They’re the best Anime that 2012 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Beelzebub, Jormungand: Perfect Order, Zetsuen no Tempest, and more!
MAL Score: 7.89
Ishiyama High is a school populated entirely by delinquents, where nonstop violence and lawlessness are the norm. However, there is one universally acknowledged rule—don’t cross first year student Tatsumi Oga, Ishiyama’s most vicious fighter.
One day, Oga is by a riverbed when he encounters a man floating down the river. After being retrieved by Oga, the man splits down the middle to reveal a baby, which crawls onto Oga’s back and immediately forms an attachment to him. Though he doesn’t know it yet, this baby is named Kaiser de Emperana Beelzebub IV, or “Baby Beel” for short—the son of the Demon Lord!
As if finding the future Lord of the Underworld isn’t enough, Oga is also confronted by Hildegard, Beel’s demon maid. Together they attempt to raise Baby Beel—although surrounded by juvenile delinquents and demonic powers, the two of them may be in for more of a challenge than they can imagine.
As you can probably tell, Beelzebub is a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and this approach works very well for the story being told. The main characters, particularly Furuichi, seem aware that they part of a show that routinely sets them up with ludicrous scenarios, as if to test their reactions, and they are not shy about calling out some of the more preposterous elements that arise. Characters also address the viewer directly, which adds a nice touch of humour to the show while making the situations more relatable. I found this approach more satisfying than one where we are asked to accept ridiculous circumstances at face value.
The show has a lot of heart, and can also be surprisingly creepy at times; these are demons and the underworld we are dealing with after all, but this never lasts for very long, which is a pity because I think the show would have benefited from playing up the darker themes for longer periods to counter the otherwise jovial tone, which becomes a bit tiresome over a 60 episode arc. Still, the show maintains enough originality to entertain and the delivery of punch lines remains top notch for the most part.
One place where the show does disappoint terribly is in character development. Its remarkable how little the main characters change over the course of the series. This actually turns out to be a main detractor for the comedy as the show goes on because I often found myself wishing for fewer farces and more feeling. Some decent character growth would have solved this issue, but alas there just isn’t enough of that to go around. Relationships are especially frustrating. Waiting for something interesting to happen between characters other than fights with comically named “special attacks” is like watching paint dry; there just isn’t a lot going on there. The supporting characters fare a bit better in this respect, in particular with an entertaining story arc involving a multi-player FPS.
To add to this, the filler episodes quickly become an annoyance. Simply put, there are too many of them. This wouldn’t be so bad if these episodes contributed something towards developing characters, however, they do not. And in the end I kept feeling like these episodes were simply taking away valuable time that could be better used oh say, developing characters.
Overall though Beelzebub is a well written series which keeps track of its story plots, at least until the last episode, so you almost never see characters “forgetting they did something”, or acting out of character, which is very impressive for a farcical comedy like this. Eventually though, lack of character development and some nonsensical villains make it hard for me to call this anime great. Halfway through this series, if you’re not being entertained by the humor, chances are you aren’t being entertained by anything else. And this is unfortunate, because the show had all the right ingredients to make it absolutely amazing. Still, I would recommend watching the series because you will not regret doing so, if only because it is very different from a lot of what is out there. Moreover, I managed to find a much more satisfying end by basically ignoring the last episode and switching to the manga to get more out this series. The story of Beelzesama and his contractor Oga Tatsumi, does not end at episode 60, and for my money, is definitely worth catching up on.
You’re probably asking to yourself when picking up this Anime “Will this make me laugh so hard I can’t breathe?”. The simple answer is YES and let me explain why.
The names of the central characters the story of Beelzebub revolves around is Tatsumi Oga and Baby called Beelzebub. Tatsumi is a delinquent at the worst school in his area and Beelzebub is the son of a demon who was destined to take over the world. From there, wacky stuff happens in EACH EPISODE that will have you on the floor crying for laughter. Honestly, I would say that the story is of less importance than how the characters were executed since it is a comedy.
Before watching Beelzebub, I didn’t think that Anime could be so funny that I would consider it a masterpiece(This was also before I watched Gintama). Most Comedy Anime to me at the time seemed too tryhard/forced and that you would essentially need to be Japanese to laugh at the jokes. That all changed when I watched Beelzebub. I loved EVERY CHARACTER. Each of them had something to offer as a whole for the comedy so that nobody was left out. What would have played out as a normal thing in other Anime, Beelzebub turned on it’s head into pure laughter. I don’t want to spoil much but just keep what I said in mind because it’s true.
The music is pretty good also and each episode doesn’t feel like it’s dragging on. I honestly wish I could watch it all over again for the first time because I love it so much. It’s up there with Gintama as the funniest Anime of ALL TIME.
So just give it a try and see if you like it.
Art: 8/10 Very good art. Not too shabby.
Sound: 9/10 Nice voices. The baby’s voice is adorable.
Characters: 9/10 Super likable characters. Most of them are so funny. Decent character development.
Overall: 8/10 If you like to laugh. Watch this anime. If you’re one of those people who THINK they have a sense of humor, but low-key don’t. Don’t watch this anime. 😀
9: Jormungand: Perfect Order
English: Jormungand Season 2: Perfect Order
Japanese: ヨルムンガンド PERFECT ORDER
MAL Score: 7.92
Still in pursuit of her ambitious goal, ingenious arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar, inexpressive child soldier Jonathan “Jonah” Mar, and the rest of their squad continue their mercenary activities. From professional assassins to private militaries, the group’s work constantly puts them in the face of danger.
But internal conflicts soon arise after Renato “R” Socci, one of Koko’s bodyguards, is revealed to be an undercover agent for “Operation Undershaft”—a plan devised by the CIA to infiltrate HCLI and exploit Koko as a tool. Shocked by his betrayal, Koko’s leadership is needed now more than ever to rally her squad and rebuild their foundation of trust before they are torn apart.
Jormungand: Perfect Order follows Koko and the rest of her crew as they take on persistent adversaries, overcome internal struggles, and make Koko’s vision of world peace a reality—where everything is in perfect order.
Jormungand: Perfect Order is the direct sequel of the original series, Jormungand that debuted a few month after its original ending. The sequel is written by the same author Keitaro Takahashi with White Fox handling its animation and Geneon doing the production. The series continues off from its prequel and follows Koko Hekmatyar along with her fellow crew including Jonah.
To refresh some things, Koko still plays her role as a young arms dealer. She retains her independent personality that can be seen as playful, cunning, deceptive, but at the same time also ruthless when the events calls for it. Her profession remains dangerous as it’s not only involves dealing with other armed individuals but the fact that it’s technical illegal under normal jurisdictions. As such, Koko often comes in terms with conflict where it’s least expected. Luckily for her though is her crew and Jonah who are always by her side to support her work.
The series continues to follow a journey type of scenario. In this sequel though, the story enhances itself with its development especially in the latter half regarding the Jormungand project. But besides that, other supporting characters gets highlights even from the very beginning such as Hex and R. In fact, this focus on more supporting characters works out for the better as we can see more development from others besides just Koko and Jonah. Unfortunately though, their times are short due to the length of the series. Yet, their moments in the series captured their highlights well and expresses just how dangerous the world of Jormungand can be.
The dynamic duo of Koko and Jonah once again becomes entertaining to watch. At first, it’s lighthearted and comedic with the usual raccoon-like expressions from both characters. Later on though, we get a bit more serious as Koko reveals her plan for world peace but not without a cost. This cost will result in both physical and emotional pain as Jonah views Koko’s ways of executing her actions as a bit more immoral. She is an arms dealer who deals with weapons that causes destruction. Yet at the same time, she wishes to end destruction to the world and bring world peace. This all comes at a cost.
Like its original series, Jormungand: Perfect Order does pack the action including those road war and full throttle shootouts. Most of happens quite fast and captures the violence of what being an arms dealer is all about because it’s a dangerous profession. As result, expect blood being spilled, alliances shattered, and even deaths. At times however, the series slows with what almost seems like fillers such as the episode with Dr. Miami. But the story of this sequel progresses well with its pacing. Despite some of the slow movements, it gets to the point especially later on when Koko’s brother, Kasper gets involved with the crew. He is the man that Jonah loathes because of what happened to his past. Yet in this season, a strange alliance later forms between them that shows how far some characters have come in the series. Let’s not also forget Chequita who represents herself as one of the most proficient bodyguards known in HCLI with her skills in handling armed weaponry.
The business of trading weapons are still present but seems to rather diminish a bit in this sequel. Luckily, it retains its realism and that being the modern times and military gadgets. The fighter planes, anti-aircraft weaponry, and rockets are all realistic and present in today’s real world. Similarly, the characters themselves are depicted with realism. The way they are dressed for their profession and their skills of handling various weaponry are often presented in the series. As such, their skills are protrayed as well in handling such weapons with various skills levels between each crew member. To add on the fun part of the mix are the priceless expressions in the form of those grins, smiles, and laughs curtsey of Koko with her crew.
The series also continues to the idea of teamwork and how it is crucial for its members to cooperate in order to succeed in missions. In the latter half of the series, Jonah is presented with a situation where the idea presented to him isn’t what he likes to hear. As such, a strain sorts is put between him and Koko. It is a bit sad to watch given everything we’ve seen between the likeable duo especially since the bond is not romance but as loving partners.
In terms of artwork, I would say that White Fox does it again and that means a clear job on the animation department. As mentioned before, the series takes place in modern times and everything is drawn to match its themes. The characters’ and their outfits fits within their professions coupled with their figures that show why they are part of the crew. Although it looks a bit dirty at times, it works out right and portrays Jormungand: PO at its finest. I appreciate it and White Fox deserves some praise.
The soundtrack is once again well performed by the choreographer of the series, Taku Iwasaki. He has already done work in related fields such as Gurren Lagann, R.O.D. The TV, and Soul Eater. All of these series have in common with the soundtrack involving fast paced action during intense scenes. The rap beatings and electronic blues are what makes Jormungand: Perfect Order intense. It’s well done. The opening song, “UNDER/SHAFT” by Maon Kurosaki is also well orchestrated that demonstrates the theme of Jormungand just like season 1. Oh and let’s not forget the previews of each episode that fans adore. Her name is Koko, she is Loco, I said oh no~
Ultimately, Jormungand: Perfect Order is a nice series which deserves a score of 8. Although slow at times, it makes it up with its insightful character cast where even supporting characters get their own spotlights. The ability to fuse together action and comedy in a series such as this is difficult but the directors did their jobs right this time around. It’s fun to watch despite the fact that we realize how dangerous of being an arms dealer is all about. All in all, Jormungand: Perfect Order is by no means a perfect series but it is one hell of a ride.
The crazy hijinks and bold plans with Koko and company continue in the sequel to Jormungand. How does the second coming of Jormungand fare? I’m here to tell you that it’s better this time around. How do you improve Jormungand’s formula, you ask? You make it more focused. Spoilers for the first season finale below.
So, Koko and her friends are still roaming the world and everything is swell. Oh wait, no it’s not. The story takes place right after the end of the previous one. R is a double agent who is spying on Koko for the CIA; Hex, a woman from Kokos past, is here for blood; All this while Operation Undershaft is trying to figure out what the hell Koko is trying to do. So let’s look at the formula set for the previous season and see it it still is in place here.
1. The crew arrives.
2. Stuff goes awry and they need a way out / need to out-think their opponents / straight up kill dudes.
3. Mission completed and on to next arc.
Yep. Although this time around the arcs are longer and more focused on storytelling rather than outmanoeuvring and killing enemies.
Here’s a run-down on the cast if you need to freshen your memory.
Koko Hekmatyar: Arms dealer, handling business mainly in Europe and Africa. Very charismatic and beautiful. Usually very energetic and behaving sometimes like a child, she has a ruthless interior and on multiple occasions called a monster. Although usually cool with a smile on her lips, Koko has one of the most intimidating glares in anime.
Jonah: Child soldier. His parents were killed in an air-strike and he became a child soldier shortly after. Has a strong hate for weapons, but still works for Koko, often serving as her bodyguard. He shows more understanding than expected from a child.
Lehm: Ex-Delta Force operator. Used to be active in Somalia. Second in command of Koko’s crew. Veteran mercenary who takes charge when armed conflict arises. Used to work for Koko’s father. Very versatile in weapon use, ranging from long-distance sniping to close quarters combat.
Valmet: Ex-Major serving for UN forces in Africa. Her unit got slaughtered by Chen Guoming and she lost an eye in the attack. Since then, she suffers from anxiety whenever she sets foot in Africa. Very proficient with knives and pistols. She is also in love with Koko, something which often is used as comedic relief.
Then there are the rest of the cast, that aren’t given much other than support roles most of the time. Technically only Koko and Jonah are the only real main characters, but Valmet and Lehm are given much more time on screen than the other side characters, so they sort of sneak into main roles.
Mao: One of the regular grunts of the group. Was discharged after a training exercise went awry. Picked up by shortly after. The only one of the group to have a family (as in wife + kids). He lied to them in order to leave. Teaches science to Jonah between missions.
R: Former Italian intelligence officer. Revealed in the last episode of the former season to be a mole for the CIA.
Ugo: Former Mafia driver and enforcer. Spared by Koko when his family was destroyed. A behemoth of a man, he possesses immense strength. The crew’s driver when needing a getaway.
Lutz: Former police sniper, part of a counter-terrorist unit. Very hesitant to kill young targets.
Tojo: Previous Japanese black-ops operative, working in places like Cuba. In charge of teaching Jonah maths between missions.
Wilee: Former explosives expert and ex-lieutenant of the 20th Engineer Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps of the US Army. Assigned to give Jonah English lessons between missions. Is the only member aside Koko to be black-listed by the FBI.
The perils of having a huge cast like this is just as apparent in the second season as it was in the first one, but the show does a better job at dealing out screen-time this time around and you quickly get a good vibe where everyone’s at. It’s still the same colourful cast with no subs, so if you liked them in the first season, there’s more goodness here. The opening arc, dealing with R being a double agent and Hex coming after Koko is without a doubt the series’ strongest, with some strong, emotional moments. It sets up a season that is in its entirety better than its predecessor. The stakes are raised for Koko and her compatriots. Nobody’s safe in this crazy world.
The second season takes a step back from the group dynamic at times and focuses solely on Jonah and Koko. They’re interesting contrasts. Koko is the daughter of a shipping magnate and presumably had a very peaceful, or at least pampered life as she grew up. Jonah meanwhile, grew up in a war-zone and had his parents blown up by a bomber, coincidentally sold by Koko’s brother, Kasper. Jonah hates weapons with all his being, and Koko sells them for a living. The two make a fantastic leading duo and represent the tension and morals towards the end of a magnificent series.
The morality of the characters are brought froward into the centre this time around, and when Koko reveals her master plan that she’s been working on for a long time, it’s surprising it wasn’t brought up earlier. I can understand the reason why it’s hidden for so long, but I don’t agree with the choice. It would have been interesting to have it in the open for longer and see how it affected the supporting characters.
So, the story. It’s better, considering there’s actually a story this time. From the first episode to the last, every episode is connected to Koko’s goal, which is revealed a bit into the season. The series sheds its episodic skin, and so the arcs are more focused and character-driven, much to my joy.
The art is just as clean and well-done as it was in the first series. Maybe even better. Some backdrops are absolutely stunning. The character design is much like the first series, although a bit more realistic in general this time around, when it comes to the supporting cast of revolving antagonists/partners.
The voice acting and soundtrack of the series is way better than the first season. Actors have more opportunities to get heated here and some excellent dramatic episodes bring out the best of all. The music is still top-notch, and the opening song especially is fantastic.
The theme and pacing are still the same in this second serving of Koko’s adventures. The more story-focused approach leads to a better balanced product, with the episodes being better structured and the tone being a bit darker. With it, my pleas for the show to have less comedy are answered, as the show did turn towards the more serious in this venture, and the show is better off without the forced comedic elements.
The antagonists and threatening forces this time around are more realistic and grim. There’s not a crazy villain with ridiculous fighting techniques. It’s guns vs guns and tactics + strategy in a wild dance of death.
Enjoyment-wise, Jormungand: PO lands a step above its former series with more thrilling planning; cooler action; better humour; and tear-inducing, heart-wrenching drama. Once again with a Jormungand series, the variance is its strength, balancing several genres and giving them good time. It’s one of those series’ where you finish one episode and keep watching. Not because there’s a crazy cliffhanger, but because the atmosphere, characterisation and execution of the series is so fantastic that you can help wanting to spend more time in Koko’s mad world. Jormungand: Perfect Order is a rare gem to find in today’s anime world, a show with an identity so unique and fresh you can’t help but be swept away by its charm.
Scoring Preconditions: While I rate all parts, the overall score takes in most consideration from story, character, and enjoyment. Art and sound are not factors in the overall, although they can slightly enhance or detract from enjoyment portion. I score from as unbiased a view as possible and I view it in a critical sense, not in a simple enjoyment sense. Thus I give at most a one point overall bonus for enjoyment. Story and characters matter most. I will state exceptions to this rule depending on the anime.
Summary: I felt the premise of the anime was weak from the get go. For those who don’t know, the makers of Black Lagoon made Jormungand. Now the key difference between Jormungand and Jormungand: Perfect Order is 1) Darker feel 2) More plot. Otherwise, its very similar to Black Lagoon in its all out action feel. Details to follow.
Story (4/10): Koko wants to build a supercomputer and do what with it? Spoiler alert: Crash every flying thing down to earth. This is the plot. Nothing intricate to it. No offense, but Treyarch had more creative ideas with Call of Duty. The story isn’t original at all and the maker didn’t make the plot complicated. Essentially Koko succeeds every time and her goons get everything necessary for the computer.With the notable exception of Jonah and his running away part, everything was entirely predictable. And Jonah’s past really was pointless throughout this whole anime. I’ll talk more on Jonah in the characters section. In general, the plot was pretty generic and on its own, not worth the watch. And finally, the makers tried to add some morality talk similar to with Black Lagoon, but unlike with Black Lagoon, they failed epically here.
Art (10/10): Other than the fact that the Hekmatyars and Jonah are albino, I found the artwork enjoyable. Perhaps they were pointy chinned, but I fail to see the problem. Of course art is subjective so I won’t deny that it may not appeal to certain people. But I thought it enhanced the anime. If nothing else, the gun artwork was pretty epic.
Sound (10/10): The opening theme UNDER/SHAFT is on my playlist and I enjoyed the song. Ending theme I felt was not really a match with the mood. Gun noise and background music enhanced the feel of the anime.
Character (7/10): I want to start off by saying that Koko gets crazier in the second season. She loses her more comical sense in favor of a tyrant like temperament. I personally have no problem with that. Compared to the second season, I felt it was more realistic of an arms dealer. We also got a better look at her true inner feelings so character development for Koko was great. Now on to Jonah. I’m still not sure whether to like Jonah or hate him. First of all, the idea of a child soldier being the center piece is ridiculous. The fact that he is surviving and actually killing professionally trained adults is beyond me. But the bigger problem I have with him is his whole do I hate or do I not hate Kasper Hekmatyar. No offense but if you really hated him, you wouldn’t look to him as your next employer after running away from Koko. After all, he did starve him in a shipping container for a week. Jonah does play the quiet role well though. But I had a bigger problem with the fact that his character development really goes nowhere. He first says no to project Jormungand and runs away only to change his mind and return to Koko. I have a hard time with characters that can’t make up their mind and seeing as this basically consisted of the last couple episodes, both the story and the character suffers for it. The only reason the character score isn’t a 3 is because I love Koko.
Enjoyment (10/10): Now I watched this anime in anticipation of the action. The gunfights in this season as well as the first are still some of the best I’ve seen. While not always entirely realistic, it was great to watch. If I had to describe it, it was like watching a first person shooter in reality from a third person view. You get a lot more cool but unrealistic stuff and the guns are up close. That and Koko as a character was sufficient enjoyment for me.
Overall (6/10): First off, I weighed the enjoyment a little more here seeing as the action is its biggest asset. The story and Jonah merits a 5 or lower overall, but Koko and the action add more to this anime. The reason I don’t give it a 7 though is because the premise of this anime was bs. i simply can’t give it a higher score from a critical perspective as it really wasn’t all that good. I’d say as a viewer, its at least a 9/10, but from a critical sense this is the score i give because it is neither creative nor intelligent. One word to describe this season and the first is: explosive.
Thanks for reading this. I’m open for discussion so if you have anything to add, message me and I will get back to you.
8: Zetsuen no Tempest
English: Blast of Tempest
MAL Score: 7.96
Yoshino Takigawa, an ordinary teenager, is secretly dating his best friend Mahiro’s younger sister. But when his girlfriend Aika mysteriously dies, Mahiro disappears, vowing to find the one responsible and make them pay for murdering his beloved sister. Yoshino continues his life as usual and has not heard from Mahiro in a month—until he is confronted by a strange girl who holds him at gunpoint, and his best friend arrives in the nick of time to save him.
Yoshino learns that Mahiro has enlisted the help of a witch named Hakaze Kusaribe to find Aika’s killer and of the existence of an entity known as the “Tree of Exodus.” The witch’s brother selfishly desires to make use of its power, in spite of the impending peril to the world. However, Hakaze is banished to a deserted island, and it is now up to Yoshino and Mahiro to help her save the world, while inching ever closer to the truth behind Aika’s death.
Nothing could say more about Blast of Tempest than Shakespeare’s The Tempest which is heavily referenced throughout the series. Blast of Tempest is a story about overcoming entrapment in the past, both figuratively and literally.
One thing that can be said about Blast of Tempest is that it follows a logical premise that manages to feel legitimately inspired despite its fair share of twists. Even though the story involves magic, the series defines a strong logical framework that both empowers and entraps its characters.
Above all, our character’s personal history is a major factor in the series. It drives Mahiro on a vengeful path to determine who killed his sister and weighs down Yoshino to the point of near-detachment. It is only when these characters are able to accept fate and focus that they are able to allow a tragic event to become the means to a better end (saving the world). Moreover, past as a general influence is extremely well-realized. Events in the past, including Hakaze’s imprisonment, Aika’s death, and even further back to the formation of the Tree of Exodus as a means to end the Tree of Genesis’s purpose in resetting humanity are central to the plot.
Furthermore, the notion of order and chaos is thematically prevalent in the series. Even though the Tree of Genesis represents order, it is only with the chaos represented by the Tree of Exodus that humanity can thrive and even exist. Despite the resurgence of crime and inequality after the dissolution of the Tree of Genesis, it is easy to understand the necessity in the action and why the order imposed by the Tree of Genesis would eventually deem all of humanity unrighteous.
The only major flaw to Blast of Tempest‘s story is that it tends to use its characters as if they are actors in a play (perhaps intentionally). Each character plays his part, often without question. This is extremely noticeable in Aika’s casual acceptance of her fate despite what clearly would have been a difficult decision – but this may actually speak more to her character than to the show’s tendency to have its actors fill a role.
Character development is very important in Blast of Tempest – and all of its main characters, Hakaze, Yoshino, Mahiro and Aika, are a strong basis to the show’s central themes despite their differing personas. What enforces their strength is their intelligence – even in Mahiro’s case – the characters carefully and cleverly plan their actions.
Hakaze is a strong female lead that is open and direct, while sometimes being too upfront and occasionally becoming distracted by desire. What defines Hakaze the most is that, despite her attunement to the Tree of Genesis, she is far from unquestioning. Her actions are often fueled by her desire to seek her own path, even with opposition or without knowing the consequences. It makes her into a character nearly embracing chaos despite the order surrounding her – which accentuates her foil in Aika.
Aika, though appearing frail, is strong to a fault. Her character embraces the ideology of Exodus far too unconditionally which is but testament to her acceptance with being an actress in a play. She often quotes Hamlet and The Tempest because she feels that her only goals have already been previously scripted and she must play to those ideals.
Mahiro, on the other hand, represents another extreme of chaos with his absolute path of vengeance. His early ambitions are simply to avenge the death of Aika, but this actually drives him to greatness because of her involvement in much more crucial matters. When he is freed from this path, his goal has actually become to enact a plan to save the world. Mahiro is a renegade without being overly reckless and ambitious to a point where he is not clouded.
Yoshino, for a large majority of the show, is very detached. Aika’s death had an opposing effect on him in that he nearly lost desire to function after her passing. Even though he is tied down by her loss, he thinks clearly and keeps Mahiro in check when he is pushing himself too far. It’s important to note that Yoshino is the last character to resolve his past as a lesson in history, because he is too entrapped by it. Hakaze’s confessions to him cause him to break because he is not ready to continue his life until all others’ problems have been resolved.
Blast of Tempest is breathtaking visually and its usage of classical pieces in its soundtrack is excellently done. By now, this is what we expect from BONES, so it isn’t too unbelievable that this show lives up to BONES’s capability to generate quality in its production value. Particularly of note are the show’s excellent action scenes that accentuate brilliant animation along with well-utilized classical music.
While Blast of Tempest occasionally falls short of absolute excellence in its willingness to allow its characters to fill roles, it presents a story of past entanglements that is very well-realized and non-contradictory with a cast that synergizes their differing viewpoints.
And it’s a shame because Zetsuen no Tempest had so much potential, but it falls flat on its face instead. But let’s talk about the good of this show first. The art and animation are top notch. Studio Bones pulled no punches when it came to the gorgeous animation and character designs. The battles are fast, fluid, and intense, going hand in hand with the spectacular and vivid wheel of colors that enhance the magical effects. The character designs are stylish and unique, with no two characters looking too much alike. Another small little detail that was well done was the character’s clothing. Each character’s various clothing looks like something straight out of a teen fashion magazine; very funky and stylish. Small artistic details are also added in the character’s hair and accessories. If I were rating this anime solely based on its art and animation, it would easily score a nine at the very least. Unfortunately, I did not, and I won’t.
Now on to the not-so-good of Zetsuen no Tempest, which is basically everything else. Perhaps the weakest aspect of the show is its story. The story starts out with Hakaze Kusaribe, the princess of a clan of mages, contacting Fuwa Mahiro to help her extinguish an uprising instigated by her followers. Left stranded on an island by said followers, they can only communicate through magic. Hakaze promises to help Mahiro find his sister’s killer in exchange for his help. Mahiro’s friend, Takigawa Yoshino comes along for the ride, and together the three aim to prevent the Kusaribe clan from awakening the tree of Exodus, which would subsequently bring destruction to the entire world.
The entire story pays homage to Shakespeare’s works, namely The Tempest and Hamlet. For some reason, the story feels it needs to remind you of this quite frequently, as it seems every few minutes someone is throwing out a Shakespeare quote. There’s no subtlety in its delivery, and the quotes have little meaning to the plot or the characters. It seems they simply threw in several quotes in order to make the script seemed more grand and classy. Instead, it ended up making the entire anime sound incredibly pretentious. It could be argued that the two differing plays were being quoted to signal that this anime could either have a happy or tragic ending, leaving the viewer to wonder in anticipation. But not only is that grasping at straws, it gives the writers more credit than they probably deserve.
Now to be fair, the first half of the series was pretty good. It was standing on shaky ground but it was still quite good. It may have been standard shonen anime fare “save the world with magical powers, stop the bad guys” but it had an interesting enough twist to keep it afloat. The characters were interesting; they had clear cut motivations that at least made some sense. The plot moved about at a comfortable pace with just enough action and character development shimmied into each episode. The rules of the universe made sense. All that was completely ruined by its mess of a second half.
The plot begins to contradict the rules it established in its first half. It makes no effort to even make sense of Hakaze’s ability to time travel for a second and third time. It presents a ridiculous plot twist that makes even less sense and gives a sort of barbaric edge to Aika’s character that the other characters don’t even bat an eye at. And worst of all, romance is shoehorned in for the sake of throwing in some aspects of a corny school love comedy. Hakaze even alludes to this in a hilarious 4th wall breaking internal monologue.
Perhaps one of the most disappointing aspects of the show is the degradation of its characters. Yes that’s right, the very characters that made the show go backwards as it drags on. Perhaps the character that does it the most is Hakaze Kusaribe. She is initially presented as a strong heroine, with an arrogant edge that is backed up by her standing as the most powerful mage in the clan. She is cunning and unflinching, yet kind and caring when she needs to be. But of course that is all negated when she falls in love.
Yes, LOVE! She becomes clumsy, indecisive, and silly at the first hints of love. Her initial goal was to prevent the destruction of the world and take control of her clan once again. But when she falls in love, she leaves the fate of her clan in the hands of the guy who betrayed her and sent her to an island to die. All so she could travel freely with her love interest. Later, she wants to save the world simply for her love. To say anything else about her silly love driven mindset would mean spoilers, so to be vague, pay attention to what she says when she travels across time a second time. It is so unbelievably silly, bordering on completely idiotic. She goes from a strong heroine to someone whose sole reason for existing and acting is for her love.
Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad it we had some substantial buildup to the relationship, coupled with proof of an established and long-lasting bond that could never be broken. That, and if her feelings were actually reciprocated. Then it would be quite romantic and heroic that Hakaze would do anything for her love. But instead, her actions are based on a silly schoolgirl crush (that quite literally springs out of nowhere) and nothing more, making her actions and motivations seem incredibly idiotic.
Fuwa Mahiro and Takigawa Yoshino are perfect foils, making for a very interesting relationship between the two heroes. They get a significant amount of development in the first half of the show through a series of flashbacks, some of which involve Aika. Brash and arrogant Mahiro is the brawn of their duo, while the manipulative and analytical Yoshino is the brains. Their relationship is one of the most interesting ones of the series. How two young men who are so different from each other could end up cooperating so willingly and becoming the best of friends is a real mystery. But their actions in the second half become a bit odd to say the least. Not only that, but they show little emotion when finding out the truth behind Aika’s death, despite the fact that they are the most important people to her. In fact, their lack of emotion is prevalent even in the first half. They are just normal high school boys, not hardened soldiers. Yet their reactions to the destruction of their home certainly don’t give any hints to that.
Then there is Fuwa Aika, one of the most confusing characters. She’s already dead by the beginning of the series, yet still plays an important role in the story. She’s the motivation for Yoshino and Mahiro’s actions and appears in numerous flashbacks. Her character is described in the anime as having a “horrible personality.” That’s not even the half of it. Her development at the tail end of the series hints at a facet of her personality that is far more barbaric, border lining on psychotic. The rest of the side characters are mostly just there for decoration. They are lively personalities to either spice things up or be used as a convenient plot device to move the story along.
Now don’t get me wrong, Zetsuen no Tempest is not wholly unwatchable. There is plenty of enjoyment to be had watching this series, especially during the first half. It’s just too bad that Bones screwed up the story and characters so hard during the second half that it irredeemably sours the entire series. The character’s motivations during the second half make little to no sense. And trying to piece together why the characters are doing what they’re doing gives way to the realization that these characters are acting like total idiots. The plot twist during the second half was also ridiculous, giving the viewer little justification for WHY things had to be this way. Not to mention the implausibility of the situation based purely on the rules set by the anime.
Zetsuen no Tempest is a great watch if you turn off your brain and just enjoy it for what it is: Your “only very slightly above average until the second half of the show” shonen anime. Anybody looking for anything more won’t get much enjoyment out of this anime.
Let me go into detail…
Story: The story was put together in a great yet questionable way. There were many parts of the anime that could be related to the famous works of Shakespeare. With plot twists that would leave you confused, the story was never boring. The twisted tale of love, hate, revenge and a touch of magic was most definitely satisfying especially how the ending wrapped up the entire story. I sincerely wish that they would make a sequel.
Art: The art was satisfying, it clearly showed details in the magic shields and barriers. They point that stood out the most for me were the eyes. The characters eyes showed their emotions so clearly that they sent shivers down my spine, how they would dull or brighten depending on the emotions being conveyed.
Sound: The music chosen for this anime was…. Fabulous. The violin solos with the varying volumes matched the pace of the show and the suspense in the best fashion. The opening and endings weren’t boring and they definitely didn’t reveal a lot about the story. The upbeat openings shows the action and the more aggressive emotions in the show whereas the slower themes in the endings portrays the more negative and deeper feelings.
Character: Gosh, all of the characters were so perfect. They each played a huge role in the story but I think I should be more specific. Takigawa Yoshino is my favorite character, he is so mysterious and he definitely is a major character. He is referred as Horatio in some parts of the anime. His tale of not being able to grieve for the one he loves is heart breaking, how he shows great deduction skills and how he seems so innocent is so twisted and yet it fits the story perfectly. Fuwa Mahiro is the rich and feared character. His feelings played a large role, I find his motives very amusing throughout the plot. Yoshino and Mahiro are very… different characters compared to the cliches that show up nowadays. When you expect them to do something, they do the complete opposite. But what scares and surprises me the most is the lack of response from the two of them, no matter what they can always appear calm.
Overall, I ranked this anime a 9/10. Although I would say that it’s closer to a 9.5/10. XD
This is my first review, so I hope I did well…
7: JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (TV)
English: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
MAL Score: 7.96
In 1868, Dario Brando saves the life of an English nobleman, George Joestar. By taking in Dario’s son Dio when the boy becomes fatherless, George hopes to repay the debt he owes to his savior. However Dio, unsatisfied with his station in life, aspires to seize the Joestar house for his own. Wielding an Aztec stone mask with supernatural properties, he sets out to destroy George and his son, Jonathan “JoJo” Joestar, and triggers a chain of events that will continue to echo through the years to come.
Half a century later, in New York City, Jonathan’s grandson Joseph Joestar discovers the legacy his grandfather left for him. When an archeological dig unearths the truth behind the stone mask, he realizes that he is the only one who can defeat the Pillar Men, mystical beings of immeasurable power who inadvertently began everything.
Adapted from the first two arcs of Hirohiko Araki’s outlandish manga series, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken follows the many thrilling expeditions of JoJo and his descendants. Whether it’s facing off with the evil Dio, or combatting the sinister Pillar Men, there’s always plenty of bizarre adventures in store.
Nearly every review of JoJo 2012 praises it as a MASTERPIECE, because it represents a triumphant return for the macho manly anime of the past. I have a slightly different perspective than most critics on MAL, so unsurprisingly my conclusion was a little different as well. If I was born between 1995 and 2000 and grew up during the “sparkling kawaii desu moe” era of anime where every male protagonist is a whiny pussy, I too would be inclined to give Jojo a 10/10 out of sheer novelty alone. However, I was born in the 1980s and I actually remember the GAR days of manly anime. In the 1990s, you watched anime largely by going to the video store and renting whatever anime was available. Almost ALL of it was cheaply licensed, ultraviolent OVAs from the late 80s and early 90s. Were those anime better? Well believe it or not…no, not really. There were indeed some awesome anime like Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken), but for every Fist of the North Star there was absolute garbage like: Genocyber, Violence Jack, MD Geist, Mad Bull 34, Angel Cop, etc. Simply being macho didn’t make an anime good by default back in the 1990s, and that shouldn’t be any different today! I am going to look at Jojo from a fair and objective view rather then simply heap praise on it based on principle alone.
Story and Characters: 6/10
The 2012 JoJo anime adapts the first 2 arcs of the manga, so this is the JoJo series you should watch first sequentially! JoJo is about the Joestar family and their epic feats of badassery over the generations. The first generation of Joestar asskicking takes place in Victorian England with Jonathan Joestar, whom I will call Johnny JoJo. The dumbass father of Johnny JoJo decides to adopt the blatantly evil son of a man who “saved his life” when he had a carriage accident. Even though it is later revealed that papa Joestar knew that Brando was a dishonest man and wasn’t actually trying to save him, he adopts Dio anyway and continuously believes Dio over his own son despite the fact that Dio may as well have “evil” tattooed on his forehead. Dio is a 1 dimensional bully who exists to make Johnny JoJo miserable, steal his father’s affection, and ultimately try steal his inheritance. Dio will perform some act of over the top evil like brutally murder Johnny’s dog, and papa Joestar will instantly believe Dio’s side of the story, simply to frustrate the viewers. This is like that Spongebob episode where Spongebob adopts an evil lamprey as a pet and keeps blaming the obviously innocent Gary the snail whenever anything goes wrong. The difference is that JoJo isn’t a comedy cartoon for small children. It is a Shonen demographic anime that actually expects us to take this seriously! Johnny JoJo discovers that Dio is attempting to poison his father and inherit the fortune, so he goes to find the poison shop where Dio has been purchasing his product. Johnny JoJo proves Dio is guilty, but Dio uses a mystical artifact Johnny has been studying to transform himself into a vampire and start wrecking shit. Dio kills papa Joestar and seemingly gets killed in turn by Johnny, but it turns out Dio survived and wants to create a vampire army to take over the world. Johnny takes some mystical martial arts training to unleash sunlight with punches (just go with it) and goes on a crusade to take out Dio. Unfortunately, that son of a bitch simply won’t stay down and eventually Johnny must sacrifice his own life in manly fashion to save his wife and unborn child.
I’m going to come right out and say it, Dio is a SHIT excuse for a villain. There are many things that can make a great villain: complex motivations, based on a historical figure, or even being extremely evil in an interesting fashion that is fun and frightening to watch. Dio is a cliche bully archetype that gets turned into a vampire, then decides to take over the world because he wasn’t already cliche enough. In a way, Dio does remind me of the villains from oldschool GAR anime like: the bullies in Genocyber that randomly decide to rape a homeless child, or the bully in Devilman who decides to butcher the class bunnies for no reason. However, those bullies were quickly and brutally dispatched because that kind of character isn’t very interesting. They exist to piss off the audience and grant a cathartic revenge fantasy when they get killed. Dio just lingers on and on like a sulfurous fart that won’t go away. Johnny JoJo is a gentlemen and a badass, but his character depth never goes beyond that. He doesn’t have a strong internal struggle or ambiguous goals or anything that makes complex character. I know that isn’t the point of JoJo, but a show aimed at older audiences should probably try to have SOME level of complexity unless the action is so awesome it doesn’t matter. However, JoJo isn’t a non-step action violence fest like Hellsing Ultimate. JoJo actually does take a LOT of time to focus on plot and characters, which is why it is disappointing that the plot isn’t very good and the characters are paper thin archetypes.
After a decent but certainly not masterful arc 1, we get to see the adventures of Johnny JoJo’s grandson: Joey JoJo. Joey JoJo must go to Mexico to fight against the evil vampires that created the mystical mask from part 1. He teams up with the grandson of one his grandfather’s old allies along with a surprisingly friendly Nazi dude named Rudol Von Stroheim. I guess the writer of JoJo meant to use the name “Rudolph” because “Rudol” isn’t even a real German name. Rudol’s catchphrase is German (insert whatever) is the best! Characters with goofy catchphrases can work like Korbowitz in Berserk or Armstrong in FMA, but I wasn’t really feeling this one. Honestly I just found myself wishing this guy would be replaced with Captain Germany the manly werewolf from Hellsing. This second arc does have some pretty awesome action scenes including Joey JoJo punching the vampire leader into Outer fucking SPACE! However, the plot and characters still come WAY short of being called a masterpiece or anything approaching a masterpiece.
The art and animation is heavily stylized and admittedly does a good job creating the look and feel of anime from yesteryear. There are lots of still-shots to recreate the look of cheap animation from the days where anime had extremely limited budgets. There are plenty of “action lines” that the old anime had in abundance especially pre-1990. I think my favorite part of JoJo might actually be the art because it really does recapture and recreate what anime used to look like and now no longer even resembles.
Does JoJo do a decent job capturing what old school anime used to look and feel like? Yeah, and that is why it isn’t a bad show. Does being retro make it a masterpiece by default? Absolutely not. The story may not suffer from pointless “tournament arcs” like so many shonen anime, but the plot isn’t honestly very good. Like the characters, the plot is very simplistic and doesn’t exactly carry JoJo into the realms of truly great anime. The male characters are actually manly and don’t resemble either Keitaro Urashima from Love Hina or Shinji Ikari from NGE, the 2 characters that basically convinced anime executives that Otaku identify more with Beta males and completely neutered anime. However, JoJo’s mediocre action and old school animation doesn’t quite make up for its simplistic and overall lackluster story and characters. At the end of the day, JoJo 2012 is a good anime, but is JUST a good anime. It doesn’t nearly deserve the ratings it has received on MAL, or the praise it receives on 4chan. I WOULD recommend it to younger viewers who want to see what old anime was like, but I caution against the kind of blind praise that has already made this anime absurdly overrated.
Art – 8/10
I suppose I’ll start off with how it adapted the source material. Unlike the OVAs and Phantom Blood movie, there were no cuts in content, and it actually adapted parts 1 and 2 of the manga: Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. The studio, David Production, did what I would consider a masterful job in terms of bringing out Araki Hirohiko’s style into the manga. He is an artist, and you can see his art evolve throughout the long-running JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure franchise. DP hired multiple art directors and tried to incorporate the different faces and builds in body throughout the series. Also, because there is no such thing as “canon” colors for characters, DP, in an unexpected but very innovative manner, used their poor budget to their advantage—by changing color schemes and using colorful abstract backgrounds during monologues and still-frames. I’ll give the art by itself a 10/10, even though sometimes Jonathan and Joseph, the titular JoJos in this series, suffer from Gorilla Face Syndrome, since the BD/DVDs are doing a great job of fixing it.
On still-frames, this is one of TWO flaws I found throughout the whole series. DP was contracted by Warner Bros. and they were given a pretty weak budget to work with. As a result, some might say that there are lots of times where this show is more of a “live-manga” or stream of the manga. The “animated” SFX from the source material, plentiful still-frames, and lack of actual animation at times are what add to this idea. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not like every episode is a slideshow; however, there are DEFINITELY times when it feels that way—I’m looking at you, episode 16. Honestly, I feel like DP made it up to us with some episodes that were battle-heavy, like episode 20 and most definitely the final 3 or so episodes. Especially the last one. For this I will have to give the animation itself a 7/10. The distinct art style and use of colors boost it up to an 8 for me.
Sound – 8/10
So-no Chi no Sa-da-me, JOOOOOOOOO~JO! There are two opening themes, JOJO~Sono Chi no Sadame~ by Hiroaki “TOMMY” Tominaga , and BLOODY STREAM by Coda. Both were tailored for their respective Part in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, in both lyrics, atmosphere, and animation itself—we actually get some pretty good CG depicting events in Parts 1 and 2. They were extremely catchy, and I never skipped them. The ending theme was Roundabout by progressive rock band YES, which actually came out in the 70s—and influenced the original manga! and I applaud DP for that choice. The song’s lyrics fit extremely well and it is actually one of Araki Hirohiko’s favorite bands! Also, because it is an 8 minute song, they used different snippets, some soft, some more intense, depending on what kind of note the episode ended on. That was genius and definitely made the watching experience better. If it were up to the OP and ED alone I’d give the sound a 10/10
As for the actual soundtrack, because of the difference in atmosphere between Parts 1 and 2, or at least I assume it’s for that reason, DP hired two composers and gave us two soundtracks per part. Phantom Blood was mostly orchestral, very fitting with the late Victorian feel we get when we think of England in the 1880s. It fit extremely well and I applaud Matsuo Hayato for his beautiful soundtrack. Part 2, being much more dynamic and quite literally “all over the place”, has Iwasaki Taku, who worked with his friends Lotus Juice. The soundtrack he made has soft, orchestral pieces and, well, everything. He has rap/hip-hop, rock, metal, DUBSTEP, and even flutes and drums that bring a middle-eastern feel. Personally, I thought the dubstep was actually very good and tamer than most, and that it fit well the middle-eastern sounds he composed for with the Pillar Men, the main antagonists of Part 2. The sound direction, however, was not as amazing. Iwasaki Taku complained himself, over Twitter, that his songs were not being used correctly, and, after paying close attention to episodes 22 and 23, I can’t say I disagree. David Productions flubbed it when it came to transitioning the music and providing an appropriate atmosphere with the songs in those two episodes. For that reason, although the music itself was superb, I will have to give it an 8 total.
Story – 9/10
Story is pretty simple, to say the least. The original story came out in 1987, in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump. Phantom Blood can be pretty much summed up as Castlevania with Hokuto no Ken elements, which shouldn’t be seen as bad in any way. Araki Hirohiko wanted to make a solid base so that he could evolve his work throughout time, and I think he did a pretty good job, taking in the work of contemporaries around him. The first part is hot-blooded, fast-paced, and the definition of “camp”. Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando are probably the most one-dimensional characters you will ever find, but it is because they were so static, they polarized each other and made the fight between them so interesting. Dio Part 1’s main antagonist, from the first episode, is depicted to us as the very definition of EVIL at the age of 12! Although the story is simple, the characters are definitely what make the sure. In Battle Tendency, the story takes a more adventurous route and we see our new JoJo, Joseph Joestar, go from New York, to Mexico, to Italy, to Sweden, and it’s amazing. The main antagonists of this part are a powerful trio of “Pillar Men” called Wham, ACDC, and Cars, responsible for the creation of the stone mask that set the events in Part 1. The continuity is great and you definitely feel time passing as you watch the series, characters like Speedwagon and Erina are shown old, and with every major timeskip you see differences in character design. Story, when it boils down to it, just has to be interesting. I was definitely interested in the stories for Parts 1 and 2 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. They were simple, straight, and to the point, which made it possible to expand more on the character dynamics, arguably the strongest part of this series. There were no long and obnoxious training arcs, the fights are NOT dragged out—probably the most common flaw in shonen battle series—and if there are cliches, they are exaggerated to their extremes. This series does not take itself that seriously, and when it does, you can bet that you’ll be on the edge of your seat. Story gets a 9/10 from me.
Character – 10/10
As for the characters. Araki sure knows how to get you attached to characters. And then rip them away from you. There are definitely deaths in this series and they are dramatic and will definitely tug at your heart. Also, the voice actors are passionate and work admirably together. Takehito Koyasu, with his smooth, deep voice will send chills down your spine whenever Dio is formulating a plot or mocking JoJo. Okitsu Kazuyuki may be a newbie, unlike the slew of veterans in the rest of the cast, but he makes Jonathan Joestar so damn LIKABLE with his passionate screams, calm reassurance, and definitely makes the heart of gold in this character shine brightly. Sugita Tomokazu, probably best known for his characteristic shonen gag voice as Gintoki (Gintama) and serious/apathetic voice as Kyon (Haruhi Suzumiya series), makes a perfect Joseph Joestar, because Joseph embodies the ideal shonen protagonist—smart, strong, funny, and extremely expressive. Basically, where the animation fell short, I believe that the voice actors definitely picked up the slack. Everyone has fun, because this is supposed to be a fun series. I love it. Characters get 5/5 from me. Both as they were written and how they were acted, you can definitely feel the chemistry between all the voices and that made it way more enjoyable.
Enjoyment – 10/10
Enjoyment. I keep on mentioning this when I score each aspect of the show for this review. Ultimately, when you watch an anime, or any show, movie, etc; you do so because you want to enjoy and be entertained. I can almost guarantee that if you go and watch this show with a blank slate and just a pure, unadulterated desire to be entertained, you will not come out disappointed. Just keep in mind that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a series that is 25 years in the making, and this is but the beginning. It is without a doubt my favorite manga series, and this long-awaited anime adaption gives it the justice that it deserves. If you watch it, and enjoy it, like I said you probably will, then I implore to take up the manga. You can skip right to Part 3, the most popular arc in the franchise, but I recommend reading from the beginning, you’ll pick out some tiny things left out that couldn’t be conveyed through the anime, and you’ll see the evolution of Araki Hirohiko’s art throughout the ages.
But first, if you watch the anime, I recommend Muda Muda Muda Subs [MMM] subs or CommieSubs [Commie]. They are the most accurate subs and if you prefer a better script, go with MMM, if you want better typesetting and subtitled SFX, go with Commie. Personally, I used MMM because they are a group that got together solely for this series, released in a timely schedule with accurate subs, took advice/criticism well, and also have better encoding.
I hope that after this review some of you watch this show and develop the same love I have for it!
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is quite possibly the most popular anime on the internet right now, what was once a weird niche show in the west has essentially become the new Naruto, which is ironic seeing as it predates it. Now what do I mean by that? Well tell me if you’ve heard this one before, a mediocre shounen anime that’s mostly popular with teenage boys, that has also infested meme culture, and has become almost impossible to criticize, not because it’s a flawless masterpiece with absolutely no flaws that has changed society for the better (though the fans would want you to believe that), but because its fans will attack you if you so much as say it isn’t the magnum opus the make it out to be. Now seeing as the Part 5 anime has come to an end, I’ve decided to review the first season, and tell you why I personally don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as people say it is.
The problem with reviewing season 1 mostly comes down to the fact that it combines two arcs with completely different settings, tones, plot, and characters, so I’ll be giving each Part its own score in each category (with the exception of art and sound, both parts have the same art direction, animation and music)
Phantom Blood: 3/10
Think of the most generic good vs evil story, think of a story with a boring as hell flawless main character who’s so righteous and good that his only mistake was being too nice (yes really), a bland and inhuman villain who’s just evil for the sake of being evil and who’s sole motivation for being evil is literally “my dad was mean to me”, the most basic and overused 3 act structure, and a supporting cast so cookie cutter and forgettable, that you could switch some of their roles and round without anything changing. That’s Part 1 in a nutshell
To be fair, the first 3 episodes are well paced, the story at first is a generic macguffin story, but it knows how to hold your interest and be suspenseful, then just devolves into Generic Shounen Battle Show Inspired By Fist of The North Star/Dragon Ball #50. It’s quite hard for me to talk about themes, character development or anything because it’s such a nothing story, no one develops (I mean Jonathan gets stronger but in terms of personality he’s the same), the only theme is, I guess, “good will triumph over evil” or some generic bullshit like that, if Jojo had ended hear it wouldn’t even be a footnote in the history of Shounen Jump. I’ll go more in depth on why I think Phantom Blood sucks in the character section.
Battle Tendency: 6/10
Now this is much much better, not amazing but a huge improvement over part 1, and I think the main reason why is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is basically a comedy. Part 1 took itself completely seriously, and as such I had to focus on plot, characters, themes etc first and entertainment value second, with part 2 it’s the opposite, I feel like the series it at its strongest when it’s basically just a comedy, it makes the poor writing, bland characters and unoriginal storylines a lot more tolerable, seeing as the focus is being entertaining and fun, rather than telling a great story.
The story is incredibly generic, it’s yet another story where the villain is an ancient being who was sealed away long ago but has now come back, oh, and his goal is to collect a macguffin that gives him ultimate power, how original. However, again, it doesn’t take itself too seriously so I’ll let it slide seeing as it’s really entertaining, it’s also paced much better than Part 1. Overall if you’re looking for some mindless fun, I recommend Part 2.
Phantom Blood: 1/10
A cliche story can be forgiven if the characters are interesting, unfortunately for Phantom Blood, the characters are some of the most bland and cookie cutter characters I have ever seen, period. Let”s start with Jonathan, Jonathan’s entire personality is that he’s a hero, he has no character flaws, he’s just, the hero, that’s all he is, he never develops he is the same irritating nice guy from beginning to end. Then we have Speedwagon, he’s a thug who tries to kill Jonathan, but then he gets punched in the face and follows Jonathan around, all he does is stand around and tell the audience what they just saw, how did this character become popular, seriously, aside from his design there is nothing noteworthy about him. There’s also Erina, who might as well be a cardboard cut out of a vagina, she has no personality (noticing a trend?) and exists solely to be Jonathan’s love interest.
Then we move on to Dio, quite possibly the most iconic Jojo character, he’s a terrible antagonist, his actions make no sense whatsoever, I mean killing his birth father made sense, he was abusive to Dio and killing him would essentially allow Dio to go from the slums to a mansion, however once he gets the chance to live a life of luxury, what does he do? He tries to kill the man who took him in, why? Because the plot demanded him to. Dio’s goal is to be rich an powerful, but he’s already an aristocrat, so logically he shouldn’t do anything after killing Dario, if Dio just lived a normal life with the Joestars nothing bad would’ve happened to him, Dio caused his own downfall for no reason at all, Dio is stupid, plain and simple.
We also have Zeppeli, he’s Jonathan’s mentor, but not a fun or interesting one like Biscuit from HxH or Master Roshi from Dragon Ball, no, he’s just a guy with, you guessed it, no personality, who teaches Jonathan how to fight and then dies like 4 episodes later, they expect you to feel sad but who’s gonna feel sad for some guy who no personality who they barely knew for 4 episodes.
There are some other characters in Part 1, but they aren’t really noteworthy, the other Hamon masters are just there, one of them tells Jonathan something he already knew, and another fights Joseph in Part 2. There’s also this one kid who tags along Jonathan for 2 episodes and then disappears, I don’t know why he was in the story, he could easily be removed without literally anything in the story being affected.
Battle Tendency: 5/10
Joseph is a huge improvement over Jonathan, in that he actually has a unique personality, he’s an goofy asshole who’s a lot more tactical than Jonathan, he’s not too interesting, but he is really fun to watch, so for an arc that focuses more on comedy, I think he’s a good protagonist, he even develops a little, he’s much less obnoxious and rude at the end, which I know doesn’t seem impressive at all, but trust me, he’s one of the only characters in the entire franchise who actually develops.
My favorite character of the arc, and this season as a whole, is Stroheim, there’s not a whole lot to him, he’s just really over the top and fun to watch, any scene with him is really entertaining it’s also interesting to see a soldier of the most cruel regime to date as something other than a complete monster, Stroheim is a proud and loyal soldier serving the country he believed in, even if that country was one of the only objective bad guys in real world history.
Now I’ve bad praising the characters in Part 2 so far, so why did I give them a 5/10 overall? Well the rest of the characters (besides the villains) are about as bland as the ones from Part 1, we have Smokey, a boy who Joseph saves at the beginning of the arc, he’s set up to be Joseph’s sidekick but is quickly dropped, like the boy from Part 1. Then we have Caesar, another character who’s popularity baffles me, he is pointless, he trains with Joseph and is set up as his sidekick for the confrontation with the pillar men and is quickly killed off, having achieved nothing while he was alive. Lisa Lisa is about as bland as Zeppeli, she’s also revealed to be Joseph’s mother, there’s not much else to talk about, moving on.
The villains are a slight improvement over Dio, and by that I mean, they’re not completely moronic and illogical, their goals and motivations are overly simplistic though, but at least they have some motivation and a concrete goal that isn’t “take over the world”. Kars is a cunning and intelligent villain, a vast improvement over Dio, his motivations make sense, he wanted his race to overcome their weaknesses, but was forced to wipe out most of them once they tried stopping his experiments, he has nothing left but this goal to become perfect and is obsessed with it, and that’s actually sort of interesting. The two other pillar men aren’t nearly as interesting though, they just sort of follow Kars’ orders, they try to make Wammu more interesting but it doesn’t really work, still a vast improvement over Dio though.
The best part is easily the animation, it’s incredible, the lighting, the cinematography, the movement, the Hamon effects, all of it is great to watch, I wish this kind of animation was used on shows with better stories but i’m not complaining here. Some scenes also play around with colour, and that really sets the mood for certain scenes, overall, the animation is great, the only problem is the amount of still shots in the show, otherwise I would’ve given it a 9.
The soundtrack is also great, there are some catchy tunes, such as the Pillar Men theme, Stroheim’s theme and some of the other orchestral pieces. The ops are both incredible, they’re well composed, the vocals are great and they’re really catchy. Same goes for the ED but it’s a song from the 70s so it doesn’t really count
I recommend just skipping to Part 2 if you want a fun action show, you’re not missing much by skipping Part 1, besides he Hamon explanation which you could just easily look up online. Personally I’m baffled this show became so popular, it starts off badly and just isn’t anything that special.
6: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
English: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
Japanese: マギ The labyrinth of magic
MAL Score: 8.04
Dispersed around the world, there are several bizarre labyrinths hiding incredible treasures within them. These mysterious places, known as “Dungeons,” are said to be the work of Magi, a class of rare magicians, who also help people build their empires by guiding them to a dungeon. Djinns, supernatural beings that rule over the labyrinths, grant successful conquerors access to their immense power and choose them as potential king candidates to rule the world.
Having spent life in isolation, Aladdin, a kind and young magician, is eager to explore the world upon finally leaving his home behind. He begins his journey only accompanied by his mentor Ugo—a djinn that Aladdin can summon with his flute. However, Aladdin soon becomes friends with the courageous Alibaba Saluja after causing the destruction of a local merchant’s supply cart. In order to pay for the damages, Alibaba suggests that they attempt to conquer the nearest dungeon, taking the first step in an epic adventure that will decide the fate of the world itself.
Thankfully, Magi does this.
Story: (9/10) With a setting based on Arabian Nights, you can expect (or at least hope for), a gripping narrative. Thankfully, Magi is structured so that the focus on the two main protagonists (Alibaba and Aladdin) is well orchestrated, and has a unique vibe to it. Through this, the story can become very dark and gripping, while not losing the narrative. What differentiates this from other shounen is the political aspect. As a king, you must reign. But how will you do it? Through this question the different nations and factions can interact in a believable environment, without it ever feeling like the author is asking you to pretend they would do that.
Art: (8/10) Most shounens typically fall under long broadcasting widths. While this allows for a developed story, the art tends to suffer long-term. Thankfully the animators have cut the show into a one season arc, while providing room to adapt more chapters if need be. For this reason, the art is well developed. Backgrounds are detailed and varied, with character models being round and developed. There are few jagged edges apparent, which helps realism. The battle scenes don’t suffer with still shots (too much), and motion does not degrade the animation. It stays fluid throughout, with the exception of the comedy scenes. Through these, the show takes a different animation style. While humorous in a way, it detracts from the overall value. I don’t see the joke through their expressions, but rather, through the goofy way they’re drawn.
Sound: (9/10) One of Magi’s strong points. Both openings provide a gateway into Arabia, with a melody and vocalist that resemble the middle eastern style. It opens the door to the show, making the transition to background music worthwhile. With this, you experience a variety of festival soundtracks, battle hymns, and adventure tunes. The depth and well execution of sound makes for a more enjoyable watch. This is followed by the endings which slightly devalue the soundtrack. While not bad, they don’t carry the show to the end. Had they been chosen better, the desire to continue watching would have been more apparent.
Characters: (10/10) The characters in a show must be well rounded for the plot to work. No matter how great a set piece, it won’t work without strong protagonists. And Magi delivers. Alibabba is a naive individual with to much idealism. This pushes the plot forward. Aladdin is a childish yet strangely deep character. His character shifts add emotion to the story. Morgiana is the strong, shackled female who can offer great moments through her actions. This trio has a well-blended bond that works. Their conversations kept me through the show, eager to see how they will handle future situations. The background characters, of which there are to many to name, are stunning. They have unique personalities, and offer believable lines that push the narrative further. Each new individual can hold their own as a main character, and you can care for each one of them. They’re so developed you almost want to root for the bad guy.
Enjoyment (9/10) I spent a week watching this show to prepare for the second season. After finishing, I was impatient waiting for season 2. This show was well worth the time put in, and will absolutely have a lasting effect on your view of how a shounen should be.
Overall: (9/10) Magi is a show that should be watched, for it offers a well developed plot that’s backed by great sound, art, and characters. For those into shounen, this’ll be a guaranteed favorite. For those wanting to get into the genre, it’s a good starting point. And for those opposed of the genre, you’re missing out.
Magi (also known as Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic as its full title) is a manga written by Shinobu Ohtaka. The series takes place in an universe that has has desert artwork scattered all around. As such, its theme relates to the classical One Thousand and One Nights and its collections. It feels like a classic honestly with its settings and atmosphere. From the beginning, we quickly meet all three of the main protagonists in the series. It doesn’t take long for the action and drama to pick up its pace as in the first few episodes already explores some of the cruelty (such as slavery), the dungeons, and monstrosity that exists in the Magi universe.
The series is packed with both a lighthearted and action style mood as the episodes progresses. One of the things that we see is the interesting and bro-like relationship between the two main characters – Aladdin and Alibaba. Although not related, they have a close bond and a brotherly relationship in which the two often looks out after one another. The two travels together in their quests and adventures . It’s a fantasy adventure that gives off that old school like feeling as they explore the world of Magi.
Although not one-hundred percent compatible, the duo has similar personalities. Both Aladdin and Alibaba shares a personality of wanting to explore the world as well as having an initiative to help others in need. They put others above themselves and always constantly looks after each others’ well being. The relationship between the two is very fun to watch given their lighthearted interactions and how they conquer obstacles along the way. Additionally, the duo are very loyal and seeks ways to form bonds with others whether through words or their actions.
However, this doesn’t always last.
For some reason, the series breaks off its trials for a bit later on. The two goes off of their directions and seemingly begins their own tales. From there on, the duo seems to become independent of their own journeys as they explore their own worlds. It seems to be more character focused rather than a story by this point and things start to slow down. Additionally, what continues on seems to have little influence on the duo’s journey and adventures. That and the fact in which their adventures gets off its tracks with no intertwined effect on one another seems to make a few frown on some die hard fans’ faces.
Luckily, there’s still another character that brings on entertainment to Magi. Her name is Morgania and she’s one tough girl with an even tougher childhood.
Joining the duo later on, Morgania (Mor) is a young 14 years old girl who always had a tough childhood. Forced into slavery and with little freedom, we see her struggles in the world of Magi. Prior to her liberation, her personality exists opposite of the dynamic duo that we are already familiar with. Her cold personality reflects on the cruelty of what she already been through. It makes us feel sorry for her as a child and how she came to be. Yet, later on, we do see more of her caring side. In fact, Morgania even begins risking her own life to protect others in need and putting herself above others. It’s proven that Morgania has forged a strong friendship with Alibaba and Aladdin and they are possibly the most important people in her life.
Other characters in the series also has a way of setting themselves from the others. Most of their names (including the main protagonists) are based off One Thousand and One Nights along with some of its settings and themes. There are the many tribes with their leaders and prominent members such as Sinbad and Judal. They play their roles and given their status and power are considered respected as well as feared throughout the Magi world.
The magic part of the series also takes in every episode of course. The magic theme of the series involves the power of the djinns that comes along from the users’ metal vessels. Other terms related to magic include rukh, magoi, dungeon capturer, and magi itself. It’s hard to say that these themes all tie together well by they do go hand in hand. In fact, most of Magi has a desert like setting unlike our modern civilization with fancy cars, technology, and architecture. As a matter of fact, it’s portrayed in that fantasy like setting with its old school like backgrounds.
As magi is considered the title, it is also considered a respectful term known by its name. We clearly know and see that Aladdin is a magi with his powers of being able to summon Ugo, a blue muscular like familiar that fights on his behalf. Yet at the same time, it seems that Aladdin also lacks the precise knowledge of how to perfect his skills especially later on against an antagonist. It is by this time we know that there is so much mystery that meets the eye of being what a magi is all about. Yet, with the help of his dear friends, Aladdin may unlock those mysteries.
The series’ action is portrayed as being part of the shounen style. It involves the characters powering up, making speeches in the middle of fights, and trying to show off what they can do. To be honest, it is quite generic and some of the same cliched action scenes are forced in many ways. For example, the battle between Aladdin and another fellow magi later on starts one-sided. Yet later on, it turns around the tide and has our main protagonist Aladdin do “what is right and stop him”. The action also seems to be forced as well such as the powering up and dynamic entrances from some of the characters. Whether entering in or exiting out, it seems to be forced and lacks true action.
The artwork design of the series is natural and sophisticated. Because it is based off One Thousand and One Nights and some of its themes, we can expect the desert like settings and their sequences employed further with the usage of magic. Most if not all of the characters are dressed in ways that are old fashioned and suited to the Sahara like backgrounds. The forest, desert, and architecture adapts an old school style that is natural and straight to the point. It doesn’t try to stand out above the others in the artwork development. In fact, its visuals are focused and fluid that fits with each other.
In terms of soundtrack, Hiromi Kikuta (Black Rock Shooter, Scrapped Princess) employs his skills in orchestrating the OST. Some of the soundtracks has that classic Arabian rhythms while other times pulls its course together with its full throttle pacing. This is especially true during scenes involving based chased at night time or when there are crucial moments of conflict. Shiro Sagisu does a similar job with his music as well with its appealing scores. The opening song, “V.I.P” by SID catches the viewers’ attention with the way it is orchestrated by presenting the montage of its characters as well as some of the action going on. Oh and let’s not forget about the all-star cast coming together. Although generic, it is appealing and classic.
All in all, Magi is a classic. It is a fantasy adventure that brings back the old school feeling with its cast of characters, its themes, style, story telling, and visual artworks. The division of the duo in later episodes may catch viewers off balance but it can still be appealing when we see more of the character backgrounds of our heroes. The trio in fact becomes a pivotal point in the series as they explore the world they never thought would come across. With magic, they can do almost anything but with friends and what they believe in, they become the next big thing. Whether Magi is the next big thing is hard to say but the adventure of Alibaba, Aladdin, and Morgania has come a long way.
Story/Setting/Combat depth – Ok, so i´m not only reviewing the story and world here but the combat depth too, because i think that it´s an important part on any battle anime.
The story is set in an alternate recreation of the ancient Old World with several regions and nations having some resemblances with real-life counterparts from that time. In this world, all living beings possess an essence known as Rukh and when they die, this essence returns to the huge flow (also known as “guidance”) of Rukh that gives life to all subsequent beings in an eternal cycle of rebirth called “Fate”. Once a person is overcome with sadness, anger and hopelessness, their Rukh turns into a corrupted, unstable, black-colored Rukh that deviates from the main guidance in a process known as “Fall into Depravity”.
There are also several magic castles full of treasures and traps known as “Dungeons” and each of them is the lair of a powerful magic being, a Djinn. Individuals that manage to overcome the trials of a Dungeon and earn the allegiance of its Djinn are known as Dungeon Capturers, gaining the ability to use its powers infused in a personal item of them known as “Metal Vessel” and create less potent “Household Vessels” for their companions as well.
People can use the Rukh in their bodies to create an energy known as Magoi ( kinda like chakra in naruto ) to power their magical weapons and abilities. This energy must be used with care, as despite the fact that an individual’s magoi can be restored with feeding and rest, once fully exhausted it provokes their death. Among those that can perform magic with their own Magoi there is a rare class of magicians known as Magi, that can also use Magoi from the Rukh around them, greatly increasing their capabilities. A Magi usually chooses Dungeon Capturers to offer guidance and protection making of them their King Vessels. There are several nations in history that were founded or improved by the rule of such individuals.
So the story of magi starts out really simple but as the anime progresses it keeps evolving and adding important and nice stuff. This is the story about a young boy by the name of Aladdin and his adventures around the world of magi. Like many other series he becomes friends with many people, 2 of them are Alibaba and Morgiana, and so the 3 of them become the main characters.
The story is mostly about war between empires/countries. Where Aladdin enters in all this is that he is a magi, a beeing that acording to legends chooses his king to control the world. Throughout the story we learn that there is more than 1 magi and that they are not on the same side so that only means 1 thing, war. There is a dark organization too called the Al Thamen that are trying to screw up the world and that side up with the empire aladdin and his friends are fighting.
Easily the thing i like the most about magi, there is enough depth here to the point you have to google some definitions.
Most of the fodders use normal weapons without any special abilities, but the main weapon of all people here is Magoi, it works out like chakra from naruto, each person has their own reserve and only magi can use the magoi from the rukh around them.
There is the dungeon capturers too, people that successfully pass a dungeon can keep in their control the djinn of that dungeon. The djinn enters into a metal and the capturer can use that djinn´s power. For example, if a djinn´s ability is fire, that person can attack with fire. But that´s not only it, thats the basic. As time passes and you became better with your metal vessal you can use an ability called Djinn Equip, by using that your metal vessal turns into the djinn´s weapon and your ability ( fire in this case ) becomes even better. Djinn equip has diferent levels, at first you can only use the djinn´s weapon but later on you can even cover your whole body with armours and stuff. You can only maintain this ability as long as your magoi reserves let you. Oh and one more thing, if the Djinn capturer is a magi he can summon the djinn in battle ( this is exclusive of magis ).
Household Vessels are objects (weapons, jewelry, accessories, etc) that hold importance to the Household Members of a Dungeon Capturer. Like for example, if my djinn type is fire my household member will have an ability connected with fire. ( Household vessels are not as strong as the djinn equip ( exclusive to dungeon capturers)).
There is magicians too that can manipulate their rukh and create a type of magic ( healing, heat, water, gravity etc ), with that they can create many abilities.
Im only 25 episodes in ( 1st season ) and there is a ton of combat depth, im sure there is many many more things 🙂
Very colourful, there isn´t much to be said here.
Go to youtube and see for yourself.
Not good enough to deserve a better score, like always the japanese voices are great but there is a lack of better osts.
Aladdin – Like i said above, a young magi boy that is traveling the world and making many friends ( sorta like luffy ) he is your typical shounen protagonist which in my opinion is a bit to mainstream but whatever.
Alibaba – Aladdin´s friend and main character, he is a really great character and his personality develops really well and you learn about his backstory.
Morgiana – Aladdin´s friend and main character, she, like alibaba in terms of personality develops a lot too. She belongs to a tribe called Fanalis, Fanalis are a really strong type of tribe with power that can crush rocks.
All the other characters are really good in design but as not very much developed ( maybe because its only 25 episodes, i dont know ).
I can´t really say much more without spoiling it, it´s better if you watch.
5: Initial D Fifth Stage
Japanese: 頭文字 D Fifth Stage
MAL Score: 8.08
After earning a series of difficult victories in the prefectures of Tochigi, Saitama, and Ibaraki, the drivers of Project D—an amateur street driving group led by ex-street driver and expert tactician Ryousuke Takahashi—Takumi Fujiwara and Keisuke Takahashi now have to take Project D to the next level: the Kanagawa prefecture, commonly known as the holy land of street racing. Their opponents, members of the three best street racing teams of Kanagawa, design an elaborate strategy called the “Four Lines of Defense” to put a definitive end to the ambitions of Project D.
Meanwhile, Takumi feels he needs to refine his driving skills to overcome the last victory against Toshiya Joushima that he only just managed to snatch. The moment of truth has now come for Project D, which carries with it the hopes of the Gunma Prefecture; will they manage to thwart the surprising tactics of the skilled street racers of Kanagawa?
Since the reviews here are all extremely positive, and since I watched the last two seasons back to back, I’m gonna review them both.
First of all, for anyone who has not yet watched the series:
The first 2 seasons are amazing, and the third one (movie) is very good!
After that the quality drops quickly though.
Where in earlier seasons the anime revels in showing drifts, and mixing up closeups on the steering wheel and pedals with shots of drifting tires and the rear of the car coming very close to the guardrails, all while awesome eurobeat music is playing,
in the last two seasons, less and less attention was put into these cool moments.
Where in the earlier seasons the commentary from former rivals on the roadside was ecstatic and interesting, hyping up the race even more,
in the last two seasons, it is monotone and boring, and much more about pseudo-philosophy than about technique.
The animation quality dropped extremely over the course of the series, after peaking in the second and third season.
This is probably due to harsh budget constraints,
since the Anime was serialized in a very unusual pay-per-view way in the last two seasons.
The clunky 3D-animated cars of the first season are something I longed for all throughout the last three seasons, since it allowed for long, smooth shots of drifting cars, but even this seems to have been above the budget of the series at this point.
Last but not least, the pacing of the races:
Where in the first two seasons there were normal races mixed in with bunny races, starting with the Third Stage, the series was all-bunny race all the way, and it shows in the uncreative ways the races end.
After this point 90% of the races seem to be decided by spin-out, which made every race’s conclusion more boring than the one’s before.
This coupled with less and less interesting opponents, lead to the last two seasons in particular becoming a drag to watch.
It took a lot of willpower to not drop the series after the fifth season,
but it took even more to not drop it within the sixth one, or skip to the last episode.
When an anime I used to enjoy immensely changes into something I need willpower to sit down and watch, I cannot give it a better score.
To some extent, you can say this is more or less an extension of 4th stage since the focus is still on Project D. Their new rivals take racing seriously and express the same passion to a more distinct extent than previous rival teams. Because of this, the races are harder with the higher level of competition and harsher course conditions, so Ryosuke always thinks of ways in which they can and will win. Even if the chances are at a small percentage, he will bank everything on it.
I understand the characters from the other teams have more elaboration in the manga, but the anime does enough to express how this character compares and contrasts with either Ryosuke, Keisuke and Takumi. I just feel that they don’t have enough individual exploration and seem to be only used as a comparison tool to our main characters. I guess in context to the anime, it does its job, and this has been somewhat of an issue in previous installments. My only exposure of the manga is through the arcade, PS2, and PS3 games and when I see what is different in how the characters are more fleshed out, it really surprises me.
The rest of the cast for the most part is back. Most of the development is focused on Takumi, Keisuke, and Ryosuke and Ryosuke gets his own brief story arc. As for Iketani, Kenji, and Itsuki, they are still around and they do serve their roles in their own way. But I feel that their purpose is to now show how much Takumi has developed and is beyond them in context to expressing how he understands cars and the physics of racing. But I think at some point, they will get further development. But I think manga readers will tell me I am wrong. Some other past characters do show up and some of these brief returning characters do serve a significant purpose which I really thought did an excellent job for a certain new character.
In addition, Takumi now has a new love interest, Mika, a high school golf star. She is a real interesting character and I personally feels she is better than Natsuki. I feel she connects to Takumi more effectively because of her background and I like her out-going personality a lot more. I am pretty sure the manga at this point already has, but I hope when I watch future anime installments, they develop that relationship more. I thought the anime does its job building a good foundation to that relationship and I look forward to how it develops.
In terms of character design, the most significant change is Ryosuke’s. His hair is more shaggy and is not as well kept as it always has been. I don’t recall his hair looking like that in the manga based on my exposure through the games during that part of the story arc. Then again, this isn’t the first time, they changed Ryosuke’s hair style. In second stage, his hair color was changed to light brown from black and then changed back to black in 3rd and 4th stages. I thought his hair was fine. I guess my concern is on the basis that Ryosuke is my favorite character, but his fashion sense and his facial design and expressions are more or less the same. For the other characters, there are no other alterations to their designs.
The quality is not too different from 4th stage but has brighter resolution with the colors. The races are more back to a CG feel in comparison to the more cel-shaded feel of 4th stage and excellently does its job of bringing out the intensity and excitement of the races.
As for the races, the races are still done in a cat and mouse set of rules like in 4th stage. They do bring a sense of danger and risk to a higher level than previous installments, but I don’t think it’s to the level of that in Wangan Midnight or Shigeno-sensei’s previous manga, Bari Bari Densetsu. I suppose with a street racing manga, you want those factors, but in considerations to how well they organize and coordinate the street races, they can limit those risks so those factors justify that lack of them. I know accidents have happened in previous installments, but I just didn’t feel that danger. But this time, they do bring in weather and course conditions into a more specific and emphatic level in comparison to previous races and how they can appropriately customize the cars to prepare as well as actual physics to race in such conditions.
The races are planned with very intricate strategies that takes every possibility into account which is what I like about them. Even though this was also done in 4th stage, this quality is taken to a new level of technicalities in this season. The game plans Ryosuke comes up with is what makes touge racing very distinctive and makes me interested in it in a realistic point of view. For example, when Takumi invented his blind attack in 4th stage, this tactic is further elaborated and developed in a physics point of view. Also, some races focus more on effective breaking, and some are emphasized on carefully planned accelerating. Also, they do bring in very clever game planning which you may think is playing dirty, but considering this is the street, anything goes. But even though I don’t feel the danger, these new qualities does make it refreshingly exciting and educational. For that, I give the art and animation.
If you have been following my reviews of Initial D, then you know I always give the music and voice acting a 10/10. The voice cast is still the same and still bring their respective qualities to the same excellent performance they always have. Takumi is becoming nearly as articulate is Ryosuke and Miki Shinichiro does a great job of giving us that. The new voice actors also do a great job of capturing their characters. The music, the reason why I became an Initial D fan, is still unchanged. MOVE still does the songs though the hook is more of heavy guitars which perfectly reflects the more intense atmosphere of this installment. And if there is just one song that justifies my perfect score, it is the song “Wait for You” the Dancefloor mix by Ace from episode 11. It is just an amazing song you just have to hear. I can listen to this song over and over. It’s that song that makes you wish you were with that special someone in your life and it fits the mood of when the song was used. It is probably on my top 10 Initial D songs if i were to make one. So look that song up when you can I promise you’ll love it.
And the ending of the series perfectly sets up the last stage.
The art and cgi mostly the same as it was in fourth stage, maybe slightly improved. It’s some of the best visuals so far, but it looks outdated compared to other anime released at the time. The music and voice-acting is still solid as expected.
I found this season to be one of the least enjoyable of the series. Season 3 or 4 would have been fine stopping, now it just feels like the show is dragging on for no reason, tarnishing what good points it had.
MAL Score: 8.36
Justice, and the enforcement of it, has changed. In the 22nd century, Japan enforces the Sibyl System, an objective means of determining the threat level of each citizen by examining their mental state for signs of criminal intent, known as their Psycho-Pass. Inspectors uphold the law by subjugating, often with lethal force, anyone harboring the slightest ill-will; alongside them are Enforcers, jaded Inspectors that have become latent criminals, granted relative freedom in exchange for carrying out the Inspectors’ dirty work.
Into this world steps Akane Tsunemori, a young woman with an honest desire to uphold justice. However, as she works alongside veteran Enforcer Shinya Kougami, she soon learns that the Sibyl System’s judgments are not as perfect as her fellow Inspectors assume. With everything she has known turned on its head, Akane wrestles with the question of what justice truly is, and whether it can be upheld through the use of a system that may already be corrupt.
The series is set in the near future in which it is possible to instantaneously quantify a person’s state of mind, personality, and probability of committing a crime, all recorded on an individual’s “Psycho-Pass”. When their “Crime Coefficient” index becomes too high, they are pursued and apprehended by police officers known as Inspectors, and their ‘hunting dogs’ the Enforcers; in this way, order is maintained. Unit One of the Public Safety Bureau’s division of criminal investigation, navigate the system to uphold justice in their seemingly Utopian society.
Before anything else, let’s address some reasons the show received heavy criticism early on, and was subsequently written off because of it.
Inspector Tsunemori Akane: As a frequenter of tumblr, I saw so many people dismiss the protagonist of the series immediately after episode 1, and to that I say shame on you. She got a lot of flack for being naive and idealistic, but that was the whole point of her character development. Even more egregious was how much hate she got because of her design, and again, shame on you. Both the director and the writer explicitly stated that “moe” would be completely omitted from Psycho-Pass; there’s a lot of back and forth between whether Akane is or isn’t moe (though the pink jellyfish comes close), but you don’t hate on a character because of their haircut. And personally, I think she’s cute.
Too slow: I understand, the series does take it’s time in the beginning. Psycho-Pass doesn’t really reach the heart of its story until about episode 10. However, everything before this is time spent establishing the cyberpunk setting, the relationships between the characters, and setting up for an unbelievable payoff later. Every reveal in the series speaks to something that was established earlier (yes, even the HyperOats) because the writer is a master at foreshadowing and bringing his stories full circle. It is well worth wading through the cases in the beginning to reach the core of the story later.
Psycho-Pass is a ripoff of Minority Report: a 2002 film directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Cruise based off a short story of the same name written by legendary science fiction author, Philip K. Dick. And honestly, to this I have to say… so what? Having only seen the trailer, I could just as easily say that Pacific Rim is a rip off of Evangelion, but that doesn’t say anything about its merit on any level. So even if the series is derivative (and what material isn’t these days?), the two focus on different themes and tell totally separate stories; Minority Report is a commentary on human free will and choice where Psycho-Pass is a revenge story at its core and an examination of justice, taking place in the same kind of setting.
And the joke is on you, because Philip K. Dick’s work is actually mentioned in the series. It’s obvious, to the point of near literary pretentiousness, how the series pays homage to the themes and philosophies found in great written works. I can see how consistently name dropping George Orwell or Jonathan Swift might be annoying, but as a total classic literature nerd, it made me excited to pick up what they were alluding to in the books I have read, and inspired to hunt down the rest so I could understand the series even better (hard copies— because e-books lack character). Besides, an image of Heart of Darkness conveys just as much as a long-winded discourse about the descent into darkness and the true nature of humanity would. It isn’t always subtle, but it is challenging and elevates the show to more than just another crime thriller anime.
Before I continue lauding it, let me clarify: Psycho-Pass is bloody, violent, and disturbing, and not for the weak-hearted. This anime has cruel scenes, both physically and mentally, and the director joked that he wanted the kids in the audience to sustain trauma for life after watching. O_O But that is not why your heart will be ripped out.
Your heart will be ripped out because Urobuchi Gen helmed this.
Urobuchi-san (Fate/Zero & Puella Magi Madoka Magica) is known for writing dark, nihilistic themes and tragic plot twists into his stories, earning him the affectionate nickname “The Uro-BUTCHER”. Back when I wrote my original Madoka review, I had no idea who this man was or what he would do to my emotions. Lobotomizing yourself with a spoon would be less painful. If only I had known then…
The reason Urobuchi-san is capable of writing compelling stories is not because he’s heavy handed with the nihilism or because he shies away from current trends in the anime industry. There are two very good reasons.
1. He knows how to write people— realistic, human characters with attributes and flaws and personal motivations and incredible development (see: Ginoza Nobuchika). The audience doesn’t suffer because tragic events happen, but because they happen to these characters, whom you have grown to know and love and sympathize with (see: Ginoza Nobuchika).
2. He never writes standard black and white conflicts. The system in place which monitors people’s mental states for the sake of safety arguably takes way their free will, but without it the society plunges into chaos. The Enforcer seeks to bring down the main antagonist for personal revenge, not for the sake of justice; and yet if the anarchist wins, in theory, people’s wills are restored as long as they survive the crumbling of the system. As you watch his series, you might not know who you want to win, or whether they should, and it makes for deeply thought provoking entertainment. (The “Psycho-Scan” aspect of the series alone is provocative when you put it into the context of how mental health is approached in Japan.)
There’s a lot of commentary on human nature, the natures of societies, law and governance, good and evil. There’s tons of brain-candy to chew on here; Psycho-Pass is not a series to watch if you travel into anime to escape or like to keep your mind turned off. Although it shares similar themes and story telling elements as something like Madoka Magica, the complexity, the science fiction crime mystery genre, and integration of philosophy and literature makes it less universal in appeal, but all the more appealing for someone like me.
Knowing Urobuchi’s previous work had me worried. Hearing that the entire staff cried over the final episode had me very worried. But even with his bloody reputation preceding him, Psycho-Pass has proved that Urobuchi-san is master storyteller capable of being twisted and incredibly emotional, as well as demonstrating diversity and restraint. His name is one I’m sure to be following from now on.
Oh, and it also looked great. And sounded great. Production I.G.’s work here is wonderful, and they’re generally a top notch studio. Production knew when to hold back, so they could really deliver where it mattered later (the dog hunting scene was very dark and difficult to see, but “The Gates of Judgement”? that three something minute fight scene was unbelievable). The backgrounds were incredibly detailed and the series has a great look, managing to be extremely colorful and yet very dark. The integration of CG was also very impressive, and I’m glad to see they pulled it off so successfully since technology is a major motif in this 22nd century world. I might just be drawn to the style, but all of Amano Akira’s character designs look great (yes, even Akane-chan’s).
*jumps onto the soapbox* Episode 18, “Promises Written in Water”, came out totally derpy-looking because of scheduling issues. Even the director apologized, saying that in order to get the episode out on time, it would air incomplete. This is not just an acceptable drop in animation quality like we typically see from Gainax or Gonzo, just an honest to goodness time issue. Production on the episode will be finished in time for the home media releases and it will be just as quality as the rest of the series. *hops off the soapbox*
The score was varied, very synthy and they played around with different types of sounds to add in, but fitting with the futuristic setting and dark tone of the anime. There are some standout pieces on the OST, I’m rather fond of the main theme and a very pretty and somber piano piece reserved for the quieter moments. Psycho-Pass is guilty of playing Bach, stealing a leaf out of Evangelion’s book, but at least the high-brow pretentiousness makes more sense here. All the OPs and EDs were similarly successful, sporting beautiful animation (and a bit of foreshadowing), not to mention that many of the songs were written for the specific characters. “abnormalize” speaks to Kogami’s character, where “Namae no nai Kaibutsu” should be listened to with Makishima in mind. Also, I don’t think the fanbase will ever get tired of “cause I feeeeeeeellll” or “your never walk alonee” and neither will I.
In general, I struggle watching shows week to week because I prefer marathoning my anime and when I really get into it, I am incapable of doing anything else while waiting in between episodes (should have seen me after Ep. 19, it was baad). And I haven’t done this with any other anime of 2012, so it speaks to how stellar Psycho-Pass really was when I say it was the highlight of my week, every week, until the end. I’m going to go out and buy Proust right now. What an incredible ride.
Story – 7/10
The setting of Psycho Pass is a futuristic one in modern Japan, where people who have a high and cloudy Psycho Pass are either adjudged criminals or potent criminals. The ones who have a Psycho Pass of above a certain rating are criminals who’re judged dangerous and have no hope but the potent criminals can work as Enforcers with the police in order to catch the other criminals.
The reason I gave a 6 in story is because the first few episodes were pretty useless with no real relevance to the plot. The episodes in itself aren’t irrelevant, its rather the amount of episodes they wasted in doing so. But the story starts getting good around the 8 episode in the show and continues to be a good one till the 16 episode or so. Around that time, we have a confrontation between the protagonist and the antagonist. The show should have ended there with a few prior things explained before that 16-17 episode mark. The next 6-7 episodes are just stretched out and completely based on plot devices. I think I have spoiled enough for you.
Art – 6/10
The art of Psycho Pass is okay; it’s nothing special really. It isn’t overly good for an anime released in 2012. Compared to some of the other anime of that time, the art is not up to the mark by a long way. It gets really choppy at times and makes you wonder if this is an anime released after 2010.
Sound – 5/10
There isn’t really any memorable soundtrack in this anime. I’ve watched the anime just a few days ago and I can’t remember even one theme of the series. At best, there may have been a couple of decent soundtrack, but that was it. If there was one thing good about the sound of Psycho Pass, it would be the voice acting which was pretty good.
Characters – 5/10
The characters except for the villain, Makishima Shougo were shallow and the character that I hated most, the female MC, Akane Sunamori was just a walking and talking plot device who got a sudden personality change in the last few episodes. She got a perfect opportunity to overthrow the Sibyl System but she doesnt do anything. She gets the chance to kill the antagonist 3 times and she’s just too weak to do it. It was just plot manipulation to me. People say that she got a lot of development but she didn’t She had a stale, weak personality throughout the entire series and suddenly becomes all brave and decisive in the last few episodes.
The male lead, Shinya Kougami is a smart guy who does what he wants for most of the series except some occasions where Akane tells her not to. At all such instances, he sighs and does what she says even though he knows that the opposite should be done. He doesnt listen to anyone and somehow listens to Akane from the beginning. (He doesnt have feeling for the girl either so that’s not why he listens to her).
The antagonist is a good character but he is a Gary Stu. He is intelligent, thin but yet somehow manages to overpower Shinya multiple times even though Shinya works out and has a really good build. He also has surprisingly great endurance, healing really quickly without any supernatural powers. But compared to others, he’s the best character and you’re questioned whether his actions are good or evil.
Enjoyment – 6/10
Overall, I enjoyed the middle episodes of Psycho Pass the most. The start was okay but the ending was just ridiculous. The middle episodes were really good though, with some exciting scenes. The first few episodes were slow, boring, mostly irrelevant to the plot and completely illogical. The same with the ending. As I mentioned a few times earlier, this show should’ve been around a 14 episode show. It never really needed 20+ episodes because it was dragged on too much in the end, leading to a nonsensical ending and the episodes which preceded the conclusion to the show didn’t have anything to write home about either.
Overall – 6/10
The show could have been really a lot better if there weren’t so many plot devices involved and if they would’ve finished the anime around that episode 16-18 mark where both the males were brought to near death. Also, Akane really started to annoy me when her personality suddenly changed. I like character development and she didn’t get any. Her character just took a huge jump in one episode from being a weak, scared officer who can’t even use a real gun to shoot the enemy to a brave girl who’s strong enough to make her own grave decisions.
The premise of the show poses an interesting scenario: what if we lived in a world where it was possible to determine the potential of a person through a simple cymatic scan, and judge/assign that person accordingly? You would be told your aptitude for certain jobs, the extent of your latent abilities, and the likelihood of mental instability and the capacity to commit crimes. This is the world that Psycho Pass is set in. The show follows the Public Safety Bureau’s Criminal Investigation Division and the various cases that are assigned to them. Through their work solving crimes, we delve into conflicts of morality, the battle between the righteous and injustice, and the clash between different ideologies about the Sibyl System that made this whole lifestyle possible.
The strongest selling point of Psycho Pass is its cast of well developed and intricate characters. We have Tsunemori Akane, a new Investigator of the Criminal Investigation Division, and her beliefs are what is most commonly defined as “righteous”. She is the representation of the ideal yet naive mindset that justice is absolute and criminals must be punished. She holds the law close to her heart, and while very young and inexperienced, she is an intelligent person and attempts to see the good in people. Through her exposure to the more sinister side of society, we observe if she is able to withstand the challenges to her beliefs and how she changes as an individual.
Helping her solve crimes and doing most of the “dirty work” is one of the Enforcers under her, Kogami Shinya. As one that is familiar with the darker side of society and has accumulated a plethora of experience in dealing with criminal minds, he is calculating, intelligent, and physically adept. His outlook on justice and the nature of other people differs from Akane’s, and this difference serves as a driving force for the show. While he is normally collected and logical, his emotions do cause him to act irrationally and puts him in precarious situations. His resolve and detective skills are put to the test and we are shown the lengths in which he will go through to reinforce his beliefs.
In addition to these two, we have Ginoza, a veteran Inspector with some very firm and rigid beliefs on criminals and potential and Masaoka, an experienced Enforcer who was a detective but was deemed a latent criminal and is a bit old fashioned. We also are introduced to Kagari, a easygoing Enforcer who was marked as a criminal at the age of five and has been an Enforcer ever since and doesn’t think too highly of the Sibyl System and Yayoi, a former guitarist turned Enforcer trying to prevent others from ending up as criminals similar to how someone dear to her did. Rounding out our Unit One, we have Shion, the Bureau’s analyst that aids the unit in solving crimes, and Joshu, the enigmatic Chief of the Bureau. The fact that none of these characters are insignificant or unimpactful enough to dismiss is quite a feat, but Psycho Pass gives each and every character depth and relevance to the main plot.
A debate that has stood the test of time is the question: are humans innately good or evil? Do we strive to side by justice because it is in our nature, our personalities, our entire being, or do we do so in order to simply create the facade of appearing as a righteous person? Are our actions a culmination of self interest, in that we do everything for personal gain? Forging relationships, creating bonds; are they simply methods to reach the end goal of personal satisfaction and happiness? Psycho Pass portrays and addresses this issue through excellent storytelling, proficient pacing, and a cast of realistic characters. From watching Akane attempting to defend latent criminals and trying to give them a chance to prove their innocence, to Shinya’s drive based on personal revenge and his definition of justice, Psycho Pass keeps its audience consistently alert and interested, with plot twists and shifts that are unpredictable and wholeheartedly intriguing.
The art is bold and catches the eye’s attention. From the casual conversation scenes to the dynamic and high tension fight scenes, everything is animated with a finesse that is incredible. While some may dislike some of the characters design, that is ultimately personal preference. The sound is appropriate for a sci-fi show. The OP and EDs are upbeat and catchy and will stick with you even after the conclusion of the show. They serve to build suspense and set the mood, and everything fits into the whole picture to deliver a well coordinated show.
Psycho Pass, I believe, can be considered a masterpiece. With thought-provoking dialogue and plot, an amount of drama and tension that is neither excessive nor underwhelming, and a group of characters that are just as complex as many of us, Psycho Pass delivers an action sci-fi show unlike one we’ve seen before.
3: Fate/Zero 2nd Season
English: Fate/Zero Season 2
Japanese: フェイト/ゼロ 2ndシーズン
MAL Score: 8.58
As the Fourth Holy Grail War rages on with no clear victor in sight, the remaining Servants and their Masters are called upon by Church supervisor Risei Kotomine, in order to band together and confront an impending threat that could unravel the Grail War and bring about the destruction of Fuyuki City. The uneasy truce soon collapses as Masters demonstrate that they will do anything in their power, no matter how despicable, to win.
Seeds of doubt are sown between Kiritsugu Emiya and Saber, his Servant, as their conflicting ideologies on heroism and chivalry clash. Meanwhile, an ominous bond forms between Kirei Kotomine, who still seeks to find his purpose in life, and one of the remaining Servants. As the countdown to the end of the war reaches zero, the cost of winning begins to blur the line between victory and defeat.
There are many types of power – financial, military, political, religious, etc – and at one time or another each has been used to further the goals of individuals, organisations, and even nations. The odd thing though, is that even though it has been referenced for thousands of years in everything from legends and myths to folktales and history, magic has rarely been placed in the same category. The problem is that people don’t really believe in magic any more, and the subject has been relegated to the realms of fiction and fantasy – even though it was often said that practitioners had the ability to wield primal forces, command spirits, and shake the foundations of heaven.
Everything has a price though, and in order to achieve or seize power of any sort you have to be willing to give up certain … things. So the question is, what would you sacrifice for the chance to be a god?
The continuation of Fate/Zero opens with two F-15 jets that have been dispatched by the Japanese Air Force with orders to investigate the situation on the Mion River. Archer/Gilgamesh watches with disdain from on high as Sabre, Rider and Lancer continue their temporary alliance, and the pitched battle with the giant creature summoned by Caster/Gille de Rais rages on.
Little do they know that a new player is about to enter the field …
One of the most noticeable differences between the first and second halves of Fate/Zero is the shift from preparation and planning to all-out action – something that is rather eloquently symbolized by the battle on the Mion River. With much of the preamble over, the storyline is able to place the kid-gloves to one side and ramp-up the tension between the combatants. This is most often achieved by drawing on the conflicting ideologies of each of the characters – with some thoroughly unscrupulous tactics thrown in to drive home the fact that the participants are involved in a war. The plot remains as focused as ever, but there’s a palpable change in the atmosphere of the series, and many episodes have a less forgiving, more brutal air about them.
This shift in “attitude” has been handled extremely well by series director Aoki Ei and his writers, and a great deal of attention has been paid to the impact the numerous action scenes have on the characters – something that’s becoming a rarity in modern anime. It’s an interesting and effective usage of screentime that is markedly different from the patient build-up of the first half of the story, but crafted with the same care and attention to detail that have become a hallmark of Type-Moon/Ufotable collaborations. This prevents the show devolving into a legendary free-for-all, and allows for some very interesting confrontations – several of which have their roots in the layers of subtext that were added during previous series.
With the focus on action instead of intrigue, one might have expected there to be some differences in the visuals. Thankfully there are almost no major alterations present throughout the series – aside from a few cosmetic differences in clothing and apparel. The high production standards have been maintained and character movements are as sharp and crisp as ever. There are a few relatively minor issues with the blending of CG and standard animation, but these are pretty easy to ignore. What does stand out are the rather dazzling visual effects, many of which are bigger and bolder due to the shift from preparation to action. The choreography and timing of these – together with the quality of the character animation – make for some truly stunning combat sequences.
Composer Kajiura Yuki’s all-female band Kalafina – the long-time muses of Type-Moon/Ufotable collaborations – open the second season with the operatic rock ballad “To the Beginning”, while the main participants in the Holy Grail war are re-introduced in a well-choreographed montage that contains a few hints of things to come. On the other hand the closing sequence is a rather simple yet moving account – told through a series of still images – of the relationship between Emiya Kiritsugu and Irisviel von Einzbern – with Luna Haruna’s pop ballad “Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau” adding an uplifting and slightly bittersweet tone. Kalafina also return with the martially themed operatic ballad “Manten” as a special closing track for episodes 18 and 19.
The first season of Fate/Zero featured a very high standard of audio production, and it’s nice to see that sound director Iwanami Yoshikazu hasn’t allowed anyone to rest on their laurels. The background music is as diverse and atmospheric as ever, and while there are a few tracks that may sound a little off-kilter, this appears to be a purposeful move in order to heighten the mood of certain scenes. That said, there are two areas where this series is arguably superior to its predecessor – both of which have been pushed to the fore by the move to action.
The audio effects are as sharp and clear as ever, but the increase in combat means that the production standards need to be pushed even higher and more diversity needs to be added. In addition to this the quality of the audio/visual choreography – which was already excellent in the previous series – often went unnoticed because of the focus on preparation and planning. Thankfully Iwanami is arguably one of the most experienced sound directors working in the industry, and his skills – developed over many years working on a variety of different anime – really make the difference. The superb effects and remarkable choreography really set the second series of Fate/Zero apart from other shows released this year, and mark it as a front-runner for any potential awards in this department.
Unlike many other anime, the move to an action footing hasn’t caused the script to devolve into random shouts, grunts and screams, and the writers have done well to retain the maturity and intelligence of the first season. There is a bit of a change in the delivery though, as with the goal in sight, some of the actors appear to have been encouraged to add more emotion to their roles. This works surprisingly well with characters who were cold or aloof in the first series – Sabre and Archer for example – and the differences in their feelings becomes more pronounced as the story progresses and the battles take their mental toll.
One of the biggest criticisms of Fate/Zero is that it has tried to weave a coherent narrative from too many character and plot threads without relying on a lead role. Now this may seem like an anathema to those who prefer their development to follow a distinct linear progression, but those tales often suffer from an age-old problem in storytelling – every good protagonist needs an equally good antagonist. It’s an issue that has affected anime for many years as – contrary to popular belief – creating and developing a good opposite (the antagonist doesn’t have to be a villain after all), to a hero/heroine is not an easy task.
Thankfully Fate/Zero takes its cues from shows like Baccano!, and the lack of a lead role is actually a boon to the series as it allows multiple perspectives to come to the fore. Each of the participants in the war for the Holy Grail is effectively the antagonist of one or more of the other combatants, and all of the players bounce around the plot like peas on a drum – colliding into each other and changing their directions, alliances and enemies in the blink of an eye. It’s a rarely used and fascinating approach to character development that highlights in particular the ever-changing nature of the battlefield. One big plus is that while the first season was rather staid in its portrayal of the heroes, the second half of the story pulls very few punches – showing clearly the lengths to which several of the combatants will go in order to win, opening the scars of old wounds, and ensuring that the viewer knows exactly what everyone has put on the line for the ultimate prize.
Over the years there have been many anime that have changed focus and tone from one season to the next, but rarely does it happen in the space of one series. The reason for this is because it’s often extremely difficult to reconcile what may eventually turn out to be conflicting portrayals of the story and characters – and therein lies the greatest achievement of Type-Moon, Ufotable, and author Urobuchi Gen. The successful blending of two different perspectives has created a remarkable story that isn’t afraid to show off its intelligence or maturity, and the second half of Fate/Zero successfully builds upon the carefully laid foundations of the first season – even with the increase in action and combat.
Prequels are often tricky to deal with as they are very easy to get wrong, which is one of the reasons why this series is a little bit special. In addition to shedding new light on the events that occur in Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero is also a singular example of just how good seinen action tales can be, and a testament to the quality that can be achieved through long-term studio collaborations.
The Grail War has been done before, but never like this. The same rules apply. Seven masters, seven servants, all fighting in a fierce battle royal in order to determine the rightful owner of the Holy Grail. However in contrast to Fate/Stay Nights cast of children struggling to accept the responsibility so prematurely forced upon them we have a plethora of adult men ready to sacrifice anything to achieve their goals. By Juxtaposing the series and its prequel it becomes evident that Fate/Zero is a darker story focusing on the ideals of each characters along with the suffering these ideals bring forth. The plot is essentially a catalyst that lets the characters tragically develop as they spiral closer and closer into despair.
But through its greatness Fate/Zero suffers from its link to Fate/Stay Night. As a prequel, its freedom was constrained by the eventual conclusion that loomed just beyond the horizon. But even as a predecessor limited to one conclusion Fate/Zero succeeded in producing a story that left you on the edge of your seat.
In addition to Fate/Zero Ufotable is also the studio responsible for the Kara no Kyoukai series; a powerhouse in the visual arts department. No corners were cut in producing Fate/Zero, either. Ferocious battles, twisted emotions, and familiar yet exotic settings are illustrated beautifully with the use of hair-raising choreography, movie quality animation and god tier CG. Now, CG is a turn off for most viewers, me usually included. However the CG in this series is so stunningly well done that I can’t imagine it would be animated half as well any other way. In addition to CG, Ufotable has once again incorporated a beautiful contrast between neon colors as seen in Kara no Kyoukai. The warm orange glow of a streetlamp beating down on the lifeless world bathed in the hue of moonlight really gives the show a sharp look that is pleasing on the eyes. Fate/Zero also houses THE most amazing fight in anime I’ve seen to date, I won’t spoil which fight it is, but those who have already seen the anime will know.
A beautiful orchestrated soundtrack is the icing on the cake. The music accompanying the series is a kaleidoscope of melodies invoking emotional responses when needed; happiness, despair, tragedy, splendor, evil, conflict, etc. The opening and ending songs both intertwine with the story effectively as well. The opening has an emotional feel to it as compared with the upbeat actiony sequence present in season one. It adequately inspires a sense of foreboding in the viewer. Now onto the ending. It serves to flesh out our protagonist Kerry by presenting us with how he and Iri came to be a couple and have their child. Teasing us with Kerry’s past and how happy the two lovers were during the short time they spent together only serves to harden the impact of the finale.
These are what makes this show shine so brilliantly. There are no exceptions; every single character is quirkily unique, each one sheltering an array of conflicting emotions, and impossible ideals. Labeling any character as an antagonist, protagonist, side character, or otherwise would be insulting as almost every person is artistically created with personalities astonishingly fleshed out and consistent. Gilgamesh for example was once the ruler of pretty much everything on earth. By standing above everyone else figuratively and literally for his entire life, he has fostered an incredible superiority complex. Infinite weapons fill his treasury, and he only expends four on an enemy that is about to destroy the entire city before retreating saying that he “Does not wish for the weapons to be returned because they touched that filthy creature”. That is beautiful characterization right there.
I enjoyed the shit out of this. There’s nothing more to be said.
One episode was filler, some others were rushed because of it, and a certain track wasn’t included in the score, but this does not stop Fate/Zero from being one of the best anime in a long time. With a bravura of directing, animation, plot, character development, sound, choreography, and dialogue, Fate/Zero exceeded all my expectations and got better every single episode. Fanboyish as the review may seem, a wonderful story is a wonderful story, no matter which way you cut it.
“Glory lies beyond the horizon. Challenge it because it is unreachable. Speak of conquest and demonstrate it.” – Rider
The Holy Grail—an omnipotent wish granting device which grants the owner any one wish of their deepest desire. For generations, the Holy Grail Wars were held every 60 years to decide who would be worthy to yield an item of such immense power; seven Masters coupled with seven Servants duke it out in a battle royale to the death, but only one Master and Servant can be victorious.
Fate/Zero is a thrilling, engaging, intellectual and mature anime with jaw-dropping visuals.
Fate/Zero is about the 4th Holy Grail War, which takes place 10 years before the events of the Fifth Holy Grail war, and is set in Fuyuki City. Seven magi are chosen by the Grail as Masters, and by the power of the Grail, they have the ability to summon Heroic Spirits brought forth as familiars to come and fight by their side, which are their Servants. Each Servant that’s summoned is put into one of the following classes, which include: Saber, Lancer, Archer, Rider, Caster, Assassin and Berserker; each with their own skills and benefits.
The Story is masterfully done and kept me engaged throughout the entire series. You never know what’s going to happen next or what plot twist is going to take place. Watching it is almost as reading a masterfully crafted literature epic; it’s that good.
This anime is heavily focused around dialogue, and for that reason there aren’t many battles, but when a battle arrives it’s just so amazing that it’ll keep you at the edge of your seat. This isn’t to say that the dialogue isn’t entertaining though, as I personally enjoyed every last bit of it, even if it does sometimes drag on for awhile. The dialogue also tells a lot about some of the characters backstories.
Throughout there are some comedic scenes here and there, most of which pertaining to Rider and Waver, though for the most part it mainly stays in a serious and dark atmosphere.
The production quality for this anime is just amazing—it really shows how great Type-Moon’s productions are, and when they’re mixed with ufotable, EXPECT GREATNESS! The art and animation in this anime are done SO well it’s just breathtaking, to say the least. Every image is animated so well, there were very few animation errors, and everything was just so smooth. And the art was just beautiful! It was so good that in some scenes my jaw was literally dropped for 1-2 minutes. I also really liked the character designs; all of them were just awesome. The art and animation is just masterfully done, not much more I can say about it. Go check it out for yourself if you don’t take my word for it.
One of my favorite aspects of this show has got to be how it portrayed the characters. I’m not sure if it’s not entirely focusing on one main protagonist and rather showing all the characters and how their stories eventually unfold, or if it’s the masterful way Gen Urubuchi conveyed how each character thought and why they took the actions that they took, but I loved it. Character development is also very good; you mainly notice it with Kiritsugu Emiya, as there are even 2 whole episodes about his back story in season 2. But my favorite character, like many others, is definitely Rider. Some of the feels you get when he gives his speeches. I also love his attitude and how he acts, one of my favorite characters of recent times.
The soundtrack for both seasons was done by Yuki Kaijura, and if you’ve ever heard any of her other awesome soundtracks (most notably SAO and Madoka Magica), you should have a pretty good idea that this one is just as great. Most of the pieces have heavy orchestra and are very powerful; this track also contains some very emotional pieces, like my personal favorite from it, Tragedy and Fate.
I absolutely adored the first opening Oath Sign by LiSa, and I doubted the second one would be better than the first… But oh boy was I wrong about that (for my tastes). “To the Beginning” By Kalafina (Yuki Kaijura’s all-female band) quickly become my favorite OP of ALL time. Strong vocals accompanied by a strong orchestra make this piece a pleasure to the ears. I really liked the EDs. Sora wa Takaku Kaze wa Utau by Luna Haruna really set the mood for the end of each episode, and it also quickly became one of my favorite EDs.
I watched the dubbed version and it was just great–leagues above many other dubs I’ve heard. I don’t think they could’ve even picked a better voice actor for Kiritsugu Emiya than Matthew Mercer, and Freeman Crispin (also Alucard from Hellsing), as always, did an amazing job. His deep tone really suited Kirei Kotomine.
What can I say? I absolutely love this anime. It will keep you thrilled, engaged, and satisfied by the ending. It has really high production quality, and a great soundtrack. My highest recommendation for you to watch this truly exceptional anime.
One thing I also admire about it how mature it is—it doesn’t need fan service or overused/unoriginal comedy to be successful (not that that’s always a bad thing, though). It is truly an original as well as unique anime, and in my opinion, a must watch for fans of the Fate series.
2: Gintama’: Enchousen
English: Gintama: Enchousen
Japanese: 銀魂’ 延長戦
MAL Score: 9.04
While Gintoki Sakata was away, the Yorozuya found themselves a new leader: Kintoki, Gintoki’s golden-haired doppelganger. In order to regain his former position, Gintoki will need the help of those around him, a troubling feat when no one can remember him! Between Kintoki and Gintoki, who will claim the throne as the main character?
In addition, Yorozuya make a trip back down to red-light district of Yoshiwara to aid an elderly courtesan in her search for her long-lost lover. Although the district is no longer in chains beneath the earth’s surface, the trio soon learn of the tragic backstories of Yoshiwara’s inhabitants that still haunt them. With flashback after flashback, this quest has Yorozuya witnessing everlasting love and protecting it as best they can with their hearts and souls.
Gintama’: Enchousen includes moments of action-packed intensity along with their usual lighthearted, slapstick humor for Gintoki and his friends.
Comedy isn’t that strong in series as of late, even in most of the series airing the comedy was either pretty bad or they started out great, but than ended up as failures from becoming great. Knowing when to be funny in a show is essential to making a series great. If you just half-ass your way it won’t become funny anymore, instead it will just be a generic show trying too hard. From the Fall and Winter seasons numerous shows tried doing this and they just burnt out near the end. Some recovered themselves near the end, barely.
However, Gintama is able to keep its comedy approach, knowing when to do it at the right time and not forcing itself too much. This gives the show a strong appeal to the fans that look for laughs.
We can’t just talk about the comedy of Gintama though, the action and emotional part of the show is able to perform so well that its surprising. It makes you think, “How can a show be so funny, yet so great in so many vast amount of genres?” It really is speechless to say, at least from my standing and maybe you’ll be able to question this yourself sometime too.
When it comes to Odd Jobs, also known as Yorozuya in its Romanized name, great hardships befall them. This ranges from running out of money due to the lack of jobs—to putting themselves into greater danger more so than the Shinsengumi, also known as the “Special Police Force.” By going to such great acts of danger they’re able to overcome and help the people they hold dear as friends.
Another great thing about Gintama is its characters. Gintoki, Shinpach, Kagura, and don’t forget about Sadaharu, their pet dog; If it can even be classified as a “dog,” have if not the best and unique characters in Anime. Despite Gintoki being the leader his personality takes a 180 turn from being serious, to trolling the viewers by picking his nose and always reading manga. Like Gintoki, Shinpachi and Kagura have pretty much the same type of personalities of Gin but show it in a different way.
The general theme of Gintama has no boundaries, right? Right. It’s able to clash from fighting Aliens known as the Amanto that harm their beloved country to fighting corrupted Shoguns that only seek power. This also relates to its artwork by going into an Olden historical setting and even space.
In the soundtrack department, Audio Highs who’s worked on all of the previous seasons and this one also shows how she/he is able to compose and arrange the music in the correct places throughout the series. While Amoyamo who played the first opening song, “Let’s Go Out” of Gintama Enchousen and SPYAIR who performed the second opening song, “Sakura Mitsu Tsuki” as well as many other songs from the previous seasons is able to show a calm but catchy beat in all of their songs. The ending song is rather catchy as well, performed by PAGE – “Expect.”
In the end Gintama lives up to being a great classic to the viewers. A show that can bring comedy, emotion, action and an historical type setting all into one, while keeping strong to its general based theme is Gintama. Odd Jobs will never be forgotten, they shall return one day and when that day comes, prepare yourself.
First off we get the episode with Kintoki as they promised from the last episode of Gintama’, it was mostly for the lols but it also focused on Gintoki’s bond with his companions and friends, it showed how close they actually are to each other, especially to Kagura, Shinpachi, Otae, Tama and Sadaharu. The second arc of Gintama’:Enchousen revealed a little more of Gin-san’s past to us and gave Shigeshige shogun an important role to play in, and it shows that Kagura is still friends with the Shogun’s sister, the princess that ran out of the castle in the early episodes. The third arc focused on the Shimura siblings’ past&the dojo, they also show us how Shinpachi has grown stonger and that he’s not just some character that only plays the straightman role, it also shows Tae’s kind of lovable side too. We also get to see a different side of Gin-san and what kind of relationship the Shinsengumi and Yagyuu clan have with Sakata Gintoki.
Everything looks amazing in HD, Gintoki&Kagura picking their nose, Sadaharu’s urine, Shinpachi’s main body, Mayonnaise, epic Gintoki’s battles, Shogun’s pantsu and more. The animation and art in the openings& endings are very relaxing to watch.
The openings are awesome, my favorite one has to be “Sakura Mitsutsuki”, it really suits the arc that it’s in and very pleasant to my ears, also very beautiful for both the art and the song. “Let’s go out” also sounds great. The endings are beautiful, especially “Expect” which was very cute.
Alot of character development, most are from Sakata Gintoki, Shimura Shinpachi&Tae. Alot of Gintoki’s past were revealed, Shinpachi grew up and Otae is actually able to talk nicely to Kondo Isao. (Spoiler:In the first arc, Tsukuyo, Sarutobi, Kyubei, Katsura and Hasegawa were able to remember Gintoki, even after they got hypnotized again, it didn’t work, this shows how close they actually are to Gintoki, Otae was also the first person to remember Gintoki along with Kagura and Shinpachi, this shows that their bonds are very close to each other)
We got alot of actions from Gintoki and the gang, alot of feels from Gintoki and the gang, very good soundtrack and we also got to see Shogun play a very important role. It still keeps the comedy part of the show too.
Overall:10( I wanna do 100 cant we have 100 instead of 10?)
Very good story that links to other episodes, very nice animation&art, beautiful soundtracks, lots of character development, very enjoyable, Gintama DOES NOT DISAPPOINT.
P.S. Dont finish all the episodes too fast or else you wont find anything to fill the void after you finish Gintama as a whole.
Overall, it is an excellent season. Gintama lives up to the viewers expectations.
English: Gintama Season 2
MAL Score: 9.06
After a one-year hiatus, Shinpachi Shimura returns to Edo, only to stumble upon a shocking surprise: Gintoki and Kagura, his fellow Yorozuya members, have become completely different characters! Fleeing from the Yorozuya headquarters in confusion, Shinpachi finds that all the denizens of Edo have undergone impossibly extreme changes, in both appearance and personality. Most unbelievably, his sister Otae has married the Shinsengumi chief and shameless stalker Isao Kondou and is pregnant with their first child.
Bewildered, Shinpachi agrees to join the Shinsengumi at Otae and Kondou’s request and finds even more startling transformations afoot both in and out of the ranks of the the organization. However, discovering that Vice Chief Toushirou Hijikata has remained unchanged, Shinpachi and his unlikely Shinsengumi ally set out to return the city of Edo to how they remember it.
With even more dirty jokes, tongue-in-cheek parodies, and shameless references, Gintama’ follows the Yorozuya team through more of their misadventures in the vibrant, alien-filled world of Edo.
That’s right. The #1 show is back – and I am damn excite, son.
To any of you who haven’t watched the first season, please do. but if you wouldn’t want to commit yourself to a 201 episode show, feel free to just skip ahead to season two and try an episode or two. The storyline’s arranged in inconsistent arcs, meaning you can pick it up from any arc – as long as you get an explanation on the origins of the different characters.
I assume all of you know the general setting – a Samurai who lives in a modern era in which aliens are a part of our (humans) daily lives. There’s an ongoing ban on swords, so being a Samurai is obviously forbidden by law.
Though there’s no rule against a wooden sword, is there?
In the last year, our friendly studio Sunrise had enough time to stack up material for a long-lasting second season, while our beloved mangaka had time to improve and write arcs which without a doubt – have the Gintama effect. Holding tears in your throat, and two minutes later laughing like a maniac – only to be in tears again a few minutes later. The long touchy speeches are back, the unexpected plot turns are back, everything we longed for in this Gintama-less year, is back.
It might be important to specify the fact that Gintama is now well funded, and is in HD. Can you imagine seeing Gintoki pick his nose in 720p?! Insane!!!
The first arc is the comeback we all wished for, every character you knew is making an appearance, though you should ready yourself for a surprise – they’ve all changed.
I promise this – starting at the first 15 seconds up to the end of the 24 minutes of awesome, you’ll be smiling, laughing, perhaps even crying if you’re touchy. Enjoy.
I was skeptical as hell for the return of the Gintama anime. To be honest, I went into this anime wanting to slam it as hard as possible, especially upon seeing it’s overbearingly high-score. But I won’t, because to be frank, I can’t.
I don’t really think a lot of reviews, complex and heavily-illustrated need to be written about this anime to get a feel for what it’s about so let me get straight to the point: It’s ridiculous over-the-top comedy, plain and simple. Of course you can’t forget the awesome stories built from these insane gags, too.
The scripting, the scenario, specifically the way that the anime envelops you inside – making you a returning character as well, are all ingeniously meshed together.
And of course, after five years… brought to you in 16:9 format.
…With even better songs than ever (hard to believe, I know).
If you haven’t seen Gintama before, I recommend checking it out, and I know 201 episodes sounds like a grueling task, but after seeing the pilot episode for the second series, I was left more than satisfied. This episode is reason alone to watch the over two-hundred preceding it.
Even if you’re familiar with Gintama and think you’re ready for Gintama’, let me be the first to tell you; you aren’t.
Note: I don’t believe this review needs to be edited every week, as most episodes are either episodic or self-contained within an arc. If you’ve braved the first 201 episodes, don’t miss season two.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
2. Gintama’: Enchousen
3. Fate/Zero 2nd Season
5. Initial D Fifth Stage
6. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
7. Zetsuen no Tempest
8. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (TV)
9. Jormungand: Perfect Order