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.

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.

Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girl #2 does what Landon’t

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Oct 162014
 

God-effing-dammit! I knew that joke was coming. I knew it! It was dumb. It was predictable. And it induced in me, a bout of involuntary, real life… laughter.

I refer to the headbutt, naturally. I tried to mask it as a sneeze but man, when it predictably happened at the end there, I laughed for realz-yo.

Hi-sCoool! SeHa Girl 4 Anime of the Year for no other reason than elliciting an involuntary positive response from me. I remember only laughing for realz a couple times in the last few years. This is one of ‘em.

As for the episode itself, it’s your classic case of repeating a joke until it becomes funny. And it pulls it off.

Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken #1 & Cross Ange #1 & Madan no Ou to Vanadis #1, Oh My!

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Oct 062014
 

I’m watching Garo as I write this. Yeah, I might not have time to write everything, so quick thoughts on “I don’t understand what my husband is saying” and Cross Ange.

Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken #1
A 3 and a half minute short. It’s about a newlywed couple where the husband is your stereotypical otaku loser dude. It opens up with their wedding and we get a series of anime references, such as Rurouni Kenshin (Samurai X) and Mahou Shoujo Magical Lyrical Nanoha. The choice of refences is kinda odd actually. I mean, I’m glad they’re not doing endless Gundam references, especially since we’ll be getting another series of Gundam Build Fighters soon. The Kenshin ref sorta made sense, but Nanoha? I dunno, the time period of these anime lead to suspect that the author’s appealing to a specific couple of age groups where those anime were their jam.

One thing I do like is that this newlywed couple have sex. Like, they outright stated that they had lotso sex after their wedding and the episode ends with them going to a love motel. For the former, it didn’t quite seem like a dream sequence where they didn’t actually do anything, and for the latter, I half expected that the wife thought they were gonna get bizzay but that the husband was looking at some otaku thing, but that dun seem like the case. So kudos for that.

It’s something of a pet peeve for me when newlywed characters not only don’t have sex, but where holding hands is treated like a big deal and the occasional kiss is given the same reverence as wifey agreeing to go kinky. Yeah, I’m looking at you, “I married a highschooler”, but not even counting that series, characters being chased despite already having gone steady (or the dude already having seen the whole package via “accidental” walk-ins), has become something of a pet peeve for me. If you’re not gonna be comfortable with each other, then don’t have the relationship already be where you’re already fucking married or otherwise engaged/exclusive.

Erm, but yeah, Danna ga Nani wo Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken #1 is okay. Kinda lackluster to tell the truth. A day or two ago, I’d recommend it. But with this season’s shows coming out in earnest, you might wanna put this on the backburner.

Cross Ange #1
I haven’t actually watched this episode in full yet, but I did skim it. I liked the mechs at the start of the show. The main character of Angelise seems to be a princess whose overthrown by her brother and by the end of the episode, she’s a prison bitch whose name has been shortened to Ange in order to humiliate her. Also, she’s either been lesbian raped or given an involuntary proctology exam.

The art seemed nice from what I saw. The breasts in this show are fairly large but not to the point of absurdity.

I’m not really inclined to watch the episode in full though. Maybe if I’m REALLY bored. The whole prison bitch thing might have been hilarious if it was played up for laughs ala the DRAMA in Code Geass, but no, they play it tragically. Hey, if you’re in your early teens to early twenties, you might wanna catch Cross Ange for the risque bits, but y’know, this IS the internet, you’re better off just getting actual porn.

Welp, time for some Garo.

Edit: Madan no Ou to Vanadis #1
I haven’t actually watched Madan no Ou to Vanadis either. Like Cross Ange, I skimmed it. I woulda given it full viewing and a proper post, but we’re starting to get other shows with more potential right now.

I will say that my first impression ain’t that good. I like the knight designs I saw and it’s expected that female warriors get less armor. That’s just compliance to standard practices in fiction. Now, while I’m iffy on this whole thing seemingly being a really tired re-threading of the ol’ “we’re gonna superficially say women are strong individuals but we’re really gonna preach that women are useless lumps of tits without a man” genre, the thing that really makes me not wanna watch this show until I have nothing else to watch is simply the fact that the characters all look down on the main dude, who is basically anime Hawkeye from the Avengers, due to the fact that he’s an archer.

A… fucking… archer. What the hell’s wrong with an archer? If this show is something like Log Horizon where everyone’s trapped in a MMO and the Archer class is considered weak due to bugs or nerfs, sure. Or if this show was targetted at kids between 3 to 5, I’d get it. But it’s obviously targetted at at least the early teens due to all the cheesecake.

I can understand people thinking magic swords are superior to the bow and arrow, but they seriously want us to think archers are merely an incidental part of a medieval military? That’s just one of those things that are so blatantly dumb that it just kills my suspension of disbelief. And without that suspension of disbelief, I can’t help but nitpick over all the other flaws of a show, no matter how minor.

A big ol’ middle finger to this show’s dumb treatment of archers. Jazz hands!

Garo the Carved Seal of Flames #1 (live-ish)

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Oct 062014
 

No comics thingy or robot heads here. Too many stuff to review. Here’s Garo.

We open up with a pregnant woman tied at the stake, presumably they plan to burn her. Meanwhile, a king(?) is being wheeled through the halls of his keep. I note this because I dig the Olive Oil stick figure designs of his entourage.

Naturally, her baby is born as she’s being burnt. Because this is fiction. I do like that even the people burning her think it’s weird for a baby being born under such conditions.

Well, here comes Garo (or a variant). He really does look better as an anime. I wonder if they’ll retain his 99.9 seconds time limit? It’s pretty obvious that he had that time limit in the live action due entirely to budget constraints. But it’s something of a signature to Garo now.

A man who looks like Archer from Fate/stay Night gets ripped in half. First of all, people don’t rip like that. Second of all, that’s still hilarious.

With that, we’re treated to some “witch” huntings. I’m fairly certain these “witches” are just Horror hunters of various sorts though.

Okay, I’ve watched through the whole episode now. There’s a lot of exposition, but I don’t mind. It’s mostly done as pillow talk and there’s enough banter and interruptions in between that it doesn’t have that stilted feel that a lot of anime exposition fall prey to. The story it tells is pretty simple and obvious, but the delivery is fairly engaging for the length of the episode.

The action sequences remind me of the kinda thing you see in Claymore, only with a bit more feel of impact. Of course, there are some Garo sensations as well, such as when Garo runs through a burning building (it’d make sense if you’ve seen Garo).

One thing I really like is that the human form of Garo, barely speaks at all, and his voice is pretty deep too. It’s not the usual high pitchy whine of your usual journeyman hero.

In terms of the Garo design, it’s okay. Half his body is cracked and releasing flames. Perhaps there’s a story to that, like he’s a Half Horror or he’s got royal blood or something.

On the whole, I’m surprisingly pleased with this episode, but if there’s one thing that’s a bit of a brain fart is near the end. The queen gives her son an amulet she’s had since birth, and it’s the emblem of Garo, which shocks the minion of the obviously evil grand vizier. But considering this is an item the queen’s had for years, it really shouldn’t be such a relevation for the baddies.

It’ll be interesting to see what happens to the prince, Alfonso. He’s probably Garo’s half brother, will he also get an armor or will he become some sorta super Horror?

We shall see.

Edit: Oh, and the dad character seems pretty awesome. I’m pretty sure he figured out the whore’s a (w)Horror once her eyes glowed, but he’s still totally fine with fucking her.