They’re the best Anime that 2014 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Magic Kaito 1412, Log Horizon, Noragami, and more!
10: Magic Kaito 1412
MAL Score: 7.86
Eight years after the mysterious death of his father, Kaito Kuroba, a slightly mischievous but otherwise ordinary teenager, discovers a shocking secret: the Phantom Thief Kaito Kid—also known as “The Magician Under the Moonlight”—was none other than his own father. The former thief was murdered by a criminal organization seeking a mythical stone called the Pandora Gem, said to shed a tear with the passing of the Valley Comet that comes every ten thousand years. When the tear is consumed, the gem supposedly grants immortality.
Vowing to bring those responsible for his father’s death to justice, Kaito dons the Phantom Thief’s disguise, stealing priceless jewels night after night to find the Pandora Gem before his enemies can use the power for themselves.
As we know, an episodic series is like a gamble of life and death, some success while the others are not. The main concept of Magic Kaito 1412 is very simplistic, they do the same things from episode to episode just like an endless cycle. Almost all episodes do this endless cycle, except for the early episodes and some others.
New diamond introduced – Kaito steals the diamond – The police failed – It’s not the diamond
that he was looking for – Kaito returned the diamond to the police
Although the concept is rather too simplistic, but the anime fully appealed the individual element of the story itself, especially the comedy and adventure parts.
If we talk about the animation, Magic Kaito 1412 may not be as good as the other, but the animation is completely different from the others which make it more memorable and unique, like an “icon”. For the sound settings, the background music is wonderful & quite catchy while the seiyuu done their job decently. I personally adore the 2nd opening of the series “Ai no Scenario” sung by Chico with HoneyWorks, it is really good indeed.
The characters of an episodic anime sometimes criticized by people because of lack of development. Thankfully Magic Kaito managed to run away from the tiger’s cage. What we have here is not a character growth but it’s ability to refine the story. The main character, Kaito Kuroba himself it’s described as an omniscient thief, sometimes he interacts with Aoko in a confusing but unique romance setting. Although the main character often referred as a “stereotypical”, but the good thing is each single characters plays their roles pretty well. The villains actually appear randomly but the good thing is the villains have their own motive, which is good.
The elegant & magnificent Kaito Kid really did well in entertaining his audience this night. It is recommended for those who seeks for light anime that simply just entertains the audience with its magic. It is really a magical experience indeed.
Magic Kaito 1412 is a rather simplistic show, despite magic being its core element. It’s an episodic series and, as such, doesn’t require much of an obligation to follow intently. Like all episodic series, some episodes will also be better than others. However, this layout works impeccably well for this particular show; I couldn’t imagine it being done differently. For the most part, Magic Kaito is broken down into heists that usually span one episode, with the occasional part-two. In each episode Kaito dons the persona of the Kaito Kid, an unconventional, gentlemanly thief, who steals rare jewelry and returns it shortly afterwards. He often performs his heists in a flashy manner, which often becomes something like a free, public magic show. Periodically, characters from Detective Conan make appearances (Shinichi/Conan really being the only relevant figure, of course), which is entertaining in its own right.
Due to the episodic nature of the series, many of the characters who appear in Magic Kaito are not recurring. The only characters who appear in every episode are Kaito and Aoko, who have been friends, and neighbors, since childhood. The dynamic between Kaito and Aoko is very light-hearted and exactly what you would expect from close friends. Their relationship, for the most part, seems fun and realistic, yet also quite childish and pure. They tease one another, but also know when to support each other as well. They share quite a few sweet, romantic moments in the series, which was a more refreshing type of intimacy that you rarely see in many shows nowadays. It’s not overbearing, nor is it the main focus, but it offers a warm, cozy feeling nonetheless. Unfortunately, character development is not a strong point of Magic Kaito. There isn’t much growth or change in any of the characters, so what you see is what you’re going to get from episode one onwards. In addition, many of the characters in the series give off the impression of being fairly dumb, to be quite frank. But, I suppose there’s a certain pitiful charm to their stupidity that slowly becomes endearing.
The art, animation, and sound are easily the weakest points of Magic Kaito, though that is something that’s to be completely expected. This is not a show with high production values and it never gave off any impressions of being one. It doesn’t have the best visual appeal, nor is the soundtrack anything special. However, production values don’t mean everything. Magic Kaito takes a more humble approach to a very pleasant series and it works well enough.
In spite of its exceedingly lacking popularity, Magic Kaito 1412 was a very delightful, lively watch. The heart of all magic tricks and illusions lies within the enjoyment of the people watching, a point that is well pointed out in this series. In that regard, Magic Kaito 1412 succeeds.
If you are already a fan of Kid the Phantom Thief or Detective Conan, you should enjoy this series. If you are unfamiliar with either of those names, you can still watch this series and enjoy it. Having information about the characters will definitely inform your viewing experience, but it is not needed.
This series is episodic in nature, which each story focusing on Kid the Phantom Thief attempting to steal some jewel or valuable object, which brings him into conflict with the police, other thieves, royalty, teen detectives, and a certain child detective. The engaging part of the story is learning the explanation behind the magic tricks performed in the series (most of which are pretty clever). Many scenarios require a great suspension of disbelief, and the stories can be formulaic at times, but still very enjoyable.
The animation quality is great, recreating the unique art-style from the manga. There are plenty of night shots with beautiful lighting and lots of flowing capes.
The background music is great, there are a couple really great tracks that range from jazz to techno beats. The OPs and EPs are great tunes and get you excited for the series. The Japanese dub has great voice acting, especially from the main character.
I’ve heard complaints the characters are stereotypical. I can see how characters fit into typical shonen character roles, but they are enjoyable nonetheless. Kaito is a stubborn and prideful guy who has a good heart and Aoko is a sweet girl who just can’t seem to be honest with him about her feelings, but she can give him the what for when needed!
The idea of having a secret identity is a story-line I enjoy watching and the mission Kaito gives himself at the start of the series provides strong motivation to his actions. Having not watched any Detective Conan prior to viewing this, I was apprehensive about watching a spin off series from a long running show . Magic Kaito proved to be very entertaining and a good adventure series, and the episodes with Conan are some of the best ones! Seeing the magic tricks explained and seeing mysteries solved kept me interested in watching more. Kid the Phantom Thief is so charismatic that you can’t help but cheer for him!
9: Log Horizon
English: Log Horizon
Japanese: ログ ホライズン
MAL Score: 7.97
In the blink of an eye, thirty thousand bewildered Japanese gamers are whisked from their everyday lives into the world of the popular MMORPG, Elder Tale, after the game’s latest update—unable to log out. Among them is the socially awkward college student Shiroe, whose confusion and shock lasts only a moment as, a veteran of the game, he immediately sets out to explore the limits of his new reality.
Shiroe must learn to live in this new world, leading others and negotiating with the NPC “natives” in order to bring stability to the virtual city of Akihabara. He is joined by his unfortunate friend Naotsugu, having logged in for the first time in years only to find himself trapped, and Akatsuki, a petite but fierce assassin who labels Shiroe as her master. A tale of fantasy, adventure, and politics, Log Horizon explores the elements of gaming through the eyes of a master strategist who attempts to make the best of a puzzling situation.
The story begins by introducing a set of typical MMORPG rules/restrictions that many viewers are familiar with. But what’s not so familiar are the way these rules are manipulated, opening paths to feats that were previously impossible. When one thinks of rules and boundaries, one would assume that it would limit whatever it governs. Ironically, these strict rules expand Log Horizon’s story from a generic show to a well thought-out strategic adventure. It’s an extremely appealing story given the relatability to many of its viewers. Having played games like World of Warcraft, I and many other viewers understand how the core mechanics of questing, leveling, raiding and more work. That’s why when other possibilities that greatly affect these game mechanics are discovered, Log Horizon truly becomes special. It also feels completely plausible. It is NOT a “power of friendship defeating the boss that was previously kicking your ass.” It’s fundamentally sound and really becomes an intriguing show.
Although some may disagree, I really thought that one of the show’s biggest strength is how the characters all have defined, unique roles. Where Shiroe is the leader in the shadows, Crusty is the leader in the spotlight. Where Akatsuki is loyal, quiet and small, Naotsugu is the loud, pervy and funny big guy. And you also have… Rundelhaus, who’s in a category of his own when it comes to goofiness. These kinds of distinctions allow Log Horizon to have all kinds of interactions between characters and the possibilities become endless. To me, the characters are one of the biggest strengths of the show.
The story is what makes Log Horizon quite different from a typical shounen show. It has heavy political/economical themes that tie well into one of the show’s biggest points: building a world. In fact, there are a few episodes where the dialogue gets quite heavy and may not be everyone’s cup of tea. With that being said, I genuinely enjoyed the dialogue and found the story to be engaging. Log Horizon also executes its’ story quite well. I found the pacing and structure of the arcs to be satisfactory and enjoyable.
Art is decent, it’s not UFOtable amazing, but not terrible either. It’s consistently pretty decent and not “inconsistent” like some other shows. Nothing else to be said here.
Sound is decent as well, the opening and ending songs are quite good but take time to get used to. The background music, while not bad, is overused. You’ll know what I mean when you get halfway through the season.
With all that being said, Log Horizon is not a perfect show. For example, why does no one care about what’s happening to their bodies in the real world? You’ll find yourself asking this question as you watch the show. It’s almost as if the topic of what’s going on in the real world is completely forgotten. Also, some people may find that the interactions between the characters become quite repetitive, especially with Henrietta, who has a loli fetish for Akatsuki. Her interactions with Akatsuki are always of the same manner and it gets boring very quickly. It seems that Akatsuki’s character is reduced to mere loli humor later in the show.
On a side note, I really feel that it’s important to point out that Log Horizon is not a combat-heavy show. That in itself already distinguishes itself from other shounen shows. But what’s really important is how the show focuses on actual strategy and manipulating the rules within the game world that the characters live in. If Log Horizon’s story didn’t have these elements, I really believe that Log Horizon would not be an exciting show to watch, it would just be another okay show.
Log Horizon is not your typical show. It has firm grounded roots of realism in a world of fantasy that is genuinely exciting to watch. From diverse characters, to bending the rules in a world most of us are accustomed to, Log Horizon is a good show and is worth your time. With that being said, it is by no means a perfect show. It’s a rather simple show in terms of concepts, as well as having plot holes in the overall story. But Log Horizon more than makes up for it in terms of its pure enjoyability (isn’t that why we watch anime in the first place?) and execution of its story.
I can imagine anyone familiar with Sword Art Online doing a double take at this point, obviously comparing the two anime, itching to see how one holds up against the other. SAO lovers and haters alike will travel down this line of thought. To be honest, I was and is one of the latter. Infact, I went into the series hoping to find all I missed in SAO after reading some assuring extracts that put this above Sword Art Online. And it did deliver.
I should mention, however, that this anime is not everyone’s cup of tea. If you’re not the type to sit down and enjoy a dialogue heavy show such as this, the anime will most certainly come off as dry and boring. To be fair, if you’re on the extreme end of dialogue-heavy fanaticism, the end-result won’t vary. Log Horizon is the kind of anime that sits on the neutral ground – its dialogue heavy, but the concepts are not overly complex, thought provoking or riddled with worldly wise philosophies.
That is not to say the show is not intelligent, but nonetheless, if you take the word of Log Horizon fans(a.k.a SAO haters) that judge the show as the intellectual’s SAO, then you’ll end up sorely let down. Because, at the end of the day, Log Horizon is still a kids show that shows no shame in shying away from the more ugly facets of the scenario, and the devious schemes that characters keep praising as something phenomenal are rather elementary.
Not that its a bad thing, the anime itself doesn’t go out of its way to show its characters as human super computers or anything. We just get a normal gamer guy with above average intelligence, and one who actually does his homework to get things done. Seeing he’s surrounded by other normal people and AI, it might even be a good thing. The situations themselves doesn’t call for anything more than some rudimentary marketing and administrative tactics and strategies.
The story is in any case, fairly well executed and implemented; you won’t find the characters doing utterly pointless actions or going on completely fruitless endeavours. Although, like they say, don’t judge a book by its cover, because first arc of Log Horizon can mislead you on the show’s main focus. Without spoiling too much, they first go on a rescue mission and the short arc serves as an exposition of sorts to give us a gist of the combat and gameplay mechanics, which while not a central theme, does get some focus later on in the series. Even so, combat is not heavy in Log Horizon. When there is action, it mostly relies on tactics and strategy. There is no one-man show where the mc’s love overrides the game mechanics or anything. But, if you forget the two arcs where action is important – Log Horizon is about economics and politics at its core.
One significant factor that differentiates Log Horizon from its thematic predecessors like SAO and .hack series is that death in the game does not equate to death in real life. That is, the players can respawn infinitely. It is not without consequence though, as there is something even more terrible than death that await the players who carelessly let their HP bars easily chip away to zero. Oops, I said too much. Maybe you should go watch the anime, because I won’t be dropping any more spoilers.
Now, onto the sound. The OST at first didn’t at all sit well with me. It was sharply contrasting to the shows feel and theme. However, slowly but surely, I ended up loving it and started humming along. I can’t honestly speak in-depth about the back-ground score…But they were certainly mood building, though I have my doubts about whether they went overboard with it. Some of the mood-building has gone to water and left me with a facepalm because the epic moments were made epic only because of the soundtracks. Without those, I wouldn’t have batted an eye at the game winning strategies the characters employed and would have wrote them off as common sense. Meanwhile, the ending has already found a place in my favorites. Never skipped it, infact, I’m listening to it as I’m typing.
The art was quite mediocre. Nothing to speak of. Its not too bad and its not too good. I felt that it didn’t quite feel like a game for most part. But you really can’t complain, for all we know, they may not even be stuck in a game per se. The character designs were pretty generic and all of anime’s usual motifs are used. I particularly liked the mc’s design.
Characters of Log Horizon are not unique or spectacular in any sense. But they get their job done, and the mc is a wits above fists guy for once, and he’s good at it. There is also the charismatic guy who gets all the praise, but luckily, we see him as a side character for the better part of the show. Not really surprising given Log Horizon takes a radically different route than most mainstream shounen shows by focusing on the action behind the scenes far more than the frontline adventures.
I have noticed the characters getting blamed for reacting too calmly towards their predicament and this is one of those criticisms I don’t understand. If you came across such a criticism, take my word – that is baseless. Completely baseless.
One character I was thoroughly disappointed with was the loli assassin, Akatsuki. I actually had high hopes for her. But much to my dismay, her potential as a character was left untapped in terms of both execution and elucidation. I certainly won’t condemn her character for development as she seemed to be wallowing in sadness because of her inability to be of sufficient use, and even more her because of her being unable to empathize with the mc towards the end. She still has a lot of potential for development, especially in the light of next season coming shortly. No, my problem is with her lack of chemistry with the mc. The same slap-stick jokes with the show’s resident pervert can get old really easily, and the whole cosplay facade she uses to interact with Shiroe doesn’t help either. Heck, Shiroe himself thinks her antics are nothing more than cosplaying when her personal monologues shows that she is invested in Shiroe on a more than superficial level. If there was some backstory for such an introverted personality, then I could have let it slip. But sadly, nothing of that sort came up. I’m hoping that the next season will take some time to flesh out her character, seeing she’s the main female lead.
Rest of the characters were great for the duration of the show and we can hope that they will play more important roles in the upcoming sequel. Some of the secondary cast got a lot more development than the main cast, both a positive and negative point in my books.
Another weakness in its character department comes from overuse of certain gags. Shiroe adjusting his glasses when thinking making everyone go ‘Ooohh the villain in glasses’, Henrietta’s obsession with dressing up lolis, Naotsugu’s openly showing perverted tendencies only to get interrupted halfway by wrathful Akatsuki etc being only some of the examples. While this is not uncommon or ineffective, too much of these can be frustrating.
As I mentioned at the beginning, this anime is not for everyone. For those who like dialogue heavy anime that is not dark or depressing, with some light slapstick comedy thrown in for good measure – this is exactly what you’re looking for.
As a last note, I must warn anyone who has been pushed onto taking up this anime by SAO haters – Granted, its different from SAO and does decidedly better than SAO on the story department, particularly the pacing. But its not the masterpiece that many of them paint it to be. Log Horizon is a little above the average shounen, however, its still an anime with flaws that cannot be overlooked. My own overall score is a result of the kind of entertainment I derived and not at all reflecting of the show’s quality from an objective standpoint.
A year later we have Log Horizon; an MMO inspired anime that has the same scenario as the show above with only a few minor iterations here and there. Now before I begin, this won’t be a piece where I start to compare or contrast both Sword Art Online and Log Horizon, as many people, unfortunately, seem to be inclined to do so. Whether I think Sword Art Online was good or bad should not be a factor on how I feel about Log Horizon in particular. Judging a show by its own merits without any outside influence of another show should be the number one key in critiquing any work. With that said, does Log Horizon hold out on its own?
One thing to realize about the plot is the tone of the setting and how it feels very lighthearted despite the dire situation that all of the characters are in. As far as the characters know, they have no way of getting out of the game. Many have criticized this aspect as being somewhat unrealistic in how real people would react to something of this magnitude. It might be an understandable critique to offer, at first. However, as the show goes on it feels fitting based on the nature of how the characters think about how they live and survive in the virtual environment. For however long they’ve been trapped in the game for years on end, at least based on their confusing logic, that virtual world becomes their world and get used to it by then. It also helps to the show’s credit that they don’t ever show us the real world at all and keeps it a mystery as to how things are going to make the situation from the characters’ perspective feel more apparent to the audience.
While this might be one of the stronger points of the show, the story itself in how it is paced and told isn’t nail-bitingly intuitive or well thought out. The premise isn’t that complicated, to begin with, as we’ve been shown before, but Log Horizon seems to think that if they throw in multiple sub-plots into the mix to make it sound complex, it’ll succeed. Unfortunately, those sub-plots I’d mentioned don’t amount to anything special in the long run and aren’t even that memorable because of it. Not only that, but that lack of memorability stems from the fact that all of these political and social constructs that Log Horizon’s world possesses aren’t written clear enough, other than the fact that they’re there to establish some basis for our protagonists to go somewhere. This comes into perspective with how many characters there are to follow in Log Horizon, but I’ll get to that later. The problems with the world-building might be more apparent after knowing that the original creator, Mamare Touno, was responsible for the creation of Maoyuu Maou Yuusha, which also had the same problems in its adaptation that can be compared to this one. These sorts of issues are prevalent in adaptations in this type of scale, but that can’t be an excuse at this point.
Though the massive cast of characters might seem like a huge negative, the way I put it, that shouldn’t mean that all of them are mediocre. The main cast of characters that are prominent throughout the show is exceptionally likable and hilarious to watch due to their numerous escapades with each other. It helps tremendously how they all have their unique characteristics that improve the nature of every one of them, rather than making them all generic and uninteresting. The same thing can’t be said for the side characters, regrettably so. With our main cast being Shiroe, Nyanta-nyan, Akatsuki, and Naotsugu, there’s this decent sense of chemistry between these four characters that is ultimately lacking for our side/supporting cast. All of their archetypes mostly consist of them having a trait that tries to make them distinct, such as Henrietta having an obsession with cute things like Akatsuki, and Serara, who has a habit of wanting to clean things to calm down. At first, it’s humorous, but after a while it becomes redundant, and it doesn’t make them any more meaningful.
In an action anime centered around the MMO systems, it would make sense to make the anime feel like you’re really in an MMO game from the gritty details of cool-downs, being a tank, healing your party members equally, and conjuring status effects at the right time. I, myself, am one of these people who enjoy these types of games and, to me, Log Horizon is probably the only one that gets it right. Usually something like this would steer off into brainless shounen show cliches, and there are a few here and there. Amazingly, Log Horizon gets the idea of taking its time for the characters to strategize their movements and actions rather than just blindly fighting off monsters without any thought in the world. That might make it seem too slow or methodical to enjoy watching, but in reality, they do a good job in the pacing of these fight scenes and keeping the action flowing seamlessly to give us a clear picture of what’s going on.
The art style can be construed as good, just not excellent in quality. The character designs themselves are very plain and ordinary enough for me even to consider them a triumphant success in artistic merit, but we come to expect that, and for what it’s worth, it handles it decently to where they don’t seem to cut any visible corners in the later episodes. As I’ve mentioned about the action being fast and flawlessly executed, the animation is a big part of why those are the case. The fluid character movements feel nice and kinetic to the spells that are cast and look pretty good as a result.
Voice talents range from relatively unknown voice actors to the familiar ones we’ve grown to be fans of giving their artistic liberties to full effect with Log Horizon. Emiri Kato as Akatsuki is devilishly cute and her being a fellow MMO fan sort of gives her performance an exciting spin. Even though Henrietta wasn’t that special as a character, Ayahi Takabaki manages to pull off the mature woman voice well and gives her voice some new territory for her to explore for her vocal talents rather than more boyish female characters. Takuma Terashima proves himself worthy of being the main protagonist of a show, and I hope to see him do more shortly. Not to mention, I could listen to Jouji Nakata say anything with the word “nyaa” at the end of his sentences and never get tired of it.
For some of us who are fans of the MMO genre, Log Horizon should be the one show to be doing it right, and while it does handle the actual MMO aspects brilliantly, the real narrative and storytelling sets itself down from being great. I do appreciate the amount of depth it tries to convey that wants us to feel attached to the world, yet I can’t help but wonder if that could’ve been done to better effect had it made the narrative more tightly constructive and less cluttered. The saying, “Too many cooks spoil the broth,” sums up Log Horizon perfectly. Only when the eventual sequel comes out, we will know if the journey will be worthwhile enough to experience its next climax.
MAL Score: 7.98
In times of need, if you look in the right place, you just may see a strange telephone number scrawled in red. If you call this number, you will hear a young man introduce himself as the Yato God.
Yato is a minor deity and a self-proclaimed “Delivery God,” who dreams of having millions of worshippers. Without a single shrine dedicated to his name, however, his goals are far from being realized. He spends his days doing odd jobs for five yen apiece, until his weapon partner becomes fed up with her useless master and deserts him.
Just as things seem to be looking grim for the god, his fortune changes when a middle school girl, Hiyori Iki, supposedly saves Yato from a car accident, taking the hit for him. Remarkably, she survives, but the event has caused her soul to become loose and hence able to leave her body. Hiyori demands that Yato return her to normal, but upon learning that he needs a new partner to do so, reluctantly agrees to help him find one. And with Hiyori’s help, Yato’s luck may finally be turning around.
The story of Noragami begins with Hiyori: an average high school girl who has a fated encounter with Yato, a homeless god, but we’ll get to them later. Hiyori, being the angel of a person she is, pushes Yato out of the way of an incoming bus when he suddenly runs into traffic. This results in not only an accident and her being taken to the hospital, but from then on she gains the somewhat troublesome habit of losing her physical body and taking on a similar form, but travels around as her soul seperated from her body. Deciding she can’t live on like this, she begs Yato and pays him in advance to restore her back to her original form, and thus, the two connect and Hiyori is abruptly introduced to the world outside of our reality.
At least, that’s what the show would have you believe from its broad overarching plot.
Noragami consists of several plot lines that all mesh in beautifully with each other both in terms of pacing and execution. It wastes no time in moving the story forward, save some of Yato’s comic relief and character introductions here and there. It even has some realistic darker undertones thrown in smoothly. They make sure you understand the weight of loneliness and just how invisible those who are not of the living can be, how painful it is to be forgotten and wanting to be remembered. Having read the majority of the manga so far, the anime followed it quite well, had it not been for the filler arc that took up the remaining 3-4 episodes. But for the most part, I enjoyed the story very much and hope that it will follow the manga if it were to receive a second season, which is HIGHLY FAVORABLE.
The main reason why I love the characters of Noragami is not only how diverse they all are, but it seems to have a Hiromu Arakawa feel to it; no character is used solely for fanservice or comic relief in spite of their first appearance. Every person in this series is well fleshed-out, developed, and not one-dimensional in the slightest, though that’s what you may get the impression of in early episodes.
Yato, our main character, is somewhat of an underdog aside from being homeless and having a strange fashion sense. He is definitely the real propeller of the show, providing us with not only mystery, insight, and of course, more comic relief than you can shake a stick at, but just such a fun time watching him in general. There wasn’t a moment I didn’t appreciate his presence on my screen. What’s not to like about a bratty, teenage looking god taking up job requests for only 5 Yen? Much about him is still to be revealed, though they’ve given us enough to go on for right now. His viewpoints on humans and life as a whole is somewhat irritating yet fascinating due to his experience of both and naturally, having lived for thousands of years as a vicious war god who has somehow faded to an insanely silly and docile version of that is still unkown. But to end his profile, Yato is a great character who differs from the typical shonen hero who still has plenty of development to go and is an amazing joy to watch at any given time. And personally, my favorite character of the series, so bias warning there.
Next up is Hiyori. I definitely don’t have as much to say here, as she is a pretty bland character until she meets Yato and gets caught up in the world of gods and evil spirits. Before that she is just the average high school student who goes to school with her friends, has a loving and rich family, and is just normal overall. Her most defining trait is without a doubt, her extreme levels of kindness that most female protagonists seem to ooze with these days (hence the reason why she pushed a complete stranger out of the way of an oncoming bus because she’s a female and therefore is /just /that /nice.) But of course, she isn’t simply that customary for no given reason. Her main purpose is to serve as more of a window into the hidden reality we see that is so different from our daily lives, since she lives the everyday life that most of us do either as well or similarly to a fair extent. She reflects more of the confusion and shock the average human being would feel upon having a million revelations thrown into her face via Yato, and I suppose if you really don’t care for her she could be more of a wish-fulfillment character into an alternate universe. Unlike other leading characters, she’s determined and knows when to take the initiative when the situation is tight. But alas, she starts out as the badass female lead and then ends up getting damseled like some million-dollar-prize in the last couple episodes, which I hate with the burning passion of a million suns. But moving on.
Last of the main three is Yukine, Yato’s sarcastic, stubborn fourteen-year-old Regalia who serves as his weapon for 98% of the show and also adds some more comic relief to (but mainly against) our poor underdog god. Out of those already mentioned above, he undeniably undergoes the most drastic character development in the entire show and /all of it/ is so, so, so satisfying. It surprises me how much hate he gets from the fandom, though not only is that a) more personal bias, b) not the time to bring this up in a review, and c) a time to complain about the fandom giving him crap, but I thought all of it was well justified, mainly because it is so simple to see what it is he wants, where he’s coming from, why he wants all these things that he can never have. Plus he actually acts similarly to how an actual fourteen-year-old boy with raging hormones and inner angst would. The show finally starts to get into a rhythm of a plot with his introduction, which is majorly important as well. The only complaint that I would have is that I felt that the episodes just took a /little/ too long having the buildup to his extremely Paramount conclusion, though it was so intensely satisfying in the end that I completely forgot about it. It added a sense of desperation to the entire thing, which, when I think about it, is not necessarily a bad factor now. But of course, since he is a part of this show, he is a brilliant and extremely adorable character to watch if you can understand him, which should not really be a problem at all.
The rest of the supporting cast is also great, each to their own with their own stories, pasts, and different sides, but are all also incredibly fun to watch as they give the show so much colour and variety. The only reason why I wouldn’t give the character aspect a full-on 10 is because of Yato’s rather-late-introduced arch-nemesis from thousands of years ago (who just happens to be a filler character because of the unfortunately short length of this series right now) and Hiyori’s demotion of “Prize to Be Won After We Win Because we Love Her”.
I definitely don’t have any complaints here. For the most part the animation style is typical Bones fare, with the art looking approvingly alike to that of the manga’s. Each character design is bright and interesting to the eye, from Yato’s cat-like blue eyes and strange scarf to the brighter colours of the giggly Kofuku and the other personified gods. Scenery is also well done and detailed, though I wish there were more fight scenes included because this is where the animation /really/ shines through. (Yato’s Rend attack in particular, and mainly since this little cut is re-used multiple times in each episode.) Naturally there are times when the quality would dip here and there, but it does its job and doesn’t fail to please. Solid 8 here.
The soundtrack for Noragami was composed by Taku Iwasaki, the genius who had previously created OSTS for the famous Black Butler and Soul Eater, both of which were known for their very prominent themes varying from rock ballads and pop to Victorian-era themes. Most of the music is light-hearted and a bit repetitive in its loops, but it sets the mood extremely well and never feels out of place. It occasionally mixes in a few classical Japanese themes into it too, and that never feels unnatural either. The battle music is the main point in this entire OST along with a few other tracks that will make you go, “Oh, this played when ______ happened and it sounded awesome!” because honestly it is just that great. No complaints.
As if it could possibly add onto the already existing 10, the voice acting of Noragami is simply SUPERB and there is no other way I can say it. The casting of the actual god Kamiya Hiroshi as Yato was an absolutely perfect choice that would be practically impossible to imitate by anyone else. I wasn’t used to hearing him play such a wide range in a single role, but I have faith in that man. I got used to it, and he was simply amazing. In fact, even if I didn’t have any interest in Noragami’s story I would still watch this anime just because this guy is present in the cast. I don’t even think I need to mention Yuki Kaji, but I will anyway just for the fact that he pulls of Yukine’s pre-teen angst and personality so intensely well that I almost burst out sobbing the second he spoke a single line. Both of them are really what pull off the characters and that goes for the rest of the cast too. Having seiyuu regulars such as Sawashiro Miyuki, Fukuyama Jun, and Daisuke Ono were all great choices as well, and again, no complaints at ALL. Don’t even talk to me about the OP and ED.
Enjoyment & Final Verdict: 9/10
Now, even though I’d like to call it as such, Noragami is not perfect, as is anything else out there. But though it has its problems, I was never once bored or dissatisfied with this show to a large extent. The only thing that would make this bump up to a ten would be the confirmation of more to come. Though the anime had its happy (if not rushed) ending, there is still so much manga content to be animated, including the /incredible/ arc focusing on Bishamon, Yato’s other arch-nemesis from centuries ago, but now’s not the time to mention that. Noragami is a great blend of comedy and the supernatural, a character-driven show that really gets you to feel and has a tone that tends to capture. Beneath it all are underlying tones of darkness and grief, but still manages to put on a lighthearted tone when it needs to. But all in all, I had a great time watching the ride and grew attached to it. This anime will most definitely have a little reserved corner in my heart as one of the greatest animes of the Winter 2014 season and I’m looking forward to the possibility of a future season. And with that, I leave you.
“May our fates intertwine.”
The things that I like come in many different shapes and sizes. One such thing that I like is the Winter 2014 show Noragami, a ‘feels’ shounen brought to you by Studio Bones, that brings together elements of shows like Soul Eater and Rurouni Kenshin to give you a ‘family-centric’ journey exploring what it means to be alive.
Or rather I wish it did. At its best you’ve got tear jerking moments of mortality, family, and the struggles of existence. You have a cast of characters you care about, the voice acting encapsulating each character almost perfectly, flowing between emotions and the changing tone beautifully. At its worse you have long ’bouts of ‘struggle of the week’. Slow buildup to something with mediocre story telling until the conclusion. And foreshadowing that is either so obvious it hurts, or massively fascinating and never really answered.
This show’s strengths are in its characters, mainly Yato – who consistently brings out the best interactions of the entire show, be it his sweetness or his harshness – and are the primary reason that I want more and more of Noragami. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the cast are all better than average. Certainly better than what I expect from a battle shounen. And when the show is being a harsh drama I am utterly entranced, fulfilled and cathartic.
But. When it is not being amazing. It is mediocre beyond belief. Slow pacing, which ,whilst forwarding the overall plot, could easily have been something else more in line with the show at its best. This is further exemplified by the animation quality which just seems disappointing. The art style deserves better than what it got. The art style on its solid and certain ‘Phantoms’ (The primary antagonistic beings for most of the series) just ooze awesome. Others look about as cool as a blue frog can look. And whilst I couldn’t call the animation terrible, for the most part it does nothing good, the creepiness is not exemplified, the sadness is not exemplified, the little details are simply absent. I’m never impressed and at my worse I’m disappointed by how often the shounen “Power up to kill shit” is copy and pasted. Sure it is cool the first couple of times, but with the amount it is reused it loses its power quickly.
The soundtrack takes some interesting steps. Using more electronic and dubsteppy tracks than your standard rocky shounen. I personally found it kind of bland, but I can easily see others enjoying it far more as the tracks are not out of place and certainly match the moods of the scenes. Being unique in this regard should be applauded, but whether it really works or not is something we can question heavily.
However the biggest and most substantial flaw of this show is where the overall plot goes. This is a 12 episode series that does not buckle down and focus. Most of what fascinated me in the earlier episodes was not really built upon. Instead I have a Kenshin-esque fight scene and a re-establishment of the strange ‘friend-family-esque’ trio, which was only broken up an episode earlier. I want more exploration of Yato and Yukine’s character depth and backstory. I want my weird romance subplot between a kinda human and a deity. I want the three main plot lines to be resolved.
But I don’t have that. Instead I’m left here waiting and hoping for a season two that takes everything amazing about this show and continues, without the flaws of the first season. Which in itself is an issue, because the ending track is completely and utterly gorgeous. Easily amongst one of the best EDs, based on track alone, that I have had the fortune to listen to in my lifetime. But a single music track alone is not something most people will watch a show for.
[Synopsis]: Lacking both recognition and a shrine, Yato (Kamiya, Hiroshi) is a god down on his luck, forced to take on mundane requests in order to earn his meager offerings. On one of these menial tasks he is rescued from the path of a racing truck by Iki Hiyori (Uchida, Maaya) who subsequently is subjected to inconvenient out of body experiences when her soul leaves her body. After Hiyori requests for Yato to fix her condition they meet Yukine, (Kaji, Yuuki) a wandering spirit who becomes Yato’s divine weapon. The three fight ayakashi and do odd jobs in order for Yato to one day become a recognizable god with both a shrine and followers.
Noragami has a fairly small cast which can be nice in terms of simplicity however it can also lead to the show feeling over-reliant on only a few characters. Yato, the penniless god who dreams of becoming a well-respected deity, is a fairly lighthearted and comedic character however is perfectly capable of becoming serious given the proper conditions. He’s not afraid to take on simple jobs in order to earn his 5-yen donations however I also felt that this trait was somewhat troublesome as the character has high aspirations but only progresses towards them at a snails pace.
Iki Hiyori is a generic enough school girl (outside of her interest in professional martial-arts). She isn’t a very intricate or even interesting character however her place in the show is well situated enough as she acts as a sort of layman for the viewers so we can have an introduction to the implications and concepts of Noragami‘s world. She is a good source of comedy however I don’t think she holds much intrigue within the story.
Lastly we have Yato’s divine weapon: Yukine. He was a wandering spirit when Yato found him and by nature of this was once human which makes for a good deal of the shows drama as well as Yukine’s own internal anxiety. I found him to be rather irritating as a character – it is eluded to that he had a tragic or traumatic past as a human however his conflict with Yato and his lot in the show is not tied to this and therefore feels needlessly whiny and unpleasant. He is often at odds with Yato however there didn’t appear to be any unique character qualities within Yukine that would give way for this and so his discomfort feels petty. He doesn’t exhibit very good character development either and while he does become less unpleasant after a point, it is not even his own doing that leads to this near 180 of attitude. All in all, I felt he was rather annoying and I thought his poorly written character exploration took up much too much time.
The character designs in Noragami are fairly simple except when it comes to the more supernatural characters like other gods or the ayakashi – Yato himself is best visually characterized by wearing a jersey and sweat pants. The character designs tend to get a little relaxed or lazy if the scene is not of great import or when the characters are depicted as far away however they never become outright terrible.
The combat in the show could almost entirely be described as single-strike or clash based because many of the battles are between Yato wielding Yukine against an otherworldly monster. This isn’t necessarily bad however if one was to look into the show for action reasons then these scenes leave a bit to be desired in terms of choreography, length, and overall complexity.
I think this is where Noragami falls short for most people – not because the story is poorly written or because the characters act stupid but because there doesn’t seem to be much there to begin with. The premise of the story – that Yato wishes to become a famously worshiped god and that Hiyori wants her body fixed – is not something that the story spends much time chasing after. Yes, Yato takes odd jobs in order to increase his recognition and earn his offerings however, as I stated in the [Characters] section, he seem to have much actual ambition and therefore hardly progresses towards his dream within the course of the 12 episodes.
The content that the show actually covers, concerning primarily Yukine’s emotional disposition and later Yato’s dark history, I didn’t find as interesting as if the show pursued its original premise more actively. In all honesty, because the show is primarily lighthearted for a good deal of its episodes, I would say that the comedic interactions between the main cast of characters is ultimately of more interest than the plot the show shallowly explores.
The music was pretty good and some people may recognize a similar approach and style as to that of Katanagatari as the composer is Iwasaki Taku. I wouldn’t say that the music is nearly as good as his other work in my personal opinion however I would say the soundtrack is one of the show’s better appeals. The music mostly occupies a BG-type quality whereas Iwasaki’s work normally takes more of a center stage role in my experience – the action scenes do play up the music accordingly so I generally enjoy these parts of the music more than others.
[Final Thoughts and Rating]:
While there is a second season now confirmed for Noragami, these 12 episodes felt forgettable to me. The characters weren’t very interesting and there were so few of them that the cast of the show felt pretty lackluster.
I gave the show a 5 because its well enough animated and has decent music but the show spent its 12 episode run quite poorly in the progression department and had a few actively annoying elements such as Yukine’s dialogue and characterization.
Because the show offers very little in overall content – I have a hard time recommending the show to anyone for genre purposes however someone that’s looking for a supernatural anime would not go amiss as the ayakashi and gods are fairly present throughout the show. The action in Noragami i felt was pretty lackluster save maybe the final confrontation in the show however I don’t think it was a worthy payoff and wouldn’t recommend it for this reason. I would say that the show’s strongest point is its comedy and so anyone looking for a good few comedic reaction faces and decent gags would do fine in watching the show however there is a fair amount of drama as well so its not a pure comedy by any means.
7: Akatsuki no Yona
English: Yona of the Dawn
MAL Score: 8.04
Princess Yona lives a life of luxury and ease, completely sheltered from the problems of the seemingly peaceful Kingdom of Kouka; however, the sudden murder of the king and betrayal of her beloved cousin Su-won places Yona’s life in mortal peril. Forced to escape only with Son Hak, who is both her childhood friend and bodyguard, the na?ve princess soon discovers that Kouka is not the idyllic place she envisioned it to be. Poverty, strife, and corruption run rampant, making reclaiming the throne nothing more than a wishful fantasy given the kingdom’s current state.
Based on the popular manga of the same name by Mizuho Kusanagi, Akatsuki no Yona follows Princess Yona on a coming-of-age adventure as she faces the harsh realities of her kingdom. With only a mysterious legend to guide her, Yona must discover a way to restore Kouka to its former glory while being pursued relentlessly by the forces of the new King of Kouka.
First of all , Akatsuki no yona where have you been all this time? Where have you been HIDING dammit!
Sound : Im specifically starting with this , because lets face it , the soundtrack is absolutely amazing in this anime. Starting with the opening , Its only instrumental! ( How much time has it been since we got AN INSTRUMENTAL OPENING?)and yet you don’t skip it and listen to it every damn time. The second opening isnt as great but is still awesome!
( seriously it gives you chills everytime there’s a fight/emotional moment and the traditional music goes in).
Story : Princess Yona leads a peaceful life. Her only “worries” is whether or not her hair colour suits her and if she’s gonna be able to marry her beloved childhood friend Soo-won. Well lucky for her ! He stops by the castle for a week. However her father forbids their marriage for reasons beyond her understanding. THEN BAM! beloved Soo-Won drives a blade through the chest of the king while she runs into the room to talk to him about her marriage. Heartbroken and stripped of her status as royalty, Yona lives as a fugitive on the run, accompanied only by one of the king’s trusted shogun : Haku!.
Art : The animation is freaking good , yona hime face expressions are really well detailed ( I mean look at those fierce gorgeous eyes man) , and the art may seem typical but its beautiful! And hey for once the main dude isnt a 100% bishounen shining armored prince like dude his eyes are more like ”dont mess with me” type.
Characters: The side characters ( Yona companions) are amazingly well developped ( better than any shojo I watched) , you get to see a very detailed past of some of them. ALSO CAN WE PLEASE TAKE A MOMENT for the first non-cry baby female lead since those 5 last years? Yes Yona hime is a typical princess , fragile , who only cares for nobles things and dont know how to cook her own food. HOWEVER she blooms into a strong female lead , who is aware of her weakness and wants to learn how to protect herself and save her country!.
Enjoyment: You know it’s a good anime when you know the release date of the next episode and wait for it the whole week. You know its a good anime when you prepare food for it and set all yourself up. Akatsuki no yona combines Humour , serious-badass-moments , Mother of typical shojo moments ( which means even if its typical they are still better introduced than other animes of the same type).It’s the type of anime that will give you chills in every single episode. Honestly if you are the kind of person who was desperate to find an amazing shojo with Strong female lead (like me) or just a passing-by person who never seen a shojo in her/his life , or just a curious person ! THEN DONT MISS AKATSUKI NO YONA.
Beware of spoilers used as discussion points
Featuring a middle ages Korea kingdom apparently in turmoil; Yona stars as a completely clueless princess with already 2 incredibly hot young men who can’t resist to “protect” her. A coup occurred, for reasons still unclear after 24 episodes, killing the king and forcing Yona to take flight with her Boyfriend #1 (Hak) after finding out the identity of the perpetrator being Boyfriend #2.Thus ensues a long winded journey as Yona travels and develops as a person and a benevolent, charismatic ruler, reaching for that ultimate goal with also a lot opportunities for romantic development, or so you’d think.
The premise of this series is definitely very promising and allows room for political intrigues, epic battles exploring the qualities of an ideal ruler, discussing the problems with a lenient ruler and how discipline is integral to order. Unfortunately a meager 2 episodes is spent on these issues, making it a huge waste of potential. It’s mentioned many times that the previous reign wasn’t effective, but it’s hardly shown through the show; in fact the blame is all placed onto generic one-dimensional bad guys for doing bad things. The people perspective is nowhere to be found, their “suffering” is hardly discussed, there are no exact problems to be fixed; this makes the show’s whole foundation completely empty and so does Yona’s claim on learning about suffering. In comparison, Rose of Versailles beautifully portrays an oppressed society with plenty of civilian perspectives to display the problems with incompetent governance. On a wider scale, it’s also mentioned that the kingdom is at risk of impending attack in an attempt to give the show some kind of direction; but it’s so diluted and underpresented it’s difficult to appreciate as world building. Furthermore, it doesn’t really help that the show utilizes silly slapstick comedy; much like Shitgatsu Kimi ga Uso, these kills off any tension and make the show somehow even more bubbly than it already is.
On an episode to episode basis, the show doesn’t fare too well either. Most episodes focus on Yona’s journey to find the “4 dragons” based on a prophecy told by a random drunk priest lying half dead on the side of the road. As if that isn’t silly fantasy enough, these dragons are bound to her by DESTINY, meaning the moment she caught their eyesight, they become a harem member. Yep, she doesn’t even need to convince them. Most of the arcs dont have much depth and doesn’t contribute to the big picture. Additionally, they also try to get the audience to sympathise to the autistic, utterly stereotypical and forgettable dragons that become irrelevant the moment they join the harem.Boyfriend #5 (Blue dragon) arc in particular had a lot of issues that should really have been touched on like why are soldiers attacking the villagers? Why do the little kids keep dying? Why do they fear something that saves them? Instead it focused on the superficial “suffering” of the hot boy. And of course, Yona saves the day in the most stupid way possible “because his hands are gentle, so I’ll trust him”, right. The Boyfriend #6 (green dragon) arc got a bit closer to what the show should have been but collapsed when it became yet another generic beat the big fat evil guy who oppress people out of his greedy desires (and really want to put his hands on Yona), joining awkwardly righteous pirates too nonetheless.
It’s funny how the show realizes the complete lack of purpose in trying to gather up these bishounen on the last episode due to Yona still being completely clueless and a failure in story writing discussed earlier. In attempt to correct this she is given a “purpose” but it’s clear the author still have no idea how to advance the plot and neither does the show become any less superficial.
Character wise, the show features a very generic cast of forgettable characters to poorly developed ones. Yona is often said to have developed greatly, which is nothing short of phony. Physical strength is not the equivalent of mental fortitude; and her excessive plot armor only further depreciates any signs of growth she has. There was only one instance in which she actually realizes she did not want to lose anything else, which was real development. All other instances are just the plot forcing her to take action in an attempt to fool the audience of any real substantial development. For example, when she shot said big fat evil guy, there was hardly any real change in her character or way of thinking, in fact she did it just to get patted on the head. The show tries to make it sounds fancy it but in reality it is exactly just that. And with this much “growth” as a human she has gathered in 24 long episodes, her development as a ruler is completely pointless to discuss.
Boyfriends #1-7 suffers heavily from being bogged down to tropes, wish fulfillment and shoujo pandering. They aren’t really allowed to have any thoughts other than about Yona (and protect her because DESTINY). Boyfriend #2 (Su-won) is a potentially interesting character as a young mastermind of a coup but completely butchered by facetious “naïve boy” behavior towards important head figures for reasons I can’t think of besides pandering. His lack of screentime completely denies any chance of development, adding to long list of disappointment in this show.
On the positive side, the production value of the show doesn’t suffer very badly from being animated by Studio Pierrot infamous for low budget and conservative animation. Art is generally acceptable without noticeable problems. The chibi slapstick art hurts my eyes but other than that it’s pretty average. The instrumental first opening sounds like something from a cheap Chinese MMO and the second is an okay jpop.
In conclusion, Akatsuki no Yona is yet another generic shoujo story masked by a deceptive exterior. Potential interesting plot development and political discussion are replaced by a pointless journey to find hot boys. Every character is inexplicably obsessed about Yona because she’s the designated main character and tropes take up more time than character development. It’s not necessarily the worst thing; in fact it’s just overly mediocre rather than outright horrible. However, it is highly disappointing considering what it could possibly have been, making it excruciating to watch. If you had to watch this series it’s best to keep your expectations low.
At first, this show seems like your average run of the mill shoujo reverse harem, but by the end of the first episode as the story goes on, it seems to be more than that, its really a well written story which focuses on vengence and betrayal, it blow other shoujos away. The pacing at times when getting dragons to join may seem a little slow and does drag on here and there. Sure it does focus on finding the dragons but get to the point already, sure there may be a sidestory but can we just get these people coming in?
The characters are done well and are beautifully developed, Yona is pretty much one of my faviroute female characters of all time, she starts off weak and fragile like a little kitten and develops on to be something big, a brave independent creature awaiting its prey, its done in a way that developing her is spot on. If I’d rate Yona alone it would be an easy 10. Hak is Yona’s first protector, being known since childhood, Hak is goddamn badass, he helps Yona and keeps her safe from danger, he’ll use himself as a tool to protect her. The other dragons are pretty good characters each with their own backstories and being well developed to Yona. The problem i have here is that some of these characters might say a serious speech and then revert to comedy, at first its a good ol’joke but it keeps getting used so much that its just a pain in the ass at times.
The Art is pretty good for the most part, it has some well done character designs and sometimes has some well detailed characters. Same goes for sound, its great to listen, both OPs and EDs are goddamn beautiful and the OSTs fit the shows theme.
The show is a blast to watch, it leaves no plotholes (from my point of view) and has dialouge that seems useful. The problem is that sometimes this show is a serious adventure fantasy and then converts to a shoujo comedy and usually this transition feels unatural and ruin the tense moments. At times its pretty funny but at times, I can’t even.
Akatsuki no Yona is a goddamn pleasure to watch and I’m glad I didn’t ignore it. At first the plot sounds generic, but give the show a chance and you’ll experience some of the most well done developements in anime in years. This show deserves a Season 2, hell it needs ne. And this all comes from Studio Pierret… how about putting this effort in Tokyo Ghoul? But besides jokes, you should seriously start watching Akatsuki no Yona right now.
6: JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 3: Stardust Crusaders
English: JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Japanese: ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 スターダストクルセイダース
MAL Score: 8.09
Years after an ancient evil was salvaged from the depths of the sea, Joutarou Kuujou sits peacefully within a Japanese jail cell. He’s committed no crime yet demands he not be released, believing he’s been possessed by an evil spirit capable of harming those around him. Concerned for her son, Holly Kuujou asks her father, Joseph Joestar, to convince Joutarou to leave the prison. Joseph informs his grandson that the “evil spirit” is in fact something called a “Stand,” the physical manifestation of one’s fighting spirit which can adopt a variety of deadly forms. After a fiery brawl with Joseph’s friend Mohammed Avdol, Joutarou is forced out of his cell and begins learning how to control the power of his Stand.
However, when a Stand awakens within Holly and threatens to consume her in 50 days, Joutarou, his grandfather, and their allies must seek out and destroy the immortal vampire responsible for her condition. They must travel halfway across the world to Cairo, Egypt and along the way, do battle with ferocious Stand users set on thwarting them. If Joutarou and his allies fail in their mission, humanity is destined for a grim fate.
Then I saw a pillar.
A pillar of hope.
A pillar of testosterone and manlyness.
A pillar of Jojo.
Story: 10 pillars of hope/10 pillars of hope
“This makes my plays look like Mars of Destruction in comparison” -William Shakespeare
Where do I begin? At the start most likely. It starts with our hero Jotaro Kujo (This parts Jojo) sitting in a prison cell. You will be asking yourself: “How can such a man, who is the manfistation of coolness and manlyness be stuck in prison?” Then you find out he has put himself in a cell to protect people from the “evil spirit” that is possessing him. Now something will happen to you, but don’t worry. It’s just your body reacting to the heroic and noble sacrifice done by our protagonist. Ejaculations and sudden hysterical crying is normal.
Then he finds out that this “evil spirit” is something called a stand. A stand is a supernatural power that curtain individuals can use and each stand has different powers and different strenghts. Therefore to defeat different stands different strategies is needed. Jojo will bring Sun Tzu to shame with it’s genius tactics and strategies.
Due to certain events Jotaro’s mother gets infected by a stand and is dying. The only way to save her is by defeating the evil Dio (WARNING: wear swimming trousers each time he apears, because your panties will be wet after each time Dio has an appearance) who has haunted the Joestar family for years. So our hero goes on a journey like no other to defeat Dio and save his mother.
The plot is full of plot twists and asks alot of philosophical questions and answers them as well. The plot is complex like no other and is so well written I found myself suddenly crying because of how good and intriguing it was. After having watched Jojo I see the world in a different light and my IQ has been raised by 8 points. It’s that deep and philosphical.
Art: 18 reroreros/ 4,8 reroreros
“If only my art was this good”- Pablo Picasso
Your eyes are not decieving you. The art is truly this manly and fabulous. Currently in 18 nations around the planet Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is banned because the art is so good it counts as a drug. The art is so good and testorene filled that it’s addictive. Yes. It is that good.
On several occasions I found myself drooling on the fantastisc artwork and character designs. Normally one would wonder why people are wearing school uniforms during a journey to the other side of the world, but not in Jojo, because it looks so good on them. Studios such as Ufotable, Shaft and Madhouse has a few things to learn here when it comes to amazing artwork.
Sound: 389 Oraora’s/ 217,82 Oraora’s
“Now that I have heard the voice acting and ost of Jojo i can die happy” -Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
I never thought perfection existed in this world. That was until I watched Jojo. Your ears will bleed of pure ecstacy while watching Jojo. Everytime I heard a “Oh No” or “Oh my god” coming from Joseph I had a ejaculation and nothing can prepare your body for “rerorero”. “Rerorero” made all the citizens of a small village in Siberia cut off their own ears, because they knew they would never hear anything that good aver again.
My earphones exploded on several occasions, because it could’t handle Jojo’s voice acting. I’m now on my 23rd headphones. The voices fit the characters so good you will be thinking: “Were the voice actors born just to play these roles?” Yes they were. In several interviews the voice actors have confirmed that they have since birth feeled that they were born to be voice actors for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure.
Characters: 5 wet panties/5 wet panties
“God, I wish I was as cool and smooth as Jotaro” -Immanuel Kant
The characters of Stardust Crusaders is the best part. You might think: “They can’t possibly be that good?” and let me tell you this: they’re not. THEY ARE BETTER!
First our lead Jotaro who is the embodiment of coolness. Jotaro is noble and manly like few other. Every episode you will scream out in despar: “How can Jotaro get out of this?” And each time Jotaro will use his manlyness and godlike intellegence and win against all odds. Side effects of this is you standing up screaming: “F*CK YEAH!” on several occasions. You will find yourself striving to be like Jotaro for the rest of your life after having seen him in action.
The side characters are also superb. They all bring their own distinct personalities, ideals and struggles to the story. You will find yourself drowning in different ideoligies and moralities. You will also start questioning your own morality and ideals thanks to this show.
The side characters are also fleshed out and gets development. When you are finished with this show you it will feel like you have known these characters for years, no, DECADES.
The show is also full of grey morality. The villains are fleshed out like no other and even brins Legend of the Galactic Heroes to shame with it’s grey morality. You will feel for both the protagonists and the antagonists throughout this adventure.
Enjoment/Overall: 10 manly tears/10 manly tears
“If I had to only watch one anime in my life, it would be Jojo” -Aristotle
I shed manly tears. I laughed. I was moved emotionally and I will never be the same man again.
This show is the show that saved anime summer season 2014 for me( it’s not even a part of the summer season.)
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders is not only an anime. It is a piece of art. Words cannot even begin to describe it’s manlyness and fabulousness. I can only describe a small part of all the testosterone.
You should all watch Jojo over all the other mediocries that is currently airing and to help you understand that I have written this review. There is no need to thank me. Thank Jojo for being so amazing. Now, go! Go and watch Jojo!
I couldn’t just stop at the first season, seeing as the Part 5 anime just ended I’ve decided to look back on the entire Jojo anime, from Dio to Diavolo and tell you why I believe Jojo is the most overpraised anime to have come out so far. Part 3 is without a shadow of doubt the most iconic arc in all of Jojo, when someone thinks of Jojo, they usually think of this, it’s what cemented Jojo as a staple of Shounen, it was the first arc to get its own video game, it was the first arc to be adapted into an anime, it was the first part to be released outside of Japan, it’s also had the biggest impact on popular culture, being referenced in a multitude of anime and video games, it’s also, in my opinion, the worst part in all of Jojo by a country mile.
Now let’s start with the story, or lack thereof, simply put, the first season of part 3 is filler, and by filler, I don’t mean stuff they added in for the anime, no no no, I mean most of the episodes have no impact on the story or characters, no one develops, oh sure, some characters go from bad to good but that’s because they were under mind control, so it doesn’t really count.
Now to be fair, the first 5 or so episodes do set up the plot and characters, but after that, only one plot relevant thing happens before the season finale, none of the characters develop, they are the same boring cardboard cut outs from beginning to end, Kakyoin from episode 2 is the exact same person in episode 24, same goes for Avdol, Joseph, and Jotaro, the only character who develops is Polnareff, who goes from “I wanna avenge my sister’s death by finding her killer” to “I wanna kill Dio”, thrilling.
One thing I’ve noticed is that this arc is where Araki developed his horrible habit of introducing plot points, characters, powers etc, and then forgetting about them almost immediately, a great example of this is Kakyoin, when we first meet Kakyoin he’s painting Jotaro, he paints red over Jotaro’s knee and then Jotaro gets a cut on his leg, this ability is never seen or mentioned again, then Kakyoin’s stand ability is changed to possession, it’s a pretty overpowered ability, which is why it’s dropped almost immediately and is only used once more. Another example is Star Platinum, when it’s introduced it seems to have a mind of its own, it brings Jotaro stuff while he’s in prison (which contradicts its later established 5 meter range), and it makes Jotaro believed he’s possessed, this is never explained and Star Platinum never shows autonomy again, it also demonstrates the ability to stretch its fingers and deliver a small but powerful blow the instantly kills an enemy, this ability is also forgotten about. Now I can understand an author forgetting about something like that gradually, but Araki forgets almost instantly, so either he can’t come up with creative ways to use these simplistic abilities in more than one fight scene, or he has a really bad case of dementia. Araki’s forgetfulness gets much worse as the series progresses, but this is where it started.
For fun I decided to see how much time this first season wastes, the team is established by episode 5, their is a plot important 2 parter, another 2 parter which undoes a plot point in the aforementioned previous 2 parter, and the finale is also important, so that’s 11 plot relevant episodes…in a 24 episode season, meaning 54% of this season can be skipped over and you’d miss nothing.
The story is structured in a really formulaic way, the group travels to a location, one of the characters meets a stand user, they fight the stand user and are either beaten or trapped, then they fight them again and win, through either a stupidly complex strategy, or in Jotaro’s case, through punching, this formula is used in almost every episode, and it gets old really quick.
The main cast is completely bland and forgettable, Jotaro, the supposed main character of the part is about as interesting and well defined as a child’s first original character, he’s meant to be a delinquent type, but besides occasionally being rude or dismissive I never really got that vibe from him, he’s just a boring and emotionless mary sue who wins every fight by punching really hard, remember Joseph with his tactical expertise and complex strategies? Yeah that was sooo boring, let’s replace him with another shounen protagonist who wins every fight by just punching. Speaking of Joseph, the silly yet cunning and strategic Joseph has been reduced to a screaming old man, Old Joseph is mean to be the arc’s “comic relief” but he has one joke, the joke being that he screams phrases in English like 3 times an episode, yeah, I know right, comedy gold, I’m sure it was worth sacrificing your most interesting character yet Araki. Kakyoin is just, there, I’ve described characters as “bland” a lot when talking about Jojo, but I can’t even use that to describe Kakyoin since he has no personality, like I can’t tell you a single thing about him as a character. What I said about Kakyoin can also be applied to Avdol except he’s even more forgettable since he’s absent for a good chunk of the season.
The only mildly interesting character is Polnareff, Polnareff’s entire personality is that he’s impulsive and stupid and often gets himself into trouble, yeah it doesn’t sound like much but he at least has a personality that’s easy to describe, he also has an interesting motivation, he doesn’t want to kill Dio at all, he’s just after the man who killed his sister, and once he finds and kills him he loses the only interesting thing about him and becomes just as bland as the rest of the main cast.
The only really interesting character is minor antagonist Hol Horse, he portrays himself as this confident, smooth talking and charismatic lady’s man often acting like a cowboy from an old western, but in reality he’s a coward who’s way in over head and has deluded himself, not too well developed but really fun to watch, too bad he only gets 3 episodes of screentime in this season. Hol Horse is the only antagonist worth mentioning, all of the others are just obstacles for the protagonists to clear, most of their personalities are comparable to that of a Power Rangers monster, in fact towards the end of the season they stop showing up for the most part, they just use their stands to fight from a distance and you only see them after they’ve been defeated or killed. Oh yeah Dio’s here, he does nothing, he just waits around in his mansion, occasionally talking to this one witch who’s built up but killed almost as easily as the rest of the villains
The art and animation is about on part with season 1, it’s great, read my review for season 1 for more details.
The music is a slight improvement over season 1’s already great music, there are a lot more memorable tunes, such as Jotaro’s theme, Kakyoin’s theme and the OP, Walk Like An Egyptian was a great choice from the ED.
Part 3 is just awful, I see no point in watching it other than for the fight scenes, but even then you could just watch them on YouTube, so is it really worth sitting through 24 episodes of (mostly) no story and the blandest set of characters in anime history?
Welcome to The Neko´s review of JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 3: Stardust Crusaders.
As we know, JoJo is divided into several parts, each with it´s own character, own plot but with similar style. Stardust Crusaders is the third part of the whole Jojo´s Bizarre Adventures franchise and works as a sequel to the first season of Jojo, which included parts 1 and 2, Phantom Blood and Battle Tendency.
The series starts with the revelation of DIO´s comeback to the series, who is after the remaining Joestars heads, and the journey of the new Jojo, Jotaro Kujo, and his companions in order to exterminate DIO once and for all.
This time the series took a more episodic nature and replaced the Hamon by new powers called Stands, a manifestation of psychic powers that takes the form of any given character´s Alter Ego. I can only imagine all the Jojo fans, when this was published in the manga, going “Awww my GAWD, that is soooooooo AWESOME”, because even if now it´s not THAT original, when the manga was first published it was a kinda big deal. Now we have things like Persona that do things like that, but Jojo is different in the aspect that here Stands can take ANY form, ranging from an enormous ship to a little insect, each with its own abilities and weaknesses. So this episodic nature that the series took this time is shown in a ‘Stand User of the week’ format. Bad guy appears, Jojo and his friends have to deal with him, they have trouble at first, then they find a way to beat him and then they win in the most awesome way possible…most of the times. While there are some really fun, filled with action and comedy episodes, there are also a lot of episodes that end up being either boring or completely irrelevant, such as The Sun episode. This happens because the author of the manga thought that it would be cool to have the Stands named after Tarot cards, the thing is that then he had to use them all leading to some really unnecessary episodes here and there. The episodic nature of the show can also be bothersome to some people since Part 1 and 2 had a more over arching story. Also, this season is only the first half of Stardust Crusaders with more to come in 2015, so its ending really doesn´t conclude anything, nothing to worry about since its continuation is already announced.
But of course, this is still Jojo so we still have the things that make Jojo what it is, bizarre comedy, lots of action and cool phrases, so if you liked season 1 then you will most likely enjoy this season anyway.
The artwork in Season one wasn´t the best there is because of the short budget, but they still compensated with filters and colour changing to make it look cool enough despite the short budget. This time they have more money and it shows, the animation is more fluid, colours are more vivid and backgrounds are more detailed but they still keep all the things that made the first season´s animation so cool, all the change of colours, all the onomatopoeias, all the style is still here and it looks better than ever. The character designs are still Jojo too, lots of muscles and the cool hairstyles are still here. Jotaro´s design is the one I liked the most, it served its purposed which is to make him look like a badass.
In this part we have a new set of main characters starring the new JoJo, Jotaro Kujo and his friends, Mohammed Avdol, Jean Pierre Polnareff, Kakyoin Noriaki and the old version of Battle Tendency´s Jojo, the fabulous Joseph Joestar, Jotaro´s grandfather. Sadly, Jotaro didn´t live up to my expectations as a protagonist, he was to much of a badass protagonist than anything else, and is a kind of bland character. It seemed as if he was too forced into being a badass and that had it´s consequences. He lacked a lot of the charisma that the previous JoJo, Joseph, had. Still, he isn´t by any means a dislikeable character, but he is far from being one of my favourites.
Speaking of Joseph, he is back as an old version of himself this season, and boy did he make me worry at first. In the first couple of episode he was presented as a mature old man, almost completely different to the original Joseph Joestar, and I was “But…is this really the Joseph that we all know and love?” and it wasn´t until he starred in one episode that this series said “FUCK YES HE IS!” leading to one of the best episodes in the series where we get to hear his old phrases such as “OOOOOOOOH NOOOOOOO” and “Your next line will be…”, so yeah, Joseph is still awesome.
On the other hand we got Avdol and Kakyoin as supporting characters who had some moments to shine here and there but there is nothing that stands out that much, they are nice characters, but I wouldn´t say they are amazing. Polnareff on the other hand was the source of most of the usual bizarre comedy and with his joyful personality (most of the time) he ended up being one of the more likeable characters of Stardust Crusaders, at least until now.
Sadly even if DIO came back we still don´t get to see much of him and his fabulousness on screen, he does have a couple of scenes, but for now he doesn´t do much, since he is to cool to go out and kill all the Joestars by himself. We have secondary villains every episode, but the only ones that stand out are Hol Horse and Enyaba, with other less important villains such as The Empress, which are more funny that any other thing.
The soundtrack in this part is composed Yugo Kanno who, as redundant as it may sound, isn´t Taku “God” Iwasaki, the composer of Battle Tendency. As such the only track that really stood out was the Main Theme, Stardust Crusaders, with the rest of the soundtrack being kinda forgettable. In the other hand the voice acting is still great for the most part, every seiyuu did a grat job with it´s character, the only complain I have is with Jotaro, voiced by Daisuke Ono, since his voiced lacked some emotion, even in moments where Jotaro gets hit, it´s not really his fault but is still weird see Jotaro getting damaged and still not showing any sign of emotion, not even in his voice.
This season features only one Opening and one Ending, the opening being “Stand Proud” by Jin Hashimoto, a song that, as always, captures almost perfectly the essence of the Part, is a hit-or-miss song, but for me it was a really cool theme. The ending is of course an 80’s song, “Walk like an Egyptian” by the Bangles, is a nice song, but I still prefer the opening one.
As always Jojo´s Bizarre Adventures is still a really enjoyable instalment of the franchise, with some boring episodes here and there, sure, but enjoyable indeed. If you liked season one then there´s probably no reason why you shouldn´t watch this one, because even if it´s not as good as the first one in my honest opinion, at least not yet, it still has most of the things that made Season one so great.
Disappointed? Maybe a little since I was hearing so much things about this being the best part of Jojo´s Bizarre Adventures, and I still prefer Battle Tendency over this one, but this still provided me with lots of fun every week, more than what can be said about other series this season, and it is still Jojo, with its poses, its phrases, its over the top action and its bizarre comedy it will surely be enough to satisfy anyone who is looking for some MANLINESS this year. Now the second half is coming out on Winter of 2015 and I am not planning to miss it.
This has been The Neko and I wish you have a nice day/night.
5: No Game No Life
English: No Game, No Life
Japanese: ノーゲーム ノーライフ
MAL Score: 8.14
No Game No Life is a surreal comedy that follows Sora and Shiro, shut-in NEET siblings and the online gamer duo behind the legendary username “Blank.” They view the real world as just another lousy game; however, a strange e-mail challenging them to a chess match changes everything—the brother and sister are plunged into an otherworldly realm where they meet Tet, the God of Games.
The mysterious god welcomes Sora and Shiro to Disboard, a world where all forms of conflict—from petty squabbles to the fate of whole countries—are settled not through war, but by way of high-stake games. This system works thanks to a fundamental rule wherein each party must wager something they deem to be of equal value to the other party’s wager. In this strange land where the very idea of humanity is reduced to child’s play, the indifferent genius gamer duo of Sora and Shiro have finally found a real reason to keep playing games: to unite the sixteen races of Disboard, defeat Tet, and become the gods of this new, gaming-is-everything world.
No game No Life is a curious anime to me. I Consider myself to be a not so cruel scorer always giving anime a chance and always looking for positives but this is not the case for No Game No Life with me. Considered to be the next best thing since canned bread everybody seems to love this and I’m the only one who cant see what is so good about it. I will try to give my vision on the show in the next couple of sections so please bare with me.
The story without giving away too much its about 2 overly intelligent pair of step brothers Sora and Shiro who are portrayed as neets. They are bored with normal life and just love to play videogames. One day they get the opportunity to join a game world where 16 races rule. In the game world extreme and weird games exist with rules varying per agreement of the players so everything is at stake. All seems peaches and cream for an interesting anime with some good story movement except that the story progression is really slow.
To sum it all up its really nice neon colors. Very fluid and detailed animation especially the background. I have to say that despite not enjoying the anime this is its strongest asset and its really pleasing to the eye. Madhouse really did a good job with the art and I think its top 2 of the season along with Bokura Wa mina Kawaisou.
I don’t think it was over the top or memorable that you want to buy the OST’s or anything. Nothing really negative else to say by my part except that it was solid.
Characters (Only will be covering 3)
a) Sora – Main character, 18 year old neet who lives with his loli stepsister Shiro. Overly intelligent and with many sexual needs (according to the show). Sora quickly became an apparent icon this season for best character this season and all I can say is why? One of Sora’s biggest strengths is also his downfall as a character and this is his super intelligence. Nothing is ever a challenge in this supposed challenging game world to him and he always seems to have a plan for everything. He tries to be too cool for my liking. I never found any of his jokes or references to be funny or entertaining only just kinda corny.
b) Shiro – The other main character, 11 year old step sister of Sora. More intelligent than Sora apparently and has a brother complex. With Shiro its another case of overuse of Lolis for roles that can be fulfilled with normal characters along with Black Bullet. I don’t get the semi naked scenes of Shiro which in this case is a minor throughout the show and it feels a bit disturbing. Shiro’s downfall as a character to me is that she is just there to pull Sora back together and do some crazy deus ex machima to pull him out of the rare stuff that he cant (going according to plan if we follow the show’s logic) do.
c) Stephanie Dola – The other main character who’s purpose is nothing but be exposed half naked every 4 minutes and be mocked off because of her stupidity. I have gotten slander here on MAL because apparently her role is much deeper in motivating Sora and what not if you go all philosophical with the fan boys. In reality its not and her contribution to the progression of the plot is about 0.
Where is the enjoyment supposed to come from this show? If its the games it did a poor job. You never get the sensation that the games are a challenge for any of the main characters because everything goes according to plan and they are never really under any concern due to Sora and Shiro’s super Einstein like intellect. There is always something that saves them from defeat or something which gets really annoying by episode 3 or 4.
Let me say that chess game in episode the span of episodes 4-5? (I maybe wrong) Is probably the worst thing you can ever watch since there is absolutely no logic behind it all and its just a complete out of thin air invention to win the game. The only game I really enjoyed where the last 2 episodes because the main characters where actually in a pinch it goes in the most predictable way of having the most useless character in the show do something. It all went according to the same generic running theme throughout the show that everything is going according to the super master plan that we won the game before we even start. How do people get any joy out of this is beyond me.
The core of the plot is really slow and its pretty much overshadowed by the fan service and stupidity of Stephanie who is pretty much just a guinea pig to try out stuff throughout the show.
In the end I was really disappointed since I was looking forward to the show and all I got was just a slap in the face of how overrated, flawed and boring this show is some weeks in. The fan service outshines the plot and that is already a red flag. The plot already weak to begin with and all you get is boobs and stupidity with slow progression its not really ideal.
【2】 All disputes are to be resolved through the outcome of games.
【3】 In games, wagers will be made on what both parties decide to be of equal value.
【4】 Unless contrary to “Three”, the game content and the things wagered do not matter.
【5】 The challenged party has the right to decide the contents of the game.
【6】 “As per the Oath”, the wager will be unconditionally adhered to.
【7】 All matters for group conflicts will be decided by a representative.
【8】 If cheating is detected during a game, it will be regarded as a defeat.
【9】 The above rules are unconditionally everlasting, upheld in the name of God.
【10】—— Everyone should get along while playing games.
So reads the Ten Commandments which make up the laws of the incredible world of No Game No Life.
If there is one anime that once and for all showcases that the end well and truly justifies the means when it comes to entertainment value, then it’s got to be this one. Originally a light novel written by Kamiya Yuu, No Game No Life (or NGNL for short) is a series not quite like any other, mixing together numerous ordinary concepts into a not-so-ordinary and very refreshing story. It is not just about originality though, but the provided execution is absolutely fantastic as well, as this is one of the most addictive and over-the-top anime you’ll ever come across.
How can anything seemingly so dumb be so damn smart?
In recent years there has been a fair share of anime following the concept of “being trapped inside a video game with no way to escape it”, and it has been very successful. No Game No Life however takes the exact same idea and flips it upside down. This story is not about being trapped inside a game world, but rather instead it’s about voluntarily being in a fantasy world which has its very foundation oriented around the concept of games. The only other anime I can think of that uses a somewhat similar idea is Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai kara Kuru Sou Desu yo, but NGNL takes it one or two steps further, and more importantly does it around nine or ten levels better.
There was a legendary player team in the online gaming community named “[ ]” (pronounced “Kūhaku”, or “Blank” in English) which was known for never ever losing to anyone, no matter which game they were playing. Their real-life identities however were unknown to the world, but as it turned out it consisted of a pair of NEET (Not in Education, Employment or Training) gamer siblings: 18 year old Sora and his 11 year old little sister Shiro. These two geniuses were completely fed up with the real world and didn’t think of it as anything more than a shitty game, and therefore spent all their time in their room owning others in online games. That is to say before they got challenged online by a mysterious chess player who brought them to the very limits of their abilities before they could eventually manage to win. As a result, they got contacted by someone named Tet; the God of another world called Disboard, the ultimate paradise for gamers of Sora’s and Shiro’s caliber and he therefore invited them to come live in his world instead. And thus, the games began.
In the world of Disboard, there are a total of sixteen different races that have been granted the protection of the Ten Commandments, and are therefore the only ones worth mentioning. These races are seeded in order of magical strength, and at the very bottom of the ranking we find the race of Imanity, which is Disboard’s equivalent to the human race (clearly a spinoff of the word “humanity”). However as shameful as being at the bottom of the food chain might be, that ranking was made before Sora and Shiro arrived as reinforcements.
In a nutshell, the story of No Game No Life is about the siblings’ long-term plans of conquering the world by challenging others at games and using the Ten Commandments’ wagers as winnings while (hopefully) maintaining [ ]’s 100% win record. Sounds simple enough, right? Well it’s not.
The catch is that since the Ten Commandments make up the very structure of the world itself, combined with the fact that it’s a supernatural world containing magic to begin with; what the games are, how they are played and what their consequences are is *completely* limitless. This anime can and will do anything and everything as long as the author can think it up in his head beforehand, and let me tell you: what he has managed to cook up is nothing short of spectacular. Seriously, the amount of creativity and pure awesomeness poured into the various game sessions throughout this anime should most definitely *not* be understated, and as a result NGNL has some of the best single individual episodes I’ve ever seen in my anime career.
Of course that is not to say the grander, overarching story is any less impressive. Actually it manages to maintain the individual episode quality while still staying on track for the long-term plot in a very smooth manner of fashion, and as a result the anime never ever gets boring. It has a very high “lowest level” so to speak, but it does still get a bit spiky as some episodes are a lot better than others, however that is a jump ranging from “good” to “amazing” rather than ever dipping down very much. You’ll constantly be starved for more.
Whoever would have thought NEETs would be so neat?
As the 2-man protagonist team of the series, undoubtedly the vast majority of the focus in the character department is on Sora and Shiro themselves, and they’re certainly not disappointing.
Sora is extremely charismatic and cunning. He uses tons of deceitful tactics and strategies planned out way in advance in order to direct the flow of events much more so than meets the eye at first glance. As he likes to say, no matter how the game turns out, his victory is already assured from the very beginning. Of course this does not mean he’s the second coming of Light or Lelouch, as Sora has no sinister ulterior motives (other than perverted ones every so often) and instead is really a very humorous and enthusiastic person that just likes to have fun.
Shiro on the other hand looks like nothing more than a moe fanservice loli at first glance, and to some extent I cannot say that part is wrong per se. In case you didn’t realize it this is an ecchi anime in the end. We’re talking about very light ecchi here and nothing that ever feels forced but rather used for comedy instead, however you still shouldn’t be shocked if you find some nudity and boob groping every once in a while. Now as far as Shiro herself is concerned, that does however not change the fact that there is a hell of a lot more to her than that. For one she’s quite fun to listen to with her almost completely expressionless voice, yet very blunt choice of words. Also, in reality her level of genius is way above that one of her brother, but in a very different way. Shiro’s mind works sort of like a supercomputer, capable of unmatched amounts of logical thinking and data storage at any given point. On the other hand this makes her less adaptable than Sora, however what this means is that the pair of them perfectly complement each other’s weaknesses. Thus even if they might be defeatable on their own, when they play together they are almost invulnerable, hence why [ ] is always together as one… actually whenever they are out of each other’s line of sight they start panicking and get seizures and god knows what else.
The supporting cast primarily consists of Stephanie Dola (or Dora, either works) whom at first also looks like the obligatory fanservice character but before long you’ll realize that she’s much more of a comic relief character… or rather the butt of everyone else’s jokes. Now normally I might be a bit skeptical to that idea but this girl fills that role absolutely *perfectly*. Huge props to her voice actress I also have to add, she really did an awesome job expressing Stephanie’s impulsive behaviour. There is also the ever so popular Jibril who is just all around awesome in every way, but I’ll avoid talking about her as she is introduced later on in the story.
No you’re not on drugs, it actually looks like that
The word “colorful” doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface on this one. Animated by Madhouse, NGNL probably has the most vivid color scheme I’ve yet to come across in an anime and it is hard to put into words just what exactly it looks like. It has tons of purple and red everywhere and tends to use colors even for distinguishing details like shadows, outlines and similar. It’s really the kind of thing you need to see for yourself to understand but it sure as hell stands out from the crowd.
As always when it comes to artwork, it is entirely a subjective matter and whether you like it or not is up to every viewer individually. Personally I really liked it though, it somehow fit the over-the-top environments and atmosphere of the series very well, but I would still have to say that had it been for any other anime it would probably just have come off as being really weird.
Can you feel that beat? Beating everyone at everything that is
On its own this was definitely the part which I thought about the least while I was actually watching the series, but when looking at it in retroperspective it’s actually really solid.
Here’s the thing, the OP of NGNL never particularly blew me away but to be fair I mostly ended up skipping it all the time because I was so eager to get into the new episode every week so I could never really pay too much attention to it. The ED is better albeit still not amazing, although when the full version came out I found it a lot more enjoyable than I did during the anime itself.
That part asides though, the OST for the anime itself is one or two levels above that. Especially the music playing during some of the games themselves as well as the occasional epic speeches that occurs every once in a while during this anime have some very epic background tracks along with them.
As far as voice acting goes, many people will recognize the main seiyuu combi of Matsuoka Yoshitsugu and Kayano Ai making up Sora’s and Shiro’s respective roles. The first thing I noticed with this was that this is the exact same MC seiyuu coupling as that one of Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, and just like Shiina in said anime, Shiro’s voice is insanely husky and is almost like a whisper most of the time… in an adorable way of course. As far as Sora goes, more people will probably familiarize him with the fact that he has the same voice actor as Kirito from Sword Art Online, which might give some people the impression that NGNL is yet another anime which goes down the same route SAO did… which is definitely not the case.
They both make an absolutely solid performance in this case anyway, however to me the best voice acting in No Game No Life is the one done by Hikasa Yoko in her role as Stephanie. The role she has as the character constantly getting abused by the two siblings simply for their enjoyment (combined with the tsukkomi character she has to play for whenever their inner NEETs surface) results in her having numerous different comedy roles at the same time, yet Yoko absolutely nails them all every single time in an absolutely hilarious fashion.
12×23 minutes never felt so short
I’m just going to straight-up say that this is without a doubt one of the most enjoyable anime I’ve seen to date. Normally I don’t like to watch series while they’re currently airing very much, however I did it with this one and let me tell you waiting a full week for every new episode of this anime was painful. Excruciatingly so. This is not due to aspects such as constant cliffhangers or anything (although that also happens a few times) but simply due to how much fun every single episode is to watch. The concept of the anime as a whole is extremely appealing and interesting to follow, and due to the unlimited potential of the games themselves, every episode is completely different from the last one despite following the same ideals.
There’s just so much charisma poured into the characters’ over-the-top settings and it never fails to keep you hooked. Every single character is likable yet drastically different from one another. On top of all that the actual comedy part of NGNL is brilliant as well, including countless references to other anime series. I’m not sure exactly how it manages but somehow no matter which side of the show is present at any given moment, it delivers flawlessly every single time.
So why aren’t there any games like this in real life?
Ever since I first read the synopsis of this anime several months before it started airing, I immediately thought to myself: “Hey, this sounds pretty awesome, wincest plus video games?”. Now as it turned out there wasn’t very much in the way of wincest as this is solely sibling love, however what we got instead simply blew away pretty much all expectations I ever had. I did have a feeling that it would be something I would really like, but I don’t think anyone who hadn’t read the light novels ever imagined it to turn out this damn awesome.
I love pretty much everything about this show, and that’s not something I can say very often. From start to finish I don’t think there was a single moment which I didn’t enjoy, and that is something almost unheard of in anime. It’s so versatile in the way that it’s funny, original, charismatic, intelligent and just plain epic and awesome, all working in tandem. As a result, everything ends up being immensely satisfying.
Now this first season covers up to the end of volume three of the original light novels, and at the current time (the anime just finished airing), there are six volumes released in Japan, so there’s already plenty of content to adapt and hopefully season two won’t be too far around the corner, although as always it will come down to sales numbers in the end.
Regardless, it sure as hell needs a second season sooner rather than later, as we’re all going to suffer from abstinence until then.
Game Over….. for now at least…….. hopefully
As I’ve said, I have very much subjective and in many ways probably biased love for the series. I assume it’s mainly because it saved me from the rot of meaningless flashy series, where fan service replaces story and various “grabs” are there instead of plot twists. But isn’t this virtually the same? I have to strongly disagree.
Firstly, lets get the initial impressions out of the way. Art here has a nice modern touch, clean graphics, tight animations and it’s nice to see designers using after processing to add a style, not to obscure shabby production quality. Although I think style overall suits modern day setting more than fantasy world, making opening scene and city battle at the end of season most visually impressive.
Character design is the only complaint I can rise here, mainly among humans. Not that it’s bad, but somewhat samey. Good thing we have 15 more races to look at.
Now, regarding the setting itself, I kinda love it. On surface it looks uninspired: yet another parallel world where main character gets wisped away to, fantasy races, magic, dragons and villains. Oh and there’s a princess also, who falls in love with main character, but she’s kind of tsundere. Oh and they live in her castle.
But that’s what makes this one of my favorite series: the ability to take the most overused and boring setting, so dull, that Le Blanc de La Vallière, Louise Françoise might confuse it for her homeworld, and twist it in to something crazy and interesting.
Yes, we had anime about games before, be it SAO, Log Horison, Ragnarok or //hack, but they all tried to bring real life in to game, while NGNL does the opposite: it brings the game back in to life. If anything, it’s closer to Kaiji, just less depressing and unfair.
But what I really like about the subject, is that unlike majority of game related or themed anime, this one manages to appeal to gamers as a whole, instead of pandering to or focusing on Asian aspects of gaming, specifically their mmos and VNs. Yes, tehre’s still influence, but it’s not so absolute. I don’t mind watching things like SAO and Log Horizon to better understand tropes and intricacies of Asian gaming, but for once I want something I can just enjoy and relate to.
It saddens me how few gamers I see around here, or at least it seems so, cause how else would one explain such widespread misunderstanding of setting and main focuses of the series. For me it’s an amazing, impossible world, for once created by gamers, not just for gamers. It’s as MCs said in the first episode: real world has no clearly defined rules or objectives and everyone makes whatever moves they want, i.e. just a shitty game.
It’s a fantasy of any gamer to be unbeatable at everything, so it makes easy for me to relate to MCs. They also manage to avoid the oh so common trope that being transported in to a different world makes you slow and docile. MCs get right to business abusing the world for their own gain and enjoyment and it’s a breath of fresh air from typical goody two shoes I will protect you OJSB of a MC that we have so often.
But the one thing that can make or break series for me is humor. Will it make me laugh or cringe? Will I be bored enough to check how much of an episode is left? Well, NGNL managed to do something anime has failed for me since Lucky Star: it made me literally laugh out loud every episode, to the point where my room mates would come over to check if I’m going insane or not.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what made me like it so much, probably the combination of verbal humor with spot on body humor, references , selfish attitude and in-jokes between the siblings. That, combined with the general gaming theme made it easy to digest and relate.
If one would take the plot and development at face value, it would on impress much, a rather generic battle to save humanity and prove that they are not the weakest. But you need to move away from typical anime tropes to realize that it’s not about humanity, beating the god or any other vague “greater good”. This anime is really just about two siblings, gamers, who are having fun in a world they understand very well. Everything they do is to advance their own agenda.
Something I do have to mention though. Sound, overall, was serviceable, but what annoyed me the most was soundtrack. It felt… uninspired. Both in terms of opening/ending and music during the show itself. One would think that by this time directors understand the advantages of memorable music, but here it was mostly generic fantasy/fighting anime scores, completely alien to the nature of the show. I strongly feel that having some metal/electronic (or better both!) mash-ups would of suited gaming theme a lot more. Not to mention that they have quite a few gadgets along with them, yet they rarely use them for anything than taking notes or reading books.
One final thing I need to cover is fan service. To be completely honest here, first time I’ve watched the series, I did not notice it at all. Considering that I’m not a fan of it normally, it was rather strange. It took me a second viewing to realize what was different. It fitted, which happens never. Both MCs lived in a world exposed to ungodly amounts of it, to the point where it became somewhat of a background thing. As a result they were using it for their own entertainment, as opposed of ham-fisted”accidents” that plague anime nowadays. It was also employed by them for their own need, be it to tease or to distract, as well as a nice addition the their, honestly, rather unhealthy relationship. I can only wish that, if we have to have fan service, it would be done in similar, organic way.
And there you have it, this is why I don’t normally write reviews, I tend to get carried away. As a conclusion, I would say that NGNL is often misunderstood for mediocre anime riding on populat tropes, but I see it as an amazing melding of Asian and western cultures. We learned to enjoy Asian quirks and their way of life, but this one hits it close to home, to a closer culture.
It’s a must see anime for anyone, but you might not understand what it’s trying to do, but that’s normal with anime, isn’t it? And if you consider yourself a gamer, it’s a wonderful treat, something that rarely happens outside of youtube.
4: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
English: Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
Japanese: マギ The kingdom of magic
MAL Score: 8.25
After celebrating their victory against Al-Thamen, Aladdin and his friends depart the land of Sindria. With the end of the battle, however, comes the time for each of them to go their separate ways. Hakuryuu and Kougyoku are ordered to go back to their home country, the Kou Empire. Meanwhile Aladdin announces he needs to head for Magnostadt—a mysterious country ruled by magicians—to investigate the mysterious events occurring in this new kingdom and become more proficient in magic. For their part, encouraged by Aladdin’s words, Alibaba and Morgiana also set off in pursuit of their own goals: training and going to her homeland, respectively.
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic follows these friends as they all go about their separate adventures, each facing their own challenges. However, a new threat begins to rise as a great war looms over the horizon…
Magi: The Kingdom of Magic has everything you look for in an anime. Pleasing sounds (not in a dirty way!), bright (pun intended) characters who develop nicely throughout the duration of the anime and beautiful art. The characters are interesting, have depth and will make you feel for them, so prepare for a little emotional tug! A little bit of humour helps compliment the slower aspects of the story, and ensures theres never a dull moment – however, if you lack a funny bone you may find an early episode here and there a tad slow. But don’t stop, because things get fast, fascinating and ferocious and before you know it you’ll be looking at the screen like it’s the last piece of chocolate cake on earth…What? You don’t like chocolate cake? What’s wrong with you!?
Now. You may be thinking, “Great! Time to go watch!” But wait. I promise I won’t overwhelm you with 2,000 words of ramble. But there is a little more you should know…
Firstly, don’t be retarded like me and at least be aware of the prequel, ‘Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic’ before you start. I was not, and felt really overwhelmed at the beginning of the anime, with thoughts running through my head such as, “wow, whoever wrote this expects us to understand this new world instantly”, “So. Many. New. Characters” and my personal favourite thought, “I’m not quite sure what’s happening right now…but it’s cool!” Long story short, maybe watch the prequel first…but I didn’t so I can’t really talk. If you choose not to don’t worry, you will catch on and you will still love this anime, as I did.
Secondly, have faith in the plot! I was wondering how a meaningful ending was going to ensure around the episode 12 mark, but just know you won’t be disappointed and that things ramp up fast! That’s not to say the first episodes were meaningless or unrelated, so don’t skip them or you may be confuzzled.
Lastly, why are you still here! Go watch it. Now! (And thank you very much for reading my review, I know it’s a bit out there but I wanted to make it fun!)
Both Magi Season tell a great story that can bring you to tears of happiness and tears of feels that strike you right in the heart.
As always, the art and animation was amazing! Story was overall beautifully done.
Even though, this season was mainly focused on Aladdin, I do wish to see Morgiana & Alibaba’s training and what happened to them when Aladdin was in Magnoshuttat.
I really hope they make a season 3! This anime series is truly something that I would recommend anyone to watch. The Fan service is mainly based on comedy. So for those who don’t really like fan service in anime, I really do recommend this anime! Great story, wonderful character designs, amazing fighting scenes, hilarious moments, this anime has everything in one!
Kingdom of Magic had a better story than Labyrinth of Magic in my opinion. Labyrinth of Magic had an arc-based storyline where it was established by definitive arcs (the order being the beginning arc, separation, Balbadd, Sindria, and Zagan) that had some connection to each other, but were mostly standalone. There was some progression from one to the next (characters and character development), but overall there was a disconnect.
Kingdom of Magic, on the other hand, has an overarching story that isn’t as clearly defined by arcs, so it’s much harder to tell where they end and begin. Or, from the manga standpoint, Kingdom of Magic covers the Magnostadt arc (which is one really long arc) as well as all the mini-arcs leading up to it.
Similarly to Labyrinth of Magic, this show starts off fairly lighthearted, but soon takes a turn for the darker. However, this show got much darker than Labyrinth of Magic did, and I was surprised at the degree to which it did get dark. We’re introduced to a corrupt government, the struggle to want to be human, what the concept of humanity really means, and many more ideas.
So when I started Kingdom of Magic, I was expecting the same type of narrative as the first season, but I was pleasantly surprised by how seriously the show took itself and how much worldbuilding was established.
This show also introduced the concept of Djinn Equip (which was only barely introduced in the first season), which essentially lets people with Metal Vessels undergo a magical girl-type transformation where their hair, clothes, and weapons are upgraded for a limited time. I thought that it was awesome to see the characters basically get ubered-up to fight large-scale battles, which actually served more of a purpose in the story than just for the sake of showing the audience epic battle sequences.
The only real problem I have with the story was that, with so many characters, not enough time was given to explain what each of the characters were doing while separated from each other. Aladdin’s story was explained in depth, but the same luxury was not given to Alibaba or Morgiana. Alibaba at least got two episodes detailing what he was doing, but I still would’ve liked to see him studying, fighting, or learning to use his Djinn Equip. And Morgiana? We get about two-thirds of an episode describing her adventures and we’re left with a lot of questions about what happened. I was hoping for at least a brief summary, but we get nothing. I was under the assumption that the manga went more into detail, but it unfortunately doesn’t. We may never know……
Another minor issue I have with the story is the comic relief. I felt that a lot of times it was rather a moodkiller. It made me rather uncomfortable to be watching a serious part of the show and then suddenly cheap jokes were cracked. It wasn’t totally irredeemable (in the manga, the chibis are much funnier), but it wasn’t exactly pleasant to watch either.
One of the things I especially liked about the story, however, is that the show opens with a scene from one of the final episodes completely out of context. It leads you to make an assumption about where the characters are going to go, but once you actually get to that scene in order, you realize that you were dead wrong. I think that was a nice choice of placement, since I personally was wondering what was going to come out of that confusing scene for practically the whole show.
The colors are bright and lively, the character designs are stunningly detailed, the animation is on point, and there’s subtle CGI at a couple of points. Nothing majorly bad happening, though the budget got slashed toward the end, leading to some fights not being as awesome as they could have been.
No complaints here. The OP’s were good, and the second one especially is awesome, though both also had amazing sequences.
The ED’s are another story though. Not only were the sequences awesome and tear-inducing, the songs themselves were really good. The first ED carried a kind of nostalgic tone to it, amplified by the montage of stills from the first season. The second ED started off echoey and dark, and while I didn’t like it as much when it kicked up into a strong beat, it’s still my favorite of the ED’s.
The only thing I would give as far as an issue is that sometimes the background music was kind of quiet, which is a bit of a shame since it’s so awesome, particularly the battle theme, which is my personal favorite.
On the voice acting end, this season had not yet received a dub when I watched it, so I watched it subbed, complete with Netflix’s garbage subtitles. I’m not that good a judge of Japanese voice acting, but I didn’t notice any big problems going on. I loved Yuki Kaji’s performance as Alibaba, and I think he does a great job no matter which character he’s voicing, so I think he was the standout for me.
Since I originally wrote this review, I have had a chance to check out the dub of some of the later episodes. While I like the voice acting and casting choices for the most part, I have two big problems with it.
My first big problem with the dub (and something that was in the first season too) is Vic Mignogna and Todd Haberkorn being literally every single background character. This wouldn’t be so bad if they both weren’t already cast as secondary characters (Ka Kobun and Judar respectively), but on top of that they both have very recognizable voices.
My second big problem is “Teetus.” I get that’s how they pronounced Titus’s name in the Japanese, but honestly, since when do dubs follow the exact pronounciation of every name (Free! dub, I’m looking at “Reen”). And on that note, the same criticism could be applied to the dub’s pronounciation of “Magi.”
The characters were awesome this season. When the show took a turn for the darker, the characters developed and changed along with it, and I really liked it. There was a lot of development happening (particularly among the new characters) and it was handled well considering the vast amount of characters in Magi.
Aladdin especially changed a lot through the show, and we get to see more of his backstory as well as what’s happening to him at the time the show takes place.
One of the problems I did have was that since this season introduced so many new characters, a lot of the characters from Labyrinth of Magic took a backseat. It’s a nice thing to hand over the spotlight to some of the newcomers, but I felt kind of underwhelmed since a lot of characters with a large presence (such as Sinbad) didn’t appear as much as they should have. Not that I’m particularly mad about it though, since I loved Titus and Sphintus and the other new characters. But this problem is also due to the fact that Magi has a ton of characters interacting and developing simultaneously, so some of the older characters have to step back a bit.
Another problem is that since some of the older characters get less screentime due to the new characters, a lot of development seemingly takes place offscreen. I already mentioned this with Alibaba and Morgiana, and it’s even more apparent with Hakuryuu. He isn’t present for a large chunk of the show, and when he does reappear, he’s changed a lot and it isn’t explained. I was left painfully in the dark, so I can only hope this is less vague with the manga.
Once again, the problems are due to the short amount of episodes and are therefore pretty much unavoidable.
Overall I really liked a lot of the new characters, and they made me feel for them, and cry over them when it came to that.
I marathoned this show in two days because Netflix had just put the whole show up, and I had already seen Labyrinth of Magic, so I was able to speed through Kingdom of Magic really quickly. It kept me glued the whole way through, and I definitely shed many tears in the episodes leading up to the ending, as well as the ending itself.
While I did have issues with the moodkilling comic relief moments and the dub, the discomfort it caused me wasn’t enough to impact my overall enjoyment.
Some issues and hanging questions, mostly due to the constraint of 25 episodes, but even accounting for those it’s a really solid show and impressed me time and time again with the depth of the narrative, the dynamic and varied characters, and the awesome animation.
So if you’re still reading this and you haven’t seen Labyrinth of Magic, go watch it, and then watch Kingdom of Magic. Magi is overall a really solid and important show that not enough people seem to watch, which is a shame since it’s so good. Now all we need is a third season.
3: Mushishi Zoku Shou
English: MUSHI-SHI -Next Passage-
Japanese: 蟲師 続章
MAL Score: 8.71
Perceived as strange and feared by man, over time the misshapen ones came to be known as Mushi. Although they harbor no ill intentions towards humans, many suffer from the side effects of their existence and strange nature; exploiting the Mushi without understanding them, even unintentionally, can lead to disaster and strife for any involved. Mushishi Zoku Shou continues the story of Mushishi Ginko on his journey to help the visible world to coexist with the Mushi.
During his travels, Ginko discovers various gifted individuals—those cursed by circumstance and those maintaining a fragile symbiosis with the Mushi—inevitably confronting the question of whether humanity, talented and tortured alike, can manage the responsibility of the unseen. Moreover, as a Mushishi, Ginko must learn more about these strange beings and decide if he has the right to interfere with the complex relationships between Mushi and mankind.
A journey into Mushishi feels like a dream where its world captures the fantasy elements at the best with its backgrounds and ideas. The nature of the show depicts creatures known as ‘Mushi’ that causes trouble in the surface world. For a show to work out in this way, the structure of the story is built in an episodic nature. Each episode involves Ginko where he deals with a problem. These problems lingers on with ideas, power, and knowledge. With every problem in his quest also triggers more than just resolutions. It formulates ideas that invites attention with its unique and style. In fact, the feeling of Mushishi is mature. The creatures known as the ‘Mushi’ influences humans and their way of life. But the most important part of the show is that these mushi can craft a story. These stories are transformed by the very essence of the show that captures each moment with a fine degree of mystical aura. No over-the-top antics, shounen-style battles, or the ‘save the world’ trope. It is simple yet feels complex. It’s intelligent without building a labyrinth of thoughtless tropes. It’s attractive without edgy art.
Despite the show being set up as an episodic show, I do recommend fans to check out the first season first as well as the special that debuted earlier in 2014. This way, you can familiarize with the style of Mushishi and what it has to offer with its dynamics. There’s much to build off with that style which illustrates more than just artwork. The flagship behind the idea of the show is to adapt its themes and presents it to viewers to familiarize with the story. There’s no need to build on that in a story arc since each episode focuses specifically on such ideas. And even so, these stories are memorable for their themes that people can familiarize. Hatred, regret, despair, vengeance, solitude, greed, among others are just a few to name. It touches upon the nature of humanity in a fantasy realm to bring about fantastic stories. Ever heard of natural instincts? Mushishi will evoke that to a level beyond normalcy through its imaginative presentation.
The world setting of Mushishi is perhaps one most fans of the previous season are familiar of. Even after all these years, it’s still memorable and feel nostalgic by Mushishi’s delivery. The lavish forests, organic swaps, and frosty mountains paints a dream – a theater of decorative ecology. As a show based off such nature, it’s appreciable to see how that functions with fantasy ideas. Namely, the environment has a mystical atmosphere to itself stretching beyond the boundaries of normalcy. Then, there are the characters involved in them that Ginko meets during his quest. But Ginko is a unique and complex character because he seeks knowledge, not power. Every episode, he gets himself involved with a problem and formulates a solution. These resolutions usually has a bittersweet ending but also invites a degree of relief. As mushi is mysterious to the core, Ginko uses his own knowledge to match these challenges by thought.
As the brainchild behind the concept, Yuki Urushibara deserves praise for her work. The show is adapted from the manga of the same name. The second season covers from volume 6-9 to create legends to not be forgotten. Her concepts are captivating because it’s intelligently written with a surreal feeling. It’s distinctive that classifies itself as a rarity of the generation. 22 minutes each episode is all it takes to grab your attention with its nature. While sitting back, you’ll almost feel like you’re part of the world traveling along with Ginko on his quest. The rewards to reap is more than just enjoyment but an acknowledgement of the show’s concepts. Ginko is also a quiet man that people will find unique in a fashion to match the show’s style. At the same time though, he isn’t just there to solve problems but also to learn. Similarly, learning from this show isn’t like taking a biology class. Rather than grasping on the ideas to memorize them, Mushishi creates understanding. There’s no right or wrong answer as mushi and humans are a part in the same world. Rather than delivering a gruesome war or dominance for survival, both species seeks to live on their own terms. But make no mistake, the show doesn’t follow a game concept where survival is the fittest. Instead, its strength lies in the mystery engineered by an amalgamation of intelligence.
Perhaps the show is too honest to itself, in particular with its world and premise. Ginko in particular is a man of mystery but we find out the complexity of his character through his many journeys. A lackluster concept involves the exploration of his backgrounds in this season as well as people he met in the past. A refreshment to the original season will perhaps remedy this for fans who are on an urge to get a deeper grasp of his character. But even so, the pure of the stories transits with elegance and characters to tell a story; stories of knowledge, thought, artistry beyond the scope of physical attractiveness.
Speaking of art, Mushishi sets the bar high with its comeback. Even after all these years, the show still stands out as a magnificent piece of art. Feast your eyes on the very nature of the show with its alluring backgrounds. Each mushi also has distinctive designs to offer diversity. On the other hand, Ginko looks simple without too much to go on besides his noticeable silver hair and stoic expressions. Yet, it triggers the very mystery thought that Mushishi brings. At the same time, most of the characters are standard and matches their settings with simple clothing. The show’s setting doesn’t possess the technology of a futuristic world nor a historical age where wars are fought for supremacy. What it does have is the simple yet effective natural strength of its fantasy world. I give the animation studio Artland for their effective style of presenting such a world, one that is charming and captures every moment in respect. There’s an old saying that ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’. This show’s art is an epitome of that.
Soundtrack also comes together as a prowess to its thought-provoking story. The soft and quiet OST offers credibility with its world with the mushi and animals. As humans, each character’s voice has a solemn yet realistic mannerism. Similarly, the soundtrack has a sense of hollowness with eerie rhythm. With its good balance, Mushishi achieves its goal of capturing what fans want – soundtrack to bring the stories from fantasy to life. Although some of Ginko’s dialogues may feel monotonous at times, it still stands out to reflect his character. The soundtrack also invites emotional appeal for each story seeks an imagery of imaginations based off its world with its narratives. Furthermore, the OP song “Shiver” by Lucy Rose reflects a tone of beauty beyond words. You’ll have to listen to it to believe it.
Even after all these years, the Mushishi franchise still stands out as a dazzling piece of work, one that is most welcoming with the strength of its characters and story. It’s more than just an adventurous folklore or some quest to accomplish a goal. Rather, it offers intelligence and craftsmanship of human themes in a fantasy world. Despite the series being episodic and only structured with 10 episodes, they each have its own unique dynamics to bring about its focus. Its creativity and unique world will offer an experience just like its previous season, one that will be remembered for generations to come.
Mushish Zoku Shou is an episodic anime that I feel is one of the very few that succeed in its field. Being episodic only leaves the 21 minute time-frame to tell a story, which can be a difficult challenge; However, just like its prequel, Mushishi Zoku Shou is not only able to set up the plot and characters, but resolve it as well with ease in such a small frame of time. The Mushi, the very essence of life itself, and Ginko, the Mushi Master are at the heart and center of our stories. Ginko, always travelling and meeting new people, adventuring to exciting places and encountering strange beings all around are simply tagging along in our adventure as Ginko plays the part of mediator between Man and Mushi, helping both in times of need. This is how every story begins and ends and is delivered perfectly in a small 21 minute package.
Another reason why Mushishi Zoku Shou is able to present itself so well is not only for its story, but how the world is created. Beautiful scenic backgrounds, gorgeous vibrant colors of the Mushi and the fantastic distinction of characters using art are all perfectly-crafted. Whether a scene is meant to look beautiful or ominous Mushishi has no problem of displaying what it wants creating some of the most illustrious depictions of art to be seen.
Once again, Mushishi Zoku Shou delivers superbly in this category as well. Whether we were panning out of a gorgeous mountainous scene or needed to feel the panic of those in the anime there was no failure in giving the audience what was needed to push what needed to be felt. The sound embodied any emotion it needed to and got it across well, giving me many moments where I just had to replay a scene to get that same ‘chill down my spine’ feeling over and over again. Without the sound, a lot of key moments would not have the same impact, but thankfully that problem never arised.
One thing that always surprises me is how well-established the characters were with this season granted the small time frame given. In just one episode the characters had to be introduced and fleshed out in order for us to have a sense of ‘caring’ for them otherwise the story would not have the same influence on us. Ginko of course is our main character, whom we learn of very early on what his profession is and what he does is very easy to get attached to. Where the real challenge occurred was creating the people Ginko meets and giving them a personality worthy of our interest in just a few minutes. This was done splendidly as the story progresses we learn of many of their conflicts with the Mushi and how it effects them on a personal level where we actually can feel the same sadness or joy they do whether it be through a back-story or a present event. In a funny way, the bane of a lot of their lives, the Mushi are also what really bring out a lot of the characters.
This was truly an enjoyable experience. Every episode told a new tale and even when there were times of distress there were times of calmness. Mushishi Zoku Shou tells a story with me just being able to sit back and enjoy without having to think about anything, but just purely become entranced with it. It doesn’t end or begin with questions, nor pointing out faults, but just relaxing and experiencing everything it had to offer.
Without a doubt Mushishi Zoku Shou lives up to its name. Those whom loved the first season should have no problem adoring this one any less if not more as they only fine-tuned what was already fantastic. This wasn’t just simply an anime to watch, but to experience and it delivered well in every field to do just that. I cannot stress enough on that, which is why I’m going to leave it to you the viewer, to watch and experience it for yourself. I certainly hope you’ll come to immerse yourself in this world and see for yourself what it has to offer.
What transpires into the discussion of Mushishi Zoku Shou is how it can keep the spirit of the original series alive and well. When you get right down to it, there isn’t any need to try to do anything new or different to the sequel to make it seem fresher. This is how Mushishi structures into different story arcs centered on its mythological lore of Mushi. All of the arcs supply a deeper meaning to the characters as we learn about the different types of Mushi we come across. From this perspective, Mushishi doesn’t need to do anything other than giving us more than what we bargained for; they sure as hell made another accomplishment for the ages.
From a stylistic perspective, Mushishi Zoku Shou follows the same atmospheric tone as before. It transcends itself into a breathtaking journey into what the world of Mushishi brings to the table. If you remember from my previous review of Mushishi, I criticized it for how the world didn’t feel like the actual world that it wanted it to be. It tried to go far, but at the same time, it didn’t go far enough. With Mushishi Zoku Shou, it is apparent that we are shown a closer look at the various mythical structures of its world. This is one aspect to the sequel that I think improves more to the prequel in many ways. Here, there is more meat to be explored, and it’s gratifying to experience the rich landscape and how the Mushi engulfs the world.
As there are many plot arcs in each episode, there is the question of whether these new plot arcs hold a candle to the original series. While there were many great episodes of Mushishi that I can name, I could also name some that felt rather underwhelming compared to others. In many respects, Mushishi Zoku Shou’s offers more episodic stories that are stronger and vibrant. From beginning to end, there was never an episode where I thought it was average, mediocre, or even decent; they are all merely good to magnificent.
What makes them stronger is how the characters that our hero, Ginko, comes across in his travels are more memorable to the viewing experience. Many of them garner praise by the fact that they manage to fit in in-depth characterization in only under 24 minutes. Just like in previous episodic iterations; they all lead into a well-crafted conundrum that Ginko has to solve. This conundrum can vary in how they are approached in how the tone is settled. The mood is always the main focal point to Mushishi, ranging from mystical and transcendent to dark and unsettling. All are accomplished with high tenacity and wit that won’t fail to impress many who want a lucid experience to their anime viewing endeavors.
Animation has evolved since 2004 and Mushishi had a minimalist methodology to its artistic aesthetics. Although it may not look like it has changed its vibrant colors and lighting that much, it indeed flows in its animation more fluidly. New designs of Mushi pop up that look stunning to the eyes. Characters now have more range in movement thanks to the higher budget. Amazingly, it still feels freshly new although it doesn’t do anything too drastic to make it more “modernized” for modern anime fans to enjoy.
Music has never been a prominent hallmark for the Mushishi series, in terms of how repetitive it becomes after the fifth episode. Not that it is unlistenable by any means, it is good by its standards, but I would’ve appreciated it more had there been more variety to it. The thing that is noteworthy to mention is the new opening to Mushishi Zoku Shou, which is far more welcoming than in Season 1. The first one’s problem stems from the fact that the singer was trying to do a bad Bob Dylan impersonation throughout. In Mushishi Zoku Shou’s opening, sung by Lucy Rose, it feels more in line with the peaceful tone that defines Mushishi.
In closing, I would call this a triumphant swan song for Mushishi to end on. Its efforts in bringing it back to show these remaining stories in animation form are admirable. The series continues to be considered a classic from the 2000s era of anime, and now it’s become a future classic in the 2010s period. I can’t say I’ll be surprised by that assessment if it becomes a reality.
2: Mushishi Zoku Shou 2nd Season
Japanese: 蟲師 続章
MAL Score: 8.75
Ghostly, primordial beings known as Mushi continue to cause mysterious changes in the lives of humans. The travelling Mushishi, Ginko, persists in trying to set right the strange and unsettling situations he encounters. Time loops, living shadows, and telepathy are among the overt effects of interference from Mushi, but more subtle symptoms that take years to be noticed also rouse Ginko’s concern as he passes from village to village.
Through circumstance, Ginko has become an arbiter, determining which Mushi are blessings and which are curses. But the lines that he seeks to draw are subjective. Some of his patients would rather exercise their new powers until they are utterly consumed by them; others desperately strive to rid themselves of afflictions which are in fact protecting their lives from devastation. Those who cross paths with Mushi must learn to accept seemingly impossible consequences for their actions, and heal wounds they did not know they had. Otherwise, they risk meeting with fates beyond their comprehension.
The stories are still episodic in nature, and fairly simple, but Mushishi somehow manages to maintain an amazing amount of originality even in spite of its simplicity. Since it is presented in a way that doesn’t have an arc and just telling its story to the point, it didn’t feel rushed. Often deliberate and slow, but it sets the mood and ambience quite well. It’s almost a given that I was going to enjoy the show’s meditative musings on the role that mushi play in the world, as well as its gorgeous scenery, and luckily, neither has changed in this production (though the problem of some of the humans looking the same lingers). One of the most noticeable changeover is that Zoku Shou 2 looks darker and more grim to its presentation. There’s a scenes in which people is turned to grass and a kid dies through his body evaporating into thin air. That said, the first two series should be watched prior to this so the viewers could get used to its tonal shift from light to darker and grim style.
One of the greatest aspect of Mushishi is that The atmosphere and mood that it creates has a powerful effect on its storytelling. Zoku Shou is no means different. from Lucy Rose’s gentle Intro “The Shiver song”, the opening leads into a gently animated piece set in pastoral surroundings in the forest at the morning. And since each episodes is standalone, the characters are very well developed even into a deeper level, Ginko himself is even got development in this final series, in which tells the story when he was a child. Every episode is a lesson, but rarely do these characters have to be taught anything twice. The character development, particularly in this final series, is both rich and enriching, which makes the story a rewarding experience.
However there are minor thing that fairly bugged me with Zoku Shou as a whole, while the visuals are nice and crisp. It seems too flashy, even in one episode when the darkest moment happens. Though it is quite understandable considering how far improved animation comparing to when it first come out in 2005, but still I think it lessened the atmosphere quite a bit. As for the animation it is fairly consistent. The characters are drawn even more expressionate than ever, especially as the show rounds the last turn to the finishing line. Even some early, offhand scenes that don’t have much to do with this main story add a lot, where we get plenty of beautiful shots of mushi trailing through the sky (eye candy is always good). As a show based off such nature set in rural japan, of course the background is the highlight of the art. Whether it is the lavish forests, organic swaps, and frosty mountains paints, the background is so lust and vivid while everything is overflowing with color and appears to be an incredible series of paintings brought to life.
One of the greater boons about Mushishi has always been that its observations about itself are always full of wonder, but never really goes completely overboard with its romanticism. This has been true for the most part, but if I was asked to pick one flash, then that would be this final season. What I mean by that is that despite the fact that every visual is shot with purpose in order to convey a message through horror means and every individual story is conflict-driven, the messages/themes are starting to become too simplistic; it focusing too much on the characters’ problems and not enough on why I should care about said problems with the only difference being that it’s set in the Mushishi world. Some people have different criteria for how a character should be interesting or why we should care about said problems. I think I can understand it a little. But then, I thought the show more than made up for it with the rest of the episodes anyway, by keeping up a steady — not to mention impressive — pace for the rest of its runtime.
Despite complain I said above the next chapter of Mushishi is still great. The anime as a whole is easily one of the greenest show I have ever seen, though we will occasionally see Ginko wander through some of the most spectacular rainfalss I’ve seen in anime. If the series isn’t impressing you with its animation or its eyecatching background (which did not will quite happen), it reels you in with its story. Interesting and simple without crossing over into convoluted territory. Overall Zoku Shou is a very good addition to the Mushishi’s anime franchise.
It may be appalling at first how it may seem slow-paced or even stagnant. Looking closely, we’ll realize that it is this stillness and calm that give Mushishi its distinction, making it worthy to be called a masterpiece.
After all the action and drama that anime can flaunt, Mushishi gives us a refreshing retreat, a break from the hustle and bustle of trite anime antics, and presents to us its own brand of action and drama enveloped in its unique and perhaps unpredictable storytelling.
We follow Ginko, the main character, in his travels across Japan where he meets people affected by mushi, strange, ethereal creatures that coexist silently with every other living being. Interacting with different mushi has its implications and Ginko, as a mushishi, offers his help to those troubled by mushi to the best of his ability. The setting itself offers a horizon of opportunities. It is a captivating feat that each episode can be the darkest of tales reminiscent of Edgar Allan Poe (Fragrant Darkness, Lingering Crimson) or even the most lighthearted of stories (Banquet at the Forest’s Edge). The story fills out every edge of possibility and leaves room for even more.
The slow movement and breathtaking scenery are what absorb you and even more so when its superb musical arrangements come in to accompany it. Its masterful direction bring out the best of each scene – the deep-rooted characters, the intense emotions, the over-all mood (you’d have to take a closer look to see this). Mushishi couldn’t ask for a better production.
The whole experience takes you to a time when man and nature treated each other with respect and lived together in peace and harmony. With each episode told in a way that closely resembles the fable of Aesop and the parables of Jesus coupled with its magnificent art direction, Mushishi gives us an experience evocative of the ways of Shinto and Zen embedded in classical Japanese culture.
And yet, Mushishi never tries to be grandiose and flamboyant in its ways. Its simplicity is its most favorable trait and it is in there that you will find its grandeur. “Mabaw nga kalipay” (“simple pleasure”) is what we’d call it in Cebuano. It is not laden with complications and twists but that makes it all the more entertaining.
Among the anime series I’m watching this season, Mushishi Zoku Shou stands out the most and is easily one of my favorites in my limited repertoire. I would very much recommend the series to anyone and everyone, especially to those with an open mind.
Perhaps that ‘something’ is the fact that the series has gone on for a long time now and no longer feels as fresh as it did at the beginning. Maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten older since I watched the first season and am no longer capable of feeling those same emotions again. Or maybe the staff just haven’t been able to fully reproduce the magic of the first season. Even so, whatever the case may be, it turns out that Mushishi’s second season, even if it is a slightly inferior Mushishi, is still one of the most pleasant experiences I’ve had watching an anime in quite a long time.
An interesting detail about Mushishi is how not all its stories end on a happy note. Many of them are bittersweet or flat-out depressing, which eliminates any of the predictability that often comes with storytelling. The episodes are not merely different in their content, but also deliver completely different emotions at the end of each episode, ensuring that the series never reaches the point of staleness. Mushishi always has something new to offer to its audience. And it never goes the route of preaching morals, as even its villains are deep and human enough to be empathised with. Nobody is inherently right or wrong in Mushishi; even Ginko cannot say for sure what the best path would have been.
Not surprisingly, Mushishi delivers on the atmosphere front. It is minimalistic in nature and focuses once again on quiet rural life — the supernatural issues plaguing a modest farmer or small group of villagers — rather than the usual city problems we have seen in so many anime before. And that’s for the better, I think, as there haven’t been many other anime out there that have captured rural life in the quiet, subdued way that Mushishi has. It makes you want to roam around the woods or raise a family where things are calm and peaceful, even if those thoughts are only for a fleeting moment.
There are only two minor issues I have with Mushishi’s second season. First, the show focuses exclusively on mushishi incidents and the victims surrounding them and does surprisingly little with Ginko himself. The entire story is about Ginko’s travels, yet at the endgame of the story, we know very little about him or his thought process. Secondly, the mushishi incidents feel far too numerous, perhaps owing to the episode count. It feels like Ginko just comes across some world-changing event every second day, which makes one wonder what he’s doing in-between all the episodes. Showing those quiet moments, the moments when he’s not dealing with mushishi, would be just as interesting as the supernatural.
Mushishi continues to have some of the best scenery in anime. It looks absolutely fantastic, with nearly every shot of a forest or a lake being embodied by a simple sort of beauty, similar to the wabi-sabi aesthetic in Japanese culture. The animation itself leaves some room for improvement, though, as characters will sometimes have missing faces, and the show seemingly prefers panning shots far more than movement.
It also has an incredible soundtrack, much like before. Mushishi is a master at timing its music. Often a quiet piece will start playing in the background without you even noticing, and gradually it will pick up and seamlessly lead right into the credits. Small little touches like this do a lot to enhance the emotional value of the show. And of course I would be silly to not mention the opening track, which is one of the most relaxing things I’ve perhaps ever heard. It is medicine for the soul.
Mushishi’s second season may be a bit weaker than its first, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s disappointing. It still delivers the same mature themes and atmosphere that you’d come to expect from the series. It just doesn’t carry those same awing moments of before, the ones that screamed “I’m watching a masterpiece”. But I don’t think that is necessarily a problem. If its greatest sin is being merely great rather than a masterpiece, then Mushishi’s second offering is already leagues ahead of its competition.
1: Hunter x Hunter (2011)
English: Hunter x Hunter
MAL Score: 9.06
Hunter x Hunter is set in a world where Hunters exist to perform all manner of dangerous tasks like capturing criminals and bravely searching for lost treasures in uncharted territories. Twelve-year-old Gon Freecss is determined to become the best Hunter possible in hopes of finding his father, who was a Hunter himself and had long ago abandoned his young son. However, Gon soon realizes the path to achieving his goals is far more challenging than he could have ever imagined.
Along the way to becoming an official Hunter, Gon befriends the lively doctor-in-training Leorio, vengeful Kurapika, and rebellious ex-assassin Killua. To attain their own goals and desires, together the four of them take the Hunter Exam, notorious for its low success rate and high probability of death. Throughout their journey, Gon and his friends embark on an adventure that puts them through many hardships and struggles. They will meet a plethora of monsters, creatures, and characters—all while learning what being a Hunter truly means.
HxH is about a young boy named Gon who embarks on a journey to find his father. After learning that his father left him at a young age to become a Hunter, Gon decides to follow in his footsteps not only to find him, but also to see what was so special about the profession that made his father choose it over him. Although a story of finding one’s father is simple, it is the path that is taken towards this end that makes the series truly special. HxH is made up of several arcs that are all extremely well-written, which brings me to the best part of the series, the writing. Hunter x Hunter (2011) boasts one of the finest writing in the world of shonen; the depth and flow of the story, enthralling characterizations, strong dialogue and impressive world-building are all crafted into a fascinating tale that can absorb viewers into lengthy marathons.
The amount of variety that is packed into HxH’s story is also very impressive. HxH successfully dabbles in several genres in six story arcs tackling survival, fighting tournaments, crime thriller, virtual realities, war and politics. Not only that, the series is also able to undergo significant tonal shifts with ease (light to dark and vice versa). Sometimes, these shifts in tone occur after an arc ends though other times, it even occurs mid-arc. Another thing about HxH is that its arcs are connected with one another, with each arc naturally following the one before it. This creates a natural transition that highlights what the series really is, a journey. As for pacing and development, they are excellent. For the most part, HxH is very well paced. The series does a fantastic job at keeping its viewers engaged, time will fly by as you watch most episodes and you’ll find yourself breezing through the show. Excluding two recap episodes, HxH has no filler episodes. Due to this, story progression is solid with the plot moving forward with each episode.
Although HxH initially gives off a light hearted impression, it gives off a good one. Not the kind of “light heartedness” that makes you say “this is childish and below me” but the kind that appeals to everyone. HxH gives off that classic and charming shonen vibe that has been lost in recent years, and it does so with its head held up high. Eventually though, the series takes a dark turn. Although most HxH story arcs are light hearted, both Yorknew and the Chimera Ant arc are two of the best and darkest arcs shonen has to offer. Yorknew can be described as a dark thriller in a big city. The central theme of the arc is revenge and it is similar to Death Note in terms of thrill and atmosphere. On the other hand, the Chimera Ants arc can be described as an attempt by the Hunters Association to control an outbreak of a dangerous man-eating species. It is the darkest and most thematically powerful arc in the series tackling themes such as identity, human nature and survival of the fittest. The arc has drawn comparisons to Yu Yu Hakusho’s Chapter Black for its seinen-like nature and is similar to Shingeki no Kyojin, where the protagonists experience a strong sense of despair in the face of a vastly superior, hostile species. The series undergoes major tonal shifts in both arcs with the color palette, music, atmosphere and amount of violence changing significantly.
However, what sets the series apart from other battle anime is its unorthodoxy and unpredictability. Shonen tropes and storytelling methods are undermined throughout the series. The main character for example, Gon, fails more than he succeeds. Power-ups based on emotion or willpower are non-existent and fighting in the series is radically different from other battle anime. The main protagonist is not the main focus of every arc either. At certain points in the series, you could even say that Gon has taken a supporting role, especially during the later portions of the CA arc where he isn’t given as much focus due to the grand scope of the story. The standard battle anime formula of “lose-train-win” is also undermined. Although there is training, it does not always translate to a victory, nor does it propel the protagonists over or to the same level as their main adversaries in terms of strength. For the most part, the protagonists assume the underdog role. Although they have incredible potential, they are still kids who have a lot to learn. In terms of storytelling, unpredictable developments are commonplace. One thing that continues to amaze me with this show is how it leads viewers into thinking that the story will progress in this direction, only to change course and arrive at a completely different outcome. A good example of this would be the series’ arcs which often end in an anti-climatic manner. Basically, there are a lot of scenes and story developments that you won’t see coming because they defy conventional shonen storytelling or are unpredictable in their own right.
The series’ unorthodoxy can also be seen in its fights which are primarily cerebral. In addition to being well-executed, HxH fights are smart and involve a lot of strategy. Raw power is a factor but it is not the factor that decides battle outcomes, actual power (nen abilities), experience and strategy are all taken into account. If a main character is outclassed by an opponent in all or most categories, he is likely to lose. Moreover, main characters are not given any special treatment in combat. This smart approach to fighting is further enhanced by nen, a unique and complex power system held by defined rules. The concept of nen, its principles, aura types and many applications on the battlefield reveal the huge amount of thought that was put into it. I still remember having to pause episodes, even research a bit during its introduction, just to digest it in its entirety.
The appearance and writing of the series also create an effect of cognitive dissonance, the simplistic look of the show mentally conflicts with the brilliance and unorthodoxy of its writing. As new viewers delve deeper into HxH, they realize that there is much more to the show than its cover art and synopsis suggest. Expectations of the series being immature, simple or generic are progressively overturned as the show reveals its surprising underbelly.
As for sound, HxH has a line of great soundtracks that started off decent but got better as the series progressed. With the exception of a few minor characters, the voice acting in this series is excellent. As a person who has never seen the old series it’s hard to believe that these aren’t the original voices because they fit extremely well, especially those of Gon, Killua and Hisoka whose voice actors do a perfect job of capturing their characters.
HxH also has great art and animation. It amazes me how a long-running series like HxH delivers consistent quality animation episode after episode, especially during the fights. The series does a great job of capturing facial expressions and everything from the lighting, shading and colors adjust perfectly depending on the mood of the scene or the tone of the arc. As one reviewer (nagaiyume) said, the bright colors of the show might need some getting used to, though it is usually fans of the old series who have this problem. Personally, I think it fits the show perfectly. It adds to the charm of the series by complementing its sense of adventure, uplifting atmosphere and unique appeal as a shonen that looks simple but is actually remarkably deep.
Although HxH’s primary strength lies in its writing, its characters come pretty damn close. HxH has a huge cast of characters. They have quirks, dreams, inner demons, world views and overall, really likable personalities. To top it off, most of them don’t follow generic character archetypes. Although some may initially come across as “generic”, these assumptions are gradually undermined as the series progresses.
If there’s one thing I want to emphasize in the character department it would be the series main villains. When it comes to characters, this is where the show shines the brightest. HxH villains are extremely well-written (with the exception of the Bomber who won’t apply to most of what I’ll say below). Not only are their characterizations independently impressive, they are also distinct from one another; no two villains are the same. This distinctness does not only apply within the series but outside of it. You won’t find another Hisoka, Chrollo or Ant King in any other anime. This is what makes HxH villains so compelling, in addition to having really impressive characterizations, they are also original. Although I excluded one out of the four main villains from most of what I wrote above, all HxH villains do have one thing in common. Each villain strikes fear into audience, the series does a good job of establishing the level of danger these characters bring to the story and our protagonists.
However, while HxH is a great series it isn’t perfect. The series doesn’t have a strong start, it takes three episodes for show to get going. I’ve seen a lot of people drop HxH early and it sucks because the first two episodes don’t capture the series at all. Things start to get mildly interesting in the third episode, after that, the series just gets better and better. HxH also suffers from occasional BGM misuse. There are odd sound choices for some scenes. Sometimes they don’t really fit, other times they don’t fit it all. Lastly, the Chimera Ant arc also has minor issues with both Togashi and Madhouse to blame. Togashi’s fault lies in his writing during the middle of the CA arc which I think, pales in comparison to the rest of the series. HxH has made a name for itself for holding a consistent high level throughout its run; it’s a series that’s just so engaging and easy to marathon. However, I believe this consistency took a hit mid-CA arc (due to handling of the story and pacing) specifically, episodes 89-98. Don’t get me wrong though, I think there are a fair number of good episodes within that 9-episode stretch but unfortunately, they are surrounded by mediocre episodes that break the consistency of an otherwise exceptional arc. Madhouse’s fault lies in its adaption of the manga chapters comprising episodes 113 and 115, which were dragged out in order to have episode 116 handled by their best animation team. Episode 113 was actually well paced except for one atrocious sequence while episode 115 as a whole was generally poorly paced.
A clarification about the “slowed down pacing” of Chimera Ant arc:
If you’ve been reading up about HxH, you’ve probably seen some people complain about the “poor pacing” during the “narration heavy episodes” of the CA arc. Well if you’re wondering how much truth is there to this statement and were going to ask me about it, my answer would be it depends.
At episode 111, the palace invasion (climax of the CA arc) begins and narration begins to play a huge role in episodes in order to (1) pack a whole level of depth into the story and (2) increase dramatic tension. Rather than a high octane “action fest” people would expect from a shonen arc climax, the palace invasion takes a psychological heavy route wherein a character’s thoughts and mental state are given more focus than the actual action. This psychological focus together with the narration slows down the pace considerably in the sense that episodes begin to cover a lot less in narrative time. However, despite this “slowed down pace”, the pacing of these episodes remain solid with good amount of manga chapters being covered during each of these episodes and the duration of scenes being on point (except for episodes 113 and 115 which I mentioned earlier in this review).
In the end, it depends if the narration works on you or not. If you like the psychological approach and experience an increase in suspense then you’ll have no problems with the pacing and are in for one helluvah of a ride. However, if you don’t like the psychological approach and feel that the narrator’s heavy presence breaks your immersion then you’re in for a grueling experience. Of course, there are other combinations such as liking the psychological route but not feeling the immersion or maybe the narration just didn’t work on you completely. Well, if this happens to be the case then you’ll end up with mixed feelings. On the bright side, most people who end up watching the invasion end up enjoying the narration. However, if you happen to be one of the good number of people who end up not liking the narration don’t worry, only episodes 111-118 of the palace invasion have heavy narration. After episode 118, the narration begins to decrease and episodes eventually reach a point where they are “back to normal”.
Heads up to people looking for action:
Although I love the fighting aspect of the series and consider it to be a strong plus, I’ll leave this out there for the sake of subjectivity. HxH does not cater to everyone. Although fights in the series are well-executed, they are also short (1-10 minutes) and happen less in comparison to other battle anime. Moreover, the focus on strategy in battles might be off putting to people who prefer fights with more brawn and less brain. If you’re expecting an action heavy series like Yu Yu Hakusho then you will be disappointed. This is because HxH is a series that relies on its story to reel in viewers. Personally, I think this is how fighting in shonen should be done. Fighting should be able to entertain and also make you think. It shouldn’t drag on for too long at the expense of the story without leaving you underwhelmed.
Hunter x Hunter (2011) is an intelligent battle anime with a fantastic story, excellent characters and fights that involve a lot of strategy. Separating it from most of its genre, the series subverts shonen tropes and boasts unpredictable plot progressions that make it truly unique.
Story: 10/10 (Outstanding)
Characters: 10/10 (Outstanding)
Art: 9/10 (Great)
Sound: 8/10 (Great but occasionally misused)
Enjoyment: 10/10 (Extremely high)
Overall: 10/10 (Masterpiece)
“You should enjoy the little detours. To the fullest. Because that’s where you’ll find the things more important than what you want”. (Hunter Election Arc).
I don’t have words enough to describe what was this 148 episodes for me.
I’ll not spend this review talking about the Synopsis, because It’s right here on MAL.
I need to tell you, why you must watch this masterpiece, and what it represents to me.
First of all I’m gonna talk about the final episode. I felt Joy, sadness, angry (Togashi hurry up with the manga! hahah), and of course, satisfaction. Satisfaction because I heard my friends (you NEED to watch it), because it wasn’t time wasted, because those 148 episodes, and the nights that I spent watching, were worth, really. Hunter x Hunter is a complex anime, a peculiar story, something that, certainly, will mix up with your feelings, with your thoughts, with your conception of a Shonen.
What do I mean? It’s not that simple. But I’ll try to clarify: Don’t think that you’re about to find predictable arcs. Don’t think that the heroes gonna always beat the villains (In some parts of the story… nobody wins). Don’t think that training and good skills can ensure that you’ll defeat an enemy, sometimes you’ll need more than that. Behold what humans can be (and Togashi show us really well in Chimera Ant Arc). Behold what friendship can be, in all it’s complexity. You’re not gonna see in this anime that kind of Main Character that is AWESOME for no reason, no training. Togashi will make you understand the personality of the characters and their powers. Power, I mean, Nen or aura (vital energy), similar to what we see in other shonens like, Dragon Ball (Ki) or Naruto (Chakra). It’s presented to us really well how the “Nen system” works. The explanations are long in some episodes, but simple to understand.
Talking now about the animation: Hunter x Hunter is breathtaking . Indeed, it can be said that Madhouse did an excellent job with the remake . I was amazed with what I saw in some episodes. I confess that many of them I’ve watched over and over again, just to observe the details of the animation, and not only what was happening in the story ( Episode 131 I’ve watched 4 times ). In the end , I’m grateful that Madhouse animated Hunter x Hunter from the beginning .
The characters.. oh they are unique, really. It’s quite impressive how Togashi gave to them a variety of personalities. You’ll not gonna enjoy only the four main characters (although many consider that the main are Gon and Killua, since the story focuses more on the two of them from a certain phase). Hunter x Hunter have a significant character development on the supporting ones too, and, of course in the villains (you’ll love them, believe me). I don’t have a favorite character in this show. It’s impossible to choose one. Watch it and you’ll experience what I’m saying.
You mean this show has nothing bad?
Yes it has.
1) The worst thing in this show is: It ended.
Okay, joking aside, I think is the worst part is the beginning. You have to watch 4 or 5 episodes to feel in the mood to still watching. Many people just gave up in the first episodes. I can ensure you, go on and watch it til the end.
Particularly I don’t like so much The Hunter Exam Arc, the first arc of the story. If you compare with the other arcs it’s really not the best one. I have in my heart this two arcs: Chimera Ant Arc and Yorknew city Arc.
The second thing many fans of the show complains a LOT, is the Opening song. Why? 148 episodes, different openings, but… THE SAME SONG. For me it wasn’t a problem at all. I love the song, and… I think I watched the opening “one hundred and forty-eight” times and I sang it. Hahaha. But I really wanted to see a new song too.
The third thing is totally my personal opinion: the narrator. Your first contact with him will be in the begining of the early episodes. He will explain what is a Hunter.
The narration it’s something that we don’t see a lot in other animes. I like it, it’s brilliant and I totally understand that this add gives the anime the suspense and it’s particular style.
The advantage of having a narrator, in my opinion, is the ”observer factor”. Instead of exploring the point of view of all the characters, we have that peculiar element that seems to know everything and adds important information to the audience.
But, eventually, the narrator annoys me, specially in the Chimera ant Arc. I mean: we see what’s going on, it’s not necessary an explanation!
Of course that the ”narration effect” will depend on the way you receive it. Sometimes will give that “slow motion” you’ll need to absorb what’s going on, but in a few episodes it’s really overused.
In conclusion, I have to thank above all, you Togashi Yoshihiro. You’re brilliant. You can make unique characters, outstanding plots. You still go on, and on, in successive hiatus in the manga, and everyone complains a lot (even me), but then what you show to us is so amazing that makes it worth waiting. Thank you for exist and for this awesome masterpiece.
For you that didn’t watch it yet, do not be fooled by the first few episodes or with the synopsis. Both of them will give you the impression that you’re about to see a generic shounen. Insist. This is a kind of anime that in each episode everything seems to evolve: the story, the setting, the characters. You will be hooked, unable to stop watching .
And then my friend, you will start to feel pain. Yes, pain, when you realize that you’re at the 100º episode and there is only 48 episodes left.
Embrace this adventure called Hunter x Hunter! xD
As you all have likely read the synopsis of hxh, it certainly stands out from most other shounen ever made. There is a kid that decides to go on an adventure, for a particular purpose, meets friends, becomes stronger and eventually defeats powerful opponents. It doesn’t come off as a very complex or intriguing story/plot, nor is there a generic/forgettable cast and an amassed other facts that would remind you of how forgettable this show probably is. Believe me it’s not.
Beyond the first few episodes which this generalised speculation derives from, you will see that hxh differs from most shounen in terms of intelligence (strategic battles, clever arcs and plot) and the pacing of the whole show throughout each arc is outstanding. The absence of fillers throughout the 148 episodes ( excluding recaps) makes this show that much less frustrating to watch.
You may have heard an arc in particular, that the MAL community keeps on raving about: the Chimera Ant arc. Without throwing any spoilers in this review, the hype is worth it. This arc is, by most fans of the franchise, seen as a masterstoke and with good reason. The previous arcs create a substantial build-up to the C.A arc which makes the emphasis and usefulness of the arc that much more prominent.
However, the only factor that prevented my rating of a 9 to a 10, was the slow start and the half-open ending; while it not bad and was a good conclusion to the show, left the viewer rather unsettled with the whole experience.
Where hxh really shines is in the shows’ magnificent cast. As stated in my introduction, typically, most shounen do not have the best cast of characters that anime has brought out to the community, and more often than not defeat their enemies using the all-mighty force that is ‘the power of friendship(!)’ which brings sweet victory and joy to the protagonists of the show. Forget this ever existed in anime when watching hxh, as the sincere friendship that is witnessed between the main cast is nothing short of magnificent. It is realistic and evolves over a long period of time.
What makes the characters of hxh further at a stand-point, is that the antagonists are (for the most part) just as likable as the protagonists. Every character is very well developed ( every = any character that mattered to the story) and therefore does not make you want to spurt out the words ” Wow, this character sucks ” , with the exception of the bomber which, when watching the series, you will notice that had no real purpose for doing things to the extent that he did.
Finally, I will talk about my three favorite characters of the series:
I love Gon. At first he seems like your everyday generic protagonist that has no potential to evolve as a person. He comes across as useless and annoying.Then along the way something happens to him; something that is rarely in a protagonist like him. This is called ‘ Character Development ‘. The development that Gon receives throughout the series is fantastic and will make you love him until the end. He truly is desperate to find his father and the audience can see how he never throws in the towel.
There’s something really likable about white-haired guys in anime and Killua does not fall short in this aspect. He has a broad and complex backstory, and again, like Gon, significant development, which is seen to play a phenomenal role to how realistic the friendship between Gon and Killua is. His background as an assassin and his scarring childhood coupled with his raw talent and one-of-a-kind personality makes him a lovable and three-dimensional character.
Without spoiling much, Meruem is truly an unbelievable antagonist. At first you envision he is ruthless for no purpose, and comes off as a cliche and rather irritating being. With the meeting of another character you see how he evolves and how his facade in his personality makes him one of the best,if not the greatest character in the series.
Art and Animation: 10
When watching an anime that has a plethora of episodes such as hxh, one would expect a decline and rise in animation from time to time. However, Madhouse did a terrific job at keeping the animation and art as consistent and fluid as possible. The amount of money that was spent purely on budget really surprised me and the animation only gets better as the series progresses. When entering the C.A arc, you will see that Madhouse used their best animators to produce stunning images intertwined
with outlines, shadows and fluency that serves as ‘eye-candy’ when watching the series. Battle sequences are as well a proof of how much effort is poured into this show, as the studio does not tend to cut corners, e.g using the same background over and over again.
The opening and endings’ animation improves significantly st time progresses, which blows my mind when comparing the differences in appearance. That is to say, the animation was brilliant at the start of the anime as well.
The opening: ‘Departure’ is used throughout the entire anime although it switches between two different versions of the song, as well as changing the animation sequence each time, and this amazes me as every opening suits the anime perfectly! I did not skip the opening even once when watching the series; instead I stared smiling and singing along to the music.
The endings are all fantastic in my opinion, and I love all the songs that are presented to the audience at the end of each episode. The order for me goes
1>4>2>3>5=6 (5 & 6 are different sections of the same song) but I love them all nevertheless.
The ost of the anime is one of the best I have heard in any anime. My personal favorite is ‘ A kingdom of Predators’. It consists of a great variety of orchestra (mostly in the C.A arc) and lots of violin and piano that can be heard as well. However, sometimes the ost is not played at the most appropriate moments which prevents a score of 10 being given.
Monumental credibility must be given to the voice actors, and for Gon in particular, which is seen especially at episode 116, the mere brilliance that is spurted as ’emotions though words’ is extraordinary. The only complaint that I sometimes hear arriving from people is that the narration in the C.A arc ( for around 10 episodes) is irritating and overwhelms the episodes, making them seem extremely slow-paced. I tend to disagree with this argument , as the pacing seems to only benefit by the narration of those episodes, as it was a crucial moment in the series where narration was essential. I hope you won’t find this narration an issue, since I certainly didn’t.
Wow what a joyful ride this was. It keeps you hooked from early on and urges you to watch the next episode after experiencing the wonderful ending of each arc. The enjoyment factor, of course, originated from the entirety of the show. If any of the above were to be done poorly, the show would not come out to be nearly as enjoyable as it was. I not once felt bored during this series, and I believe that the pacing is fabulous. There’s not a single moment that leaves the viewer wanting to skip ahead or fast-forward. As a result, I am almost certain that you will watch this show, engulfed by the brilliance of this anime.
Believe me when i tell you this: this show is a near masterpiece; as close of a masterpiece as a show of this genre gets. Don’t be fooled while watching this anime, and drop it due to its slow start, as you may miss out on a truly miraculous experience.
Thank you for reading my review of Hunter x Hunter (2011). Have a great day. RedInfinity out.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Hunter x Hunter (2011)
2. Mushishi Zoku Shou 2nd Season
3. Mushishi Zoku Shou
4. Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
5. No Game No Life
6. JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken Part 3: Stardust Crusaders
7. Akatsuki no Yona
9. Log Horizon
10. Magic Kaito 1412