Shokugeki no Souma. . . Where do I begin with this show? Well, let's start with the common description that's been drifting around the internet since its airing-- "Food Porn". It's an understandable title, really. Every episode features numerous mouth watering dishes that we the audience can't help but lust after. With most (if not all) episodes also featuring a foodgasm it's an apt moniker. That may cause some misconceptions however. By that description alone you may assume this to just be another throw away ecchi show. I won't lie, I had similar thoughts after the first episode that featured a truly terrifying scene involving ... tentacles and a naked woman. Luckily I'm not one to dismiss a show after a single episode and I'm thankful I didn't. (And these tentacles do rear their slimy tips on occasion, but they thankfully recede quickly... *shudder* I know you niche guys with the fetish aren't pleased by that info, but the rest of us are!)
Young high-school aged guy, bad-ass father that leaves the country, elite institution for the best of the best where our young hero will face overwhelming odds on a daily basis to prove his worth! This is a Shounen battle anime in every sense of the term. That being said it's a battle of culinary skill rather than a brawl with fists. I can't really get into a lot of battle Shounen, I have a difficult time feeling engaged when no matter how much fighting occurs everyone is allowed to walk away. That's why this series works though! These aren't life or death contests but rather a contest of one's future and pride.
One aspect of this story that I love is the way our main character Souma isn't an underdog. Sure, a lot of people look down on him, but that's due to their asinine judgment rather than his actual skill. He is a damn good cook! He knows what he's doing in the kitchen and will put others to shame. Rather than starting from the bottom to work his way to the top, he is already close to the top and has to battle those who made it there with him.
The story sounds relatively cliché, but most are in this day and age. However, it is well executed. There are constant challenges for our characters to overcome, and none of them feel contrived. The nature of the school they attend calls for consistent challenges, but there is time in between these events.
The animation is great. I never dreamed food could look so superb animated. I find myself thinking "Does fried rice look that good in real life? I don't care, I need fried rice!!" Only to promptly be disappointed when the fried rice I prepared doesn't look quite as amazing as the one portrayed in the anime. (Still tasted good though, in case you were wondering). J.C Staff is awarded full points in my book for making the food feel so enticing. It's an ecchi show but my eyes are drawn towards the hot dish on the plate rather than the hot female who just prepared it. (Pardon the quip, I'm making a point here.)
The colors are vibrant and make the entire show exceedingly easy on the eyes. The character designs are very nice. I give genuine applause to the artist of the manga for incorporating so many different styles into the characters. No two look alike and all have some sort of flare to make them memorable.
The first opening is nice and pleasant to look at with sequences of animation that have become fairly standard for openings in this day and age. The ending is a slightly different story; featuring nude, chibi versions of all the characters riding some sort of food. It's remarkably odd to say the least. And I don't know who in the past few years came up with the idea to take a floor polisher to the shoulders, knees, elbows and boobs of characters, but it really isn't necessary. Not necessarily bad, but I don't see a point. I mention it because my eyes were almost glued to those raw areas that look like they'd be extremely painful... But the pinnacle of this ending is the Last Supper imagery. I think the anime is hinting at Souma being the Messiah of cooking. He was sent there by his father, he shows up and shatters all the existing laws and standards, he makes bold declarations people don't like, yadda yadda yadda. Damn... That actually really works... O.o
The second opening though, damn is it good. Translated to English this show is titled as "Food Wars!" and this opening makes you remember that. Gigantic ladle vs. the world's 4th largest fork. Imagery of the demon chef challenging the revered goddess. Planet Earth sitting in a soup-bowl. I think I saw a light-saber somewhere, still not sure on that one. But damn, when combined with the music I got hyped for every single episode!
Oh, and just in the off-chance that you're curious, the 2nd ending... I don't really like to talk about that... Why you ask? Well, its actually kinda creepy. I'd rather not recall that girl...
The OST did it's job. The music is appropriate for the scene, but there aren't any tracks that had that "wow" factor. Not to say it didn't do it's job. The intense moments have epic or triumphant music, the more lighthearted scenes have matching melodies.
The first opening song "Kibou no Uta" is actually really good. I wasn't sold the first time listening to it, but the almost hoarse sound of the vocalist really grew on me. The first ending "Spice" is far catchier than it should be, I can't even begin to count how many times that song has gotten stuck in my head. The second opening "Rising Rainbow" is awesome. Every time that song played I felt myself getting hyped and excited for the episode to come. I mean, I was already hyped every time I clicked "play", but this song just sends the thrusters into overdrive!
The acting is actually really, really well done. The casting was spot on and the actors/actresses nailed the duality of the characters. There isn't that one moment where you're blown away by their performances, but there's a consistent level of quality that just makes itself apparent.
Just as you might expect from a Shounen there's a fairly large cast:
Souma Yukihira- The main character of the show and an excellent addition to Shounen protagonists. I mentioned earlier how Souma was actually skilled, but what makes him standout is that he's also rather arrogant. He knows he's a good cook and isn't afraid to prove it. He got this way because he has an unrivaled determination; he worked his ass off to get his skills and takes pride in them. To accompany this arrogance is a semi-permanent state of uncaring ignorance. A famous chef? He doesn't know nor care. Prestigious institution? He's never heard of it. A rival who doesn't like him? He'll speak to them in a pleasant manner and taunt their dramatics. His ignorance borders on stupidity but creates glorious situations because he's so laid-back. Souma is also a really nice guy who isn't foolish enough to downplay the skill of others. He recognizes talent and respects it.
Erina Nakiri- The high-class bitch with a god complex. At least, that's the initial impression we see from her. Though still early in her character, we can tell that deep down she's a tsundere with an extra dose of tsun. So, a tsun-tsundere? Bad joke? Yeah, but I think it's accurate. She's demeaning, ruthless, and sadistic. She really is a complete and total bitch. But you know, I really like Erina. Maybe my perspective is a bit skewed because I can see the future (well, I read the manga... same thing, really), but Erina really grew on me with time.
Megumi Tadokoro- The shy, nervous, apprehensive hometown girl. Megumi is sweet, likable, and extremely prone to panicking. She doesn't show the best cooking skills, but no matter what you're going to want to pull for her. Megumi's the girl that you just can't help but love. She's like a newborn puppy or kitten. You look at them, tilt your head, say "awwww" and just smile as they go around tripping on themselves as they learn to walk. If you dislike Megumi, admit yourself because you're insane. The question of her as the main heroine is more debatable, but you're going to love this girl.
The rest of the characters include a wide array of friends, rivals, friend-rivals, teachers, and Souma's dad (who's pretty much all of the aforementioned roles). Despite being minor characters they're all memorable and relatively unique. And though I'm not delving into detail about them, they really do form a great cast. I previously mentioned "duality" in regards to the voice acting, there's a very simple reason for that- a character may be drastically different when they're cooking as opposed to when they're not. Or depending on who they're around they may undergo a bit of a 180.
A small shout-out to Isshiki-senpai, the guy that pulls off the naked apron with an unrivaled amount of vigor. His fan-girls are not without their reasons. Oh, and a second shout-out to Alice von Einzbern. Wait, my bad, the white hair, pale skin, and red eyes threw me through a loop. Alice Nakiri, I remember now. I'm not quite sure how to describe her, but maybe I'll use the phrase "chibi pouting and/or chibi amazement". An adorable character to say the least.
This show was an absolute pleasure to watch. It's fun and crazy with a decent splash of ecchi to keep your eyes riveted to the screen. But it also has a pretty damn good growth story about a guy chasing his dreams. The food contests are intense, the foodgasms are riveting in a horrible yet spectacular fashion, and the show has been just one huge gigantic ball of fun and excitement. This show was definitely one of the most enjoyable shows of 2015.
Shokugeki no Souma is nothing short of fantastic. I was captivated by the story to such a degree that I couldn't contain my curiosity and I set out to read the manga. After binge reading for two days straight I caught up to the manga and I can say with certainty that since we've been graced with another season, this show has only just touched the tip of the ice-berg. More Shokugekis, more rivals, foodgasms galore, and character development are all aspects one can expect for this show and whatever else may follow. Oh, and a just as a side-note, this was a faithful adaptation to the manga. Nothing was cut out except for one epic Ping Pong match -sadface-, and nothing was rushed.
Shokugeki no Souma was the surprise hit of the season for me. No, not even the season, all of 2015. I never would have anticipated this level of excitement from a show revolving around a culinary institute for teenagers. It's comedic, it's intense, and somehow it's all about cooking!
Aug 10, 2015
"Conquering the world is a very interesting idea."
(There are quite a few allusions to minor spoilers in this review, fair warning.
I have read 9 Volumes.)
There is an inherent truth in the world of anime, manga, and light novels; this truth is that far more often than not the protagonist will bear remarkable similarities to the image of a "Virtuous Hero"! That guy with the friendly demeanor who will help anyone and everyone. That often times young hero will hold the mindset of not letting anyone they know get killed. They won't give up and believe that even the villains deserve a chance at redemption. If ... they see someone in need they will lend their help free of charge. From mundane day-to-day tasks to a conflict fraught with danger and potential death, these heroes are always there to lend a friend, ally, or on occasion a complete stranger their ever so capable hands. Overlord is not that kind of story.
Another fundamental fact also exists that there are very few anime, manga, or light novels that have their protagonist as a villain. The character that will kill any who get in their way, will victimize innocents, the type that will look back on the blood they've shed and smile as they continue to swathe their way through a crimson tide. Overlord is not that kind of story.
Overlord is one of those stories that has the protagonist feel real. He's not perfect or morally righteous but nor is he evil or blood-thirsty. I mention this now because I saw that misconception as being the greatest form of interest in this series. With allusions to stories such as Death Note, Overlord was initially illustrated to me (along with many others) as a story following an Undead Lich as he sought to take over the world. While that is certainly not a lie it is also far from the truth. However, this series is unquestionably one that is worth reading.
Allow me to make one thing crystal clear: This is NOT a story about being trapped in a video game. Anyone who is laboring under the delusion that this story is akin to Sword Art Online or Log Horizon I urge you to throw your hoe into the ground, straighten your back and wipe the sweat from your brow. Despite the initial picture you may have woven thanks to the synopsis, it is far more accurate to say that our protagonist is transported to a fantasy world with his in-game avatar being the catalyst for his conveyance into this new world. Sword Art Online was obviously a video game. Log Horizon was a video game with real life elements but it was still a game, with raids, drops from killing monsters, the purchasing of buildings through a system run by the world. Overlord is real life with a few elements reminiscent of a game.
The story predominantly follows Momonga (Or Ainz Ooal Gown, as I will be referring to him from now on, Ainz for short) as he and the eternally loyal bastion known as the Great Tomb of Nazarick seek to claim this new world as their own. I was immediately enthralled by this premise. Quite simply, I adore stories of conquest. From my childhood spent building fortifications with Legos only to have it come under assault by my army of Lego Orcs (I can thank Lord of the Rings for that one), to my many days spent playing Warcraft 3 as I surged into human establishments with my army of undead. I have always enjoyed that concept of conquering whatever adversary stands in front of you through the use of strategy. Overlord has not left me feeling dissatisfied in that regard even in the slightest fashion. Though that is not to say you should expect an all out war from the very beginning. A substantial amount of time has been devoted to the more subtle elements surrounding world conquest, principally that little commodity known as knowledge. Overlord subscribes to the assessment that knowledge is power, a correct conclusion if I do say so myself. Thankfully though, intelligence gathering does not stand as Nazarick's single asset; to quote Game of Thrones: "Power is power", and believe me, Nazarick has an abundance of power, so much so that the golden chest it resides in was blasted apart due to the swelling within, the power then shattered the vault and poured out into every passageway in the building.
Though an implication may have already arisen, allow me to definitively state that this author has poured in an extensive amount of detail into this fantasy world. The world powers and their relations to one another. The individual states of the countries' governments and the factions formed, the social classes present within these countries. Crime, the magic in the world, the magical items, alchemy, swordplay, the system of the guild that utilizes these fantastical elements, every single one of these concepts are delved into with a phenomenal amount of detail.
While Ainz is the preeminent character in this series, we've also been made privy to the perspectives of many of the other characters present in this story. This has helped pave the way to a veritably fascinating cast. These perspectives aren't just limited to the allies of our main character, we'll hear from friend and enemy alike as they perceive the events of the plot.
Allow me to introduce Ainz Ooal Gown-sama, the Supreme One, the highest of the Almighty 41 Supreme Beings, the Supreme Overlord of Death. Clearly the inhabitants of this world hold a fondness for the word "supreme", no? Ainz is a character that is enchanting to read about. Formerly your average human serving as a member of the Japanese work-force, Ainz is now a skeletal Lich and finds himself the leader of an organization whose members feel undying loyalty and love towards him. Ainz is immediately presented as both smart and responsible as he tries to maintain the appearance of the leader his subjects have envisioned. Then devoting himself towards the discovery of the nuances of his new body, his power and capabilities, as well as the details of the world he suddenly finds himself existing in. We see two sides of Ainz, one being the Ruler of Nazarick, the Ainz that is exhibited to the world, the Ainz that emanates a constant state of power, knowledge, and control. But then you have the Ainz that resides solely in thought. The Ainz that struggles over the mental taxation he feels, the one that has to rigorously think through every scenario to try and present the powerful demeanor, the Ainz that takes notice of how cold and calculating he's become, and the Ainz that ponders the intrinsic lack of emotion capable of being felt by one who no longer has a human body. Far from evil and still retaining a slight sense of justice, Ainz is one who doesn't feel emotion towards the nameless human he saw struck down, he doesn't cause suffering for fun, but nor does he hesitate should the need arise. He casts off the notion of taking action because it is "the right thing to do", rather he intervenes in situations where he stands to gain a profit.
The only other character I am going to make specific mention of is Albedo. Albedo is the Overseer of the Floor Guardians and is extraordinarily in love with Ainz. In the Layman's terms of this site she's a Yandere. Inordinate feelings of anger and jealousy at her beloved's interaction with another female? Check. Immense feelings of joy and pleasure upon receiving praise from her beloved? Check. Desire to kill love-rivals so as to spend eternity with her cherished one? Well, half-check. Suffice to say, Albedo is characterized by her excessive love and devotion towards Ainz.
The remainder of the cast I am not going to delve into, I am however going to bring the spotlight towards the dynamic that exists between many of these characters. The Great Tomb of Nazarick is my personal most cherished element that exists in this series. The Great Tomb of Nazarick serves as an organization of monsters all in service to their ruler. Every single denizen of Nazarick shares one cohesive thought: absolute, undying loyalty and service towards Ainz Ooal Gown. I hold an unequivocal adoration towards that simple sentiment. The denizens of Nazarick view humans as lower life-forms, equivalent to the cockroaches that we find so repulsive. They will slaughter an entire village without a moment's hesitation or guilt, they will torture with a smile as they feed humans their own limbs. Nazarick can be described as a genuinely evil organization. Though its an interesting fact that any cruelty dealt against humans is perceived as normalcy. Humans don't consider the ants they crush underfoot and neither does Nazarick. Yet despite their "evil" actions they're kind to one another. They get along, sharing in bouts of laughter and tears alike. Not every member gets along with one another perfectly, but more often than not they hold affection towards one another, affection that can even be referred to as love. This mindset is also held by Ainz as he is 100% devoted towards Nazarick and every single member he rules over, in both duty and love Ainz is standing alongside this group of monsters.
Despite all my words of praise I do still hold two issues with these characters, well two characters in particular: Ainz and Albedo. The dilemma I hold with Albedo is the exhaustive extent that her feelings towards Ainz are displayed. I love that a character like her exists in this story, but I find myself feeling annoyance when she continually displays only the aspect of her that causes strife and discord with the other characters. She loves Ainz, everyone knows and understands this, but when she continually starts arguments with her allies simply due to perceived jealousy, well, I can't say I enjoy that. In essence, she's obtrusive to the interactions between the other characters.
The single greatest fault I held with this series was actually Ainz himself. I do not know how it was perceived, but I tried to stress how fascinating I believed Ainz to be. I truly enjoyed the duality he presented. However, I eventually reached a threshold where this constant state of struggle was only recognizable as a placation to development. You see, Ainz and the rest of Nazarick's thoughts and plans weren't in a state of harmony with one another. Initially this disconnect was something I viewed with interest and intrigue, but it came to serve as a source of slight aggravation. Too many times did Ainz restrain his allies. For too long did Ainz's inner monologue serve as a source of naive grief and confusion. Ainz himself became a constraint to the progression of the plot. That's not to say I actually disliked him because of this. Ainz still remains a fantastic character and an excellent addition to protagonists that aren't perfect heroes. The actions he has taken at times can be perfectly chronicled as evil, villainous acts taken against the denizens of this world. I really wished I could have sooner dropped the preface "at times". Thus was my endemic grievance with Overlord, it may not be shared by others but I felt the compulsion to share it alongside the other subjective assessments I held.
The illustrations... Spectacular scarcely does them justice. Incredible is a travestied description. This art is nothing short of gorgeous and is easily stands as the pinnacle of illustrations I have had the pleasure to see associated with Light Novels. I am clearly not a writer for an art magazine, but I can encourage you to seek out these exquisite illustrations and observe them with your own eyes.
A story that strays away from a morally virtuous protagonist. A series that will follow the monsters who slaughter in glee and the humans that fear them alike. It's dark but refrains from having an sense of overbearing despair. You will peruse the thoughts of those who have to stare inevitable death in the face as they face an existence that is beyond their wildest night mares. You will hear the laughing of the monster that roams the halls of a building as they seek more death. Joy and despair, insanity and serenity, sadism and mirth, the vast array of viewpoints allows us to see these emotions from the perspectives of those who are feeling them. You'll laugh in amusement from the witty dialogue, but you'll also laugh in sick fascination as monsters make victims of "the good guys". I have no doubt these words have been long since anticipated, but if the aforementioned elements are even remotely interesting to you then Overlord is a series I recommend wholeheartedly.
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Jul 5, 2015
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (Anime) add
Alright, despite giving a score of 9, allow me to make this perfectly clear, THIS SHOULD NOT BE WATCHED BY EVERYONE!!! There are three very crucial aspects to this show that form a fissure among the viewers. If you are able to tolerate or enjoy these aspects, watch this show. If you find these elements unbearable then you should definitely walk away because they are ubiquitous throughout the entirety of the 26 episodes.
I: An over-powered protagonist. When I say over-powered I mean it in the most literal sense possible. This guy does not lose, ever. He's a genius with combat capabilities surpassing every other person ... we encounter within the show. This world practically made him a god. Someone tell Kira to take notes because becoming this guy is how you really conquer the world. You will never have to ponder who will emerge the victor, the contest was won as soon as our hero decided to make his appearance. If this aspect will bother you, DO NOT WATCH THIS SHOW!!! This never proved bothersome to me. I accepted the simple fact that this narrative would have a god in the driver's seat and just enjoyed watching the moments when the other characters realized the true power our protagonist held.
II: Exposition heavy dialogue. The dialogue can be said to bore some people to tears with the snail-like pace it moves at. In this story it's not just that magic exists, no, there is a system to it. This system that is more akin to science than the traditional wizards and wands style. The specifics of this system of magic, it's integration into society, the social standing of those who can use magic, all of it is explored through the dialogue. A fight with magic will occur and the next 10 minutes will be a discussion of the fight. History, politics, and a magic that behaves as science are all explored in heavy detail. If that sounds monotonous, pass on this title. Personally, I found this fascinating. I loved that the author took time to craft a world filled with detail and societal nuances.
III: Hints towards an incestuous relationship between the two main characters. With the main characters being an elder brother and sister who are very close, incestuous hints are littered throughout their interactions and thoughts. This never impacted my enjoyment in the slightest, it's a work of fiction, not myself. I can separate my own actions from that of the characters. Not to mention the simple fact that I could not think of any reason as to why incest is fundamentally wrong (potential genetic issues in offspring irrelevant, reproduction not mutually inclusive), but I digress. If you dislike seeing siblings with a relationship that seems to go beyond the standard definition of a sibling relationship, then do not click play on that first episode.
For all of you who find yourselves unperturbed by the aforementioned elements then by all means, keep reading. Now, onto the standard format for reviewing on this site:
This story is far from unique. Two new students showing up to a school and taking an ax to the beliefs and perceptions of the entire student body is nothing new. These siblings arrive and the foundations that everyone believed to be stable are shifted. That being said, I loved the execution of this concept in the world the author created. In my exposition portion I mentioned that this world has an incredible amount of detail to it. Said detail is exactly why I love the idea of shaking the roots society stands upon. The school has a very discriminate social standing that our main characters are able to shatter.
Outside of the school itself we also have the governmental structure of Japan, foreign nations and terrorist groups, etc, etc. These components were all stacked together to build a world that felt real.
The narrative of this show is arc-based. This shouldn't be surprising given that light novels serve as the source material. The arcs follow a logical sequence of time and progression, so a drastic disconnect between the episodes never seemed to exist.
The animation was fantastic. Madhouse once again came through in extraordinary fashion. The movement was fluid which was especially noticeable in the combat scenes. The back-drops were pleasant and the color palette was rich without feeling exceedingly vibrant.
The character designs are also something I found particularly nice. It's an absolute fact that most men are going to be larger than women. Greater height, broader shoulders, simple size and body mass. Yet all too often this fundamental truth is all but forgotten in the world of anime. But not in this series, no, the characters in this series are for the most part correctly proportioned. This also applies to females in the sense that they weren't erroneously sized in their bust. Not being a fan-service show that may seem to be normal, but even then this show felt real in regards to how the characters were built. The remainder of the character designs (faces, hair, etc, etc) were also pleasant. You won't find exceedingly wacky hair styles or colors. The majority of the main and supporting cast were fairly individualistic in design, but there are a few noticeable exceptions where two characters will appear to be carbon copies of one another.
Oh, and a special note: Coolest school uniforms ever. The end.
There's not too much I can say in this department. The OST was good, but at the same time it wasn't particularly special. Featuring a lot of techno music each scene was complimented well.
The voice acting was also solid. The respective actors managed to express the unique qualities of their characters. Their performances weren't too stand-out or deserving of excessive praise, but at the end of the day I could say they did a good job.
This score is probably pretty surprising. I mean, with an over-powered main character there's no way he could actually be a good character, right? Well, this is where I disagree with many people. I am not one to say that "over-powered" and "bad character" are mutually inclusive terms. They can be synonymous, sure, but no subjective thought could ever be set in stone. Tatsuya Shiba, or as I like to call him - Japan's lord and savior, is a 16 year old genius who comes across as very calm and apathetic. He possesses almost no magical affinity but still shows up at the magic high-school to study as an engineer. His combat capabilities aside, I think Tatsuya is a good character. He may come across as just a boring lump of clay with a sister-complex, but as we come to learn of his dry humor, logical manner of thinking, and direct mannerisms, my perception of him as a character was altered. He never undergoes any sort of development, but we do get insight into his past, learning why he is who he is, discovering why he holds his sister so close to his heart. His emotionless attitude becomes sympathetic, bordering on tragic.
Then we have his sister, Miyuki Shiba. Her character can be summed up as this: "Onii-sama". (And get used to that name, you'll hear it a lot.) I kid, I kid, Miyuki harbors extreme love for her brother (so much so that it might as well he obsession), but she does have a few additional aspects that make up her personality. (The name still stands, though. Many, many times will "Onii-sama" grace your auditory glands). Miyuki is in part the ideal daughter. She's intelligent, capable, well-spoken, beautiful, her genetics and upbringing ensured she would be nothing but the best. She's also a girl who holds a great deal of resentment towards her family, simultaneously feeling extreme gratitude towards her brother. She has a massive brother complex and most of her actions are taken in an attempt to help her brother or make him proud of her. However, I do think that I am in the minority for finding Miyuki to be an interesting character. The large majority of those who watch this show find her to be bothersome and annoying. But fear not if you happen to be one of those who find her irksome, her initial presentation in the first few episodes changes slightly, accompanied by less screen time as the episodes progress.
The supporting cast is fairly large. You have the respective councils within the school, the normal students, military personnel, family members of students, etc. None of the supporting cast are particularly deep characters, but I wouldn't classify them as complete cliches either. On first glance these characters will seem to fall into a general archetype. Contrary to that initial perception, however, these characters do not fall into the pitfall that is stereotyping. As I said though, they are lacking in depth. Whilst walking the path of a character, Mahouka's managed to get past the trap of cliches, but stopped short of the bridge of development. One element I loved about the cast on the whole was their perception and strength. Tatsuya will definitely steal the spot-light, but these characters are all skilled in their own regards Some fights they will manage alone, some explanations will come from their own lips. Tatsuya is ultimately the one who will save the day, but prior to his arrival we witness the remarkably adept capabilities of the cast.
A special shout-out for the best girl that is Mayumi Saegusa. The adorable student council president and the only character capable of trolling Tatsuya to the same caliber he trolls others.
I won't lie, I initially turned this show on after looking up shows with a bad-ass protagonist. I had watched one too many series with a weak male that had to be protected. One too many series where the protagonist was the only character to over-react to a situation. This show was a fulfillment of my wish to not watch a spiky-haired pansy get his ass kicked. I never expected an emotional narrative with compelling themes and deep symbolism, I just wanted a protagonist that would kick ass in a spectacular fashion, and this show delivered. The copious exposition was just a bonus for me who loves detailed world building.
I loved this show. The sheer amount of "Holy shit that was awesome" moments made this show great. From the first episode I never looked to see who would win, I just wanted to see how many jaws Tatsuya could drop when he showed the world how he won.
All in all, if you want to watch two siblings who love each other very much kick some ass, accompanied by friends that talk about how the two siblings just kicked ass, watch this immediately.
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Jun 25, 2015
Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt (Anime) add
"Fuck if I have a clue." -Panty
I'm not one to normally start off a review with a quote, but from my perspective nothing summed up this show quite so perfectly. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is the anime parody of western cartoons. To put it accurately, you take the Powerpuff Girls and cross them with South Park. The result, an amalgamation of crude humor, sex jokes, false ecchi, monsters of the week, Team Rocket, and two "Angels" who may just be the antithesis of angels. Allow me to say that it was fucking incredible.
Yeah, I'm not really certain of how I should label ... this aspect of the show. I mean, c'mon, you read the description, what the fuck is this? How can I possibly score that? It's a bit easier to talk about it rather than apply a numerical value. The story on it's own is fairly solid, our two bitches with halos have to fight big monsters throughout the city to try and get back to heaven. The specifics have a flare of creativity about them, but the basic concept is nothing even remotely new (not that it's trying to be). I won't deny that after two or three episodes this unoriginal concept started to feel pretty damn stale. The monsters and their respective renditions of chaos certainly did not provide a reason to watch this show. This does change for a little while when the monster of the week scenario is coupled with Team Rocket's nefarious plans to enact evil upon the city, through the use of weekly monsters. I say Team Rocket but really they're just a group with the exact same dynamic as team rocket (this is a parody show). The entry of this evil trio also eventually felt stale because the question of "what's their plan and how is it going to fail" can only hold one's interest for so long. But ultimately, the monsters and nefarious stratagems are not why we're supposed to watch this show.
Oh, and fuck Gainax endings. That one after-credits scene didn't happen until they decide to announce another season. I'm fairly certain that the studio was just delivering us with a pointed jab in reference to their reputation, but honestly, fuck that.... >.>
The art style is just like what we 90's kids (and older) used to watch on Saturday mornings. It sustains a cartoonish feel from the character designs to the panoramic shots of the city. The action is balls-to-the-walls and over the top with big explosions and bold faced text. What's so bloody amusing about having this art-style is the fact that this show is still an ecchi, but the art-style prevents sexual arousal in any format whatsoever. Sorry guys, you'll have to look elsewhere to get your fix. Parodying the ecchi aspect of anime by using western styles is honestly rather brilliant, but with that said, I wasn't a fan of it. Throughout the show we occasionally see an abrupt change in animation style. The only recurring instance of this is when our two Angels undergo a "magical girl outfit change" of sorts. The animation adopts the modern anime style and showcases the girl's removing their signature garment in a lewd fashion, all the while being next to a stripping pole. This serves as a tease of sorts to the audience with the creators taunting us by saying: "Heh heh heh, look what you DON'T get to see." The reason why I disliked the cartoonish feel prevalent throughout most of the series is because I don't think it added anything. I do not believe incorporating that style was a bad-idea, this is meant to be a parody show through and through, but I would have preferred a balance between how the show was drawn. The initial fun of seeing that manner of art with the anime influence lost its charm after the first few episodes. Throw an episode of cartoon here and original there, maybe incorporate one episode meant to be like Gurren Lagann or any other anime with a distinctive method of animation. They could have parodied other anime along with the western cartoons. Beyond the modern anime design we occasionally got art reminiscent of Transformers, South Park, and even a 1/2 episode that almost looked akin to rotoscoping (I'm not entirely sure if that was the method they used, an eye for art is not my forte).
The actual quality of the art is a bit difficult for me to judge, but I am going to say it was very solid on the whole. It was simple, but I never picked up on any instances where the animation seemed choppy or distorted, the overall quality seemed consistent throughout the entirety of the 13 episodes.
The soundtrack is surprisingly awesome. I never would have imagined that this little parody could produce a genuinely good musical score. Featuring a heavy amount of electronica that blends perfectly with the feel of the show. A few of these tracks quickly found their way into my musical library.
The true standout aspect of the sound however is most definitely the English dub. At this point the dub has become rather famous, sticking true to the parody aspect, a HEAVY abundance of crude humor and profanity is draped over the dialogue. I'm not one to instantly say that swearing=humor, but in this scenario it is a concept that works beautifully. Adding in a few "fucks" every sentence isn't a good recipe on it's own, thankfully Funimation pulled out their A-game to present us with an excellent cast to accompany the profanity ridden dialogue. With Jaimie Marchi and Monica Rial at the helm, Cristopher Sabat as first mate, and Joel Mcdonald as the cabin boy, the respective performances of Panty, Stocking, Garterbelt, and Brief were positively stellar. The supporting cast also did fantastic as well, Cherami Leigh and Colleen Clinkenbeard as the demon sisters were particularly memorable as their haughty arrogance and composure in the face of ridiculousness provided a hilarious dichotomy. Though I do give special applause towards Monica Rial for playing Stocking. Not necessarily because her voice-work was more impressive, but rather due to the fact that Stocking is juxtaposed to nearly every other role Rial is cast in. On most occasions Rial is employed by playing the sweet and kind characters with the high pitched voice and lovable demeanor. Sure, Stocking has the high pitched voice, but when her first line is "Fuck off! Don't talk to me till I've had my sugar!" Damn it all, we're in for a treat.
Haha, oh damn, these characters. To start this off let's talk about the two Angel sisters, or the two hoe-bags, hookers, cum-dumpsters, etc, etc. Just think of a derogatory name generally applied to females and these two are likely called it at some point or another. Panty and Stocking Anarchy, the two seem to be the personification of Lust and Gluttony (respectively), which is a bit ironic considering they're you know, ANGELS. Panty is the blonde, sex obsessed slut. She loves taking the spotlight and is generally more rude than her sister, employing a higher amount expletives and bearing a persona with a vast increase in crudeness. Stocking is the goth angel with an unparalleled love for sweets. She's a bit more calm than her older sister, though she is definitely capable of outbursts due to rage. She is masochistic and though no where near as addicted to sex as Panty (she prefers to be a bit of a tease), she is far from innocent. You can draw quite a few parallels between their personalities and their names. Panty who is far more outright, with removing one's panties being effect simile of an invitation for sex. And Stocking, the more tame sister with a tendency to tease, and removing one's leggings is more of a teasing aspect. A not so subtle interplay between character names, designs, and their personalities.
You also have Garterbelt, the splendiferous, afro-wearing preacher that serves as the caretaker of Panty and Stocking. He's constantly annoyed and exasperated with the Sister's antics, and insulting them is their primary form of interaction. For being a preacher he's quite amoral, but when you have angels like Panty and Stocking, who the fuck knows what religion we're dealing with.
This is honestly one of the best comedy anime I have ever seen in my life. I felt like I was watching a brilliantly scripted and acted abridged series as opposed to a legitimate production. The dialogue is so foul and outrageou the entire show was a goldmine for one-liners. I'm certain that I'll have to go back and rewatch the show a few times just to ensure I didn't miss anything while laughing. The pop-culture references littered throughout the dialogue added an extra dose of hilarity as it ensured the jokes never got too stale . References like referring to the View as "Four bitter lesbians".
If I had to name one aspect that I didn't enjoy it would have to be the pervasive amount of toilet humor. I reach a threshold where jokes about shit, vomit, piss, and picking one's nose aren't funny (said threshold generally being one joke). I understand that the creators were taking a no-holds-barred approach, but it got stale very, very quickly. Luckily, even when these odious elements took center stage, the dialogue not pertaining to the vileness that permeated the scene salvaged the episode on the whole.
This oddball of a show is certainly deserving of a nine. You have to rate it on a certain scale, but for what it was trying to accomplish it was approaching perfection. Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt is a peculiar comedy that should honestly be watched by anyone who has ever laughed at a joke from South Park.
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Apr 10, 2015
Have you ever wished life was one big game? Who am I kidding, we probably all have. For whatever reason, we wish life would lose at least some of its boredom. Maybe you find school to be naught but a chore. Maybe your job is tedious and your boss is a dick. For whatever reason, you find yourself trudging through life, unable to enjoy anything. Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo? Is an anime that explores what it would be like if the world were decided through games. Games of all sorts and varieties. You set up the rules, place your stakes, and ... play. Oooohhh, how I wish. They say that if you find a job you love, you'll never work a day in your life, and I feel this anime is one of the shining examples of that belief.
I say that everything is decided through games, but that may be a bit misleading. Sure, there are a good number of literal games one can play. You want to challenge someone to pick a specific card from a deck, by all means, place your bets. But, if you want a contest of strength, where the victor is the one left alive, that's ok too. Everything in this world goes, you just have to establish the rules beforehand.
I'm going to be quite honest, I loved this story. But a bit of clarification in saying that- The idea of people getting transported to a foreign world to assist some underdogs in some sort of conflict is nothing new. But thanks to MAL's scoring system, I throw both the premise and the world under the category of story. This world was one that I found entirely original, and that's pretty rare these days. As you likely gathered from my preface, this is a world where everything is decided through games, “Gift Games” to be exact. The games have predetermined rules that cannot be broken, but they do not have to be completely clear for both parties involved. The games even have overseers to ensure the rules are followed. The gift aspect of that title arises from the tools participants utilize in the games. These gifts have a wide variety of possibilities, ranging from a super-power to a magic item. Did I mention that by the way? There is magic in this world. Rather, it is more accurate to say the world is magic.
The world is named Little Garden. I don't know who chose this name, as it is pretty bloody far from the truth. The world is said to be roughly the size of the sun, which means it is roughly 100 times larger than the Earth's surface. Whoever decided to throw the adjective little into the name of that world certainly has an odd sense of humor. Many of the denizens of Little Garden are members of a community as it is recommended to be in one if you are to participate in a Gift Games. The communities are as they sound, a community of people. But I found that they were very comparable to a guild, like one may find in an MMO or watching Fairy Tail. A group of people who come together under a single banner to live on the same land, work together, be a team, be family, etc, etc. The specifics would vary depending upon the individual community.
What I really liked about this world was the lack of a happy go lucky vibe. This world wasn't perfect, there existed slavery, kidnapping, blackmail, poverty, and death was a realistic consequence. It added an extra degree of immersion knowing that though they are called games, that was really just an illusionary pleasantry. These were high stakes contests with realistic consequences.
With all of my praises, you may be wondering why it is only rated as an 8. The answer is due to the simple fact that so much of this world and its nuances remain unexplored. I have questions left about the specifics of this world, the Demon Lords and their powers, the No-Names that the story focuses on. We just aren't given enough information.
The animation was very solid on the whole. The action scenes seemed fluid, I loved the scenery, a wide array of vibrant colors. I also was a big fan of the character designs, they were all memorable and an aspect I was a big fan of.
I am also going to mention the ending theme in this section. Sure, "To Be Continued?" by Kaori Sadohara was a catchy little song, but the real reason I watched it so many times was the chibi art-style of the main characters dancing. It was just so much fun to watch, it never failed to bring a very large grin to my face.
There isn't a ton I can say. The OST was solid on the whole, but none of the tracks jumped out at me as being spectacular.
The voice acting was pretty damn good. I have only seen the show subbed, so I cannot make any comments on the quality and/or accuracy of the dub, but the sub felt almost perfect. There wasn't a single voice I didn't find fitting, and to the opposite effect, I liked every single one.
The OP was awesome. "Black † White" by Iori Nomizu was a very good song that quickly found its way into my musical library. The visuals were pretty good as well.
I don't know why, but many anime throughout the years have habits of making the main characters fairly weak characters (in terms of their capabilities). Whether or not they remain weak is irrelevant, but weak characters are a very common trope. Maybe people just love the underdog story, maybe it is so the weak and timid viewer base can insert themselves into a given situation with relative ease. Whatever the reason, thank you for the breath of fresh air Tarō Tatsunoko (the author of the original light novels, I just looked it up). These characters are immediately established as being skilled. But having skill alone is not the recipe for a good character, I can point out a dozen gary stus that suck as characters. These characters all have their own bit of charm, and it makes them an extremely fun and memorable cast because of that.
Izayoi Sakamaki- Here we the ultimate badass of this show. This guy has confidence and cockiness seeping from every pore in his body. Is that imagery a bit weird? Sorry for that, but it's accurate. He is an extremely capable fighter and he is quickly established as being intelligent as well. I'll be honest, he is a bit OP, but don't let that deter from thinking he is a good character. He isn't a perfect nice guy, he isn't the type to get involved in every one of his friends' problems. He is a bit of a pervert, but not the over-the-top get a nosebleed kind, but a confident one who will compliment a girl and give a descriptive run down of her outfit and how it perfectly accentuates her curves. This guy honestly is just a pleasure to watch.
Black Rabbit- The bunny girl who serves as the primary source of fan-service for your viewing pleasure. Ok, there is a bit more to her than that. She is a girl who brings the problem children into her community, and in a sense serves as their caretaker. Rather, that is what she is supposed to do. Quite frankly, she is outclassed. She tries to be oh so serious, but thanks to the eccentricities of the other characters, she often ends up in a flustered state. She is not incompetent, but she doesn't seem to shine as brightly as the problem children... * wink *
Asuka Kudou- She is the rich girl character. She immediately displays this high class, haughty, arrogance that could only come from someone born into power and money. That is just her initial appearance however, and you see she is actually a fairly kind girl who is also highly intelligent and perceptive. Of the main cast, she receives the most (and best) development.
You Kasukabe- Here we have the fairly quiet girl. Note, she is not a Rei Ayanami or Yuki Nagato, just a fairly quiet girl. I draw the distinction because I don't often see characters like her. She isn't shy or socially awkward, just quiet. But usually quiet characters are taken to the very extreme, but she strikes a nice balance. She is a nice girl with a good heart. Oh, and she can speak to animals.
Granted, Asuka is the only character who benefits from any real degree of development. But despite that I still give these characters a score of 8 because they felt so individualistic and memorable. It is also their capabilities. Izayoi is most definitely the powerhouse of the show, but the other characters always have a role to play. Correction, it is a pivotal role that they play.
I use anime as a form of escapism, and this anime fulfills that to a tee. Magic, fighting, and all in game-like format. The characters were awesome, and their early escapades across this world created fun and exciting situations with a unique flare I have not seen demonstrated elsewhere.
It's a high 8, but not quite deserving of a 9. This was an amazing world and concept with a very fun cast of characters. Its greatest downfall is ultimately the fact that it only received 10 episodes. The show thankfully didn't try and cram too much into this less than one cour time-frame, but it leaves a TON to be desired.
The show is short enough that it feels just like a long movie, so it isn't even a massive time sink. This anime is most definitely worth a watch. Even if you don't latch onto the world or characters as much as I do, the whole show is just a big ball of fun.
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Apr 5, 2015
Our society nowadays has the habit of trivializing High School romance. I lay blame at the feet of the Disney movies, putting unrealistic expectations into the heads of young children. Years later when they have a legitimate crush, they equate it to love in just three weeks. The rest of us are just nodding along with small smiles, silently counting down the days until reality hits them on the head with a baseball bat.
Is that a slight hyperbole? Yeah, probably. But it still holds true that we view teenage relationships with a bit of apprehension. It is odd then that the most popular (and most ... praised) romance anime takes place in high school. I'm going to be honest, I have no clue why this anime is viewed with such reverence. Clannad and it's sequel series Clannad After Story are by far and away viewed as the pinnacle of their genre. While most of the praise is reserved for the sequel series, Clannad itself has many rabid fans waiting to pounce and explain why it is worthy of such praise and devotion. I'm here to provide an alternate perspective, I don't think this is one of the most emotionally compelling anime there is. In fact, I found the romance of this anime to be the show's greatest hindrance (I will elaborate on that shortly, don't discount me just yet, save that for later).
Oh, and one more thing to mention, this show is a harem. BOOM, take it fans! Fuck your painfully biased opinions, allow my foot to make contact with your ass and send you flying into a large target with CLANNAD'S A HAREM painted in the center. Yes, Clannad's a harem. That being said, it is vastly different from the general thoughts applied to that genre. This show has more emotion attached, the main character doesn't get a "harem ending", and there aren't as many accidental sexual situations for the main character to get slapped. But it is still a harem. To quote the synopsis, *AHEM* "Claiming he has nothing better to do, he decides to help her achieve this goal along with the help of four other girls." One guy (most of the time) and four girls. Accept the truth people, accept the truth.
Anyways, onto the meat of the review:
Let me make one thing clear, Clannad's story and premise deserve better than a 5. The reason the score loses so many points is due to the execution. Clannad was my first foray into an adaptation of a romance visual novel. Prior to starting the series I expected genuine wonderment as to which girl the main character would end up with. Unfortunately that expectation was brutally murdered in the first few minutes as we met the main heroine (only heroine, if we're being entirely honest) of the story. If you have a brain you can immediately predict the ending of Clannad, it is so obvious you almost second guess yourself thinking it couldn't possibly be that obvious. That itself is not an issue. The issue arises when this show introduces other heroines and their feelings expecting us to latch onto the belief that these girls stand a chance.
All of the other characters had their stories and problems that were explored, and they really weren't bad, but I had to question their existence in this story. What was the point? Why introduce these characters and their stories? We all know that the main heroine is going to emerge the victor per se; so why not focus on her and the main character and their lives/friends rather then introducing pointless love rivals? Having more than one love interest can certainly be an interesting plot point, but this anime fails in execution completely as we meet a girl, say hi, help her out, before saying goodbye and returning to the main heroine. Said girl then becomes a very obvious side-character and is scarcely mentioned again.
This show is ultimately a character driven show, and the story should have focused on them more as a collective rather than honing in on the romance between only two...
The animation is pretty solid. It was easy on the eyes with a nice, and bright color palette. Overall it is nothing to write home about, but I have nothing negative to say.
The character designs are exceedingly moe. I still don't even know how to define that word, but these characters are all cute and adorable blobs of moe. Whether you like the character designs or not is entirely based on one's own tastes. Some people cannot stand seeing these older characters with cute childlike faces, an understandable perspective. Others love those designs, and others (like myself) just don't care.
The OST does its job. When watching this show whatever track is playing will undoubtedly compliment the scene. But I'll be honest, I don't recall a single track from this entire anime.
The voice acting for this anime is hit or miss. To compliment the moe aspect of the animation, the voices of certain characters will sound exceedingly childlike. This touches back to that idea of personal preference, some will like this, others will not. Now granted, that is just the sub, but the dub is most definitely something I would not recommend. The dub has the opposite issue of the sub, so that many of the voices sound like they belong to people 5-10 years older than high school. The acting in the dub certainly isn't bad, but it just feels wrong.
On first appearance most of these characters can be filed into some sort of cliche. The nice one, the delinquent, the tsundere, the class president, the naive one, the eccentric, and finally the perverted best friend. So with a bunch of cliches why am I giving a score of 8? The answer is that nearly every character in this show receives excellent development. Even minor characters aren't left stagnant.
Tomoya Okazaki- The main character of this show. He is introduced as a school delinquent with a dour disposition. He is a pretty solid character. Avoiding spoiler territory, he has a fairly sad history and his demeanor towards life is understandable knowing that. He is fairly sarcastic at times and was by and large a good character.
Nagisa Furukawa- Ugh, here we have the main heroine of the story. Ya know, I don't dislike Nagisa. It is nigh impossible to dislike this girl. She is the cliche nice girl I spoke of earlier. She is also a character I feel doesn't get a ton of development. Sure she also has a history, but she is forever the sweet nice girl. For a character that is really the second main character, I found this to be extremely disappointing. There is a line in the sequel series in which the main character thinks to himself that Nagisa is one in a million. My thoughts on the matter were akin to "Umm, not really. I can think of a dozen other nice girls that could fill her role almost to a tee."
Many would vehemently disagree with me, saying Nagisa is an awesome character with incredible development. Really though, Nagisa's "development" comes from her parents. She is the only character who's family is really shown, and she benefits from it greatly. Her parents are both very solid characters, Akio and Sanae Furukawa are both good characters, and they provide a backdrop for people to like Nagisa. If you had given any of the other heroines half as much screen time as Nagisa they would've been far better characters.
Kyou Fujibayashi- The tsundere. The end.
No, not really. Kyou initially appears as no more than your average tsundere, but develops far beyond that. Kyou is my personal favorite character in this show. Her relationship with Tomoya is extremely funny to watch as they have a constant back-and-forth friendship. She is also very devoted to assisting her sister in her relationship endeavors with Tomoya, a very good sister, actually.
Kotomi Ichinose- The genius girl that is naivety personified. She also has a good history and it becomes apparent thanks to spoilers I will not be mentioning.
Tomoyo Sakagami- The class president. Ok, not yet, class president is one of her goals though. She is also an impossibly good fighter capable of reaching 1000 hit combos that the show will even track for you. Tomoyo is a really honest character that gives off an almost intimidating persona.
The issue with reviewing these characters is that I cannot accurately describe them without going into extensive spoilers. That's the degree of development we see from all of them. So my descriptions are only what can be viewed on the surface, but that is due to the fact that discovering these character's true value was my greatest treat in watching this show.
The above characters are the main male along with the "heroines" (Fuuko isn't a heroine!) There are a good number of lesser characters, but many of them are good characters in their own right. You have the very cute, very eccentric Fuuko Ibuki. She likes knives and starfish, and that's about all you need to know. She isn't particularly deep as a character, but is very amusing. You then have Ryou Fujibayashi, Kyou's twin sister who is a lot kinder. MAL has Ryou listed as a main, but she really isn't. She was side-lined a bit in favor of her sister.
Youhei Sunohara is the perverted best friend. He is also a delinquent slacker and really doesn't develop past that. The final notable side characters are the aforementioned parents of Nagisa, Akio and Sanae Furukawa. They really are two of the coolest parents in anime, and they receive some solid development as side-characters.
I really did enjoy these characters. I thought their interactions with one another were entertaining and well done. The reason I cannot label my enjoyment above a 5 however, is due to the romance. A bit odd, right? This show is most accurately a slice of life romance, and I think it would have benefited from just being a slice of life. I say that ignoring the sequel series, I know the two are always spoken in tandem, but you have to look at them as individual stories. Having this show as a romance took away from some of the of amazing aspects of the characters.
Though my least favorite aspect (prepare thy selves for a highly polarized opinion) is the relationship between Tomoya and Nagisa. I really just didn't see how the two would work as a couple. Nothing about them ever seemed to mesh. I would have preferred to see Tomoya with literally every other heroine besides Nagisa as I thought each one of them would have been a better fit. These thoughts constantly nagging at my brain led to a not-so-enjoyable viewing experience as every emotional moment between Tomoya and Nagisa had me lamenting on how this could have unfolded with the other heroines. So take that factor with a large grain of salt, my opinion in that facet is by no means the norm. You may love their relationship, but it really did not work for me...
I also feel the need to mention the fact that as an emotional experience, this show did very, very little for me. I have been told many a times that I have a black heart, but that is not quite true. Though I have never cried in an anime (I have come close), I do feel emotional in certain scenes. But in Clannad, there were only two occasions I felt even a modicum of sadness. And from what I have read on forums, they aren't even the scenes many feel are heartbreaking.
If popular opinion is any sort of judge, I am an outlier in the emotion department. So for many who read this, you may still feel the incredible emotion that is commonly associated with this franchise. But for others that find themselves more emotionally disconnected, you likely won't find Clannad to be anything special.
This show's high points from my not-so-humble perspective is most definitely the characters. Even the cliches are fun to watch. But sadly, the meat of this anime is the romance, and I believe it failed.
From an objective perspective, I cannot lay a ton of fault at the feet of this anime. But my goal all along was to provide a perspective that wasn't mindless hate, but wasn't blind worship either. This show lost almost all of its points because of my opinion on the how the story unfolded. Because of that this review may sink down into the tresses of MAL's databases as its unhelpful ratio grows ever larger.
If you are the type that can hone in on said romance and like it, by all means, go watch this anime right now. If you love what many believe to be emotional roller coasters, by all means, go watch this anime right now. I even encourage you to watch it now as it's sequel series takes those aspects and increases their effectiveness exponentially. But for everyone else, don't bother unless you have nothing else to watch. This show isn't bad, and certainly isn't a waste of time, but it's not a show I would label as high priority at all.
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Apr 3, 2015
High School DxD (Anime) add
High School DxD is an anime that has been praised as the best ecchi ever made, and in a way that is accurate. Seriously though, it is an ecchi. For all of you ecchi haters, stay away. Shove down your masochistic tendencies and walk away, this is not an anime you are going to enjoy.
We all know what we are getting into when we turn this show on, copious amounts of T&A. High School DxD has quickly become synonymous with that phrase. But even then, that was not the sole reason I turned this show on. I generally am the type that needs a ... bit more than titillating imagery to watch something. So when I heard that DxD also had this really cool story to accompany it, I was sold. Allow me to inform you that I can in good conscience say I feel betrayed...
Before going into the specifics of the story that follows the characters, let me say that the overall concept of this world is what truly piqued my interest in the show. A three way war between Devils, Angels, and Fallen Angels. An expansive world with history behind it. Varying degrees of mythology from different countries. Sadly, these aspects are quickly overshadowed by the story surrounding the main character.
High School setting? Expected. It's in the bloody title. But what I wasn't expecting was a poor story about a servant and his literal power-ups. The story wants to be serious, but fails miserably at it. The so called "emotional" moments had me rolling my eyes, and the dialogue left me stunned from how many cliche Shounen lines it had.
I am attempting to avoid spoilers, which is why I am avoiding the specifics that made this story as bad as it was. Just know this, it is a cool concept that loses points due to the execution.
It was good and filled to the brim with boobs and panty-shots. I don't know what else I can really say. It was nothing spectacular, but is by no means un-watchable. Standard fare for when it was released.
The OST was pretty solid. The music did a surprisingly good job of adding to the scenes.
The standout aspect of the sound for me was actually the voice acting. I watched the show dubbed, but I have seen enough of the subbed to know that both are good. But in my opinion, watch the show dubbed. The voices may actually be more fitting in the subbed, personal preference really. But the dub has dialogue that adds to the hilarity of the scenes exponentially. When the MC can "promise not to drain his pimp-juice", it's a damn fine dub.
Issei- An extremely typical pervert. I really, really disliked Issei. He is literally an idiot, and every single one of his thoughts revolves around something lewd. Of course he is also a decent guy with a heart of gold, but hey, that's just par for the course. He is established early on as a good hearted pervert, and he remains a good hearted pervert until the end. He does gain a bit of development, but it really is just a bit.
Rias Gremory- Here we have the gorgeous, devil senpai you read about in the description. A surprisingly decent character. She is strong willed, honest, and oddly compassionate. Peculiar for a devil, but this show does break the occasional trope. What I liked about her character was how she took everything for what it was. Fully acknowledging and accepting Issei's perversion, and using it as a motivation. She doesn't care what other people think, and does as she wishes.
Asia- Rarely have I found a more stereotypical "nice girl". She is incredibly sweet to everyone, a bit naive and innocent, and completely incapable of defending herself. Did I mention she's a nun that falls for the main character instantly. I didn't dislike Asia, but I found it hard to like her as she hardly felt like a character. She was immediately filed into my brain as a ball of cliches, and I felt nothing for her because of that.
The notable side characters are Akeno, Kiba, and Koneko. The busty sadist with a kind exterior, the respectful pretty boy, and the expressionless loli with a love for sweets, respectively. I was a big fan of these characters, and really wanted to see more of them.
There are a few things to enjoy about this anime, maybe you enjoy the comedy, the action, or the titillating imagery. For me, the comedy was hit or miss. Some jokes I loved, others I hated. The ones I hated usually pertained to Issei's perversion, it is such an overused concept that I don't even crack a smile. The comedy I loved was mostly in regards to the dialogue, definitely my favorite part.
I really liked the action. Especially in the later episodes, I felt genuinely invested in what was happening. The action was accompanied by serious tones without being emotional tones, and they were pretty well done.
The massive amounts of fan-service in this show really didn't do much on the enjoyment factor either. It doesn't lose any points, but boobs and panty-shots alone don't do anything. I suppose if you pause during one of Issei's fantasies you could pitch a tent, but it didn't do much.
By that score alone, you may think it isn't worth watching. A passable story with some decent characters and good dialogue, seems like it isn't worth your time. But for all of you ecchi fans, and for those who can at least tolerate ecchi, this is worth watching. Why? Because it gets better. The first season of High School DxD really isn't that good, but the second season is good, and you can expect it to improve from there. Being knowledgeable about the original source material, many of the flaws in this anime will be fixed. The story will improve, characters will develop, it will become a good fantasy story.
One aspect of High School DxD that I applaud the creator for is his honesty in regards to fan-service. He makes the fan-service a plot point by truly involving it in the MC's drives (and later abilities). He gives the fan-service a plausible reason for existing considering the amoral nature of the devils. The author embraces fan-service, which is a unique aspect I award credit for.
High School DxD is an ecchi that develops into a good story. Anyone who tries to pass this first season off as the best ecchi ever is just lying to you. But it is worth watching just to see what comes later.
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Mar 29, 2015
What does it mean to be perfect? Is perfection being as good as possible, or does perfection simply mean without flaws. You may wonder if there is a difference, and I would say yes. I believe that being perfect means being the best in every conceivable manner. But that also means that I believe something could be flawless without being perfect. Nothing in this world is perfect, and that extends to anime as well. But ladies and gentlemen, Baccano! is the one series that I can describe as flawless. Throughout these 13 episodes there was not a single instance in the writing where I thought ... "there's a mistake". There weren't any plot holes, this anime didn't rely on blatantly obvious plot devices to move the story along, it was simply the story.
Now whether or not one considers this anime to be magnificent or not should fall squarely on the shoulders of their own personal enjoyment. Maybe you will dislike the style of the story, but that doesn't mean it is flawed, just not your personal taste. Everything in this world is subjective, but cast aside your personal enjoyment and you can still recognize something as great.
Baccano! is an anime that stands on top of a building and shouts to the world its unique sense of style. For that is one word that may sum up this show perfectly, it has style.
Baccano is Italian for ruckus, and this story certainly feels like a ruckus. Three plot-lines, three years, all interspersed and interchanged over the course of 13 episodes. Aside from the very early scenes each individual story-line follows a sequential order of events, but the three stories are all mixed together with nothing to show the distinction between them. One scene is set in 1930, the next in 1931, but you aren't told that.
Let me make one thing clear, you will undoubtedly be confused while watching. Over time however, the mysteries and questions will develop answers, and the final episode manages to tie off all three story-lines in a neat little bow.
The three story lines are set in 1930, 1931, and 1932 respectively. In 1930 the story is centered around an elixir of immortality. In 1931 the story is centered around the transcontinental train, The Flying Pussyfoot, as it travels to New York. In 1932 the story centers around the search for Dallas Genohard.
Each story is separate, yet connected. The first episode gives you major spoilers for each of the stories, but you have no bloody clue how or why they're spoilers. The way this story is presented is extraordinarily unique. I fervently hope that no one ever attempts to recreate this style, as I doubt it could ever compare to the beauty that is Baccano! The method of story-telling may be off putting to some, but I'll be damned if the few episodes of confusion aren't worth it all in the end. Any confusion you may have never detracts from the viewing experience. The creators intended us to have no damn clue what was going on. It even creates some re-watch value as you can go back and re-watch the show having full knowledge of events and characters. You can point to a moment, laugh, and say "Ohhhhhhh, so that's what that was."
Very, very good animation. Every scene shows fluidity, which is especially noticeable in the actions scenes. Maybe I just have bad eyes, but the manner in which the overall color palette was dulled a bit just added to the 1930's setting for this anime.
Loved the character designs. You will have no trouble distinguishing between characters as they are all so individualistic. You won't know their names, but you will certainly know how they look.
The opening is fantastic. You will most likely end up watching it for the majority of the series as it is sort of necessary to do so. The opening shows nearly every single character as well as their names. You will want to watch it just to apply names to the characters.
I'll be honest, I scarcely remember the ending. I am pretty sure I watched it only a single time. I do not believe it was bad, but I just had to click onto the next episode.
The OST is simply put, awesome. I can't say you will go and buy the entire soundtrack, but with heavy jazz styled songs, the OST added to each scene exponentially.
The song to accompany the awesome visuals of the opening is a single by Paradise Lunch entitled "Gun's & Roses". It's awesome. A cool jazz song that just seeps to your pores and demands movement from your body. I don't burst into dance every time I hear it, but be it foot, hand, or head, something will move.
The truly magnificent aspect of Baccano's sound however, is its voice acting. The English dub is one of, if not the best dub ever made. Every voice was absolutely perfect for the character, and the VAs delivered their lines brilliantly. Many of the characters boasted accents befitting 1930's New York, and it was amazing. I know I am using words of praise frequently, but honestly, Baccano! deserves it.
"Depending on who you place in the same situation, the characteristics of said incident change kaleidoscopically. In other words, there is one incident. However, there are as many stories explaining it as there are people involved in it."
Baccano's greatest feature is most definitely its characters, and it has a bloody lot of them. Three story-lines, and many of the characters are unique to a single one. There are plenty of cross-overs as well, but many of the characters remained fairly isolated to their story. There isn't a main character either, none of the story-lines can be said to have a main. Each story-line has its standout characters, sure. But the story doesn't follow them. Only two characters make appearances in all of the stories, but even they cannot be described as the main characters.
Some of the standout characters are as follows:
Isaac and Miria- They are a pair, and don't you dare try to separate them. One cannot be mentioned without the other. They are easily one of the best couples in anime, and it should be almost impossible not to love them. They're lovable, eccentric, and completely oblivious. Every moment they're on screen is golden. They are the only ones to appear in each of the plot-lines, and that is a highly amusing fact.
Ladd Russo- Think about a 7 year old boy running around in a candy store, but take away all forms of supervision. Oh, he would just go crazy. Running around eating this and eating that. He would love the candy, he would probably get messy, pure ecstasy for that 7 year old. Now age said child 18 years, and replace his love for candy with a love for guns and death. The mess is no longer sticky, sweet candy. It is instead blood.
Ladd is your sadistic hitman with a love for guns. I'll let you figure out the rest of his character for yourself, but if nothing else, count on the fact that he will leave an impression.
Claire Stanfield- I don't really know how to describe Claire without giving some spoilers... Ok, think of him as the best assassin in the world. That's about all I can say. He will steal every moment he is on screen through sheer style and bad-assery.
They're the standout characters, the most memorable, but the others are all amazing too. From Firo (one of my personal favorites) to Chane, Nice to Luck, Eve to Lua, Maiza to Rachel. All of them will leave a mark, and all of them add to the story.
With such a large cast you may be wondering if the characters can undergo any real development in the course of only 13 episodes. The answer to that is both yes and no. Some characters will be the same from start to finish, others will be different. Is that a flaw? I would say no. How often have you completely changed your personality in the course of a day? In that sense their development is realistic. We are molded by the course of events in our life, so for some who the plot is a great event, they change. Others do not.
The characters are the true focus of the plot, which is very obvious when you consider the way it was written. The original author never wrote detailed plot outlines, but allowed the characters and their actions to move the story along. Some character move faster than others, but all inevitably reach the same end.
Loved, loved, loved, loved this anime. It is easily one of my favorites. No doubt you have been able to pick up on that fact. But do not disregard my words as personal bias alone. I would say the fact still remains that though an individual may not like certain aspects of this anime, they cannot call it flawed. I loved the action, I was enthralled by the dialogue, and some of the humor had me laughing my ass off.
This anime is truly worthy of the word "Masterpiece". It has an awesome story, amazing art, a good OST and a brilliant dub. Extraordinary characters and is thoroughly enjoyable throughout the entire 13 episodes. This show has such a unique style it provides one of the best first time viewing experiences. I have shows that I like more, but I can't say any of them provided an experience even remotely similar to Baccano's.
I feel that this show truly has something for everyone. At the very least, it is only 13 episodes. But, if you start it, you have to finish it. Finishing Baccano! is the only way you can form an honest opinion of it.
Baccano! truly is a flawless anime worthy of all its praise.
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Mar 15, 2015
Kore wa Zombie desu ka? (Anime) add
Oh boy... This show. I find myself torn while writing this, on one hand there were some extremely funny and enjoyable moments where I could not stop laughing. But on the other hand there were some downright terrible moments where I was raising my head to the ceiling praying for the scene to end. Is this a Zombie is an anime that makes it's mark by throwing in every genre, every character type, every trope, just everything really. If you can think of it there is a high probability you'll find it in this show. But despite throwing everything under the sun into this anime, ... I would never dream of calling it cliche, and actually say it is extraordinarily unique.
Guy meets girl, they kind of like each other, plot ensues, girl now lives with guy, more girls live with guy, etc, etc. While some of the specifics may be new, the overall concept is nothing we have not seen.
The Zombie and Necromancer (a.k.a servant and master) relationship was well done. Tack onto that the school life setting with a guy just trying to pass through along with his nerdy best friend; it was all well done, though a bit unoriginal. The eccentricities and unique nature of this show come in when we meet a chain-saw wielding Magical Girl (though she uses her magic a whole lot less than Ayumu...) and a busty Vampire Ninja with a leaf sword. Not gonna lie, her concept is fucking amazing. This show throws in every concept you can think of but somehow manages to make it work.
I would be remiss if I did not mention my largest gripe with the show, the fact that Ayumu is more or less our magical girl... Maybe I am alone, but I do not find cross-dressing to be a very funny plot point, I just don't. But even then I can sometimes see how it could work in a story if well done. But sadly, I did not find this to be one of those times. You see, Ayumu doesn't like it, first time, first episode, he dislikes transforming into a magical girl with a pink frilly outfit complete with panties and a bow. Hates it may be a more accurate statement. But every time he is forced to do so, he gets an unbelievable amount of shit from the other characters for doing it. Forced to cross dress in pink to save them all, and they insult him for doing so. Sorry, not a scenario I found even remotely amusing or entertaining.
I can't really say much here, it felt exceedingly average. But since the average these days (for 2011) is still good, it gets a 7. Though I should mention I really liked the character designs. I can't say anything on their artistic value, just a specific aspect I found really nice.
I found that the OST really just did it's job. Set the scene, nothing more. But what I absolutely loved was the voice acting. I came into this show long after it aired, long enough that there was in fact an English Dub, and that is what I watched. Stone me, go ahead. Spout your insults and hate for the one who neglected to watch it subbed but had the audacity to write a review. Ignoring the hate though, I loved the English Dub. I thought the voices were perfect and added to the hilarity of the scenes, while also capturing some of the more emotional moments fairly well.
This was a rather fun cast of characters. They all seemed to fall into archetypes, but were extremely memorable despite that.
Ayumu Aikawa- Our zombie protagonist who is a nice enough guy but with that laid back, bored disposition. I rather liked Ayumu, he was fairly similar to other harem leads in that he isn't the most popular, isn't extremely capable physically or intellectually, but still sits in the back right side of the classroom next to a window. He gets a lot of abuse in this show, verbal and physical. Being immortal the characters feel no guilt in stabbing him. Being the nice guy he takes it all with a bit of disbelief but really just goes along with it.
Eucliwood Hellscythe- I thought I had seen the quiet character exhibited perfectly in Yuki Nagato. Boy was I wrong. Eucliwood (though everyone calls her Eu) is the character that I consider to be the ultimate moe blob of adorable. She takes the quiet nature to a whole new level by literally not saying a word, but writing everything on little notepads. Though giving off an uncaring persona, she is actually extremely kind hearted. Where I truly applaud the creators is the way Eu had a different voice actress for every episode. Now for a character that doesn't speak it may seem difficult to have a voice actress; luckily our perverted main is here to imagine Eu complimenting him in a suggestive format. It was well done and extremely enjoyable.
Haruna- The resident Tsundere Magical Girl who is a self proclaimed genius and makes great eggs. She really is just a fun character with a ton of energy. She doesn't have the best memory and freeloads at Ayumu's home eating more food than anyone else.
Seraphim- The busty Vampire Ninja, she is extremely cold towards our main character but gets along with others well enough. My issue with Seraphim is that she is accurately summed up by the word bitch. Obviously there is a bit more to her than that attribute alone, but that forms the crux of her character and it left liking her a very arduous task...
My biggest issue with the characters is that they all seem to give Ayumu a bit too much crap. Don't get me wrong, at times it was hilarious to watch them all insult Ayumu. But in my not-so-professional opinion this show needed a character that Ayumu could get along with. In my head this equated to a character that acted in a more playful manner rather than a degrading one. Sexual innuendo or playfully teasing, just someone that alleviated the constant barrage of shit Ayumu received.
My enjoyment overall is limited to a 7. When this show was good, it was GREAT, but when it wasn't great I honestly considered it be rather bad. My opinion in this facet is probably rather polarized from the majority, but for every scene I loved I found one I disliked as well. My enjoyment did swing in a positive manner on the whole, but nevertheless I had my issues.
This show takes every thought that could pop into a writer's brain and throws it into an oddly coherent plot. Combined with a fun cast and good voice acting, comedy, some action, and even the occasional emotional moment, you get a genuinely good show. This show is definitely good for a laugh. Even if you are like me and dislike main characters who get a ton of shit, I would still recommend this show. If you're on the fence about the show than I would recommend watching the first two episodes as they perfectly exhibit what this show is: A fun 12 episodes that is even complimented by a second season. Is This a Zombie is a good anime that combines every cliche into something unique.
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Feb 11, 2015
Highschool of the Dead (Anime) add
High School of the Dead... Where to begin but at the obvious... Fan service out the ass. Seriously, so much fan-service by the end you're completely immune. Honestly, at times the fan-service is almost insulting, I don't ever need to see a panty shot of a girl being eaten alive. Yet, I still give this show a 9. Why? Because almost every moment of this anime was pure enjoyment for me. There was some unrealistic but kick-ass action. Some of the funniest dialogue I have ever had the pleasure to hear (well, English Dub at least). And quite frankly, I enjoyed the hordes of zombies ... vs. our hero, his nerdy friend, and a cast of girls there mostly to provide titillating imagery (Note: I do say mostly). This show is a popcorn flick guys, plain and simple. But for a bit more in-depth analysis, here you go:
A cliched story? Yeah, but it was still very well done. I liked how the general panic was displayed, as well as the moral collapse, and that drive to survive. Was it masterfully done? No, but it was surprisingly a well done zombie story.
What can I say but that Madhouse came through once again. Top notch animation, truly. The action scenes though unrealistic, were a definite high-point.
A very enjoyable OST. I thought the tracks were very fitting and helped to set the tone and atmosphere of a scene. I really enjoyed the opening, listened to it for most of the episodes. The variety of ending themes were good, but I honestly skipped them first time through this show, more intent on seeing the after-credits scenes.
The weakest part of this show. They're fairly generic with little real development between them.
We have Takashi Kumoro, a rather common spiky haired male protagonist with a slightly dour disposition. He is better than most however as he is decisive and has a spine.
We then have Rei... Damn this girl was annoying. She is the childhood friend who bounces back and forth between being kind and in need of a protector, to a stuck up little brat.
Saeko, my personal favorite character. She is strong willed, kind, respectable, and loyal. She also has fun throwing innuendo into her dialogue, so that's a plus in my book at least.
Saya Takagi... She's an intelligent bitch... Nothing else to say here...
Then there's Kouta Hirano, the one and only bad-ass nerd who makes every moment he is on screen enjoyable. Holy hell I loved this guy.
Oh, then there's the busty ditz. I believe her name was... Oh let me see... Shizuka! She really is bland enough as a character to be remembered not by her name, but rather the role she served, that being a busty ditz.
I really did love every minute of this show. The dialogue had me laughing my ass off one minute, and I was enthralled the next by the hordes of zombies getting annihilated. And yes, the fan-service was at times enjoyable. Did it go way over the top with it? Hell yes it did, but as I said, you sort of develop an immunity to it. That's not necessarily a good thing, but it never hindered my enjoyment, though I know it did for many others.
Yes, I am saying this was a great anime. It accomplished exactly what it set out to do. This is a popcorn flick and should be watched as such. I went into the show expecting nothing but zombies, breasts, and action; but I surprisingly got a decent zombie story with characters that I enjoyed watching. Take this show for what it is and you may just like it, though it is understandable if the fan-service is a turn off. But honestly, I considered this to be an excellent 4 hours spent.
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