They’re the best Anime that 2012 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam, Sword Art Online, Zero no Tsukaima F, and more!
10: Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam
English: Last Exile: Fam, the Silver Wing
MAL Score: 7.08
“I’ve made up my mind! I’m going to steal that ship!”
All source of life originates from the Grand Lake.
At this very sacred lake, the battle between the Ades Federation and the Turan Kingdom has just begun. The Ades Federation, armed with massive battleships and its sights set on conquering the world, declares war on the Turan Kingdom. With the Federation’s troops encroaching on their beloved country, Turan now lies on the brink of collapse. As this is happening, the princesses of Turan look on as a small vanship named Vespa cruises above their heads.
“We shall now commandeer your flagship and take her from this battlefield. The choice is yours. Die here, or survive with us Sky Pirates!”
The Vespa continues to weave through the barrage of bombs, while the fleets of the Federation close in on Turan.
What are the motives of Luscinia, the man leading the Ades Federation into the war? And what is the secret behind “Exile”?
(Source: Animax, edited)
Let’s talk about the good first though. Last Exile was a standard-bearer for how to integrate CGI into hand-drawn animation well, keeping only the machinery CGI. Last Exile Fam is that except bigger, better and with more intricate detail. The scale of the CGI models for the battleships is phenomenal. They really give the sense of these giant clunky machines that were built by real people, with insignias and rivets and everything. Asides from simply looking impressive, this also helps flesh out the world by designing everything so well. The variations between the bad guys factory produced fancy ships and the pirates less conventional looking weapons to the Russian women’s pointy fighter jets. There’s a real sense of different cultures conveyed through the designs. It feels like a proper world. There’s a great sense of epic scale to these battles too, because you can feel how immense these ships are. Compared to something like Legend of the Galactic Heroes, where the space battles may as well have been some kid on his playroom floor going “pew pew pew”, when a ship explodes in Last Exile Fam, it really gives the sense that a monster has been taken down. The pitched battle sequences here are probably the best in any anime I’ve ever seen.
The way the different cultures are portrayed ties into the other big area I feel Last Exile Fam excels at: The politics. Each nation has a reason for fighting and reasons for wanting peace, but what it does really well is how it is portrayed. It’s not done through some boring narration over a shot of people fighting. When you just throw names of nations and political ideals at you, it just goes in one ear and out the other. You have no reason to care. Last Exile Fam does this well by having the politics centre around a small group of characters that are central to the conflict and it’s their ideals and personalities that shape the direction. On one side we have the two Princesses of Turan and on the other we have the military one-eyed general and his teeny tiny Augusta. It all works because it explains why these people are fighting through character development, which is how politics in a story should be conveyed. OK, it’s a little too keen on making the military general start massacring people, but his reasoning are logical and human. You understand why he’s doing it.
The problem starts when the person they use to watch this conflict through the eyes of is a complete brainless twat. As far as I’m concerned, Princess Millia is the main character in this story, or at least she should be. She’s the character with flaws and the one with the real human investment in this conflict, both for political and personal reasons. She is the one who is developing slowly through her encounters with different nations and people. However the person she chose to ride around with is Fam. Fucking. Fam. The most brainless moronic single-minded simpleton to ever grace the skies. A character who mindlessly blunders her way through anything and everything, not having the mental capacity to doubt herself or justify her actions beyond her witless adherence to the genki philosophy. This character archetype has slowly but surely become one of my most hated, up there alongside the Yuji Everylead the Bland. The problem here is that genki juvenile idiotic energy is treated like A Good Thing. Her justification to just jump into things because it feels right should not be something that constantly rewards her. It’s not that I can’t enjoy a stupid character. Yuki in Future Diary is an idiot, but he gets punished for his idiocy, and is therefore incredibly entertaining to watch. People just conform to Fam’s way of thinking, degrading the intelligence of the conversation around her.
Possibly my favourite episode of the series so far was the flashback one to the Grand Race where Fam is only 6 years old, part of the reason being because her idealistic energy flying in the face of actual facts fitted someone who was only 6 years old. Every single other character from the flashback had since developed. But not Fam. Oh no. She remains exactly the fucking same. The next episode had a scene where Fam said she wanted to return to the times like the one where the Grand Race took place, only for the Russian chick to point out that there was an assassination there that highlighted that there was unrest beneath this seemingly happy scene and it was merely a mask for the problems in the world. But such a complex issue couldn’t fit into Fam’s tiny brain, so she just blunders on saying she wants to recreate that day anyway. What’s worse is the other characters agree with her. They get sucked in by her stupidity, their own brains abandoning their skulls in the face of this black hole of intelligent writing.
I like this new rendition of Last Exile. I love the scale and intensity of the battles, the development of characters such as Millia and the military commander, and how well realised the world is. But Fam is a giant gormless genki wart on this otherwise great series, degrading everything she comes into contact with. Fuck you Fam, you suck.
::Update upon finishing the anime::
In the end, I had to hike the score up from a 7 to an 8 for Fam finally admitting around about the 4th last episode that she had been a naive twat the entire time. Too little too late perhaps, but it gave the character some much needed development.
Truly, Gonzo was having a tough time and needed a strong comeback that will allow it to stay in business, so they chose to milk one of their old successful and popular titles. Was it a wise decision? Probably, it was. Does the new show turn out to be good? Well, let’s find out.
The story is pretty simple. A young sky pirate girl named Fam Fan Fan is accidentally caught in a war unleashed by bad, bad Ades Empi— I mean, Federation. (But hell, it is ruled by an empress!) Fam along with her friend, Giselle Collette, saves life of a Turanian princess named Millia who asks the sky pirates for help in the noble quest of liberating her country.
And here we come across the most obvious and fatal flaw of Gin’yoku no Fam — the protagonist and title character, Fam herself. Firstly, she is the worst kind of a pacifist who honestly believes that all people in the world can easily throw away their differences, lay down weapons and then just fly in the vast blue sky, full of joy and happiness. Fam never questions her ideals while on war where, big surprise, people are dying because somebody isn’t able to just give up on his goals, be it revenge, greed, survival of relatives, or anything else. To be fair, this naïve faith is not a bad trait, but the fact that she always holds to it no matter what is really stupid and irritating. Well, Fam receives some character development near the end of the series but it was too damn late for me to like her. Secondly, the way plot revolves around her is unbearable. Her Noble Phantasm is Deus Ex Machina: The Slayer of Suspension of Disbelief. Fam can fly in the middle of the battle and never be harmed, she can infiltrate enemy’s flagship with ease, hell, she can probably go back in time and save John Lennon or something. I get that she is a genius pilot but there are limits to how far the writer can stretch it. Thirdly, she is voiced by Toyosaki Aki-shi. It’s just personal and very subjective but I can’t stand Toyosaki-shi as a seiyū of protagonist in this kind of show. Her voice is hammered into my mind with air-headed clumsy girls, so no way I can take her as a world saviour seriously.
That’s it with Fam, now I want to say two words about other characters. Giselle seems like a pretty generic sidekick to me, but that’s okay because she rarely steals the spotlight. On the other hand we have Millia and she is one of the better parts of the series. Millia receives a lot of character development from start to finish, she can be irritating at first but she gets better little by little and progresses a lot throughout the show becoming one of the small number of Gin’yoku no Fam characters I feel little sympathy for. Another interesting character is the main antagonist, Luscinia Hāfez, the Premier of Ades Federation. Yes, his actions seem unreasonable and more I think of them less sense they make, but most of the time watching the series I spent on figuring out how far he can and will go, how much of him believe that his way is the only possible solution for the crisis. That was some kind of pleasure.
One thing people complained a lot about Gin’yoku no Fam was fanservice. Their point was this series seems like a sequel to Strike Witches not to Last Exile. To be fair, there is not much fanservice here and what is present is not really annoying. The only thing got on my nerves was Millia trying to take over the ship with her maid uniform. Yeah, it was played for laughs but this scene stood out too much and was too damn stupid, so I just cannot let it slip by. On the other hand, cameos of Last Exile’s characters (kinda fanservice too) were utterly pointless. They were lazily written into the new series for appearance’s sake only. For example, Dio’s overall impact on the plot is exactly zero, so I get this sticky feeling that Gonzo here is just trying to draw attention of the original series fan base.
And one more thing before I call it a day. Let me bring up the philosophy, the basic idea of both series. It’s pretty simple: the war is bad. We can see it through both the original series and Gin’yoku no Fam. The problem with the latter is how that idea was integrated into the plot. In Last Exile we have the Guild. It enforces strict rules of combat resulting in a lot of casualties, casualties that can be avoided if you break the rules. But if you do it, you will be punished by the Guild because it has superior technology and can easily crush you. And even if you follow the rules, a member of the Guild can call off the engine of your ship on a whim, just because he thinks it’s fun. So you’re screwed no matter what you do. This is unfair and cruel. This is war, guys, and this is why it’s bad. And what can Gin’yoku no Fam offer? We have our protagonists flying here and there and talking about friendship. We have loli Empress crying because fighting is making her sad. Oversimplification and child’s play. The war is bad. The oranges are orange. Care to explain why Gin’yoku no Fam is about war and not about oranges, Gonzo?
So, overall, is this series a powerful comeback? Hell no. I won’t cry if Gonzo returns to animation studio asylum. Gin’yoku no Fam is certainly a nice try but its shell is sadly empty. The setting is cool, but the plot while having a good build-up is too much of a cliché and the characters are either annoying or just simply not memorable. To be fair, this series has some good scenes and nice background music but that’s not enough. I rate it 7 points. Too high, maybe, but at least it’s not as bad as war.
Throughout the early episodes of the series, I remember having favorable opinions for the show; it reminds me of the brilliance of the first season, the vast world, and even one of the first reasons I started liking anime, because Last Exile was one of the earliest shows I’ve watched. I hated Millia, but I liked Fam, and that Toyosaki Aki did a pretty good job on her. As long they keep this up and moving on to the real story, it would turn out really good.
It didn’t have a good story. After the first, say, 1/3 of the story, one of the most prominent problems began to show up: the lead character Fam. There are many, many things said about her character, I think I can sum it up as having no depth, no variance in personality, and no character development. She wasn’t unique in any way, and she doesn’t have any kind of background except for being really good at piloting. She has a one-dimensional personality and only one approach to every single problem in the story. And she learned nothing and changed nothing throughout the entire story. As you would expect, things becomes really boring, fast.
Then… when it comes down to the important moments, the storytelling was pure shit. When did the primary enemy change from Sera to Luscinia? All that screentime on Orang just for his 10 seconds of fame? A single message from Sera to end all conflict, instantly? A single ship shows out of nowhere and starts shooting everything, and the battle ends right there? The pacing is also terrible. Episode 19 contain one of the most important battles in the story, yet they rushed through it so as to begin the next part.
And finally, the story, which also disappoints. The ending left me confused about Luscinia’s real objective in the end. Was he trying a Lelouch here? If so, it was terribly executed, because both Liliana’s and his actions were really unjustified. I found it so un-agreeable that I’m still hesitant to believe that was supposed to be the conclusion to the story. The final impression of the story almost always rests on the ending, and such an unsatisfying ending is pretty much the worst you can do.
Oh wait, just one more. Of the two most important, and most anticipated weapons our main characters can wield, one never showed up, and one blew up on a whim. What a good idea, right?
I could talk more about the things that this series did wrong, but I don’t want to turn this more into a list more than it already does. The most enjoyable episode turns out to be a recap of the previous season. So, is this a complete waste of time? Well, the show does have several good points. The production values are excellent, being Gonzo’s supposed flagship material after all. I never think that they quite captured the “steampunk” feel as compared to the previous season, but I supposed that’s subjective. Since the animation quality often matters a lot more to me than other people, I must say that this isn’t a complete waste of time; I did enjoy it a fair bit. If you would have me recommend this to people, I can only say that this is a huge disappointment; especially if you’ve watched the first season.
Story Style: Really, really bad
9: Sword Art Online
English: Sword Art Online
Japanese: ソードアート オンライン
MAL Score: 7.21
In the year 2022, virtual reality has progressed by leaps and bounds, and a massive online role-playing game called Sword Art Online (SAO) is launched. With the aid of “NerveGear” technology, players can control their avatars within the game using nothing but their own thoughts.
Kazuto Kirigaya, nicknamed “Kirito,” is among the lucky few enthusiasts who get their hands on the first shipment of the game. He logs in to find himself, with ten-thousand others, in the scenic and elaborate world of Aincrad, one full of fantastic medieval weapons and gruesome monsters. However, in a cruel turn of events, the players soon realize they cannot log out; the game’s creator has trapped them in his new world until they complete all one hundred levels of the game.
In order to escape Aincrad, Kirito will now have to interact and cooperate with his fellow players. Some are allies, while others are foes, like Asuna Yuuki, who commands the leading group attempting to escape from the ruthless game. To make matters worse, Sword Art Online is not all fun and games: if they die in Aincrad, they die in real life. Kirito must adapt to his new reality, fight for his survival, and hopefully break free from his virtual hell.
Since I’ve seen a plethora of scores of 10 for this show, I thought I’d write what I feel is a more realistic review for this show. Sword Art Online is more or less the equivalent of a fanfiction in it’s writing and quality. Whether people want to overlook it or not is up to the individual, but I believe it fails at the fundamentals for writing a good story. This review will go into details as to my opinions on why I feel this way.
1) Story – This is first major problem is the show. Let’s start from the beginning shall we. The first arc consists of 14 episodes. The first 2 episodes are honestly pretty good and set up the plot of the show that should follow. You’re introduced to the main characters and it shows mmo style of play. I mean with 2 episodes that are amazing, surely what follows will be more of the adventures of the main characters and these mmo boss fights…right? Wrong. What follows are 5 completely irrelevant side character episodes and unnecessary terrible time skips that ruin any sense of a story the first 2 episodes set up. So due to some illogical reason, we’re now down to 7 episodes to tell the rest of this story. Still doable right? RIGHT? Wrong again. The series wastes another 2 1/2 episodes on pointless filler garbage. So there you have it over half of first part of the story has nothing to do with the overall plot. Well what about the other episodes you ask? The remaining “plot” episodes are filled with deus ex machina in its purest form. Even the finale of the first season makes absolutely no sense. This isn’t a fantasy world, it’s a freaking video game, you can’t have miracles here. So that concludes my issues with season 1, which the majority of SAO fans consider to be the best part….Yeh you heard me, the 2nd part is even worse.
Without going into spoilers, the 2nd part of the series takes place in a different setting, with a mostly new cast aside from our main hero. This part of the series probably deserves the award for most unnecessary story in the history of anime. This arc is pretty much a mario game. Our hero must save the princess in the castle. Not really much to say about it. Oh yeh deus ex machina finale here too…oh and there’s an incest subplot…for some reason. This concludes the plot section. I think I’m being pretty generous with a 4 here.
2) Art – The art is fantastic. Colorful characters, bosses (the few we see), and settings are all here. It’s easily worth an 8.
3) Sound – Again fantastic. Nothing wrong with it at all. 8.
4)Characters – Here we go…This is easily the worst part of the series. I’ll separate the main characters and lump together the not so main characters.
Kirito/Kazuto – The main character of this show is the epitome of the current definition of a “Gary Stu”. He has no personality whatsoever. He is good at everything he tries for no reason. He’s an amazing player, an super sleuth, a ladies man, and a master hacker. You name it, he can do it. There’s no reason given for this other than he’s just that good. Girls all love him, guys want to be him, and villains are jealous of him. He also solos MMO boss fights…yeh wrap your head around that one. Side note – I often see people claim they love this show because they’re hardcore gamers. I have to say as an avid gamer myself I find this show to be insulting. Unless you’ve hacked or cheated , I don’t understand why you’re content with a character who does. Side note over.
Asuna – The main female lead/most blatant waifu character ever. Asuna is introduced as a strong player who can stand on her own with Kirito, that is for the first couple episodes. Once she reappears she barely does anything other than cook for Kirito. That’s right, her ass stays in the kitchen, while Kirito does all the important stuff. In part 2 she does absolutely nothing…seriously. She again has no original personality…textbook Tsundere.
Yui – This character is terrible in all senses of the word. She’s walking deus ex machina, nothing more. This character should be hated by any gamer, since she’s a cheat device, who adds nothing to the story.
Villains (minor spoilers) – There are 2 major villains in this series and they’re both terrible. The first one forgets his motives for doing everything in part 1 and the part 2 one is so comically evil he can’t even be taken seriously.
Other Characters/ Who the hell cares – The female characters all want to have sex with Kirito and have no personality past this. The male characters don’t get to do anything because Kirito hogs the show from everyone. That’s really all there is to say about that.
Suguha – This is Kirito’s sister. She honestly has layers and was a plus to the show in my opinion. I don’t know why she’s in this show, she doesn’t belong in it…
So yeh, Gary Stu and Waifu – these characters are pathetic (1).
5) Enjoyment – Needless to say I didn’t enjoy it. Poor show (3)
6) Overall – This show has so many fans, and I really don’t know why. Its plot is rushed and terrible. Its characters so flat, it’s almost funny…almost. Its romance is highly misogynistic and terribly developed. I felt insulted watching this, and don’t understand how any could like this show. Even Gamers.
Yes it’s a popular anime, yes it has flaws, no it’s not perfect, but at the very least in my opinion it is enjoyable. The pacing is off, the beginning particularly feels rushed, there were moments where I thought I skipped an episode because of the time skips which made it difficult to really connect with any of the characters in the beginning, and there were some less than stellar instances where it felt like the anime was trying to make me care but failing hard.
Some characters felt to be completely forgotten throughout most of this series too. For example in the beginning we are introduced to a character named Klein who is quickly pushed aside after the first episode and barely seen again and doesn’t really make much of an impact at all on the story later on. This seems to happen a lot throughout this series where there might be some emotional moments where a character dies, or something dramatic happens but there is really no emotional impact from it, and the main character seems to not really care that much about it or it doesn’t really effect anything significantly.
I really felt this series shined from around episodes 4-13 and I wish they would have kept with that pace instead of rushing an ending midway and throwing something new at us. The second half just felt completely unnecessary and forced.
Pushing the negative aside, I found the overall theme and atmosphere of the series to be great, and being an avid lover the MMORPG genre obviously a lot of things in this series appealed to me. I really enjoyed the idea of being stuck in a game that was impossible to escape from without winning and having real consequences, it really made everything much more dramatic and meaningful in the story. Sadly this quickly goes away midway through the plot.
If I had to pick two of the best things this anime did well for me it would probably be the animation and soundtrack. They both were really well done, and honestly without them being as good as they were this series would have gotten a much lower score from me, and when I say I really enjoyed the soundtrack I mean that I loved it, it was superb.
I think what it really comes down was just the fact that I enjoyed watching it. I can look at the flaws and pick the anime apart pretty easily, but those flaws never really stopped me from enjoying this anime.I really do feel though that it had a lot of potential to be a top tier series, it just made far too many mistakes. Looking at it objectively I simply cannot give this anime higher than a 7. It was good because I found it to be enjoyable, but it wasn’t great or amazing.
At the end of the day I watch anime because I want something that will entertain me and keep me interested, and I feel that Sword Art Online did a good job at accomplishing that.
Yes, it’s time for Sword Art Online, the origin of many angry rants.
The premise doesn’t sound too bad. Ten thousand players of a virtual MMO are trapped in the game and forced to complete it to escape, except that death in the game leads to death in real life. Just think about it: this could be a tragic story of struggle where death is behind every corner. A story of sacrifice and despair. A story of alliances and betrayal. A story of the struggle to retain humanity in front of impossible conditions.
…But why have any of that when you can have romance and harem?
That’s right; the survival game is just for show. Don’t expect deep interpersonal or political conflict. Don’t expect psychology or moral dilemmas. Don’t expect tactics or mind games. Actually, don’t expect witty dialogue of any kind.
And that is the biggest problem with this show. It is bankrupt in substance. It’s mostly just uninspired romance and harem, with a bit of action here and there. There isn’t much thinking involved. A few plot holes I could forgive, but if the show isn’t about anything worthwhile, there isn’t much to do. What makes this problem all the more apparent is that the premise promises something entirely different than what it delivers. The show has thrown its hands up in the air and said, “We don’t care.” So why should the viewer?
It doesn’t help that the show has grown infamous for glorifying its protagonist, who in the eyes of many has become the epitome of a Gary Stu. He can defeat anything, he can solve any problem, and he gets all the girls. It’s almost like this show was meant to be a propaganda piece in his favor.
The first two episodes are decent, building up the premise. We are introduced to the protagonist Kirito and the concept of the death game. Soon enough, we are told that a month has passed and two thousand players have died offscreen. …Wait, not even a short montage or anything? Apparently not. Anyway, these two episodes are pretty much the only decent ones, so savor them while you can.
The third episode begins to show more serious problems. We are supposed to form an emotional bond to new characters in a few minutes, and we have to go through over-the-top angst over irrational actions. But there is also optimism in the air; of course we can revive someone whose brain has been fried, right?
What follows is an abrupt leap to harem and romance antics. The next few episodes are about various girls suddenly falling for Kirito, often the same day they met him. This typically involves uncontrollable blushing, fanservice, and people acting Tsundere. You probably get the picture. It doesn’t help that many of these episodes have a very filler-esque feel to them. The main plot ‒ if you can call it such at this point ‒ takes a backseat in favor of these random new girls.
The girl called Asuna, who quickly becomes the token love interest for Kirito, has at least met him before, but there is still very little buildup to their relationship. Unless it took place offscreen. You see, another thing that becomes very noticeable is the pacing. There have been timeskips of months between episodes. This wouldn’t be a problem if these snapshots contained all the events that were critical to the story, but it’s obvious that the author has picked rather boring events out of all the possibilities. Why is it that thousands of people dying is covered in a few lines, while we have to sit through hours and hours of romance and harem? I hate to be beating a dead horse here, but it’s unavoidable because it comes up again in just about every episode.
By now, it has also become obvious to the viewer that Kirito is invincible to the point of tedium. He has a level higher than anyone, the best equipment, and a seemingly endless pool of abilities, but most importantly he always wins. There is sometimes false tension, sure, but you know he will survive anyway. You can only stomach so many clutch survivals before you start rolling your eyes.
The rest of the story arc involves Kirito and Asuna hanging out in the countryside to spend their honeymoon. They even adopt a daughter to portray a typical happy family. The problem is that their relationship is really not that interesting. But “dem feels”! Nah, sorry. I have a heart of stone.
This is followed by a sudden confrontation with the main villain, which Kirito wins because the power of love conquers all. And by that I mean the power of love conquers the programming of the game. Well, okay, maybe there was some “power of love” clause in the code somewhere. It wouldn’t surprise me at this point.
Predictably enough, melodrama ensues. Tears, promises of love, etc. You can probably imagine. At least now we’re done with this show, right?
No, think again, that was only the good part. There are actually 11 more episodes left, and the journey takes us further downhill. We enter another game, this time without the death aspect. Before we get to the plot itself, even at a glance this idea brings up a few problems.
The harsh reality hits you faster than you can say “cashcow.” This second arc feels completely unnecessary. It has been tied into the original story with an overly convenient plot device for no apparent purpose other than stretching it further. At least know to quit while you’re ahead. But no, they just had to drag this show through the mud to rip apart any shred of dignity it had left.
It doesn’t help that there is no death anymore. While this makes the slice-of-life content more fitting, it also removes the established selling point of the show. The change is too abrupt, and the difference in tone is too jarring. If you want to make a slice-of-life of ordinary MMO players, do it from the start.
Now, for the plot itself, and it isn’t pretty. We go straight to a Mario game, by which I mean saving a damsel in distress trapped in a cage. And that isn’t a metaphor; she is quite literally trapped in a cage. Add tentacles and incest to the plot, and you have a winning combination. The incest aspect is provided by Kirito’s sister Suguha, who also provides additional fanservice.
At least now the pacing is less erratic and there is seemingly less development taking place offscreen. It’s just too bad that there is also very little meaningful taking place onscreen. There are some new characters and even an ingame war going on, but it’s all so irrelevant to the main story that it’s hard to maintain interest.
Long story short, Kirito beats the second villain with the help of more deus ex machinas. There are also more tears, promises of love, etc.
So now we’re done, right? For now, yes, but there’s still season 2 to look forward to.
This is technically part of the story category, but I really think it deserves its own section here. You see, the very foundations of the setting make no sense. People in Sword Art Online are too often acting like they are in a normal game, not in a life-and-death scenario.
For instance, why is there so much resentment towards beta testers who have greater knowledge of the game? This isn’t a competition; the faster someone beats the game, the faster everyone gets out. And, similarly, why are beta testers reluctant to share information? Are they so worried about other people using their newfound abilities to kill them for no reason? Look, you can’t have both a casual slice-of-life of MMO players and a grim death game at the same time. Pick one.
This casual attitude becomes more pronounced later on when it becomes obvious people are wasting tons of time with unproductive quests, romance, and just hanging around. Kirito himself spends time on seemingly useless sidequests, and Asuna spends time cooking for him. Come to think of it, why has Asuna wasted points on a useless skill like cooking in the first place? Are these people even trying?
And why are so many players dying when towns are safe zones? Are they stupidly rushing into high-level dungeons? I suppose so. You see, for a grim death game it sure is hard to die in SAO. Bosses won’t respawn, so everyone can advance forward, even weak players. Going from town to town is also easy enough with teleport crystals. Well, okay, there is that problem of challenging people to a duel while asleep, but that can’t take out so many.
There is no lack of critical resources because you can hang out in the safety of towns indefinitely. Sure, exp and money are limited because the regeneration of monsters is limited, which is strange game design itself, but they aren’t necessary if you stay in town. At least, the show never implies that they are necessary. Oh, and for the record, I’m treating the show as self-contained and ignoring the source material.
So why do they die? I’d put my money on rushing stupidly into dungeons because we get to see one notable example.
Let’s imagine you found yourself in the following situation. Before you and your guild are about to enter a high-level dungeon, you learn that one of them lied about his level. Knowing this, you realize you are underleveled and likely to end up dead, while avoiding death and warning the others would be as simple as staying in town.
What would you do? Would you
a) Record a message in advance, knowing that you wouldn’t last long, or
b) Stay in town so that you wouldn’t get killed in the first place?
A tricky one, I admit.
We are also introduced to groups of player killers. Sounds good until you realize this isn’t a normal game. At least, I thought it wasn’t, but it looks like some people didn’t get the memo. In a situation like SAO, there should be no reason for these killings. This isn’t Danganronpa, where the main point of the premise is that you can only escape by killing someone. This is a game where it makes the most sense to team up and beat the game. There is no prisoner’s dilemma; cooperation is the best plan and any sensible person would go for it.
If you kill someone here, you only get some money and equipment. While it may help you beat the game a little faster, odds are that it will only hurt your chances of survival overall. Just off the top of my head, a few reasons:
1) If people start killing each other, it obviously increases the risk of dying yourself, both in retaliation and spontaneously.
2) Killing people reduces manpower needed for beating the game, and the distrust that follows will make it even slower. You could only kill useless low-level players, but they probably don’t have much money or good equipment to begin with.
3) There is the chance that you will land murder charges if you escape from the game and officials find out.
Actually, does the equipment even help that much? Kirito seemingly uses the same equipment for long periods of time, yet he is practically invincible. On the other hand, he does say that equipment can be worth many levels, so did he get the best stuff for himself so fast? Is it strange game design or cheat codes? It’s anyone’s guess.
Of course, if you have little interest in beating the game, killing other players makes more sense, if only a little. I suppose getting more money can help you obtain some luxury items, but is it worth the risk? The implied reason is that they are killing people for laughs, but why did so many murderous psychopaths decide to log into this MMO on its opening day? Is this some kind of stab at gamers, saying that they are unable to distinguish between real violence and fake violence? Maybe, or the author forgot that this isn’t a normal MMO. Again.
So is it a legit plan to stay in the virtual world for the rest of your life and give up on getting back to the real world? If so, it would explain a lot. While the range of pastimes in there is smaller than in the real world, maybe there is enough for some people.
The choice between staying in relative happiness in a virtual world and risking your life returning to the real world could have been an interesting one. Unfortunately, their bodies are deteriorating in real life, which makes the choice very one-sided. For some reason, Asuna has to point this out to Kirito because apparently the state of his real-world body had never occurred to him over the course of two years. Yeah, good job, Kirito, you sure were fast on the uptake. Lying down on the grass and having a carefree nap doesn’t sound so smart anymore, eh?
Finally, why are virtual MMOs still legal after the SAO incident? Sure, the new hardware is supposedly safer, but the previous death trap must have equally passed through “strict” government examination, so who in their right mind would trust them? And even if we assume it is safe, since when has people’s hysteria hinged on facts? People fear new technology even when it’s harmless, let alone when a massive incident like this happens. There would be mass protests in the streets in favor of banning them.
You may have noticed that I have only mentioned three characters by name so far. For some other show, this might be because the cast is so vast that there is no time to go through them all, but here it’s rather that there are very few characters worth mentioning. Kirito, and by extension Asuna and Suguha who are defined by Kirito’s character, hog practically all of the screentime.
Everyone else gets thrown under the bus. Girls only exist to fall in love with Kirito, and males only exist to be inferior to him. The villains in particular only exist as fodder to the guy.
I have barely touched on Kirito’s personality. Well, blame the show, not me; it should at least be willing to meet me halfway. We know very little about him, other than being invincible and inexplicably good with the ladies. Essentially, he is the manliest man on the planet.
That’s pretty much all he is. Even his dialogue ends up pretty bland. There are no witty insights, no clever jokes, no skillful word games. Much of his dialogue consists of saying that the world is a virtual one, explaining game mechanics, wishing to save everyone, or loving someone forever. The sort of stuff you’d expect from a cardboard cutout hero in a situation like this.
It can be a facepalm-worthy experience to witness girl after girl falling for Kirito like nothing, often the same day they met him. The show endlessly drills into the viewer that he is the sexiest man alive… for some reason. I get that rescuing people can give you points in their eyes, but come on now. I can only assume there is a hidden manliness stat and his black jacket comes with a +999 boost.
As far as his invincibility goes, the win streak by itself isn’t the biggest problem. The problem is that he always wins through brute strength. That is to say, his character skills and stats. There are no tactics worth mentioning, no psychology, no politics, no thinking whatsoever. He will just go out there and pull off his generic action hero stunts. Sure, developing those skills and stats may have required some tactical thinking. Maybe he has optimized his skill tree or has amazing grinding strats. In theory. We see no hints of it. It all happened offscreen and offscreen doesn’t count. I’m sorry, it just doesn’t.
To add insult to injury, some of Kirito’s abilities are completely forgotten later on. I’m sure that health recovery thing would have come in handy any number of times. And when even his skills and stats aren’t enough, he is saved by plot armor at the last second.
It’s also a mockery of MMOs in the sense that Kirito is able to solo raid bosses. And he is able to attain a level higher than anyone despite playing solo, supposedly because he doesn’t have to split the exp. His most unique ability is revealed to be… *drumroll* dual-wielding, which nobody else is allowed to do in this game. This doesn’t sound like any MMO I know of, or was the idea to portray a player with god-mode cheats on?
I’m seriously thinking that the show would have been a lot more tolerable if Kirito alone had been replaced by one of the side characters. It still wouldn’t have been a masterpiece or anything, but at least the Gary Stu accusations could have been avoided.
She is about as bland in personality as Kirito. She is also portrayed as fairly powerful for no substantial reason but of course nothing compared to him. As time passes, her most notable trait becomes being a textbook Tsundere.
…Well, that was fast. Moving on.
As mentioned earlier, her main role is providing fanservice and a tacked-on incest subplot. It’s simply another element thrown into the plot for cheap shock value, if anyone is still shocked by incest in anime nowadays.
The first villain barely appears, and his motivation for trapping the players is vague, to say the least. He basically did it out of personal interest. He wanted to create a virtual world where death has meaning like in the real one, but as for why he was interested in the idea, he forgot. Err, alright then. Moving on.
The second villain is pathetic and a disgrace to antagonists everywhere, coming across as a cartoon villain who does evil things for the sake of being evil. The conflict here is portrayed as completely black-and-white, just in case someone had sympathy for the guy, as unlikely as that is.
His main focus is essentially raping a comatose girl. And that is over obtaining tons of cash, presumably in the millions. If he had left the girl alone, he probably would have got away with it, so for all intents and purposes, he chose raping a girl over millions in cash. Talk about priorities.
Come to think of it, it’s already ridiculous that the family of the comatose girl is planning to have her marry the guy. I mean, she is in a coma. As in unconscious, unable to state her own intentions, etc. Where are child protective services when you need them? Thankfully, the law disagrees, so they can’t apply for an official marriage. Instead, he’ll be adopted by her family as their son in spirit… Wait, what?
Furthermore, his sheer incompetence is mindboggling. He openly explains his evil plans and his security is practically at Dr. Evil level, up to entering a secret keycode in plain sight so that the prisoner can see. Thankfully the government and his company are equally incompetent and are not monitoring his research group closely despite its reliance on infamous technology used in SAO. Are these the same people who deemed the new tech safe? If so, I’d like a second opinion. I wouldn’t trust these people to operate Angry Birds, let alone a virtual MMO with potential health risks.
So this is where the money went. The backgrounds look nice but cheap fanservice scenes not so much.
Not too bad either. The soundtrack and opening and ending songs work pretty decently, and the voices are also alright.
Funnier than I was expecting but for the wrong reasons. There is something earnest about how the show is trying to portray escapism and human relationships, but it falls just short enough to create a dissonance.
Watch it to witness the writing yourself. But more importantly, by watching the show you can better understand the reviews or, better yet, write one yourself.
8: Zero no Tsukaima F
English: The Familiar of Zero F
MAL Score: 7.48
Saito Hiraga and Louise Fran?oise Le Blanc de La Vallière go on the offensive after the events of Zero no Tsukaima: Princesses no Rondo. Together, they face off against King Joseph in the Holy City of Romalia with the help of two others who control the power of the “void.” But in the midst of the many conflicts ahead of them, an ancient evil begins to stir in the shadows.
Will their close bonds blossom into something more or will they be shattered through the ever increasing difficulty of the tasks that they must undertake? Zero no Tsukaima F follows the story of Louise and Saito as they face their final challenges together.
I’ve scored the three previous season to 7, mainly because it was repetitive, and there was not this thing that embraces your mind and take you to an other world.
And then, I’ve watched this season, the final one. And it is perfect. Louise is becoming more and more mature, even if she keeps her tsundere style which is still funny (although it annoyed me a lot of times, but hey, it’s who she is after all). For Saito, it’s approximatively the same, he’s growing too, and we really see their relationship evolving…
About the scenes, there is a lot more romantic scenes than before, which is wonderful because their kind of different from the previous season, there is something that makes you feel good, and you’re happy for them too in some way.
Since I was also obsessed by the magic scenes with void magic and all that, you should know that there’s also a LOT more of these scenes, and I found that they were much more impressive.
I’m also noticing the OST which is just full of epicness (special note for the song “Passion” which I’m listening right now).
I think they did a really good work, this season embraces the whole series, and every episode makes you feel wonderful and the two final episodes are just so much awesome that you can’t accept it is already over, and then you see how it was just a nicely dream in which you will go back someday…
So about the story.. heh. If you have seen the previous seasons, you’ll have a pretty good idea what happens. Some stuff happens, maybe some random fanservice here and there, filler episodes randomly thrown in out of nowhere, a problem occurs and is solved with usually an unrealistic solution that probably has some plot holes. And by plot holes, I don’t mean “look very deep into the anime” ones, I mean “wtf how did they just do that it didn’t make any sense at all” kind of plot holes. It takes the fantasy genre to a whole new level and again, not in a good way (SPOILER example: Saito stealing a fighter jet from a military base in 2 seconds). Some of it can be attributed to the fact that the majority of the season was rushed but all in all, they really did not need some of the fillers; it was just a waste of time. If you’re one of those people that like to have an intricate plot with plenty of BAM moments, this is not the anime for you. The plot is lackluster and very predictable. The ending was a perfect example of this. Personally, I thought the ending was very predictable but it fits the anime. Having said that though, ZnT is NOT about the story. If you have been watching this for the story, then I got news for you, choose something else to watch. The story here is just there to have at least some “meaning” between each episode, nothing special.
Al-right, the characters. The characters are again, nothing special. An abusive tsundere, some boobs, some more boobs, and a loli. This anime throughout the seasons has shown no character development, Louise and Saito were supposedly married at the end of season two but Saito is still an indecisive guy and Louise still blows him up. Usually this would lower the score as dynamic characters are always good but the thing is, it’s what the anime is known for. This is why most people have continued to watch though the seasons. Sure, Saito will piss you off every time he ogles some girls breast because he completely lacks self-control or some other stuff that ticks you off. The non-changing character foils that have been constant throughout all four seasons is the selling point of this anime. You don’t watch this to see some well thought out strategy like Death Note or the plain awesomeness of Steins;Gate, you watch this too see Saito getting blown up by explosions and the tsundere Louise being her usual self and the relationship between them. I will have to say that it will probably get tiring if you watch this in one go.
The sound doesn’t really do much considering most of the BGM is just reused from the previous seasons. In some cases, it certainly does help set the mood and I loved how they reused one of the openings during one of the final episodes. The energetic OP also adds towards the enjoyment of the anime; it fits the mood. Though the EP isn’t bad, the usage of it is certainly questionable in some cases. Something some by Rie Kugimiya doesn’t really fit certain situations if you know what I mean.
The art wasn’t really exceptional and doesn’t take away from the anime itself. Not much to comment on this as it doesn’t feature any special art style. The battle scenes were too short in my opinion.
I’m a Louise fan so this is probably biased but I really enjoyed the series overall. If I was to use by biased score, this would be a 10/10 just because I’m a huge Louise fan. That’s kind of the thing with this anime, either you’ll hate the characters (I don’t think many people expected much out of the story anyways) or come to love em. The story was really annoying at certain points because of the number of episodes that were just pointless. They could have easily just spent a couple of minutes or not even included certain parts (really didn’t need a episode dedicated towards the crowning of a queen) of the anime. The ending however, was probably the saving grace for this anime. I personally value a conclusive ending opposed to some random harem ending. Overall, I think that this season manages to set up the end of the series only leaving some minor plot holes. Watch this with a grain of salt in mind.
Feedback is appreciated as this was my first review.
On this season, there’s just two stories to follow, the mission that the queen Henrietta gave both to see what the Pope wants from them and the other story is the finally growing relationship between Louise and Saito, finally there’s not hate-love between them, but more love, more romantic and that was good after a step back in season three.
Art & Animation
The art and animations really improved, it was colorful and brighter, and smooth, it was the best of the four seasons, the overall was very good.
The sound was the same, with little changes but still was good.
Finally they developed Louise and Saito, and it was a big improvement, the other characters weren’t behind on improvement neither, finally we get to know more a lot of their background, overall it was very good.
The only season that i enjoyed a lot and wanted every season to be like this, because i felt like they restarted and improved everything on a good way, the ending left me wanting more, because they finally are together and trusth eachother and i liked how Louise changed from being the kind of tsundere that i hate to a calm tsundere like Taiga when she was with Ryuuji.
7: Persona 4 the Animation
English: Persona 4 the Animation
MAL Score: 7.51
Yuu Narukami moves to Inaba, a seemingly quiet and ordinary town, where he quickly befriends the clumsy transfer student Yousuke Hanamura, the energetic Chie Satonaka, and the beautiful heiress Yukiko Amagi. Shortly after Yuu’s arrival, a chain of mysterious killings begin to occur on foggy days. At the same time, rumors about a strange television channel—dubbed the “Midnight Channel”—spread like wildfire; when staring into their TV screen at midnight, a person may see their soul mate.
After witnessing the most recent murder victim on the Midnight Channel, Yuu attempts to watch it again, only to realize that he can traverse into the TV and reach another world overrun with “Shadows,” evil creatures of the dark. Realizing the link behind the hidden dimension and the murders, Yuu and his friends attempt to crack the cases by exploring the diabolical world of the Midnight Channel using their “Personas,” awakened manifestations of their “true selves.”
The story is pretty typical for what you would find in most JRPGs these days, but one of the unique things about the Persona franchise has been the blend between the dating-sim styled day-to-day activities and the RPG combat. Most of the action takes place in a world hidden by all but a few lucky people granted the power of a Persona, the manifestation of the person’s psyche which is used to fight shadows inside of the TV world. While it’s fairly generic and comes with its fair share of clichés, it works well because the story is self-aware and does not try to take itself too seriously. It’s a fairly light-hearted story even in the midst of all the murders, kidnappings, and crazy things going on.
There isn’t any inherent problem with the story here because it’s simply being taken from an already well-written series. The story was fine in the game, and for the most part it’s fine here too. What there IS a problem with, however, is the pacing.
The pacing can be likened to teleportation. It’s a disorganized mess of scenes abruptly changing from one to another with a calendar flashing for a few moments. No, the people behind the adaptation don’t care about pacing– instead they use the calendar as a lazy excuse to not deal with coherent pacing. You might have the main character sitting at a table talking with the group for all of around 30 seconds and then the calendar will simply flash on screen, skipping past several days and taking you into a completely different scene with almost no link or correlation with what just happened. Sometimes the days flash by so fast that you don’t even know what the hell is happening any more. Sometimes you will have a dungeon given three entire episodes dedicated to it, and another dungeon will have less than half an episode. It makes no sense.
The calendar system and the day-to-day activities worked fine in the game, but this is not the game. It does not work here and it does not fit. This is an anime, not a video game, and the people behind the anime should at least try and make sure it translates properly into a condensed, strictly visual form. You can’t simply take the game and then slap it into an anime. You need to make adjustments, you need to make changes, and you need to make sure it fits the medium that you are adapting it to. The staff behind the Persona 4 adaptation don’t understand this important philosophy. It instead feels like they’re awkwardly trying to recreate the feel of the game, but failing pretty miserably at it. I felt like I was getting a headache at times trying to follow the constant warping of the characters.
So, if you haven’t played the games, don’t expect to understand much of what is going on. You will probably be lost and confused amidst the pacing, especially when important plot points and characterization is skipped upon and barely explained. There really needed to be two seasons of anime here because it’s clear as day how rushed it is.
Unfortunately, that’s not the only problem here. Both the animation and the art style are also poorly done. There is a strange lack of color throughout the entire show, which is odd given how colorful and vibrant the game was. Each character is drawn poorly and colored in with ugly looking gradients, something that you would expect from a high school computer animation class, not a commercial product created for thousands of people. It’s all very bland and amateurish. There’s also a startling lack of animation here. One character will have their mouth flap while everybody else in the background is static and motionless, often complete with disproportional faces and odd expressions, looking stupefied. For a lack of a better term, it’s very ‘derp’. Even when there is a decent amount of animation happening on screen it’s usually done poorly with glaring mistakes in between movements, usually body parts morphing into strange shapes. Either they were lacking budget or something went horribly wrong in the production of the anime… either way, it has some of the worst art and animation I’ve seen in a mainstream anime. For all the years it took for the series to get a ‘proper’ anime adaptation, when it looks as poorly as this, well… was it really worth it?
On the plus side, the music is very nice and the remixed and new tracks are greatly appreciated. It helps to spice things up a little bit from the game, though there are problems even here since the background songs will abruptly switch from one to another with complete dissonance and shifts in tone. The music itself is good, but the application of the music is not. Instead of awkwardly switching between music all the time, the staff could have opted to just use silence or ambient noise from time to time instead, and save the music only for the scenes where it truly fits in. It should feel natural, and here it just stands out in a really unpleasant way.
Sadly, there just isn’t much good I can say for the anime. There’s a few brief moments of hilarity scattered here and there, and while it’s nice to see all the characters fully animated, the entire time I was watching it just made me want to go replay the game instead. A good adaptation wouldn’t make you want to do that. The anime is nothing more than fanservice for people who have played and enjoyed the games, and even as fanservice it fails in some pretty major areas.
Maybe other people will enjoy it more than me, but Persona 4 deserved so much more than this.
Persona 4 is one of the best video games that I have had the chance to play. Despite being highly acclaimed by critics both in Japan and in the West, Persona 4 remains somewhat of a niche title and this more or less transfers to the anime adaptation too. As a result, those who have played the game are the ones best-placed to be able to fully appreciate the anime series, but new fans will also find a very good anime thanks to Aniplex doing a commendable job with the existing game material.
The opening episodes set the story up quite well with mysterious deaths, the TV world, shadows and personas. The main character, along with another high school student, get involved through various circumstances and then strive to solve the murder cases, meanwhile gaining new friends and abilities. However, it does take a while before huge plot developments start to occur, and these are spread out unevenly over the course of the series. As a result, the pacing is off throughout certain episodes and some important revelations are only lightly touched upon. Social links are a crucial feature in Persona 4; these are several side stories which detail the interactions and bonds that form between the main character and supporting characters. Certain social links are arguably more enjoyable to watch in the anime rather than play in the game, as there’s original material which fleshes them out better. Others, however, feel rather rushed.
The game features several short anime-styled cut scenes, and the anime series is similar in terms of artwork and animation. Character designs, which have been copied from the game, are simple and sharp. This means it’s decent, but compared to certain other anime it’s probably not as visually striking. In some episodes the animation is quite inconsistent; for example, facial expressions are usually good but sometimes become lifeless. Nevertheless, the battle scenes featuring personas and shadows are mostly excellent and full of action, appropriate BGM and variation. It’s also amusing that the anime retains the look and feel of a video game; the main character’s stats appearing halfway through each episode, as well as the calendar being displayed when each day passes are just a couple of examples.
The sound, in my opinion, is the best aspect of this anime. Poor music alone can’t make-or-break a series, but that is irrelevant anyway when it comes to Persona 4 The Animation. The background music is composed by Shoji Meguro, who also composed the music for the game, and it doesn’t disappoint, especially during battle scenes. A lot of the music has been recycled from the game and rightly so; why change something that’s already superb? The OP and ED themes are new, but they’re done in the same style as the OP: sung in English but still sounding incredible. The Japanese VAs have done a good job (which is expected as they also voiced the characters in the game, and therefore have previous experience), and more often than not they suit the roles well.
There are several characters in P4, and most seem to have made the transition from game to anime. The main character, Yu Narukami, was previously a silent protagonist but now has a voice and his own personality. The latter is initially quite bland but develops as his stats and social links develop; after a few episodes he becomes central to a fair few hilarious quips and situations. The rest of the main cast are a varied but likeable bunch, and each viewer will probably have their own favourites. This anime series has an interesting method of introducing the main characters and molding their personalities, by which I mean that it’s incorporated into the Midnight Channel, one of the major plot points. Aside from Yu Narukami, some members of the main cast start out as plain high school students, but their backgrounds and insecurities are revealed as the anime progresses. As mentioned, the battles are entertaining but rather than just having persona-users as mere spectators, they feel pain when their personas are attacked, which raises the stakes and makes them more involved. Finally, the appearance of two mysterious characters (Igor and Margaret) at the beginning of each episode help to summarize which social links or bonds of friendship were developed by Yu in the previous episode.
Now, I’ll assume that the majority of Persona 4 veterans will agree that it was a brilliant, or at the very least good, game for the Playstation 2. Therefore, it has two important challenges: to satisfy those who’ve played the game, and to appeal to those who haven’t but are looking to watch a good anime series. The anime is a faithful adaptation, so anyone who liked the game can now enjoy watching it as a TV series. It’s vastly entertaining and contains mystery, action and adventure in a high school/small town setting. Admittedly, the story does take a while to get going for those unfamiliar to P4, due to questionable pacing and an initial monster-of-the-week feeling to episodes. However, get past this and you’ll find a decent series that’s slightly different to others in its genre.
If the quality found in P4 The Animation becomes the usual standard for anime adapted from games, I’d definitely watch more of them. It complements the game adequately and while it remains quite faithful the anime also includes a lot of new stuff, as well as a heavier use of comedy. These changes allow Persona 4 The Animation to be watched as a standalone series, but at the end of the day existing P4 fans should enjoy the anime more because seeing how it handles the familiar characters and story from the game is great fun; newcomers will probably score the series a bit lower. Video gamers can look forward to more of Persona 4 in future: an updated port of the original game on Playstation Vita, and a spin-off fighting game on PS3/Xbox360.
Note: An unaired episode that adapts the video game’s True Ending is scheduled to be released in August 2012.
There seems to be misconception that if an adaption is faithful enough to the source material, than it’s garanteed to be good-so long as the source material was good in the first place. This is incorrect because when a story is written for certain medium, it tends to work best in that medium because that’s what the story was designed for. Persona 4 fundamentally works best as a video-game, because that’s what it was written for. You could still make a good television series out of it, but in order for that to happen you have to actually change stuff and play around with it.
The first of these problems is the pacing. Persona 4 is a game where you live out the player-protagonist’s highschool life day by day, with trips to the TV world every few weeks. It takes about 60-80 hours to beat, and features a very slow pacing. For a 25 episode television series, they of course would need to compress the overall story.
For example, it’s not until a whole hour into the game until the player-protagonist actually gets to fight some Shadows. Since fighting Shadows is apart of the show’s premise, you of course need to include that in the pilot. Therefor, the writers had to rush through the first hour of the game and compress into a 20-minute episode, which results in an overtly fast pacing.
Secondly is the formulaic structure that comprises the majority of the plot. It roughly goes something like this: “Episode A: The heroes find out who’s on the Midnight Channel, and try to gather information on them so that they can save them from the TV world –> Episode B: The heroes go into the TV world, and rescues the victim. The victim then joins their party and helps out in the next story arc–> Episode C: Filler episode –> Repeat.”
The formula was no problem in the game, since the slow pacing made it so you barely even noticed the formula in the first place. However, since the formula goes through a mere three episodes of the anime, the quicker pacing makes it seem more repetitive.
Lastly, there’s Yu’s ability to summon multiple Persona’s, and acquire ”Social Links.” In the video-game, these are only briefly explained, but it’s no problem because it makes sense in the context of a video-game. But with The Animation, they still don’t bother to give an in-depth explanation, and it no longer makes any sense because it doesn’t have the context of a game to back it up. In the game it makes complete sense from a game play mechanic, but in The Animation it serves absolutely no purpose other than to occasionally show off some of the obtainable demons.
This is one of those shows where it starts out rather nicely; even though the first few episodes suffered from such overtly-fast pacing, they were otherwise rather enjoyable and of decent quality. After episode 4 however, the series started to steep deeper and deeper into mediocracry, and it wasn’t until episode 21 (near the end of the series) that it finally started to be of exceptional quality. This is partially due to how the series quickly starts to focus less on the mystery aspects of the plot, and more on the formulaic nature of rescuing people from the TV world and forming Social Links. In other words, barely anything interesting actually happened for a large part of the series.
When each character is introduced in their respective story-arcs, they are indeed compelling characters with a good amount of depth to them. However, as soon as they face their inner selves and are rescued from the TV world, they quickly degrade into flat one-dimensional characters. They’re all still likable to a certain extent, but not enough to make slice-of-life episodes (i.e. the filler episodes) worth watching.
The fight scenes were also underwhelming, usually feeling rushed. They barely have any tension to them, and usually ended far sooner than you would have liked them to. A few times they tried to mix up the fights by adding in some zany element, such as the male characters turning into old men, or the a hot liquid appearing on the floor that impaired the characters movements. Sometimes it worked, but other times it was just added a bit of stupid and unnecessary comedy.
If there’s anything that saves this show from being terribly mediocre, it’s the final four episodes that manage to pull a few plot twists and make the whole mystery plot actually interesting.
Overall Rating: 6/10.
For the most part this is a mediocre series, but it had enough saving qualities for me to rate this as “above average.” For a short while each character was compelling and complex, and the last four episodes were of exceptional quality.
But even so, I highly recommend you avoid this series, and just play the original video-game. I wouldn’t call the game a masterpiece or anything, but it’s certainly better than The Animation is virtually every way.
6: Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
English: Humanity Has Declined
MAL Score: 7.76
Because of the constantly declining birth rates over many decades, human civilization is all but extinct. With only a few humans remaining, they survive in this post-apocalyptic world with what was left behind by the previous generations. Earth is now dominated by fairies, tiny creatures with extremely advanced technology, an obsession with candy, and a complete disregard for human safety.
A young girl who has just finished her studies returns to her hometown and is designated as an official United Nations arbitrator. Her duty is to serve as a link between mankind and fairies, reassuring each side that both races can live together peacefully. She imagines this task will be easy enough, but controlling the disasters created by the oblivious fairies in their pursuit of candy will require a lot more effort than she initially believes.
For Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, this is answered through a colorful world where humanity is on the verge of extinction, succeeded by a race of silly, mass-producing fairies bearing a constant grin. Adorable and amusing as they are, these little creatures are anything but auspicious. Repeating tragedy in situations of utter insanity, the fairies exist as a personification of humanity’s follies, neatly told through a clever story of satire and cynicism.
Ah, our poor protagonist, as interacting with these frightening creatures serves as her occupation. For the nameless “Watashi”, being pulled into their world of games and magic is little more than a daily occurrence. Time loops, loaves of bread committing suicide by ripping themselves in half, skinned birds raining in on a church, and faceless chickens smoking cigars while quacking in the language of nonsense— all are something to be passed off with a sigh and a dry remark by the protagonist. In this world, there is no such thing as strange. Such words ring true time and time again.
But make no mistake, this is not an anime that is strange simply for the sake of being strange. All of this gives way for plenty of witty humor between the madness that occurs. Rather than being a traditional comedy and telling the jokes through the characters’ interaction with each other, much of this comes instead from the situations and the setting. It’s not about a character screaming your ears to death or bopping the other over the head when they say something stupid, but about the allusions to society and the absurdity of the situation. Far too few comedy anime attempt to break from the mold of Manzai and puns, which makes Jinrui all the more refreshing of an experience.
As a satire, it’s no surprise that Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita focuses itself as a social-commentary of sorts. There’s a surprising amount of depth here when one really pays attention. It’s cynical in tone and content, though it never feels like the viewer is being preached to and lectured. An episode may focus on consumerism, another on humanity’s overconsumption of resources, the manga industry or sociocultural evolution. Moreover, the viewer can simply choose to disregard this and enjoy it for the comedy value alone if they prefer. It can be a surreal comedy, a cynical social critique, or some amalgamation of the two. Therein lies the beauty of Jinrui’s subtle depth.
A comedy wouldn’t be much entertaining without a clever character dynamic, though, and Jinrui does not disappoint in this regard. Watashi is easily one of the most unique protagonists we have had in an anime for quite some time. Nowhere is she defined by cute, idealized traits, by fanservice or through tropes and archetypes. She is her own character; her own person. Her internal thoughts and dry, cynical dialogue with the other characters are an important force in the social critique and comedy, which often contrast and amplify the ridiculousness of the situation. It is deadpan humor at its finest.
Several other colorful and eccentric characters also mark the cast of Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita. Watashi’s grandfather, often referred to simply as “Doc”, serves as the authority figure of the series and plays an important role in Watashi’s past and beginnings as a Mediator. The silent “Assistant”, armed with his camera, also tags along with Watashi for the first half of the series.
And then, of course, are the fairies.
It wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to say that the fairies are the most exciting character in the series, if one would define them as a single entity. Seeing the fairies do inconceivable things out of the blue is nothing short of hilarious, and their attempts to behave as humans do and mimic their mistakes also makes them just as much endearing as they are unpredictable. One episode involves a handful of fairies and Watashi stranded on an island, with the fairies near-instantly multiplying themselves and building from sticks to a candy kingdom with Watashi revered as some sort of god. You never really know what the heck to expect from them.
There isn’t much in the way of characterization until the later episodes, though, which incidentally is also when the story takes off and develops. Each episode typically goes back further in time, with the last two episodes highlighting Watashi’s experiences during her elementary school days. There’s a very clear distinctness in this short story arc, notably resulting from the comedy being pushed aside and serious themes such as isolation and bullying playing a principal role. Rather than a bizarre environment typical of the series, the viewer is presented with something more realistic, albeit with a slightly macabre twist (mostly resulting from the insanity of her yandere roommate). These final two episodes succeed not only in detailing Watashi’s past, but also in fleshing out her personality through her experiences in a different environment. It’s not often that you find a main character in a comedy anime that has development and substance, but then Jinrui has never really been a series that’s satisfied with mere uniformity.
Speaking of uniformity, though, it’s a little unfortunate that the quality of the anime isn’t always consistent. A few of the episodes, while still decent, are much weaker than the rest and vastly oversimplify the topic or theme that they are trying to comment on. It occasionally bites off a bit more than it can chew, which is disappointing given that most of the episodes have already demonstrated that it’s fully capable. The last two episodes are also incredibly incongruous with the tone and theme of the anime, and though it fleshes out Watashi’s character considerably, one can’t help but wonder if it was all that necessary. Considering that her presence in the previous episodes was as a reactionary element to the bizarre situations, making the change into an empathetic and developed character seems very odd. No doubt she could have been developed instead through the quirky dialogue rather than a superfluous flashback.
The visuals also aren’t going to leave anybody in awe, but they deserve a special mention for the vibrant art style and colorful palette. It’s rare for an anime to deviate from conventions and focus on their visual appeal (aside from perhaps the cuteness of the characters), but here is a case where Jinrui again succeeds in doing something to stand out from the crowd. It’s unique and pleasant to look at, notably accentuating the surreal world and creating a contrast between the playful appearance and cynical tone.
Jinrui is certainly one of the most refreshing and unique series that anime has seen in quite some time. In a year that hasn’t seen much originality or hard-hitting series, the bizarre world of Jinrui is a very appealing experience. This is not an anime to simply be enjoyed and forgotten over the months, but is something that will no doubt linger in the minds of most for quite some time. Not necessarily for the insanity that occurs (though that is certainly a part of it), but for providing a genuinely witty comedy that brilliantly satirizes human society in an intelligent manner. It has more substance and depth than many of the more serious titles out there, though carefully remaining subtle with its themes. For a comedy anime, this is an admirable feat indeed.
Then again, I guess not everybody is going to enjoy the refined art of birds raining from the sky and mobster chickens cursing about fornication.
Humanity Has Declined is sure an interesting title for an anime, I bet it happened before, you know, suddenly our creativity starts to run to it’s fullest in order to guess what’s the anime’s storyline, the possibilities are infinite, after all, imagination has no borders, it’s like being under a spell which allows us to imagine complete different scenarios where we’re able to push our ideals, characters personalities, story developments, plot twists, in few words, everything we’d like to see, but the spell isn’t eternal, everything cease when we’re forced to open our eyes, yes, we wake up in that precise moment when we’ve obtained freedom from ignorance, guys… we’ve just watched the first episode, our once infinite possibilities are drastically reduced, prepare to say goodbye to our ideals, Reality knocked at our door, now we’ve to choose between two remaining scenarios ahead us: “pleased” or “disappointed”, the spell is broken.
In my case, still under the effect of such spell, I did imagine a lot of possibilities for this anime, I swear, it turned to be completely different from any possible scenario I could come up with and once the spell was broken, the result was unbelievable and unexpected, I was “pleased” unexpectedly wonderfully and gladly pleased I must add!, I just couldn’t believe this anime turned out to be one of the most refreshing, hilarious and, above all, original piece of animation I’ve seen. Presenting with bizarre tunes a mature theme such as “the end of humankind” and adding those spicy ingredients that only intelligent shows can handle, Satire and Irony, it manages to develop an incredible and unique flow of events succeeding completely in the difficult task of entertaining the viewer using a brilliant comedy whiteout recurring to obscenity, vulgarity, clichés or fanservice.
As the title suggests, this anime is set in a post-apocalyptic world, after a millenarian history, humans has lost it’s primacy, sadly we meet a bad end, and small creatures called ‘Fairies’ have taken over. In this new world where humans and fairies coexist, the story follows a nameless girl from one of the few human village remaining, she acts as one of the many ‘mediator’ and her job is to deeper into the crazy and bizarre fairy ecosystem in order to get in contact with them. “A simple and easy task” you may say… Oh hell it isn’t! dealing with these fairies is anything but easy, in a job when even the smallest development turns out into a flow of bizarre events, where chickens can talk, plan to take over the world, everything while smoking cigars.. ah don’t forget that your hair turns out to be alive and ‘his’ favorite weapon is a knife, in a situation like that I bet everyone would feel, at least, a bit uneasy, or to quit immediately… but our protagonist is a quite particular girl, and the scenarios we get when this girl and the fairies are together are abnormally hilarious.
The reality shown in this anime isn’t exactly a mirror of our reality, even so it’s meant in a way we can see a reflection of our own, naturally, always in bizarre tones and that’s thanks to our protagonist, she’s a pool of satirical comments and criticism, nothing is able to escape her “rage” (if we could call it so), it’s directed towards everything, the society she lives, human behavior, fairies, historical development and, sometimes, even herself. So through a spiral of comments, a critical and satirical view of the world is available to the viewers, one of the anime’s main characteristics, and it’s best feature. The story telling isn’t presented as the typical linear setting, it neither follow a certain plot; we have different arcs, composed of 1 or 2 episodes each, following a certain case involving the mediator and the fairies
A large cast of characters isn’t between the features, but that’s not a problem. Our main heroine is truly one-girl show, and we also have the fairies, which we can categorize as a single entity so we don’t need really anyone else, they alone are capable of developing a whole anime by themselves, truly impressive don’t you think?. I dare to say if there were another protagonist, he/she would be completely overshadowed by our mediator, however there is a really interesting group of minor characters appearing in each arc worth to remember and appreciate.
Let’s go to meet them:
From one hand we have a human girl, a mediator between humans and fairies, our protagonist. A first impression of her would be that of a nice and kind girl but she isn’t really what appears, don’t let her fool you!, actually she’s the type of person we could call “a fox disguised as a sheep”, and I’ll tell you why: selfish, plotter, cynical and sarcastic are the best adjectives to describe her. She finds literally a pain in the ass her job as a mediator, specially when she discovers that being a “politician” isn’t less difficult than the jobs there’re nowadays, farming/hunting jobs, anyway while she always complains about her situation she manages to do her job quite efficiently, even if she would rather have zero contact with fairies as possible, and that’s not because she dislikes them, but it’s just that each time they’re involved, the situation escalates quickly into a bizarre mess she needs to deal by herself. She has a very pessimistic view of the world, and I wouldn’t blame her neither, this leads her sarcastic and cynical comments about the events and the series development. Somehow each episode lead us to find another “dark side” of her personality, which usually shows up when she’s in a pinch. Oh.. contrary to her personality, she loves to make sweets, specially to manipulate the fairies or order to seek for some of their help in cases.
From the other hand we have the fairies, the new “humans”, they’re presented as little small dwarf like creatures, which supposedly, are possessors of an incredible knowledge and intelligence, and we could completely find a confirm of this from the gadgets they produce, which are actually fantasy borderline rather than futuristic, but their behavior could lead us to think otherwise, actually…shock turn!, they’re easily manipulated by the mediator with only the help of sweets, they’ve such a sweet tooth which leads them to do anything in order to get some. Usually it’s the fairies fault of each problem that surface in the series and that the mediator needs to deal with, they usually have an easy-going and shiny personality but this can quickly change to a down earth mood when they aren’t having fun, showing a quite pessimistic view of life which leads them to express dark and edgy comments, comparable to our protagonist’s ones. When I said that we can categorize them as a single entity I meant that there’s no really an embodiment of individual personality for each fairy, sometimes they don’t even have names, aside from the ones the girl keep as pets in her house and even she eventually forgets.
Other characters worth mentioning are Doc, the protagonist’s grandpa, one of the village’s leaders, he has a really easy-going personality but it’s also strict when the girl is goofing around whiteout doing her job. Assistant-kun, a boy who rarely speaks but surprisingly the mediator understands him only by looking at his face, he also express himself by sketching things in his block notes when looking at him isn’t enough. Y, yes.. her name is a letter, or at least that’s how she presents herself, she’s an old school friend, responsible of bringing to life again the Yaoi genre in this post-apocalyptic world… damn. There’re some more but I won’t mention, you’ll have to meet them by yourselves my dear readers, it’s a whole experience, however even if they’re really minor characters their appearance add a unique aura to the show, honorary mention should be dedicated to Bleeding Loaf, a character appeared in episode 01, after seeing that I knew this show was going to be great, believe me when I say this… it’s hilarious.
Already thought this show couldn’t get weirder?, let me tell you a pair of things more about it, hope you won’t mind. The whole atmosphere is filled by a really colorful pastel landscape and art, there’re present some particulars that add a really unique touch to the entire scenery, such as the lack of technology that can be seen in the village, the surreal buildings architecture by the fairies, people’s costumes, the logic behind the fairies gadgets, a result that’s quite pleasant to admire, things that I appreciated very much. The animation was very consistent through the series, even those lively “action” scenes were done quite nice, super eye candy animation isn’t one of its strong points, it doesn’t fit with the design anyway. OSTs aren’t that spectacular neither, but they didn’t feel off scene never, rather forgettable actually, but this show doesn’t rely too much on the background musics, but If we really have to say, there’s one that could be crafted into our minds, maybe forever, it’s the Ave Maria of the flying chickens, that scene is almost unforgettable (Episode 02), I swear, it’ll crafted into your mind.
Also there’s a particular odd characteristic, this anime doesn’t present a chronological storyline. I watched it the first time in the broadcasting and a second time in chronological order, overall the experience is the same, there’s a two episodes arc that features our mediator when she was in school, if we watch that arc as our beginning or as a flash back, it doesn’t change very much the experience, the anime’s crazy and bizarre aura allows us that. People could find it amusing and interesting, something that add an extra uniqueness to the show, but there are also people who enjoy more a chronological order, so I’ll leave the chronological order here, hoping that maybe someone find this handful, watch it as wherever you feel to.
Episodes 11 & 12 >> Episode 10 >> Episodes 07 & 08 >> Episode 09 >> Episodes 05 & 06 >> Episodes 01 & 02 >> Episode 03 & 04.
This was a truly amazing ride, I enjoyed every episode of it, the series strong point is surely its protagonist, in my personal opinion the best female character I’ve met, she’s still my 1st in my Top and I doubt someone will steal her place. Just try to visualize everything said in this review and let run your imagination to it’s fullest, because that would be the closest thing that you’ll be experiencing in this anime and, probably, won’t be enough to anticipate the events on going through the series, I guarantee it.
Humanity Has Declined es sin duda un título interesante para un anime, apuesto que ha sucedido antes, seguramente sabes, al improviso nuestra creatividad toma vuelo libremente para intentar adivinar de que se tratará la historia, las posibilidades son infinitas, después de todo, la imaginación no conoce límites, es como sí estuviéramos bajo un hechizo el cual nos permite imaginar escenarios completamente distintos dentro los cuales somos capaces de empujar nuestros ideales, la personalidades de los personajes, el desarrollo de la trama, los plot twists, en pocas palabras, todo lo que nos gustaría ver, aún así el hechizo no es eterno, todo termina cuando somos obligados a abrir los ojos, sí, despertamos en ese preciso momento cuando nos liberamos de la ignorancia, chicos… acabamos de ver el primer episodio, lo que eran una vez nuestras infinitas posibilidades se redujeron drásticamente, prepárense a decirle adiós a nuestros ideales, la Realidad nos tocó la puerta, ahora tenemos que escoger entre los dos escenarios que quedan adelante nuestro: “satisfecho” o “decepcionado”, el hechizo se ha roto.
En mi caso, estando todavía bajo el efecto de tal hechizo, pude imaginar una infinidad de posibilidades para este anime, lo puedo jurar, esto se reveló ser algo completamente diferente a los escenarios que había llegado a concluir, al romperse el hechizo, increíble e inesperado fue el resultado, estuve “satisfecho”, inesperadamente magníficamente satisfecho tengo que agregar!, este anime resultó ser una de las más refrescantes, geniales y sobretodo, originales piezas de animación que he visto. Presentando con tonos bizarros un tema maduro como lo es “la fin de la humanidad”, es capaz de dar vida a una serie única de eventos, imposibles siquiera de imaginar, y al mismo tiempo agregando aquellos ingredientes que sólo las series inteligentes pueden manejar, Sátira e Ironía, realizando la difícil misión de entretener al espectador con una brillante comedia sin recurrir a la vulgaridad, clichés o fanservice.
Como el título sugiere, este anime está ambientado en un mundo post-apocalíptico, después de una milenaria historia, los humanos perdieron su primacía, tristemente nos encontramos con un mal final, y así fue que pequeñas criaturas llamadas “Hadas” tomaron el control de la sociedad. En este nuevo mundo donde humanos y hadas coexisten, protagonista de la historia es una chica, cuyo nombre nunca viene revelado, proveniente da uno de los pocos pueblos qué quedan, ella actúa como uno de los tantos “mediadores” y su trabajo consiste en adentrarse en el loco y bizarro ecosistema de la hadas y así encontrar un modo de entrar en contacto con ellos. “Una simple y fácil tarea” podrías decir… pero joder no!, tratar con estas hadas es cualquier cosa menos fácil, en un trabajo donde hasta el más pequeño desarrollo puede desbordar en una serie de bizarros eventos, donde los pollos pueden hablar, tratar de conquistar el mundo, todo mientras fuman cigarros.. ah sin olvidar que tu cabello cobre vida y ‘su’ arma favorita es un cuchillo, apuesto al tratar con una situación así, todos al menos se sentirían un poco incómodos, o renunciarían inmediatamente… pero nuestra protagonista es una chica bastante particular, y los escenarios que se obtienen cuando esta chica y las hadas están juntos son anormalmente hilarantes.
La realidad presentada es este anime no es exactamente el espejo de la nuestra, aún así está hecha en un modo en que podamos verle el reflejo, naturalmente, siempre bajo tonos bizarros y eso es gracias a nuestra protagonista, ella es una piscina de comentarios satíricos y criticismo, nada ni nadie puede escapar de su “Ira” (si así la podríamos llamar), está dirigida hacia todo en general, la sociedad donde vive, el comportamiento humano, las hadas, los desarrollos históricos y, a veces, hasta ella misma. Así que a través de está espiral de comentarios, una visión crítica y satírica es accesible al espectador, una de las características de este anime, la mejor de todas. La narración no presenta el típico estilo linear, no sigue siquiera un hilo de trama, la serie está dividida en arcos, compuestos de 1 o 2 episodios, cada vez presentando un caso que envuelven al mediador y a las hadas.
Un largo cast de personajes no es uno de sus puntos fuertes, pero no es tampoco un problema. Nuestra chica es toda una “one-girl show”, también tenemos las hadas, las cuales podríamos catalogar como una única entidad, y de verdad no necesitamos de alguien más, ellos solos son capaces de desarrollar un anime entero, de verdad impresionante ¿no crees?. Al haber habido otro protagonista, estoy dispuesto a decir que este estaría constantemente bajo la sombra de la mediadora, de todos modos hay una grupo de personajes menores en cada arco que valen la pena recordar y apreciar.
¡Vamos a conocerlos!
De una mano tenemos a una chica humana, una mediadora entre humanos y hadas, nuestra protagonista. Bajo una primera impresión podría dar la imagen de ser una chica gentil y bondadosa pero de verdad no es lo que aparenta, ¡no dejes que te engañe!, en realidad podríamos calificar a esta chica como un lobo disfrazado de oveja, y les diré porque: egoísta, manipuladora, cínica y sarcástica son los mejores adjetivos para describirla. Ella encuentra su vocación como mediador algo fastidioso, especialmente cuando descubre que ser un diplomático no es menos fatiga comparándolo con otros trabajos que se encuentran actualmente, agricultura & caza, aún lamentándose siempre de su situación logra siempre hacer su trabajo de manera bastante eficiente, pero en lo posible, no quisiera tener muchos encuentros con las hadas, y esto no es porque las desprecie, sólo que cada vez están que involucradas en algo la situación degenera en un caos total que le toca resolver. Poseedora de una visión bastante pesimista del mundo, y yo no la culparía tampoco, la guía a expresar sus comentarios cínicos y sarcásticos sobre los eventos y el desarrollo de la serie. De algún modo cada episodio nos deja ver un lado oscuro de su personalidad, el cual usualmente se manifiesta cuando se encuentra en problemas. Ah.. en modo opuesto a su personalidad, ella adora hacer dulces, especialmente para conseguir la ayuda de las hadas en los varios casos que se presentan.
En la otra mano tenemos a las hadas, los nuevos humanos, criaturas del aspecto de mini duendes, las cuales, supuestamente, son posesores de un inmensa Inteligencia y Conocimiento, hecho que podríamos encontrar confirma viendo los objetos que producen, que rozan la Ciencia Ficción en vez de Futurístico, pero la forma de comportarse nos deja una primera impresión bastante diferente.. ¡giro inesperado de eventos! las hadas son fácilmente manipulables si hay dulces de por medio, son tan golosas que harían de todo por obtenerlos. Por lo general, todo problema que surge a lo largo de la serie, y que la mediadora tiene que lidiar, es culpa de las hadas, que usualmente tienen una personalidad buena onda y alegre, cosa que puede cambiar repentinamente de forma drástica si no se están divirtiendo, pasando a tener un humor sombrío, el cual las lleva a tener una visión bastante pesimista de la Vida, con tendencias a expresar comentarios edgy y macabros, comparables a los de la Protagonista. Cuando dije que podríamos considerarlos como una única entidad me refería a que no hay una personificación individual definida por cada hada, no tienen siquiera nombres, a excepción de los que la mediadora mantiene en su casa y que ella eventualmente olvida. (también los hace dormir en una caja a compartimientos separados para que no se reproduzcan, el uso del agua no tiene nada que ver).
Entre los otros personajes que valen la pena mencionar están: Doc, el abuelo de la protagonista, uno de los jefes del pueblo, tiene una personalidad bastante buena onda que, pero cambia rápidamente cuando se da cuenta que la chica está vagueando sin hacer su trabajo. Asistente-kun, un chico que a malas penas emite un sonido para hablar, la cosa no le crea algún problema de comunicación pues el hecho sorprendente es que la mediadora es capaz de entenderlo casi telepáticamente, y cuando ese no es el caso, lleva consigo un cuaderno, en el cual dibuja para hacerse entender mejor. Y, sí.. su nombre es una letra, o al menos es así como se presenta, ella es una vieja amiga, responsable de revivir el género del Yaoi en este mundo postapocalíptico.. joder. Se encuentran más personajes pero no los incluiré, tienen que conocerlos ustedes mismos mis queridos lectores, es toda una experiencia, de todos modos, aunque sí son personajes menores, sus apariencias le dan un aire místico al show, una mención honorífica debería ser dedicada a la Hogaza de Pan Sangrienta, un personaje del Episodio 01, después de ver eso supe que este anime iba a ser genial, créanme cuando digo esto… es hilarante.
¿Pensaste ya que esto no se podía meter más raro?, deja que te diga un par de cosas más sobre esta serie, espero no te importe. La entera atmósfera está llena de muy coloridos paisajes de tonalidad pastel, son presentes algunos particulares que agregan un toque de verdad único al entero escenario, cómo la falta de tecnología que se pueden ver en el pueblo, la arquitectura surrealista de los bizarros edificios de las hadas, el vestuario de las personas, la lógica detrás de los objetos marca “Hada”, todo esto da un resultado de verdad placentero, cosas que pude apreciar bastante. La Animación es muy consistente a lo largo de la serie, aún pasando por las escenas de “acción”, estuvieron bien hechas, animación súper “eye candy” no es uno de sus puntos fuertes, no pega siquiera con el estilo de la serie de todos modos. Las OSTs tampoco son tan espectaculares, nunca se sintieron fuera de lugar, eso sí, pero podemos decir que este anime no se apoya mucho en la música de fondo, pero algo memorable hubo.. y eso fue el Ave María de los pollos voladores, es casi inolvidable esa escena (Episodio 02), lo juro, se queda impregnada en nuestras mentes.
Está también un pequeño particular, este anime no presenta una trama de forma cronológica. Yo lo vi la primera vez en el orden de emisión y la segunda en orden cronológico, teniendo todo en cuenta, la experiencia no cambia, hay dos episodios que se enfocan en nuestra mediadora en su periodo estudiantil, si fuéramos a ver ese arco como nuestro comienzo o como un flash back, la verdad no cambia mucho, la extraña y bizarra aura del anime nos permite eso. Hay gente que puede encontrarlo interesante, algo que le da un extra de originalidad a la serie, hay también gente que disfruta mejor de un orden cronológico, es por eso que dejaré el orden cronológico aquí, esperando que le pueda servir a alguien, véanlo como más les plazca.
Episodios 11 & 12 >> Episodios 10 >> Episodios 07 & 08 >> Episodio 09 >> Episodios 05 & 06 >> Episodios 01 & 02 >> Episodios 03 & 04.
Esto fue de verdad un viaje estupendo, disfrute cada episodio, ¿el punto fuerte de la serie? seguramente su protagonista, en mi opinión personal se trata del mejor personaje femenino que he encontrado, esta en 1era posición en mi Top y dudo que alguien le robe el puesto. Traten de visualizar todo lo que se ha dicho en esta reseña y dejen correr a full motor vuestra imaginación, será lo más cercano que experimentarán en este anime, y probablemente no es suficiente para anticipar los eventos que se desarrollan a lo largo de la serie, se los puedo garantizar.
The show has some interesting atmosphere for a comedy, and it sometimes give the feeling of something more dramatic but it’s not funny enough as a comedy and not nearly interesting enough as a drama.
Character and story development is almost non existent. The main character is being slightly examined throughout the show but the characters around her are so wacky there’s hardly one relationship that is interesting to inspect. The story is episodic and episodes are separated from one another almost as being stand alone stories, which adds to the show’s undeveloped nature.
Perhaps the show wanted to examine ideas instead of a story in the common term but the episodes range from boring to bizarre. Some of the allegories I did not understand, some I found too tedious to even try and the rest I just not relate to.
I find very little reason to watch this show. Again, I praise the art and animation which are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen in anime and also some BGM tracks were catchy and likable to me, but I do not recommend this unless you are looking for a very unique and not so successful dark comedy.
5: Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna
English: Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine
Japanese: LUPIN the Third ～峰不二子という女～
MAL Score: 7.78
Many people are falling prey to a suspicious new religion. Lupin III infiltrates this group, hoping to steal the treasure their leader keeps hidden. There he lays eyes on the beautiful, bewitching woman who has the leader enthralled. This is the story of how fashionable female thief Fujiko Mine first met Lupin III, the greatest thief of his generation.
The result was to change Lupin from a cartoony comedy to a gritty Film Noir and to have the main character not be Lupin but Fujiko Mine and with a great team behind this as well, it had alot going for it but did it pay off or was Lupin just grandpa anime? This answer is most certainly Yes, this thief still get some tricks up his sleeves. They took something goofy and fun and made it something far deeper than that.
Analysis of The Themes and Ideas:
Lupin The 3rd has always been a rebellious anime but it was more literal in the sense that it’s about a thief stealing and making fools out of the police but here it’s more metaphorical. Everything about this show is contradictory to the norms of what we think anime should be like.
It’s was made in 2012 but feels like the 70s, it’s a Japanese product that has a very western look and feel to it, most anime fans are use to serial shows while this is mostly episodic, Fujiko Mine herself is a different main character than you would expect to see in an anime, you just don’t see many femme fatales as the lead in anime but the show isn’t just different for the sake of it, it all fits into the story. You might ask why don’t they modernize Lupin the 3rd and make the characters look more modern but that would be missing the point entirely, they’re not characters of our time, that’s just not who they are.
The whole show is about social outcasts and people’s idea of how you should or shouldn’t act. It’s essentially a “Be yourself” kinda story but done in the least cliche way possible.
Lupin is completely care free, he steals whatever he wants, acts however he wants, whatever Lupin does you can trust him to be him and he’s completely at peace with himself in that regard with no regrets. He’s the embodiment of what a part of the characters aspire to be: free.
Jigen’s the kinda man who probably would’ve been better off in 1940s New York/Chicago or in the wild west with his gun skills, taking sides of gangs not knowing who or what he should be fighting for if for anything.
Goemon in this anime is not just here because samurai are cool and every action anime set in modern day has to have a samurai like how he use to be, he’s a man with a code from a long line of samurai who lives in a time where nobody appreciate his kind anymore
Fujiko herself is someone trying to be free of a past, a past forced upon her by others who want her in their image. She tries to repeal that by showering herself with treasures.
The antagonists represents the societal norms in some way. Either being part of the authority or being controlled by one. Zenigata who was originally the goofy clumsy grump from the other animes has turned into a much more hard-boiled tough guy, he’s definitely different from what was done before, he’s not always likable but hearing what he says later on in the series, it comes across like maybe he use to be that grump that we all know and love but somewhere along the way, because he wanted to get to the top and be respected so much that he lost his soul and honor to get there. Oscar is completely obedient to Zenigata and is closer to what you would think an anime main character to be like: He’s young, androgynous, good looking guy and he’s gay which is even better for female anime fans but the only downside really is that he’s kinda off his bonkers. The main villains here that are the owl people are all about control, they all dress alike, talk alike and want people to dress, act, and think how they want them to, everything about them is very orderly, they are everything our main characters hate
Much like Cowboy Bebop, this is an episodic series with an overarching story-line and much like Cowboy Bebop, the stand alone episodes play into the themes of the overarching story-line. Almost every episode is about someone trying to control the fate of others or someone trying to break free and stand up for what they want. I also love that there’s not a whole lot of action, there’s action certainly but there’s only action when there needs to be. It’s a show that relies on good storytelling and amazing atmosphere to keep you hooked than cheap thrills. Not every episode is a homerun but the overall package is fantastic.
Like I’ve said the show is done in a much more Film Noir way than in as other Lupin animes (that were more like Oceans 11 meets Spy vs Spy) with lots of deep blacks, people falling in and out of love, death, corruption, and of course the classic Femme Fatale, it’s all great stuff. Frank Miller wishes he could do a Film Noir about sexuality and visuals as good as this
Some have complained about alot of the nudity in this show and that is something to keep in mind when you watch this, I don’t mind because that’s just part of Fujiko’s character. She uses sex as a weapon and really she seems to feel more alive and like her true self when she’s nude than when she’s in clothes which again that would play a big part of the idea of not being what other people think you should be. You might think that I’m looking for excuses to defend fanservice but consider that the writer and director of this anime are both women, I think it’s safe to say that there’s more to it than that especially since the director Sayo Yamamoto is the same woman who gave us Michiko To Hatchin, it’s clear from that alone that she knows how to do female characters (she is a woman after all).
If there was one complaint I would have with the story (and it’s a minor one) is that it does become a little hard to fellow towards the ending, there’s alot of explaining going on and it can be hard to keep track of especially if you’re watching it with subtitles but aside from that I have no real problems with the story and I do love the atmosphere and feel of the last 3 or so episodes, it has a very Pierrot Le Fou from Cowboy Bebop vibe to the whole thing.
Visuals and Animation: 10
The animation I will admit isn’t always the best. Sometimes it looks great but there are moments where it can be pretty stiff but to me, you can forgive alot in the animation department (which isn’t even that bad anyway) if you have the art to back it up and man that’s where the visuals truly stand out. One thing I think makes Sayo Yamamoto stand out is that unlike other anime directors that have made western style animes, she doesn’t seem to take her inspirations from much American source material where as alot of western style anime have a very American feel to them. She doesn’t do that, Michiko To Hatchin had a very City of God brazialian feel to it and A Woman Called Fujiko Mine has much more European feel than American.
That’s the best way I can describe to you the imagery of this show without just plain showing you because my god this is seriously one of the most beautiful looking animes I’ve ever seen. I’ve said Film Noir alot but even that doesn’t quite sum up up how this show looks, you can take a snap shot of almost any scene in this anime display it in an art museum, it’s just that great to look it, it’s very abstract. If the music in Cowboy Bebop is considered a character in that show than that same would have to go with the art of this show. Much like the show itself, the art style feels very familiar but is very fresh at the same time.
I’ve dived into what these characters are about but how are their personalities themselves? It’s Lupin The 3rd, in other words I love these characters just like I’ve always have.
Lupin is as funny, clever, and is as much of a jack ass as he always is and I love him for it.
Jigen is just as bad ass as ever if not more so here and continues to be my favorite character of the entire franchise.
Goemon is done best here than I’ve ever seen him done before, like I said before there wasn’t much to him in other entries of the franchise outside of just being a bad ass samurai, here there’s alot more to him than that.
Fujiko makes a good anti hero, she’s certainly not boring and thankfully she never does that “woe is me, feel sorry for me” crap. She never becomes a flat out good person but there’s a tiny part of her that thinks maybe she could but it just never works out that way, I like characters like that.
This Zenigata like I said certainly an interesting take on the character, I do miss the old one because he was funny and I felt sorry for him but that Zenigata wouldn’t have worked here in this gritty stylized crime anime and Oscar… Oscar’s just a creep, sure there’s an episode where they get into his back story but the conclusion to all that makes me pity him more than feel sorry for him.
Other than Oscar, they’re classic Lupin characters with a twist. There’s a reason why these characters have been around for so long and why people continue to cosplay as them to this day cause they’re just so damn likeable and cool
It seems to me that any anime with an western flare to it is gonna sound better in English (Anything Shinchiro Watanabe, Trigun, Baccano!, Black Lagoon, Panty and Stocking, Hellsing Ultimate) and here is no exception because while the Japanese version is good. The funimation dub is fantastic and everyone is cast perfected (Also watching it dubbed makes the ending easier to fellow). Ever since the Pioneer dub of Lupin iii Part 2 Michelle Ruff has proven to me that she is Fujiko and while I miss Tony Oliver especially when Fujiko and Lupin were talking, Sonny Strait plays a great Lupin in his own right. Christopher Sabat when he did Jigen in the past I felt sounded too forced with his tough guy voice but he had finally perfected the character, he gives a smoothness to the role while still sounding like a bad ass and Mike McFarland does a good job as Goemon, keeping his voice stoic without being a bore. Richard Epcar does a great job with giving just the right tone with making Zenigata sound tough, he really does sound like he could stand up to guys like Humphrey Bogart or Robert Mitchum (although I found it so weird that Richard has played Jigen, Goemon, and now Zenigata. How odd is that to have played have of the Lupin The Third cast now?)
The music was produced by Shinichiro Watanabe and composed by Naruyoshi Kikuchi and while not quite as memorable as Yuji Ohno’s music. It certainly does sound cool and it gets the job done, makes you feel like you’re watching a slick but gritty crime movie. One of my favorite pieces isn’t really music, it plays during a flashback of Fujiko’s child hood and it’s these weird electronic sounds, it’s very unsettling
It’s been a while since I’ve seen not only an anime with hard boiled film noir elements but it’s been a while since I’ve seen anything Lupin this good since Episode 0: First Contact and the 2nd Tv series of Lupin The 3rd. This was exactly what the series needed. It’s quite ironic that a reboot (for lack of a better word) of such an old franchise is one of the freshest animes I’ve seen in a long time. Sure, I’ve mentioned some problems here and there but they’re so minor that who cares anyway and yeah this certainly isn’t going to appeal to everyone (Hell, it even took me a little while for this anime to grown on me) but that just makes it more special to me. I don’t want something to appeal to everyone, you try doing that and you appeal to nobody. You gotta have you mind set and tell the story you wanna tell and that’s exactly what they did here. I can’t give this more than the overall rating I’m about to give it
While the first half of this series is standard Lupin III fare, while more prominently focused on Fujiko, the highlight for the series for me comes in the form of its second half which features a more linear storyline when said mysterious organization comes into play. The group have their identities concealed in bird masks and apparently have some type of mysterious past connection with Fujiko. This particular story element is quite effective in messing with one’s perceptions of what you assume is going on with Lupin and his group, especially as more details on the organization’s illicit activities come to light and come to learn that not all is what it would seem on the surface. I won’t spoil the major elements of this plot, but all I will say is that the ending comes across as quite the surprising shocker yet makes sense once you put together the elements of the organization revealed from earlier episodes. The only rough element to this new storyline was the unclear resolution of the fates of Zenigata and Oscar when they become entangled in the mess involving the organization.
The animation style to The Woman Called Fujiko Mine sticks out quite a bit as well compared to past Lupin III works. Anyone who seen Redline may notice similarities in the drawing styles used for scenery and character designs here in this series. This isn’t a coincidence as two of the major figures behind making Redline, Sayo Yamamoto and Takeshi Koike, contribute their talents in the unique animation style used for The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. Scenery and character designs are drawn with a pastel-like feel as color tones are quite subdued and there is frequent use of pattern-like designs used to blend in with a number of scenery and character designs. The character designs are well-detailed and the memorable designs of Lupin characters are retained here, all the way down to Lupin’s green dress coat worn during the original first series from the early 1970s. Action scenes are well-animated featuring fluid movement in many instances and have great choreography coming from gunplay and even the swordplay used by Goemon.
Overall, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine made for perhaps the best offering I’ve seen from the Lupin III franchise thus far. It still retains the basic elements of the franchise’s premise and characters while creating a more mature series in its prominent focus on Fujiko’s exploits and its dark, mind-bending second half when focusing on Fujiko’s connections with the mentioned organization. The series certainly won’t be for everyone if they are expecting the typical comical antics of the Lupin III franchise. But if you are looking for something different with the franchise, The Woman Named Fujiko Mine should be a worthwhile gem for you.
On the other hand, it has a messy and pretentious story that kinda killed the “mystique appeal” of Fujiko Mine, added some unnecessary characters and is cluttered with bad writing by one of the biggest hacks in anime (And yes, i’m talking about Mari Okada).
The story of this Lupin III series is all about Fujiko Mine, and how she became to be that one hot chick you see in every Lupin III anime from the past 4 decades. You also see her trying to rob things and steal stuff but who cares.
It’s basically Lupin III meets “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” with a sprinkle of Black Rock Shooter.
The story is quite a mess. The first 5 episodes have that sense of humour of the typical Lupin III story. And that’s fine.
But then, they just have to add that fucking annoying and unnecessary “DEEP” crap and turn Fujiko into an Asuka clone. And i’m not talking of making Fujiko a tsundere. I’m talking about them turning Fujiko into a post-mental breakdown suffering of a woman. And yes, i hated that part. Why?
Because it’s unnecessary and pretty killed the character for me. Fujiko was made to be a mysterious figure of lust and envy, and to add something that’s the opposite of the two pretty much killed that. I don’t want to know about her past. I want to see her as the sex bomb figure of tension that she is.
Also, the worst thing about the story are the flashbacks of Fujiko’s childhood. It’s messy and gives away nothing that would make understand her. It’s just padding at its worst and i hated that.
I understand the need to go dark. Hell, i loved Casino Royale and Batman Begins for offering a gritty take on their respective franchises. But you don’t make it to a point where you kill the appeal of the character. It’s one reason the Star Wars Prequels don’t work. You don’t try and be edgy to the point of butchering what makes the characters likable.
And all of these can pretty much be blamed on Mari Okada. You can tell that all the “Deep & Dark” flashback trauma crap is handled by her. Hell, episode 11 has her shit all over it. And i fucking hated it. It reminds me of everything i hated about Black Rock Shooter. Who gave this woman more work? We kicked Shyamalan hard for butchering The Last Airbender and Akiva Goldman got cockpunched for Batman & Robin, and yet she’s getting away with this?
And besides Fujiko III, you see the return of the well-loved Arsene Lupin, the samurai wonder Goemon, the sharp-eyed Jugem and the bumbling Interpol agent Zenigata. And they added another main character named Oscar who’s Zenigata’s assistant and obviously gay for the Inspector. And to me, he’s pretty pointless because he brings nothing to the story, and he makes me ask “Is this franchise really desperate of a new following that they need to add a character made for a fujoshi fanbse?” Seriously, he’s just there for the fabulous.
But those are the bad parts, so now, here’s the good parts!
The art is excellent.It feels like moving palettes rather than animation and has an excellent colour scheme of sorts. It’s clearly influenced by Western animation and it’s more colourful than the other stories in Lupin III, which is a contrast to the dark storyline.
The sound’s nice. In terms of music, it’s clearly the jazzy orchestra type of music you’d expect from a Shinichi Watanabe production. It’s nice and i enjoyed the score as it reminds me of music by Anton Karas. I’m surprised that the score wasn’t composed by Yoko Kanno, because it feels like one. And thus, i think the composer did an excellent creating a score influenced by Yoko Kanno.
And the voice acting’s pretty nice as you have the original seiyuus for Lupin and Jigen(Kanichi Kurita and Kiyoshi Kobayashi), whereas Fujiko is now voiced by the talented Miyuki Sawashiro while Goemon is voiced by the excellent Daisuke Namikawa. The legendary Kouichi Yamadera now voices Zenigata and Oscar is voiced by Yuki Kaji. All of them provides excellent voice acting and i’m impressed the most by Sawashiro as she is able to weigh in and sound as good as her predecessor, Eiko Masuyama.
All of these good points provide a counter-balance to the ridiculously terrible storyline. You have all of these elements of music and animation that brings more to the anime than the story itself. And surprisingly, the Lupin and Jigen scenes managed to be more enjoyable than the Fujiko scene and that is also a good point about this series.
Overall, Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna is a conflicted series with a flawed story, but makes up for it with the music, animation and giving space to Lupin, Jigen and Goemon. If you’re a Lupin III fan and its core, then you will like this. But if you haven’t seen any of the Lupin III series before, then go watch the original series alongside Castle of Cagliostro and maybe one of the other OVAs like Fujiko’s Unlucky Days which is also similar to this anime.
And to end this review, here’s Tom Jones singing It’s not Unusual, because i really love Tom Jones:
MAL Score: 7.83
Brought up in a conflict-ridden environment, child soldier Jonathan “Jonah” Mar hates weapons and those who deal them. But when Koko Hekmatyar, an international arms dealer, takes on Jonah as one of her bodyguards, he has little choice but to take up arms. Along with Koko’s other bodyguards, composed mostly of former special-ops soldiers, Jonah is now tasked with protecting Koko and her overly idealistic goal of world peace from the countless dangers that come from her line of work.
Jormungand follows Koko, Jonah, and the rest of crew as they travel the world selling weapons under the international shipping company HCLI. As Koko’s work is illegal under international law, she is forced to constantly sidestep both local and international authorities while doing business with armies, private militaries, and militias. With the CIA always hot on her trail, and assassins around every corner, Jonah and the crew must guard Koko and her dream of world peace with their lives or die trying.
There is much to talk about guns, wars, arm dealers, and child soldiers these days. For those who are into the fast action type, the type of series involving a kickass music, or a type of series involving a main protagonist being loco, or blood being splattered all over the screen, then this series is definitely something to keep an eye on.
According to Norse Mythology, Jörmungandr (or more often known as Jormungand) is known as the Midgard Serpent or the World Serpent. And like a serpent, the main character is cunning as expected of an arms dealer. For without intelligence and leadership, the crew would not be what they’ve become of today.
Jormungand is based off the manga of the same name starring Koko Hekmatyar, a young arms dealer who sells weapons under HCLI, a weapons corporation. She is badass, she is independent, she is cunning, she is fun, and she is of course loco. With her is the child soldier, sidekick, bodyguard, and brother all the same time named Jonah (Jonathan Mar). He is of the West Asian origin and after being orphaned swears to get vengeance. Yet the same time, with his acquittance of Koko and the crew, his sentiment seems to have cooled down and even has a warmer side to him that some of us may see as cute or peculiar.
[ – Story – ]
To be honest, this is the type of show that can make any fan of action genre glued to the screen with its blood packed spilling, rapid violence, and gun dominance at first glance. The first episodes kicks off already with some full throttle road war and those bullets fly across all over the screen. It wastes little time in conveying the hazardous occupation and brutality of being an arms dealer. At the same time, it also finds ways to make the series relaxing through some heartwarming moments and comedic scenes.
The story is set in the modern eras so if you’re looking for mecha action, futuristic weaponry, or of the historical theme, then you’re looking at the wrong place. Fear not though as the story is easy to understand and not one of those mindfucks that leaves the viewers going “HUH?” Speaking of stories, Jormungand has a smooth pace focusing on the crew’s teamwork and abilities to accomplish tasks. Each arc focuses on professionalism and it’s up to Koko and her crew to work together in the end to deliver the result. Although somewhat one-sided and predictable, the story is still smooth and to the adult-oriented audience, can be appealing.
[ – Characters – ]
One of the aspect that engineers this series is the colorful cast of characters. Koko Hekmatyar assumes the role of the female protagonist who is amusing, entertaining, and dramatic to watch. Despite the real dangers of her occupation, she makes fun out of most it and can literally be seen as a troll at occasions. Her character brightens up the gloom and doom of the crew and gives her job a new light that some future arm dealers may find appealing or maybe strange. On the other hand, there is Jonah, the child recruit soldier. Like the opposite side of a coin, he has a more stoic mind and says things that can sometimes be interpreted blunt, sarcastic, or too brutally honest. Yet he is an interesting character if we look at him more carefully for his ability to balance out the seriousness and fun mood of the story and her crew.
Speaking of the crew, there are some of other prominent characters to look at. One of them is the one eyed ripped girl, Valmet. Her priceless expressions throughout the episodes towards Koko are those of a puppy like crush and silly to watch. Yet behind that eye lies a dark past, one which changed her life forever and made her the person that she is today. There are some others worth to mention namely Lehm that resumes the second in command of the crew, Kasper Hekmatyar (Koko’s elder brother), and Chinatsu from one of the earlier episodes. While all of them have contrasting personalities, it is easy to see that they share the theme of having a dark past whether playing the role of the good or bad player.
It is because of these themes and histories, the crew and the characters of this series are quite unique in its aspects.
[ – Animation/Art – ]
Like Steins; Gate, Jormungand is handled by White Fox. They are a relatively new anime studio who are more into the traditional background. At first glance, that’s nothing worth to talk about. Yet, if we look carefully, we can clearly see that the studio creates the realism of the the story and into its characters. The weapons, the military backgrounds, the settings, the outfits, the visuals. It retains its ability to create the atmosphere. Koko’s mischievous expressions on her loco face shows it all through the lashes and those slippery grins like a serpentine. That can also be said to the same for her bodyguard, sidekick, and friend, Jonah.
The series also tries to bring out humor through some of the more comic scenes with the black ringed eyes in the form of priceless expressions. While not too appealing, it brings out the comedy side of the series and shows that while the job of being an arm dealer is dangerous, it can also be fun and to make most of it.
[ – Sound – ]
I’ll say this once and once only. The music and soundtrack of this series is pure epic. The music director behind the scene (Taku Iwasaki) puts the e into epic for its beats and techno trance like music that will make you wish you’re part of the series. (unless you fear of getting shot that is)
The OP song, “Borderland” sung by Mami Kawada is also quite catchy. Known for her work from the popular Shana franchise and the Toaru Majutsu no Index series, she brings her latest work to life through this song. All in all for nothing else of a reason to watch this show, the soundtrack of the series is one of them
[ – Enjoyment – ]
Like I said before, this series is packed with nonstop action in rapid sequences. There’s not much romance to expect out of this show but who cares when we have Koko and her alpha crew? There’s also some little fan-service here and there with the ripped Valmet, the mass volumes of blood spilled on an episode basis, and of course, those kickass music that can get you start watching the show in a heartbeat. The action does occasionally get repetitive and the gore seems to be almost forced on. But if we look carefully, the series also has the more emotionally side to it (especially involving Valmet) in some of the later battles. To combine action and emotion, that is enjoyment.
Despite all the praise, this series does have flaws. After all, without flaws, this show would be in MAL’s top 100 by now. Yet, it’s not. That’s because it does have flaws.
One of the major problems I’d say would be the forced action that is a bit driven too much and lack of more character development. For example, I’d love to see some more history background besides Valmet, Koko, and Jonah. Maybe that guy with the sniper that has the eye of a hawk, or maybe Schokolade, the blonde informant that has a peculiar and joyful personality. Additionally, the character designs of the show are a bit blend and seems somewhat dirty. After watching Koko and her crew grin on a daily basis, in the OP, on missions, etc, it gets repetitive. But even with these flaws, this series is enjoyable, at least in the action and seinen department. But even if you don’t meet the age demographic, this show can be watched for some guilty pleasure involving Koko’s alpha crew and their exchanges. It’s fun, it’s bloody, it’s entertainment, and it’s in your face. All in all, this series is great to watch in the middle of the week especially after a busy week of school or work even with all the violence.
Just remember though in real life that violence is not the answer to everything, well except in Jormungand.
Koko Hekmatyar is an unique person, one of those people who keep equlibrium in the world, setting the delicate balance between right or wrong. As a guns merchant she encounters many chaotic situations where the line between right or wrong is easily crossed, however that doesn’t stop her, as she stands collected in the face of perils. As every person working in this line of business, she gathers a team of people who are her subordinates. As you might have guessed, they are not ordinary people, but experienced soldiers who returned alive from the pits of hell. They choose to follow the bright light that Koko emits, being attracted by her charm and wisdom, talents which make her a natural leader.
As her new subordinate, she recruits Jonah, a boy who fought as a child soldier in the Middle East. Jonah meets her team and is taken by surprise by all the new information he finds out about the world outside the war zone, since he only knew who to shoot a gun and fight. Koko gives Jonah a chance to be free and discover the world in his travels. However, Koko doesn’t babysitt him, making him a new addition to her team, and giving him the role of protecting her in her gun transactions with people of the underworld.
The story follows the journey of Koko and her team to various countries and continents where Koko sells different guns and war machinery. As expected, the transactions don’t always go so well, thus making Koko’s team enagage in badass combat to protect her when the situation gets out of hand. It does remind of Black Lagoon, but this show stands on its own, the story being engaging and interesting enough to set itself apart. However, it does have flaws, the story not being coherent at times in the transition between episodes as well as having some characters’s backgrounds unexplained.
The art is appealing, especially the designs of Jonah and Koko. The animation is constantly good, and the fighting scenes are engaging and highly-elaborated. I find the guns designs pretty imaginative as well as the various combat styles.
The music in this anime is really stunning, from the up-beat rap music to the classic music played in the background and the music in various languages that suits the multi-cutural backgrounds of the characters. One of my favorites songs from this anime is in portuguese, its beauty touching the strings of your heart.
At first Jonah clearly states that even if he’s talented with shooting guns and killing people with them, he hates guns and those who sell them. However, he soon discovers that Koko is not your usual cold-hearted, insensitive gun merchant, but follows her own code of morals, even if it at times ambiguous. For example, she doesn’t accept payment in drugs, and it’s been shown that she admires determination and bravery even in her enemies. The way she chose her followers is the best example. For instance, her bodyguard and driver, Ugo, was a member of the mafia when Koko ordered for them to be killed when they wanted to pay her in drugs, leaving Ugo the only survivor. When asked why did she leave Ugo alive, she replyed that she liked the fact that Ugo looked away in disapproval when the mafia showed the drugs.
Koko is a force of nature, one of those rare people who can become anything they wished to be. Instead, Koko chose to be part of the dangerous underworld. She was born at sea, thus not having a place where she belongs, but because of that she feels unbounded, being able to feel freedom at another level. In norse mythology, Jormungand is called the “World Serpent” because he grew so large that he could surround the world and grasp its own tail. That may be a metaphor for Koko, who has the ability to feel free everywhere she goes in the world, thus by following her, she gives other people who strive for freedom, the chance of feeling eliberated.
We also meet her other subordinates which are people who survived wars and conflicts. There is Lehm, the always calm and collected veteran soldier and mercenary who is very compelling as a character. There is also Valmet, a skilled war combatant from Finland who still pursues revenge for her murdered comrades. As Koko once stated : “She’s her teacher, her friend and more than that”.Another member of Koko’s team consists of Lutz, who serves at times the role of a comic relief, being shot in the ass several times, however showing superior skill as a sniper.
The character of Jonah is very interesting to watch as he develops, at the beginning showing a strong loathe of guns and the criminal world, after joining Koko’s team he finds that things aren’t as black and white as he initially had thought, people like Mao, for example, who have a family and are good-natured individuals, but still have to kill because of their job.
However, there are problems with the characters as well. The portrayal of the characters as being the “good guys” is highly unrealistic, because of the profession they have. Seeing a sympathetic law-breaker is acceptable in anime format, though. There are also interesting supporting characters but they aren’t developed, which is quite a pity. I would also have liked to see more of Jonah’s experiences as a child soldier and how they affected him. That would have been very interesting for me to watch, but unfortunately, it was totally discarded.
I enjoyed this anime, I recommend it to those who watched Black Lagoon as well as those who like action scenes and imaginative combat styles.
The story was great. It shows the reality of what an arms dealer does. I have known some in real life. And they are indeed such kinds of persons who are in this anime. They hire people to defend them, they fuel wars, they compete with other dealers, they kill their enemies, they partner with those they can’t handle and most of all they are good in economics (supply and demand lol). It was also somehow realistic in the sense that quantum computing could be dangerous. In fact, such kinds of technologies are existing right now but are currently suppressed or controlled by the governments. To wrap up, the story is outstanding as it never fails to show how reality looks in this kind of game(arms-dealing).
The art is also good.. Not too showy unlike other military genres which have too much explosions and crap that hurts the eye.. The fight scenes are naturally shown and are quite enjoyable.. it’s pretty much like how real gunfights look.
The characters are also very cool. Each member has different personalities that were nicely portrayed in the show. Not to mention that the show was also able to show most of the stories of each member (their pasts and their struggles). The anime never failed to describe each of them.
Overall, I give this one a 10. This is one of the best animes that I have ever watched and this is the very first time that I have given myself a chance to create a positive review here in MAL for this anime really deserved it.. 🙂
3: Jormungand: Perfect Order
English: Jormungand Season 2: Perfect Order
Japanese: ヨルムンガンド PERFECT ORDER
MAL Score: 7.92
Still in pursuit of her ambitious goal, ingenious arms dealer Koko Hekmatyar, inexpressive child soldier Jonathan “Jonah” Mar, and the rest of their squad continue their mercenary activities. From professional assassins to private militaries, the group’s work constantly puts them in the face of danger.
But internal conflicts soon arise after Renato “R” Socci, one of Koko’s bodyguards, is revealed to be an undercover agent for “Operation Undershaft”—a plan devised by the CIA to infiltrate HCLI and exploit Koko as a tool. Shocked by his betrayal, Koko’s leadership is needed now more than ever to rally her squad and rebuild their foundation of trust before they are torn apart.
Jormungand: Perfect Order follows Koko and the rest of her crew as they take on persistent adversaries, overcome internal struggles, and make Koko’s vision of world peace a reality—where everything is in perfect order.
Jormungand: Perfect Order is the direct sequel of the original series, Jormungand that debuted a few month after its original ending. The sequel is written by the same author Keitaro Takahashi with White Fox handling its animation and Geneon doing the production. The series continues off from its prequel and follows Koko Hekmatyar along with her fellow crew including Jonah.
To refresh some things, Koko still plays her role as a young arms dealer. She retains her independent personality that can be seen as playful, cunning, deceptive, but at the same time also ruthless when the events calls for it. Her profession remains dangerous as it’s not only involves dealing with other armed individuals but the fact that it’s technical illegal under normal jurisdictions. As such, Koko often comes in terms with conflict where it’s least expected. Luckily for her though is her crew and Jonah who are always by her side to support her work.
The series continues to follow a journey type of scenario. In this sequel though, the story enhances itself with its development especially in the latter half regarding the Jormungand project. But besides that, other supporting characters gets highlights even from the very beginning such as Hex and R. In fact, this focus on more supporting characters works out for the better as we can see more development from others besides just Koko and Jonah. Unfortunately though, their times are short due to the length of the series. Yet, their moments in the series captured their highlights well and expresses just how dangerous the world of Jormungand can be.
The dynamic duo of Koko and Jonah once again becomes entertaining to watch. At first, it’s lighthearted and comedic with the usual raccoon-like expressions from both characters. Later on though, we get a bit more serious as Koko reveals her plan for world peace but not without a cost. This cost will result in both physical and emotional pain as Jonah views Koko’s ways of executing her actions as a bit more immoral. She is an arms dealer who deals with weapons that causes destruction. Yet at the same time, she wishes to end destruction to the world and bring world peace. This all comes at a cost.
Like its original series, Jormungand: Perfect Order does pack the action including those road war and full throttle shootouts. Most of happens quite fast and captures the violence of what being an arms dealer is all about because it’s a dangerous profession. As result, expect blood being spilled, alliances shattered, and even deaths. At times however, the series slows with what almost seems like fillers such as the episode with Dr. Miami. But the story of this sequel progresses well with its pacing. Despite some of the slow movements, it gets to the point especially later on when Koko’s brother, Kasper gets involved with the crew. He is the man that Jonah loathes because of what happened to his past. Yet in this season, a strange alliance later forms between them that shows how far some characters have come in the series. Let’s not also forget Chequita who represents herself as one of the most proficient bodyguards known in HCLI with her skills in handling armed weaponry.
The business of trading weapons are still present but seems to rather diminish a bit in this sequel. Luckily, it retains its realism and that being the modern times and military gadgets. The fighter planes, anti-aircraft weaponry, and rockets are all realistic and present in today’s real world. Similarly, the characters themselves are depicted with realism. The way they are dressed for their profession and their skills of handling various weaponry are often presented in the series. As such, their skills are protrayed as well in handling such weapons with various skills levels between each crew member. To add on the fun part of the mix are the priceless expressions in the form of those grins, smiles, and laughs curtsey of Koko with her crew.
The series also continues to the idea of teamwork and how it is crucial for its members to cooperate in order to succeed in missions. In the latter half of the series, Jonah is presented with a situation where the idea presented to him isn’t what he likes to hear. As such, a strain sorts is put between him and Koko. It is a bit sad to watch given everything we’ve seen between the likeable duo especially since the bond is not romance but as loving partners.
In terms of artwork, I would say that White Fox does it again and that means a clear job on the animation department. As mentioned before, the series takes place in modern times and everything is drawn to match its themes. The characters’ and their outfits fits within their professions coupled with their figures that show why they are part of the crew. Although it looks a bit dirty at times, it works out right and portrays Jormungand: PO at its finest. I appreciate it and White Fox deserves some praise.
The soundtrack is once again well performed by the choreographer of the series, Taku Iwasaki. He has already done work in related fields such as Gurren Lagann, R.O.D. The TV, and Soul Eater. All of these series have in common with the soundtrack involving fast paced action during intense scenes. The rap beatings and electronic blues are what makes Jormungand: Perfect Order intense. It’s well done. The opening song, “UNDER/SHAFT” by Maon Kurosaki is also well orchestrated that demonstrates the theme of Jormungand just like season 1. Oh and let’s not forget the previews of each episode that fans adore. Her name is Koko, she is Loco, I said oh no~
Ultimately, Jormungand: Perfect Order is a nice series which deserves a score of 8. Although slow at times, it makes it up with its insightful character cast where even supporting characters get their own spotlights. The ability to fuse together action and comedy in a series such as this is difficult but the directors did their jobs right this time around. It’s fun to watch despite the fact that we realize how dangerous of being an arms dealer is all about. All in all, Jormungand: Perfect Order is by no means a perfect series but it is one hell of a ride.
The crazy hijinks and bold plans with Koko and company continue in the sequel to Jormungand. How does the second coming of Jormungand fare? I’m here to tell you that it’s better this time around. How do you improve Jormungand’s formula, you ask? You make it more focused. Spoilers for the first season finale below.
So, Koko and her friends are still roaming the world and everything is swell. Oh wait, no it’s not. The story takes place right after the end of the previous one. R is a double agent who is spying on Koko for the CIA; Hex, a woman from Kokos past, is here for blood; All this while Operation Undershaft is trying to figure out what the hell Koko is trying to do. So let’s look at the formula set for the previous season and see it it still is in place here.
1. The crew arrives.
2. Stuff goes awry and they need a way out / need to out-think their opponents / straight up kill dudes.
3. Mission completed and on to next arc.
Yep. Although this time around the arcs are longer and more focused on storytelling rather than outmanoeuvring and killing enemies.
Here’s a run-down on the cast if you need to freshen your memory.
Koko Hekmatyar: Arms dealer, handling business mainly in Europe and Africa. Very charismatic and beautiful. Usually very energetic and behaving sometimes like a child, she has a ruthless interior and on multiple occasions called a monster. Although usually cool with a smile on her lips, Koko has one of the most intimidating glares in anime.
Jonah: Child soldier. His parents were killed in an air-strike and he became a child soldier shortly after. Has a strong hate for weapons, but still works for Koko, often serving as her bodyguard. He shows more understanding than expected from a child.
Lehm: Ex-Delta Force operator. Used to be active in Somalia. Second in command of Koko’s crew. Veteran mercenary who takes charge when armed conflict arises. Used to work for Koko’s father. Very versatile in weapon use, ranging from long-distance sniping to close quarters combat.
Valmet: Ex-Major serving for UN forces in Africa. Her unit got slaughtered by Chen Guoming and she lost an eye in the attack. Since then, she suffers from anxiety whenever she sets foot in Africa. Very proficient with knives and pistols. She is also in love with Koko, something which often is used as comedic relief.
Then there are the rest of the cast, that aren’t given much other than support roles most of the time. Technically only Koko and Jonah are the only real main characters, but Valmet and Lehm are given much more time on screen than the other side characters, so they sort of sneak into main roles.
Mao: One of the regular grunts of the group. Was discharged after a training exercise went awry. Picked up by shortly after. The only one of the group to have a family (as in wife + kids). He lied to them in order to leave. Teaches science to Jonah between missions.
R: Former Italian intelligence officer. Revealed in the last episode of the former season to be a mole for the CIA.
Ugo: Former Mafia driver and enforcer. Spared by Koko when his family was destroyed. A behemoth of a man, he possesses immense strength. The crew’s driver when needing a getaway.
Lutz: Former police sniper, part of a counter-terrorist unit. Very hesitant to kill young targets.
Tojo: Previous Japanese black-ops operative, working in places like Cuba. In charge of teaching Jonah maths between missions.
Wilee: Former explosives expert and ex-lieutenant of the 20th Engineer Brigade of the XVIII Airborne Corps of the US Army. Assigned to give Jonah English lessons between missions. Is the only member aside Koko to be black-listed by the FBI.
The perils of having a huge cast like this is just as apparent in the second season as it was in the first one, but the show does a better job at dealing out screen-time this time around and you quickly get a good vibe where everyone’s at. It’s still the same colourful cast with no subs, so if you liked them in the first season, there’s more goodness here. The opening arc, dealing with R being a double agent and Hex coming after Koko is without a doubt the series’ strongest, with some strong, emotional moments. It sets up a season that is in its entirety better than its predecessor. The stakes are raised for Koko and her compatriots. Nobody’s safe in this crazy world.
The second season takes a step back from the group dynamic at times and focuses solely on Jonah and Koko. They’re interesting contrasts. Koko is the daughter of a shipping magnate and presumably had a very peaceful, or at least pampered life as she grew up. Jonah meanwhile, grew up in a war-zone and had his parents blown up by a bomber, coincidentally sold by Koko’s brother, Kasper. Jonah hates weapons with all his being, and Koko sells them for a living. The two make a fantastic leading duo and represent the tension and morals towards the end of a magnificent series.
The morality of the characters are brought froward into the centre this time around, and when Koko reveals her master plan that she’s been working on for a long time, it’s surprising it wasn’t brought up earlier. I can understand the reason why it’s hidden for so long, but I don’t agree with the choice. It would have been interesting to have it in the open for longer and see how it affected the supporting characters.
So, the story. It’s better, considering there’s actually a story this time. From the first episode to the last, every episode is connected to Koko’s goal, which is revealed a bit into the season. The series sheds its episodic skin, and so the arcs are more focused and character-driven, much to my joy.
The art is just as clean and well-done as it was in the first series. Maybe even better. Some backdrops are absolutely stunning. The character design is much like the first series, although a bit more realistic in general this time around, when it comes to the supporting cast of revolving antagonists/partners.
The voice acting and soundtrack of the series is way better than the first season. Actors have more opportunities to get heated here and some excellent dramatic episodes bring out the best of all. The music is still top-notch, and the opening song especially is fantastic.
The theme and pacing are still the same in this second serving of Koko’s adventures. The more story-focused approach leads to a better balanced product, with the episodes being better structured and the tone being a bit darker. With it, my pleas for the show to have less comedy are answered, as the show did turn towards the more serious in this venture, and the show is better off without the forced comedic elements.
The antagonists and threatening forces this time around are more realistic and grim. There’s not a crazy villain with ridiculous fighting techniques. It’s guns vs guns and tactics + strategy in a wild dance of death.
Enjoyment-wise, Jormungand: PO lands a step above its former series with more thrilling planning; cooler action; better humour; and tear-inducing, heart-wrenching drama. Once again with a Jormungand series, the variance is its strength, balancing several genres and giving them good time. It’s one of those series’ where you finish one episode and keep watching. Not because there’s a crazy cliffhanger, but because the atmosphere, characterisation and execution of the series is so fantastic that you can help wanting to spend more time in Koko’s mad world. Jormungand: Perfect Order is a rare gem to find in today’s anime world, a show with an identity so unique and fresh you can’t help but be swept away by its charm.
Scoring Preconditions: While I rate all parts, the overall score takes in most consideration from story, character, and enjoyment. Art and sound are not factors in the overall, although they can slightly enhance or detract from enjoyment portion. I score from as unbiased a view as possible and I view it in a critical sense, not in a simple enjoyment sense. Thus I give at most a one point overall bonus for enjoyment. Story and characters matter most. I will state exceptions to this rule depending on the anime.
Summary: I felt the premise of the anime was weak from the get go. For those who don’t know, the makers of Black Lagoon made Jormungand. Now the key difference between Jormungand and Jormungand: Perfect Order is 1) Darker feel 2) More plot. Otherwise, its very similar to Black Lagoon in its all out action feel. Details to follow.
Story (4/10): Koko wants to build a supercomputer and do what with it? Spoiler alert: Crash every flying thing down to earth. This is the plot. Nothing intricate to it. No offense, but Treyarch had more creative ideas with Call of Duty. The story isn’t original at all and the maker didn’t make the plot complicated. Essentially Koko succeeds every time and her goons get everything necessary for the computer.With the notable exception of Jonah and his running away part, everything was entirely predictable. And Jonah’s past really was pointless throughout this whole anime. I’ll talk more on Jonah in the characters section. In general, the plot was pretty generic and on its own, not worth the watch. And finally, the makers tried to add some morality talk similar to with Black Lagoon, but unlike with Black Lagoon, they failed epically here.
Art (10/10): Other than the fact that the Hekmatyars and Jonah are albino, I found the artwork enjoyable. Perhaps they were pointy chinned, but I fail to see the problem. Of course art is subjective so I won’t deny that it may not appeal to certain people. But I thought it enhanced the anime. If nothing else, the gun artwork was pretty epic.
Sound (10/10): The opening theme UNDER/SHAFT is on my playlist and I enjoyed the song. Ending theme I felt was not really a match with the mood. Gun noise and background music enhanced the feel of the anime.
Character (7/10): I want to start off by saying that Koko gets crazier in the second season. She loses her more comical sense in favor of a tyrant like temperament. I personally have no problem with that. Compared to the second season, I felt it was more realistic of an arms dealer. We also got a better look at her true inner feelings so character development for Koko was great. Now on to Jonah. I’m still not sure whether to like Jonah or hate him. First of all, the idea of a child soldier being the center piece is ridiculous. The fact that he is surviving and actually killing professionally trained adults is beyond me. But the bigger problem I have with him is his whole do I hate or do I not hate Kasper Hekmatyar. No offense but if you really hated him, you wouldn’t look to him as your next employer after running away from Koko. After all, he did starve him in a shipping container for a week. Jonah does play the quiet role well though. But I had a bigger problem with the fact that his character development really goes nowhere. He first says no to project Jormungand and runs away only to change his mind and return to Koko. I have a hard time with characters that can’t make up their mind and seeing as this basically consisted of the last couple episodes, both the story and the character suffers for it. The only reason the character score isn’t a 3 is because I love Koko.
Enjoyment (10/10): Now I watched this anime in anticipation of the action. The gunfights in this season as well as the first are still some of the best I’ve seen. While not always entirely realistic, it was great to watch. If I had to describe it, it was like watching a first person shooter in reality from a third person view. You get a lot more cool but unrealistic stuff and the guns are up close. That and Koko as a character was sufficient enjoyment for me.
Overall (6/10): First off, I weighed the enjoyment a little more here seeing as the action is its biggest asset. The story and Jonah merits a 5 or lower overall, but Koko and the action add more to this anime. The reason I don’t give it a 7 though is because the premise of this anime was bs. i simply can’t give it a higher score from a critical perspective as it really wasn’t all that good. I’d say as a viewer, its at least a 9/10, but from a critical sense this is the score i give because it is neither creative nor intelligent. One word to describe this season and the first is: explosive.
Thanks for reading this. I’m open for discussion so if you have anything to add, message me and I will get back to you.
2: JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (TV)
English: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
MAL Score: 7.96
In 1868, Dario Brando saves the life of an English nobleman, George Joestar. By taking in Dario’s son Dio when the boy becomes fatherless, George hopes to repay the debt he owes to his savior. However Dio, unsatisfied with his station in life, aspires to seize the Joestar house for his own. Wielding an Aztec stone mask with supernatural properties, he sets out to destroy George and his son, Jonathan “JoJo” Joestar, and triggers a chain of events that will continue to echo through the years to come.
Half a century later, in New York City, Jonathan’s grandson Joseph Joestar discovers the legacy his grandfather left for him. When an archeological dig unearths the truth behind the stone mask, he realizes that he is the only one who can defeat the Pillar Men, mystical beings of immeasurable power who inadvertently began everything.
Adapted from the first two arcs of Hirohiko Araki’s outlandish manga series, JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken follows the many thrilling expeditions of JoJo and his descendants. Whether it’s facing off with the evil Dio, or combatting the sinister Pillar Men, there’s always plenty of bizarre adventures in store.
Nearly every review of JoJo 2012 praises it as a MASTERPIECE, because it represents a triumphant return for the macho manly anime of the past. I have a slightly different perspective than most critics on MAL, so unsurprisingly my conclusion was a little different as well. If I was born between 1995 and 2000 and grew up during the “sparkling kawaii desu moe” era of anime where every male protagonist is a whiny pussy, I too would be inclined to give Jojo a 10/10 out of sheer novelty alone. However, I was born in the 1980s and I actually remember the GAR days of manly anime. In the 1990s, you watched anime largely by going to the video store and renting whatever anime was available. Almost ALL of it was cheaply licensed, ultraviolent OVAs from the late 80s and early 90s. Were those anime better? Well believe it or not…no, not really. There were indeed some awesome anime like Fist of the North Star (Hokuto no Ken), but for every Fist of the North Star there was absolute garbage like: Genocyber, Violence Jack, MD Geist, Mad Bull 34, Angel Cop, etc. Simply being macho didn’t make an anime good by default back in the 1990s, and that shouldn’t be any different today! I am going to look at Jojo from a fair and objective view rather then simply heap praise on it based on principle alone.
Story and Characters: 6/10
The 2012 JoJo anime adapts the first 2 arcs of the manga, so this is the JoJo series you should watch first sequentially! JoJo is about the Joestar family and their epic feats of badassery over the generations. The first generation of Joestar asskicking takes place in Victorian England with Jonathan Joestar, whom I will call Johnny JoJo. The dumbass father of Johnny JoJo decides to adopt the blatantly evil son of a man who “saved his life” when he had a carriage accident. Even though it is later revealed that papa Joestar knew that Brando was a dishonest man and wasn’t actually trying to save him, he adopts Dio anyway and continuously believes Dio over his own son despite the fact that Dio may as well have “evil” tattooed on his forehead. Dio is a 1 dimensional bully who exists to make Johnny JoJo miserable, steal his father’s affection, and ultimately try steal his inheritance. Dio will perform some act of over the top evil like brutally murder Johnny’s dog, and papa Joestar will instantly believe Dio’s side of the story, simply to frustrate the viewers. This is like that Spongebob episode where Spongebob adopts an evil lamprey as a pet and keeps blaming the obviously innocent Gary the snail whenever anything goes wrong. The difference is that JoJo isn’t a comedy cartoon for small children. It is a Shonen demographic anime that actually expects us to take this seriously! Johnny JoJo discovers that Dio is attempting to poison his father and inherit the fortune, so he goes to find the poison shop where Dio has been purchasing his product. Johnny JoJo proves Dio is guilty, but Dio uses a mystical artifact Johnny has been studying to transform himself into a vampire and start wrecking shit. Dio kills papa Joestar and seemingly gets killed in turn by Johnny, but it turns out Dio survived and wants to create a vampire army to take over the world. Johnny takes some mystical martial arts training to unleash sunlight with punches (just go with it) and goes on a crusade to take out Dio. Unfortunately, that son of a bitch simply won’t stay down and eventually Johnny must sacrifice his own life in manly fashion to save his wife and unborn child.
I’m going to come right out and say it, Dio is a SHIT excuse for a villain. There are many things that can make a great villain: complex motivations, based on a historical figure, or even being extremely evil in an interesting fashion that is fun and frightening to watch. Dio is a cliche bully archetype that gets turned into a vampire, then decides to take over the world because he wasn’t already cliche enough. In a way, Dio does remind me of the villains from oldschool GAR anime like: the bullies in Genocyber that randomly decide to rape a homeless child, or the bully in Devilman who decides to butcher the class bunnies for no reason. However, those bullies were quickly and brutally dispatched because that kind of character isn’t very interesting. They exist to piss off the audience and grant a cathartic revenge fantasy when they get killed. Dio just lingers on and on like a sulfurous fart that won’t go away. Johnny JoJo is a gentlemen and a badass, but his character depth never goes beyond that. He doesn’t have a strong internal struggle or ambiguous goals or anything that makes complex character. I know that isn’t the point of JoJo, but a show aimed at older audiences should probably try to have SOME level of complexity unless the action is so awesome it doesn’t matter. However, JoJo isn’t a non-step action violence fest like Hellsing Ultimate. JoJo actually does take a LOT of time to focus on plot and characters, which is why it is disappointing that the plot isn’t very good and the characters are paper thin archetypes.
After a decent but certainly not masterful arc 1, we get to see the adventures of Johnny JoJo’s grandson: Joey JoJo. Joey JoJo must go to Mexico to fight against the evil vampires that created the mystical mask from part 1. He teams up with the grandson of one his grandfather’s old allies along with a surprisingly friendly Nazi dude named Rudol Von Stroheim. I guess the writer of JoJo meant to use the name “Rudolph” because “Rudol” isn’t even a real German name. Rudol’s catchphrase is German (insert whatever) is the best! Characters with goofy catchphrases can work like Korbowitz in Berserk or Armstrong in FMA, but I wasn’t really feeling this one. Honestly I just found myself wishing this guy would be replaced with Captain Germany the manly werewolf from Hellsing. This second arc does have some pretty awesome action scenes including Joey JoJo punching the vampire leader into Outer fucking SPACE! However, the plot and characters still come WAY short of being called a masterpiece or anything approaching a masterpiece.
The art and animation is heavily stylized and admittedly does a good job creating the look and feel of anime from yesteryear. There are lots of still-shots to recreate the look of cheap animation from the days where anime had extremely limited budgets. There are plenty of “action lines” that the old anime had in abundance especially pre-1990. I think my favorite part of JoJo might actually be the art because it really does recapture and recreate what anime used to look like and now no longer even resembles.
Does JoJo do a decent job capturing what old school anime used to look and feel like? Yeah, and that is why it isn’t a bad show. Does being retro make it a masterpiece by default? Absolutely not. The story may not suffer from pointless “tournament arcs” like so many shonen anime, but the plot isn’t honestly very good. Like the characters, the plot is very simplistic and doesn’t exactly carry JoJo into the realms of truly great anime. The male characters are actually manly and don’t resemble either Keitaro Urashima from Love Hina or Shinji Ikari from NGE, the 2 characters that basically convinced anime executives that Otaku identify more with Beta males and completely neutered anime. However, JoJo’s mediocre action and old school animation doesn’t quite make up for its simplistic and overall lackluster story and characters. At the end of the day, JoJo 2012 is a good anime, but is JUST a good anime. It doesn’t nearly deserve the ratings it has received on MAL, or the praise it receives on 4chan. I WOULD recommend it to younger viewers who want to see what old anime was like, but I caution against the kind of blind praise that has already made this anime absurdly overrated.
Art – 8/10
I suppose I’ll start off with how it adapted the source material. Unlike the OVAs and Phantom Blood movie, there were no cuts in content, and it actually adapted parts 1 and 2 of the manga: Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency. The studio, David Production, did what I would consider a masterful job in terms of bringing out Araki Hirohiko’s style into the manga. He is an artist, and you can see his art evolve throughout the long-running JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure franchise. DP hired multiple art directors and tried to incorporate the different faces and builds in body throughout the series. Also, because there is no such thing as “canon” colors for characters, DP, in an unexpected but very innovative manner, used their poor budget to their advantage—by changing color schemes and using colorful abstract backgrounds during monologues and still-frames. I’ll give the art by itself a 10/10, even though sometimes Jonathan and Joseph, the titular JoJos in this series, suffer from Gorilla Face Syndrome, since the BD/DVDs are doing a great job of fixing it.
On still-frames, this is one of TWO flaws I found throughout the whole series. DP was contracted by Warner Bros. and they were given a pretty weak budget to work with. As a result, some might say that there are lots of times where this show is more of a “live-manga” or stream of the manga. The “animated” SFX from the source material, plentiful still-frames, and lack of actual animation at times are what add to this idea. Don’t get me wrong though, it’s not like every episode is a slideshow; however, there are DEFINITELY times when it feels that way—I’m looking at you, episode 16. Honestly, I feel like DP made it up to us with some episodes that were battle-heavy, like episode 20 and most definitely the final 3 or so episodes. Especially the last one. For this I will have to give the animation itself a 7/10. The distinct art style and use of colors boost it up to an 8 for me.
Sound – 8/10
So-no Chi no Sa-da-me, JOOOOOOOOO~JO! There are two opening themes, JOJO~Sono Chi no Sadame~ by Hiroaki “TOMMY” Tominaga , and BLOODY STREAM by Coda. Both were tailored for their respective Part in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, in both lyrics, atmosphere, and animation itself—we actually get some pretty good CG depicting events in Parts 1 and 2. They were extremely catchy, and I never skipped them. The ending theme was Roundabout by progressive rock band YES, which actually came out in the 70s—and influenced the original manga! and I applaud DP for that choice. The song’s lyrics fit extremely well and it is actually one of Araki Hirohiko’s favorite bands! Also, because it is an 8 minute song, they used different snippets, some soft, some more intense, depending on what kind of note the episode ended on. That was genius and definitely made the watching experience better. If it were up to the OP and ED alone I’d give the sound a 10/10
As for the actual soundtrack, because of the difference in atmosphere between Parts 1 and 2, or at least I assume it’s for that reason, DP hired two composers and gave us two soundtracks per part. Phantom Blood was mostly orchestral, very fitting with the late Victorian feel we get when we think of England in the 1880s. It fit extremely well and I applaud Matsuo Hayato for his beautiful soundtrack. Part 2, being much more dynamic and quite literally “all over the place”, has Iwasaki Taku, who worked with his friends Lotus Juice. The soundtrack he made has soft, orchestral pieces and, well, everything. He has rap/hip-hop, rock, metal, DUBSTEP, and even flutes and drums that bring a middle-eastern feel. Personally, I thought the dubstep was actually very good and tamer than most, and that it fit well the middle-eastern sounds he composed for with the Pillar Men, the main antagonists of Part 2. The sound direction, however, was not as amazing. Iwasaki Taku complained himself, over Twitter, that his songs were not being used correctly, and, after paying close attention to episodes 22 and 23, I can’t say I disagree. David Productions flubbed it when it came to transitioning the music and providing an appropriate atmosphere with the songs in those two episodes. For that reason, although the music itself was superb, I will have to give it an 8 total.
Story – 9/10
Story is pretty simple, to say the least. The original story came out in 1987, in Shueisha’s Weekly Shonen Jump. Phantom Blood can be pretty much summed up as Castlevania with Hokuto no Ken elements, which shouldn’t be seen as bad in any way. Araki Hirohiko wanted to make a solid base so that he could evolve his work throughout time, and I think he did a pretty good job, taking in the work of contemporaries around him. The first part is hot-blooded, fast-paced, and the definition of “camp”. Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando are probably the most one-dimensional characters you will ever find, but it is because they were so static, they polarized each other and made the fight between them so interesting. Dio Part 1’s main antagonist, from the first episode, is depicted to us as the very definition of EVIL at the age of 12! Although the story is simple, the characters are definitely what make the sure. In Battle Tendency, the story takes a more adventurous route and we see our new JoJo, Joseph Joestar, go from New York, to Mexico, to Italy, to Sweden, and it’s amazing. The main antagonists of this part are a powerful trio of “Pillar Men” called Wham, ACDC, and Cars, responsible for the creation of the stone mask that set the events in Part 1. The continuity is great and you definitely feel time passing as you watch the series, characters like Speedwagon and Erina are shown old, and with every major timeskip you see differences in character design. Story, when it boils down to it, just has to be interesting. I was definitely interested in the stories for Parts 1 and 2 of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. They were simple, straight, and to the point, which made it possible to expand more on the character dynamics, arguably the strongest part of this series. There were no long and obnoxious training arcs, the fights are NOT dragged out—probably the most common flaw in shonen battle series—and if there are cliches, they are exaggerated to their extremes. This series does not take itself that seriously, and when it does, you can bet that you’ll be on the edge of your seat. Story gets a 9/10 from me.
Character – 10/10
As for the characters. Araki sure knows how to get you attached to characters. And then rip them away from you. There are definitely deaths in this series and they are dramatic and will definitely tug at your heart. Also, the voice actors are passionate and work admirably together. Takehito Koyasu, with his smooth, deep voice will send chills down your spine whenever Dio is formulating a plot or mocking JoJo. Okitsu Kazuyuki may be a newbie, unlike the slew of veterans in the rest of the cast, but he makes Jonathan Joestar so damn LIKABLE with his passionate screams, calm reassurance, and definitely makes the heart of gold in this character shine brightly. Sugita Tomokazu, probably best known for his characteristic shonen gag voice as Gintoki (Gintama) and serious/apathetic voice as Kyon (Haruhi Suzumiya series), makes a perfect Joseph Joestar, because Joseph embodies the ideal shonen protagonist—smart, strong, funny, and extremely expressive. Basically, where the animation fell short, I believe that the voice actors definitely picked up the slack. Everyone has fun, because this is supposed to be a fun series. I love it. Characters get 5/5 from me. Both as they were written and how they were acted, you can definitely feel the chemistry between all the voices and that made it way more enjoyable.
Enjoyment – 10/10
Enjoyment. I keep on mentioning this when I score each aspect of the show for this review. Ultimately, when you watch an anime, or any show, movie, etc; you do so because you want to enjoy and be entertained. I can almost guarantee that if you go and watch this show with a blank slate and just a pure, unadulterated desire to be entertained, you will not come out disappointed. Just keep in mind that JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is a series that is 25 years in the making, and this is but the beginning. It is without a doubt my favorite manga series, and this long-awaited anime adaption gives it the justice that it deserves. If you watch it, and enjoy it, like I said you probably will, then I implore to take up the manga. You can skip right to Part 3, the most popular arc in the franchise, but I recommend reading from the beginning, you’ll pick out some tiny things left out that couldn’t be conveyed through the anime, and you’ll see the evolution of Araki Hirohiko’s art throughout the ages.
But first, if you watch the anime, I recommend Muda Muda Muda Subs [MMM] subs or CommieSubs [Commie]. They are the most accurate subs and if you prefer a better script, go with MMM, if you want better typesetting and subtitled SFX, go with Commie. Personally, I used MMM because they are a group that got together solely for this series, released in a timely schedule with accurate subs, took advice/criticism well, and also have better encoding.
I hope that after this review some of you watch this show and develop the same love I have for it!
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is quite possibly the most popular anime on the internet right now, what was once a weird niche show in the west has essentially become the new Naruto, which is ironic seeing as it predates it. Now what do I mean by that? Well tell me if you’ve heard this one before, a mediocre shounen anime that’s mostly popular with teenage boys, that has also infested meme culture, and has become almost impossible to criticize, not because it’s a flawless masterpiece with absolutely no flaws that has changed society for the better (though the fans would want you to believe that), but because its fans will attack you if you so much as say it isn’t the magnum opus the make it out to be. Now seeing as the Part 5 anime has come to an end, I’ve decided to review the first season, and tell you why I personally don’t think it’s anywhere near as good as people say it is.
The problem with reviewing season 1 mostly comes down to the fact that it combines two arcs with completely different settings, tones, plot, and characters, so I’ll be giving each Part its own score in each category (with the exception of art and sound, both parts have the same art direction, animation and music)
Phantom Blood: 3/10
Think of the most generic good vs evil story, think of a story with a boring as hell flawless main character who’s so righteous and good that his only mistake was being too nice (yes really), a bland and inhuman villain who’s just evil for the sake of being evil and who’s sole motivation for being evil is literally “my dad was mean to me”, the most basic and overused 3 act structure, and a supporting cast so cookie cutter and forgettable, that you could switch some of their roles and round without anything changing. That’s Part 1 in a nutshell
To be fair, the first 3 episodes are well paced, the story at first is a generic macguffin story, but it knows how to hold your interest and be suspenseful, then just devolves into Generic Shounen Battle Show Inspired By Fist of The North Star/Dragon Ball #50. It’s quite hard for me to talk about themes, character development or anything because it’s such a nothing story, no one develops (I mean Jonathan gets stronger but in terms of personality he’s the same), the only theme is, I guess, “good will triumph over evil” or some generic bullshit like that, if Jojo had ended hear it wouldn’t even be a footnote in the history of Shounen Jump. I’ll go more in depth on why I think Phantom Blood sucks in the character section.
Battle Tendency: 6/10
Now this is much much better, not amazing but a huge improvement over part 1, and I think the main reason why is that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and is basically a comedy. Part 1 took itself completely seriously, and as such I had to focus on plot, characters, themes etc first and entertainment value second, with part 2 it’s the opposite, I feel like the series it at its strongest when it’s basically just a comedy, it makes the poor writing, bland characters and unoriginal storylines a lot more tolerable, seeing as the focus is being entertaining and fun, rather than telling a great story.
The story is incredibly generic, it’s yet another story where the villain is an ancient being who was sealed away long ago but has now come back, oh, and his goal is to collect a macguffin that gives him ultimate power, how original. However, again, it doesn’t take itself too seriously so I’ll let it slide seeing as it’s really entertaining, it’s also paced much better than Part 1. Overall if you’re looking for some mindless fun, I recommend Part 2.
Phantom Blood: 1/10
A cliche story can be forgiven if the characters are interesting, unfortunately for Phantom Blood, the characters are some of the most bland and cookie cutter characters I have ever seen, period. Let”s start with Jonathan, Jonathan’s entire personality is that he’s a hero, he has no character flaws, he’s just, the hero, that’s all he is, he never develops he is the same irritating nice guy from beginning to end. Then we have Speedwagon, he’s a thug who tries to kill Jonathan, but then he gets punched in the face and follows Jonathan around, all he does is stand around and tell the audience what they just saw, how did this character become popular, seriously, aside from his design there is nothing noteworthy about him. There’s also Erina, who might as well be a cardboard cut out of a vagina, she has no personality (noticing a trend?) and exists solely to be Jonathan’s love interest.
Then we move on to Dio, quite possibly the most iconic Jojo character, he’s a terrible antagonist, his actions make no sense whatsoever, I mean killing his birth father made sense, he was abusive to Dio and killing him would essentially allow Dio to go from the slums to a mansion, however once he gets the chance to live a life of luxury, what does he do? He tries to kill the man who took him in, why? Because the plot demanded him to. Dio’s goal is to be rich an powerful, but he’s already an aristocrat, so logically he shouldn’t do anything after killing Dario, if Dio just lived a normal life with the Joestars nothing bad would’ve happened to him, Dio caused his own downfall for no reason at all, Dio is stupid, plain and simple.
We also have Zeppeli, he’s Jonathan’s mentor, but not a fun or interesting one like Biscuit from HxH or Master Roshi from Dragon Ball, no, he’s just a guy with, you guessed it, no personality, who teaches Jonathan how to fight and then dies like 4 episodes later, they expect you to feel sad but who’s gonna feel sad for some guy who no personality who they barely knew for 4 episodes.
There are some other characters in Part 1, but they aren’t really noteworthy, the other Hamon masters are just there, one of them tells Jonathan something he already knew, and another fights Joseph in Part 2. There’s also this one kid who tags along Jonathan for 2 episodes and then disappears, I don’t know why he was in the story, he could easily be removed without literally anything in the story being affected.
Battle Tendency: 5/10
Joseph is a huge improvement over Jonathan, in that he actually has a unique personality, he’s an goofy asshole who’s a lot more tactical than Jonathan, he’s not too interesting, but he is really fun to watch, so for an arc that focuses more on comedy, I think he’s a good protagonist, he even develops a little, he’s much less obnoxious and rude at the end, which I know doesn’t seem impressive at all, but trust me, he’s one of the only characters in the entire franchise who actually develops.
My favorite character of the arc, and this season as a whole, is Stroheim, there’s not a whole lot to him, he’s just really over the top and fun to watch, any scene with him is really entertaining it’s also interesting to see a soldier of the most cruel regime to date as something other than a complete monster, Stroheim is a proud and loyal soldier serving the country he believed in, even if that country was one of the only objective bad guys in real world history.
Now I’ve bad praising the characters in Part 2 so far, so why did I give them a 5/10 overall? Well the rest of the characters (besides the villains) are about as bland as the ones from Part 1, we have Smokey, a boy who Joseph saves at the beginning of the arc, he’s set up to be Joseph’s sidekick but is quickly dropped, like the boy from Part 1. Then we have Caesar, another character who’s popularity baffles me, he is pointless, he trains with Joseph and is set up as his sidekick for the confrontation with the pillar men and is quickly killed off, having achieved nothing while he was alive. Lisa Lisa is about as bland as Zeppeli, she’s also revealed to be Joseph’s mother, there’s not much else to talk about, moving on.
The villains are a slight improvement over Dio, and by that I mean, they’re not completely moronic and illogical, their goals and motivations are overly simplistic though, but at least they have some motivation and a concrete goal that isn’t “take over the world”. Kars is a cunning and intelligent villain, a vast improvement over Dio, his motivations make sense, he wanted his race to overcome their weaknesses, but was forced to wipe out most of them once they tried stopping his experiments, he has nothing left but this goal to become perfect and is obsessed with it, and that’s actually sort of interesting. The two other pillar men aren’t nearly as interesting though, they just sort of follow Kars’ orders, they try to make Wammu more interesting but it doesn’t really work, still a vast improvement over Dio though.
The best part is easily the animation, it’s incredible, the lighting, the cinematography, the movement, the Hamon effects, all of it is great to watch, I wish this kind of animation was used on shows with better stories but i’m not complaining here. Some scenes also play around with colour, and that really sets the mood for certain scenes, overall, the animation is great, the only problem is the amount of still shots in the show, otherwise I would’ve given it a 9.
The soundtrack is also great, there are some catchy tunes, such as the Pillar Men theme, Stroheim’s theme and some of the other orchestral pieces. The ops are both incredible, they’re well composed, the vocals are great and they’re really catchy. Same goes for the ED but it’s a song from the 70s so it doesn’t really count
I recommend just skipping to Part 2 if you want a fun action show, you’re not missing much by skipping Part 1, besides he Hamon explanation which you could just easily look up online. Personally I’m baffled this show became so popular, it starts off badly and just isn’t anything that special.
1: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
English: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
Japanese: マギ The labyrinth of magic
MAL Score: 8.04
Dispersed around the world, there are several bizarre labyrinths hiding incredible treasures within them. These mysterious places, known as “Dungeons,” are said to be the work of Magi, a class of rare magicians, who also help people build their empires by guiding them to a dungeon. Djinns, supernatural beings that rule over the labyrinths, grant successful conquerors access to their immense power and choose them as potential king candidates to rule the world.
Having spent life in isolation, Aladdin, a kind and young magician, is eager to explore the world upon finally leaving his home behind. He begins his journey only accompanied by his mentor Ugo—a djinn that Aladdin can summon with his flute. However, Aladdin soon becomes friends with the courageous Alibaba Saluja after causing the destruction of a local merchant’s supply cart. In order to pay for the damages, Alibaba suggests that they attempt to conquer the nearest dungeon, taking the first step in an epic adventure that will decide the fate of the world itself.
Thankfully, Magi does this.
Story: (9/10) With a setting based on Arabian Nights, you can expect (or at least hope for), a gripping narrative. Thankfully, Magi is structured so that the focus on the two main protagonists (Alibaba and Aladdin) is well orchestrated, and has a unique vibe to it. Through this, the story can become very dark and gripping, while not losing the narrative. What differentiates this from other shounen is the political aspect. As a king, you must reign. But how will you do it? Through this question the different nations and factions can interact in a believable environment, without it ever feeling like the author is asking you to pretend they would do that.
Art: (8/10) Most shounens typically fall under long broadcasting widths. While this allows for a developed story, the art tends to suffer long-term. Thankfully the animators have cut the show into a one season arc, while providing room to adapt more chapters if need be. For this reason, the art is well developed. Backgrounds are detailed and varied, with character models being round and developed. There are few jagged edges apparent, which helps realism. The battle scenes don’t suffer with still shots (too much), and motion does not degrade the animation. It stays fluid throughout, with the exception of the comedy scenes. Through these, the show takes a different animation style. While humorous in a way, it detracts from the overall value. I don’t see the joke through their expressions, but rather, through the goofy way they’re drawn.
Sound: (9/10) One of Magi’s strong points. Both openings provide a gateway into Arabia, with a melody and vocalist that resemble the middle eastern style. It opens the door to the show, making the transition to background music worthwhile. With this, you experience a variety of festival soundtracks, battle hymns, and adventure tunes. The depth and well execution of sound makes for a more enjoyable watch. This is followed by the endings which slightly devalue the soundtrack. While not bad, they don’t carry the show to the end. Had they been chosen better, the desire to continue watching would have been more apparent.
Characters: (10/10) The characters in a show must be well rounded for the plot to work. No matter how great a set piece, it won’t work without strong protagonists. And Magi delivers. Alibabba is a naive individual with to much idealism. This pushes the plot forward. Aladdin is a childish yet strangely deep character. His character shifts add emotion to the story. Morgiana is the strong, shackled female who can offer great moments through her actions. This trio has a well-blended bond that works. Their conversations kept me through the show, eager to see how they will handle future situations. The background characters, of which there are to many to name, are stunning. They have unique personalities, and offer believable lines that push the narrative further. Each new individual can hold their own as a main character, and you can care for each one of them. They’re so developed you almost want to root for the bad guy.
Enjoyment (9/10) I spent a week watching this show to prepare for the second season. After finishing, I was impatient waiting for season 2. This show was well worth the time put in, and will absolutely have a lasting effect on your view of how a shounen should be.
Overall: (9/10) Magi is a show that should be watched, for it offers a well developed plot that’s backed by great sound, art, and characters. For those into shounen, this’ll be a guaranteed favorite. For those wanting to get into the genre, it’s a good starting point. And for those opposed of the genre, you’re missing out.
Magi (also known as Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic as its full title) is a manga written by Shinobu Ohtaka. The series takes place in an universe that has has desert artwork scattered all around. As such, its theme relates to the classical One Thousand and One Nights and its collections. It feels like a classic honestly with its settings and atmosphere. From the beginning, we quickly meet all three of the main protagonists in the series. It doesn’t take long for the action and drama to pick up its pace as in the first few episodes already explores some of the cruelty (such as slavery), the dungeons, and monstrosity that exists in the Magi universe.
The series is packed with both a lighthearted and action style mood as the episodes progresses. One of the things that we see is the interesting and bro-like relationship between the two main characters – Aladdin and Alibaba. Although not related, they have a close bond and a brotherly relationship in which the two often looks out after one another. The two travels together in their quests and adventures . It’s a fantasy adventure that gives off that old school like feeling as they explore the world of Magi.
Although not one-hundred percent compatible, the duo has similar personalities. Both Aladdin and Alibaba shares a personality of wanting to explore the world as well as having an initiative to help others in need. They put others above themselves and always constantly looks after each others’ well being. The relationship between the two is very fun to watch given their lighthearted interactions and how they conquer obstacles along the way. Additionally, the duo are very loyal and seeks ways to form bonds with others whether through words or their actions.
However, this doesn’t always last.
For some reason, the series breaks off its trials for a bit later on. The two goes off of their directions and seemingly begins their own tales. From there on, the duo seems to become independent of their own journeys as they explore their own worlds. It seems to be more character focused rather than a story by this point and things start to slow down. Additionally, what continues on seems to have little influence on the duo’s journey and adventures. That and the fact in which their adventures gets off its tracks with no intertwined effect on one another seems to make a few frown on some die hard fans’ faces.
Luckily, there’s still another character that brings on entertainment to Magi. Her name is Morgania and she’s one tough girl with an even tougher childhood.
Joining the duo later on, Morgania (Mor) is a young 14 years old girl who always had a tough childhood. Forced into slavery and with little freedom, we see her struggles in the world of Magi. Prior to her liberation, her personality exists opposite of the dynamic duo that we are already familiar with. Her cold personality reflects on the cruelty of what she already been through. It makes us feel sorry for her as a child and how she came to be. Yet, later on, we do see more of her caring side. In fact, Morgania even begins risking her own life to protect others in need and putting herself above others. It’s proven that Morgania has forged a strong friendship with Alibaba and Aladdin and they are possibly the most important people in her life.
Other characters in the series also has a way of setting themselves from the others. Most of their names (including the main protagonists) are based off One Thousand and One Nights along with some of its settings and themes. There are the many tribes with their leaders and prominent members such as Sinbad and Judal. They play their roles and given their status and power are considered respected as well as feared throughout the Magi world.
The magic part of the series also takes in every episode of course. The magic theme of the series involves the power of the djinns that comes along from the users’ metal vessels. Other terms related to magic include rukh, magoi, dungeon capturer, and magi itself. It’s hard to say that these themes all tie together well by they do go hand in hand. In fact, most of Magi has a desert like setting unlike our modern civilization with fancy cars, technology, and architecture. As a matter of fact, it’s portrayed in that fantasy like setting with its old school like backgrounds.
As magi is considered the title, it is also considered a respectful term known by its name. We clearly know and see that Aladdin is a magi with his powers of being able to summon Ugo, a blue muscular like familiar that fights on his behalf. Yet at the same time, it seems that Aladdin also lacks the precise knowledge of how to perfect his skills especially later on against an antagonist. It is by this time we know that there is so much mystery that meets the eye of being what a magi is all about. Yet, with the help of his dear friends, Aladdin may unlock those mysteries.
The series’ action is portrayed as being part of the shounen style. It involves the characters powering up, making speeches in the middle of fights, and trying to show off what they can do. To be honest, it is quite generic and some of the same cliched action scenes are forced in many ways. For example, the battle between Aladdin and another fellow magi later on starts one-sided. Yet later on, it turns around the tide and has our main protagonist Aladdin do “what is right and stop him”. The action also seems to be forced as well such as the powering up and dynamic entrances from some of the characters. Whether entering in or exiting out, it seems to be forced and lacks true action.
The artwork design of the series is natural and sophisticated. Because it is based off One Thousand and One Nights and some of its themes, we can expect the desert like settings and their sequences employed further with the usage of magic. Most if not all of the characters are dressed in ways that are old fashioned and suited to the Sahara like backgrounds. The forest, desert, and architecture adapts an old school style that is natural and straight to the point. It doesn’t try to stand out above the others in the artwork development. In fact, its visuals are focused and fluid that fits with each other.
In terms of soundtrack, Hiromi Kikuta (Black Rock Shooter, Scrapped Princess) employs his skills in orchestrating the OST. Some of the soundtracks has that classic Arabian rhythms while other times pulls its course together with its full throttle pacing. This is especially true during scenes involving based chased at night time or when there are crucial moments of conflict. Shiro Sagisu does a similar job with his music as well with its appealing scores. The opening song, “V.I.P” by SID catches the viewers’ attention with the way it is orchestrated by presenting the montage of its characters as well as some of the action going on. Oh and let’s not forget about the all-star cast coming together. Although generic, it is appealing and classic.
All in all, Magi is a classic. It is a fantasy adventure that brings back the old school feeling with its cast of characters, its themes, style, story telling, and visual artworks. The division of the duo in later episodes may catch viewers off balance but it can still be appealing when we see more of the character backgrounds of our heroes. The trio in fact becomes a pivotal point in the series as they explore the world they never thought would come across. With magic, they can do almost anything but with friends and what they believe in, they become the next big thing. Whether Magi is the next big thing is hard to say but the adventure of Alibaba, Aladdin, and Morgania has come a long way.
Story/Setting/Combat depth – Ok, so i´m not only reviewing the story and world here but the combat depth too, because i think that it´s an important part on any battle anime.
The story is set in an alternate recreation of the ancient Old World with several regions and nations having some resemblances with real-life counterparts from that time. In this world, all living beings possess an essence known as Rukh and when they die, this essence returns to the huge flow (also known as “guidance”) of Rukh that gives life to all subsequent beings in an eternal cycle of rebirth called “Fate”. Once a person is overcome with sadness, anger and hopelessness, their Rukh turns into a corrupted, unstable, black-colored Rukh that deviates from the main guidance in a process known as “Fall into Depravity”.
There are also several magic castles full of treasures and traps known as “Dungeons” and each of them is the lair of a powerful magic being, a Djinn. Individuals that manage to overcome the trials of a Dungeon and earn the allegiance of its Djinn are known as Dungeon Capturers, gaining the ability to use its powers infused in a personal item of them known as “Metal Vessel” and create less potent “Household Vessels” for their companions as well.
People can use the Rukh in their bodies to create an energy known as Magoi ( kinda like chakra in naruto ) to power their magical weapons and abilities. This energy must be used with care, as despite the fact that an individual’s magoi can be restored with feeding and rest, once fully exhausted it provokes their death. Among those that can perform magic with their own Magoi there is a rare class of magicians known as Magi, that can also use Magoi from the Rukh around them, greatly increasing their capabilities. A Magi usually chooses Dungeon Capturers to offer guidance and protection making of them their King Vessels. There are several nations in history that were founded or improved by the rule of such individuals.
So the story of magi starts out really simple but as the anime progresses it keeps evolving and adding important and nice stuff. This is the story about a young boy by the name of Aladdin and his adventures around the world of magi. Like many other series he becomes friends with many people, 2 of them are Alibaba and Morgiana, and so the 3 of them become the main characters.
The story is mostly about war between empires/countries. Where Aladdin enters in all this is that he is a magi, a beeing that acording to legends chooses his king to control the world. Throughout the story we learn that there is more than 1 magi and that they are not on the same side so that only means 1 thing, war. There is a dark organization too called the Al Thamen that are trying to screw up the world and that side up with the empire aladdin and his friends are fighting.
Easily the thing i like the most about magi, there is enough depth here to the point you have to google some definitions.
Most of the fodders use normal weapons without any special abilities, but the main weapon of all people here is Magoi, it works out like chakra from naruto, each person has their own reserve and only magi can use the magoi from the rukh around them.
There is the dungeon capturers too, people that successfully pass a dungeon can keep in their control the djinn of that dungeon. The djinn enters into a metal and the capturer can use that djinn´s power. For example, if a djinn´s ability is fire, that person can attack with fire. But that´s not only it, thats the basic. As time passes and you became better with your metal vessal you can use an ability called Djinn Equip, by using that your metal vessal turns into the djinn´s weapon and your ability ( fire in this case ) becomes even better. Djinn equip has diferent levels, at first you can only use the djinn´s weapon but later on you can even cover your whole body with armours and stuff. You can only maintain this ability as long as your magoi reserves let you. Oh and one more thing, if the Djinn capturer is a magi he can summon the djinn in battle ( this is exclusive of magis ).
Household Vessels are objects (weapons, jewelry, accessories, etc) that hold importance to the Household Members of a Dungeon Capturer. Like for example, if my djinn type is fire my household member will have an ability connected with fire. ( Household vessels are not as strong as the djinn equip ( exclusive to dungeon capturers)).
There is magicians too that can manipulate their rukh and create a type of magic ( healing, heat, water, gravity etc ), with that they can create many abilities.
Im only 25 episodes in ( 1st season ) and there is a ton of combat depth, im sure there is many many more things 🙂
Very colourful, there isn´t much to be said here.
Go to youtube and see for yourself.
Not good enough to deserve a better score, like always the japanese voices are great but there is a lack of better osts.
Aladdin – Like i said above, a young magi boy that is traveling the world and making many friends ( sorta like luffy ) he is your typical shounen protagonist which in my opinion is a bit to mainstream but whatever.
Alibaba – Aladdin´s friend and main character, he is a really great character and his personality develops really well and you learn about his backstory.
Morgiana – Aladdin´s friend and main character, she, like alibaba in terms of personality develops a lot too. She belongs to a tribe called Fanalis, Fanalis are a really strong type of tribe with power that can crush rocks.
All the other characters are really good in design but as not very much developed ( maybe because its only 25 episodes, i dont know ).
I can´t really say much more without spoiling it, it´s better if you watch.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
2. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken (TV)
3. Jormungand: Perfect Order
5. Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna
6. Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
7. Persona 4 the Animation
8. Zero no Tsukaima F
9. Sword Art Online
10. Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam