Dan Carroll

Manga Review: CRIMSONS: AKAI KOUKAISHATACHI

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Feb 072016
 

So I finally got around to finishing up Crimsons, aka “Eden no Umi” (Eden of the Sea? Sea of Eden?). It’s basically the dramatization of the Sockeye Salmon’s life cycle.

Spoilers after the jump because spoilers are nigh fucking unavoidable if I wanna talk about this manga.

Eden no Umi being a made up pun I made up, ’cause Crimsons is basically Eden no Ori… in the ocean!

I came upon Crimsons when the first couple chapters were first scanlated, and I liked it. But I didn’t really follow it. Welp, I finally got around to looking at it again and it seems it was completed. So I binged read.

Again, if I had to describe it, it’s basically Eden no Ori, but set in the sea. If you’ve never heard or read of Eden no Ori, then lemme describe it a lil’. It’s when a bunch of youngin’s get thrown into a hostile environment and there are sudden bouts of graphic death amidst an otherwise cute/comfy setting. It’s easy to spot. Just look for a character to have a “mind break”-face whenever something dies horribly or if there’s some abrupt death of a main character.

There, I’ve spoiled the early portion of the manga. Kinda unavoidable if I wanna talk about it at all. Oh well, not like it was any surprise. It’s more of a “will they do it or are we getting something toned down?”. I do dig that predators are depicted as eldritch abominations, at least in the earlier chapters. Pity they become less mythical as time progressed.

Anyways, each chapter’s typically broken down to 3 parts. The opening segment focusing on a water flea. The water fleas are awesome. They’re all philosophers and some are outright geniuses. But they’re near the bottom of the totem pole. Then we have the actual Salmon main story, which is interjected with scenes of a professor and his student explaining stuff while engaging in an illicit relationship.

Anywho, it’s a decent read and it’s only 20 chapters + 3 chapter side story. Give it a read.

Koukaku no Pandora #1 & Sekkou Boys #1

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Jan 272016
 

Okay, so this post is a tad late. I wanted to do one post per day so I held off of reviewing these, but stuff came up and I simply haven’t had time to watch any anime.

I just tried watching Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R #1 before making this post, but got interrupted halfway, right before we’re getting to the meat of the story. So I only saw the boring setup part and not the hook. Bleh.

So, just a quickie review for Koukaku and Sekkou, since I’m short on time. They’re both okay. Koukaku has a vibe like it’s based on a manga from the late 90s/early 00s. It’s pretty okay but perhaps a tad underwhelming. I saw half of the second episode, which looked pretty good.

Sekkou Boys, same deal. Kinda good but not quite hooking me with the first episode.

It’ a shame. This season looks like there’s a lot of possibly visually decent though somewhat mediocre series and well, real life just ain’t letting me see if there’s any gems. Bummer.

Haruchika #1

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Jan 142016
 

It seems my time away from anime has built up my tolerances and I’m now able to watch entire episodes even if I’m not instantly hooked.

Haruchika opens seemingly like it might be yet another boring K-On!! wannabe but quickly becomes intriguing by hinting at stuff actually happening.

In any case, while I was afraid it was going to be a pure “comfy” series like K-On!! and its ilk, it turned out to be pretty heavy on the mystery-slash-puzzle solving side of things. On the other hand, the mystery it deals with lacks “bite”. The result is that it’s not quite comfy nor mysterious, but more of an abominable hybrid, a crime against nature called… “comfy mystery”.

The show’s not bad if you’re into comfiness. In fact, it’s a bit better in that sense because it offers a little bite. But in you’re into “bite”, then it’s possibly a tad too dull (in terms of bite, but the show’s hardly super exciting either).

There are worst comfy shows out there, but at least this one has the best cat. We first see the cat whilst licking its balls and then walking off before it could be petted… so yeah, like a real cat, as opposed to the idealized/romanticized cat, which is basically a less hyper puppy.

Super Virtua Food Fighter

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Dec 072015
 

The previous two episodes of Ben-To, 8 and 9, kinda had me worried. I was digging them, but they were straying from the “kick ass to get half price food” bit that was the heart of the series. By focusing on that very specific motivation for fighting, Ben-To had basically become the best fighting anime since Air Master.

But those two episodes strayed from that. The food fighting was referenced. It wasn’t like it disappeared completely. But it was no longer the thing going on. Then the latest episode, number 10, got back to it and delivered the best fight thus far in the series.

I figured these twins were gonna be the second half’s big bad, but I was worried that whatever conflict they wanted to bring about was gonna stray from the path. They seemed to care more about stalking people and playing mind games rather than beating the shit out of you to get some cheap grub. Their antics were pretty amusing, which was a relief since most light novel adaptations tend to get pretty lame when they resort to “antics” to keep your attention.

Instead, all of that now feels like build-up for what went down in this episode. It’s like how the main villain in a shounen fighting series will talk and rant to his underlings or something while the main character wanders about and trains or something. They give you a reason to hate (or love to hate, or root for) the villain by letting him monologue or whatever. Except they’re trying to rape Sato while thinking he’s Ice Witch. Yeah. Something like that.

Whatever, man, I’m just grasping at ways to rationalize how the series went off track. Roll with it.

But damn. That fight where everyone got their asses handed to them by the twins was great stuff. Like, it’s probably the best anime action scene I’ve seen this year that wasn’t in Redline. But what particularly amused me about it was the stylized “blackness” that enveloped all of the twins’ attacks. It totally looked like the “ink” effects you see in Street Fighter 4. That’s especially funny because SF is made by Capcom and Ben-To is blatantly sponsored by Sega. By having the final big bads of the series use a technique used in a rival company’s game is a neat touch. Doubt it’s deliberate, but it’s amusing regardless.

2014: A Year Where Anime Didn’t Suck (But Kinda Did)

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Jan 032015
 

Hell, everything kinda sucked in 2014– on an anime level– on a personal level– on a cosmic level. Everything was coming up barftastic. Nerd culture pulled off its cheesy latex mask and revealed the serial killer dwelling within that anyone with half a brain knew was there the whole time. The world kept being as shitty as it always has been, but it seemed like more people were getting fed up with current shitty trends. My trivial personal matters (mostly work-related) sank me into the depths of Charlie Brown-like existential apathy.

2014 seemed to give everyone the proverbial rock in the Halloween bag, and it can go fuck itself in the abstract concept hellhole that’s its grave.

But there were a few anime things worth talking about. A few. Maybe half a dozen? Maybe a couple more than that. Sure wasn’t enough to make a full-on Top 10 this year.

Actually, I lied. There’s enough to make a Top 10. The year still sucked. Fuck 2014.

11. Akuma no Riddle

Bad people doing bad things to each other. Said bad people happen to be assassins of the female variety. I’d rather they be adult females, but I’ll take what I can get when it comes to this sort of thing. Akuma no Riddle’s exactly the sort of thing I’m looking for, and for long stretches it was kinda perfect in that regard (DAMN that Romeo and Juliet episode was perfect.), but it botches it all with an atrocious ending that ruins all of the sacrifice and drama that went down. I ranted about that shit here, so there’s no need to repeat it. If you ignore that epilogue, this is all time favorite material. With it, it’s just another also-ran that could have found a place in my black heart, but will forever be pushed aside.

10. Rage of Bahamut: Genesis

The first two episodes of this series are nigh-perfect. They distill a lot of the action-adventure stuff you see in good Hollywood productions and turn it into 20-something minute masterpieces. Had the entire series been like these two episodes, with their riffs on things like Pirates of the Caribbean and Indiana Jones and spaghetti westerns, it’d likely be up in the top three. Unfortunately, this thing’s based on some mobile phone collectible card game or whatever, and said game is all about gods and demons and JRPG stuff, and said stuff ends up dominating most of the series. When it’s about the two dudes duking it out over misunderstandings and desires for revenge and whatnot, it’s awesome. When it’s about bad appropriations of Jeanne d’Arc and androgynous angels of all alignments, it’s just as tedious and dull as the video games it’s aping. There’s enough of the former to make this show worthwhile. And then there’s that god duck thing. And the awesome horse. They need to tag team it up and show those god dorks what’s up.

9. Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girls

Sega’s most (in)famous home console systems are anthropomorphized, sent to high school, and make passive-aggressive threats at one another. When it’s working, it’s pretty zany and absurd and cute. When it isn’t working, it has Sonic the Hedgehog stinking up the place with his vile presence (I really hate that thing.). Sega Girls works due to the way the three voice actresses riff off one another. Apparently this is done by (some of?) the same peeps who did that gdgd Fairies thing that I need to check out, and that was that series’ shtick, so they’ve had some practice with this sort of thing. Like the previous two shows on this list, not everything works about the series, but Sonic aside there’s nothing really egregious that turns me off totally. They really should have done more old school games. Less Phantasy Star Mobile Online Pay To Win XZ23 and more Space Harrier and Golden Axe next time. Also, the ending to this thing is strange and kinda morbid if you understand the history of these game systems and the general route Sega’s gone as far as consoles go. They’re going for bittersweet melancholy, but the context turns it more into a death march.

8. Tonari no Seki-kun

Dude slacks off in class by playing with toys and shit. Dude doesn’t realize there’s a girl who obsessively watches him. Dude is a complete dumbass. It’s funny stuff. It’s also my high school years in animated form. Most relatable anime of the year, man. Doesn’t quite “stick” for whatever reason. I had to remind myself a few times it aired this year.

7. Ai Mai Mi: Mousou Catastrophe

This year’s best short anime (that I finished). It’s something of a soul sister to the brilliance of Teekyu, but it doesn’t quite have the same manic bite of its superior sibling. Still, this is some madcap insanity with its own brand of twisted, high-strung humor. I totally wanna play those 8-bit mash-ups from the credit sequence.

6. Witch Craft Works

There’s a lot going on in this thing. You got some neat stuff with gender role reversals, where the dude is the “princess” and the girl’s the cold, stoic protector. You have some neat magical battle stuff. You have cool characters with cool gimmicks and visual quirks. It’s the sort of fluffy, generic “high school is important because of magic” thing you expect from modern anime, but it’s elevated beyond such triviality by being damn good at what it does. I’d call it the best of its type since the likes of season one of Haruhi. It also has a llama being burned at the stake in one of its episodes and an end credit sequence all about fantastical witch torture, so it makes me all warm and giggly inside.

5. Sabagebu

It’s everything Akuma no Riddle should have been without actually being everything Akuma no Riddle should have been.

4. Psycho-Pass 2 3

I swear, there’s an actual season 2 of Psycho-Pass hidden away in some vault that details everything we needed for the actual season that exists to make sense for the masses. There’s something that helps set up the relationships between these characters, like Akane and her grandmother and the team with that new super-bonkers dude that does super secret but not really stuff to screw them over. As it is, the season we got is something of a disjointed mess of emotions and ideas that don’t really mesh, but make for some kind of perfect procedural spectacle all about competing abstract manifestations of collective consciousness and the judgement of groups and the death of the individual as a viable concept. It’s some real fucked up shit that hits you over the head with its unwieldy concepts with a proverbial sledgehammer, and if you survive the blow you’re rewarded with some of the craziest, most worthwhile nonsense I’ve had the pleasure of seeing.

3. Lupin the Third: Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone

This is exactly what I wanted to see post-Fujiko. It keeps the same vibe of that series while going off and having fun with a typical Lupin story. Jigen being targeted by a swanky hitman while in the middle of a jewel heist is classic Lupin stuff. Fujiko being forced to fight a giant robot with a drill for its crotch for the amusement of rich millionaire sickos is the sort of stuff straight out of the new series. A whole series like this would be perfection. Shame it’s just a two part OVA thing.

2. Garo

It ain’t over yet, but what we’ve seen of Garo so far is pretty damn great. It’s basically a tokusatsu show taking place in a medieval setting, complete with transformations and crazy cg martial arts combat. There’s also a lot of stuff going on about parents and parent figures letting down their kids and how said kids struggle to live up to their expectations. The world is going to shit, and these people just might save us all, but they ain’t gonna save themselves, and that’s alright. We’ll see if the second half lives up to the first half, but so far it looks to be a real keeper. Right on the verge of being a personal favorite. Hopefully they jump off that ledge and go full on crazy with their ideas.

1. Space Dandy

Pure animated storytelling bliss. Second half better than the first. Everything I want out of this cartoon shit and more. We aren’t good enough for Space Dandy.