They’re the best Anime that 2014 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Log Horizon, Noragami, Akatsuki no Yona, and more!
10: Log Horizon
English: Log Horizon
Japanese: ログ ホライズン
MAL Score: 7.97
In the blink of an eye, thirty thousand bewildered Japanese gamers are whisked from their everyday lives into the world of the popular MMORPG, Elder Tale, after the game’s latest update—unable to log out. Among them is the socially awkward college student Shiroe, whose confusion and shock lasts only a moment as, a veteran of the game, he immediately sets out to explore the limits of his new reality.
Shiroe must learn to live in this new world, leading others and negotiating with the NPC “natives” in order to bring stability to the virtual city of Akihabara. He is joined by his unfortunate friend Naotsugu, having logged in for the first time in years only to find himself trapped, and Akatsuki, a petite but fierce assassin who labels Shiroe as her master. A tale of fantasy, adventure, and politics, Log Horizon explores the elements of gaming through the eyes of a master strategist who attempts to make the best of a puzzling situation.
The story begins by introducing a set of typical MMORPG rules/restrictions that many viewers are familiar with. But what’s not so familiar are the way these rules are manipulated, opening paths to feats that were previously impossible. When one thinks of rules and boundaries, one would assume that it would limit whatever it governs. Ironically, these strict rules expand Log Horizon’s story from a generic show to a well thought-out strategic adventure. It’s an extremely appealing story given the relatability to many of its viewers. Having played games like World of Warcraft, I and many other viewers understand how the core mechanics of questing, leveling, raiding and more work. That’s why when other possibilities that greatly affect these game mechanics are discovered, Log Horizon truly becomes special. It also feels completely plausible. It is NOT a “power of friendship defeating the boss that was previously kicking your ass.” It’s fundamentally sound and really becomes an intriguing show.
Although some may disagree, I really thought that one of the show’s biggest strength is how the characters all have defined, unique roles. Where Shiroe is the leader in the shadows, Crusty is the leader in the spotlight. Where Akatsuki is loyal, quiet and small, Naotsugu is the loud, pervy and funny big guy. And you also have… Rundelhaus, who’s in a category of his own when it comes to goofiness. These kinds of distinctions allow Log Horizon to have all kinds of interactions between characters and the possibilities become endless. To me, the characters are one of the biggest strengths of the show.
The story is what makes Log Horizon quite different from a typical shounen show. It has heavy political/economical themes that tie well into one of the show’s biggest points: building a world. In fact, there are a few episodes where the dialogue gets quite heavy and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. With that being said, I genuinely enjoyed the dialogue and found the story to be engaging. Log Horizon also executes its’ story quite well. I found the pacing and structure of the arcs to be satisfactory and enjoyable.
Art is decent, it’s not UFOtable amazing, but not terrible either. It’s consistently pretty decent and not “inconsistent” like some other shows. Nothing else to be said here.
Sound is decent as well, the opening and ending songs are quite good but take time to get used to. The background music, while not bad, is overused. You’ll know what I mean when you get halfway through the season.
With all that being said, Log Horizon is not a perfect show. For example, why does no one care about what’s happening to their bodies in the real world? You’ll find yourself asking this question as you watch the show. It’s almost as if the topic of what’s going on in the real world is completely forgotten. Also, some people may find that the interactions between the characters become quite repetitive, especially with Henrietta, who has a loli fetish for Akatsuki. Her interactions with Akatsuki are always of the same manner and it gets boring very quickly. It seems that Akatsuki’s character is reduced to mere loli humor later in the show.
On a side note, I really feel that it’s important to point out that Log Horizon is not a combat-heavy show. That in itself already distinguishes itself from other shounen shows. But what’s really important is how the show focuses on actual strategy and manipulating the rules within the game world that the characters live in. If Log Horizon’s story didn’t have these elements, I really believe that Log Horizon would not be an exciting show to watch, it would just be another okay show.
Log Horizon is not your typical show. It has firm grounded roots of realism in a world of fantasy that is genuinely exciting to watch. From diverse characters, to bending the rules in a world most of us are accustomed to, Log Horizon is a good show and is worth your time. With that being said, it is by no means a perfect show. It’s a rather simple show in terms of concepts, as well as having plot holes in the overall story. But Log Horizon more than makes up for it in terms of its pure enjoyability (isn’t that why we watch anime in the first place?) and execution of its story.
I can imagine anyone familiar with Sword Art Online doing a double take at this point, obviously comparing the two anime, itching to see how one holds up against the other. SAO lovers and haters alike will travel down this line of thought. To be honest, I was and is one of the latter. Infact, I went into the series hoping to find all I missed in SAO after reading some assuring extracts that put this above Sword Art Online. And it did deliver.
I should mention, however, that this anime is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re not the type to sit down and enjoy a dialogue heavy show such as this, the anime will most certainly come off as dry and boring. To be fair, if you’re on the extreme end of dialogue-heavy fanaticism, the end-result won’t vary. Log Horizon is the kind of anime that sits on the neutral ground – its dialogue heavy, but the concepts are not overly complex, thought provoking or riddled with worldly wise philosophies.
That is not to say the show is not intelligent, but nonetheless, if you take the word of Log Horizon fans(a.k.a SAO haters) that judge the show as the intellectual’s SAO, then you’ll end up sorely let down. Because, at the end of the day, Log Horizon is still a kids show that shows no shame in shying away from the more ugly facets of the scenario, and the devious schemes that characters keep praising as something phenomenal are rather elementary.
Not that its a bad thing, the anime itself doesn’t go out of its way to show its characters as human super computers or anything. We just get a normal gamer guy with above average intelligence, and one who actually does his homework to get things done. Seeing he’s surrounded by other normal people and AI, it might even be a good thing. The situations themselves doesn’t call for anything more than some rudimentary marketing and administrative tactics and strategies.
The story is in any case, fairly well executed and implemented; you won’t find the characters doing utterly pointless actions or going on completely fruitless endeavours. Although, like they say, don’t judge a book by its cover, because first arc of Log Horizon can mislead you on the show’s main focus. Without spoiling too much, they first go on a rescue mission and the short arc serves as an exposition of sorts to give us a gist of the combat and gameplay mechanics, which while not a central theme, does get some focus later on in the series. Even so, combat is not heavy in Log Horizon. When there is action, it mostly relies on tactics and strategy. There is no one-man show where the mc’s love overrides the game mechanics or anything. But, if you forget the two arcs where action is important – Log Horizon is about economics and politics at its core.
One significant factor that differentiates Log Horizon from its thematic predecessors like SAO and .hack series is that death in the game does not equate to death in real life. That is, the players can respawn infinitely. It is not without consequence though, as there is something even more terrible than death that await the players who carelessly let their HP bars easily chip away to zero. Oops, I said too much. Maybe you should go watch the anime, because I won’t be dropping any more spoilers.
Now, onto the sound. The OST at first didn’t at all sit well with me. It was sharply contrasting to the shows feel and theme. However, slowly but surely, I ended up loving it and started humming along. I can’t honestly speak in-depth about the back-ground score…But they were certainly mood building, though I have my doubts about whether they went overboard with it. Some of the mood-building has gone to water and left me with a facepalm because the epic moments were made epic only because of the soundtracks. Without those, I wouldn’t have batted an eye at the game winning strategies the characters employed and would have wrote them off as common sense. Meanwhile, the ending has already found a place in my favorites. Never skipped it, infact, I’m listening to it as I’m typing.
The art was quite mediocre. Nothing to speak of. Its not too bad and its not too good. I felt that it didn’t quite feel like a game for most part. But you really can’t complain, for all we know, they may not even be stuck in a game per se. The character designs were pretty generic and all of anime’s usual motifs are used. I particularly liked the mc’s design.
Characters of Log Horizon are not unique or spectacular in any sense. But they get their job done, and the mc is a wits above fists guy for once, and he’s good at it. There is also the charismatic guy who gets all the praise, but luckily, we see him as a side character for the better part of the show. Not really surprising given Log Horizon takes a radically different route than most mainstream shounen shows by focusing on the action behind the scenes far more than the frontline adventures.
I have noticed the characters getting blamed for reacting too calmly towards their predicament and this is one of those criticisms I don’t understand. If you came across such a criticism, take my word – that is baseless. Completely baseless.
One character I was thoroughly disappointed with was the loli assassin, Akatsuki. I actually had high hopes for her. But much to my dismay, her potential as a character was left untapped in terms of both execution and elucidation. I certainly won’t condemn her character for development as she seemed to be wallowing in sadness because of her inability to be of sufficient use, and even more her because of her being unable to empathize with the mc towards the end. She still has a lot of potential for development, especially in the light of next season coming shortly. No, my problem is with her lack of chemistry with the mc. The same slap-stick jokes with the show’s resident pervert can get old really easily, and the whole cosplay facade she uses to interact with Shiroe doesn’t help either. Heck, Shiroe himself thinks her antics are nothing more than cosplaying when her personal monologues shows that she is invested in Shiroe on a more than superficial level. If there was some backstory for such an introverted personality, then I could have let it slip. But sadly, nothing of that sort came up. I’m hoping that the next season will take some time to flesh out her character, seeing she’s the main female lead.
Rest of the characters were great for the duration of the show and we can hope that they will play more important roles in the upcoming sequel. Some of the secondary cast got a lot more development than the main cast, both a positive and negative point in my books.
Another weakness in its character department comes from overuse of certain gags. Shiroe adjusting his glasses when thinking making everyone go ‘Ooohh the villain in glasses’, Henrietta’s obsession with dressing up lolis, Naotsugu’s openly showing perverted tendencies only to get interrupted halfway by wrathful Akatsuki etc being only some of the examples. While this is not uncommon or ineffective, too much of these can be frustrating.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this anime is not for everyone. For those who like dialogue heavy anime that is not dark or depressing, with some light slapstick comedy thrown in for good measure – this is exactly what you’re looking for.
As a last note, I must warn anyone who has been pushed onto taking up this anime by SAO haters – Granted, its different from SAO and does decidedly better than SAO on the story department, particularly the pacing. But its not the masterpiece that many of them paint it to be. Log Horizon is a little above the average shounen, however, its still an anime with flaws that cannot be overlooked. My own overall score is a result of the kind of entertainment I derived and not at all reflecting of the show’s quality from an objective standpoint.
A year later we have Log Horizon; an MMO inspired anime that has the same scenario as the show above with only a few minor iterations here and there. Now before I begin, this won’t be a piece where I start to compare or contrast both Sword Art Online and Log Horizon, as many people, unfortunately, seem to be inclined to do so. Whether I think Sword Art Online was good or bad should not be a factor on how I feel about Log Horizon in particular. Judging a show by its own merits without any outside influence of another show should be the number one key in critiquing any work. With that said, does Log Horizon hold out on its own?
One thing to realize about the plot is the tone of the setting and how it feels very lighthearted despite the dire situation that all of the characters are in. As far as the characters know, they have no way of getting out of the game. Many have criticized this aspect as being somewhat unrealistic in how real people would react to something of this magnitude. It might be an understandable critique to offer, at first. However, as the show goes on it feels fitting based on the nature of how the characters think about how they live and survive in the virtual environment. For however long they’ve been trapped in the game for years on end, at least based on their confusing logic, that virtual world becomes their world and get used to it by then. It also helps to the show’s credit that they don’t ever show us the real world at all and keeps it a mystery as to how things are going to make the situation from the characters’ perspective feel more apparent to the audience.
While this might be one of the stronger points of the show, the story itself in how it is paced and told isn’t nail-bitingly intuitive or well thought out. The premise isn’t that complicated, to begin with, as we’ve been shown before, but Log Horizon seems to think that if they throw in multiple sub-plots into the mix to make it sound complex, it’ll succeed. Unfortunately, those sub-plots I’d mentioned don’t amount to anything special in the long run and aren’t even that memorable because of it. Not only that, but that lack of memorability stems from the fact that all of these political and social constructs that Log Horizon’s world possesses aren’t written clear enough, other than the fact that they’re there to establish some basis for our protagonists to go somewhere. This comes into perspective with how many characters there are to follow in Log Horizon, but I’ll get to that later. The problems with the world-building might be more apparent after knowing that the original creator, Mamare Touno, was responsible for the creation of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, which also had the same problems in its adaptation that can be compared to this one. These sorts of issues are prevalent in adaptations in this type of scale, but that can’t be an excuse at this point.
Though the massive cast of characters might seem like a huge negative, the way I put it, that shouldn’t mean that all of them are mediocre. The main cast of characters that are prominent throughout the show is exceptionally likable and hilarious to watch due to their numerous escapades with each other. It helps tremendously how they all have their unique characteristics that improve the nature of every one of them, rather than making them all generic and uninteresting. The same thing can’t be said for the side characters, regrettably so. With our main cast being Shiroe, Nyanta-nyan, Akatsuki, and Naotsugu, there’s this decent sense of chemistry between these four characters that is ultimately lacking for our side/supporting cast. All of their archetypes mostly consist of them having a trait that tries to make them distinct, such as Henrietta having an obsession with cute things like Akatsuki, and Serara, who has a habit of wanting to clean things to calm down. At first, it’s humorous, but after a while it becomes redundant, and it doesn’t make them any more meaningful.
In an action anime centered around the MMO systems, it would make sense to make the anime feel like you’re really in an MMO game from the gritty details of cool-downs, being a tank, healing your party members equally, and conjuring status effects at the right time. I, myself, am one of these people who enjoy these types of games and, to me, Log Horizon is probably the only one that gets it right. Usually something like this would steer off into brainless shounen show cliches, and there are a few here and there. Amazingly, Log Horizon gets the idea of taking its time for the characters to strategize their movements and actions rather than just blindly fighting off monsters without any thought in the world. That might make it seem too slow or methodical to enjoy watching, but in reality, they do a good job in the pacing of these fight scenes and keeping the action flowing seamlessly to give us a clear picture of what’s going on.
The art style can be construed as good, just not excellent in quality. The character designs themselves are very plain and ordinary enough for me even to consider them a triumphant success in artistic merit, but we come to expect that, and for what it’s worth, it handles it decently to where they don’t seem to cut any visible corners in the later episodes. As I’ve mentioned about the action being fast and flawlessly executed, the animation is a big part of why those are the case. The fluid character movements feel nice and kinetic to the spells that are cast and look pretty good as a result.
Voice talents range from relatively unknown voice actors to the familiar ones we’ve grown to be fans of giving their artistic liberties to full effect with Log Horizon. Emiri Kato as Akatsuki is devilishly cute and her being a fellow MMO fan sort of gives her performance an exciting spin. Even though Henrietta wasn’t that special as a character, Ayahi Takabaki manages to pull off the mature woman voice well and gives her voice some new territory for her to explore for her vocal talents rather than more boyish female characters. Takuma Terashima proves himself worthy of being the main protagonist of a show, and I hope to see him do more shortly. Not to mention, I could listen to Jouji Nakata say anything with the word “nyaa” at the end of his sentences and never get tired of it.
For some of us who are fans of the MMO genre, Log Horizon should be the one show to be doing it right, and while it does handle the actual MMO aspects brilliantly, the real narrative and storytelling sets itself down from being great. I do appreciate the amount of depth it tries to convey that wants us to feel attached to the world, yet I can’t help but wonder if that could’ve been done to better effect had it made the narrative more tightly constructive and less cluttered. The saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth,” sums up Log Horizon perfectly. Only when the eventual sequel comes out, we will know if the journey will be worthwhile enough to experience its next climax.
MAL Score: 7.98
In times of need, if you look in the right place, you just may see a strange telephone number scrawled in red. If you call this number, you will hear a young man introduce himself as the Yato God.
Yato is a minor deity and a self-proclaimed “Delivery God,” who dreams of having millions of worshippers. Without a single shrine dedicated to his name, however, his goals are far from being realized. He spends his days doing odd jobs for five yen apiece, until his weapon partner becomes fed up with her useless master and deserts him.
Just as things seem to be looking grim for the god, his fortune changes when a middle school girl, Hiyori Iki, supposedly saves Yato from a car accident, taking the hit for him. Remarkably, she survives, but the event has caused her soul to become loose and hence able to leave her body. Hiyori demands that Yato return her to normal, but upon learning that he needs a new partner to do so, reluctantly agrees to help him find one. And with Hiyori’s help, Yato’s luck may finally be turning around.
The story of Noragami begins with Hiyori: an average high school girl who has a fated encounter with Yato, a homeless god, but we’ll get to them later. Hiyori, being the angel of a person she is, pushes Yato out of the way of an incoming bus when he suddenly runs into traffic. This results in not only an accident and her being taken to the hospital, but from then on she gains the somewhat troublesome habit of losing her physical body and taking on a similar form, but travels around as her soul seperated from her body. Deciding she can’t live on like this, she begs Yato and pays him in advance to restore her back to her original form, and thus, the two connect and Hiyori is abruptly introduced to the world outside of our reality.
At least, that’s what the show would have you believe from its broad overarching plot.
Noragami consists of several plot lines that all mesh in beautifully with each other both in terms of pacing and execution. It wastes no time in moving the story forward, save some of Yato’s comic relief and character introductions here and there. It even has some realistic darker undertones thrown in smoothly. They make sure you understand the weight of loneliness and just how invisible those who are not of the living can be, how painful it is to be forgotten and wanting to be remembered. Having read the majority of the manga so far, the anime followed it quite well, had it not been for the filler arc that took up the remaining 3-4 episodes. But for the most part, I enjoyed the story very much and hope that it will follow the manga if it were to receive a second season, which is HIGHLY FAVORABLE.
The main reason why I love the characters of Noragami is not only how diverse they all are, but it seems to have a Hiromu Arakawa feel to it; no character is used solely for fanservice or comic relief in spite of their first appearance. Every person in this series is well fleshed-out, developed, and not one-dimensional in the slightest, though that’s what you may get the impression of in early episodes.
Yato, our main character, is somewhat of an underdog aside from being homeless and having a strange fashion sense. He is definitely the real propeller of the show, providing us with not only mystery, insight, and of course, more comic relief than you can shake a stick at, but just such a fun time watching him in general. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t appreciate his presence on my screen. What’s not to like about a bratty, teenage looking god taking up job requests for only 5 Yen? Much about him is still to be revealed, though they’ve given us enough to go on for right now. His viewpoints on humans and life as a whole is somewhat irritating yet fascinating due to his experience of both and naturally, having lived for thousands of years as a vicious war god who has somehow faded to an insanely silly and docile version of that is still unkown. But to end his profile, Yato is a great character who differs from the typical shonen hero who still has plenty of development to go and is an amazing joy to watch at any given time. And personally, my favorite character of the series, so bias warning there.
Next up is Hiyori. I definitely don’t have as much to say here, as she is a pretty bland character until she meets Yato and gets caught up in the world of gods and evil spirits. Before that she is just the average high school student who goes to school with her friends, has a loving and rich family, and is just normal overall. Her most defining trait is without a doubt, her extreme levels of kindness that most female protagonists seem to ooze with these days (hence the reason why she pushed a complete stranger out of the way of an oncoming bus because she’s a female and therefore is /just /that /nice.) But of course, she isn’t simply that customary for no given reason. Her main purpose is to serve as more of a window into the hidden reality we see that is so different from our daily lives, since she lives the everyday life that most of us do either as well or similarly to a fair extent. She reflects more of the confusion and shock the average human being would feel upon having a million revelations thrown into her face via Yato, and I suppose if you really don’t care for her she could be more of a wish-fulfillment character into an alternate universe. Unlike other leading characters, she’s determined and knows when to take the initiative when the situation is tight. But alas, she starts out as the badass female lead and then ends up getting damseled like some million-dollar-prize in the last couple episodes, which I hate with the burning passion of a million suns. But moving on.
Last of the main three is Yukine, Yato’s sarcastic, stubborn fourteen-year-old Regalia who serves as his weapon for 98% of the show and also adds some more comic relief to (but mainly against) our poor underdog god. Out of those already mentioned above, he undeniably undergoes the most drastic character development in the entire show and /all of it/ is so, so, so satisfying. It surprises me how much hate he gets from the fandom, though not only is that a) more personal bias, b) not the time to bring this up in a review, and c) a time to complain about the fandom giving him crap, but I thought all of it was well justified, mainly because it is so simple to see what it is he wants, where he’s coming from, why he wants all these things that he can never have. Plus he actually acts similarly to how an actual fourteen-year-old boy with raging hormones and inner angst would. The show finally starts to get into a rhythm of a plot with his introduction, which is majorly important as well. The only complaint that I would have is that I felt that the episodes just took a /little/ too long having the buildup to his extremely Paramount conclusion, though it was so intensely satisfying in the end that I completely forgot about it. It added a sense of desperation to the entire thing, which, when I think about it, is not necessarily a bad factor now. But of course, since he is a part of this show, he is a brilliant and extremely adorable character to watch if you can understand him, which should not really be a problem at all.
The rest of the supporting cast is also great, each to their own with their own stories, pasts, and different sides, but are all also incredibly fun to watch as they give the show so much colour and variety. The only reason why I wouldn’t give the character aspect a full-on 10 is because of Yato’s rather-late-introduced arch-nemesis from thousands of years ago (who just happens to be a filler character because of the unfortunately short length of this series right now) and Hiyori’s demotion of “Prize to Be Won After We Win Because we Love Her”.
I definitely don’t have any complaints here. For the most part the animation style is typical Bones fare, with the art looking approvingly alike to that of the manga’s. Each character design is bright and interesting to the eye, from Yato’s cat-like blue eyes and strange scarf to the brighter colours of the giggly Kofuku and the other personified gods. Scenery is also well done and detailed, though I wish there were more fight scenes included because this is where the animation /really/ shines through. (Yato’s Rend attack in particular, and mainly since this little cut is re-used multiple times in each episode.) Naturally there are times when the quality would dip here and there, but it does its job and doesn’t fail to please. Solid 8 here.
The soundtrack for Noragami was composed by Taku Iwasaki, the genius who had previously created OSTS for the famous Black Butler and Soul Eater, both of which were known for their very prominent themes varying from rock ballads and pop to Victorian-era themes. Most of the music is light-hearted and a bit repetitive in its loops, but it sets the mood extremely well and never feels out of place. It occasionally mixes in a few classical Japanese themes into it too, and that never feels unnatural either. The battle music is the main point in this entire OST along with a few other tracks that will make you go, “Oh, this played when ______ happened and it sounded awesome!” because honestly it is just that great. No complaints.
As if it could possibly add onto the already existing 10, the voice acting of Noragami is simply SUPERB and there is no other way I can say it. The casting of the actual god Kamiya Hiroshi as Yato was an absolutely perfect choice that would be practically impossible to imitate by anyone else. I wasn’t used to hearing him play such a wide range in a single role, but I have faith in that man. I got used to it, and he was simply amazing. In fact, even if I didn’t have any interest in Noragami’s story I would still watch this anime just because this guy is present in the cast. I don’t even think I need to mention Yuki Kaji, but I will anyway just for the fact that he pulls of Yukine’s pre-teen angst and personality so intensely well that I almost burst out sobbing the second he spoke a single line. Both of them are really what pull off the characters and that goes for the rest of the cast too. Having seiyuu regulars such as Sawashiro Miyuki, Fukuyama Jun, and Daisuke Ono were all great choices as well, and again, no complaints at ALL. Don’t even talk to me about the OP and ED.
Enjoyment & Final Verdict: 9/10
Now, even though I’d like to call it as such, Noragami is not perfect, as is anything else out there. But though it has its problems, I was never once bored or dissatisfied with this show to a large extent. The only thing that would make this bump up to a ten would be the confirmation of more to come. Though the anime had its happy (if not rushed) ending, there is still so much manga content to be animated, including the /incredible/ arc focusing on Bishamon, Yato’s other arch-nemesis from centuries ago, but now’s not the time to mention that. Noragami is a great blend of comedy and the supernatural, a character-driven show that really gets you to feel and has a tone that tends to capture. Beneath it all are underlying tones of darkness and grief, but still manages to put on a lighthearted tone when it needs to. But all in all, I had a great time watching the ride and grew attached to it. This anime will most definitely have a little reserved corner in my heart as one of the greatest animes of the Winter 2014 season and I’m looking forward to the possibility of a future season. And with that, I leave you.
“May our fates intertwine.”
The things that I like come in many different shapes and sizes. One such thing that I like is the Winter 2014 show Noragami, a ‘feels’ shounen brought to you by Studio Bones, that brings together elements of shows like Soul Eater and Rurouni Kenshin to give you a ‘family-centric’ journey exploring what it means to be alive.
Or rather I wish it did. At its best you’ve got tear jerking moments of mortality, family, and the struggles of existence. You have a cast of characters you care about, the voice acting encapsulating each character almost perfectly, flowing between emotions and the changing tone beautifully. At its worse you have long ’bouts of ‘struggle of the week’. Slow buildup to something with mediocre story telling until the conclusion. And foreshadowing that is either so obvious it hurts, or massively fascinating and never really answered.
This show’s strengths are in its characters, mainly Yato – who consistently brings out the best interactions of the entire show, be it his sweetness or his harshness – and are the primary reason that I want more and more of Noragami. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the cast are all better than average. Certainly better than what I expect from a battle shounen. And when the show is being a harsh drama I am utterly entranced, fulfilled and cathartic.
But. When it is not being amazing. It is mediocre beyond belief. Slow pacing, which ,whilst forwarding the overall plot, could easily have been something else more in line with the show at its best. This is further exemplified by the animation quality which just seems disappointing. The art style deserves better than what it got. The art style on its solid and certain ‘Phantoms’ (The primary antagonistic beings for most of the series) just ooze awesome. Others look about as cool as a blue frog can look. And whilst I couldn’t call the animation terrible, for the most part it does nothing good, the creepiness is not exemplified, the sadness is not exemplified, the little details are simply absent. I’m never impressed and at my worse I’m disappointed by how often the shounen “Power up to kill shit” is copy and pasted. Sure it is cool the first couple of times, but with the amount it is reused it loses its power quickly.
The soundtrack takes some interesting steps. Using more electronic and dubsteppy tracks than your standard rocky shounen. I personally found it kind of bland, but I can easily see others enjoying it far more as the tracks are not out of place and certainly match the moods of the scenes. Being unique in this regard should be applauded, but whether it really works or not is something we can question heavily.
However the biggest and most substantial flaw of this show is where the overall plot goes. This is a 12 episode series that does not buckle down and focus. Most of what fascinated me in the earlier episodes was not really built upon. Instead I have a Kenshin-esque fight scene and a re-establishment of the strange ‘friend-family-esque’ trio, which was only broken up an episode earlier. I want more exploration of Yato and Yukine’s character depth and backstory. I want my weird romance subplot between a kinda human and a deity. I want the three main plot lines to be resolved.
But I don’t have that. Instead I’m left here waiting and hoping for a season two that takes everything amazing about this show and continues, without the flaws of the first season. Which in itself is an issue, because the ending track is completely and utterly gorgeous. Easily amongst one of the best EDs, based on track alone, that I have had the fortune to listen to in my lifetime. But a single music track alone is not something most people will watch a show for.
[Synopsis]: Lacking both recognition and a shrine, Yato (Kamiya, Hiroshi) is a god down on his luck, forced to take on mundane requests in order to earn his meager offerings. On one of these menial tasks he is rescued from the path of a racing truck by Iki Hiyori (Uchida, Maaya) who subsequently is subjected to inconvenient out of body experiences when her soul leaves her body. After Hiyori requests for Yato to fix her condition they meet Yukine, (Kaji, Yuuki) a wandering spirit who becomes Yato’s divine weapon. The three fight ayakashi and do odd jobs in order for Yato to one day become a recognizable god with both a shrine and followers.
Noragami has a fairly small cast which can be nice in terms of simplicity however it can also lead to the show feeling over-reliant on only a few characters. Yato, the penniless god who dreams of becoming a well-respected deity, is a fairly lighthearted and comedic character however is perfectly capable of becoming serious given the proper conditions. He’s not afraid to take on simple jobs in order to earn his 5-yen donations however I also felt that this trait was somewhat troublesome as the character has high aspirations but only progresses towards them at a snails pace.
Iki Hiyori is a generic enough school girl (outside of her interest in professional martial-arts). She isn’t a very intricate or even interesting character however her place in the show is well situated enough as she acts as a sort of layman for the viewers so we can have an introduction to the implications and concepts of Noragami‘s world. She is a good source of comedy however I don’t think she holds much intrigue within the story.
Lastly we have Yato’s divine weapon: Yukine. He was a wandering spirit when Yato found him and by nature of this was once human which makes for a good deal of the shows drama as well as Yukine’s own internal anxiety. I found him to be rather irritating as a character – it is eluded to that he had a tragic or traumatic past as a human however his conflict with Yato and his lot in the show is not tied to this and therefore feels needlessly whiny and unpleasant. He is often at odds with Yato however there didn’t appear to be any unique character qualities within Yukine that would give way for this and so his discomfort feels petty. He doesn’t exhibit very good character development either and while he does become less unpleasant after a point, it is not even his own doing that leads to this near 180 of attitude. All in all, I felt he was rather annoying and I thought his poorly written character exploration took up much too much time.
The character designs in Noragami are fairly simple except when it comes to the more supernatural characters like other gods or the ayakashi – Yato himself is best visually characterized by wearing a jersey and sweat pants. The character designs tend to get a little relaxed or lazy if the scene is not of great import or when the characters are depicted as far away however they never become outright terrible.
The combat in the show could almost entirely be described as single-strike or clash based because many of the battles are between Yato wielding Yukine against an otherworldly monster. This isn’t necessarily bad however if one was to look into the show for action reasons then these scenes leave a bit to be desired in terms of choreography, length, and overall complexity.
I think this is where Noragami falls short for most people – not because the story is poorly written or because the characters act stupid but because there doesn’t seem to be much there to begin with. The premise of the story – that Yato wishes to become a famously worshiped god and that Hiyori wants her body fixed – is not something that the story spends much time chasing after. Yes, Yato takes odd jobs in order to increase his recognition and earn his offerings however, as I stated in the [Characters] section, he seem to have much actual ambition and therefore hardly progresses towards his dream within the course of the 12 episodes.
The content that the show actually covers, concerning primarily Yukine’s emotional disposition and later Yato’s dark history, I didn’t find as interesting as if the show pursued its original premise more actively. In all honesty, because the show is primarily lighthearted for a good deal of its episodes, I would say that the comedic interactions between the main cast of characters is ultimately of more interest than the plot the show shallowly explores.
The music was pretty good and some people may recognize a similar approach and style as to that of Katanagatari as the composer is Iwasaki Taku. I wouldn’t say that the music is nearly as good as his other work in my personal opinion however I would say the soundtrack is one of the show’s better appeals. The music mostly occupies a BG-type quality whereas Iwasaki’s work normally takes more of a center stage role in my experience – the action scenes do play up the music accordingly so I generally enjoy these parts of the music more than others.
[Final Thoughts and Rating]:
While there is a second season now confirmed for Noragami, these 12 episodes felt forgettable to me. The characters weren’t very interesting and there were so few of them that the cast of the show felt pretty lackluster.
I gave the show a 5 because its well enough animated and has decent music but the show spent its 12 episode run quite poorly in the progression department and had a few actively annoying elements such as Yukine’s dialogue and characterization.
Because the show offers very little in overall content – I have a hard time recommending the show to anyone for genre purposes however someone that’s looking for a supernatural anime would not go amiss as the ayakashi and gods are fairly present throughout the show. The action in Noragami i felt was pretty lackluster save maybe the final confrontation in the show however I don’t think it was a worthy payoff and wouldn’t recommend it for this reason. I would say that the show’s strongest point is its comedy and so anyone looking for a good few comedic reaction faces and decent gags would do fine in watching the show however there is a fair amount of drama as well so its not a pure comedy by any means.
8: Akatsuki no Yona
English: Yona of the Dawn
MAL Score: 8.04
Princess Yona lives a life of luxury and ease, completely sheltered from the problems of the seemingly peaceful Kingdom of Kouka; however, the sudden murder of the king and betrayal of her beloved cousin Su-won places Yona’s life in mortal peril. Forced to escape only with Son Hak, who is both her childhood friend and bodyguard, the na?ve princess soon discovers that Kouka is not the idyllic place she envisioned it to be. Poverty, strife, and corruption run rampant, making reclaiming the throne nothing more than a wishful fantasy given the kingdom’s current state.
Based on the popular manga of the same name by Mizuho Kusanagi, Akatsuki no Yona follows Princess Yona on a coming-of-age adventure as she faces the harsh realities of her kingdom. With only a mysterious legend to guide her, Yona must discover a way to restore Kouka to its former glory while being pursued relentlessly by the forces of the new King of Kouka.
First of all , Akatsuki no yona where have you been all this time? Where have you been HIDING dammit!
Sound : Im specifically starting with this , because lets face it , the soundtrack is absolutely amazing in this anime. Starting with the opening , Its only instrumental! ( How much time has it been since we got AN INSTRUMENTAL OPENING?)and yet you don’t skip it and listen to it every damn time. The second opening isnt as great but is still awesome!
( seriously it gives you chills everytime there’s a fight/emotional moment and the traditional music goes in).
Story : Princess Yona leads a peaceful life. Her only “worries” is whether or not her hair colour suits her and if she’s gonna be able to marry her beloved childhood friend Soo-won. Well lucky for her ! He stops by the castle for a week. However her father forbids their marriage for reasons beyond her understanding. THEN BAM! beloved Soo-Won drives a blade through the chest of the king while she runs into the room to talk to him about her marriage. Heartbroken and stripped of her status as royalty, Yona lives as a fugitive on the run, accompanied only by one of the king’s trusted shogun : Haku!.
Art : The animation is freaking good , yona hime face expressions are really well detailed ( I mean look at those fierce gorgeous eyes man) , and the art may seem typical but its beautiful! And hey for once the main dude isnt a 100% bishounen shining armored prince like dude his eyes are more like ”dont mess with me” type.
Characters: The side characters ( Yona companions) are amazingly well developped ( better than any shojo I watched) , you get to see a very detailed past of some of them. ALSO CAN WE PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT for the first non-cry baby female lead since those 5 last years? Yes Yona hime is a typical princess , fragile , who only cares for nobles things and dont know how to cook her own food. HOWEVER she blooms into a strong female lead , who is aware of her weakness and wants to learn how to protect herself and save her country!.
Enjoyment: You know it’s a good anime when you know the release date of the next episode and wait for it the whole week. You know its a good anime when you prepare food for it and set all yourself up. Akatsuki no yona combines Humour , serious-badass-moments , Mother of typical shojo moments ( which means even if its typical they are still better introduced than other animes of the same type).It’s the type of anime that will give you chills in every single episode. Honestly if you are the kind of person who was desperate to find an amazing shojo with Strong female lead (like me) or just a passing-by person who never seen a shojo in her/his life , or just a curious person ! THEN DONT MISS AKATSUKI NO YONA.
Beware of spoilers used as discussion points
Featuring a middle ages Korea kingdom apparently in turmoil; Yona stars as a completely clueless princess with already 2 incredibly hot young men who can’t resist to “protect” her. A coup occurred, for reasons still unclear after 24 episodes, killing the king and forcing Yona to take flight with her Boyfriend #1 (Hak) after finding out the identity of the perpetrator being Boyfriend #2.Thus ensues a long winded journey as Yona travels and develops as a person and a benevolent, charismatic ruler, reaching for that ultimate goal with also a lot opportunities for romantic development, or so you’d think.
The premise of this series is definitely very promising and allows room for political intrigues, epic battles exploring the qualities of an ideal ruler, discussing the problems with a lenient ruler and how discipline is integral to order. Unfortunately a meager 2 episodes is spent on these issues, making it a huge waste of potential. It’s mentioned many times that the previous reign wasn’t effective, but it’s hardly shown through the show; in fact the blame is all placed onto generic one-dimensional bad guys for doing bad things. The people perspective is nowhere to be found, their “suffering” is hardly discussed, there are no exact problems to be fixed; this makes the show’s whole foundation completely empty and so does Yona’s claim on learning about suffering. In comparison, Rose of Versailles beautifully portrays an oppressed society with plenty of civilian perspectives to display the problems with incompetent governance. On a wider scale, it’s also mentioned that the kingdom is at risk of impending attack in an attempt to give the show some kind of direction; but it’s so diluted and underpresented it’s difficult to appreciate as world building. Furthermore, it doesn’t really help that the show utilizes silly slapstick comedy; much like Shitgatsu Kimi ga Uso, these kills off any tension and make the show somehow even more bubbly than it already is.
On an episode to episode basis, the show doesn’t fare too well either. Most episodes focus on Yona’s journey to find the “4 dragons” based on a prophecy told by a random drunk priest lying half dead on the side of the road. As if that isn’t silly fantasy enough, these dragons are bound to her by DESTINY, meaning the moment she caught their eyesight, they become a harem member. Yep, she doesn’t even need to convince them. Most of the arcs dont have much depth and doesn’t contribute to the big picture. Additionally, they also try to get the audience to sympathise to the autistic, utterly stereotypical and forgettable dragons that become irrelevant the moment they join the harem.Boyfriend #5 (Blue dragon) arc in particular had a lot of issues that should really have been touched on like why are soldiers attacking the villagers? Why do the little kids keep dying? Why do they fear something that saves them? Instead it focused on the superficial “suffering” of the hot boy. And of course, Yona saves the day in the most stupid way possible “because his hands are gentle, so I’ll trust him”, right. The Boyfriend #6 (green dragon) arc got a bit closer to what the show should have been but collapsed when it became yet another generic beat the big fat evil guy who oppress people out of his greedy desires (and really want to put his hands on Yona), joining awkwardly righteous pirates too nonetheless.
It’s funny how the show realizes the complete lack of purpose in trying to gather up these bishounen on the last episode due to Yona still being completely clueless and a failure in story writing discussed earlier. In attempt to correct this she is given a “purpose” but it’s clear the author still have no idea how to advance the plot and neither does the show become any less superficial.
Character wise, the show features a very generic cast of forgettable characters to poorly developed ones. Yona is often said to have developed greatly, which is nothing short of phony. Physical strength is not the equivalent of mental fortitude; and her excessive plot armor only further depreciates any signs of growth she has. There was only one instance in which she actually realizes she did not want to lose anything else, which was real development. All other instances are just the plot forcing her to take action in an attempt to fool the audience of any real substantial development. For example, when she shot said big fat evil guy, there was hardly any real change in her character or way of thinking, in fact she did it just to get patted on the head. The show tries to make it sounds fancy it but in reality it is exactly just that. And with this much “growth” as a human she has gathered in 24 long episodes, her development as a ruler is completely pointless to discuss.
Boyfriends #1-7 suffers heavily from being bogged down to tropes, wish fulfillment and shoujo pandering. They aren’t really allowed to have any thoughts other than about Yona (and protect her because DESTINY). Boyfriend #2 (Su-won) is a potentially interesting character as a young mastermind of a coup but completely butchered by facetious “naïve boy” behavior towards important head figures for reasons I can’t think of besides pandering. His lack of screentime completely denies any chance of development, adding to long list of disappointment in this show.
On the positive side, the production value of the show doesn’t suffer very badly from being animated by Studio Pierrot infamous for low budget and conservative animation. Art is generally acceptable without noticeable problems. The chibi slapstick art hurts my eyes but other than that it’s pretty average. The instrumental first opening sounds like something from a cheap Chinese MMO and the second is an okay jpop.
In conclusion, Akatsuki no Yona is yet another generic shoujo story masked by a deceptive exterior. Potential interesting plot development and political discussion are replaced by a pointless journey to find hot boys. Every character is inexplicably obsessed about Yona because she’s the designated main character and tropes take up more time than character development. It’s not necessarily the worst thing; in fact it’s just overly mediocre rather than outright horrible. However, it is highly disappointing considering what it could possibly have been, making it excruciating to watch. If you had to watch this series it’s best to keep your expectations low.
At first, this show seems like your average run of the mill shoujo reverse harem, but by the end of the first episode as the story goes on, it seems to be more than that, its really a well written story which focuses on vengence and betrayal, it blow other shoujos away. The pacing at times when getting dragons to join may seem a little slow and does drag on here and there. Sure it does focus on finding the dragons but get to the point already, sure there may be a sidestory but can we just get these people coming in?
The characters are done well and are beautifully developed, Yona is pretty much one of my faviroute female characters of all time, she starts off weak and fragile like a little kitten and develops on to be something big, a brave independent creature awaiting its prey, its done in a way that developing her is spot on. If I’d rate Yona alone it would be an easy 10. Hak is Yona’s first protector, being known since childhood, Hak is goddamn badass, he helps Yona and keeps her safe from danger, he’ll use himself as a tool to protect her. The other dragons are pretty good characters each with their own backstories and being well developed to Yona. The problem i have here is that some of these characters might say a serious speech and then revert to comedy, at first its a good ol’joke but it keeps getting used so much that its just a pain in the ass at times.
The Art is pretty good for the most part, it has some well done character designs and sometimes has some well detailed characters. Same goes for sound, its great to listen, both OPs and EDs are goddamn beautiful and the OSTs fit the shows theme.
The show is a blast to watch, it leaves no plotholes (from my point of view) and has dialouge that seems useful. The problem is that sometimes this show is a serious adventure fantasy and then converts to a shoujo comedy and usually this transition feels unatural and ruin the tense moments. At times its pretty funny but at times, I can’t even.
Akatsuki no Yona is a goddamn pleasure to watch and I’m glad I didn’t ignore it. At first the plot sounds generic, but give the show a chance and you’ll experience some of the most well done developements in anime in years. This show deserves a Season 2, hell it needs ne. And this all comes from Studio Pierret… how about putting this effort in Tokyo Ghoul? But besides jokes, you should seriously start watching Akatsuki no Yona right now.
7: Kill la Kill
English: KILL la KILL
MAL Score: 8.07
After the murder of her father, Ryuuko Matoi has been wandering the land in search of his killer. Following her only lead—the missing half of his invention, the Scissor Blade—she arrives at the prestigious Honnouji Academy, a high school unlike any other. The academy is ruled by the imposing and cold-hearted student council president Satsuki Kiryuuin alongside her powerful underlings, the Elite Four. In the school’s brutally competitive hierarchy, Satsuki bestows upon those at the top special clothes called “Goku Uniforms,” which grant the wearer unique superhuman abilities.
Thoroughly beaten in a fight against one of the students in uniform, Ryuuko retreats to her razed home where she stumbles across Senketsu, a rare and sentient “Kamui,” or God Clothes. After coming into contact with Ryuuko’s blood, Senketsu awakens, latching onto her and providing her with immense power. Now, armed with Senketsu and the Scissor Blade, Ryuuko makes a stand against the Elite Four, hoping to reach Satsuki and uncover the culprit behind her father’s murder once and for all.
Watching the story of Kill la Kill unfold was confusing, exhilarating, comical, lively, and goddamn refreshing. What began as a simple revenge story, with a shaky plot direction, overabundance of fan-service, and obnoxiously flashy fight scenes, ended in a surprisingly competent and satisfying fashion. Although Kill la Kill is entertaining, it is still a series that prioritizes style more than substance. This isn’t to say that the series is shallow in the slightest, but it’s often difficult to overlook the abundance of panty shots, suffocatingly tight and revealing outfits, the FLCL-esque action, and all their allure.
While there is a lot of wild enjoyment to be had in Kill la Kill, it’s also easy to disregard what makes this series so brilliant. Part of the genius behind Kill la Kill is the fact that the show itself is a parody of many overused tropes in recent anime. Over-sexualized, provocative clothing and fan-service for no reason? Check. Student council is overpowered? Check. School system that emphasizes uniforms? Check. Story about revenge? Also check. Not only does the series poke fun at commonalities in anime, it also fires shots at the oppressive nature of the Japanese education system. The most astounding part about all of this is that Kill la Kill doesn’t just adhere to the common tropes itself for shits and giggles; it actually takes these tropes and literally makes them its plot. Even if you don’t take the stance on viewing the series as a parody, you’d probably still find the series entertaining and fun to watch on a different standard. That’s ingenuity, ladies and gentlemen.
Trigger did something interesting with its characters in Kill la Kill that you don’t see in anime too often, adding to the fresh factor of the show. They took a series that banks on testosterone-based, over-the-top action and made the main characters girls. It’s not often that you come across an anime with a strong female lead that can not only stand up for herself, but also against tyranny and male counter parts. Ryuuko personifies these values. There’s a struggle within our current modern-day society to fit in with social norms. It’s tough to be that black sheep individual that goes about their own business without being judged by the majority, hence why we generally follow fashion trends, region-specific social etiquette, and so forth. The growth of Ryuuko reflects this as the development of her character is steadily shown across the span of the series. Ryuuko starts off as a bland teenage girl with attitude looking for retribution against the one who killed her father. When introduced to Senketsu — a revealing sailor uniform made of life fibers — she is submitted to humility in exchange for power. It’s things like this that should make you raise an eyebrow and wonder whether or not this is reflective of the advantages and disadvantages that sexuality offers women. Maybe I’m looking too much into it, or maybe I’m right. What’s great about Kill la Kill is that there isn’t a right answer. You take from it what you want.
While Ryuuko portrays big themes and intricate lessons woven into her character, it would be a crime to disregard the rest of the cast of the series. The character body of Kill la Kill is quite diverse and there are plenty of likable characters. Each character brings something to the table in terms of entertainment and, as a whole, makes sure that there’s never a dull moment. Characters that are depicted as the antagonists, such as Satsuki and the Four Devas, are likeable. Mako, who is essentially the fool, is actually funny. The way these characters fit the mold of wacky, but wacky with personality, is astounding. Characters feel like they fit into the show seamlessly and that can be hard to come by.
The art and animation is similar to the chaotic, yet extremely fun style that Gainax offered in both FLCL and TTGL. It’s hard to ignore the resemblance when Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Ohtsuka, originally from Gainax, are now a part of Studio Trigger. The action defies logic and physics, the art is stellar, the animation is fluid, the backdrops are majestic, and all of it meshes together nicely. The sound criteria of Kill la Kill is also quite exceptional itself. The OP’s and ED’s are good, the OST is great, and the voice acting is on point. There’s nothing else to ask for. With that being said, I think the biggest problem is that Trigger has with Kill la Kill is that while retaining the style, they also retained dips in the quality of the art and animation, similar to those in TTGL. There’s a lot of repeated animated scenes, such as the Kamui change scene, the shot of the heel clicking the ground, and even sword swinging. It’s not horrible or extremely detrimental to enjoyment, but it is there. The animation drops for a series as chaotic as Kill la Kill is understandable, given that Studio Trigger is also very new, and so I’d take this fault with a grain of salt.
For Studio Trigger’s first original, seasonal anime series, Kill la Kill came in and went out with a bang. While it doesn’t quite hit the status of masterpiece, I’ve been made a fan. I will be looking forward to whatever creativity their future works will bring.
From the makers of FLCL, Gurren Lagann and Panty and Stocking, Kill la Kill is the first television production series under the newly formed Studio Trigger. Its is a tale of a transfer student, Matoi Ryuuko, wielding a scissor-sword, comes to Honnouji Academy to look for her father’s killer. Opposing her is the Student Council President, Kiryin Satsuki, as well as her personal guard of the Elite Four, who are developing uniforms of immense power. After an initial fight, where Ryuuko ends up being defeated, she stumbles across a sailor uniform that gives her the power to overcome her enemies and give her the answers that she seeks.
Kill la Kill takes all the worn-out tropes and clichés of anime, amps it up to eleven and then delightfully invert them to give something exciting and fresh. While Ryuuko’s tale of revenge is a tad predictable, it is the execution of the plot points that makes it stand out from its peers. Everything is exaggerated to the extreme including the school setting, characters, concepts to the absolutely epic action that happens. The show makes a point of never dwelling on a single event for too long and continually ups the ante in every single episode. There is little filler and the show is pretty subversive by playing with the viewer’s expectations and then completely changing the outcome. When the action does slows down, there is a metric ton of references and homage to western culture ranging from Marvel Comics to classical music and literature. At the same time, Kill la Kill is mindful of its own Japanese heritage and folklore, drawing parallels to Oba Nobunaga, anime of old and new while not overly heavy-handed with its references by keeping it quick and tucked away in the background. Some elements of comedy are thrown in, complete with visual gags, puns and slapstick humor. However, a point of contention is the hit and miss nature of Mako’s antics, which may not go well with every viewer.
On a first glance, Kill la Kill’s visuals is reminiscent of cell animation at its peak during the late 1990s with its warm color palette and strong outlines. The backgrounds are drawn to the style of oil paintings and provide a epic and cinematic feel to the show instead of the drab outlines that other shows often present. In the animation department, Studio Trigger takes every possible shortcut in producing this show by utilizing extended single frames, sometimes even coming down to Inferno Cop levels. However, the style and energy placed into the visuals, more than make up for it technical shortcomings. Studio Trigger knows that this is an anime and plays around with that fact by slapping GIANT RED TEXT on everything and breaking the fourth wall constantly through changing perspectives and character proportions. Everything is presented with the force of a runaway freight train and doesn’t let up until the viewer either gives in or walks away. The animation quality sometimes does take a nose dive that is too steep to ignore (Episode 4) with repetitive sequences, sloppy frames and limited motion. As well, the hilariously bad CGI in some places (I’m looking at you Episode 3), is enough to break the viewer’s immersion. That being said, I applause the production team for making Kill la Kill never having a dull moment onscreen and being innovative with such a limited budget.
Much like the explosive theatrics that is plastered all over the screen, the characters are outstanding in the way they inject themselves into the show and overarching plotline. Ryuuko’s tomboyish behavior, recklessness and imaginative fighting tactics solidifies her as one of the strongest female leads I’ve seen in recent years. At the same time, she does get embarrassed my her scandalous-looking outfit and is vulnerable due to her past of growing up as a delinquent loner, making her feel like more of a teenager being thrown into absurd situations and less than any pre-established archetypes of a typical shouen show. Her nemesis and my personal favorite, K Satsuki, is the student council president who runs Honnouji Academy like a fascist regime and literally radiates power. Although she is on par with Ryuuko’s combat power, Satsuki prefers to use her various schemes and henchmen to do her dirty work and knows more than she lets on. Bolstering the two already formidable leads, the supporting characters are very memorable in their own right with the Elite Four, the eccentric Mako, the nudist stripping homeroom teacher, and various factions duking it out. Each characters adds their own brand of wackiness into an anime that doesn’t holds anything back.
The soundtrack composed by Hiroyuki Sawano (of Attack on Titan and Blue Exorcist fame) is outstanding in every aspect and holds up the show when the animation decides to takes a break. By combining genres ranging from rock, electronica, vocals, jazz and bass, Sawano creates a score that is distinctive, addictive, energetic and flows perfectly with the over-the-top nature of Kill la Kill. Some standouts includes the rock-oriented ‘Before my body is dry’, ‘Blumenkranz ‘, and the disturbingly haunting theme of Harime Nui. The character voices is equally as strong as the soundtrack with Ami (Code Geass’s Kallen Stadtfeld and Spice and Wolf’s Holo) portraying the hot-blooded and bash Ryuuko, Yuzuki Ryouka (Air’s Minagi ) as the totalitarian Satsuki and the relatively new Suzaki Aya as Mako. Opposing the main leads, Paku, Romi adds an edge of as the sadistic Kiryuuin Ragyou and Tamura Yukari (Higurashi’s Rika) as the batshit-crazy psycho Harime Nui. Male leads are also excellent with their respective VAs doing exceptional work on voicing Sanageyama, Gamagoori, and the fabulous Mikisugi.
Although the primary draw of Kill la Kill is the sheer ludicrousy of action that happens, there is a good amount of depth in terms of the themes nudity, clothing and sexuality. The amount of nudity and fanservice shown in Kill la Kill far exceeds any typical anime, showing off asses, breasts and glowing nipples left, right and center. In fact, Ryuuko’s skimpy uniform only gets more powerful when the user shreds her shame and embraces her naked self. However, more often than not, the exaggerated use of fanservice is sometime more along the lines being a parody rather than anything sexual or pandering to the audience. While other shows uses sexiness to pour gravy over the main course of the plot and characters, the nudity is interwoven into the narrative and provides context for analysis and discussion. And this is where the beauty of Studio Trigger’s masterpiece lies, where it can appeals to the causal action-oriented viewer by giving them a rollercoaster ride on afterburners while layering the show for analysis and discussion for the more savvy anime fan.
For its first production work, it feels that this is the culmination of Studio Trigger’s legacy by combining the energy and randomness of FLCL, the over-the-top nature and scale of Gurren Lagann, and sexualized content of Panty and Stocking into something very unique and very deserving of all the hype that it is given.
Simplistic plot but perfect execution
Characters that you can’t help but cheer for
Awesome animation for such a small budget
Can be as shallow or deep depending on what the viewer wants the show to be
Go watch and judge for yourself.
It should be stated that having a show that doesn’t revolve around the banality of the fantastical construct that is ‘moe’ is heartening. Perhaps a narrative of personal struggle, coupled with great conflict and violence is rather cliche, but it is certainly more entertaining. Ryuuko as a character is interesting in that she isn’t a flower that immediately wavers in the face of adversity or isn’t immediately ‘put in place’ by a man. Unfortunately, that is basically all she has going for her, otherwise she is just another angst ridden teenager with a chip on her shoulder. Sure, Kill la Kill is indeed a show that not only has a strong female lead, but is dominated by powerful women, however that alone does not warrant high praise. Trigger talked of ‘taking risks’ but it seems Ryuuko is purposely not fleshed out to be broadly appealing. Her anger, loneliness and eventual commitment to her friends is something shared with many protagonists.
The narrative as a whole leaves something to be desired. From episode 3 it was obvious that they couldn’t draw out Ryuuko and Satsuki’s clashing of heads for a whole 24 episodes. The show already heavily alludes to Satsuki as being more than what she projects. Given that this is a Japanese narrative, it is based on kishōtenketsu and the plot is hinged on a twist. You think with narrative structure based on plot twists, you would go for something interesting. However, Trigger in their infinite wisdom decided to go with the generic ‘I am your father’ twist. While it was honestly unexpected on my part, it was still wasted potential.
Besides that, there are jarring transitions between a more light-hearted action/comedy to more serious action/drama. I honestly fail to see why Trigger thought Mako and her family were absolutely indispensable for the narrative. While the show is already over the top, ramming in the crass antics of the Mankanshoku family amid conflict with wide reaching ramifications is on the level of Michael Bay’s Transformers. What purpose does Mako even serve other than that of a pure plot device? She is that of a generic best friend character who’s only defining trait are her long winded motivational rants. Her relationship with Ryuuko is an implied one, they are forced together in episode one with absolutely no development what so ever.
Kill la Kill relies heavily on it’s stylistic elements, so good action should be among one of it’s hallmarks. Despite that, the quality of the fight scenes are underwhelming, as they are dependent on speed lines and characters shouting at one another. It could be said that in Kill la Kill the characters fight first and foremost with words, fists and weapons being secondary arms. While I understand that aesthetics are a matter of subjectivity, I can’t leave out my conviction that most of the designs are just plain terrible. It seems all they did was take the standard Japanese school uniform and added as many spikes and stars as humanly possible. If the transformations aren’t hulking masses of arbitrary geometry, than they are merely skimpy shoe laces with bulging shoulders. All in all, I can’t praise Kill la Kill to high heaven, but I can’t exactly hate it either. It’s OST is remarkable and really propels the show where it is lacking, even if I cannot appreciate all the tracks. That said, if this is what constitutes ‘saving anime’, then we are truly screwed, this should be among the average, not the exceptional.
6: JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 3: Stardust Crusaders
English: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Japanese: ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 スターダストクルセイダース
MAL Score: 8.09
Years after an ancient evil was salvaged from the depths of the sea, Joutarou Kuujou sits peacefully within a Japanese jail cell. He’s committed no crime yet demands he not be released, believing he’s been possessed by an evil spirit capable of harming those around him. Concerned for her son, Holly Kuujou asks her father, Joseph Joestar, to convince Joutarou to leave the prison. Joseph informs his grandson that the “evil spirit” is in fact something called a “Stand,” the physical manifestation of one’s fighting spirit which can adopt a variety of deadly forms. After a fiery brawl with Joseph’s friend Mohammed Avdol, Joutarou is forced out of his cell and begins learning how to control the power of his Stand.
However, when a Stand awakens within Holly and threatens to consume her in 50 days, Joutarou, his grandfather, and their allies must seek out and destroy the immortal vampire responsible for her condition. They must travel halfway across the world to Cairo, Egypt and along the way, do battle with ferocious Stand users set on thwarting them. If Joutarou and his allies fail in their mission, humanity is destined for a grim fate.
Then I saw a pillar.
A pillar of hope.
A pillar of testosterone and manlyness.
A pillar of Jojo.
Story: 10 pillars of hope/10 pillars of hope
“This makes my plays look like Mars of Destruction in comparison” -William Shakespeare
Where do I begin? At the start most likely. It starts with our hero Jotaro Kujo (This parts Jojo) sitting in a prison cell. You will be asking yourself: “How can such a man, who is the manfistation of coolness and manlyness be stuck in prison?” Then you find out he has put himself in a cell to protect people from the “evil spirit” that is possessing him. Now something will happen to you, but don’t worry. It’s just your body reacting to the heroic and noble sacrifice done by our protagonist. Ejaculations and sudden hysterical crying is normal.
Then he finds out that this “evil spirit” is something called a stand. A stand is a supernatural power that curtain individuals can use and each stand has different powers and different strenghts. Therefore to defeat different stands different strategies is needed. Jojo will bring Sun Tzu to shame with it’s genius tactics and strategies.
Due to certain events Jotaro’s mother gets infected by a stand and is dying. The only way to save her is by defeating the evil Dio (WARNING: wear swimming trousers each time he apears, because your panties will be wet after each time Dio has an appearance) who has haunted the Joestar family for years. So our hero goes on a journey like no other to defeat Dio and save his mother.
The plot is full of plot twists and asks alot of philosophical questions and answers them as well. The plot is complex like no other and is so well written I found myself suddenly crying because of how good and intriguing it was. After having watched Jojo I see the world in a different light and my IQ has been raised by 8 points. It’s that deep and philosphical.
Art: 18 reroreros/ 4,8 reroreros
“If only my art was this good”- Pablo Picasso
Your eyes are not decieving you. The art is truly this manly and fabulous. Currently in 18 nations around the planet Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is banned because the art is so good it counts as a drug. The art is so good and testorene filled that it’s addictive. Yes. It is that good.
On several occasions I found myself drooling on the fantastisc artwork and character designs. Normally one would wonder why people are wearing school uniforms during a journey to the other side of the world, but not in Jojo, because it looks so good on them. Studios such as Ufotable, Shaft and Madhouse has a few things to learn here when it comes to amazing artwork.
Sound: 389 Oraora’s/ 217,82 Oraora’s
“Now that I have heard the voice acting and ost of Jojo i can die happy” -Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I never thought perfection existed in this world. That was until I watched Jojo. Your ears will bleed of pure ecstacy while watching Jojo. Everytime I heard a “Oh No” or “Oh my god” coming from Joseph I had a ejaculation and nothing can prepare your body for “rerorero”. “Rerorero” made all the citizens of a small village in Siberia cut off their own ears, because they knew they would never hear anything that good aver again.
My earphones exploded on several occasions, because it could’t handle Jojo’s voice acting. I’m now on my 23rd headphones. The voices fit the characters so good you will be thinking: “Were the voice actors born just to play these roles?” Yes they were. In several interviews the voice actors have confirmed that they have since birth feeled that they were born to be voice actors for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Characters: 5 wet panties/5 wet panties
“God, I wish I was as cool and smooth as Jotaro” -Immanuel Kant
The characters of Stardust Crusaders is the best part. You might think: “They can’t possibly be that good?” and let me tell you this: they’re not. THEY ARE BETTER!
First our lead Jotaro who is the embodiment of coolness. Jotaro is noble and manly like few other. Every episode you will scream out in despar: “How can Jotaro get out of this?” And each time Jotaro will use his manlyness and godlike intellegence and win against all odds. Side effects of this is you standing up screaming: “F*CK YEAH!” on several occasions. You will find yourself striving to be like Jotaro for the rest of your life after having seen him in action.
The side characters are also superb. They all bring their own distinct personalities, ideals and struggles to the story. You will find yourself drowning in different ideoligies and moralities. You will also start questioning your own morality and ideals thanks to this show.
The side characters are also fleshed out and gets development. When you are finished with this show you it will feel like you have known these characters for years, no, DECADES.
The show is also full of grey morality. The villains are fleshed out like no other and even brins Legend of the Galactic Heroes to shame with it’s grey morality. You will feel for both the protagonists and the antagonists throughout this adventure.
Enjoment/Overall: 10 manly tears/10 manly tears
“If I had to only watch one anime in my life, it would be Jojo” -Aristotle
I shed manly tears. I laughed. I was moved emotionally and I will never be the same man again.
This show is the show that saved anime summer season 2014 for me( it’s not even a part of the summer season.)
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is not only an anime. It is a piece of art. Words cannot even begin to describe it’s manlyness and fabulousness. I can only describe a small part of all the testosterone.
You should all watch Jojo over all the other mediocries that is currently airing and to help you understand that I have written this review. There is no need to thank me. Thank Jojo for being so amazing. Now, go! Go and watch Jojo!
I couldn’t just stop at the first season, seeing as the Part 5 anime just ended I’ve decided to look back on the entire Jojo anime, from Dio to Diavolo and tell you why I believe Jojo is the most overpraised anime to have come out so far. Part 3 is without a shadow of doubt the most iconic arc in all of Jojo, when someone thinks of Jojo, they usually think of this, it’s what cemented Jojo as a staple of Shounen, it was the first arc to get its own video game, it was the first arc to be adapted into an anime, it was the first part to be released outside of Japan, it’s also had the biggest impact on popular culture, being referenced in a multitude of anime and video games, it’s also, in my opinion, the worst part in all of Jojo by a country mile.
Now let’s start with the story, or lack thereof, simply put, the first season of part 3 is filler, and by filler, I don’t mean stuff they added in for the anime, no no no, I mean most of the episodes have no impact on the story or characters, no one develops, oh sure, some characters go from bad to good but that’s because they were under mind control, so it doesn’t really count.
Now to be fair, the first 5 or so episodes do set up the plot and characters, but after that, only one plot relevant thing happens before the season finale, none of the characters develop, they are the same boring cardboard cut outs from beginning to end, Kakyoin from episode 2 is the exact same person in episode 24, same goes for Avdol, Joseph, and Jotaro, the only character who develops is Polnareff, who goes from “I wanna avenge my sister’s death by finding her killer” to “I wanna kill Dio”, thrilling.
One thing I’ve noticed is that this arc is where Araki developed his horrible habit of introducing plot points, characters, powers etc, and then forgetting about them almost immediately, a great example of this is Kakyoin, when we first meet Kakyoin he’s painting Jotaro, he paints red over Jotaro’s knee and then Jotaro gets a cut on his leg, this ability is never seen or mentioned again, then Kakyoin’s stand ability is changed to possession, it’s a pretty overpowered ability, which is why it’s dropped almost immediately and is only used once more. Another example is Star Platinum, when it’s introduced it seems to have a mind of its own, it brings Jotaro stuff while he’s in prison (which contradicts its later established 5 meter range), and it makes Jotaro believed he’s possessed, this is never explained and Star Platinum never shows autonomy again, it also demonstrates the ability to stretch its fingers and deliver a small but powerful blow the instantly kills an enemy, this ability is also forgotten about. Now I can understand an author forgetting about something like that gradually, but Araki forgets almost instantly, so either he can’t come up with creative ways to use these simplistic abilities in more than one fight scene, or he has a really bad case of dementia. Araki’s forgetfulness gets much worse as the series progresses, but this is where it started.
For fun I decided to see how much time this first season wastes, the team is established by episode 5, their is a plot important 2 parter, another 2 parter which undoes a plot point in the aforementioned previous 2 parter, and the finale is also important, so that’s 11 plot relevant episodes…in a 24 episode season, meaning 54% of this season can be skipped over and you’d miss nothing.
The story is structured in a really formulaic way, the group travels to a location, one of the characters meets a stand user, they fight the stand user and are either beaten or trapped, then they fight them again and win, through either a stupidly complex strategy, or in Jotaro’s case, through punching, this formula is used in almost every episode, and it gets old really quick.
The main cast is completely bland and forgettable, Jotaro, the supposed main character of the part is about as interesting and well defined as a child’s first original character, he’s meant to be a delinquent type, but besides occasionally being rude or dismissive I never really got that vibe from him, he’s just a boring and emotionless mary sue who wins every fight by punching really hard, remember Joseph with his tactical expertise and complex strategies? Yeah that was sooo boring, let’s replace him with another shounen protagonist who wins every fight by just punching. Speaking of Joseph, the silly yet cunning and strategic Joseph has been reduced to a screaming old man, Old Joseph is mean to be the arc’s “comic relief” but he has one joke, the joke being that he screams phrases in English like 3 times an episode, yeah, I know right, comedy gold, I’m sure it was worth sacrificing your most interesting character yet Araki. Kakyoin is just, there, I’ve described characters as “bland” a lot when talking about Jojo, but I can’t even use that to describe Kakyoin since he has no personality, like I can’t tell you a single thing about him as a character. What I said about Kakyoin can also be applied to Avdol except he’s even more forgettable since he’s absent for a good chunk of the season.
The only mildly interesting character is Polnareff, Polnareff’s entire personality is that he’s impulsive and stupid and often gets himself into trouble, yeah it doesn’t sound like much but he at least has a personality that’s easy to describe, he also has an interesting motivation, he doesn’t want to kill Dio at all, he’s just after the man who killed his sister, and once he finds and kills him he loses the only interesting thing about him and becomes just as bland as the rest of the main cast.
The only really interesting character is minor antagonist Hol Horse, he portrays himself as this confident, smooth talking and charismatic lady’s man often acting like a cowboy from an old western, but in reality he’s a coward who’s way in over head and has deluded himself, not too well developed but really fun to watch, too bad he only gets 3 episodes of screentime in this season. Hol Horse is the only antagonist worth mentioning, all of the others are just obstacles for the protagonists to clear, most of their personalities are comparable to that of a Power Rangers monster, in fact towards the end of the season they stop showing up for the most part, they just use their stands to fight from a distance and you only see them after they’ve been defeated or killed. Oh yeah Dio’s here, he does nothing, he just waits around in his mansion, occasionally talking to this one witch who’s built up but killed almost as easily as the rest of the villains
The art and animation is about on part with season 1, it’s great, read my review for season 1 for more details.
The music is a slight improvement over season 1’s already great music, there are a lot more memorable tunes, such as Jotaro’s theme, Kakyoin’s theme and the OP, Walk Like An Egyptian was a great choice from the ED.
Part 3 is just awful, I see no point in watching it other than for the fight scenes, but even then you could just watch them on YouTube, so is it really worth sitting through 24 episodes of (mostly) no story and the blandest set of characters in anime history?
Welcome to The Neko´s review of JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 3: Stardust Crusaders.
As we know, JoJo is divided into several parts, each with it´s own character, own plot but with similar style. Stardust Crusaders is the third part of the whole Jojo´s Bizarre Adventures franchise and works as a sequel to the first season of Jojo, which included parts 1 and 2, Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency.
The series starts with the revelation of DIO´s comeback to the series, who is after the remaining Joestars heads, and the journey of the new Jojo, Jotaro Kujo, and his companions in order to exterminate DIO once and for all.
This time the series took a more episodic nature and replaced the Hamon by new powers called Stands, a manifestation of psychic powers that takes the form of any given character´s Alter Ego. I can only imagine all the Jojo fans, when this was published in the manga, going “Awww my GAWD, that is soooooooo AWESOME”, because even if now it´s not THAT original, when the manga was first published it was a kinda big deal. Now we have things like Persona that do things like that, but Jojo is different in the aspect that here Stands can take ANY form, ranging from an enormous ship to a little insect, each with its own abilities and weaknesses. So this episodic nature that the series took this time is shown in a ‘Stand User of the week’ format. Bad guy appears, Jojo and his friends have to deal with him, they have trouble at first, then they find a way to beat him and then they win in the most awesome way possible…most of the times. While there are some really fun, filled with action and comedy episodes, there are also a lot of episodes that end up being either boring or completely irrelevant, such as The Sun episode. This happens because the author of the manga thought that it would be cool to have the Stands named after Tarot cards, the thing is that then he had to use them all leading to some really unnecessary episodes here and there. The episodic nature of the show can also be bothersome to some people since Part 1 and 2 had a more over arching story. Also, this season is only the first half of Stardust Crusaders with more to come in 2015, so its ending really doesn´t conclude anything, nothing to worry about since its continuation is already announced.
But of course, this is still Jojo so we still have the things that make Jojo what it is, bizarre comedy, lots of action and cool phrases, so if you liked season 1 then you will most likely enjoy this season anyway.
The artwork in Season one wasn´t the best there is because of the short budget, but they still compensated with filters and colour changing to make it look cool enough despite the short budget. This time they have more money and it shows, the animation is more fluid, colours are more vivid and backgrounds are more detailed but they still keep all the things that made the first season´s animation so cool, all the change of colours, all the onomatopoeias, all the style is still here and it looks better than ever. The character designs are still Jojo too, lots of muscles and the cool hairstyles are still here. Jotaro´s design is the one I liked the most, it served its purposed which is to make him look like a badass.
In this part we have a new set of main characters starring the new JoJo, Jotaro Kujo and his friends, Mohammed Avdol, Jean Pierre Polnareff, Kakyoin Noriaki and the old version of Battle Tendency´s Jojo, the fabulous Joseph Joestar, Jotaro´s grandfather. Sadly, Jotaro didn´t live up to my expectations as a protagonist, he was to much of a badass protagonist than anything else, and is a kind of bland character. It seemed as if he was too forced into being a badass and that had it´s consequences. He lacked a lot of the charisma that the previous JoJo, Joseph, had. Still, he isn´t by any means a dislikeable character, but he is far from being one of my favourites.
Speaking of Joseph, he is back as an old version of himself this season, and boy did he make me worry at first. In the first couple of episode he was presented as a mature old man, almost completely different to the original Joseph Joestar, and I was “But…is this really the Joseph that we all know and love?” and it wasn´t until he starred in one episode that this series said “FUCK YES HE IS!” leading to one of the best episodes in the series where we get to hear his old phrases such as “OOOOOOOOH NOOOOOOO” and “Your next line will be…”, so yeah, Joseph is still awesome.
On the other hand we got Avdol and Kakyoin as supporting characters who had some moments to shine here and there but there is nothing that stands out that much, they are nice characters, but I wouldn´t say they are amazing. Polnareff on the other hand was the source of most of the usual bizarre comedy and with his joyful personality (most of the time) he ended up being one of the more likeable characters of Stardust Crusaders, at least until now.
Sadly even if DIO came back we still don´t get to see much of him and his fabulousness on screen, he does have a couple of scenes, but for now he doesn´t do much, since he is to cool to go out and kill all the Joestars by himself. We have secondary villains every episode, but the only ones that stand out are Hol Horse and Enyaba, with other less important villains such as The Empress, which are more funny that any other thing.
The soundtrack in this part is composed Yugo Kanno who, as redundant as it may sound, isn´t Taku “God” Iwasaki, the composer of Battle Tendency. As such the only track that really stood out was the Main Theme, Stardust Crusaders, with the rest of the soundtrack being kinda forgettable. In the other hand the voice acting is still great for the most part, every seiyuu did a grat job with it´s character, the only complain I have is with Jotaro, voiced by Daisuke Ono, since his voiced lacked some emotion, even in moments where Jotaro gets hit, it´s not really his fault but is still weird see Jotaro getting damaged and still not showing any sign of emotion, not even in his voice.
This season features only one Opening and one Ending, the opening being “Stand Proud” by Jin Hashimoto, a song that, as always, captures almost perfectly the essence of the Part, is a hit-or-miss song, but for me it was a really cool theme. The ending is of course an 80’s song, “Walk like an Egyptian” by the Bangles, is a nice song, but I still prefer the opening one.
As always Jojo´s Bizarre Adventures is still a really enjoyable instalment of the franchise, with some boring episodes here and there, sure, but enjoyable indeed. If you liked season one then there´s probably no reason why you shouldn´t watch this one, because even if it´s not as good as the first one in my honest opinion, at least not yet, it still has most of the things that made Season one so great.
Disappointed? Maybe a little since I was hearing so much things about this being the best part of Jojo´s Bizarre Adventures, and I still prefer Battle Tendency over this one, but this still provided me with lots of fun every week, more than what can be said about other series this season, and it is still Jojo, with its poses, its phrases, its over the top action and its bizarre comedy it will surely be enough to satisfy anyone who is looking for some MANLINESS this year. Now the second half is coming out on Winter of 2015 and I am not planning to miss it.
This has been The Neko and I wish you have a nice day/night.
5: Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus
English: Black Butler: Book of Circus
Japanese: 黒執事 Book of Circus
MAL Score: 8.09
Full of wonder and excitement, the Noah’s Arc Circus troupe has captured audiences with their dazzling performances. Yet these fantastic acts don’t come without a price. Children have mysteriously gone missing around London, correlating to that of the groups’ movements. Unsettled by these kidnappings, Queen Victoria sends in her notorious guard dog, Ciel Phantomhive, and his ever-faithful demon butler, Sebastian Michaelis, on an undercover mission to find these missing children.
Trying to balance their new circus acts with their covert investigation under the big top, however, proves to be quite a challenge. With the other performers growing suspicious and the threat of the circus’ mysterious benefactor looming overhead, what the two discover will shake Ciel to his very core.
The first episode essentially starts off as anime original filler that serves as a way to get fans refreshed and fired up for the main course. The main course here is of course, Noah’s Circus led by a man named Jack. It doesn’t take long for the main course to sink as the majority of the actors and actresses are introduced. But to get the best experience out of this series, it’s important to get attached with Ciel and Sebastian. They play their roles in this arc in a detective-esque role as they investigate the underworld relating to a case of missing children. Point taken, this arc has a combination of both lighthearted and dark moments. The latter is easily realized as the arc progresses with secrets unrivaled and boundaries of civilized behavior shattered in pieces.
There’s not much change however when it comes to our investigators, Ciel and Sebastian. Their personalities remains generally the same as the previous season. One thing noticeable is their growing attachment such as Sebastian looking after the well-being of his master. At the same time, he also plays the fool and pokes fun at Ciel; in particular his outfit and stage name. On the other hand, Ciel realizes what he must do to secure the case and takes action. Despite seeming like a timid boy, Ciel can be quite courageous and dedicated as evidenced when he gets a flu yet still wishes to continue with the case. Inspiration is perhaps a word to describe this young boy as well when we see how much he despises the darkness that roams behind the circus. And despite being childish at times, Ciel is a clever boy with ideas. Sebastian on the other hand uses his seductiveness to advantage and intellect to aid in the case. His relationship with another grim reaper in this arc adds a touch of comedy with their mutual dislike. The “rivalry” between the two takes various turns and exaggerates itself with oddball humor. Nonetheless, Ciel and Sebastian are still the main duo of this show. They might not be Sherlock Holmes of the century but they got guts.
Mystery becomes a pivotal point throughout this series’ story as we find out more about the origins of the circus. Ringleader Joker makes his highlight entrance as he performs for the crowd. The show gives the circus performance an extravagant elegance when the characters come to the stage. Characters such as Beast, Jumbo, Dagger, and Wendy all demonstrate their skills with praise. Despite the tongue-in-cheek humor (especially during Beast’s act), the show maintains a good posture with its comedy. It also has a degree of realism as the circus acts are symmetrical to real life circus performances. Joker in particular serves as an entertaining host with his cheerful personality and is able to hide his emotions from others at will. In a way, he is almost similar to Sebastian as both characters are able to hide their true motives while putting on a poker face. At the same time, there’s also adequate relationship dynamics as seen with the case of Beast. Her inner struggles is highlighted through her feelings as we see a more vulnerable side of her. The negative side of this is that we don’t get much characterization of the circus members. We only glance at the motives/ambitions, their personalities, and perhaps where their true purpose lies. There’s minimal amount of flashback or background story to flesh out with these characters as it only scratches on the surface. Unfortunately, a series covered by a mere 10 episodes isn’t’ enough to develop them enough which is a shame. The plus side is how we can appreciate the closeness of the Noah’s Circus Trope members. They might be travelers and entertainers but at a closer glance, they almost seem and act like a family as brothers and sisters.
As the season is more story oriented, expect plot twists and revelations. As mentioned before, the arc gets darker as each episode progresses. Mystery envelops itself with characters such as Doll and Snake. The latter demonstrates a malevolent presence while Doll becomes an epitome for mysteriousness. The imagery the show presents with the story is that there is something dark going on behind the scenes. And seemingly enough, there’s also a mastermind pulling the strings that is even a higher order than the host, Joker himself. The story gets grimmer with sinfully crafted themes that can be stomach indulging at times. It still remains culturally developed with the European like style but gets more complicated. Its gothic style is stylized by the behavior of the characters. Add a touch of fantasy and dream-like atmosphere and we get even more artistic story. Because behind the circus acts lies a dark secret in which this series explores with. Combined with the motivation of the mastermind, the story becomes something of a shadowy theater. Expect the unexpected.
A-1 Studios attempts to bring back the style fans were used to with the previous season. Luckily enough, it achieves its purpose. Action scenes are fluid with well-coordinated movements and pacing. The backgrounds of this series still looks elegant with detailed designs such as the Victorian themes. I’m not just referring elegance with the structures but also the way characters are designed. Indeed, characters are lavishly decorated such as the flamboyant clothes of Joker, the fiery outfit Beasts wears, or the fashionable dress up that Doll puts on. It’s not just wholly imaginative but also makes sense for its circus theme. Similarly, Ciel and Sebastian has style when it comes to their choice of clothing. There’s also minimal fan service except a few cases with the seductive Sebastian. Every demonic butler has to a have a little bit of fun though, right?
Soundtrack is fluid with orchestral tones and a folklore-like OST. The distinctiveness of the Circus’ theme plays out well with matching background music. And with our characters, voice mannerisms fits quite well with them. The big newcomer, Joker perhaps stands out as a centerpiece of this testament as he plays the sort of ringleader, host, and of pierrot of the show. Make no mistake though. The circus conveys a darker image as the soundtrack gets darker and darker with an unsettling atmosphere on more occasions. Even with the smooth fantasy elements added, the message is there to create an abstract feeling. Oh and OP/ED songs of this series is brilliantly presented. It’s like opening the stage of each episode and finishes it off with an encore.
There’s a sense of nostalgia with this series. Even though Black Butler didn’t air too long ago, the show feels refreshing. Color me surprised but this adaptation did justice to itself. Despite some fillers inserted in, there’s an impeccable performance with the characters and the story it works with. The spectacle is top notch with clever humor, neatly timed battle scenarios, and well-rounded dialogues. While it doesn’t have too much action compared to the previous seasons, Black Butler: Book of Circus stands out in its own way. It’s an epic feast of a fantasy adventure with the circus and return of Ciel and Sebastian. An accomplished series with goals met. This show is definitely something to keep an eye on if you’re a fan of the original series and manga. Take notice now.
Before I begin, I just want to get one thing out of the way: yes, this is technically a continuation of the first season which picks up the manga’s story where the first season left off (which is around Episode 16-onward). HOWEVER, Book of Circus is inexplicably formatted as if it was geared toward newcomers to the franchise. This is of course both good and bad. The good is the fact that you don’t have to sit through the first 15 episodes of the first season to actually familiarise yourself with the characters and the like since any events that happened within the first season are quickly recapped for your convenience. The bad news is that if you are in fact, a complete newcomer to the franchise… chances are that you might get a bit lost somewhere down the road. Keep in mind that this is only 10 episodes long though, so you should just kind of roll with it if you’re watching and look it up later if you really are that curious.
Aside from the stuff I mentioned before, another reason why people don’t give Kuroshitsuji a chance is because well… the concept sounds kind of boring in hindsight and that’s something I really can’t defend because truth be told, it DOES get boring. HOWEVER, that’s not entirely the case with Book of Circus. Book of Circus adapts the much-lauded Noah’s Ark Circus portion of the manga’s story which is where Toboso actually cut all of the superfluous bullshit and actually focused on giving us involving plot that sucks us in. Here’s the deal: a travelling circus comes to London, but the problem is that children keep getting abducted in every city that the circus has been in. Considering Ciel’s reputation as the Queen’s guard dog, it was only a matter of time before he’s ordered by Her Majesty to conduct an investigation.
Right off the bat, we have an awesome set-up. People unfamiliar with Black Butler tend to dismiss this show as a slice-of-life supernatural comedy taking place in Victorian England, which couldn’t be farther from the truth. The biggest reason that I can think of as to why people tend to have this misconception is because the first half of Kuroshitsuji’s first season REALLY dialled up the comedy which really affected the overall tone of the story. The manga does retain a similar style of humour which mostly consists of visual gags and slapstick, but it’s far less prevalent. Considering the fact that the vast majority of this show takes place in a circus, it’s no surprise that there would be some hint of a light-hearted tone with a little bit of comedy present. However, that’s mostly evident within the first four episodes where the Noah’s Ark Circus is being introduced and the mystery was being touched upon.
As the show progresses, the mystery surrounding the Noah’s Ark Circus is gradually explored and good GOD does it get morbid. I’m not even joking when I tell you that there’s actually a point in the penultimate episodes where there actually was censorship put into effect for a good 20-30 seconds (parts of the screen end up being blacked out). For people who come into Kuroshitsuji expecting some kind of bishie festival full of yaoi subtext and shota undertones full of over-the-top comedy akin to something like say… Ouran HSHC, this will be a MAJOR shock to the system. Whenever Yana Toboso actually gets to work on an arc with a serious story that has the potential to suck you in, she more or less drops most of the bullshit and actually focuses on developing the story with minimal interruptions whatsoever. Speaking of which, there’s actually not a lot of shota/yaoi subtext throughout the entirety of the Noah’s Ark Circus. I mean… there’s bits and pieces of it here and there, but it’s a hell of a lot more bearable than that fucking corset scene from Episode 4.
As for the pacing, the actual mystery surrounding the Noah’s Ark Circus is handled quite well, which you might think is rather surprising given that this is a 10-episode season. HOWEVER, the entirety of the Noah’s Ark Circus portion of the manga was only 13 chapters long to begin with which means that it’s adapted at a ratio of about 1 chapter:1 episode ratio. Keep in mind that’s also roughly 468 pages of material to adapt, where each chapter was around 35-40 pages long. I’d say that 10 episodes was enough to work with to give this part of the manga a fair adaptation. It’s not a perfect adaptation though, given that the first episode is more or less an introduction to Ciel, Sebas-chan, and everyone else and has next-to-nothing to do with the Noah’s Ark Circus until the end of the episode. I still found it pretty entertaining though, although that mostly stems from my fondness of Sebas-chan (and of course, the amazing visuals/OST that A-1 Pictures provides).
Moving over to the character side of things, let’s take a look at Ciel and Sebas-chan first. Ciel is for lack of better words, a 13-year-old Bruce Wayne but with an eye patch. The thing is that he suffers from a REALLY traumatic past (which actually DOES get explored in Book of Circus), but it’s that traumatic past that causes him to constantly brood and never know when to lighten up… you know, unless he’s faking it for the sake of Her Majesty. He will lie and cheat if it means that whatever he’s doing for the sake of the Queen will go further which is clearly evident whenever he has to weasel his way out of some less-than-ideal situations. For the most part, Ciel doesn’t really change throughout Book of Circus but that’s kind of understandable given that he BARELY changed throughout the entirety of the manga (I’m 97 chapters in, and I can safely say that he hasn’t had all that much character growth).
Now we get to Sebastian Michaelis, affectionately referred to as “Sebby” by the fans and “Sebas-chan” or “Bassy” by Grell (depends on whether or not you watch sub/dub). He’s one hell of a bishie demon butler who made a contract with Ciel to help him exact revenge on those who wronged him in exchange for being able to consume his soul once the deed is done. In all honesty, I love Sebas-chan as a character. In many ways, Ciel and Sebas-chan have a relationship similar to that of Integra and Alucard from Hellsing. At the same time, Sebastian likes to toy around with his master and keep things fresh and entertaining for him.
A lot of people don’t like Sebastian because of the fact that he’s overpowered, but that’s like hating on the Gundam franchise because it involves giant robots. The biggest draw to Sebastian is his personality and his approach to the various situations that he gets put into. The terms of the contract that he has with Ciel are only effective if he’s alive… but just barely. Ciel also has to be very careful about what he orders Sebastian to do, otherwise he’ll just do whatever and get off on a technicality. So in that sense, it keeps the relationship between the two of them fresh and is just a joy to watch on-screen… whenever there isn’t any shota subtext. Much like Ciel, Sebas-chan really doesn’t change throughout Book of Circus and that’s kind of the way he is throughout the vast majority of the manga. Well, then again this manga’s been going on for like eight years via monthly serialisation. It’s no surprise that Toboso hasn’t quite fleshed out the characters yet.
As for the new characters introduced in Book of Circus like Joker, Beast, Doll, and Snake… they’re all pretty interesting to say the least. With the exception of Joker, Beast, and Doll, the vast majority of the Noah’s Ark Circus characters aren’t really developed all that much (with the possible exception of Snake, but he shows up later in the manga’s run WAY past the end of the Noah’s Ark Circus). Well… then again, this is a 10-episode long series that adapts a relatively short part of the manga. I guess it’s only natural for character development to not exactly be up-to-snuff. I will say this though: Episodes 7-9 which feature this show’s main antagonist will DEFINITELY catch you off-guard. On another note, Episode 8 features the Phantomhive servants kicking ass like they did in the episode “His Butler, Engaging Servants” from the first season and I have to say… I NEVER get tired of Mey-Rin without her glasses on. I can’t wait to hear Monica Rial voicing her in the English dub.
On the technical side of things, the art/animation for Book of Circus is absolutely GORGEOUS and is quite possibly some of A-1 Pictures’ best work to date. This season alone makes the other two pretty damn hard to watch. I guess it’s similar to The Boondocks where the art/animation quality continuously improves throughout each season. I honestly can’t wait for the Book of Murder OVAs to come out so that I can see how A-1 Pictures is going to top themselves. What I really love about the art/animation is how A-1 Pictures actually implemented stuff like shading and lighting to quite a realistic degree in a vein similar to Death Note. Now if only A-1 Pictures’ adaptations were as good as Madhouse’s. Whatever, that’s none of my business *drinks a cup of Earl Grey tea* As for the art/animation for the OP and ED, I quite like the OP but the ED felt a bit too… fangirl-pandering for my liking. Whatever, this is Black Butler… fangirl pandering is something that’s part of the course and it’s something I’ve made peace with a long time ago.
On the sound side of things… I REALLY wish that the Book of Circus OST was released by now because there were a LOT of BGM tracks that I happened to pick up on and thoroughly enjoy. Now if only they retained the song “Si Deus Me Relinquit” from the first season. Speaking of which, they actually got SID back to do the opening for Book of Circus (these are also the guys that did the first ED and fifth OP of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood). “Enamel” has to be the catchiest OP theme I’ve heard yet, and this is coming from a guy who couldn’t get the fifth OP for Naruto PT1 out of his head for a good six years (and I REALLY wish that was hyperbole). I also quite like the ED track, “Aoki Tsuki Michite” by AKIRA… although to be brutally honest, it’s the visuals I don’t quite care much for and is the main reason why I skipped over the ED altogether. If it were just you know… just a black screen with text in the foreground, I’d stay around and listen to the song because it really is that good. There is no English dub to speak of at the time of writing, but on the subtitled side of things, we’ve got familiar faces like Maaya Sakamoto and Daisuke Ono voicing Ciel and Sebas-chan respectively. In other words: REALLY good performances from these two. Considering the fact that Funimation licensed Book of Circus for simulcasting, I’m guessing that the dub will be the same as the first two seasons. In other words: Brina Palencia and J. Michael Tatum voicing Ciel and Sebastian with fake British accents. I’m game for that.
Would I say that I enjoyed Book of Circus? Absolutely. This was actually the show that got me to pick up a Kuroshitsuji volume because I couldn’t stand waiting for episodes every week while watching the show when it was still airing. If a show manages to get me to read something, it gets a pass from me. As for how much you’d enjoy it? I’d say that you’d probabl enjoy it quite a bit, maybe not as much as I do, but chances are that it’ll probably exceed your expectations. Like, if you have some REALLY low expectations for the Kuroshitsuji franchise, I can’t think of a better series to watch than Book of Circus. If you had a sour taste in your mouth because of the first two seasons, I heartily recommend watching this one as it will more than likely change your preconceptions about this series.
The Book of Circus is a sequel from the middle of the 1st season.
Basically, at the early episode, the story doesn’t have an orientation on its way, but after that episode, the story continues with a well-organized plot, it is successfully done well in a short periodic of time (10 episodes), although there are some points that lack in source.
As for the animation, the Book of Circus have the same animation like the other previous season, the characters have unique designs indeed.
The opening song really matched with the entire season, as well as the ending song. The seiyuu did a good job in bringing such character to the scene.
Book of Circus have a decent character development, all characters seems to have their own role to play, the only problem is the story is just 10 episodes, is hard to create an excellent and precise development in that short time. So the characters have a development, but not described perfectly within the series.
The Book of Circus major success is located in the enjoyment of the season. The season practically different from the other season, it fills all the excitement into the screen.
Well, Kuroshitsuji mainly aim to the female audience, SOME male viewers may not found this interesting, it is fully recommended for those who seeks exciting action movies
4: Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
English: Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]
Japanese: Fate/stay night [Unlimited Blade Works]
MAL Score: 8.20
The Holy Grail War is a battle royale among seven magi who serve as Masters. Masters, through the use of the command seals they are given when they enter the war, command Heroic Spirits known as Servants to fight for them in battle. In the Fifth Holy Grail War, Rin Toosaka is among the magi entering the competition. With her Servant, Archer, she hopes to obtain the ultimate prize—the Holy Grail, a magical artifact capable of granting its wielder any wish.
One of Rin’s classmates, Emiya Shirou, accidentally enters the competition and ends up commanding a Servant of his own known as Saber. As they find themselves facing mutual enemies, Rin and Shirou decide to form a temporary alliance as they challenge their opponents in the Holy Grail War.
This is the most overrated anime I have ever seen. If one is expecting a grand follow-up to Fate Zero, one is gravely mistaken. You are about to say ‘8.43?’, ‘How can this be?’, and ‘This is scandalous.’ (Jojo reference). Well move closer to the screen and let senpai explain.
The story consists of tossing a teenage boy into the Holy Grail war (an Armageddon between masters (contemporary individuals who supposedly command their respective servants) and servants (summoned titans) for the sake of obtaining the Holy Grail). This should be a gruesome event with fights to the death, BUT . . . ‘Fuck that,’ Shirou brazenly proclaims. ‘I am going to lead my harem life and ignore every peril.’ As one may have guessed, this anime isn’t really about the war. It’s about the harem Shirou obliviously leads. Most of the anime is focused on the relational struggles of the protagonist and some high school girl. For 8 episodes, we are forced to endure Shirou’s petty conversations with Rin inside his home or at school. Not much is done to contribute to the Holy Grail War as apparently—going on a date is more important.
Progress in this anime is almost non-existent. The characters are non-progressive as they are constantly engaged in purposeless chatter and dawdling. The story is littered with pseudo-drama, pseudo-fights, and cliff hangers, which are sometimes intriguing, that evokes utter disappointment and results in pointlessness. The fights are just random clashes with no deciding outcomes and little build-up. Oh, a few episodes later a servant dies. Due to the complete absence of characterisation, no one cared.
There are multiple flaws in the anime. One being Saber commenting on Berserker’s ability to simultaneously solo all the servants. She then proceeds to 1v1 him as though they are of equal calibre. Then she moves to ’cover’ (behind a little gravestone) and wrecks berserker. The most flagrant one is Shirou’s plot armour that countlessly saves him.
Trivium; for some reason, this anime was revered as a slice of life when it was airing. Upon inspection, these ’slice of life’ moments were just fan service.
Most of the characters were scarcely developed and characterised. Literally nothing is known about them asides from their superficial identities. The characters that received most of it were abjectly cliche and mundane.
Shirou is the naivest and most idealistic cherry boy I have ever seen. His special ability is being impervious to anything macabre.
Shirou logic: I have almost been killed multiple times . . . Oh well, they must have their reasons. I forgive them.
These types of characters, the type that starts off naive and idealistic generally mature or at least develop but not Shirou. Despite all his near-death situations, he remains ignorant. What’s annoying is Shirou’s lack of concern for the war throughout the show as he seems to be preoccupied with maintaining his high school life. I just can’t help but mirror his disinterest, while viewing this show.
Shirou can be described in three words, ‘asinine and mundane’. He is so often brushed by the verge of death but lives or is kept alive because he is ’interesting’; however, that’s just his naivety and incredible plot armour rather than anything interesting. He is also indecisive and mostly follows the instructions of others. Whenever he decides for himself, the outcome is boring, being completely predictable, and/or completely irrational. Their current route with Shirou seems to be:
1. Protagonist has no experience and is completely rash.
2. Magically becomes shrewd and can pull off incredible moves in the most critical of situations.
3. Will soon surpass Rin despite being completely incompetent and useless.
Rin is one capricious vixen. Her daily routine involves whining to and about Shirou and then having the biggest mood swings.
Rin: I am going to kill Shirou; Wait, time to team up again.
Repeat this throughout the show, and it becomes annoying.
Her character clashes with her backstory and motives. Her childhood was riddled with traumatic events, such as her parent’s premature deaths and the early separation from her dear sister. She’s also lived independently for most her life endeavouring to further herself as a mage. She explains an inherent character of a mage is being able to further one’s goals despite the means. One would expect a more mature, traumatised, or troubled character, right? No, she’s infantile, simple, and sometimes unduly cordial. Putting it in anime terms, ‘I AM TSUNDERE INCARNATE!’
He is one of the better character in the show but he lacks sufficient characterisation, development, and screen-time. He also seems to be the only one taking the war seriously on team Shirou.
For anyone who has seen Fate Zero, RIP Saber’s character. There is almost a complete loss of her original character.
The anime was initially somewhat enjoyable (6/10), but it just frivolously dragged on. As mentioned above, the fights were and the plot was largely meaningless. The anime fails to build the necessary tension and suspense to lead an engaging plot. The outcomes were predictable or completely irrational, and the story was somehow unreasonably slow paced.
Unless one fanatically love shounens, avoid this show at all cost. It is a blender of cliches.
Make no mistake. This series runs a lot longer than 2 hours with the finale extended to fit the double the time of a single episode. So in a way, this series can be viewed indirectly as having more than 12 episodes in total time length. (total of 16 episodes actually if including episode 0) What’s more though is how the series is set up. Because of the nature of MAL’s database, this review will not cover the episode 0 that introduces the story from Rin’s point of view. Rather, we are introduced to the young man known as Shirou Emiya. For people wondering about the series, it is not essential at all to watch Fate/Zero or the F/SN: Unlimited Blade Works movie. In fact, I would highly recommend skipping the latter and focus on this adaptation as that’s more of a promotional product. This TV series adapts the route known as ‘Unlimited Blade Works’ with high level of anticipation.
There’s little doubt the show has a variety of ideas whether it’d be related to magecraft, the Holy Grail, or the mechanics of the Holy Grail War. Taking these ideas and presenting them can be quite a challenge but I do have confidence to say that this adaption did justice. The first episode introduces Shirou Emiya who we see a normal teenager attending high school with his friends. There’s foreshadowing and hints thrown in the backgrounds already to show that not all is going normal around Shirou’s neighborhood. It doesn’t take long for the show to hit the supernatural realm when we see magic and otherworldly powers in Fate style. Shirou becomes the Master of a powerful Servant known as ‘Saber’ in a dangerous tournament (Holy Grails War) after nearly getting himself killed by another servant. Battle ensures and the series manages to craft a setup that will unanimously create more anticipation. The way the first few episodes are set up doesn’t just create a thrilling mood but also spawn questions especially for new viewers. This is where the show shines as the adaption adequately explains the mechanics. Although some bits can feel like typical info dumping, there are comedic points thrown in to ease the bits of unsettling boredom. But do note that it’s fairly important to listen to the explanations because it all connects to the characters and story.
The way the story is crafted involves the main cast, or specifically the Masters and the Servants. We already know who Shirou is but there’s also another prominent Master that is introduced from episode 0. Her name is Rin Tosaka, the master of Archer. For those who have seen episode 0, it’s likely that you’ve got to know her a lot more than the previous Fate franchise. Nonetheless, she comes into conflict with Shirou and the other Masters in the Holy War. The servants play prominent roles as well especially involving the infamous Saber. She is more of the poster girl as well as the warrior who wishes to win the Grail War. On the other hand, Shirou represents the most human character in the series. Honest, loyal, and courageous are a few words to describe him. And although he may seem like a generic character, there’s no doubt that he can influence others. What this first half of the series does is introduce the main players that the VN fans will be familiar with. For new fans of the series, they will be delighted to find out just how much the adaptation extends beyond the movie. Characters such as Illya, Kirie, Shinji, Issei, Taiga, and Sakura are all introduced in clever ways. Even more so, we have the servants who make their debuts as well. Lancer for one makes quite an entrance to create the intensity of the war. What we also have are also other servants that contrasts with each other in terms of their personalities. Whether it’d be Archer’s ideals, Saber’s chivalry, or Rider’s cunning nature, every servant offers something new to the table. Or sometimes, you may just have a big grunt like Berserker who wants to rip everything to pieces.
Like I mentioned before, the series offers variety. What that means is a balance of mood and pacing for the series to work. Yes, there’s mystery going on in the background with the events of the show. Yes, there is also action to keep up the momentum. Then, there’s also the slice of life-like atmosphere. Taking place in a high school setting, the series also finds time to lend comedy and even realism to what could have been an all-around action flick. While this may come as a mixed bag, the series does it cleverly to build narrative with the characters. Rather than just talking, they show what the main characters’ lives are like with others. Even more so, this series makes it quite interesting considering that Servants and Masters aren’t exactly similar with ideologies. Shirou is a prominent example unlike some others who wishes to win the Holy Grail war with their personal dark desires. What goes around comes around and this show proves a point when it crafts its story’s relationships between characters. There’s chemistry between certain characters that can easily been such as with Shirou and Saber or him and Rin. Unfortunately, not all of them get their spotlight and some are still shrouded in mystery (example: the mysterious blonde young man shown several times in the series). And mystery, that may be an overused word by some point. We don’t find out too much about some characters’ intentions such as priest Kirie Kotomine. But do we want to? For some, that’s a certainly and is why the show will keep the audience at their feet. It makes the audience want to figure out the puzzle with the pieces. The dialogues are cryptic but provides hints while dreams (such as Rin’s) create suspense. Then, there’s also the more charming moments as some tense scenarios focuses on Shirou’s own personal perspective. There’s no doubt that he is becoming closer to Saber and the show portrays this with tiny packages of hints rather than explicit fatal attraction. Still, don’t expect much romance for the first cour of this show. Treat it more as a setup with all the key characters bought into the series like players to a game. Because honestly, this Holy War is where winner takes all.
Thank you Ufotable. I’ll say this twice because the studio really deserved the gratitude for their superior effort in adapting the animation quality of this series. The animation style of this series looks lavishly done whether it’s the backgrounds, character designs, or the jaw-breaking action scenes. There is a good amount of action focused on all the fights that gives both the servant and their master a chance for spotlight. The action itself is well coordinated with rapid movement and clever camera angles. In short, Ufotable outdone themselves with the budget they have. And to be honest, there’s little criticism to say when it comes to the artistic frontier of this adaptation. Mage spells are also cleverly demonstrated while violence create the brutal reality of the Grail War. There’s minimal fan service except some suggestive camera angles. But judging exclusively, this series is almost flawless on the artwork.
Soundtrack also plays a pivotal role although not as strong as the artwork department. The two most prominent aspects are the OST during the fight scenes and the character voice mannerisms. I give praise to Kirie Kotomine, Rin, and Caster for their character portrayals. It is very real to their personalities and to the point. Shirou even gets some praise at times when he makes his effort to what he has to say. Unfortunately, there’s also some bits that can be irritating at times; namely Sakura and her repetitive dialogues or Shinji’s narcissism. The OST is also a great comeback and treat for fans who are in favor of action. Every action sells with even tiny details being incorporated with the battles. This can be easily seen such as Saber being tossed into objects, Shirou being tortured by Rider, or Rin jumping several stories to avoid Lancer’s blows. While not as fantastic as the visual realm, soundtrack is by no means a pushover.
True to its hype, Fate Stay Night: Unlimited Blade Works is a must-see of the year whether you’re a fan of the visual novel or coming into series as a newbie. There’s much to adapt but the first half captures that very well with the setup. To say the least, this show has that sort of momentum every episode. It is set up and then delivery with the series capitalizing on every opportunity. Along the way, we also get breaks with useful info dumps, humorous gags, and relationship building. The action will no doubt leave you in awe thanks to Ufotable’s technical qualities. Still, there are some characters you may like and some you’ll despise; more people will probably have that decision by the second cour of the show. Characterization is not a masterpiece though and neither does the story offer perfection. There are parts in this series that sometimes will waver off with its mood and peculiar balance. Still, there’s a saying that third time’s a charm and Ufotable hit the bull’s eye on this show. Now, the second half of the series awaits….
I like to state that I’m not really familiar about this franchise that much to my knowledge, so this is literally my first time watching this series from this point on along with episode 0 so keep that in mind.
I’ve heard most people talk about this show during its airing so I decided to give it a shot.
The show starts off well enough given us introduction to the main characters including the plot about the holy grail having the power to grant any 1 wish to the master along with their servant in defeating the other 7 masters and their own servant.
In this 1st half of the show we follow our 4 main characters Rin, Archer, Shirou and Saber.
However I found this to be a problem, The main 4 characters
(well Mainly Rin and Shirou) I not saying these 2 characters are bad but their own depiction of their own personality were kinda boring and very tedious for the most part.
They pretty much have this generic chemistry between them that seems just like any other ordinary teenage couple set up like in any other anime show along the lines of a typical teen romance that has been done SO many times! which leaves me for the most part disinterested with their progression unfortunately,
Especially Shirou who seems to be quite a decent person at heart, willing to learn about magic involved in this series known as mana which is something a master must use in order to control and support their fellow servant in order to win the battle or survive. With Shirou that is just it, there is NO real unique trait upon viewing his character with this (”I’m a good guy”, I’m a hero nonsense) To me it just came off as being uninteresting and 1 dimensional for the rest of the time I was watching him on screen along with Rin also, since they both seem damaged from what happened in their past or something oh buuhoo. The process to this just seems too familiar.
The supporting cast as much as I like their character designs, they also don’t really get thoroughly flushed out either which for me is a downer and its by far the weakest aspect of the 1st season I believe so far, It could of shown some knowledge and background about them rather than just
leaning towards Rin X Shirou.
But then you have both the other 2 main characters Archer and Saber that seem to hold a more depth to them and unlike the other 2, they at least show SOME interest to their personality and their character. but the sad thing is, it kinda feels overshadowed by Rin and Shirou at this point of the series which honestly didn’t leave me with a good impression on the characters as a whole.
I commend the anime for having a fantastic high budget animation with great fight scenes that were pulled off amazingly in this And I tell you It looks stunning!!. The fights with the master and servants in this are just jaw-dropping and very detailed.
The music is pretty decent also for the most part, but can be quite forgettable to me at times. I also enjoyed the scenery a lot in this show displaying different locations that looked really beautiful from up close and far away.
But as much as I love the story, plot, animation and some of its soundtracks I found few of the main leads Rin and Shirou to be just tedious despite what was going on in the episodes I was watching even if there were signs of possible foreshadowing to the 2nd half of this anime it still could of used better characterisation.
The ending cliffhanger to the second half looks interesting, almost like the series will get a lot better since it generally feels like a set up and I cannot wait so hopefully it will give me some better enjoyment with the cast all round.
Overall The 1st half of this will be is a well deserve 7 out of 10
3: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
English: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
Japanese: マギ The kingdom of magic
MAL Score: 8.25
After celebrating their victory against Al-Thamen, Aladdin and his friends depart the land of Sindria. With the end of the battle, however, comes the time for each of them to go their separate ways. Hakuryuu and Kougyoku are ordered to go back to their home country, the Kou Empire. Meanwhile Aladdin announces he needs to head for Magnostadt—a mysterious country ruled by magicians—to investigate the mysterious events occurring in this new kingdom and become more proficient in magic. For their part, encouraged by Aladdin’s words, Alibaba and Morgiana also set off in pursuit of their own goals: training and going to her homeland, respectively.
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic follows these friends as they all go about their separate adventures, each facing their own challenges. However, a new threat begins to rise as a great war looms over the horizon…
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic has everything you look for in an anime. Pleasing sounds (not in a dirty way!), bright (pun intended) characters who develop nicely throughout the duration of the anime and beautiful art. The characters are interesting, have depth and will make you feel for them, so prepare for a little emotional tug! A little bit of humour helps compliment the slower aspects of the story, and ensures theres never a dull moment – however, if you lack a funny bone you may find an early episode here and there a tad slow. But don’t stop, because things get fast, fascinating and ferocious and before you know it you’ll be looking at the screen like it’s the last piece of chocolate cake on earth…What? You don’t like chocolate cake? What’s wrong with you!?
Now. You may be thinking, “Great! Time to go watch!” But wait. I promise I won’t overwhelm you with 2,000 words of ramble. But there is a little more you should know…
Firstly, don’t be retarded like me and at least be aware of the prequel, ‘Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic’ before you start. I was not, and felt really overwhelmed at the beginning of the anime, with thoughts running through my head such as, “wow, whoever wrote this expects us to understand this new world instantly”, “So. Many. New. Characters” and my personal favourite thought, “I’m not quite sure what’s happening right now…but it’s cool!” Long story short, maybe watch the prequel first…but I didn’t so I can’t really talk. If you choose not to don’t worry, you will catch on and you will still love this anime, as I did.
Secondly, have faith in the plot! I was wondering how a meaningful ending was going to ensure around the episode 12 mark, but just know you won’t be disappointed and that things ramp up fast! That’s not to say the first episodes were meaningless or unrelated, so don’t skip them or you may be confuzzled.
Lastly, why are you still here! Go watch it. Now! (And thank you very much for reading my review, I know it’s a bit out there but I wanted to make it fun!)
Both Magi Season tell a great story that can bring you to tears of happiness and tears of feels that strike you right in the heart.
As always, the art and animation was amazing! Story was overall beautifully done.
Even though, this season was mainly focused on Aladdin, I do wish to see Morgiana & Alibaba’s training and what happened to them when Aladdin was in Magnoshuttat.
I really hope they make a season 3! This anime series is truly something that I would recommend anyone to watch. The Fan service is mainly based on comedy. So for those who don’t really like fan service in anime, I really do recommend this anime! Great story, wonderful character designs, amazing fighting scenes, hilarious moments, this anime has everything in one!
Kingdom of Magic had a better story than Labyrinth of Magic in my opinion. Labyrinth of Magic had an arc-based storyline where it was established by definitive arcs (the order being the beginning arc, separation, Balbadd, Sindria, and Zagan) that had some connection to each other, but were mostly standalone. There was some progression from one to the next (characters and character development), but overall there was a disconnect.
Kingdom of Magic, on the other hand, has an overarching story that isn’t as clearly defined by arcs, so it’s much harder to tell where they end and begin. Or, from the manga standpoint, Kingdom of Magic covers the Magnostadt arc (which is one really long arc) as well as all the mini-arcs leading up to it.
Similarly to Labyrinth of Magic, this show starts off fairly lighthearted, but soon takes a turn for the darker. However, this show got much darker than Labyrinth of Magic did, and I was surprised at the degree to which it did get dark. We’re introduced to a corrupt government, the struggle to want to be human, what the concept of humanity really means, and many more ideas.
So when I started Kingdom of Magic, I was expecting the same type of narrative as the first season, but I was pleasantly surprised by how seriously the show took itself and how much worldbuilding was established.
This show also introduced the concept of Djinn Equip (which was only barely introduced in the first season), which essentially lets people with Metal Vessels undergo a magical girl-type transformation where their hair, clothes, and weapons are upgraded for a limited time. I thought that it was awesome to see the characters basically get ubered-up to fight large-scale battles, which actually served more of a purpose in the story than just for the sake of showing the audience epic battle sequences.
The only real problem I have with the story was that, with so many characters, not enough time was given to explain what each of the characters were doing while separated from each other. Aladdin’s story was explained in depth, but the same luxury was not given to Alibaba or Morgiana. Alibaba at least got two episodes detailing what he was doing, but I still would’ve liked to see him studying, fighting, or learning to use his Djinn Equip. And Morgiana? We get about two-thirds of an episode describing her adventures and we’re left with a lot of questions about what happened. I was hoping for at least a brief summary, but we get nothing. I was under the assumption that the manga went more into detail, but it unfortunately doesn’t. We may never know……
Another minor issue I have with the story is the comic relief. I felt that a lot of times it was rather a moodkiller. It made me rather uncomfortable to be watching a serious part of the show and then suddenly cheap jokes were cracked. It wasn’t totally irredeemable (in the manga, the chibis are much funnier), but it wasn’t exactly pleasant to watch either.
One of the things I especially liked about the story, however, is that the show opens with a scene from one of the final episodes completely out of context. It leads you to make an assumption about where the characters are going to go, but once you actually get to that scene in order, you realize that you were dead wrong. I think that was a nice choice of placement, since I personally was wondering what was going to come out of that confusing scene for practically the whole show.
The colors are bright and lively, the character designs are stunningly detailed, the animation is on point, and there’s subtle CGI at a couple of points. Nothing majorly bad happening, though the budget got slashed toward the end, leading to some fights not being as awesome as they could have been.
No complaints here. The OP’s were good, and the second one especially is awesome, though both also had amazing sequences.
The ED’s are another story though. Not only were the sequences awesome and tear-inducing, the songs themselves were really good. The first ED carried a kind of nostalgic tone to it, amplified by the montage of stills from the first season. The second ED started off echoey and dark, and while I didn’t like it as much when it kicked up into a strong beat, it’s still my favorite of the ED’s.
The only thing I would give as far as an issue is that sometimes the background music was kind of quiet, which is a bit of a shame since it’s so awesome, particularly the battle theme, which is my personal favorite.
On the voice acting end, this season had not yet received a dub when I watched it, so I watched it subbed, complete with Netflix’s garbage subtitles. I’m not that good a judge of Japanese voice acting, but I didn’t notice any big problems going on. I loved Yuki Kaji’s performance as Alibaba, and I think he does a great job no matter which character he’s voicing, so I think he was the standout for me.
Since I originally wrote this review, I have had a chance to check out the dub of some of the later episodes. While I like the voice acting and casting choices for the most part, I have two big problems with it.
My first big problem with the dub (and something that was in the first season too) is Vic Mignogna and Todd Haberkorn being literally every single background character. This wouldn’t be so bad if they both weren’t already cast as secondary characters (Ka Kobun and Judar respectively), but on top of that they both have very recognizable voices.
My second big problem is “Teetus.” I get that’s how they pronounced Titus’s name in the Japanese, but honestly, since when do dubs follow the exact pronounciation of every name (Free! dub, I’m looking at “Reen”). And on that note, the same criticism could be applied to the dub’s pronounciation of “Magi.”
The characters were awesome this season. When the show took a turn for the darker, the characters developed and changed along with it, and I really liked it. There was a lot of development happening (particularly among the new characters) and it was handled well considering the vast amount of characters in Magi.
Aladdin especially changed a lot through the show, and we get to see more of his backstory as well as what’s happening to him at the time the show takes place.
One of the problems I did have was that since this season introduced so many new characters, a lot of the characters from Labyrinth of Magic took a backseat. It’s a nice thing to hand over the spotlight to some of the newcomers, but I felt kind of underwhelmed since a lot of characters with a large presence (such as Sinbad) didn’t appear as much as they should have. Not that I’m particularly mad about it though, since I loved Titus and Sphintus and the other new characters. But this problem is also due to the fact that Magi has a ton of characters interacting and developing simultaneously, so some of the older characters have to step back a bit.
Another problem is that since some of the older characters get less screentime due to the new characters, a lot of development seemingly takes place offscreen. I already mentioned this with Alibaba and Morgiana, and it’s even more apparent with Hakuryuu. He isn’t present for a large chunk of the show, and when he does reappear, he’s changed a lot and it isn’t explained. I was left painfully in the dark, so I can only hope this is less vague with the manga.
Once again, the problems are due to the short amount of episodes and are therefore pretty much unavoidable.
Overall I really liked a lot of the new characters, and they made me feel for them, and cry over them when it came to that.
I marathoned this show in two days because Netflix had just put the whole show up, and I had already seen Labyrinth of Magic, so I was able to speed through Kingdom of Magic really quickly. It kept me glued the whole way through, and I definitely shed many tears in the episodes leading up to the ending, as well as the ending itself.
While I did have issues with the moodkilling comic relief moments and the dub, the discomfort it caused me wasn’t enough to impact my overall enjoyment.
Some issues and hanging questions, mostly due to the constraint of 25 episodes, but even accounting for those it’s a really solid show and impressed me time and time again with the depth of the narrative, the dynamic and varied characters, and the awesome animation.
So if you’re still reading this and you haven’t seen Labyrinth of Magic, go watch it, and then watch Kingdom of Magic. Magi is overall a really solid and important show that not enough people seem to watch, which is a shame since it’s so good. Now all we need is a third season.
2: Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu
English: Parasyte -the maxim-
Japanese: 寄生獣 セイの格率
MAL Score: 8.37
All of a sudden, they arrived: parasitic aliens that descended upon Earth and quickly infiltrated humanity by burrowing into the brains of vulnerable targets. These insatiable beings acquire full control of their host and are able to morph into a variety of forms in order to feed on unsuspecting prey.
Sixteen-year-old high school student Shinichi Izumi falls victim to one of these parasites, but it fails to take over his brain, ending up in his right hand instead. Unable to relocate, the parasite, now named Migi, has no choice but to rely on Shinichi in order to stay alive. Thus, the pair is forced into an uneasy coexistence and must defend themselves from hostile parasites that hope to eradicate this new threat to their species.
The truth is… this show is overrated. Overrated does not mean bad, it simply means overrated. “Oh you’re just not intelligent enough to grasp all the deep concepts hidden within the philosophical plot!” No. It’s just not as deep as you might want to believe it is. The series definitely doesn’t stay true to the “meant-to-be” dark-premise of the manga, especially towards the end.
The story starts off with what everyone believed was going to be a philosophical story between the meaning of life and death, and humanity vs reality with the introduction of a species higher up in the food pyramid than humans, called Parasytes. Sure everyone wants to believe that what they’re watching is deep, but truth be told it’s really not. The story can’t seem to decide what direction they want to go. Parasytes basically infect human beings, usually take over their brains and control them. And as you can guess, Parasytes eat humans making them the one species above human beings in the food chain. Shinichi, the protagonist only gets infected in his right hand, therefore he still has conscious control over his body (except for his right hand obviously). Where does it go from there? A psychological show? An action show? A horror? A romance? All of the above, while almost failing to reach it’s potential in every aspect. The plot doesn’t go in linear way, it cuts corners and adds in random interferences whilst not being able to intertwine and contain them all. One moment there’s a fight then there’s awkward school life-romance, then there’s running away and talking pretentiously, then there’s another fight randomly. A lot of things were taken too slowly, then rushed in the latter creating an unbalanced flow in the plot. It’s almost like although the show wanted to be philosophical, it was just about one boy running away from a herd of parasytes trying to kill him for no rational reason other than him being the main character. Furthermore, in order to promote themes, the show portrayed a lot of things incorrectly, especially human beings (The police). Human beings are evil and corrupt. Okay… Now you have to contrast that in order to create a theme or idea, but the show doesn’t succeed in showing two sides of a concept, although they try. The writers did everything in their power to somehow elevate Shinichi to a god-level in one moment then degrade him to a useless hippo the next moment in order to fit whatever they were farting out of their butts. The beginning was potential-filled, middle didn’t live up to it’s expectations although was decent, and the ending just made no sense what-so-ever. If you’re going to be philosophical, you need to back it up with your story. Kiseijuu failed to do just that and instead just had a lot of childish bloodshed. Yes, the fighting was childish because honestly, it wasn’t justified. Now with all that negative things said, the story really was pretty enjoyable to watch-listen to so don’t think that the show sucks. On the positive side of the show, there were moments that though they may be pretentious, some comments reached deep into my heart and my mind. Tamura Reiko’s “For what purpose was I born in this world?”. People think about that all the time. Why are we actually born? Do we have a certain purpose to fulfill that’s destined by fate? Then there was the mayor’s entire speech on human evolution. I found those to be really intriguing topics to think about and half the fun in watching an anime is for it to make you think and grasp upon a new conception/philosophy. But overall, yeah story was disappointing.
The character develop was really underwhelming in the show as well. I’ll start with popular main characters, Migi and Shinichi. What the story started off doing was uniting two characters into one to intertwine the nature of humanity and other creatures. The show tries to connect the audience to the humanity side and the “monster” side and show the differing perspectives. Shinichi seemed to turning more into a monster while Migi was becoming more human. But the starting potential was all there was to that development. There are too many unresolved questions and everything that Migi does for Shinichi is beyond unrealistic. I mean I understand Parasytes existing is unrealistic in itself, but they’re supposed to be a opposing metaphor for the concept of humanity, but there are some bullcrap moments that the writers seem to fart out of their butts to save Shinichi. Towards the last two episodes, Shinichi is beyond useless without Migi and he keeps saying more pretentious crap about his emotions, when there’s nothing more to say but “The writers wrote me so that I’m a human being that’s marching straight towards the strongest parasyte in the midst of night because I feel like something good will happen”. And… of course something good does happen. Oh man how genius and clever of the writers right?! The other characters had their appearances, then two episodes later their exits. Development of any sort? I don’t think so. Shinichi really could have developed more. His losses in life changes him to embrace his half-parasyte side, while his love for human life clings to his humanity. Okay, that’s a great base start but where does it all go from there? Shinichi sure had a lot of emotions tied into his characters to the point where it was like, who is this person? Shinichi is this person one moment, then another the next. The only character that developed at all is Tamura Reiko and yes she is like the only character I actually liked. Her development into trying to understand human emotions, laboring her human child, trying to unite both humanity and parasytes together. The writers succeeded in creating her character as a symbol of hope and despair. The hope that humans and other creatures will one day understand each other. The despair that there will be bloodshed and corruption within the social hierarchy of species. Her one quote of “arigato” was probably the most powerful one word in the anime that pierced through my heavens. A bright light in in the anime for sure. As for the two girls, Murano and Kana… they happen to be in love with Shinichi but there’s abolutely no chemistry between the characters. All Murano does for 90% of the story is “Are you really Shinichi?” and Kana just constantly throws herself at Shinichi whilst being aware of the dangers around her just because… the writers made her. I mean even in a fictional story there should be some human-emotion-realism right? Kana could have been a character like Tamura Reiko, a way of hope and despair in connection of the two species, but no. She became a nobody without really ever being a somebody. Also so many small characters that seemingly were going to play a role in the story just had one event then disappeared from the show entirely: Uda, Makiko, and his father? Like, what even happened to them by the end?
The very ending of Parasyte makes no sense, there is almost no connection to the rest of the story. It’s almost as if the series just cut off everything that the story built up to, to just end the show. Yet because Migi has a pretentious exchange with Shinichi, people who don’t even grasp what they’re even saying believe it to be a genius ending. All Migi basically says is Shinichi should wake up from his dreams (which is his reality) and forget everything that’s happened to him and live a normal human life. Then Shinichi realizes that humanity is corrupt and that in human nature there is natural evil. But despite all the negative sides of human nature, human beings are beautiful creatures and they include the love of Earth into the whole pretentious mix. Migi then just disappears without anything being explained. I mean Migi just randomly leaves within his dreams which then translates to Migi disappearing from the show entirely. What the hell? Did he leave himself to Shinichi (for him to have an arm) and then kill his life-force so that he doesn’t actually exist? in the end when Shinichi saves Murano, it’s implied that Migi saves her. So, what the hell actually happened to Migi? Makes no sense to me, maybe someone else can make sense of the whole ending for me. This last episode sort of reminded me of Evangelion’s ending where it doesn’t connect all that well to the rest of the plot and doesn’t explain a lot of things while including randomness to sound smart.
As for the art in Parasyte, I’d say it was decent? I mean, the portrayal of the Parasytes was mediocre to me in comparison to the kagune of Ghouls in Tokyo Ghoul. The characters all looked like they had unusually long faces (though I don’t bash them for that, just something I noticed). The actions scenes were mediocre as well, as all they portrayed were a bunch of arms moving around at a speed so fast the audience just sees lines dashing across the screen. I suppose the portrayal of weather (such as the snow when Tamura Reiko …) was beautifully done. the music in Parasyte was good but there wasn’t all that much variety in music. It was basically, opening-one other random Ost-Next to you-Ending every episode. “Next to you” is a really good piece though, I loved listening to it every time it played. Solid in the music category overall. Okay actually, listening to it’s full soundtrack, Parasyte had some really nice music.
At the very end of the show the only thing left is my head is: What was the point of the show? Was it to show that humanity is corrupt and that we’re the reason other species can’t move forward? That humanity should embrace other species and try harder to understand? Or that reality is a cruel place? What do other people see in this show that makes them think it’s so genius? And of course, if you enjoyed the show then I respect that as well because despite my criticism I too enjoyed the show … to an extent.
With all that said, Parasyte is a show that’s worth watching if you like psychological shows.
When speaking with others online about Parasyte, the most common piece of criticism I hear that strays away those who don’t want to watch is that it’s “not my genre,” it’s “overrated” or “it makes my stomach turn while watching some scenes.” Although I agree with most of these statements, it’s because of these points that people should try watching – simply because it’s a genre/ story that’s not seen often in this generation.
Putting that aside, the anime begins with a mini snake-like organism emerging from it’s shell that fails to attempt to target a high schooler by the name of Izumi Shinichi, unable to attack Shinichi’s brain to completely take over his body. However the organism develops it’s own intellect in Shinichi’s right arm and is named Migi (which is Japanese for right). The story is about magnitudes of these snake-like organisms taking over humans in Japan. If the brain has been successfully taken over, a parasyte is then born which then has the ability to morph body parts into blades and lengthen the human anatomy. To survive, these parastyes thrive on devouring the anterior portion of humans, killing with no second judgement. The main character Shinichi learns about this through his counter-part Migi and goes on a mission to kill any parasyte that poses a threat to society.
After watching this and reflecting on it, it’s clear that the anime was trying to illustrate the question of: “can someone who does not display human-like qualities, be humanized?” The answer to this question is, yes and it’s heavily drawn out through the characters. We see that as the story progresses it’s clear that parasytes are depicted as blood thirty creatures. However some of the parasytes like Tamiya Ryouko, who seemingly is out to kill, becomes more human as her storyline progresses. We also see this with Migi, Migi starts off as having no empathy for humans, Shinichi included, but gradually gains affection towards them as the episodes unfold. However when looking at Shinichi, the reverse occurs to him as he loses his some emotions and becomes less humanized.
The art and animation is quite solid, and the sound stands out as one of my favourites. Although this anime is an adaptation from a manga in the 90s, I enjoyed that the art is drawn in a way that’s up-to-date with the anime that’s out now but yet still has that air from the art during the 90s as well. The animation is fluid but not that fluid in some regards as I hoped. For example, when we see the one-to-one combat between parastyes; the lightning speed combat with using lengthened limbs and blades are not that fluid. The OST is a stand out, one of the better ones out there against the others during the time this aired; which actually made me download the entire album. I presume everyone’s favourite is probably “next to you.” If you haven’t heard it, youtube it, download it, listen, and enjoy.
Overall Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu was a great anime to watch. If you’re looking for something that’s out of your comfort zone or just looking for something new to watch, I would recommend this. I promise you that after the first episode, the cliffhangers will reel you in and possibly cause you to watch episode after episode until your done. If you made it this far reading my review.. thanks ! Feel free to shoot me a message if you have any comments about my review or want to discuss anything anime.
With such an engaging premise, Kiseijuu really sets the par high not just by its first episodes but also by some other technical aspects from behind the scenes. First we have the powerhouse studio Madhouse who are well renowned for their reputation. Then, there’s the source material. This adaptation is based on the manga that came out over two decades ago but has earned praise. With just the forefront of these elements, the series has high expectations. Thankfully, it lives up to its hype.
The show doesn’t take a break even from the start by showing the grim reality of the show’s horror. If you don’t believe me, then the first few seconds may convince you. Needless to say, a series like this is not easy to the stomach. But given that fact, it makes itself look real by showing us the brutality of the parasites. The first few episodes establishes the fact that most parasites are heartless monsters who care only about themselves and their prey. The parasite that failed to take over Shinichi’s body display similar traits by threatening to kill him and others if their secret is revealed. Migi (the name that Shinichi gives to it) often thinks strategically to survive while discarding all morality. For instance, he tries to kill any witnesses who see the symbiotic relationship between him and Shinchi. Then, there’s the actual combat where Migi fights indiscriminately at times in order to survive. Outside of combat, the show becomes a bit of personal drama. This is because Shinchi has to constantly deal with keeping this secret and not revealing it to others for the fear that they may be killed. It’s more than just responsibility but also creates the sensation of fear. For the both of them, it’s about survival in a world run by atrocity.
What makes this series’ story stand out quite a bit is the ability to convey human nature and focus on more than just outlandish battles for survival. It shows the best and worst of what humans can do while also balancing out how parasites can behave. Sometimes, there’s almost a similarity while others stands in sharp contrast. For Shinchi, he undergoes big changes as the story progresses with certain events that create tragic scars in his life. These changes are reflected both physically and mentally. Even his classmates like Murano notices this and is constantly worrying about his well-being. In the beginning, we can see him as a normal guy who just wants to be normal. Until he accepts the reality later on, Shinchi is just someone who wants friends, get an education, and perhaps even fall in love. The certain events of the parasites changes all of that as he can never go back to his normal life. His relationships with Murano often has shifting drifts because of the dangers he realizes she may be in if she gets too close to him. Then, there’s the relationship between him and his parents. In particular, his mother represents as someone who sets by example of what a good parent should be. And case taken, the series doesn’t neglect to show other relationships even among the parasites. Motherhood plays a role as well as one particular parasite becomes a guardian for her child. And although she shows little feelings towards it, there’s a drastic change to her behavior later on as she begins to develop human traits. On the other hand, we can also see the worst of human nature. For instance, there’s a serial criminal in the series whose behavior isn’t far different from the parasites themselves.
In contrast, there’s also Shinchi who develops quite a bit throughout this show. Remember, a big part of this series relies is crafted by the way things change and how they work. Shinchi’s experience of fighting alongside Migi turns him into a warrior beyond someone who just wishes to protect others. This is in particular true because of the tragic events in his life. His change is reflected physically and also at an interpersonal level as Shinchi becomes less and less human himself. From an ordinary kid with a timid personality in the beginning, Shinchi becomes a changed man who is serious, humorless, and pessimistic. It’s also shown in the case where Shinchi begins to develop fighting skills of his own when he can’t always rely on Migi. And furthermore, the show takes advantage of the choices he makes to further develop his character. It doesn’t take a genius to see how much the show can focus on its premise and understanding it. The show takes its turns with each episode to present thrillerish scenarios and events that connects with the characters. Its narrative also remains a strong aspect of the show by focusing on Shinchi’s role and what his decisions are no matter how risky they may seem to be.
Also, be aware that the show has tragedy. More than just death, Shinchi’s losses in life expands beyond just losing important people around him. It shows that he can’t save everyone and when that happens, Shinchi feels regret because of his own lack of confidence. It’s interesting at the same time to see how much Migi changes. From the irrational display of inhumanity he shows in the beginning, we can see some of his softer sides. It seems as the story goes on, there’s attachment he feels about the human race and their behavior. While most of this is obstructed in the beginning, the development of his character reaches a point where Migi behaves like a human. On a lighter side, the show also adds some elements of comedy involving Migi and Shinchi’s relationship. Migi’s particular curiosity leads him to “research” on human sexuality which creates hilariously memorable moments. Kana’s repetitive “White Knight wet dreams” are also something of a very peculiar comedy that adds more into the show. Similarly, we can also see different sides of other parasites ranging Reiko’s care for her child to the political ways that some parasites tries to initiate into society. By presenting such events, it also shows that not all parasites are simply absent-minded for their lust to consume and kill. We even have a character that Shinchi can relate because of their own personal life circumstances. But for all its worth, the show can become a bit predictable at times. The death flags are inevitable not to mention the spoilerish opening song. While the transition of each episodes remain mainly strong, there are some minor changes between the manga and this adaptation. Furthermore, both the manga and anime has plot holes that are seemingly never answered. None of them really destroys the content of the story but some of it seems a bit odd such as the technology and Shinchi’s original appearance prior to become Mr. Badass.
As a fan of the manga, I have to say that my initial impressions of the artwork wasn’t very great. The artwork has a more generic style rather than the mature atmosphere the manga delivered. After taking more careful glances though, there’s also a feel of attachment anyone can make from the art. Starting with gruesome, the designs of the parasites are both horrific and fascinating. All of them show monstrous traits with their murderous-like intent. The eyes, blades, and disfigured faces are what makes them fearful. Certain parasites also develops more powerful traits that really makes them stand out above others physically by their body structure. In this case, the designs got the job done. Migi in particular has a very fascinating appearance with his unique case of being stuck in Shinchi’s hand. For the human characters though, most of them are categorized by character design to fit with their personalities. From Shinchi’s normal parents to the various delinquents, each of them gives off an impression of humanity. But the most fascinating part about the show is Shinchi’s physical change. His tragic experiences transforms him into a more daring man and this is even reflected by his image. The sharp-edge hair, removal of his glasses, and firm body structure are just a few examples of this. And finally, the show is infamous for its graphic violence. Expect pouring blood, severed limbs, and gore that really entitles this show as horror. The action scenes are also, fast, crisp, and decorated with high production values thanks to Madhouse. Oh and that absence of censorship is a great please to the fans like myself.
Soundtrack and music plays a rather interesting role. In particular, the dubstep becomes a controversial addition added to the series. Sometimes, the usage feels right while other times really feel out of place. The first episode wastes no time with the usage of dubstep so viewers will have to get used to it. It took me a couple of episodes to adapt with the OST and in retrospect, it does work out once you feel attached to it. In other respects, the characters’ voices show a good deal of focus especially with Shinichi and his change. This is reflected in his more calm and confident voice later on in the story in contrast to his quiet and timid personality in the beginning. Kana Hanazawa also plays the role of Shinchi’s love interest with a sense of innocence in her voice. But most interestingly, we have the voices of the parasites. All of them has a disturbing and distorted voice compared to their former human hosts when transformed. I give credit for this sci-fi style of portrayal to bring out the realism of their presence. But when in human form, there’s some a lack of empathy in the voice mannerisms of the parasites. Other times, there are parasitic characters who shows more of a human tone such as with Reiko and Uda. Then, there’s also the character Migi. Voice actress Aya Hirano effectively brings this character into life with her voice. Finally, there’s also the OP and ED songs. Unlike most 2 cour series, there are no changes the whole time with the hardcore OP song or the gentler atmosphere of the ED.
If you’re a fan of sci-fi horror, then this series should no doubt be something of a must-see. This remarkable work is reflected not just in the story but by the characterization of its cast – both human and parasitic. The show’s focus on its various themes crafts great amounts of moments that are memorable for its nature. Shinchi’s development over the course of the series along with Migi are like experimental journeys that really makes their point. And with all this going on, we can also see how far the show can make for itself when it can make you feel attached to its premise. There will be some predictable plot elements in regards to the romance sub-plots or tragedy. However, this shouldn’t be a set-back especially when its main story is thought provoking. Hell, even the action scenes tells a story each episode. Kiseijuu is a wonder that is sometimes fun, sometimes horrific, sometimes mysterious but always entertaining.
1: Hunter x Hunter (2011)
English: Hunter x Hunter
MAL Score: 9.06
Hunter x Hunter is set in a world where Hunters exist to perform all manner of dangerous tasks like capturing criminals and bravely searching for lost treasures in uncharted territories. Twelve-year-old Gon Freecss is determined to become the best Hunter possible in hopes of finding his father, who was a Hunter himself and had long ago abandoned his young son. However, Gon soon realizes the path to achieving his goals is far more challenging than he could have ever imagined.
Along the way to becoming an official Hunter, Gon befriends the lively doctor-in-training Leorio, vengeful Kurapika, and rebellious ex-assassin Killua. To attain their own goals and desires, together the four of them take the Hunter Exam, notorious for its low success rate and high probability of death. Throughout their journey, Gon and his friends embark on an adventure that puts them through many hardships and struggles. They will meet a plethora of monsters, creatures, and characters—all while learning what being a Hunter truly means.
HxH is about a young boy named Gon who embarks on a journey to find his father. After learning that his father left him at a young age to become a Hunter, Gon decides to follow in his footsteps not only to find him, but also to see what was so special about the profession that made his father choose it over him. Although a story of finding one’s father is simple, it is the path that is taken towards this end that makes the series truly special. HxH is made up of several arcs that are all extremely well-written, which brings me to the best part of the series, the writing. Hunter x Hunter (2011) boasts one of the finest writing in the world of shonen; the depth and flow of the story, enthralling characterizations, strong dialogue and impressive world-building are all crafted into a fascinating tale that can absorb viewers into lengthy marathons.
The amount of variety that is packed into HxH’s story is also very impressive. HxH successfully dabbles in several genres in six story arcs tackling survival, fighting tournaments, crime thriller, virtual realities, war and politics. Not only that, the series is also able to undergo significant tonal shifts with ease (light to dark and vice versa). Sometimes, these shifts in tone occur after an arc ends though other times, it even occurs mid-arc. Another thing about HxH is that its arcs are connected with one another, with each arc naturally following the one before it. This creates a natural transition that highlights what the series really is, a journey. As for pacing and development, they are excellent. For the most part, HxH is very well paced. The series does a fantastic job at keeping its viewers engaged, time will fly by as you watch most episodes and you’ll find yourself breezing through the show. Excluding two recap episodes, HxH has no filler episodes. Due to this, story progression is solid with the plot moving forward with each episode.
Although HxH initially gives off a light hearted impression, it gives off a good one. Not the kind of “light heartedness” that makes you say “this is childish and below me” but the kind that appeals to everyone. HxH gives off that classic and charming shonen vibe that has been lost in recent years, and it does so with its head held up high. Eventually though, the series takes a dark turn. Although most HxH story arcs are light hearted, both Yorknew and the Chimera Ant arc are two of the best and darkest arcs shonen has to offer. Yorknew can be described as a dark thriller in a big city. The central theme of the arc is revenge and it is similar to Death Note in terms of thrill and atmosphere. On the other hand, the Chimera Ants arc can be described as an attempt by the Hunters Association to control an outbreak of a dangerous man-eating species. It is the darkest and most thematically powerful arc in the series tackling themes such as identity, human nature and survival of the fittest. The arc has drawn comparisons to Yu Yu Hakusho’s Chapter Black for its seinen-like nature and is similar to Shingeki no Kyojin, where the protagonists experience a strong sense of despair in the face of a vastly superior, hostile species. The series undergoes major tonal shifts in both arcs with the color palette, music, atmosphere and amount of violence changing significantly.
However, what sets the series apart from other battle anime is its unorthodoxy and unpredictability. Shonen tropes and storytelling methods are undermined throughout the series. The main character for example, Gon, fails more than he succeeds. Power-ups based on emotion or willpower are non-existent and fighting in the series is radically different from other battle anime. The main protagonist is not the main focus of every arc either. At certain points in the series, you could even say that Gon has taken a supporting role, especially during the later portions of the CA arc where he isn’t given as much focus due to the grand scope of the story. The standard battle anime formula of “lose-train-win” is also undermined. Although there is training, it does not always translate to a victory, nor does it propel the protagonists over or to the same level as their main adversaries in terms of strength. For the most part, the protagonists assume the underdog role. Although they have incredible potential, they are still kids who have a lot to learn. In terms of storytelling, unpredictable developments are commonplace. One thing that continues to amaze me with this show is how it leads viewers into thinking that the story will progress in this direction, only to change course and arrive at a completely different outcome. A good example of this would be the series’ arcs which often end in an anti-climatic manner. Basically, there are a lot of scenes and story developments that you won’t see coming because they defy conventional shonen storytelling or are unpredictable in their own right.
The series’ unorthodoxy can also be seen in its fights which are primarily cerebral. In addition to being well-executed, HxH fights are smart and involve a lot of strategy. Raw power is a factor but it is not the factor that decides battle outcomes, actual power (nen abilities), experience and strategy are all taken into account. If a main character is outclassed by an opponent in all or most categories, he is likely to lose. Moreover, main characters are not given any special treatment in combat. This smart approach to fighting is further enhanced by nen, a unique and complex power system held by defined rules. The concept of nen, its principles, aura types and many applications on the battlefield reveal the huge amount of thought that was put into it. I still remember having to pause episodes, even research a bit during its introduction, just to digest it in its entirety.
The appearance and writing of the series also create an effect of cognitive dissonance, the simplistic look of the show mentally conflicts with the brilliance and unorthodoxy of its writing. As new viewers delve deeper into HxH, they realize that there is much more to the show than its cover art and synopsis suggest. Expectations of the series being immature, simple or generic are progressively overturned as the show reveals its surprising underbelly.
As for sound, HxH has a line of great soundtracks that started off decent but got better as the series progressed. With the exception of a few minor characters, the voice acting in this series is excellent. As a person who has never seen the old series it’s hard to believe that these aren’t the original voices because they fit extremely well, especially those of Gon, Killua and Hisoka whose voice actors do a perfect job of capturing their characters.
HxH also has great art and animation. It amazes me how a long-running series like HxH delivers consistent quality animation episode after episode, especially during the fights. The series does a great job of capturing facial expressions and everything from the lighting, shading and colors adjust perfectly depending on the mood of the scene or the tone of the arc. As one reviewer (nagaiyume) said, the bright colors of the show might need some getting used to, though it is usually fans of the old series who have this problem. Personally, I think it fits the show perfectly. It adds to the charm of the series by complementing its sense of adventure, uplifting atmosphere and unique appeal as a shonen that looks simple but is actually remarkably deep.
Although HxH’s primary strength lies in its writing, its characters come pretty damn close. HxH has a huge cast of characters. They have quirks, dreams, inner demons, world views and overall, really likable personalities. To top it off, most of them don’t follow generic character archetypes. Although some may initially come across as “generic”, these assumptions are gradually undermined as the series progresses.
If there’s one thing I want to emphasize in the character department it would be the series main villains. When it comes to characters, this is where the show shines the brightest. HxH villains are extremely well-written (with the exception of the Bomber who won’t apply to most of what I’ll say below). Not only are their characterizations independently impressive, they are also distinct from one another; no two villains are the same. This distinctness does not only apply within the series but outside of it. You won’t find another Hisoka, Chrollo or Ant King in any other anime. This is what makes HxH villains so compelling, in addition to having really impressive characterizations, they are also original. Although I excluded one out of the four main villains from most of what I wrote above, all HxH villains do have one thing in common. Each villain strikes fear into audience, the series does a good job of establishing the level of danger these characters bring to the story and our protagonists.
However, while HxH is a great series it isn’t perfect. The series doesn’t have a strong start, it takes three episodes for show to get going. I’ve seen a lot of people drop HxH early and it sucks because the first two episodes don’t capture the series at all. Things start to get mildly interesting in the third episode, after that, the series just gets better and better. HxH also suffers from occasional BGM misuse. There are odd sound choices for some scenes. Sometimes they don’t really fit, other times they don’t fit it all. Lastly, the Chimera Ant arc also has minor issues with both Togashi and Madhouse to blame. Togashi’s fault lies in his writing during the middle of the CA arc which I think, pales in comparison to the rest of the series. HxH has made a name for itself for holding a consistent high level throughout its run; it’s a series that’s just so engaging and easy to marathon. However, I believe this consistency took a hit mid-CA arc (due to handling of the story and pacing) specifically, episodes 89-98. Don’t get me wrong though, I think there are a fair number of good episodes within that 9-episode stretch but unfortunately, they are surrounded by mediocre episodes that break the consistency of an otherwise exceptional arc. Madhouse’s fault lies in its adaption of the manga chapters comprising episodes 113 and 115, which were dragged out in order to have episode 116 handled by their best animation team. Episode 113 was actually well paced except for one atrocious sequence while episode 115 as a whole was generally poorly paced.
A clarification about the “slowed down pacing” of Chimera Ant arc:
If you’ve been reading up about HxH, you’ve probably seen some people complain about the “poor pacing” during the “narration heavy episodes” of the CA arc. Well if you’re wondering how much truth is there to this statement and were going to ask me about it, my answer would be it depends.
At episode 111, the palace invasion (climax of the CA arc) begins and narration begins to play a huge role in episodes in order to (1) pack a whole level of depth into the story and (2) increase dramatic tension. Rather than a high octane “action fest” people would expect from a shonen arc climax, the palace invasion takes a psychological heavy route wherein a character’s thoughts and mental state are given more focus than the actual action. This psychological focus together with the narration slows down the pace considerably in the sense that episodes begin to cover a lot less in narrative time. However, despite this “slowed down pace”, the pacing of these episodes remain solid with good amount of manga chapters being covered during each of these episodes and the duration of scenes being on point (except for episodes 113 and 115 which I mentioned earlier in this review).
In the end, it depends if the narration works on you or not. If you like the psychological approach and experience an increase in suspense then you’ll have no problems with the pacing and are in for one helluvah of a ride. However, if you don’t like the psychological approach and feel that the narrator’s heavy presence breaks your immersion then you’re in for a grueling experience. Of course, there are other combinations such as liking the psychological route but not feeling the immersion or maybe the narration just didn’t work on you completely. Well, if this happens to be the case then you’ll end up with mixed feelings. On the bright side, most people who end up watching the invasion end up enjoying the narration. However, if you happen to be one of the good number of people who end up not liking the narration don’t worry, only episodes 111-118 of the palace invasion have heavy narration. After episode 118, the narration begins to decrease and episodes eventually reach a point where they are “back to normal”.
Heads up to people looking for action:
Although I love the fighting aspect of the series and consider it to be a strong plus, I’ll leave this out there for the sake of subjectivity. HxH does not cater to everyone. Although fights in the series are well-executed, they are also short (1-10 minutes) and happen less in comparison to other battle anime. Moreover, the focus on strategy in battles might be off putting to people who prefer fights with more brawn and less brain. If you’re expecting an action heavy series like Yu Yu Hakusho then you will be disappointed. This is because HxH is a series that relies on its story to reel in viewers. Personally, I think this is how fighting in shonen should be done. Fighting should be able to entertain and also make you think. It shouldn’t drag on for too long at the expense of the story without leaving you underwhelmed.
Hunter x Hunter (2011) is an intelligent battle anime with a fantastic story, excellent characters and fights that involve a lot of strategy. Separating it from most of its genre, the series subverts shonen tropes and boasts unpredictable plot progressions that make it truly unique.
Story: 10/10 (Outstanding)
Characters: 10/10 (Outstanding)
Art: 9/10 (Great)
Sound: 8/10 (Great but occasionally misused)
Enjoyment: 10/10 (Extremely high)
Overall: 10/10 (Masterpiece)
“You should enjoy the little detours. To the fullest. Because that’s where you’ll find the things more important than what you want”. (Hunter Election Arc).
I don’t have words enough to describe what was this 148 episodes for me.
I’ll not spend this review talking about the Synopsis, because It’s right here on MAL.
I need to tell you, why you must watch this masterpiece, and what it represents to me.
First of all I’m gonna talk about the final episode. I felt Joy, sadness, angry (Togashi hurry up with the manga! hahah), and of course, satisfaction. Satisfaction because I heard my friends (you NEED to watch it), because it wasn’t time wasted, because those 148 episodes, and the nights that I spent watching, were worth, really. Hunter x Hunter is a complex anime, a peculiar story, something that, certainly, will mix up with your feelings, with your thoughts, with your conception of a Shonen.
What do I mean? It’s not that simple. But I’ll try to clarify: Don’t think that you’re about to find predictable arcs. Don’t think that the heroes gonna always beat the villains (In some parts of the story… nobody wins). Don’t think that training and good skills can ensure that you’ll defeat an enemy, sometimes you’ll need more than that. Behold what humans can be (and Togashi show us really well in Chimera Ant Arc). Behold what friendship can be, in all it’s complexity. You’re not gonna see in this anime that kind of Main Character that is AWESOME for no reason, no training. Togashi will make you understand the personality of the characters and their powers. Power, I mean, Nen or aura (vital energy), similar to what we see in other shonens like, Dragon Ball (Ki) or Naruto (Chakra). It’s presented to us really well how the “Nen system” works. The explanations are long in some episodes, but simple to understand.
Talking now about the animation: Hunter x Hunter is breathtaking . Indeed, it can be said that Madhouse did an excellent job with the remake . I was amazed with what I saw in some episodes. I confess that many of them I’ve watched over and over again, just to observe the details of the animation, and not only what was happening in the story ( Episode 131 I’ve watched 4 times ). In the end , I’m grateful that Madhouse animated Hunter x Hunter from the beginning .
The characters.. oh they are unique, really. It’s quite impressive how Togashi gave to them a variety of personalities. You’ll not gonna enjoy only the four main characters (although many consider that the main are Gon and Killua, since the story focuses more on the two of them from a certain phase). Hunter x Hunter have a significant character development on the supporting ones too, and, of course in the villains (you’ll love them, believe me). I don’t have a favorite character in this show. It’s impossible to choose one. Watch it and you’ll experience what I’m saying.
You mean this show has nothing bad?
Yes it has.
1) The worst thing in this show is: It ended.
Okay, joking aside, I think is the worst part is the beginning. You have to watch 4 or 5 episodes to feel in the mood to still watching. Many people just gave up in the first episodes. I can ensure you, go on and watch it til the end.
Particularly I don’t like so much The Hunter Exam Arc, the first arc of the story. If you compare with the other arcs it’s really not the best one. I have in my heart this two arcs: Chimera Ant Arc and Yorknew city Arc.
The second thing many fans of the show complains a LOT, is the Opening song. Why? 148 episodes, different openings, but… THE SAME SONG. For me it wasn’t a problem at all. I love the song, and… I think I watched the opening “one hundred and forty-eight” times and I sang it. Hahaha. But I really wanted to see a new song too.
The third thing is totally my personal opinion: the narrator. Your first contact with him will be in the begining of the early episodes. He will explain what is a Hunter.
The narration it’s something that we don’t see a lot in other animes. I like it, it’s brilliant and I totally understand that this add gives the anime the suspense and it’s particular style.
The advantage of having a narrator, in my opinion, is the ”observer factor”. Instead of exploring the point of view of all the characters, we have that peculiar element that seems to know everything and adds important information to the audience.
But, eventually, the narrator annoys me, specially in the Chimera ant Arc. I mean: we see what’s going on, it’s not necessary an explanation!
Of course that the ”narration effect” will depend on the way you receive it. Sometimes will give that “slow motion” you’ll need to absorb what’s going on, but in a few episodes it’s really overused.
In conclusion, I have to thank above all, you Togashi Yoshihiro. You’re brilliant. You can make unique characters, outstanding plots. You still go on, and on, in successive hiatus in the manga, and everyone complains a lot (even me), but then what you show to us is so amazing that makes it worth waiting. Thank you for exist and for this awesome masterpiece.
For you that didn’t watch it yet, do not be fooled by the first few episodes or with the synopsis. Both of them will give you the impression that you’re about to see a generic shounen. Insist. This is a kind of anime that in each episode everything seems to evolve: the story, the setting, the characters. You will be hooked, unable to stop watching .
And then my friend, you will start to feel pain. Yes, pain, when you realize that you’re at the 100º episode and there is only 48 episodes left.
Embrace this adventure called Hunter x Hunter! xD
As you all have likely read the synopsis of hxh, it certainly stands out from most other shounen ever made. There is a kid that decides to go on an adventure, for a particular purpose, meets friends, becomes stronger and eventually defeats powerful opponents. It doesn’t come off as a very complex or intriguing story/plot, nor is there a generic/forgettable cast and an amassed other facts that would remind you of how forgettable this show probably is. Believe me it’s not.
Beyond the first few episodes which this generalised speculation derives from, you will see that hxh differs from most shounen in terms of intelligence (strategic battles, clever arcs and plot) and the pacing of the whole show throughout each arc is outstanding. The absence of fillers throughout the 148 episodes ( excluding recaps) makes this show that much less frustrating to watch.
You may have heard an arc in particular, that the MAL community keeps on raving about: the Chimera Ant arc. Without throwing any spoilers in this review, the hype is worth it. This arc is, by most fans of the franchise, seen as a masterstoke and with good reason. The previous arcs create a substantial build-up to the C.A arc which makes the emphasis and usefulness of the arc that much more prominent.
However, the only factor that prevented my rating of a 9 to a 10, was the slow start and the half-open ending; while it not bad and was a good conclusion to the show, left the viewer rather unsettled with the whole experience.
Where hxh really shines is in the shows’ magnificent cast. As stated in my introduction, typically, most shounen do not have the best cast of characters that anime has brought out to the community, and more often than not defeat their enemies using the all-mighty force that is ‘the power of friendship(!)’ which brings sweet victory and joy to the protagonists of the show. Forget this ever existed in anime when watching hxh, as the sincere friendship that is witnessed between the main cast is nothing short of magnificent. It is realistic and evolves over a long period of time.
What makes the characters of hxh further at a stand-point, is that the antagonists are (for the most part) just as likable as the protagonists. Every character is very well developed ( every = any character that mattered to the story) and therefore does not make you want to spurt out the words ” Wow, this character sucks ” , with the exception of the bomber which, when watching the series, you will notice that had no real purpose for doing things to the extent that he did.
Finally, I will talk about my three favorite characters of the series:
I love Gon. At first he seems like your everyday generic protagonist that has no potential to evolve as a person. He comes across as useless and annoying.Then along the way something happens to him; something that is rarely in a protagonist like him. This is called ‘ Character Development ‘. The development that Gon receives throughout the series is fantastic and will make you love him until the end. He truly is desperate to find his father and the audience can see how he never throws in the towel.
There’s something really likable about white-haired guys in anime and Killua does not fall short in this aspect. He has a broad and complex backstory, and again, like Gon, significant development, which is seen to play a phenomenal role to how realistic the friendship between Gon and Killua is. His background as an assassin and his scarring childhood coupled with his raw talent and one-of-a-kind personality makes him a lovable and three-dimensional character.
Without spoiling much, Meruem is truly an unbelievable antagonist. At first you envision he is ruthless for no purpose, and comes off as a cliche and rather irritating being. With the meeting of another character you see how he evolves and how his facade in his personality makes him one of the best,if not the greatest character in the series.
Art and Animation: 10
When watching an anime that has a plethora of episodes such as hxh, one would expect a decline and rise in animation from time to time. However, Madhouse did a terrific job at keeping the animation and art as consistent and fluid as possible. The amount of money that was spent purely on budget really surprised me and the animation only gets better as the series progresses. When entering the C.A arc, you will see that Madhouse used their best animators to produce stunning images intertwined
with outlines, shadows and fluency that serves as ‘eye-candy’ when watching the series. Battle sequences are as well a proof of how much effort is poured into this show, as the studio does not tend to cut corners, e.g using the same background over and over again.
The opening and endings’ animation improves significantly st time progresses, which blows my mind when comparing the differences in appearance. That is to say, the animation was brilliant at the start of the anime as well.
The opening: ‘Departure’ is used throughout the entire anime although it switches between two different versions of the song, as well as changing the animation sequence each time, and this amazes me as every opening suits the anime perfectly! I did not skip the opening even once when watching the series; instead I stared smiling and singing along to the music.
The endings are all fantastic in my opinion, and I love all the songs that are presented to the audience at the end of each episode. The order for me goes
1>4>2>3>5=6 (5 & 6 are different sections of the same song) but I love them all nevertheless.
The ost of the anime is one of the best I have heard in any anime. My personal favorite is ‘ A kingdom of Predators’. It consists of a great variety of orchestra (mostly in the C.A arc) and lots of violin and piano that can be heard as well. However, sometimes the ost is not played at the most appropriate moments which prevents a score of 10 being given.
Monumental credibility must be given to the voice actors, and for Gon in particular, which is seen especially at episode 116, the mere brilliance that is spurted as ’emotions though words’ is extraordinary. The only complaint that I sometimes hear arriving from people is that the narration in the C.A arc ( for around 10 episodes) is irritating and overwhelms the episodes, making them seem extremely slow-paced. I tend to disagree with this argument , as the pacing seems to only benefit by the narration of those episodes, as it was a crucial moment in the series where narration was essential. I hope you won’t find this narration an issue, since I certainly didn’t.
Wow what a joyful ride this was. It keeps you hooked from early on and urges you to watch the next episode after experiencing the wonderful ending of each arc. The enjoyment factor, of course, originated from the entirety of the show. If any of the above were to be done poorly, the show would not come out to be nearly as enjoyable as it was. I not once felt bored during this series, and I believe that the pacing is fabulous. There’s not a single moment that leaves the viewer wanting to skip ahead or fast-forward. As a result, I am almost certain that you will watch this show, engulfed by the brilliance of this anime.
Believe me when i tell you this: this show is a near masterpiece; as close of a masterpiece as a show of this genre gets. Don’t be fooled while watching this anime, and drop it due to its slow start, as you may miss out on a truly miraculous experience.
Thank you for reading my review of Hunter x Hunter (2011). Have a great day. RedInfinity out.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Hunter x Hunter (2011)
2. Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu
3. Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
4. Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works
5. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 3: Stardust Crusaders
6. Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus
7. Kill la Kill
8. Akatsuki no Yona
10. Log Horizon