that they interrupt the action a lot to show random reaction shots. Because when someone sees one of their comrades killed we couldn't guess that they'd be angry. We have to see it. Another issue is with the facial expressions. They frequently just look borked and convey no real emotion.
The voice acting is good, considering that the actors have very little emotional depth to work with. The performances are still competent and they did get some good actors such as Nojima Kenji Kuwashima Houko and Nishimura Chinami. The music is really good. Whether they're trying to be scary, doing an action scene or whatever, the music could have been used in something that was doing it right.
The Ho-yay factor is a 4/10. There are two sex scenes between a couple of the generic female characters. They serve absolutely no purpose and I have no idea why they were included, but they're there.
So, that was Blue Gender. How does it hold up when taken as a whole? It isn't bad, but it's certainly not good. It's too cliché and generic. Every sci-fi element can be found in much better works, but they can also be found in much worse. In the end it's just a mediocre work that's relatively inoffensive. You might like it if you're a huge sci-fi fan and don't care about originality or if you're new to sci-fi and don't know the cliches yet. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother with it. Final rating, 5/10. Next week, horror anime month continues with a look at Danganronpa. read more
1 of 1 episodes seen
The story follows young Midori. She loses both of her parents and has no one to take care of her. She finds her way to a traveling circus where she is physically and sexually abused. I wonder why Harada couldn't find sponsors? To be fair, it's not shown in great detail. You see just enough to know what's going on. Then a magician with dwarfism enters the scene and things start to change. The story is very simple to the point of being one-dimensional. It follows the simplest structure it can. Where it tries to draw you in is with shocking and grotesque imagery. The problem with that s that there's nothing even remotely substantive behind that imagery. This is another anime that lacks horror. It's conceptually disturbing and some of the images do have shock value but the execution lacks impact. You'll get a scene in which things start out normally enough, there's a twist and some shock images and then it'll hurriedly wrap up and shift to the next scene. There's no good build up or payoff. They don't extend things or build on them enough to give it actual horror.
The characters in this are fully one-dimensional. Most of them get one or two scenes where they're allowed to do something. Even, Midori, the major character that you're supposed to gain some measure of investment in, is more of a passive object than any kind of proactive character. They never really delve into the actual impact the events shes going through are having on her. Except in one brief nightmare scene that comes, goes and leaves no impact. I literally just finished watching the film and I couldn't recount what happened in that scene in any kind of detail.
The art is kind of impressive when you consider that the bulk of it was done by one guy. It's still not really decent, though. It's very sloppy and the animation is jerky. But you have to give Harada credit for getting it done and making it passable.
The voice acting is very amateurish and the sound quality isn't very good. I'm sure that Harada did the best he could without studio support or sponsors. It still sounds terrible
The ho-yay factor is a 3/10. There is a very brief scene between a grown man and a younger teenage boy. Why you would want to see that, I have no idea. Dude should find a boyfriend his own age.
This film reminds me of an independent exploitation film. It's lacking in budget, the technical aspects are amateurish, the execution is pants and the story is beyond weak. The major focus is on being shocking but without anything substantial to back it up it ends up being largely forgettable and stupid. While it is pretty impressive that the bulk of the work was done by a single man, that doesn't excuse the terrible story, complete lack of even semi-developed characters or rubbish execution when attempting horror. It's nothing but shock value and spectacle for the sake of shock value and spectacle. Final rating: 2/10. I would only check it out if you're very curious about it as an independent piece or as a previously banned piece. Otherwise I'd leave it in obscurity where it belongs. Next week will actually be Blue Gender. read more
3 of 3 episodes seen
Our story begins with our protagonist, Eiri, hanging out with some friends. But don't get attached to them because they'll only appear in one other, brief scene. They talk briefly about love and Eiri runs off for his part time job at his uncle's antique shop. He spends some time just holding and looking at a glass. A glass that seems to contain a girl that only he can see. The biggest problem with this OVA is that it meanders. What I mean by that is that there are a lot of scenes that go nowhere and don't tie into the main plot. Not only that, but the animation will frequently shift to random things (a street, a mailbox, tableware, bamboo, butterflies, etc...) during conversations. I still can't figure out whether this is supposed to be disconcerting or it's just a way to pad the OVA. If it's the former it doesn't work. The latter would seem more probable since this OVA drags. You wouldn't think I'd be able to say that about something that lasts all of three episodes, but it does. There are long stretches of scenes that just show random objects or filled with scene after scene where nothing of value happens. You could probably cut this down to a single episode if you only kept the relevant parts. Don't expect actual horror from this either. A lot of what happens is strange and/or kind of nonsensical but not frightening. There are some scenes that have promise, but the effect they could have had ends up getting spoiled by random object cuts and pointless scenes.
The characters are pretty dull. Eiri and Cosette are really the only ones who matter, possibly Mataki if you stretch the meaning of “matter.” They could have developed the characters if they had spent less time on pointless moments, but they don't. They start out as stock characters and experience very little growth as things progress.
The art is pretty good. The random shifts and transitions may not do anything from a story perspective, but the things they cut to are drawn well. There are a lot of really good details in the backgrounds as well. Which I paid close attention to as nothing of merit was happening in the foreground most of the time. The character art looks pretty good as well. The biggest issue with the art comes when they try to do a “scary” scene and random objects of wildly shifting art styles start coming at you. Which just looks odd. Their attempt at drawing a monster, which oddly enough has a negligible effect on the plot, just looks silly. I honestly laughed out loud when I first saw it. They also like to do randomly tilted shots throughout the series. Which just look stupid and out of place.
The voice acting ranges quite a bit in quality. Inoue Marina gives an excellent performance, and it's the only aspect of the OVA that actually comes across as creepy. But then you have Saiga Mitsuki and Toyoguchi Megumi who are just okay. You also have Ebara Masashi who, thankfully, only appears in one scene in which he over-acts like hell. I know he can act, I've heard him do it in Xenosaga and Fullmetal Alchemist, to name a couple examples. The effects, are not at the level of the acting. They try to create this disconcerting cacophony, but it just ends up spoiling the effect in a lot of cases. Inoue Marina will be delivering her lines in a genuinely creepy way, but then the effects will make her voice sound tinny, for lack of a better term, and the creepiness will be gone or the effects will be louder than the character voices and it'll be hard to hear what they're doing. The music is just pretty typical of “horror” fare.
The ho-yay factor is a 1/10. This has no ho-yay. The cast is overwhelmingly female, but they can't be bothered to develop their relationships in any way, romantic or otherwise. Most of the male characters only appear in a scene or two.
This is the best anime I've seen in the past four weeks. Which admittedly isn't saying much since the other anime were the two first series of Sekirei and Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari. The bottom line is that there are some moments that could have been effective but they're diluted by a whole lot of pointless scenes and random transitions. Still, I do recommend watching it, with two or three friends. Why? Because Le Portrait de Petit Cosette lies in that realm of dullness and semi-stupidity that makes for excellent snark material. Watch it to poke fun at it and it will lead to entertaining moments for you and friends. But as a serious horror piece I have to give it a 4/10. It's mostly just pretty dull but inoffensive. Horror anime month will continue next week with a look at the only horror anime on my request queue, Blue Gender. read more