Goblin Slayer is a show that abducted my wife and sold off my children into slavery. It is the reason I stay awake at night with visions of tiny green blurs bouncing on the edges of my bed. Undoubtedly, Goblin Slayer is singlehandedly the worst thing that has ever happened to me. I used to be an avid cave enthusiast with a PHD in cave science, but now I can't step one foot into a cave without my feet turning cold (and not due to the naturally decreasing temperature, either). I see them everywhere; in my dreams, in visions. Faint glimpses while walking down the ... street. Menacing silhouettes in the distance. Moreover and especially whenever I'm eating peas.
I finished my services in Nam back in early '75 and from then onwards assumed I wouldn't be put through anything similar again. Being violently thrust into the jungles of Saigon suddenly seemed all too inconsequential upon bearing witness to the first 10 minutes of Goblin Slayer. I have been scarred for life. Following these events, I have purchased a suit of chainmail armor and a few water scrolls from Ebay to protect myself from the inevitable and despite my therapist's best wishes. The end is neigh, my friends.
Joking, this anime is bad lol. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize the sole reason it's currently in-season for one reason and for one reason only. Shock factor, but more specifically the rApE. Goblin Slayer is a substanceless heap of hot garbage, albeit hot garbage packed meticulously well. It serves as a constant reminder that the people who forfeit artistic integrity, and maybe even their pride - oftentimes have it the very best. Liking shock factor fueled shows isn't a small niche, granted, but not to this extent where everyone cares for them, and the people who don't typically know to avoid them. Yet for some reason once sexual assault gets thrown into the equation, everyone and their grandmothers rush to the scene. And only then too is it that people get upset and start storming the shed looking for pitchforks.
Depiction of rape in art can either be tasteless or serve a purpose. In our case and in the humble beginnings of Goblin Slayer its initial intentions are presumably to villainize the goblins. Rape is probably the single easiest way to make the audience dislike the perpetrator. And low and behold, it works... for a while. Not before long, it devolves into nonsensical softcore porn, but more importantly manages to desensitize a large portion of the viewerbase to the act itself by repeatedly shoving it down our throats. Which has me convinced the word "villainization" is thrown around as nothing more than a convenient scapegoat here. If it truly were about muh villainizing, it did a damn shitty job by instead making me profusely grin at a child's sister unwillingly partaking in a goblin bukkake in front of his very eyes.
It's an actual fear of mine that some 12 year old somewhere on this very planet popped his first boner over a few goblin cummies. And what a massive one it must have certainly been. While it's clearly overused mainly just to maintain cheap interest for the story, the point to take away is that no one should have their goblin slaying experience sullied by implementation of needless hentai elements. If animated goblins really are your kink, HentaiHaven probably has you cov -- Oh, wait. :(
Before getting into the nitty gritty, litty titty, or the plot if you'd rather, it might be important to address the whirlpool of opinions surrounding the anime as a whole beforehand. Some conflicting, others in fullhearted agreeance, it doesn't really matter. The root of the problem is the sheer amount of opinions, instead. Please refrain from adding this anime to your stagnant PTW with 200+ and counting titles that you'll never get around to finishing in this lifetime or any other after seeing one scene and a Gigguk video on it. The most enjoyment someone can suck out of this withered goblin's crusty nutsack is watching a grown man get a stroke over episode one. Head on over to EtikaWorldNetwork for more information.
Yet youtubers, discussions, and the community as a whole have deemed it fit to blow a staggeringly boring show out of interstellar proportions. All because of a little edge. Consider realistically, what else does Goblin Slayer bring to the table? Cookie cutter characters, a nameless and faceless protagonist who is the literal living embodiment of stoicism itself and a Tolkein-esque animified high fantasy setting with that rudimentary boring ass guild system that's making me want to rip out my nose hairs by the second. Konosuba you aight tho.
The plot is, as the title suggests, a well over four hour journey of pure unadulterated goblin slaying and all the misadventures accompanied along with it (18+). Resembling a few anime due to the aforementioned setting, there are two I constantly see being referenced as similar, with Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash definitely being the most prominent one. These two shows clearly split at birth, and one is a bit less retarded than the other but it's still clear to see why the mother abandoned both. I have an entire review dedicated to Grimgar written two years ago, and seeing as I'm writing this right now you'd figure shoving special ed kids in lockers to be a specialty of mine. Berserk's the other one often mentioned, which almost seems like another gateway for Berserk fans to toot their own horn for liking the grimmest, darkest comic of them all. "This series people like has rape? My series also has rape, but, like, betterer".
I'd like to say the show has a definitive highlight (i.e plot, characters), but it's about as consistent as Miura's writing. The quality of the fight scenes is incredibly varied, ranging anywhere from terribly unengaging to kinda fun and the SOL scenes inbetween are either boring as all hell or funny-ish. The humor in these scenes typically relies on showcasing how much of a flat out sociopath our protagonist is. It typically follows the structure of one of the side characters interacting with him in a normal way and him responding like a lizard person. Or like if Gendo Ikari had his own show and wasn't a neglectful father but instead the protagonist of an action adventure. Essentially, he's just Jotaro minus Star Platinum. While that means he'd probably still make a better Jojo than Jonathan, Jotaro has the power of unfunny memes and Jojokes on his side while this guy swims around in sewers killing goblins. Talk about luck of the draw.
His backstory is pretty unclear and at one point in the show he is even killed, only to be resurrected back to life by laying in a bed with a virgin. Disregarding the Kirito-tier plot armor for just a second, if that method of resurrection were applicable in real life I'm pretty sure the anime community would account for the single most renowned group of healers in the realm. Last but not least, his suit of CGI armor is incredibly ugly looking and has almost become synonymous with his character by now. The epic character of.. the nameless titular character almost makes up for the fact that using more than a single adjective to describe the entire cast is overkill. The most characterization this lot gets is establishing a tropey elf vs dwarf rivalry and a personal favorite of mine, that is seeing the dragon-lizard-man's transformation into a certified cheese connoisseur
Anyway there's really not much else to comment on. The main sauce of this whole Goblin Slayer saga lies in the fact that something so bland has gotten so tremendously popular and even well-received overseas. I call it a saga because judging by its level of success, it'd be dumb not to continue in this season's footsteeps. But I suggest instead of how power scaling exists in shonen, every season they up the ante by doubling on the number of goblin gangbangs.
Sep 18, 2017
Koi to Uso (Anime) add
Love and Lies is a 12 episode anime where love takes the form of lies and each of the characters are like walking chalkboards, constantly scratching upon each other. Japan for some reason deemed it fit to pass on the torch of its current social crisis to the biggest intellectual heavyweight of a medium out there. By presenting a theoretical scenario in which society as a whole is shaped a certain way in order to entertain the idea of Japan's birth rates not being in the gutter, we are hence introduced to another run-of-the-mill-overdramatized-romance-love-triangle-rectangle-harem-cocktease. And impressively enough, its' atrocious and unexplained setup remarkably gives something ... like Eromanga a whole new level of credibility. While its' innovativity didn't didn't speak for much in the minds of the masses, at least it had the audacity to try and push forward a healthy agenda. "It might be grasping at straws, but she's still fertile". Meanwhile on the other end of the spectrum, we have an anime that is centered around this very same nuanced topic, yet fails to provide any substantial worth at all to the table in regards to social commentary, or much of anything, really. About midway through it crumbles down under the weight of its nonexistent ruleset and unexplored concept, but impale me with a cactus if these redundant melodramatic pieces need consistency within anything but MUH FEELS.
While some thought that resides strictly within the compounds of the show does delve into questioning the validity of a clearly-corrupt system via the characters, I find it extremely difficult to believe the writer herself put any while actually writing this story. In anything but an ideal world, the idea of these arranged marriages would be doomed from the get-go. And in an ideal world, there'd be no need for them in the first place. So in the end, all we're left with is a hypothetical scenario that is not and can not be founded in reality by any stretch of the imagination, ever. Thus the series is forced to revolve around this lofty joke of a scenario, and revolve around it, it does. Not only would it be a shitty situation on an emotional and mental basis for most young people, but for some reason it is able to reach the back ends of society as well. If you decide against being being a mindless drone (which is somehow a rare occurance, seeing as teenagers love losing their freedom of choice, being enslaved, etc), it is for some reason able to influence your academic standing for the worse, with no apparent reason anywhere in sight.
Imagine being on the short end of an abusive relationship. The person you're paired with treats you like dirt, and you might be in love with someone else. So what happens when you try turning your life around for the obvious better? You get shunned by society, your future put at risk and ironically enough get deemed a lesser human being than your peers. How or why rejecting an arranged marriage is the end all be all of a person's highschool life is beyond me. May as well write "SEX OFFENDER" on the entrance exam sheet in big, bald letters just so everyone is aware what a menace to society these rebellious teens really are. Case and point - Marriages are apparently all sunhshine and rainbows where nothing bad can ever occur, and likewise all people are inherently bound to accept the iron fist of free will.
Despite there being enough conveniences and unexplored scenarios relating to the story to where'd I'd call plotholes, the worst detractor evidently might just be how poorly the author invisioned this artifical caricurature of a modern society of hers to function. If anything, this red string of science would eventually end up bringing the country's mortality rate to new peaks entirely, as suicide is already enough of an epidemic currently as is. Therefore, not only does it serve as a weak ass plot, but it also contradicts the very nature of the idea that is combating low birth rate for which it initially set out to do. The only counter-argument ever provided against any of this is that it works cuz.. science, 'n stuff. Because we all damn well know scientists ought to seize and take notice of all of our behavoural patterns, personality traits and preferrable positions in bed. If we've come this far, Koi to Uso's neo-Japan should be an island paradise, barely short of eden. Technology, banzai.
Neji is either the biggest excuse for a human being I've had the displeasure of setting my eyes upon or the typical Japanese beta male, I really don't know anymore. This man trembles in fear and is required to turn the other cheek as the thought of looking another person into the eyes instills such immense dread into the very fiber of his being, especially when one such person happens to be a moderately cute girl who he ends up accidentally wooing by giving a slight demonstration of his immeasurable bravery. Neji knows no fear, ladies and gentlemen, as he only takes 3 full hours to hand over a chopped up piece of his eraser to this desperate damsel in distress. Upon recieving the rougher edge of said eraser, cute girl is suddenly transformed into the love of his life the moment she thanks him for being such an indecisive, although considerate, loser. This is what the main characters' infatuation for one another stems from, sadly enough. I can only assume that it is because of this, I, in recent memory oftentimes encounter myself subconsciously wandering off into the deepest and darkest recesses of my mind, only to spend endless hours upon hours wondering if our species was doomed from the very beginning. Cue the oversatured Nietzsche quote, please.
"𝘏𝘦 𝘸𝘩𝘰 𝘧𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵𝘴 𝘸𝘪𝘵𝘩 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳𝘴 𝘮𝘪𝘨𝘩𝘵 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦 𝘤𝘢𝘳𝘦 𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘵 𝘩𝘦 𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳𝘦𝘣𝘺 𝘣𝘦𝘤𝘰𝘮𝘦 𝘢 𝘮𝘰𝘯𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘳. 𝘈𝘯𝘥 𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘨𝘢𝘻𝘦 𝘧𝘰𝘳 𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘢𝘯 𝘢𝘣𝘺𝘴𝘴, 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘣𝘺𝘴𝘴 𝘨𝘢𝘻𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘰 𝘺𝘰𝘶.".. That's the one. Despite what the aformentioned may make you believe, make no mistake. Neji is quite the player. No, he is THE player. The aftermath of being such an immense pussy his entire life inevitably resulted in his very body transforming itself into a pussy magnet. But his savagery doesn't stop there. The pure sight of Neji's huge pussy makes him irresistable to guys as well, although that's another story entirely. I'm sure that by now most of HanaKana's characters would be able to compete in some sort of national women's marathon for constantly running away from their male counterparts in these drama series so much. What seperates her from Orange's Naho is the old saying about the shy ones being the kinkiest out the bunch, which surely ought to hold some truth this time around. Forest sex, anyone?
With this in mind, Erasergal is probably to be considered the story's main heroine. It's been an entire year since I rose above and beyond the wish-washy poetry of my collegues by writing an intellectual diatribe for last summer season's Orange, yet it remains as fresh as ever in my mind. As such, there are some paralells to be drawn between the two heroines from the overall feel of the shows to even matching haircuts. Evidently so, what makes Erasergal stand out as the superior/updated version of Naho is the fact that she actually gets shit done on her own accord. No Kakeru-kun is needed here, when she wants some good ol' forest sex, good ol' forest sex will be had. With every tool at her desposal and virtually very little competition, she takes Nejima by the balls and French-kisses him until they run dry. Quite commendably so, really. Apart from her subpar taste in men, HanaKana does this girl justice. She has no problem cucking her friend out of the relationship with her fiance and rocks some cute bangs while doing it. #HanaKanaPleaseGetSomeDiversityYourEntireCastingCatalogueIsBangs
Regardless of the heaps of praise I could give to her character in comparison, she is overall extremely willy-nilly in what she wants. It's like she's got severe bipolar disorder and gets caught up in the moment so heavily one episode, only for next week to flush it down the unkempt toilet like it's all bygones and make-believe, cus it'd make harem member #2 sad. Regardless of harem member #2 consciously going out of her way to get them to shag in front of her very eyes. Whatever, logic isn't this show's forte and it slowly devolves into an endurance test of how many mental flops Erasergal can do per 20 minutes, before breaking out into wishful tears full of regret and getting comforted by Nejima who is at this point having a mental breakdown over the overwhelming guilt and being an overall pansy who shouldn't be loved by anyone other than his own mother.
Ririna is the second most prominent member of the Nejima Fan Brigade. Despite of her shortcomings and lack of comprehension for her own feelings, she is cute. However, the shortcoming that serves to seperate her from the other members is the overwhelming fact that she is, in fact, a cuck. And I do not use this term lightly or as a form of internet slang in hopes of coming off as hip. Ririna is full-fledged Resident Cuckold in the flesh. The real thing. This girl literally goes out of her way to force her future husband into a make-out sesh with some girl she's known for a day's time. Her backstory is that of loneliness and sorrow, as she's never had any real friends to speak of. Yet when she does acquire the faintest signs of friendships, she successfully serves as a gap closer which would in turn make her the ultimate third wheel, essentially sending her back to square one. Because she admires their unadulterated romance. The irony is that the romance in this show is BAD. Anywhom, Nisaka does well to point this out before going on some completely idiotic tantrum about how the after-effects of cucking can harm Nejima's academic performance. But good on him for trying. #TeamCuck
Last and dead least in the race for Neji's heart, there is the sole male companion of the gang. Nisaka is sharp, easily embarrassed and full of angst. Why is he full of angst? Either because he's gay, or he's gay and his taste in men is subpar. While to some extent I want to applaud the writer for going this extra mile, is this really anything beyond a fan ship from a fujoshi's hidden locker? Surely, no one in their right mind thought this ship was ever setting sail. Perhaps after years of discrimination in Japan, being gay is the new blockbuster recipe after Yuri on Ice. His voice is good to the ears, but as a non-13 year old girl I sure was not hoping for any.. unforseen unpleasantries to occur between the two boys. #NejiDroppedTheSoap
Finally; Shuu Igarashi, being the only female cast member able to contain her overarching lust over Nejima's shallow manhood personally comes as a huge disappointment. While equipped with a design that reeks of Eromanga's Sagiri that suddenly started hanging out with the wrong crowd and recently got out of rehab with a whole new jaded outlook on life, she is also appointed as being the granddaughter of Lady Democracy from whom the red string of science originated AND Misaki's bff. Due to the extreme position she holds in the story you'd think she'd be able able to grant some clearance as to either of the afromentioned, but no. It's a blank state of mind in which this moody little snowflake operates, being the single biggest cocktease in existence. She is revealed a laughable 2 episodes before the finale and in that short time nothing but her backstory is provided. Oh, and that she orchestrated the entire fall of Nejima. I honestly wouldn't have known she was anything beyond Misaki's over-obsessive stalker had her MAL profile not been indicitive of something else. Thanks, MAL Re-Write!!!
Boring series filled with plot and character inconsistency buzzword, buzzword, buzzword - IT SUCKS. Taking place in a twisted reality in which emotion and freedom of choice are exchanged with a lofty system that doesn't even work, and the goverment's tax money is spent to gather 16 year olds to mass porn sessions where they can beat off in unison. Devoid of logic, full of corny scenes and dialogue that does get a bit experimental and even overboard for the standard "By Fujoshi, For Fujoshi" formula. Which will sadly be all but lost on the vivid fandom consisting of 13-year old girls and a few other unfortunate souls. I would ironically request some alluring Nisaka fanart, but this anime will be long forgotten by the time its' fanbase learns to draw art more impressive than doodles of their cute elementary-school boy crushes.
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Jun 17, 2017
Shingeki no Kyojin Season 2 (Anime) add
Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the Earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
- Isaiah 40:28-31
The second coming of Christ hath solemnly smiled upon us and ... I am very passionate about this. The plot thickens, although not really. The series is kicked off with some pretentious monologue by Armin reminding us of what the general outline of the show looked like, probably either because the producers have little to no faith in their audience's mental capacity and just assume everyone has forgotten the plot over the span of 4 years or they just didn't have an episode's worth of material. Titan appears out of nowhere, titan eats human. Good? Good. Annie Leon-who? In case anyone does remember, last's season finale left off with a completely unnecessary cliffhanger that only put even more expectations on this season to deliver. tl;dr IT DOESNNNNNNNNNN'T
Among monkeys, loose plot threads and other things, the big focus of this season seems to be on the titan shapeshifters. A mechanic that was first introduced to the series when everyone's second favorite main character got swallowed whole (deadweight Armin at it again), before being resurrected in full, non-CGI titan glory. Fastforward 20 something episodes later, and it is a technique utilized by literally half of the 104th Trainees Squad members. Despite losing its initial charm, the colossal and armored titan have been presented since the very first episode while the series was at its peak and thus still managing to retain a candle of relevancy.
Colossal Titan : Begins breach of Shiganshina first episode, catalyst of all destruction, all-around menacing presence
Armored Titan : Unstoppable force, mows down the gate of Wall Maria causing impending doom upon thousands, exhales steam
Ymir/Ymir Titan : Dyke, ???
What a revelation, seriously. I wholeheartedly wonder if the atrocious lack of screen time and presence of her character during the entirety of the series prior to the reveal are to be attributed to the author wanting her to remain a mysterious figure or downright not giving a shit. But wait, they showed us that 12 minute flashback between her and Historia to showcase just how powerful their relationship was, talk about depth. That's another thing, as soon as there's some groundbreaking reveal it is either cut short by a flashback or even cliffhanger (which are proven to be able to last up to a grand total of 4 years). Both reveals this season start off at an alright pace before being brushed off to the side because of Muh explanations. When half of episode 5 after Ymir's big reveal proves to be a boring flashback that realistically correlates to nothing of substance regarding our current situation apart from some meager hints regarding Historia (this is Ymir's big moment, mind you), SOME VIEWERS MIGHT GET DISENGAGED. WHOOP DE FUCKING DO. Now imagine if the finale of first season's episode 5 were cut short by a cliffhanger, and rather than Eren jumping into a titan's mouth to save Armin the episode was proceeded by a whopping half an episode's worth of some "mandatory" flashback dating back to that one schooltrip they held in 5th grade. Just for brevity's sake, you know? Because who wants non-meandering content anyway.
I also love how the meeting to discuss whether Ymir's a titan and where her loyalties lie was essentially the exact same as the one in season one regarding Annie. Eren is always shoved into this role of the dumbass optimist who's like "B-but, muh friends.." while he sits in disbelief as everyone else clobbers him with facts and it's pretty funny, if nothing else. It's really just used as a tool to make certain characters like Hanji stand out as great strategists and/or intellectually-capable, when in reality it just makes Eren seem like a stupid brat who's constantly in denial even when the obvious is made obvious. But Anni--I mean Ymir's a friend, how could she?! After Ymir helps saves the lives of countless soldiers, she is then briefly treated to a life of imprisonment, just before being swallowed whole by the Colossal titan. But it's Ymir, so you don't care. Connie titan when?
Obviously, the big selling point of these 12 episodes is supposed to be Eren's grandiose throwdown versus Reiner and Bertholdt, friends who he once looked up to turned enemies, for reasons.. unbeknownst. What carries this plotpoint is the fact that Eren never needed to have a fleshed out relationship with either Reiner or especially Bertholdt for it to work, which he didn't. The mystery behind both the Colossal and Armored titans was present from the first day whilst the Attack on Titan was at its highpoint. I would've walked out a happy man, had, you know, the actual revelation not been so piss poor. The way the reveal was handled holds complete contrast over anything the show's director, Tetsuou Araki is actually good at. The whole subtle and unconventional tone I imagine Isayama was building toward missed its mark entirely and assigning it to a man who's literally built his entire career off of making overblown and adrenaline inducing scenes and series surely isn't a good starting point. So far I have encountered not a single criticism as the people who are proclaiming it to be some nonchalant masterpiece of delivery and storytelling are running rampant. It's mere misjudgment over subtlety, but I digress.
First off, the Armored Titan has an uncanny resemblance to Reiner Braun. While this idea seems to have been entirely scrapped in Berthold's case for some reason, they went to insane lengths to mimic Reiner's look to the itty bitty details in correlation to the Armored titan: the minimal contrast between white and blonde, the exact same cleancut hairstyle, a body physique that can hardly be attributed back to anyone in the show but him, and even the trademark glowy yellow eyes shared only with Pixies. The exact same problem plagued the first season in the shape of Annie; the hair length, color and eyes would already have drastically decreased the amount of possible suspects by tenfold, but the genius of Hajime Isayama even bothered drawing in her god damn crooked fucking nose. He clearly has either no faith in his audience's mental capacity or simply doesn't understand that the point of mystery is supposed to be withholding information until a given point rather than violently shoving it down the viewer's windpipe. Okay, fine. They physically resemble each other, what else? Bertholdt. While Reiner actually attempts giving off a faint sense of dread while some eerie music is playing in the background, Bertholdt just completely ruins it. Despite for once not resembling his titan counterpart, when the man is not looking constipated, he is completely sealing off any potential doubts in anyone's mind about any other possibilities about the situation. "Could Reiner possibly have lost his mind..?" Obviously not, because Bertholdt is just fucking screaming in his ear 24/7, "NO REINER DON'T TELL HIM NOOOO". Well, I guess that's cleared up. They're gonna transform now, right? Any minute now. This is kinda dragging on.. OH WAIT IS THAT MIKASA HOLY FUCK 10/10 WHAT A REVELATION.
If you thought the "Humanity is at the brink of extinction" storyline is the weak link, think again. The cast of Attack on Titan is so evidently plagued by cliches and dumb action series tropes that you could pretty much associate any major character with a single adjective if you really wanted to. Calling my assessment here redundant would almost be a fair criticism considering that a similar point can be made in regards to arguably any popular seasonal anime born and molded by hype culture in recent memory. However, what makes AoT stick out like a sore thumb and possibly make it the biggest offender of this near-archetype turd is the broad scale of characters it decides to play the story out with. Operating on such vast cast of notable proportion can oftentimes lead to success (insert pseudo-elitist LotGH shoutout), but it can also damage a series by making it loose focus on primary objective. In this specific case when deciding to roll with a huge cast, you can choose from either 2 routes:
- Put in a conscious amount of time and effort into character development and have an actual go at fleshing them out (talk about boring)
- Treat your entire cast as human cattle, excusing any lack of potential depth with pitiful sob stories. When midnight comes around, murder them for SHOCK FACTOR !!! (hell yeah)
I realize that the line is very blurred in this case so feel free to take your time pondering which one we've been stuck with for a consecutive 37 episodes. As you may or may not already know, the story primarily revolves around an edge-riddled brat that is fueled by teenage angst as without it he loses all self and intrinsic meaning in this world. In the second season, he makes many a guest apearences throughout half of the season that he is in. All Eren Jaeger wishes for in life is to fulfill his petty vendetta by exterminating an entire species, and if that doesn't sound like a ludicrous pipedream of an egocentric teenager, I don't know what does. You would assume that being the protagonist of the story, he would have something worth noting in regards to his character, but he really doesn't. The entire backbone of his character lies the fundamentals of being dumb, bratty and angsty coupled with a motivation that stem from the final five, and it especially shows when he's even overshadowed by lifeless ragdolls such as Mikasa. There is nothing about Eren that makes him an interesting, distinct or compelling main character in the slightest. He is an angst powered locomotive; equipped with a smidgen of brash "personality", a petty sob story that's supposed to make you sympathize with him and of course, his desire for vengeance being placed on a pedestal above all else.
That in mind, you sure as hell wouldn't be able to spell Eren without spelling Mikasa first, so give it up for arguably the best girl in the series by sheer process of elimination - Mikasa Ackerman. Mikasa is just the perfect recipe for success. She has the looks, the smarts, the skills. Everything. She can't grow or develop because she is already a God put upon this green earth. Most people excuse her lifelessness as compelling because she too has a sad backstory. Mommy and daddy got lynched, there goes my personality and compassion as a human being, boo fucking hoo. Despite being completely devoid of any human emotion what so ever, she still harbors a deeply-rooted love and respect for her not-so-related-by-blood brother, Eren. Although Eren admittedly arrived a bit late to the party, he made up for it by giving her some rugged old scarf. This admiration for Eren arouses a multitude of paradoxes. Can a person void of any underlying emotion really learn to love someone, if even themselves? Is it incest? The fundamental flaw of Mikasa's character is perfection and it works because people tend to drool over this type of shit all the time. Especially in the case of Attack on Titan, where it's not even far-fetched to call the show a global epidemic where people who don't even watch anime regularly tune in to see cartoons battling it out because, hype. No such person cares seeing a complex or relatable cast over unrealistic, Superman-esque characters like Mikasa kicking ass. The most the writer could've hoped to achieve with Mikasa was to use her as a tool for spreading some noble-like message such as female empowerment. Even then -- tough luck little girly, you're never going to be like Mikasa. Mikasa is God.
What happens when you're a realistic character in the Attack on Titan universe? You either get friendzoned because the girl you're into has an incestuous crush on her half-brother, or you're just a total loser who cannot accomplish anything on their own apart from cuddle up in a blanket like the deadweight that you naturally are. Enter Armin, everyone's favorite punching bag. As stated, Armin suffers from the severe deformity known only as "Realism", making him a rather niche and tough character to support in or indulge in. Rather than being portrayed like a constant beacon of light and glamour as say Mikasa, he is instead shown to be a cowardly, weak-willed and frail kid. W-wow, c-c-could it be.. an actual human being? Burn the witch!! While Armin does not represent your wildest power fantasy, he is instead a connoisseur of humanity, a drop of realism and a look at what would have been. Despite proving a much needed breath of fresh air, his character is definitely far from revolutionary. The "weak boy gradually turns strong over time" formula has been done in a multitude of ways, a lot of which proving to be superior than in the case of Armin. However, I've really got no major complaints about his character. Cliche as it may, his development is infinitely more gradual and downright sublime when compared to most everyone else in the show and is probably only hindered by sometimes being overly smart for the sake of it and a lack of screen time. In other news, we also live in a world in which a character that is solely defined for eating potatoes is more universally liked than Armin by the community. Sometimes she eats a boiled potato, sometimes she settles for raw. Bravo, writers. You've really outdone yourselves with that one.
With an increased focus on the supporting cast, you'd think there would be someone worth noting, but there really isn't. We get absolutely no concise development for any of the shapeshifters, nor do we get any clarification as to what their motivates could be. How does Ymir's story intervene with Reiner's? Is Bertholdt even a character? Lastly, this whole "Anyone can die at any given point" gimmick is so untrue and falls completely flat when you realize that not once did a main character die and legitimately stay dead at any given point in the series. It is among the most substanceless claims someone can make about this show. Sure, fodder are often killed. Should you care? No. For a show that tackles a storyline of humanity at the brink of extinction, it sure is unrealistic for none of the main characters to ever actually die. The furthest the show has been willing to go up to this point was Marco, who was in essence a mere stepping stone for Jean throughout the 5 episodes he was in. I hope this false notion of AoT not being scared to kill anyone off disappears soon, because it is easily one of the most backwards things I've ever heard someone say about the show. More on Levi : The show's rising superstar isn't so rising anymore as he is down in the dumps and doesn't seem to be getting up anytime soon. Please check in later. Fin.
While the first season of Attack on Titan had many a gems like "Reluctant Heroes", "Vogel im Käfig" and the Armored Titan theme, this season has.. a remixed version of Vogel im Käfig? I'm gonna be blunt and say that the OST is underwhelming at best and a complete and utter rehash of its predecessor. Not once did I hear a song play and go "Woah! That's a really good song that I just cannot wait to illegally download, awesome!!" like with the first season. I saw the fine folk over at Reddit praising it so maybe I'm just dead wrong, who knows. For argument's sake let's assume that I am 100% in the right and the OST sucks dick and is the most overrated thing since Rem. Anyone with differing opinions may be burned at the stake. DAT VOGEL IM KAFIG REMIX THOOO. I was sold on every performance apart from Kamiya Hiroshi's Levi, because God damn, that man just has no range at all. Good thing he got barely any screentime this time around because honestly, no one wants to hear a brooding Araragi. Coincidentally, I would also argue for this being Yuki Kaji's best performance to date by a longshot, so good on him. Too bad the guy is like the arbiter of bad roles which becomes painfully noticeable once you realize Koichi was the probably the best he's ever been involved in. The ending is quite nice but the opening is very visually questionable, seeing as you have like dinosaurs running around and stuff. If they're so keen on regurgitating songs, maybe they should've just stuck with Guren no Yumiya.
As disappointing as the music is, it completely flails in comparison to the animation. The last thing I would've expected AoT not to deliver on is the production value, but alas, here we are. After an upheaval of 4 years, Wit Studio has repeatedly been milking the saggy tit of this shriveled old cow, and shamelessly so. Even Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress who many, including myself had considered to be Attack on Titan's proudly retarded brother, still proved to be a commercial success within Japan. However, due to the low salary and therefore shortage of animators as well as a scary deadline or some stupid shit, we are left with no one to turn to but CGI. 𝘊𝘭𝘢𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘯𝘵𝘦𝘯𝘴𝘪𝘧𝘪𝘦𝘴
Now, this wouldn't have been so bad if it had been reduced to merely a couple of horses running about, but the Colossal titan? The biggest titan known to man looking like he came straight out of a Playstation game? They try covering it up pretty desperately by some cool 3D maneuver gear stunts, but whenever that giant red thing just pops up in the frame it takes me out of the moment entirely whilst completely ruining any immersion that might have previously been had, simultaneously leaving me mesmerized and ashamed to be part of the human race. Lowkey hyperbole aside, it was quite nice to see not as many individual still shots just placed randomly throughout like last season, which is pretty much the only improvement I can name. The titan designs still look as.. "original" as ever, ranging all the way from borderline creepy to mildly autistic, with few and far between.
Attack on Titan used to and still does hold a very special place in a lot of people's hearts for being that one big gateway show. Having watched it right after it finished airing, I still vivdly remember the passion and excitement I once felt towards it oozing out of every single pore of my body. Despite the numerous impressive feats it has managed to accumulate within the industry in terms of both financial value and Westernized viewership, the fact still remains that it is easily one of, if not the single most overrated anime of the past decade. Content-wise it is an absolute shitstain that treats itself way too seriously for its' own good when in reality is nothing more than an inconsistently entertaining dumb turd of an action series. The story is plagued by the author's raging boner for mysteries and unsolved plotpoints combined with annoying and overused distasteful flashbacks and especially cliffhangers that occur every single episode for the majority of the latter half of the season and exist solely to spray perfume over said previously aforementioned smelly turd in hopes of making an abundantly lackluster product seem a bit more refined. A cast of caricatures that by merely existing take a big gnarly dump all over the very concept of character development, with the typical consumer's reaction being, "Man, did you see that? Levi just took out a QUADRILLION titans in the span of 5 seconds, I'm favoriting that man right this very instant !!! Oh, why is Armin scared?" It's a failed rehash of the first season in every way imaginable and doesn't even compare to it in terms of hype or shock factor, the elements that initially gave the series limbs to stand on. Reiner is armored titen cuz he big and Bert is colossal cuz he tall, hurr durr. All in all, disappointing, but not unexpected. Fingers crossed that 2021 will be a better year for anime!
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Sep 25, 2016
It’s a well known fact that shoujo anime have never been the most original pieces of work. They follow a very basic and straightforward structure, and more often than not end up feeling way too dramatized and overly-melodramatic for no apparent reason. Once you've seen one you've seen them all, right? Some people would beg to differ, and as to disprove my claim the adaptation of Orange reared its ugly head out of the deepest depths of shoujo hell itself to quickly rise to the top of this season's charts, smirking all the while it does it. Watch as the magnificent story of Orange ... unfolds, giving us deep insight into taboo topics like depression and suicide, viewed in distasteful shoujo fashion.
The story of Orange revolves around Naho, a carefree girl in her second year of highschool. One day, she stumbles upon a magical letter that is able to foresee her near future. The letter was sent from Naho to Naho 10 years in the past in hopes of her younger self being able to correct the mistakes she once made in highschool. How did the letter get there? Err.. A black hole in the Pacific ocean.. n' stuff.. I couldn't make this shit up even if I tried, could I? Anyhow, it's up to Naho to correct her past mistakes by saving the new transfer student, Kakeru Naruse, from taking his own life. As convoluted as the plot may seem, it's not bad straight off the bat for lacking a sense of realism. Instead, Orange's problem is that even that which is supposed to be grounded in reality feels like it isn't. What I'm referring to is the lousy presentation the series decided to resort to when tackling both the internal and external conflicts of the characters, like Kakeru being depressed for the sake of it and Naho being the weakest and most helpless creature on planet earth, thus making it unbearable to watch her interactions with Kakeru as she hopelessly tries to undo the regrets that the letter spoke of.
Adding on to that, to say that Naho is not a very outgoing girl would be an understatement. At certain times she appears to be completely and utterly socially inept, despite seemingly being a part of and having a decently-sized group of friends. Such a protagonist works great for Orange though, as having anyone other be the lead instead of such an indecisive girl would bring about a rather quick and uneventful resolution to things as no mind-mindbogglingly unnecessary conflict would ever arise. The fact that Naho prioritizes the most trivial of things over changing the future is also a huge problem. She finds out that there’s a way to undo one of her regrets simply by writing “No” on a piece of paper. And what does she do? She messes it up by postponing it to go and clean the classroom. And even when she isn’t caught up in anything and has a clear resolution of what she’s supposed to do, she doesn’t do it simply due to reluctance. I understand that she’s a refined girl and all but that doesn’t mean that she should constantly refrain from going out of her comfort zone every once in a while due to her shy demeanor when her actions will literally dictate whether a person lives or dies.
Following the cursed traditions of the shoujo genre, it is a given that emotion beats out logic in 99% of cases. And as such, logic and rationality completely cease to exist within the relationships between the main cast. Fuck magical letters that bend the space time continuum, Suwa's attitude towards Naho and Kakeru's relationship is where the real supernatural stuff kicks in. I don't care if he's the nicest guy on the face of the planet, no person has the ability to undermine their own feelings like that solely for someone else's sake, especially seeing as he knows Kakeru for like, what, a month? I'd have a difficult time believing it even if the two knew each other since birth, but at the start of the series they're not even buddy-buddy entry level yet. The relationship between Naho and Kakeru itself often tends to fall into unbelievable territory as well. How unrealistically oblivious these characters are to each other's feelings for a handful of episodes is what makes the series feel so stretched out at times since instead of going from A to B, their relationship has a bad habit of going on detours and wandering off to C,D and F. The "Oblivious teenagers" trope in romance anime has been oversatured beyond repair and it doesn't help when the anime at hand has a set premise that it can't seem to get to the point of because it's too busy playing a game of ring around the rosy with its' romance. Nevermind that they saw the fireworks together or held hands, that's just what friends of the opposite sex enjoy doing. No implications what so ever.
Most of the characters in Orange aren’t good or bad, but rather painfully average as they tend to play into various cookie cutter tropes due to the genre at hand. Starting from the bottom in a literal sense, we’ve got Naho. She’s weak, inattentive to an unhealthy degree, lacks the confidence to say a single sentence without stuttering, crying or running away and has no defying personality what so ever. All of these things when combined essentially just make her an all-around terrible character, with her only redeeming quality being the fact that she's relatively cute. You remember that one time you were at the shopping mall and walked by that small child that was very clearly lost? That's Naho in a nutshell. She's got absolutely no clue how to act or even think on her own and while her constant blunders keep the story moving forward, her lack of resolve ultimately makes her an extremely unlikable character.
I know it may seem like I'm nagging on her simply because she is a flawed human being, something that's supposed to make her more realistic and/or relatable. Brief rundown: A character is (not) complex when he or she is not a perfect human being or close relative of Jesus-kun. Whether a character is complex or not is simply the aftermath of good writing, something that Orange lacks entirely. Comparing her to Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelion would be good practice of that. Shinji, at the end of the day, is a well-written, multilayered and sympathetic character. Granted, he is not a likable character, but his personality is entirely justified during the course of the series and the anime makes the viewer very well aware of that. Naho, on the other hand is also unlikable, but her personality is not justified in the slightest, nor is she the least bit sympathetic. She is presented as a mentally-handicapped schoolgirl that can't be bothered stepping out of her comfort zone when her actions literally dictate whether the person she loves lives or dies, and that just makes her a cunt.
Angsty Teenager-kun (Angst-kun for short) first enrolls into the story appearing as a mystery figure, as for a good duration of the story we don’t know much of anything about him. This is totally acceptable though, because by the time the nature of his character comes to light, you'll be wishing he had just remained angsty for no apparent reason. After many not-so-subtle hints throughout the anime, it is then revealed that Angst-kun suffers from clinical depression. I liked you Kakeru, I really did. Due to Naho's over-incompetence in every situation, I had come to view you as the hero who takes the initiative, thus making this story move if but a single inch further. Unfortunately, Orange seems to have a very falsified perception of depression and suicide and for that, Angst-kun had to be the scapegoat and embodiment of the writer's complete and utter lack of knowledge on this subject. There's also no real way to feel sympathy for him either, seeing as his other attributes consist of being heavily controlling and having severe anger-management issues. I can see why him and Naho get along so well. Here's how Kakeru's cycle of depression tends to play out:
Step 1: In case everything is going well, make sure to bring up your dead mother for no apparent reason other than to kill the mood
Step 2: Get pissed off about friends trying to cheer you up and unnecessarily lash out at them (preferably Naho)
Step 3: Quick, make a run for it!
Step 4: Regret doing so & turn suicidal :'(
Step 5: Rinse and repeat
If that wasn't enough, they top it all off by demonizing the relationship between his mother in order to victimize him further, until pulling a Shigatsu where it actually turns out his mother was a living saint the whole time! You know, they were just taking her bad deeds out of context, when in actuality she really cared about him.. Fuck off. Moving on, Suwa is easily the most likeable and respectable character in the entire story. However, while you can tell that unlike Kakeru, he genuinely cares about his friends' wellbeing, his stance on Naho and Kakeru's relationship is far too idealistic to be real. While his goody-two-shoes persona does make him prevail over the likes of Kakeru, it also makes his character all too stale and predictable. His best moments are easily the ones in which he feels conflicted whether or not to act upon his intuition and snatch Naho for himself instead of undermining his feelings. Unfortunately, they are very few and far in between, as for the overwhelming majority of the show he simply acts as Kakeru's wingman without bothering to intervene. No one else in their group stands out.
Setting aside their heavy resemblance to puddle-toads, the character designs are somewhat visually-pleasing and even help the aesthetic in a sense. The animation doesn’t really have any opportunities to shine as the most intense it ever gets is just the characters running away from each other (I just made myself giggle).The opening looks decent for what it is and the ending is mostly just a slideshow of still images, but the directing is really where the technical department of Orange shines. I was skeptical to see the poor guy behind Steins;Gate and Texhnolyze be reduced to directing Orange, but alas, he once again successfully utilizes many different editing tricks in order to enhance the atmosphere and the various emotions displayed throughout, shrugging aside any previous doubts of mine. If anything, it just proves his talent is being entirely wasted on a project like this, as a few directing tricks ain't nearly enough to pull it back on its' feet.
Yuck. The happy-go-lucky J-pop feel of the opening and ending made me nauseous. OST and voice acting aren't anything too impressive but get the job done. KanaHana going "Eh?" 20 times per episode made me want to nom on a handgun.
It's been made very evident to me that I'm not the target demographic for this show. Orange is like my antithesis in every sense of the word, from the obnoxious cast and generic plot, to the subpar theme exploration and lacklustre pacing. Trying to complete this series was excruciating in every sense of the word. There was no light at the end of this dark, desolate tunnel. After finishing it, my psyche feels like it's been violently flushed down the toilet, head-first and everything. What was it all for? For the credibility of this review? Definitely not worth it. Apart from the directing choice, there was not a single enjoyable element in Orange to be found. Even the driving force of the show - The drama which all fans of the show (fujoshi, mainly just fujoshi) gush over felt surreal and managed to miss its mark entirely. Muh depression :<
At its core Orange is an extremely character-driven show and as such, a weak cast is the biggest detriment it can possibly have. Poor characterization accompanied by constant, God-awful melodrama and a false perception on serious subjects like depression and suicide drag the series through the dirt, when it could have been much, much more. While the themes themselves are fairly intriguing as they are rarely ever brought up within the medium, the lack of proper execution doesn't give them much of anything to stand on, and as such, they tend to violently tumble over and fall into the realm of boring impracticality, where they'll soon after be forgotten. It prioritizes constant melodrama over everything else, and suffers heavily because of it. Every weaker aspect is subsequently amplified as the show progresses, and the only way it can be fully appreciated is if the doctor's prescription of sleeping pills is currently at a standstill.
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Sep 18, 2016
Every now and then, we, the anime community, are blessed with a gem. A gem, shining ever so brightly in the sea of mediocrity that are the seasonal anime manages to blind the majority of the community with its seemingly endless blister into thinking that the title at hand is somehow special and praiseworthy. After a rather short period of time, the bright light the gem once used to vividly emulate begins to flicker, until eventually fading away into eternal darkness and being forgotten. It's nothing new; rather just a byproduct of hype culture and the negative effect it has on entertainment media. ... The implementation of various anime databases and platforms like MAL in recent years make the anime medium in particular all the more susceptible to this horrible disease that seemingly spreads like wildfire. And for that reason, I will gladly presume the role of a firefighter. This one'll go in-depth.
Adapted from a rather lacklustre source material, the story revolves around our protagonist, Subaru. When Subaru one day decides to venture out into the wilderness that is the grocery store next door, he is out of nowhere magically transported into an unfamiliar fantasy world. Why / how / who / what was it that teleported him there? He doesn't know. We don't know. No one knows. Literally 2 minutes into the show we are presented with a plot device that sets the entire anime into motion. While definitely a negative, I don't particularly mind too much as it is a problem on a far lesser scale than in say Erased, where the plot device is something integral to the narrative. The rest of the plot is fairly straight-forward. In essence, the main character explores the setting, goes through various scenarios, meets a shit load of cute girls while going through individual arcs, etc. So obviously, it possesses all of the shitty traits that plague each and every light novel in existence, and if there was one thing that all of the people who share my general consensus on the show agree on, it would be on how generic it is.
As if to counteract its' generic nature, the story constantly puts in a conscious effort to be as unpredictable as possible. It serves as a mostly-consistent source of entertainment and I truly do commend the author for that one. But.. where exactly is the line drawn? While plot twists can do wonders in the heat of the moment, Re:Zero tends to gradually overdose on them, often resulting in a faint sense of redundancy. No series is supposed to be this reliant on shock factor to keep the audience seated but apparently going in with the mentality that each respectful viewer suffers from extreme ADHD is the only way to make it big nowadays. The "dark" in the "dark fantasy" is emphasized on quite a lot, if not a little too much later on. This seems to be what most fans consider to be the driving force of the show, ultimately setting it apart from the typical light novel adaptation. However, a wise man once said "A different approach does not guarantee a quality outcome". The wise man in question happens to be your humble writer, of course.
Various anime in the past have thrived off of their dark element, but it is extremely important that you, as a viewer, are able to differentiate between shows that are completely reliant on constant edge and shows that are able to stand on their own two feet without it. I'm not implying that Re:Zero is completely reliant on its edge.. But yeah, I am. While most of the community seems to find it intensely gripping for some odd reason or another, I found most of the "dark" scenes to be outright laughable. This is not because I'm some kind of despicable shounen antagonist who has a preconcieved notion against the very fundamentals of fun, but rather the execution of said scenes being far too comical for their own good. Once in a blue moon I really was able to get invested in some of the grimdark stuff, but for the overwhelming majority it was just me laughing my ass off at the sight of villains that resembled an inflatable tube man outside a used car lot that would wiggle their arms and body around while being EVILLL.
Something that constantly kept pissing me off is how the anime goes about presenting itself. The rough transitioning between dark and goofy makes it extremely hard to ever get fully immersed into the story as it is both completely off-putting and can easily ruin the mood that was in place just a minute ago. I know not every show can have the godsend that is Puck (the elf, not the furby) to ease things out in dire times but really, they could have tried a bit harder. You've got instances where one second the protagonist is casually talking with someone and not even a full minute afterwards he is frantically running for his life. Or even better, while participating in a deathmatch against one of the deadliest assassins in the land, the characters randomly start throwing jokes and snarky remarks at each other like their current life or death situation is a family picnic. It should be obvious to virtually anyone how something that feels so out of place singlehandedly ruins the tension and intense atmosphere that the show was trying to build up just a mere second ago.
Moving on, I'd like to cover what I consider to easily be the biggest problem of Re:Zero. While I could hardly fault a show for having crazy powers in a setting that is entirely reliant on the supernatural, time resets are one of the absolute worst writing tricks in history. "Return by Death", ignoring the lack of creativity within the name itself, is by no means an exception - Granting Subaru the ability to go back in time whenever he is killed AKA basically giving him a free checkpoint, returning him to the moment that suits him the most before the time of his death. In Re:Zero, it feels like this trick is implemented whenever the writer comes to the realization that the story is incredibly reliant and dry without it, and so time is reset. It's not a bad thing to spice things up every once in a while but chances are that it's either going to be Subaru constantly going back in time before everything was fucked and starting all over again from step 1 or have the said conflict be resolved by sleazy plot conveniences. "Oh Roswaal-sama, I didn't see you there! How mighty convenient it is that you have arrived at just the perfect time to evaporate the gigantic demon-dog from the underworld that was about to devour my flesh in the span of two seconds!" It kinda makes you wonder if the concept of good writing is really such a mysterious term to the people who write light novels.
Return by Death also works as a double-edged sword in the case of Re:Zero. I am taking into consideration the fact that when executed properly, it allows for a fair number of interesting scenarios to play out throughout the series which is something that shouldn't be dismissed. Putting that aside, it is almost guaranteed that the implementation of time resets will deal a heavy blow to any cast of characters that are unaffected by this phenomenon. By having the protagonist and the protagonist only be able to utilize this ability renders the development of the rest of the cast completely null and void, seeing as he will be the only person to retain his memories from the previous iterations. It sacrifices the very fundamentals of characterization while completely throwing the concept of development out of the window for anyone besides him and is the sole reason that stories which rely on time resets have difficulty reaching critical acclaim. I can literally think of a single instance in anime in which time resets are utilized successfully but I don't see Yuasa Masaaki's name under the staff section.
Lastly, it brings up several plot threads for a brief period of time before lightly shrugging them under the rug whenever it so pleases, as if they had never existed. While not inherently plotholes, they almost feel like inconsistencies within the overarching narrative and I'm not sure if they are ever explained in the novel, but briefly covering them in the anime and never touching upon them ever again is completely pointless and a waste of time. Stuff like: Does Return by Death have the ability to take effect on others around Subaru or did Emilia just suffocate to death from the peer pressure of his hug? There are also huge inconsitincies within the world's functions, which have no backbone to sit on as the theory behind them is completely amiss. Stuff like: What was it that triggered Subaru's transportation? Will we ever be given proper information on Return by Death? - "But is explained in da light novEL! ! !" is not a valid argument, sorry. It's also worth noting how inconsistent the story is in terms of quality between its individual arcs, namely with the final act of the series being utterly ludicrous in the worst way possible.
Through a long and careful process of deduction, I have come to the conclusion that to be a character of Re:Zero, you must poses at least one of the three mandatory traits. The traits in question are as follows:
Be able to appeal to the otaku audience in one way or another ✔
Be an easy to hate, psychopathic piece of shit ✔
Lean towards borderline insanity ✔
This lot can be applied to absolutely any character in the series, from Subaru to Puck with few and far in between. And what better way to start this section off than with the man who encompasses all three?
Subaru is the very definition of a hit or miss main character. It’s not hard to decipher that at his very core, he is a self-insert who was brought into existence solely as a means of identification with your average basement-dweller, which is hardly surprising considering that this is a light novel adaptation. But while he does seem to inherit the “Nihilistic shut-in protagonist who’s actually a really nice guy on the inside” trait, he surprisingly has a few quirks of his own. In my eyes, he started off as the most hateable cunt in the known universe (Orange still hadn’t aired at this point) but as the series progressed, I was to my bewilderment able to actually empathize with his character. With that in mind, it still took all I had in order to watch most of his normal interactions with the rest of the cast when he was in his right mind so it really was a breath of fresh air when he went absolutely bonkers and stopped talking altogether. Of course this only lasted for a single episode because as we know, anime protagonists are immune to petty mental disorders. It took Kirito a year to overcome PTSD yet it only took Subaru an episode to recover his sanity. Talk about a hero!
Emilia, while supposedly being the main heroine of the story as well as Subaru’s primary love interest is a fairly mysterious figure throughout pretty much the entirety of the show. For some reason, she physically embodies the appearance of the Jealous Witch that is known and feared by citizens all across the land and unbeknownst to Subaru also happens to be one of the candidates for the throne. Her other attributes consist of being strangely sympathetic towards people she has never met before, having a pet furby and being fairly cute. That right there about fully sums up her character which is quite unfortunate as she's supposed to be the main heroine as opposed to being a side hoe, completely overshadowed by Rem.
"Only I'm allowed to sniff Subaru-kun!" Rem is first introduced as one of the 2 maids that govern Roswaal’s mansion. When Subaru is hurt and taken to the mansion, she’s appointed as his caretaker along with her older sister, Ram. She initially seems like a cute and innocent girl up until her psychopathic tendencies come rocking in and she brutally murders Subaru in cold blood without giving it a second thought. No one really seems to take that into consideration when labeling her to be the best gurl of da century but it is what it is. Unfortunately, she’s probably the character on which the time resets took the biggest toll on as a huge chunk of her development was constantly being thrown out the window during the entirety of the mansion arc. This takes effect up until the premise of her entire character shifts to being Subaru's lovey-dovey, 2nd-rate love interest during the latter half of the series. Despite that, she still manages to take the cake for the best girl of the series due to an extreme lack of competition.
Produced by studio White Fox, the art and animation really don't present anything new to the table. Although, one thing that sticks out in my mind is how well they were able to handle the tonal shifts the show makes regularly, most notably by effectively switching up the color palette from the usual bright and cheery NGNL-ish style to a more dark and brooding one. The character designs don't have a distinct style but do include a lot of variety between the individual characters. Subaru is noticeably plain-looking and dull, while the citizens that inhabit the fantasy world come off as flashy, with bright clothes and hair in every color imaginable, almost serving as to further alienate Subaru from the norm.
If Re:Zero had a strong suit, it certainly wouldn't be an exaggeration to say it lies within its music department. Despite the fact that like any other sensible man on this god-forsaken Earth, I proudly despise pop music with every fiber of my being, both of Re:Zero's ending and opening songs are admittedly catchy with a handful of decent OSTs to the side. While varied, the voice acting was pretty consistent throughout and most of the seiyuu were able to kick their game up a notch whenever shit hit the fan. Nonetheless, there are still some performances that either managed to evoke mixed feelings or just left a lot to be desired, with Petelguese being the prime example. Episode 15 felt like a comedy skit due to his constant laughter and overly-exaggerated mannerisms, killing any possible tension. Additionally, there's a scene in particular where he is just frantically laughing while the camera slowly zooms-in on Subaru's depraved expression as he screams and drools all over himself.. What? I realize that scene alone tops 95% of comedy anime out there but was that really all it took to boost it into the top 30? Not to mention how all of his lackeys from the Witch Cult also share his exaggerated tone, making the so-called "antagonists" of the show practically intolerable.
Re:Zero to me is one of those series you can't help but enjoy no matter which side of the spectrum you've landed on. Even if you don't genuinely like the show, you can still get somewhat of a kick out of it for a variety of reasons. Because the paragraph I wrote looked extremely messy, I've summarized it in good ol' Rkpandey fashion (vote-bots are still in development, though):
+ Subaru offing himself
+ Subaru getting killed
+ Overblown scenes and performances (enjoyable for all the wrong reasons)
+ Inflatable tube man
- Extremely repetitive plot-twists
- Character caricatures
- Laughable antagonists (not a positive)
Nothing is worse than an over-inflated sense of self-importance.
I don't expect nor want any diehard fans of this show to agree with me. The sole reason behind this review's existence is that you lot can hopefully understand where me and many others are coming from when thinking that Re:Zero is in fact not the second coming of Christ, as that is the best I can hope for when going against the norm like this. So in conclusion: Re:Zero is a torture-porn, flavor of the month show with an uninteresting cast and a bland, oversaturated premise far too reliant on constant plot twists in order to keep the viewer seated even after long passing the point of redundancy. It does a few things right and does try to deviate from the typical light novel adaptation by adding heavy emphasis on the dark fantasy setting it establishes early on. Unfortunately, most of these scenes are either too comical or far too overblown to be taken seriously and it holds no merit when compared to other dark fantasy anime like Berserk. On the other hand, the thriller appeal is still somewhat there until it goes off the rails during the last act and even then I'd be lying by saying I wasn't entertained while marathoning through the whole ordeal, albeit for all the wrong reasons.
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Jun 30, 2016
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri (Anime) add
If you happen to be someone who has a steady job within the anime industry, what is the best possible way to earn some decent $$$ when making an original anime? Is it to try and come up with the best and most original setting that comes to mind? To create characters with seemingly limitless potential? A thought-provoking story? If you think it's any of the above, you may as well be delusional. Wit Studio has it all figured out. Sadly, after milking the dried up and shriveled old cow that is Attack on Titan for a solid three years now, I think they may ... have forgotten how to make an actual original anime. Here, I'll paint you a somewhat-clearer picture of the feeling I got upon reading the series' synopsis. Imagine arriving to school with a brand new pair of shoes, right? So as you're walking down the hallway, your shoes are suddenly stepped on by some snot-nosed kid wearing a monster energy T-shirt and a hat turned sideways. That's right, the feeling of true despair.
So humans are at the brink of extinction again, blah blah blah. Only this time, our enemies are much less intimidating than ever before. They are just these mindless glowing zombies that raid trains once in a while and occasionally manage to get into the fortress. Oh, but don't get the fortress confused with the great walls from AoT as they are two totally separate entities and do not resemble each other a single bit. So seeing as regular humans are always as useless as one can be in these types of series, we are introduced to Kabaneri, the humans who got bitten by the glowing zombies and received superpowers because of it. Our main superhero is our boy Ikoma, who is out on a quest of revenge against the Kabane, accompanied by our loli heroine Mumei. These two form an invincible bond and so their journey begins.
Attack on Titan was one of the first anime that got me back into the medium and I still faintly remember the dread I felt while watching the first few episodes. That feeling is completely gone this time around which can probably be entirely accounted for by the lackluster execution, more or less. To say that the Kabane's designs are lacking would be an understatement but we also have these people who can kill a hundred of them within the span of a minute which makes the threat feel that much more nonexistent. Then the setting apparently takes place during an industrial revolution yet they don't put any emphasis on this point what so ever. This could have been a great way to delve deeper into the world and give more depth to the setting if it were utilized properly. I'm not going to settle down for those fucking trains being the only reason this takes places in an industrial revolution. The potential is there but unfortunately it is left untouched.
There were also minor inconsistencies within some of the writing. Like why the hell do they have the people who are bitten be locked up for 3 days straight when with every single on-screen instance we've had of a human turning into a Kabane when bitten has happened within a time period of 5 minutes max? This show is too stupid for its own good. Speaking of stupid, the drama between the humans and the Kabaneri never disappoints. Despite the Kabaneri protecting the humans for the entirety of the series, if they happen to do a single, usually insignificant thing that the public deems as questionable, they are to be locked up and shunned immediately."You spilled a cup of coffee? Looks like you're no different from a Kabane after all, damn wench!"
The main cast just honestly really impressed me. Our protagonist was a guy who got bit by a Kabane, went through some kinky bondage porn and emerged a Kabaneri. He is as original as one can be, making an oath to himself that he will exterminate all of the zombies after a death of a certain family member. This backstory got me really emotional. It is something that we have never once seen before and is very original. Design-wise, he is sort of what I would picture Harry Potter's edgier twin brother to look like. Having such a strong resemblance to that character may be a good or a bad thing depending on preference. Who knows. It has been a good few years since I've last seen the Harry Potter films so I couldn't really say. We literally know not a single thing about his background and past apart from the fact that his sister, who we also knew nothing about, had died. Such a tragic tale this is.
Our heroine is an awfully cocky and narcissistic brute of a 12 year old girl. She is a strong and agile fighter who helps our protagonist along the way as well as guide him when he is initially bit and turns suicidal. She seems to make a lot of decisions that are considered questionable by the other characters for some reason, like killing a pregnant woman who was about to give birth to a Kabane. This is somehow questioned and deemed not to be acceptable despite the soldiers casually putting every single bitten person to death on a daily basis. Is it morally right or not? Make up your mind already. Her backstory is neither here nor there but is definitely better than Ikoma's as we do get some flashbacks that tell us bits and pieces of her upbringing and how she became the way she is. Despite being extremely obnoxious, she is easily the most developed character in the entire show as by the time the show reaches its climax her personality would have already done a 180 and if she were not so damn stupid, I may have actually of been able to sympathize with her situation.
The antagonist of the series (who we shall refer to as Jimmy because spoilers) is so poorly-written that he almost manages to make the rest of the cast look good while on screen. Jimmy's motivations are extremely incoherent and shallow as well as just plain stupid. He developed daddy issues because his papi used to randomly assault him with a knife when he was 8 years old, as he apparently "feared" him. Hence, his primary objective is to end his father's reign because of the previously mentioned and for the fact that he for some reason let the Kabane destroy one of the cities which little Jimmy was defending at the time. I don't know why or how his father would benefit from doing so but apparently he does. And you know what they say - The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Even after getting his revenge he still goes out of his way to wreak havoc upon the innocent civilians who've got not a single thing to do with this by releasing the Kabane upon them. Ahh so much shock factor ahh such good villain.
When it is necessary, Jimmy also enjoys pulling out the Plot Convenience Serum out of his pocket and injecting it into other characters in order to turn them into mindless drones. This of course has one hell of an influence on the overarching plot as you can imagine since you have people who hate his guts one episode turning into his slaves the next. This was obviously just an extremely lazy way of making the plot progress further in the way the writers wanted it to. What's a good anime without plot convenience anyway? Funny thing is, if the characters had any semblance of a brain inside their thick skulls, Jimmy would have no chance to even get near the fortress to begin with, much less get inside. No side characters stuck out as literally all of them are either useless or obnoxious and on special occasions maybe even both.
I have somewhat of an educated guess that Wit Studio may have made a tiny winy ounce of cash with the production of a show a few years back, as well as one more recently. So naturally, it may be worth considering that by now they can put in a pretty decent budget, and so they did. The animation is buttery smooth and the art is very appealing. The choreography is very impressive and engaging whenever the fights aren't entirely one-sided. They used some weird shading technique on the character designs which I think worked well for the most part. The blood and gore looked very fluid and liquid-y. As for sound, I've got no clue. I put IceJJFish and Anton Maiden songs in the background in order to ease the pain, sorry. Opening and ending are pretty nifty though.
Just dreadful in all honestly. Every single individual factor of the show managed to hinder my enjoyment in one way or another. Be it the subpar and messy plot, the gigantic amount of plotholes riddled throughout, the horrid characterization and character development, unparalleled edge, horrible antagonist, shitty worldbuilding, rushed ending.. The list could go on. To make the long story short, it was not enjoyable. That being said, I imagine most people will actually find something here, be it the over the top execution, well-done action choreography or simply poking fun at how bad it is. I myself am not an action junkie so the choreography, while impressive, didn't leave an everlasting impression of sorts and unfortunately I wasn't able to get a kick out of how bad it was either, rather it just left me with the impression that it was trying too hard. It really is the worst thing when an awful show takes itself too seriously. Where is Mitsumune when you need him?
A true trainwreck till the very end. Kabaneri wasn't even a disappointment, it was exactly what I expected from the synopsis. The production studio was unable to keep consistency within its mediocre 12-episode runtime as shown clearly by the spiraling transition of quality the further the series progressed. I want to say that it would have worked better if it were 24 episodes long but I really can't, judging from how poorly they handled a measly 12. I'm really inclined to believe that this was just a cheap cash grab by Wit Studio since they know far too well that they can get a decent amount of income just by having the show have Attack on Titan vibes, and boy, does it have that. Hell, I'm pretty sure I could sum up both of the first episodes using the exact same sentence. Now, a moment of appreciation for Wit Studio... Thank you. And so the second season of AoT is delayed yet again. Satisfied?
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Jun 26, 2016
Boku no Hero Academia (Anime) add
Tackling a show in a negative light is usually a very tricky task. However in this particular instance, I figured that taking the risk may be worth the trouble, seeing as the show in question is very undeserving of the praise it has gotten so far. Boku no Pico Academia is another run of the mill battle shounen about overpowered teenagers doing overpowered things. It tries to be slightly different in essence but ultimately crumbles under its own weight.
The story is set in an alternate universe where 80% of the population have received superpowers (Quirks) and evil is running rampant. To protect society from ... these villains, numerous heroes have emerged over the recent years in order to make justice triumph and bring peace to the citizens. Our protagonist is Midoriya Izuku, a shy 14 year old boy who's aspirations ever since he was little were to become a hero. Unfortunately for him, he is not a part of the overwhelming majority in the sense that he has no Quirk of his own which is why he is regularly ridiculed and looked down upon by the people around him.
All of this is put to a stop when he is conveniently placed under the strongest hero of all time, Allmight. After going through a harsh training routine for a solid 10 months and gaining a Quirk of his own, he is finally deemed worthy to join the ranks of other overpowered teenagers alike and enroll at the Hero Academy in order to groom his newly-formed power and finally qualify to be a real hero, thus making his dreams a reality. Though that is just the glorified way of saying it. Around here I noticed that the story often struggles with balancing whether or not it wants to handle this plot in a serious manner or a not-so-serious manner, which makes up for some rather rough transitions down the road when the serious arcs role around.
Anyhow, the premise of the story is not the problem I have with it, but rather it's the way they went of doing things. I was personally hoping to see the plot move in a bit more serious fashion or maybe have a bit more focus on the implications and alternation of society as a whole from suddenly receiving these bizarre super powers out of the blue. Though this is a shounen after all, so we ended up taking a more shounen-ish approach to things as we follow Deku and friends through their many trials and tribulations. Unfortunately, when compared to series of the similar nature like last year's One Punch Man, it ends up falling short.
With other genres to the side, a big portion of time and effort is spent on action and comedy, as you would normally expect from a shounen series. The action scenes are usually handled fairly well due to the bizarre nature of the Quirks and there being basically no limitations to what one can and can't do which in turn makes up for some interesting scenarios. And Bones being Bones, the animation is as consistant as you can imagine. The comedy, on the other hand, is very lackluster and more often than not just ends up falling completely flat. And if it miraculously does somehow end up being even remotely funny, then you can be sure that they will re-use the same joke 5 times over and run it to the ground. A good example of this would be the gag of Allmight being anorexic.
This section plays a significant role in the series decline as like with most other shounen, the characters aren't developed that well at all. Though, that is not something I should entirely fault it for, especially considering the genre at hand. However, Boku no Hero Academia misses a very crucial opportunity here. Do you know what all the top-tier shounen all have in common? They have an actual likable main cast of characters.
Thus, we enter Midoriya Izuku, otherwise known simply as Deku. Deku, being the protagonist of the story of course doesn't have a quirk of his own and was therefore looked down upon by his peers throughout his entire life. The amount of victimization they give to this character can get pretty overwhelming at times, seeing as at one point he is laughed at by everyone in his classroom even with the teacher being present and everything. They really went all-out to make this guy the ultimate underdog, to the point where it sometimes just irritates me to watch him. He's weak, can't stand up for himself and is socially awkward around girls. However, this all changes when he conveniently meets up with his favorite and most powerful hero in all of existence and gets taken under his wing. After that, he is fed a piece of hair, thus receiving superpowers. Hooray!
I really thought it couldn't get any worse but here we are. Bakugou Katsuki is Deku's psychopath of a childhood friend, his biggest bully as well as his possible rival later on. He is usually a tool from which Deku's victimization during the series stems from, as Kacchan here is completely mental. It is heavily implied throughout the series by Deku that he became the way he is now after "straying off the path" and receiving his Quirk, yet it was clearly shown in multiple flashbacks what an egotistical maniac he was even during his childhood. There really aren't any justifiable factors for this guy. His character is very basic and doesn't ever go beyond him being a self-absorbed cunt who wants to be the best at everything for extremely shallow and selfish reasons.
Then there are some other main characters that didn't leave me much to write about either because they either weren't utilized properly or were just not very good. Allmight is the object of Deku's admiration as well as his questionably-anorexic mentor. He usually ends up defeating the villains in a few seconds and has some semi-inspirational dialogue throughout the series but is ultimately overshadowed for the majority of the show, up until the final 2 episodes. Uraraka is pretty cute and ends up giving Deku panic attacks whenever she talks to him due to his seemingly crippling anxiety around girls. I don't remember the armored guy's name but he's pretty cool. As for the antagonists, their motivations never get explored and we're just left to our imagination.
The art for Boku no Hero definitely isn't bad by any means, it's just very unappealing so to say. With a very cartoonish style to it, it has a sort of unique feel to it, yet still somehow looks ugly. This complaint is nearly nonexistent when it comes to the backgrounds but is very much there when I stare at the character designs for too long. Midoriya's design faintly reminds me of diarrhea, for one reason or another. Bones has continuously produced some of the best animation through each passing season for years now so no surprise here. Since it heats up during the intense moments of the show the fights are quite nice to watch. Most of the tracks from the OST were unnoticeable apart from the main theme and another track which's timing was nailed very well every time to enhance the feeling of dread once the antagonists showed up. I enjoyed the ending and especially the opening theme a lot and the voice acting was solid, albeit there were some performances that I found to be annoying.
The enjoyment of the show will mostly depend on how big of a fan of shounen you are. If you go in with the assumption that it will suck, you may be pleasantly surprised like I was when the latter half rolled around. It has deplorable humor which is a miss in 90% of cases which can easily ruin a series for me and that really was the case for the first few episodes, but eventually I just tried looking past it. The final 3-4 episodes of the show is where shit hits the fan and I don't remember the last time I was this entertained while watching a seasonal anime. Essentially, if you're a shounen fan looking for some dumb fun you'll probably love it, and if you're coming in with a skeptical mindset then try to look past the first few episodes, as the show gets better the longer it goes on.
In conclusion, I don't think Boku no Hero Academia is that bad of a series. Sure, it has its fair share of problems here and there but what my rating mostly stems from is when I compare it to other series in the same vein, be it a regular shounen or the example that I have previously mentioned which is OPM. It has a story with some potential to be found but a very mediocre and slightly disappointing execution, with every character in the show being either extremely unlikable and annoying or simply bad. At times it takes itself too seriously and at others not seriously enough, which makes up for some pretty awkward transitioning.
If you're a fan of shounen series, I'd recommend Boku no Hero with a grain of salt as hopefully you don't come in with your previous completed series being FMA and end up setting the bar too high. Though, if you're an easygoing person who's just looking for some dumb fun then this is definitely your go-to this season. All in all, it's not bad and is certainly not good but mainly fails to live up to the hype created by the community.
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Jun 17, 2016
***THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS***
In the midst of all of the decent shows that have come out this season, a peculiar one has piqued my interest. This is of course a very special show, often described as being "intentionally unintentionally funny" by the people who know fuckall about what they are talking about. So why is this show so intentionally unintentionally funny? It isn't. Mayoiga is a show that had some of the worst writing I've ever seen and it seems to have picked up on that fact, albeit a little bit too late. What people seem to be missing is that when a show makes ... itself looks ridiculous and ends up being a mess, its' genres do not change by default as well. "Erased was never a mystery hurr durr". Enter: Teenage Angst, the series.
The story isn't actually that bad on paper. It's cliché as hell but doesn't seem like something that can ruin a series all on its own. The most important factor here is the execution and you can probably guess that it's not so great. Mayoiga is a story about 30 social misfits and takes place in Nanakimura village, a village rumored to be a safe haven from society, where people who want to escape from reality go to. So being the bright little crew they are, our cast makes an ingenious idea to organize a bus tour in order to leave their previous lives behind and start anew!
First and foremost, who thought it would be a good idea to have a cast of 30 characters within a 12 episode anime? That is literally spelling out disaster, no matter the execution. Short series usually have trouble with fleshing out the handful of people that make the main cast, but Mayoiga decided to take it to an entire new level like it was no big deal. You can only imagine how much the story as well as the characters suffer from this. 90% of them don't even get a backstory, and those who do get a 5 minute exaggeration of something terrible that happened in their lives.
With the premise and setting giving out so many horror vibes, as well as it having the same production crew that worked on Another, I had obviously jumped to the conclusion that this is a horror series. At least that's an efficient way to cut down a considerable portion of the cast, right? To my great disappointment, I was completely wrong. There is a single "death" to start the show off but other than that, it fails to deliver. I was at least going in with expectations that it'll be a fun and stupid ride like Another was, but ended up being thoroughly disappointed.
Being a good psychological series is practically impossible when every single character in your cast is borderline insane and / or delusional with very few exceptions. None of them act like normal human beings to begin with and their stories are exaggerated in the worst ways possible, trying as hard as they can to victimize them and justify their insane mindset, which is frankly impossible. The mystery is nonsensical and completely relies on the supernatural, which is a flaw in itself.
The lowest of the low. This is easily some of the worst characterization that I have seen in my entire life. Not only are over half of the characters completely useless, but they also lack any sort of rationality and common sense to add onto it. They are as deep as a puddle to put it lightly. Needless to say, there is absolutely 0 chemistry between any of them and the drama feels so incredibly forced, as they are shown to argue over the most trivial of things imaginable. Like in one of the highlights of the show where a character randomly decides to want to STAB another character because he didn't like his name. Just your everyday stuff.
Our protagonist is the spinning image of a goody two shoes, as he wants to help everyone and everything around him. I'm not sure how he managed to maintain this overly-positive outlook on life but it makes him one of the most annoying protagonists in the entire medium and somewhere along the way you end up wanting him to die a horrible death. Not to mention how oblivious he is to virtually everything around him, which sometimes really made me question how he has retained being a functioning member of society for the past 17 years.
Masaki: I need to go to the bathroom
Mitsumune: Do you want me to go with you?
No one else is really worth mentioning, although I do briefly want to touch upon something that impressed me. This series managed to make the most stereotypical fat guy that I have ever seen in my life. I'm not even exaggerating, all he does during the entirety of the series is either eat potato chips, tell us that he's tired or he just falls asleep and that is all there is to his character. Hats off to you, Mayoiga. We have truly hit rock bottom with this one.
The art is very subpar and lacking in a lot of instances. It is bland in the worst way possible which you can probably gather by looking at Mitsumune's face for a solid 3 seconds or so. If I had to compare the style to something, it would definitely be to Another. The only difference being in the fact that Another had very saturated backgrounds and visuals to help enhance the theme and atmosphere of the show, while Mayoiga doesn't really have anything. As for the animation, it definitely reaches its peak about halfway through when they start showing us these giant CGI monsters. My personal favorite was the one-eyed furby penguin.
This isn't something I have ever payed much thought nor attention to before, but I feel like it needs to be addressed for this specific case. The utilization of the sound effects is legitimately some of the worst that I have ever witnessed in any sort of media. In particular, there is this sound effect that sounds like bones breaking and it is used way too often for things it shouldn't be. The opening is your typical J-pop kyaa uguu song and the ending isn't spectacular either. Mitsumune's seiyuu made me want to slit my throat multiple times during the duration of the series so I can at least vouch that it made an impression. OST is forgettable and misplaced in most instances, which makes me take it even less seriously than before, if that's even possible. Warui hippopotamusuuu, rururu ruru ru.
To quote a good friend, "It will be performed as an opera on the holodecks of the ships that disperse us into the highest of heavens. It all began... here. In this place, in this time, NOW. We were really all just clothed monkeys until Mayoiga allowed us to transcend our animalism. I shall sing its praises to all that shall come forth and be enlightened." With all of that being said, from a critical standpoint Mayoiga is just a complete and utter turd, give or take. It starts off as a bad series and devolves into something so horrid that not even the worst of plebs would dare poke with a 5-meter stick. So with your health in mind, even if you have some kind of morbid curiosity or are just an extreme masochist, this title should be proceeded with the utmost caution.
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Mar 27, 2016
Hai to Gensou no Grimgar (Anime) add
The occasional RPG setting within an anime isn't some new, revolutionary trend. Popularized by the underwhelming Sword Art Online, they seem to be popping up a lot more frequently than before and that isn't something I'm particularly fond of. This is mostly due to the lack of originality that comes with these works. To a novice, this idea may seem spectacular on it's own, but at this point, the same thing has been done over and over again and not once did I consider one of them to be good.
With that being said, I believe that this is quite close to the epitome of ... what an anime should not be - from the embarrassingly awful execution to the completely obnoxious and meaningless characters. It honestly baffles me that some people see this title as average, yet alone good. From the legendary A-1 Pictures who've produced such magnificent works of art such as - Sword Art Online, The Asterisk War, The Perfect Insider, Fairy Tail, every single bad light novel adaptation and many more mind-boggling series for our entertainment over the years, comes the awe-inspiring Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash.
So the story takes place in a videogame setting, a town called Grimgar and it follows our protagonists as they each individually grow as people, go through hardships together and face the cruel reality that 10 of them can't kill 1 retarded goblin. This is not an exaggeration, our protagonists are so weak that it takes them 5 minutes to kill a single goblin. However, I thought this was a very interesting approach, as it obviously differs from the usual Jesus-kun format. Sadly, this doesn't last for long. There was no big transition in between their entire party not being able to kill a single goblin to them doing full-on raids versus an entire castle full of goblins. It just sort of happened overnight, I don't know.
While I did think it was a neat change, I see this argument used way too often. "Grimgar is special because its story is very realistic unlike the other RPG anime!" I think there is a fine line between realistic and different. A different approach doesn't mean the title is going to be good and this is what people tend to be missing. If it really wanted to be that realistic then it should have cut down a bit on stuff such as discussing a girl's breasts in front of her for 3 minutes straight. Here lies the thesis and basically anything the positive reviews ever say about this show. I wouldn't be surprised if eventually people started calling it a deconstruction of the RPG genre for this sole fact.
The world of Grimgar itself is for the most part very uninteresting and leaves a lot to be desired. It is barely touched upon within the first 2 episodes in some hasty introduction to the basics and the rest of the series is action-driven and focuses more so on the characters. All we know is that there are normal townsfolk and these adventurers who have to fight off goblins in order to survive. We don't know anything about the town, we don't know anything about the goblins, etc. Basically we don't really know much of anything and it would of definitely been better if they tried to implement some sort of interesting lore and went more in detail since it just felt lazy on it's own. Not that I find RPG settings to be particularly interesting anyway but yeah, the worldbuilding was bad.
Some people may tell you that this anime is simply not for you though, due to it's slow pacing which a shonen fanboy such as yourself cannot appreciate. As a fan of shows that take their time in properly developing it's world, themes and characters, I can safely say that Grimgar left me disappointed. It really did not have to be as slow as it was. It just felt like a mere blunder on the production staff's side, rather than a necessity for good development. So even if you do prefer slower paced stuff, I can't really guarantee you'll enjoy Grimgar.
So instead of filling up the weaknesses of the show, they go ahead and introduce irrelevant plotpoints such as: none of the characters having their memories from the real world. I thought this was incredibly useless and stupid, what would knowing anything change? Was this implemented in here just so they could have an easy way out of dealing with character backstories? It is shown early on that none of their items from the real world are transported here to begin with, so why bother? Actually why even bother making the setting a game? Why not just some fantasy world? It's because A-1 knows the demographic it's appealing to far too well.
Okay, gotta give credit where credit is due. The artstyle used in Grimgar is very original and nice, with a watercolor/painterly feel to it. This was definitely a breath of fresh air due to how bland I thought most of the art in these recent seasons looked like so a change of pace was much appreciated. The backgrounds look especially nice, as if you're looking at a painting of some sort. The animation is alright and it clearly excels when the girls' tits bounce. You can just see how much time and effort was put into those jiggles.
Unlike the art and animation, the sound isn't anything spectacular. Sure, you've got some good songs thrown in there, but for every good song you have the same amount of poor utilization and engrish vocals. This is quite a problem as Grimgar tries rather hard to make you emotionally invested, and when such scenes came along, they mostly felt underwhelming due to the mediocre musical direction. For a series that takes itself seriously, I thought the voice acting was rather lackluster. None of the performances stand out and most are just borderline annoying. The only decent performances were Yume, Mary and Haruhiro (although this is probably my bias due to his role as Shichika in Katanagatari).
All aboard the cringe train. This is no doubt the worst part about Grimgar, showing further how A-1 has no clue how to make decent or even half-decent characters. This luckily changes as the series progresses but I still felt like touching upon it - every character interaction between members of the opposite sex has sexual themes or implications in it which makes me wonder if the writer is out of his early teens yet. Adding on to this, it is very impressive when in the first scene of the series it is able to portray the females as useless and clumsy damsels in distress, unable to do anything on their own apart from scream and cry until their beta-male white knight companions come to the rescue. This makes for some of the cringiest scenes I have ever seen, like talking about Shihoru's breasts for a good 3-5 minutes.
You could say that this is just taking the easy route since no matter how bad the actual series in question may be, it's bound to garner some sort of audience. However, I still feel as though it is a very big problem and is ultimately what a lot of modern anime suffer from. While I guess that it just knows what demographic it's appealing to and it's not so bad on it's own, it also means that we have to depend on the male cast to be good or get the proper development. Feel free to take a guess on how it's handled in Grimgar. Yes, not very good...
A lot of people would argue this point because of how well developed they all become upon facing loss! No! The characters can grieve all they want but it won't make them more likable or realistic. Coping with sadness is a great characterization tool if utilized properly and on good characters, but despite these characters being borderline terrible, they barely develop! Most of the characters don't even have a personality that defines them to begin with, apart from Ranta. And, well.. Ranta is just Ranta.
For example, one of the characters was only memorable for his death, nothing else. They didn't even bother to make us feel anything for the character, he was just a bland teenager who got killed off in order to "develop" everyone else. You aren't supposed to remember a character for their death, you're supposed to remember them by their life and their accomplishments BEFORE their death. The drama also felt awfully forced and doesn't work 90% of the time. " Hey guys, let's go to that place where most of Mary's party got brutally murdered which left her scarred for life :D :D :D Oh Mary why u mad bro?? "
I giggled a couple of times when the goblins were screeching so I guess some enjoyment was to be had. Sadly it was all just nullified by Ranta and the female cast's cleavage. The pacing also played a key factor in this but it did get noticeably better as the series went along. Despite this, it is not an exaggeration to say that I was forcing myself through most of the show as in the end, Grimgar struck me as incredibly bland and boring.
This is a series that had a lot of initial potential and sounded pretty good on paper but A-1 went the wrong way of doing it. Especially if the characters were handled properly, Grimgar could of been the highpoint of the RPG genre, covering stuff like how detrimental loss can be in some cases. Sadly, the script looks like something from an otaku's basement, the pacing and execution are incredibly poor and the characters are very bland, uninteresting and have no defining personality.
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Mar 24, 2016
Boku dake ga Inai Machi (Anime) add
It's becoming more apparent to me by each passing season that if an anime gets any sort of recognition like this, it's bound to divide the community into 2 groups. The majority goes on to ride the hype train and hype the series in question up to the high heavens, while the other hops onto the hate train and then the shit-fest begins. I usually see myself not siding with any of these but frankly, the latter seems more reasonable to me than it ever was. I'll try to offer an unbiased opinion on this even though seeing its rating is kinda baffling. So let's ... get into it, the most hyped up anime of the season and quite possibly the most overrated anime of the year (I'm asking to get shot, aren't I?) - Boku dake ga Inai Machi, otherwise known simply as Erased. This review won't spoil anything beyond the first episode.
The story centers around a 29 year old emo Pizza Hut employee who is trying to become a mangaka. On the other hand, he also has a reset power, "Revival", that occurs a few minutes before an accident, lending him the ability to stop said accident before it ever takes place. So yeah, he's basically a Final Destination lead. One day, while stopping an accident from happening he gets injured and in that time his mother moves in to live with him. The next day in Satoru's absence, his mother is stabbed in the back and killed in his apartment by some random guy with a fedora. Do you see the problem here? I said the next day which is quite literally the next day. We don't even get a full episode to get to know or sympathize with this character. Instead we just know her for half of the first episode until she is brutally murdered. Oh no, it's almost like Attack on Titan. Who didn't cry at the first episode of Attack on Titan?!
Anyway, we don't know the man who did it nor do we know his intentions. When Satoru arrives to the crime scene, someone conveniently finds him next to his mother's corpse with blood on his hands. Everything is going downhill for Satoru as the police arrives when he is suddenly, out of nowhere sent 18 years into the past to the year 1988, which at the time he was merely a 10 year old elementary school student. It definitely isn't too far of a stretch to say this is a lame plot device at this point, especially now that he has no control over it. Also, I'd like to mention how further down the line Satoru says that it will be his last Revival. So how does this thing work? Plot convenience, duh.
Prior to this it is also shown that a few kids from Satoru's school were murdered at that time period, namely our loli heroine, Kayo Hinazuki. Hinazuki was a troubled and lonely girl who never got along with anyone and was often abused by her mother. Satoru decides that as well as preventing his mother's death, he will also save Hinazuki before her birthday which is on the 2nd of March. Considering it's already mid February he doesn't have much time. The accused murderer of these kids was 23 year old Jun Shiratori or known to the children simply as Yuuki due to his courageous nature. He was a person who would always approach the lone students around his house, which already raises a giant red flag. However, Satoru always remembered Yuuki to be a kindhearted and happy guy who would never commit a crime.
So obviously the show's primary element is mystery, which I have mixed feelings about. If the mystery is done well it can really lead to a great series, but that usually isn't very easy to pull off and more often that not it just falls flat. The worst mistake a mystery series can make in my eyes is when it raises so many questions but in the end fails to answer them, or maybe just leave it off at a cliffhanger like Rokka no Yuusha. Erased done well in that aspect, seeing as it didn't raise that many questions to begin with. See, what I think is the main problem in Erased's mystery department is the amount of suspects it brings up, or lack thereof. 4 episodes in I was pretty confident in my guess on who the killer was as it was so easy to trace back once you actually think about it. I would of been surprised if my guess was wrong to be totally honest, and that's not because I'm some sort of super-genius.
I seem to have a very obvious bias when it comes to works done by A-1 Pictures. I thought the art style resembled their previous works too strongly and therefore it derived from the series for me as it didn't strike me as dark enough in tone, especially for the kind of series Erased is. So, much like the opening and ending, the art and animation slowly grew on me the further it went on. It's very soothing and visually appealing. Combined with a decent musical direction and atmosphere it even felt cinematic at times.
I wasn't a very big fan of the opening at first to be honest but it gradually grew on me and is easily the best opening of the season and even one of my all-time favorites. That also applies to the ending, it's neat too. As for the OST, I'm indifferent about it. There wasn't anything that struck me as good or above average, it all just felt like regular background music to me but it does it's role, for what it's worth. The voice acting is rather impressive as everyone had a great performance. Seeing as both of Satoru's seiyuu never done any previous work, regarding anime at least impressed me quite a bit. I especially like the guy that does the adult version, his voice is very soothing. Aoi Yuuki was also really good at portraying Hinazuki's character but that is to be expected.
The characters in Erased are for the most part incredibly lackluster - from the protagonist to the supporting cast. Because most of the series takes place in the past, a lot of the characters are just 10 year olds, which leads me to my next point - Most of these kids don't even act their age! At parts they act like full-grown adults which really derives from the show, why even bother making them kids in the first place? Looking at you, Kenya, Hinazuki.
Satoru, while being more interesting than your harem protagonist doesn't have that much going for him, which is fine to a point because the characters aren't really where the series shines but his character could have definitely been more solid or maybe had a stronger personality. He doesn't seem like he particularly enjoys the time resets, but he still decides to help out. What a nice guy! The series has a much heavier focus on the past than the present, so for the most part we just get kid Satoru. Well, he's just a normal 30 year old man who's trying to save his 10 year old girlfriend from her seemingly inevitable demise. Sounds about right.
Hinazuki is a very reserved and closed off girl but she opens up more and more as the series progresses. She gets abused by her parents for some unknown reason aka SHOCK FACTORRRRR. She suffers from the same problem as Satoru, as she doesn't have a personality that defines her either. Instead (for the most part) we are simply supposed to feel sorry for her and like her because of the predicament she's in. She is pretty cute though - good character.
The supporting cast is also very lacking, filled with 1-dimensional characters. The reasoning of a lot of characters can be pretty unreasonable and even ludicrous at times - people getting divorced because of a chocolate bar, etc. Then you have characters like Hinazuki's mother who, every time she is on screen tends to turn this show into a misery porn galore.
Kenya is another instance of wasted potential. They done as much as they could to make us understand that he is incredibly intelligent and by the end of it all, he barely does anything and his character is awfully utilized. I feel the same way about the killer as I've heard his reasoning is a lot clearer and better explained in the manga. It's not that surprising though as they did try to bash 8 volumes into a 12 episode series. All in all, the characters aren't done very well.
I can sit here all I want and point out the flaws of the show, but truth be told, I had quite a lot of fun with it! I think this is mostly due to how the pacing was handled as it is very fast for pretty much the entirety of the series, yet tends to not feel rushed for the majority of the first half. Only at about the halfway point does the pacing start to affect my outlook on it and turns for the worst. Despite this, I was still entertained for most of the show. The two major downfalls here are the tremendous amount of plot conveniences all throughout the story and the (in my opinion) poorly done mystery.
Erased is mediocre in every sense of the word. Despite that, I'd still argue that it's one of the better titles of the season. Does it deserve the hype, praise and to be ranked higher than LotGH? NO. The characters are awfully lackluster + the story is not that great as it has to rely on an iffy plot device and a ton of plot conveniences throughout. I wanted to say that it has more good than bad but A-1 stayed true to their nature and managed to ruin a promising show for me, once again.
In the end, I don't think Erased is neither as good as some praise it to be nor as bad as others make it out to be, it's simply average. It's like a rollercoaster and the further you go down, the messier it becomes. However, if you're not a critical watcher and just want to have some fun, Erased is definitely your go-to this season.
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