On paper, Fall 2021 is a stacked season if you enjoy original shows with cool action, robots and unique art styles - but then you actually watch them. You dig through the likes of Sakugan, takt.op, AMAIM, Muvluv and Ranking of Kings, desperately hoping they live up to their promotional materials. And then of course, none of them do (except for Kings, watch Kings). AMAIM is boring, takt.op is a cheap mobage ad, Sakugan is ~aight~ and Muvluv is about as good as its source material.
So you quadruple check anichart for anything else to watch and you stumble upon "denchi goober gakku saigo shoujo desu"
or whatever word salad MAL has this series listed as, and your eyes snap open, and you realize that this show delivers where multiple of the above failed.
Let's dive into RUMBLE GARANNDOLL - this show's actual name.
Rarely do you see a series that's so lovingly crafted and fun to watch, yet so completely under the radar and underrated to match. And not only that, it has numerous aspects of other, more popular Fall anime, but does each and every one of them better.
You want a robot war show about a divided Japan? Fuck AMAIM, watch Rumble.
You want an action series about a dysfunctional duo working together in a post-apocalyptic future? Fuck takt.op, watch Rumble.
You want a wholly original property with fun characters and world design? Fuck Sakugan, watch Rumble. (But also still probs watch sakugan it's ok)
You want a show that feels like it's a VN/game adaptation (but isn't!!)? fuck takt.op again, and also Muvluv. Watch Rumble.
You just want a good, energetic super robot show for the first time in years(besides Dynazenon)? Watch Rumble.
Do you want to see what Franxx would've been like if it weren't a fucking embarrassment? Watch Rumble.
At this point it's no secret that I'm a big fan of Rumble Garanndoll, the show that has two N's in its name just to look like Gurren Lagann. It could be because it fits my tastes like a glove, it could be because it's directly competing with similar-but-mediocre shows. Or it could be because it's actually a pretty darned good show. Probably a bit of all three.
Rummby Garanndy draws a fine line between outright parody and earnest story. This is by design. The series takes place in a ruined Japan that is sharply divided between two factions: Fantasy and Truth - with the Fantasy army being based in Akihabara and run by cosplaying nerds, fighting against the militaristic and overly serious Truth army based out of Odaiba (who are also honestly a bunch of nerds). I'm not making this up. Our main character, who is an in-debt goober working at a Host club (like a brothel, but for girls who just want handsome guys to fake-enjoy talking to them), gets swept up in this conflict and now has to reconcile his extreme cynicism and fight on the side of Fantasy.
He ends up paired with an extreme tokusatsu (Kamen Rider) fanatic, and they pilot a robot together. The catch? The robot is powered by his partner's passion, and its his job to keep her energy up. To do that, our main boy has to stop being such a wet blanket who thinks "waa this is so dumb and corny."
There are some obvious themes here, and the series very much knows what it's doing. It's a show about liking what you like, and being proud if it. Being happy about it. Relearning that passion you had as a kid, when you weren't an wageslave who guzzles down isekai shows and booze in your free time. Yeah, you.
It's got some real heart to it.
Grand Rambo's cast is a stand-out of the year. Everyone is fun and cool. Everyone's designs are cool.
HOSOMICHI: Works as a glorified male stripper. He has crushing debt and two personalities - one where he takes his glasses off and turns into a disingenuous faker bishounen, and glasses-on - his true self who is very cynical. Will he reconcile what was probably a disappointing childhood?
HOSOMICHI'S YAKUZA WHO WILL KILL HIM IF HE DOESN'T PAY UP: Playing the role of Hoso's only "friend" on this earth, is this guy. He loves money and pushes our boy into being a robot pilot because it pays well, so he can be paid. Will he come to value Hoso as an actual friend, or sell him down the river?
RIN: Hoso's first partner and my wife. A total fan of heroes and robots. Her entire goal in life is to rediscover a boxset of her favorite show, content that's disappeared ever since the world got blowed up. Her energy is unmatched. Will she help pry the stick out of Hoso's ass?
YUKI: Hoso's second partner and Japan's ~ final idol ~. Unlike Rin who wears her heart on her sleeve, Yuki has two personalities just like our MC - One the cute rabbit idol girl, the other a savvy, angry businesswoman.
THE FANTASYBROS: The rest of the heroes' organization is fun too, but I'm tired of typing. There are no "blank npc" characters in this series - if they have a speaking line, they have a design and a memorable personality.
THE TRUTHERS: There's a squad of four Truth Army generals who battle our heroes - as noted above they're all very fun because every character is fun. Ninja girl. Army wife. Etc. These characters honestly barely seem "evil" in the traditional sense, so one has to wonder if there will be a mid-season team up.
Rumpus Gumpus is a very nice-looking show that actually blends its CG mecha and 2D characters extremely well. It's amazing what happens when your staff knows what they're doing. The robots are all rendered in a chibi style with big heads and all, which may be off-putting to some at a glance, but it fits the tongue-in-cheek nature of the series.
The character designs are detailed and colorful. Unlike say, Pride of Orange, you won't ever being confusing the characters for one another. Everyone has unique silhouettes and color pallets, even the characters who are dressed identically - almost like the artists on the show know their fundamentals or something. Also the girls are cute and a cut above most anime so you would think degens would love this show.
The action has been executed well, if sparsely, and it's paired with the moment-by-moment animation actually being good and fun to watch. Unlike a show like takt.op which goes from "characters with NPC designs standing still on screen flapping their mouths" to "4K 60fps laser lightshow", this Rumble is actually enjoyable at all time with smart direction, scene composition, cuts, etc.
The opening is a fuckin bop. The insert music is great. It has eyecatches before the commercial break. It does the Transformers/GI Joe thing there the armies' logos appear on screen and do a flippy to change scenes. Sometimes it omits the OP or ED to fit more content into the episode itself. It's a work of love.
I love it. I love this show, because I love shows that feel like they're made by people who give a shit, have something to say, and actually enjoy what they're making. You get that from Rumble. Every episode is presented to you by people who love what they made, who want you to see it.
Feb 16, 2021
Alright kids, gather 'round. I'm about to force-feed you some hard truths.
1. Back Arrow is the best anime this season. (well actually that's probably wonder egg but let's ignore that)
2. Back Arrow will be Anime of the Year.
3. You're making a face right now because you're like 14.
Now that your mental markets have been adjusted, let's dig in.
Imagine for a moment, a 24-episode series with a plot that has a beginning, middle and ending. The show has fighting robots and all the characters don't share the same face. It's not based on a light novel, or even a manga or mobage. It's genuinely funny and ... doesn't wear out its welcome. It takes place in an actual setting with some world building, and not isekailand. The characters change over time instead of sticking with the same roles and personalities they had in episode 1.
Does that sound weird to you? Can you name other recent series that fall under that criteria? Because I definitely fucking can't. (Outside of really awful Netflix series? Sword Gai??) Believe it or not, young reader, that the the above was actually the norm for a lot of anime back in the dadime boomer times of 2005. You'd get whole-ass shows that were entirely or mostly original, ran for a half a year (or sometimes, a whole year!) and had lots of thought put into some weirdo scifi or fantasy universe. Sometimes you'd get a GunXSword or a Scryed or an Infinite Ryvius, and be like "whoa 10/10" and other times you'd get Heroic Age, Glass Fleet or some total garbo made by Gonzo, but at least they *tried*.
Times have changed, and Back Arrow is the ghost of a bygone era of long-form original action series. Penned by the dudes who gave us Gurren Lagann and Scryed (also code geass i guess), it's a cozy experience for old people and obviously very confusing for the type of person who has SAO rated above a 4/10 on their list. This was also seen when it came to other recent originals like Akudama Drive, an objectively great and fun series that absolutely befuddled the dumbest among us. Same with Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. Same with Planet With. Same with Active Raid. It was also the same with Symphogear, but that series stuck around long enough to loop back around into popularity once people started memeing it. All great shows with original ideas and great execution, brought down to 6/10 MAL scores because they weren't similar enough to current trends (and ironically, all are often lambasted here as "unoriginal").
Okay now let's talk about the show itself.
Back Arrow is about a guy named Back Arrow and the things that Back Arrow does. Galaxy brain shit, right? Well, the series opens with some VERY COMPLEX exposition which blew many MAL users' brains wide open, but the show is literally "the world is two warring factions and they're both surrounded by a godly-tall wall." That's it, that's the universe we're in. In a twist, Back Arrow falls the fuck outta the sky and his damaged brain tells everyone that he's from beyond the god wall, but doesn't remember much else. Everyone is mad and incredulous about this, and thus everyone on the planet is suddenly paying attention to him. Cue conflict.
Enter the BIND WARPERS: dumb bracelets that let you manifest your CONVICTION into a giant robot. Much like ganmen, goku uniforms, Alters, etc, these are the engine through which all the conflict happens - where the characters literally fight using things constructed from their personalities. It's a very familiar trope if you've seen anything else by this writer and director, and it's great and an easy guarantee that a lot of the action in this show will deliver on compelling drama at the same time. Of course, the twist is that Back Arrow has black spots on his brain and has no convictions, so he basically has infinite power.
It's a very stupid series. After a handful of buildup episodes, it hits a strong stride of nonstop nonsense around episode 8 and never really stops. Episodes will introduce and resolve world-redefining concepts in minutes, and twists will happen inexplicably and without giving you time to process.The best part is that it all feels intentional. At least it's not boring!
but yeah this show is going to end in a really big stupid space battle where everyone on the planet pools their conviction to kill god or something. bookmark this review.
Let's talk about the CHARACTERS.
Back Arrow is the rare ~serious~ modern anime where every character seems to actually enjoy being in the show, and you enjoy seeing them in the show. It's a stage play. It's a cartoon. Big personalities doing dumb shit to each other and having a good time. There's no one who shows up on screen in Back Arrow who makes you go "jesus christ stop talking."
You have the titular Arrow man himself, who is just an all-around cool dude. The backbone of the show's plot is figuring out his true identity, and he keeps us entertained in the meantime.
Then you have green wife and orange wife - the two lead girls of the show. They're great. Green girl is your secondary main fighter of the series, basically Arrow's sidekick. She actually does stuff occasionally! And orange waifu is the defacto leader, as everyone else is kind of a moron; she's very Bulma-esque. Eventually they're both more or less irrelevant, but what can you do?
Then you have Bit, who is a total dipshit comic relief character to round out the central four and is obviously set up to have the most growth over the course of the show. Even more than Arrow, seeing where he goes is a draw for me.
These characters a couple other bumpkins are all from some dumpass Wild Arms village. They're poor and eat rocks for dinner. They're your protagonists.
(There's also a fifth good guy named Werner who is probably the worst, dumbest character I've seen in any show in years - honestly it's incredible. His whole arc is amazing. Bit is nowhere near the comic relief that Werner is.)
Then you've got the REKKA EMPIRE - they're Chinese, run by one of the hammiest old man villains of all time. This Master Asia meets Palpatine. Our second set of main characters live here: KAI: The super robot protagonist with a neck as thick as your mom's thighs. Great dude.
SHU BI: The genius chaos memelord and Kai's brother. Great dude. Best character in the show.
And Ren. She's the only serious character in the show, that's the joke. Sexy, angry ninja who eats turkey legs.
Finally, we have the LUTOH somethingorother to round things out. This place is run by a Lacus Clyne-type princess, and her senior advisors who all hate her and are snakes. A fun dynamic. She has an Utena bodyguard named BRATTY PRAX who makes up for the two main girls being less than stellar fighters.
honestly the show looks like shit most of the time, but whatever lol
Ironically, a lot of people in the MAL threads think it looks good, which it definitely does if you're ranking up against shows like Bofuri, but it's obvious this series was made on a dinky budget and is only executing like 40% of its potential. It's easy to compare it to GunXSword, a series by the same director and a similar setting and premise, and see the difference in the number of complex props, characters, locales, etc they spent time on. The animation quality is also not great. Backgrounds? Bare as heck. Better than pretty much every isekai? God absolutely.
I still very much like the Wild Arms-esque aesthetic, and they put the money where it counts. Experienced showrunners can make due, and they did.
The soundtrack is aight. It could be more pronounced, it's just kinda there. Everyone also likes the OP/EDs, and it's one of the rare occasions where the second OP/ED are actually a step up in music quality.
Back Arrow is the epitaph written on the grave of better times. It's a show that really just wants to have a good time, and that's exactly what it's doing. It promises 6 months of escalating drama, twists and ridiculous hijinks, and I'm betting hard that it's going to deliver.
Also, watch GunXSword and Active Raid, they're great too.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Dec 25, 2020
On its surface, Akudama Drive is a highly entertaining, entirely original, very well-produced action series with great pacing and nonstop fun from start to finish. Underneath the hood though, it's a highly entertaining, entirely original, very well-produced action series with great pacing and nonstop fun from start to finish. This enraged and confused me for 12 straight weeks.
Let's dive into this affront to God and Miyazaki.
The story is just a confusing mess. It's about a bunch of characters having a single objective and going from point A to point B, followed by some twists and betrayals, until the characters develop in a dynamic way ... and the show had a clear, definitive climax and ending. It lost me so many times and is much different from what I'm used to.
When I watch anime, I have some expectations, and this series met none of them.
Where are the 10 girls with one-dimensional, yet endearing personalities?
Why is the main character a girl? Where is the hapless male? Why is she able to do things and say things that affect the plot? How can I relate to such a character? I'm not a girl! I just want them to talk to and sometimes worship a MALE lead which is a stand-in for ME.
This takes place in a weird, unique setting. But you never see the protagonists die IRL and reincarnate. Where do they come from??? Why is there so much detail put into the world when a medieval town in a grassy field would have been fine?
Why did it have an ending? It makes me depressed when series end and I much prefer when the anime gets canceled and leads me to the much lewder light novel, which are usually still running. Why was the ending so definitive? I can't get attached to characters if they only exist for 12 episodes.
The animation moves too fast! There are a lot of fights in this show, which distracts from the scenes I come to anime for: Characters in 3/4ths perspective staring into side of the screen and moving their mouths. These fights take place in all kinds of locales and between a dozen characters that all have varied skill sets and motivations. I found it very confusing. This is why modern anime quantifies characters' powers in easy-to-understand video game terms like "Fire level 90". In Drive, the character "Brawler" uses his fists to fight. I wish they had given him a proper name that reflects his role in the story, like Aqua in Konobubba, who has water for brains. I don't get what "Brawler" insinuates, the game it references came out like 15 years ago.
There are also many scenes in the series that utilize weird lighting and all sorts of visual affects like lasers. This is of course terrible, since the WHOLE REASON fights in anime WORK is because the characters do cool jutsus on green and blue daytime backgrounds. It's so you can SEE what's happening and not get distracted by how detailed everything is.
The opening theme to Akudama Drive is neither idol pop nor J-Rock. Instead, it decided to try and be "something else" - I don't know how to describe it since the former are the only two musical genres I'm familiar with. Similarly, the background themes are loud and thumping medleys that match the tense action scenes, making them even more anxiety-inducing.
The voices in both English and Japanese value matching the characters' personalities which is not a good sacrifice when they could have hired seiyuus who could SING.
As mentioned above, the characters are a varied team of miscreants with wildly different goals and personalities and I fucking hate it. These personalities come through in their voices, their actions, their food choices, everything. All of this is in complete disservice to being a good show with a simple cast. There are only two or three girls in this show, for one, and none of them faun over or even pay attention to a central male lead. They all have "archetypes", but there is no Ara Ara girl, no tsundere, no lewd loli, no yandere, no idol, NOTHING. Completely unwatchable.
Instead you get these jokers:
SWINDLER: The main character. A girl. And not a reincarnated one like Tanya the Evil. I can't relate to female characters. She also has full agency and drastically affects the story and other characters multiple times. I cannot relate to this person.
COURIER: The male main character. He says curse words and has a magic motorcycle that can do ANYTHING. Why didn't they give him fire magic or a sword?
HACKER: This character is a racist depiction of Gamers. They don't know who they're messing with to tarnish gamers like this. I would never commit a crime.
BRAWLER: I still don't understand this character even after the end of the show. His motivations are never made clear. He's a big muscle dude who serves as an engine for all the show's best fight sequences and overall it would have been better if he were a more relatable character and/or a girl, like Stella Vermillion or Darkness.
DOCTOR: A waifu!! The saving grace of this series. Or, she would have been. Sadly this is a femdom fetish character, which is not one of my kinks. It's also really dumb when she starts having a big impact on the plot later in the show, taking away opportunities for her to be more subservient.
HOODLUM: This guy should have been the main character, but I'm glad he wasn't - he's too over the top and funny. He has all the things I like in an anime protag: useless, unintelligent, beta (like me), but he constantly ruins it by having a strong, likable presence. He would never work in a REAL anime, where the guy is more subdued and cool.
CUTTHROAT: ANOTHER character who would have been way better as a girl. He's basically Kaguya-sama. I'm not into yaoi though, so.
THE EXECUTIONERS: These badguys serve only to deliver conflict in the story. Why did the story need conflict? Why can't the characters just beat mobs of faceless enemies? I don't want to think about what characters I like when they start fighting. Also one of them looks like Kakashi from Boruto.
Enough said. Too fast. Too extra. Too entertaining. I can't browse the boorus while watching this series. When held against the standards of actual anime that we're all used to (isekais, girl ensemble shows), this series just doesn't stack up. You will never like this show, unless you're a psycho who wants a well-crafted action series that stands out from the rest of the NORMAL anime that came out this year.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Aug 26, 2020
Today I'm breaking my review hiatus to talk about a series no one gives a shit about: Boner Collection. One of the only readable series running in the dying Shonen Jump magazine, it was the rare exorcist manga that had any merit at all. Sadly, it's canceled and dead now, and let these words be its epitaph.
Boner Collection is about some dingus who meets the best and most attractive girl in the universe, Paira. He's an exorcist, she's a demon. It's Romeo & Juliet. He gets powers from pulling weapons out of her bones, like swords, sniper rifles and Nintendo consoles. Once he pulls out ... all 200+ of her bones, she gets to become human, presumably because Earth has more Chads to ride. It's a fun story in the usually cancerous romcom genre.
Did I mention that Paira is best girl? I usually don't say that shit but damn she is the greatest. People rip on her for being a mutation of some character named Lum from some series no one cares about in 2020, but oddly enough those same people have no issue with nearly every other SJ girl being a hapless idiot and every male being a copypasted archetype from Dragonball or Naruto.
People also tear into the art. They're wrong, of course. How do I know this? Because I am the most discerning person on the planet when it comes to comic art and I quite liked the visuals here. When people rip on the art, you can write off their opinions forever. They just wanted the series to look more generic, and if some YouTuber told them to like this series, they wouldn't have anything to say about it.
Even though the series is only 15 chapters long and was rushed into an ending, it felt oddly on-brand since the whole thing was kind of a jokey shitpost to begin with. I enjoyed the ending and the series even had a full epilogue with resolutions for every character. It didn't get enough time in the middle there to really explore the themes of prejudice between demons and humans, but that's all boring and predictable content anyway.
So yeah, the series is funny, the characters entertaining, and it had some good ideas. It's a shame about the name.
Take the hour out of your day to read Boner Collection and grieve with me.
Because there will never be Paira doujins.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Jan 30, 2020
Let's go on an adventure. Let's do it for the fourth fucking time since that's how many times I've had to post this review without it getting deleted. Thank you to the 3 people who will read this and hit the upvote button.
Eizouken is the rare kind of series that kindles or rekindles your love for creativity and animation in general. It's the sort of work that introduces its characters and concepts with such freshness and enthusiasm that you get absorbed into - it grabs your hand and says "we're going on a fucking ride, are you ready to have fun?" and then before you ... know it, you've logged into your MyAnimeList accountf or the first time in a year just tell everyone else that they're coming too.
The elevator pitch isn't unheard of: a bunch of kids get together to make the medium that you're currently watching. The twist? Masaki Yuasa is directing it. If you haven't seen Ping Pong, Devilman Crybaby, Night is Short Walk on Girl or Lu Over the Wall, then you've done yourself a great disservice, because I'm confident that that loopy man is one of the only people carrying this medium. While people like Makoto Shinkai are effectively the Tyler Perry of anime, Yuasa isn't afraid to be bold, personal and aesthetically fresh, and all of his best traits shine through here.
Eizouken is about three girls who are making an anime. They're real girls with real interests, character designs and agency, rather than the hapless, recycled uguu harem goblins who exist only to sell hug pillows and onaholes. This basic twist is incredibly refreshing and immediately sets it apart from every show I've seen in the last few years. Their personalities are made clear to you immediately, and dictate all of their actions in every scene. One is a jittery otaku concept artist and her best friend is an impossibly tall girl with an extreme sense for business. Together they meet an affluent, aspiring animator and off they go. Each one has clear, established intentions and goals and you're never once bored or bewildered why one of them did a little finger dance while eating a pastry and losing their clothes, or whatever it is anime girls do.
Perhaps the most stunningly beautiful show this season (and probably year), the backgrounds are draw with a great level of detail and care, the bizarre school the story takes place in effectively becoming the fourth major character. It reminds me a lot of Tekkonkinkreet - you see the little bits of rust on the guardrails and the nonsensical layouts of the wiring and airducts in every scene. The characters are animated fluidly and are very expressive. Overall it's pretty reminiscent of Yuasa's other works, with a little bit of a whimsical, water colory flair.
The show goes into detail about the different terms and processes of making anime, without resorting to dry info dumps. Concepts are brought up naturally and via the characters' enthusiasm and are supported by the animation style changing to illustrate not just what's being talked about, but what the characters are feeling while they do it. It's truly wild, and you will see this trio set off and create something amazing, literally right before your eyes. This is not a 'process' show like Bakuman, it's far more like more fantastical parts of The Wind Rises, where characters step in and out of reality.
Eizouken doesn't tell you about the ride, or have the characters simply build the ride in front of you. It is the ride, and you are here to join the characters on their journey.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Jan 27, 2020
Do you know what the best anime movie of the last couple years is? I'll give you a hint: it's nothing by Makoto Shinkai, the Tyler Perry of anime. It's probably this one.
Let's talk about anime movies for a second. There are three kinds of original anime movies:
B. Over-produced trashy teen romances for the lowest common denominator that could've been live action
C. The rare, totally stand-alone anime film that dares to take full advantage of the medium and delivers art, animation and story concepts that would've never been possible in a TV series format.
This movie, MFKZ, is solidly in group C. This ... is a Movie with a bold, capital M, and it's one of my biggest contenders for favorite movie of last year. Not just anime movie, not just animated movie, favorite Movie. It's bold, insane, beautiful, fun and encapsulates everything cool about anime and animation in general. It's fucking awesome. Of course, only like 10 people know it exists.
However, maybe that will change because it's ~ ~ NOW ON NETFLIX ~ ~, and this review is goin' up to tell you why you should watch it like two or eight times.
Let's dig in.
MFKZ is a Japanese movie that is based on a French comic, based heavily around American culture and mythos - There's really nothing else like it, it is a wholly unique experience in this dead-dry industry full of perpetual garbage that's spun off or mutated from other garbage.
The first thing you notice in this weird mishmash of a visual feast is, well, the visuals. If you've seen the trailer, or even any screenshots, you'll notice that this movie doesn't look like anything else out there, except for Tekkonkinkreet, which you likely also haven't seen (but should.) Character designs vary wildly from realistically proportioned to being complete caricatures or talking animals. These designs all do something only animation can do: directly reflect the characters' personalities or just be generally absurd. This is all played completely straight - the main character's best friend has a flaming skull for a head, and this is acknowledged and played up in certain scenes, but there's never any "explanation" - he's just like that. Born that way. The characters' animations reflect their weird designs too. The main characters being like 2ft tall makes them more apt to
The show-stopper here though is the background artwork. Every scene in this movie is beautiful. Every single shot. Close up of dirty bathroom tile? Drawn by God damned Rembrandt. All the time. Every mundane thing is meticulously brought to life and depicted with personality in extreme detail.
And then when it's all combined together, you get one of the most fluidly animated, stylishly directed animated movies of all time. What Into the Spiderverse did for 3DCG movies, this film does for 2D. The ice cream truck chase (yes, correct) sequence alone redefined what I thought was possible in an animated sequence, featuring wild camera shifts, time slowdowns and speedups, and just all-around cooky action.
Next, I guess we can talk about the story. I've had friends and people on forums say to me that the story is confusing. This movie isn't that complicated: it's an action movie. The main kids beat up the bad guys and chase after the girl, it's very Hollywood Blockbuster Action. That summary is definitely a simplification, but MFKZ takes you through a pretty linear chain of events and explains everything to you as it happens. The insane visuals and the fact the movie doesn't spoonfeed this to you is where people are getting hung up. One of the cool things about this film is that the main characters are total losers - destitute, incompetent, weak everymen living in a bad apartment in a bad city. There are several other parties hunting them down and aiding them, and while our main boy is the catalyst for a lot of things, the bigger events that transpire barely involve him. He just gets hit by the dump truck from Sonic Adventure 2 and then dodges lunatics with bullets while fawning over a girl. That's him. Then you have the demons, the mafia hitmen, the scientist, the roaches, the Shakespearian gangman played by the RZA, and the fucking luchadores. They all sort of crash together to make the final act happen, and the main boy is just there, sorting out his literal personal demons, not there to save the world. It's refreshing and everything has a payoff, coming together seamlessly for a strong finale. I've seen much weirder, much worse in movies than this. MFKZ is very tight from start to finish, not a scene or shot is wasted and everything contributes to the narrative.
Last, let's have a look at the audio in this movie. The English voice cast, the only relevant voice cast, is just stellar. This movie was made to be in English, voiced by Americans. You have have a pretty strong who's who of famous TV actors filling out the cast, like villain dude from Breaking Bad and the guy from The Shield. Performances are stellar all around, delivering fun, witty dialogue that feels like real people are talking, rather than the usual Google Translated dub scripts. "Shinohara-san, will you go to the Obenkyo Dojaimazisu with me?" / "Nnn-hn! Y-yes, big brother, I will! It makes me so happy!" - no shit like that, you hear?
The soundtrack and general sound design are quite solid. Not a lot of memorable vocal BGM or anything, but sometimes you'll get an insane dubstep drop beat during an action sequence. Essentially, the sound in the movie is very much design to emphasize the action and mood, rather than be any kind of flashy distraction. It's a good, simple sauce on a complicated dish.
So yeah, go watch it. You probably have a couple months before it's arbitrarily rotated. And then go watch Promare, Lu Over the Wall, Night is Short Walk on Girl, Tekkonkinkreet, the works of Satoshi Kon, and all the other incredible original anime movies you slept on due to Director-san McSparkleskies hogging the spotlight.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Jan 12, 2018
Have you ever wondered what Kino's Journey would be like if it were garbage?
Well, look no further friend!
I shouldn't have to spell this out, but this is a review that draws heavily on comparing the two Kino anime. It is not an objective view of the 2017 anime alone. I would have found it boring and shitty regardless of the 2003 show's context, but then this review would lack the indignation of seeing everyone's favorite anime indie art film reduced to a cheap and casual throwaway series.
Are you new to Kino's Journey? Well lucky for you the whole original series is available on a number ... of streaming services for free and there's no need for you to waste your time here.
Memorize the phrase "boring and shitty", because that can be used to describe most of this tonally devoid, shallow, toothless, low IQ series.
Kino's Journey is the tale of a person named Kino who is on a Journey. WOW, right? But it's not a traditional adventure story, it's a much more philosophical one. Every few days Kino stops at a country for exactly three days, takes in the culture, and leaves. Every different country presents a different moral dilemma to consider, and Kino serves as an outsider looking in, generally choosing not to get wrapped up in their affairs, though sometimes it happens. You'll get presented with prompts that make you wonder about the nature of communication, humanity, society, free will, morality, etc and each adventure is a fable with a take-away. Like a demented book of fables, Kino shows us something about our world by exploring the one she lives in.
If that sounds great, this is not the series for you. Basically this adaptation is about one of the girls from K-On! scooting around shooting people with a psychotically apathetic smile on her face, presented in the most boring ways possible.
The original Kino's Journey introduced us to Kino, the philosophical nature of her Journey, and the shit she has to go through and how she copes with it.
This adaptation opens with Kino eating cake and then some guy gets murdered, with the moral of the story being "if everyone owned a gun, society would be peaceful" and that's about it. Kino then goes to a place and kills a bunch of people for the sake of testing her skills and avenging a character we're never introduced to. She never shows emotion and seems completely disinterested in everything that's happening around her. She has no established rules or moral code and by episode three she's a traveling murderer and not much else can be derived from her time on screen.
THE ART and ANIMATION:
The original Kino was low-budget for sure, it was indie as hell. But it had incredible direction and cinematography to make up for it. The series original series is moody, tense, eerie and kind of surreal. It sticks out even today as something of visual interest.
This series looks like Sword Art Online. All the characters look the same. All backgrounds devoid of real detail. All colors are bright and cheery at all times. All camera angles are flat shots of talking heads or just panning shots of nothing. There is no cinematography going on here. Kino's bike is CGI because modern Japanese animators can't fucking draw, but they're also paid $500 a year, so who would want to?
The opening sequence is a poppy borefest of BIRDS BIRDS BIRDS because Kino said something about birds once. It's like this whole thing is directed by a high school student.
WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE?
The original series' music is pretty cool, with acoustic guitars and panflutes and one damned great OP.
This series has jpop. It's about as generic as an OST can get. It feels very upbeat at all times, no matter what's going on.
Kino here sounds kawaii. Her bike's voice actor sounds like, uh, Mechazawa from Cromartie High? Soothing and male? Originally the bike's voice was grainy and cynical-sounding, adding to the series' eerie atmosphere. In this one, the voice aligns with the series having no atmosphere at all, so I guess it's fitting.
All side characters sound as over-acted and generic as you could expect anime characters to sound. Kino's Journey has gone from one of the most off-beat Japanese properties to one of the most unimaginative and anemic.
ARE YOU JUST MAD THAT IT'S DIFFERENT?
No, I'm mad because it's shit.
2003 Fullmetal and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood are different series. They're both good and do different things with their different tones. One is a drama, the other is action shounen.
B-BUT THIS ONE IS MORE FAITHFUL TO THE SOURCE THAN THE ORIGINAL ANIME
I hate to break this to you bud, but the Kino novels are probably mostly crap, written by a hack, and the original anime's directors, writers and artists are what made the show memorable. I love Nightow, but no one wants a faithful Gungrave adaptation. It's the same situation here. The author supplied a cool character and premise, and people with more talent than he made Kino a franchise worth remembering. That's that.
This series has no tone. It's just bad and effortless. It's a lifeless application of "How to Make a Marketable Anime in 2017 in 5 Easy Steps" except they fucked it up because they applied it to Kino's Journey and not fantasy light novel #8473.
There's really nothing redeeming here.
Go watch the original.
Unless you're just into anime because you want something that looks the same as everything else you watch and have no interest in thinking or feeling any mild discomfort at all. Then yeah, watch this. I hate you though.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Nov 7, 2017
Reposting because I remembered that I once wrote a Valvrave review that was deleted for no reason.
Alright people, I've completed my viewing of the Spring '13 Mecha Trifecta. This trifecta is made up of Valvrave the Liberator, Majestic Prince and Gargantia. It's been over a year since I've found anything watchable, so I have high hopes.
The other two are great. Will they remain great? Who knows, but I can assure you that this show is awful and only makes the other two look much better by comparison, and it will stay that way.
Valvrave is a mecha anime that follows the formula in all ... the laziest ways possible, and is bogged down with Sunrise's astounding incompetence. You can pretty much use shows like this and Sacred Seven next to things like 08th MS Team and Scryed and say with a definite that this studio has no goddamn clue what they're doing anymore.
The show is about a teenage betamale who gets caught up in a war between space factions on his little neutral colony. He goes to school, has a crush on some genki girl, and is generally as uninteresting aesthetically and personality-wise as every peripheral character around him. When some albino walks up to him out of nowhere and calls him out on this, he later decides to jump in a big, ugly robot and resign his humanity to blow some shit up. And then he's a vampire, I guess.
Valvrave has "please let me be mass market" all over it. Everyone is moe as fuck, the robots are over-designed, and it's following in the footsteps of shows like Geass and Guilty Crown by taking something that's been done dozens of times, and then making the main character a macguffin-powered wizard/vampire/molester. This dark twist that risks this two-dimensional goon's humanity will undoubtedly lead simpletons to think his character is deep, but I can only hope that after Guilty Crown people are getting sick of this garbage.
The other characters range between a large spectrum of tropes that we've all seen before. Jock guy, otaku girl, energetic moron girl, group of psychotic, two-dimensional villainous teens, girl whose entire character is defined by her gigantic breasts, et cetera. None of them are introduced or delivered well. No one in this show acts like a normal human being, but are rather just "anime characters". They don't have any original or interesting quirks, either. Everyone's played pretty straight, and it's really easy to tell by the quality of writing this early that none of this will get better. So yes, if you like your anime with characters you don't have to think at all about or relate to, and just want a bunch of colorful 2-D cutouts spouting recycled lines and exceptionally dumb bullshit at each other, this is the show for you. If you like your anime casts completely identical to one another, this is the show for you. If your definition of good character interaction is making noises and spouting childish philosophies at each other within 10 seconds of meeting, this is the show for you. Otherwise, watch MJP or Gargantia.
The directing, cinematography and animation in Valvrave are all incredibly "meh". There are tiny bits of good animation in completely inconsequential parts, like the hot dog eating contest at the very beginning, and the CGI moves around pretty okay, but the laser and explosion effects look terrible and there's a lot of "still thing panning on a flat background". There aren't any good or visually memorable shots in the whole affair, either, so it's not like the laziness can be forgiven like in Eva. Valvrave as a whole is just not really anything to look at.
The music sucks. There's generic opera-ish stuff while the main character is blowing things up at the end of episode 1, and I can't even remember any other tracks being present. I hate the OP, because it's just TM Revolution but worse. The opening animation is just as boring and lazy as the rest of the show, too.
I think that just about covers it. I'm not being presumptuous at all, because with the studio's recent track record and how everything was displayed in the first episode, it's not going to get any better. There's a very high chance it'll get hilariously stupid and entertaining in an ironic way, but if you're looking for any kind of legitimate quality in your show, skip this. Skip it, and go right into Majestic Prince. That show fucking rocks.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Oct 14, 2017
Originally with 500+ upvotes, my review is back.
What does it mean to "save anime?"
For years, humans and otaku alike have presented the concept that an upcoming or airing series can rescue the medium of Japanese animation from its own self-wrought destruction. I've viewed this line of thinking with a grain of salt, for the obvious reason that, well, anime can't be saved, it's irredeemable at this point.
But what if it could be saved?
What if we could end this cycle of bad karma?
But what could do it? What could save anime?
A new Trigger romp with experimental animation and another iteration on Gunbuster's coming of age ... story? Noble effort, Imaishi, but you can only go so far. Panty&Stocking was but a deflated life vest lost in the sea of moe-colored urine. Luluco, despite being anime of the year, also failed to resonate and return these Chinese cartoons to their original purity.
A fresh romp from acclaimed director Cowboy "Watanabe" Bebop? Sadly no, Terror in Resonance offered less hope than Obama, while Space Dandy offered as much substance as our future emperor Donald J. Trump. (Editor's note: nailed it. )
Maybe one of the murderers who killed anime could do it. Could Geass' Taniguchi come back and deliver us something as good as his magnum opus, Scryed? No, we got Active Raid instead. Sunrise's Cross Ange was definitely saving anime for a while, but petered out in the end.
All hope appeared to be lost. But. What if... What if a series went the opposite route? What if it took everything that killed anime, and went so far into it that it looped around on itself and became the cure? What if derivative, pandering trash like Angel Beats pandered so hard that it smashed right through its target audience of lowlifes and became High Art?
Well, we're going to find out. You're 1000 words into this review (for the second fucking time thanks MAL) and now you're going to learn about
~ * ~ KEIJO!!!!!!!! ~ * ~
KEIJO!!!!!!!! is an action series about dedication and fighting spirit, but it's more than that: it's a story about one girl's dream to get fuckin' paid. Yeah, the series is about this Blue Hair girl who graduated high school and wants to get paid by beating other girls' faces in with her ass. She has a friend, White Hair, who is a judo master that can attack with her ass at supersonic speed. Another friend, Udders, has an ass so soft that it deflects oncoming trains, and the last friend, Hairtail, can judge an opponent's power level by feeling their ass.
Also, the series is about some kind of sport where young martial artists and gymnasts fight with their hips or something. It's more or less just a device to push the narrative of "hard works gets you mad dollars", much like all those other sports anime out there.
The show delivers this soft-hitting (editor's note: LOL) premise with great production values. Character animation and fight choreography are right out of goddamn Hajime no Ippo or Gurren Lagann. The animation uses varying line thicknesses for foreground and background during fights, giving the series a very hand-animated look at points, and the cinematography is phresh. The shots are dynamic and interesting to look at, along with great use of ON-SCREEN WORDS popularized by Panty&Stocking/Kill la Kill, JoJo, etc. KEIJO!!!!!!!! carries great energy and timing into almost every scene, making it both not-boring, and funny.
HOWEVER after the first 7-8 episodes the art and animation kind of falls off a cliff, which is a damn shame, since that's right around when the climactic final tournament starts. It's most evident in the final episode, which is easily the worst-looking in the series. Luckily, the usual absurdity of what's happening still saves the show and keeps it very compelling.
The characters' abilities and fighting styles are about as fleshed out (editor's note: LOL) as any fighting shounen series, but it's all presented with an amazing sense of facetiousness. You can tell the team behind this show was having a lot of fun putting a nearly uncalled for level of thought into the reasoning and presentation of the action sequences. Special techniques all have fabulous names with accompanying ~extreme on-screen text~ - it's very cool and creative. The source material was ridiculous, but more grounded, whereas is the anime goes full ham.
The pacing is great. The anime skips the first half of the manga or so and settles right in on the meaty competition portion of the story, and moves along at great speed. Characters and concepts are introduced quickly, and even though you technically miss 40 chapter of content, you don't actually notice because the writers for the show were competent enough to know how to adapt the material to best fit the medium.
I've grown to really like the OST for this show. Opening is catchy, and the accompanying animation is very much amusing enough. There are some very hammy emotional/background tracks that stand out during climactic scenes. The sound design though: That's where this show shines. KEIJO!!!!!!!! uses sound in some pretty unique ways that are genuinely hilarious. You'll hear mechanical sounds, explosions, energy pulses and everything in between when various ass-centric attacks are used, and during combat every fight in this series is full of other varied and exaggerated impact sounds.
So, is this how one saves anime?
Does this series do what none before it could?
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0
Apr 25, 2015
Alright everybody, prepare to read the only review of this manga you're ever going to find. Why's that? Because I'm confident that I may be the only one who actively reads it in the Western Hemisphere. Hopefully that'll now change with the advent of the anime.
Also, if you're looking, no scanlations exist for this, so go out and buy the Dark Horse releases if you want to read it in English (highly recommended)
We're gonna start by talking about the author. Yasuhiro Nightow is one of very few manga authors who is almost completely incomparable in style and content. Nightow is an Americanaphile. He loves ... action figures, super heroes, Spawn and American popcorn movies, and all of that shows in his approach to art and writing. While his content is very American, Nightow's method of drawing that content in action is perhaps more Japanese than any Japanese works I've ever read. He generally just doesn't "do" plain square panels or simple dialogue scenes. His paneling is completely unlike most other mangaka, where he relies more on dynamic panels of all size and shape, crazy angles, negative space and very little dialogue, and the reader has to interpret his drawings and how they organically flow into each other to infer what's happening. When you enter into a Nightow work, it's an investment. He is a visual storyteller, and like you reread poetry, you'll reread Nightow's work and each time the action becomes clearer and more rewarding. It's why I enjoy owning BBB and Trigun Maximum so much, I reread them constantly. If you're only getting the story and the dialogue out of his manga, you're only experiencing about 30% of what actually happened.
Now, the manga is Blood Blockade Battlefront, and I guarantee you it's unlike anything else you're going to read, probably ever. It's action-packed. It's hilarious. It's horrifying. It's abstract. It's oddly relate-able. It's a superhero story. It's a slice of life story. It has no plot progression. It has great characterization. It's a cross between Ugly Americans, Hellboy and Durarara!! that's completely off-the-rails.
The story takes place in New York City after a portal to the Beyond opened and turned the place into a hellscape of demons, monsters and the downright abstract. Life is normal. NYC is now a hub where the ordinary and utterly fantastic have lunch next to each other at the diner down the street, and where sometimes the fate of the world is being decided right around the corner. Now called Jerusalem's Lot, it's honestly as much a central character of this series as much as it is the setting. The whole concept of this manga wouldn't work if the city weren't so intricate, yet so completely out of logic's reach at the same time. Nightow goes far out of his way to explore the culture, the locations and the denizens and factions of this place and it never becomes less interesting. His imagination is boundless.
The central movers and shakers here are the members of "Libra," a top-secret crime-fighting outfit that makes sure all the demi-gods and powerful organizations floating around don't destroy the world somehow. They're a band comprised of super-powered misfits, martial artists, vampire hunters, mercenaries and one kid named Leonard. The manga progresses by showing the members of Libra taking on some unwieldy problems beyond imagination (except for Nightow's apparently), such as a giant car-eating monster car rampaging through the city, or someone's brain getting stolen, or trying to find somewhere to eat for lunch in the weirdest city in the universe.
Let's break them down:
Leonard(o) "Watchman Leo" Watch: The protagonist of the series who came to the city to uncover the mystery of why a giant monster came out of an interdimensional vagina to blind his sister and give him the Eyes of God in exchange. Yeah. He's just kind of a normal goober, with the Eyes of God. That is, he has super awesome eyes that can do all sorts of tricks like swapping sight with someone or swapping sight with /everyone/. He's the relate-able human kid who's just trying to adjust when he suddenly becomes part of the supernatural Avengers.
Klaus Von Reinhertz: The other protagonist of the series, the Optimus Prime to Leo's Spike Witwicky (had to look that one up). Klaus is a 7ft tall brick shithouse of gentlemanly strength and serves as Libra's fearless leader. He's kind, honest to a fault, impossibly stubborn and utterly unbreakable. He's possibly not even the most powerful member of Libra, his DEF and HP stats are just through the roof on top of being able to punch your head clean off. I like Klaus, he's an interesting spin on the leader archetype.
Zap Renfro: He's Bender from Futurama, with a sword and fire powers. He's a good "simultaneously competent badass/comic relief" character. Many of the stories feature him and Leo palling around, and in general this character is "the life of the party" when compared to his more professional, moral cohorts.
Chain Sumeragi: The spy of the party, she's an "Invisible Werewolf", a type of being who's able to do all sorts of things like go really, really fast, phase through things and disappear out of existence on a whim. She's normally stoic, but also a bitchy sadist and it's great. She kinda looks like a genderbent Wolfwood.
Stephen A. Starphase: Libra's second-in-command and someone not to be fucked with. A foil to Klaus' obliviousness, he's basically Scarface, but a pretty nice guy on the surface. He has ice-based powers and can kick pretty good.
K.K.: Enter BulletMom. K.K. feels like a Tarantino character, she's a doting, eye patch-wearing mom, and she has lightning guns to shoot you with.
Brody&Hammer: Probably my favorite character(s). One day Doug Hammer was a handsome guy minding his own business, then some crazy bitch mashes a dude named Deldro Brody into a paste and replaces Doug's blood with him. The result is that they are now the BBB version of the Hulk, where Doug can summon Brody from inside himself to form a gigantic exoskeleton to punch things. He/they spend most of their time in jail, and Libra ask for them to be released when something big needs to be punched.
Gilbert F. Alstein: Combat Butler who looks like a mummy. He's Libra's driver and all around great guy. He generally fits the Alfred (Batman)/Norman (Big O) archetype, which is honestly fine, with the added coolness of being functionally immortal.
Zed O'Brien: He's a merman! Mainly a serious foil to Zap's asshatting, he's pretty cool.
The cast feels like a great superhero team. One of my favorite aspects to the characterization in this series is that Nightow doesn't do hamfisted flashbacks. Just like the setting, his methods here are "show, don't tell." We're introduced to most of the cast as if we already know them, and they don't get traditional introduction arcs, and over time through seeing them interact with each other, you learn more about them organically. Each character in BBB is reasonably complex, but they don't have their personal data handed to you in a handy list format. Even Leo, who is the only character with a showcased origin story, has most aspects of his power and their true nature shrouded in mystery. And that's cool, because the series is about the characters and their day-to-day lives, not the exposition.
Blood Blockade flows in mini arcs, or episodes. Some sort of weird problem is happening in Jerusalem's Lot, like a bacteria-sized evil scientist that's making somebody huge for some reason, and some members of Libra assemble to save the day using similarly odd methodologies. These episodes are usually very character-focused and serve to expand on a Libra member's personality or past, or the relationship between two characters. When an arc ends, a new one begins, and the series continues in a very episodic pattern. Though there is definitely over-arching continuity, there is pretty much no hard-set, serious ongoing story. It's a slice of life series, but not the kind you're probably used to. BBB uses its episodic structure to its advantage, keeping things really fresh all the time, and its investment into its own characters and setting makes you want to continue to find out more about them.
On the art: Nightow has some of the best panel flow in the business. His art is completely organic, where panels change shape with what's going on, and action is told entirely visually with little to no supporting dialogue as a crutch. He tackles much more complex, ambitious movements and action sequences than 99% of other mangaka and he deserves props for that. His fights and chase scenes use the environment, background objects, and all sorts of angles and negative space to tell a story. All of his sequences make perfect sense, but you can't half-assedly skim his work and immediately absorb everything that happens like most other manga. The man is a scientist of visual storytelling, and you have to learn and adapt to his style.
The actual designs of characters and environments are fabulous. The author has a signature style for heroes, creatures and mechanical things, and they always look really, really cool and/or out-of-this-world. He puts sharp detail into pretty much everything, while at the same time knowing how to not clutter a panel or a page. He's not very good at drawing 'moe' or women in the traditional anime sense, but it's part of his charm. But man, you can spot a Nightow monster design from miles away, the perfect mix of completely bizarre and clearly functional. Many of Leonard's friends are non-human, and some don't even have faces, but Nightow is still able to give them a full range of emotions, movements and understandable behavior which is very impressive considering that there are plenty of mangaka who can barely emote their human characters.
All of this is why I was surprised when this series got announced for an anime adaption. Not only is it completely obscure, but it's also nigh unadaptable: There's no story, the visuals are too complex, the concept is too abstract, and the action relies heavily on Nightow's skills as a comic illustrator and his panels can't just be copy/pasted into storyboards like Naruto's. That said, the anime is absolutely beautiful and is doing a great job, the manga is however, a completely different experience.
Above all though, this manga is fun. Just plain fun. And that's what it's really trying to be. It's not a Hero's Journey like Trigun or a bullet-riddled revenge tale like Gungrave, it's its own thing: one part superhero comic, one part Seinfeld, one part Pan's Labyrinth, and all parts Nightow.
What did you think of this review?
Love it 0