They’re the best Anime that 2013 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Kyoukai no Kanata, Kyousou Giga (TV), Hataraku Maou-sama!, and more!
10: Kyoukai no Kanata
English: Beyond the Boundary
MAL Score: 7.75
Mirai Kuriyama is the sole survivor of a clan of Spirit World warriors with the power to employ their blood as weapons. As such, Mirai is tasked with hunting down and killing “youmu”—creatures said to be the manifestation of negative human emotions. One day, while deep in thought on the school roof, Mirai comes across Akihito Kanbara, a rare half-breed of youmu in human form. In a panicked state, she plunges her blood saber into him only to realize that he’s an immortal being. From then on, the two form an impromptu friendship that revolves around Mirai constantly trying to kill Akihito, in an effort to boost her own wavering confidence as a Spirit World warrior. Eventually, Akihito also manages to convince her to join the Literary Club, which houses two other powerful Spirit World warriors, Hiroomi and Mitsuki Nase.
As the group’s bond strengthens, however, so does the tenacity of the youmu around them. Their misadventures will soon turn into a fight for survival as the inevitable release of the most powerful youmu, Beyond the Boundary, approaches.
Kyoukai no Kanata is an animated series based off the light novel of the same name written by Nagomu Torii. (artwork: Tomoyo Kamoi) The series takes a new turn by adapting the style of dark fantasy in a modern time era involving a group of students whom seems normal at first but contains a dark secret. That secret being that some of them are not human but instead are gifted with abnormal abilities. They use those abilities to save people and combat against the youmu. Ironically, one of the main characters is half youmu but finds himself fighting on the side of humanity as he embraces his destiny.
Kyoto Animation is known for animating various titles with a school life setting but rarely ever incorporates the usage of actual supernatural themes into them with touch of darkness or despair. Series such as Hyouka, Chuunibyou, and the recently Free all never ventured into the supernatural zone that bought viewers to attention. Now finally in this show, there’s actual otherworldly elements that and fans should be grateful for. The initial premise also brings forth a promising start with its small cast of characters and plot. It starts out with an attempted suicide by a young girl named Mirai Kuriyama. After saving her, we witness strange events among its residents as the world they know it becomes a distorted by supernatural entities that threatens their very own existence.
The setting of the series takes place in a modern time era with the typical school life of our characters. Among our main characters includes Akihito Kanbara, a half-human and half-youmu with a gifted ability of regeneration, Mirai Kuriyama with the talent of blood manipulation, the spirit warrior Mitsuki Nase, and her older brother Hiiromi Nase. These four characters makes the ingredients of this show that give Kyoukai no Kanata its odd flavor. Most of them hardly connect at all with their lack of characterization. Almost all their conversations lacks any sort of dynamics but is instead replaced with irrational jokes, meaningless development, and overall a fragile depth. None of the characters stands out on their own either. Mirai is decorated with adorableness that is further evidenced by those noticeable round glasses, petite figure, and nerviness around others. Perhaps also colored as a natural klutz, there is almost nothing that stands out with her being part of this series. On the other hand, Akihito makes more of a presence but for absurd reasons such as his glasses fetish and preposterous humor. His relationship with Mirai is quite empty and can hardly be noticeable at all. In fact, there is hardly any romance between the duo nor any depth. They seem to exist the complete opposite together like oil and water. The Nase siblings aren’t any interesting either considering their constant bickering and Hiiromi’s heavily implied sister complex.
This series’ overall plot execution should be considered a travesty of justice. The plot has many holes that are left wide open thanks to the way of its execution. The way most of the characters are part of the series’ plot often ends in what I can see as rushed sequences. Conflicts are resolved abruptly without proper morals. Back stories seems interesting at first but overall lacks any depth or interest because it’s hard to relate to the characters. This is also shown with the way characters are designed. Mirai is a prominent example as her history with a certain character of the series left her with “scars”. However, her present character shows little to none of those scars until confronted directly. Even afterwards, her interactions with that character is seemingly blushed off as just another event in her past life; a rushed one at that as well. There’s also hardly any depth into the story except sticking with the concept of fighting youmu and saving people. This doesn’t always go in the way they want either with one particular episode that becomes an absurd parody with dancing aesthetics. Least to say, Kyouki no Kanata didn’t go beyond the boundary. It didn’t hit anywhere near home because of its poor writing and construction. There are backstories and reasoning revealed later on but to save them near its ending phases and makes viewers to wait patiently doesn’t cut out right.
Action wise, the series is executed well thanks to Kyoto Animation’s fluid execution. Scenes involving fighting are presented with rapid movements accompanied by its majestic atmosphere. Mirai’s rare ability also spills blood that marks the trace of its grim reality of dark fantasy. The youmu race also present a supernatural feel of explicit malevolence because of their existence; it is mentioned that youmi exists as result of negative emotions. Because of this, they spread that negative influence towards others.
Despite the show being dark and perhaps explores a more psychological side to its story, the series also contains comedy. Unfortunately, the presentation and delivery of that comedy is laughable in the wrong way. There is little chemistry in the way dialogues are delivered because the character interactions of this series lacks depth. Mirai’s character is generic with her annoying catchphrase that fits perfectly with its uninteresting style. The implied sister complex throughout the series becomes a distraction that’s hard to take seriously. And although the series avoid the typical beach episode, it doesn’t evade its poor parody or oddly coordinated fan service scenes. If the series wants us to take it seriously, then it should follow that pattern. But if it wants to make a few jokes here and then, it should at least make sense. Nonetheless, it follows down a path of despair with no decent delivery. I honestly don’t know what went wrong here. Perhaps it’s because of the director Taichi Ishidate but he was known to deliver series such as Full Metal Panic: Second Raid that actually explored psychological of despair. Here, the direction is off and the timing is misplaced in many of its moments. Overall, it’s hard to take this show seriously despite its dark genre as it sometimes falls into the slice of life zone, other times with some story depiction ending in senseless solutions. You’ll see some of this yourself if you decide to give the series a try. It’s almost like dichotomy and becomes intolerable.
Thanks to Kyoto Animation’s production values, it’s safe to say that the series is saved in some ways by its scenery and visuals. The artwork for this show is magnificent with rich depth in terms of visual production. Most of the youmu gives off their threatening appearance that makes them a dangerous adversary for the Spirit Warriors. The character designs are typical with Kyoto Animation involved such as Mirai’s dose of moe. Mitsuki’s character gives off her coldness towards most of the others that is a reflection to the way she looks. Background wise, everything fits well and makes sense when the series decides to venture into the dark fantasy region.
The soundtrack is consistent with its tone. Because the series takes on a dark fantasy theme, it adapts a more eerie OST. Comedy wise though, there are moments when the OST loses balance of itself thanks to its poor execution. The action scenes incorporates good usage of its soundtrack especially with the intense atmosphere it gives off. Likewise, more emotional scenes makes decent usage of its OST to reflect the mood. Both the OP and ED songs also gives off a soft pacing for its mood. Mirai’s VA (Risa Taneda) plays her role well that fits the voice of a shy character. Others such as Mitsuki and Akihito also are consistent with their voice mannerisms.
Overall though, this series didn’t meet the expectations I had in mind. The initial premise had potential. Unfortunately, the characters becomes a major problem with their lack of characterization, interactions, and personalities. Most of the plot/arc hardly makes any sense especially with their resolutions. This doesn’t help by the fact that there is a improper timing with comedic scenes or dialogues. Instead, the dialogues usually falls apart with odd conversations such as involving the male characters’ fetishes. The technical aspect of this show is decent in terms of production especially with its powerful visuals courtesy of Kyoto Animation. The action scenes also makes up a decent base for shounen like battles with touches of dark fantasy. However, this doesn’t excuse the ultimatum of the show being mediocre.
As Mirai would write in her blog that she often gets flamed for, I would also say that Kyoukai no Kanata/Beyond the Boundary is best concluded with “how unpleasant”.
Kyuokai is not perfect, but it makes up for a lot of its flaws with gorgeous animation good laughs and a completely enjoyable ride the whole way through. The story of KnK definitely isn’t original in the slightest to start off. Like everyone is saying supernatural girl meets immortal boy and they fall in love, and while people may whine that unoriginality just leads to a total shit fest I think that if something works and is enjoyable that’s what matters the most, and while originality is always a plus (like in SnK’s case) it is not necessary for a good anime.
Where KnK shines is in it’s art and it truly is breathtaking. There are so many scenes that evoke emotions beautifully and really just make it an artistic masterpiece in it’s own right. It’s one of those anime that could be absolutely terrible and the art alone could save it. Luckily the rest is not terrible it’s all at least acceptable.
The character’s and character development are also high points in this anime. The characters all interact very realistically even if they are reused tropes. The animations of the characters face in a particular scene helps portray the emotions in that respective character in a very real well that leaves it so that there is no need for talking and there is a lot of silence in this anime that leaves the watcher to just look at the beautiful scenery which is where KnK shines the most and it definitely knows it does. The characters also develop so well having episodes where characters slowly become closer to each other instead of leaving it to be implied and that’s a very good thing. (Funny enough a lot of people see these episodes as “filler” episodes, I do not agree, but maybe I’m just more optimistic and think Kyoani is smarter than that)
Another very enjoyable aspect of KnK is the level of mysticism it portrays and even if it is an overused overarching story it does a very good job at not feeling stale in the slightest. I believe it does this best through the soundtrack which is absolutely stunning and great to listen to.
Many people are shit talking the story in KnK and I believe that while it is partially justified it also partially isn’t because KnK isn’t linear. There isn’t one story and it seems to fly by very fluidly instead of feeling like there is X arc then X arc it just feels like it passes very nicely. The pacing feels nice and it’s overall just very enjoyable to get through.
In the end KnK is enjoyable, the art is great and the characters and story feel to flow very well. There are flaws and those are not to be ignored; however, it is DEFINITELY not nearly as bad as people like to think it is. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will feel satisfied at the end of it.
There is one thing I will rarely, if ever, do. That is give the show a rating before watching the entire show through. That doesn’t mean that I don’t have preconceived notions about the show and have some idea how I’m going to rate it. As a human being, I am flawed with the inability to look at something objectively from the beginning. That being said, I felt like I should take the time to address all the people somehow climbing over each other trying to stick his or her opinion down the throat’s of other people. Here is my humble opinion: Kyoukai no Kanata was, at the very least, a show worth watching. Here’s why.
Why do I rate it so? Most anime shows – at least for me – have some sort of glimmer of light that seems to catch my eye. (Of course this is for me personally, so don’t be snapping on my words). There is something interesting that pulls me in that makes me want to watch the show. For me, originally, it was the story. Of course, that was just a preconceived notion I had; the story was interesting. Now, after finishing Kyoukai no Kanata, am I disappointed? Not really…though it is personal preference. There were parts I didn’t like. There were parts I thought were well done. Was it perfect? No. It was still interesting to me though. There were issues with plot execution that made me a little sad, but that didn’t make the overall show horrible. In my experience, there are shows far worse. Many many shows.
Well, KyoAni never fails to pull off at least semi decent art. Kyoukai no Kanata is no exception. To me, the art was colorful and fit well with the story. I won’t go too far into it, but honestly, it looked good. Well, being KyoAni, the art was magnificent. The scenery was beautiful and the visuals blew me away.
This rating is probably a little high for some of you. But I really enjoyed the OST. It isn’t the best, that’s for sure, but it was beautiful enough for each scene the show had. And I really enjoyed the opening and ending. Of course, because the story itself was a little sketchy in its execution, the OST lost a little “oomph”.
Okay, this part is entirely subjective. Everyone has his or her own opinion. But I thought that with the episode restraint, the characters all had at least a little development with some exceptions. I found it a little strange that all the main characters had such distinction from everyone else, but then again, it could have been worse.
In the end, each character was unique. They had strange quirks and it made the show fun to watch. Despite the show itself being somewhat dark, I was able to get a few laughs from the character interaction. I know that opinion is subjective in its own, but honestly, we all have our own opinions. To me, the character interaction was fun and made my Wednesday’s more enjoyable. Watching the characters bicker was by no means unpleasant to watch.
The show wasn’t a complete failure. In fact, I could only say that Kyoukai no Kanata was like the majority of the shows out there. Great in some ways, and rather not so great in others. But the show, in its entirety, was better than a lot of others things I watched. It probably wouldn’t be anywhere near the best, but it was enjoyable to say the least. I had my laughs. I had my teary-eyed moments. I grew angry. I was sad. Though the show failed to pull me completely in one direction, I was able to get a wide array of emotions, and it was beautiful to me. The show was beautiful in so many ways.
All I can truly say is this: don’t judge this show without finishing it. Feel free to disregard what I think of the show. In the end, everyone’s review reflects his or her opinion. Even the most professionally written review here on MAL has some subjectivity. I don’t condone that. But no one can judge how you like a show but YOU. And if you arrive to a conclusion based on what little you see, because you watched a few episodes, you may or may not be robbing yourself of a good experience. So many times, shows I find to be a good experience to watch happen to have controversial ratings. That doesn’t mean the person reading this will find this show to be something they like to watch. Reading my review over again, I can say that it is a measly attempt at an objective review. So…
Here’s what I’ll say: don’t reach a conclusion based on reviews or ratings. At least give the show a chance. Perhaps looking beyond such things you will find a show worth watching. Perhaps not. Only you can judge if this show is truly as [un]pleasant as others say it to be.
I wish you all the best in your pursuit of anime.
9: Kyousou Giga (TV)
MAL Score: 7.76
Long ago, there was a monk named Myoue who could bring anything he drew to life. He quietly lived with his wife Koto—a black rabbit in human form—and their three children: Yakushimaru, Kurama, and Yase. One day, the high priest of the land concluded that Myoue’s drawings caused too many problems for the locals and ordered him to find a solution. In response, the family secretly fled to an alternate world of Myoue’s own creation—the Looking Glass City.
Everything was peaceful until Myoue and Koto suddenly vanished. Their three children are left to take care of the city, and Yakushimaru inherits Myoue’s name and duties. Stranded in this alternate world, their problems only get worse when a young girl—also named Koto—crashes down from the sky and declares that she is also looking for the older Myoue and Koto. Armed with a giant hammer and two rowdy familiars, Koto just might be the key to releasing everyone from the eternal paper city.
However, looks can often be deceiving, and thankfully, this is not the case for Kyousou Giga. Admittedly, the beginning seems bizarre; lots of random, unrelated events occur spontaneously. Nonetheless, a darker narrative, which Kyousou Giga skillfully weaves with its initially lighthearted tone, later takes center stage. And not only does Kyousou Giga manage to blend these heterogeneous elements together, it does it very well. It’s like seeing a constellation of fireworks as they meander into the air, only to explode in a colorful harmony. And never before have fireworks looked so beautiful.
Set in the Mirror Capital, Kyousou Giga begins with the Council of Three. The Capital is a painting originally created by a monk named Myoue, who, gifted with supernatural abilities, can give life to anything he draws. Lady Koto, by way of Myoue’s magic and an encounter with a bodhisattva, transforms from a drawing of a black rabbit to a human, and later confesses her love to Myoue. Myoue soon reciprocates Lady Koto’s affection, and creates the Capital, as society became increasingly intolerant of his supernatural acts, to escape from reality and to foster their family. Their family is composed of three children; Kurama and Yase, created from Myoue’s drawings, and Yakushimaru, a human being. The Council of Three are the three siblings who, after the sudden disappearance of their parents, took over the Capital. One day, as Yakushimaru is observing the Capital, a lightning storm comes by, bringing in its wake an eccentric girl called Koto, who’s searching for a black rabbit.
By a storm Koto arrives, and what a storm Koto will leave. As it turns out, Koto is a catalyst for trouble and chaos. Almost every scene Koto lands on is bound to be marked by havoc: wrecked either by her whimsical tendencies or her monumental, destructive hammer. The first half of the story does an excellent job of establishing her impulsive character and the second of fleshing it out. Particularly, as the central mystery of the black rabbit is slowly unveiled, Koto begins to gain a sense of belonging. As she searches for something that’s missing from her heart, the Capital becomes her compass, her guidance, and her home. Every character she stumbles upon gradually shapes who she is, and by the end, Koto has found the ultimate bliss. Thankfully, this development is paced properly and thereby blossoms naturally.
Koto also brings about excitement to those surrounding her. Acts of kindness and acts of joy, Koto’s true talent lies with her ability to inspire change by way of her impetuous acts. Her interactions with other characters, through thick and thin, effectuate in the development and characterization for said characters. For instance, one of Yase’s notorious temperamental outrages is stabilized by Koto when, after a duel of fists, Yase is able to calm down and reflect upon the kindness around her, a kindness of which Koto offers to those who need it the most. Afterwards, although Yase does not show it immediately, she begins developing a faint, more sympathetic aura than before. Subtly, she matures from a sprout to a flower.
On another note, Kyousou Giga also enriches its narrative by paying homage to Japanese folklore and Buddhist tales. And it does so excellently. Extrapolating on folklore such as the “Moon Rabbit” or “Scrolls of Frolicking Animals,” Kyousou Giga breathes life into its mystical characters—imbibing the cultural significances that are entailed by said folklores. It is as if Kyousou Giga is taking inanimate legends and rendering them into contemporary art form—as if to yield the perfect balance between faithful “adaptation” and its own creative license. Luckily, this means that even side characters—many of whom are caricatured and used as a comic relief—are given flair from the past: colorful spirits that roam around nonchalantly under Yase’s rule, anthropomorphic animals that speak human tongue, and so on. Even an ordinary motif such as the recurring paper-cut crowds from metropolis can make for a great enhancement to the vibrancy of the Mirror Capital.
The presentation is, by and large, a combination of unique visual designs and stellar direction. When likened to Koto’s wackiness, the Mirror Capital is portrayed to be full of mundane follies and mischief. Moreover, Kyousou Giga is able to, in tune with its aesthetics, construct a universe supernatural in concept, but down-to-earth in essence. There’s nothing quite like the way that Kyousou Giga fills its canvas: covering it initially with unearthly shapes and vivid imagery, only to be animated by a brush that conjures lifelike wonders. The end result is an unbelievably vibrant piece of work that is both pleasing to the eye and immersed with depth. Of course, this is not without the help of backdrops that depict all four seasons of the year; from the bountiful nature of the spring to the scathing effects of the wintry snow. Similarly, the OST serves its purpose well. Powerful during action scenes and minimalistic when needed to be, the OST complements the elegant animation.
A prominent theme in Kyousou Giga is the importance of familial identity. Many characters evaluate their self-worth entirely upon the status quo of their family, and for the Council of Three, who have a dysfunctional family, that is very little. Beautiful as it may be to see Koto develop her own take on her identity, it’s perhaps more joyful to witness the subtle transformations that overcome the three. Through trials and tribulations, they find that family is more than a superficial tradition to live by. To be a family means to make mistakes. To make silly decisions, to argue about frivolous matters, and to spend time leisurely: this is what a family does. It, akin to all things in life, isn’t perfect, and Kyousou Giga tells us not to hinge or weigh ourselves based on mistakes of the past or decisions made in the future. It tells us to live freely in the present, as Koto does, and to see the silver lining in the clouds.
Much of this is expressed via the lighthearted mood of the series; the comedy and the playful tone. Koto’s whimsical actions and her buffooneries, more than the purpose of entertainment, resound the central theme of living capriciously. Without Koto, the Council of Three would’ve spent eternity waiting; without change, the present stagnates. Koto’s greatest tools to inspire change are her hammer and smile. All this is to remind us to live life to the fullest, joyfully.
Kyousou Giga is an impressive anime. Rich in folkloristic imagery, wildly creative in direction, and breathtaking in visuals, Kyousou Giga is certainly one of the best anime in recent years. Even with action, drama, and fantasy, it is able to harmoniously blend these elements together without homogenizing its creative, distinct flavor. Be it fireworks, a painting, or a Hall of Mirrors, Kysousou Giga is a work that deftly conveys its messages by way of its memorable characters, narrative, and production. A journey into Kyousou Giga is an experience like no other.
Kyousou Giga is an animated series that is an expanded adaptation based on the ONA of the same name produced by Toei Animation. The ONA attracted enough attention that a full length TV series now stands itself to expand upon the story. Despite the story feeling like a dream, there is a real feeling of various emotions that presents this show as an extravaganza you will not forget. It’s a dream you’ll wish you won’t be waking from.
The setting of the series takes place called Kyoto. However, it’s nothing like the city as we know it in Japan. In fact, there are supernatural inhabitants sharing the same space as humans and mysterious events takes place. The city itself also has an origin that traces back its roots to some prominent characters. More importantly, we find out that its rulers are three children of this city. The series depicts of a young girl named Koto as she embarks on a journey to find her mother with the help of her two familiars.
Kyousou Giga’s story feels like a dream with a vast amount of imagery and portrayal of imaginations. Rie Matsumoto whom is in charged with the direction takes her skill of directing to an unparalleled level. The way the show handles itself incorporates many motifs and allusions. There’s the style of world crossing phenomenon between the city of Kyoto and Mirror City. Then, there is the progressing story that ties every episode together through flashbacks, feelings, and character dynamics. It’s not just about a story of saving worlds or accomplishing a goal but crafting a legend to tie its themes together for fans to remember by heart.
For the characters, this series portrays them in a variety of ways that are memorable because of their highlights whether it’s joyful or tragic. For starters, Koto can be initially seen as a young girl with an ebullient personality and a head full of curiosities. On the surface, she can be depicted as a typical tomboy whom gets into fights and arguments with others. However, deep down, she can also be an honest girl especially towards those who she cares for. Among those who she interacts with in the show includes Myoe, a young Buddhist monk that looks after them as young siblings. He is human but more importantly has a tragic past as we glimpse in various flashbacks in this show. Throughout the series, he plays the role of a guardian angel for Koto especially during her moments of despair. Usually, these results in her own insecurity and self blames for various events. With a tragic past of his own, Myoe hopes others will not fall under the same boat as him. This is seen several times throughout the series where he snaps Koto out of her dark fantasy and back into reality of what’s there. However, his own inner desire often brinks on the feeling of despair, so much that at one point he wishes to be done for. It wonderfully presents these two characters as ways we can appreciate and feel its realism despite being set in a fantasy world. That’s just the tips of the iceberg though.
Other characters such as Yase and Kurama has their own problems ranging from self-indulgence and a feeling of escapism to another world. At the apex of one event, Yase loses one such possession that she deeply cared which leaves a hole in her life to be despaired. It’s through many of the scenes of this show that depicts tragedy among the characters. Yet, the direction of the series is wonderfully presented thanks to its construction of its rich details. These include the flashbacks involving Myoe where viewers will personally glimpse at his tragic past. It creates that feeling of sorrow where character deals with loss. Losing something is never easy in life whether it’s a beloved sibling, a valuable property, or an unforgettable memory. Kyousou Giga creates an atmosphere that makes viewers feel in a way that they can hold dear.
Despite the moody atmosphere at various scenes of the series, there are also joyful moments such as the original characters in their past times. Myoe (original name: Yakushimaru) also seemed to have a happy life after being adopted. The parental feelings that the show possesses is also touching at various circumstances especially with engaging dialogues and movements of the body. The life of a past Myoe marked with a mixture of calamity and serendipity crafts a powerful story.
The action of the series also present itself well thanks to its choreography. Koto explodes into the show with energy while at the same time making her presence well known. Some of the action itself sparks with intensity with intriguing dialogues as well. The feelings often ranges to extreme during some of these action scenes such as Yase’s rage. Similarly, the comedy of the series is attractive with little gags without being overzealous on timing. No fan service. No awkward camera angles. No stupidity. It sets prestige on the entertainment value combined with humor and action that makes up itself to deliver what fans deserve.
At some instances though, the series might be a bit confusing to get engaged into. The small cast of characters can take a while to get used to. The length of the show itself also might have omitted some more important themes. Also be aware that some of the scenes from the original ONA will be reused given this set as an expanded anime series. The idiosyncratic style of the show might also not be for what everyone is used to. Sure enough, there’s the engaging dialogues but sometimes the family drama could be repetitive. All things aside, the show still explores a wide spectrum of subjects to present a wonderful experience.
The art style of Kyousou Giga is quite unique with touches of fantasy. Kyoto is depicted as a dream like city where realism is void but instead filled with otherworldly phenomenons. The characters are designed to look simple but possesses certain aspects that makes them stand out. Koto looks like an average teenage girl. Myoe is portrayed as a human and thus looks like one. On the other hand, characters such as Lady Koto and Yase gives off a vibe of supernatural. The familiars that travels with Koto also presents a feeling of fantasy.
Soundtrack wise, the series does present itself quite well. Measuring on voice acting talent, Myoe holds the title for his mannerisms because the way he tries to balance between his feelings of loss. Koto is portrayed by the queen of tsundere, Rie Kugimiya. Here, she takes on the role of a young girl filled with energy. Rather than looking for love, she is looking for her mother that is quite different than her better known roles. The OST is fairly noticeable with its powerful vibrations that covers the show’s themes. Whether they are sarcastic, eerie, or emotional, all of them are pleasurable that matches its style. Furthermore, later episodes shows an evolution of the ED songs with little gags added in to create more sense regarding our main characters. The OP song “Koko” by Tamurapan is catchy with its visual portrayals and fantasy elements. The camera rolling captures some of the characters’ body movements as well.
The end game of Kyousou Giga might not be to stick your eyes to the screen and try to absorb every single detail of the series. Instead, it’s to appreciate the style and themes with a credible setting despite being portrayed like a dream. The influences the show possesses can be touched upon Buddhism, Alice in Wonderland, and the real Kyoto itself. The direction of the story is wonderful thanks to its themes, flashbacks, and colorful cast of characters. It might even feel like a dream at some moments with all the feelings mixed in or the fantasy lives of our main characters. Still, it’s a dream you’ll wish will last forever, ever…and ever.
One of the first things to notice about Kyousougiga is that this is not the first Kyousougiga anime. The original was released in 2011 and was a 1 episode long ONA produced by Toei Animation and then followed up in 2012 with a 5 episode long OVA series made up of 10 minute long, seemingly unconnected character profiles. So, do you need to watch these two previous shows to watch Kyousougiga (TV)? Not at all, everything from the previous two shows is repeated and expanded upon in here with episode 0 being a straight up remake of the ONA and episodes 2-6 covering what were the OVA’s but in more detail. This however does not mean it is a straight up continuation, a lot of themes and story elements are changed entirely and is in all around different experience in the second half. This also means that fans of the original ONA and OVA’s may be disappointed in the drastic changes made, especially due to it being more exposition driven than the previous iterations but for the most part it carries off this new direction well.
The story is relatively simple yet undeniably complex at the same time, with a narrative that fluctuates between linear and non-linear story telling it essentially creates a jigsaw like plot that slowly evolves as the storyline progresses and the true nature of certain individuals and events come into perspective. What starts off with what is essentially an anime interpretation of the classic Lewis Caroll novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland quickly becomes something else entirely, because at the heart of it, Kyousougiga is a story about family and self-discovery yet at the same time so much more. This show borrows heavily from Buddhist ideology, the Choujuu-giga, the Buddhist tale of Hariti/Kishimojin, the history of Kyoto and is also very reminiscent of classic anime such as FLCL, Paprika and The Tatami Galaxy in its presentation and narrative. All of this make Kyousougiga a show that is surprisingly more complex than it appears at face value yet is completely enjoyable to someone who does not want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes.
The show does suffer in the second half due to its low budget as there are many scenes which rely heavily on exposition. This unfortunately makes the second half of the show very divisive but all the themes that were in the first half are still there and the story takes the utmost logical route possible for what it is. This however is still Kyousougiga’s weakest element but I feel all of things great about Kyousougiga more than make up for it. And no need to worry, the ending is also excellent and ties up all the messages and themes nicely while returning to the quality of the earlier episodes.
One major advantage that Kyousougiga has over other stories which deal with a character “going through the looking glass” is that the characters here feel like actual people with realistic motivations and characteristics and are not just an embodiment of the world in itself for the most part. A large aspect of the story just thrives on pure character development for the Council of Three which the story completely revolves around for the majority of the story and by the time that the true plot kicks in circa-episode 6 you do feel invested in these. That being said, there are a number of side characters that could have been implemented better, mainly for those that make up the entourage of Kurama and Yase such as Shoko and Fushimi and Myoue/Yakushimaru’s girlfriend who just seems to exist for some reason or another but for a 10 episode series it is done well enough for the majority of characters still to be memorable.
One of the major factors that gathered my interest in this show is art style. Needless to say it is excellent with a lot of focus on colour and lighting which really support the sporadic tone of the show. There is a lot of subtlety in the art itself such as Mirror Kyoto being a lot more vibrant and colourful than its real world counterpart which focuses on shading and almost washed out colours to contrast with the unique character designs. There is also an undying playfulness about the art as there are many scenes where the artists incorporate watercolour like elements to make them stand out or put emphasis on the backgrounds while never being in your face about these elements like a show such as FLCL would. The use of lighting and shadowing in this show is fantastic which really bring to the forefront the amount of detail that the artists put into every scene, and there is a lot of detail. That is what I personally think the show excels in, no nook or cranny is underutilised and every scene is filled with trippy, psychedelic visuals all the way through to ultra-realistic and complex structures and backgrounds.
However the same cannot be said about the animation at parts. Don’t get me wrong when it is good it is some of the best, but when it is bad it is very reminiscent of the infamous elevator scene in Neon Genesis Evangelion. This is one certain scene where Koto is standing at a station, unblinking, while CGI shenanigans occur in the foreground as well as the soon to be infamous “walking exposition” scene in episode 9 due to budget constraints. Luckily these scenes are few and far between but they do pull you out of your emersion at crucial points in the story. However, the shows particle effects used and the animation put into the action orientated scenes more than make up for it as they are gorgeous, everything from snow to dust flickering in the light looks realistic and really well down and really transform a scene where there is very little character movement to something very dynamic. There is also a reliance on CGI, and usually I absolutely hate CGI but here it is done pretty tastefully here. The majority of the CGI consists of indescribable light structures and computer generated people that are used to fill up space in mirror Kyoto or hanging ornaments inside the Council of Three Chamber, other than that it was relatively unnoticeable and fit the show pretty well.
Where this anime really shines is its soundtrack by Go Shiina. This may be the first time since Yoko Kanno’s work on Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex that a soundtrack has been completely diverse yet fits the tone and setting perfectly. The pieces of music used in the show range from minimalist and melancholic Piano sonata’s such as the track “Promises in the Snow” all the way through to the track “Shoko” which is a strange mixture of Metal, Hip-Hop, Classical and Electronica which comes together surprisingly well. However, the real meat of this soundtrack comes from the absolutely incredible symphonic pieces which are very reminiscent of Joe Hisaishi’s work on Princess Mononoke and capture the emotions and events shown on screen incredibly well.
I wouldn’t usually talk about the opening theme of show, but damn, the track Koko by Tamurapan may be the one of best Anime OPs I have ever heard really, it captures the feeling of the show perfectly and is just is bloody good song all around. There is also the insert song “The Secret of My Life” which is not only a great track, but is used exceptionally well in the context of the show.
To me Kyousougiga is a masterpiece as it is everything an excellent anime should be. However, its budget really holds it back from being perfect and that is where the flaws really appear so I cannot give this show a 10 from an objective stand point although I personally think it does deserve it on enjoyment alone. The show is full of heart and passion and I really feel that the people who worked on this really did make the best of the resources that they had and with a higher budget this show would be perfect to me.
+ Absolutely beautiful art and soundtrack.
+ Great characters and a unique story.
+ Surprisingly deep and thought-provoking.
– The narrative and animation is weaker in the second half at points.
– Fans of the ONAs and OVA may be disappointed in the change of direction.
– Some side characters could have had better development.
8: Hataraku Maou-sama!
English: The Devil is a Part-Timer!
MAL Score: 7.80
Striking fear into the hearts of mortals, the Demon Lord Satan begins to conquer the land of Ente Isla with his vast demon armies. However, while embarking on this brutal quest to take over the continent, his efforts are foiled by the hero Emilia, forcing Satan to make his swift retreat through a dimensional portal only to land in the human world. Along with his loyal general Alsiel, the demon finds himself stranded in modern-day Tokyo and vows to return and complete his subjugation of Ente Isla—that is, if they can find a way back!
Powerless in a world without magic, Satan assumes the guise of a human named Sadao Maou and begins working at MgRonald’s—a local fast-food restaurant—to make ends meet. He soon realizes that his goal of conquering Ente Isla is just not enough as he grows determined to climb the corporate ladder and become the ruler of Earth, one satisfied customer at a time!
Whether it’s part-time work, household chores, or simply trying to pay the rent on time, Hataraku Maou-sama! presents a hilarious view of the most mundane aspects of everyday life, all through the eyes of a hapless demon lord.
The basic premise of the show is that the overlord of the demon army and one of his generals are attacked by the hero during a large scale war to take over ‘ente isle’. They attempt to temporarily retreat to an alternate dimension, but find themselves trapped in modern day japan and are unable to return. So must work menial jobs to survive while they attempt to find a way to recover their powers and return to ente isle. It’s a solid premise that’s fairly original and had a lot of potential, but ultimately failed in its execution.
I know what your thinking, the main character of the show is a demonic overlord trapped in human form, working in McDonalds. So we’ll get an evil anti-hero with dark tendency’s who goes on to become good, accepting human values, and seeking reconciliation for his dark past. But instead we get your typical self sacrificing “emiya shiro” right from the get go. He becomes your generic harem/action protagonist, and never displays any regret over his past actions despite this. As such Maou gets no concrete development over the show, and the fact that he is a demon has no relevance to his personality whatsoever.
The show then goes on to introduce more and more female characters to the point where it becomes a slice of life harem with a little action and comedy scattered throughout. We also see scenes from ente isle but bizarrely there are no demons present at all, despite being on the verge of conquering the entire world before Maou left they apparently just got up and left.
Most of the “plot” starts feeling like filler after each of the characters is introduced which ultimately meant they ran out of time to develop any real closure on the romance side. Making the ending feel like a half season break, rather than a satisfying end to the show. So you’ll have to wait at least another year for season 2 to get any closure.
The comedy starts off okay but there was never really enough of it to sustain the show purely on laughs, and as the show goes on the comedy becomes less and less frequent and much more repetitive (oh we are so poor, that’s still hilarious the 1000th time we’ve heard it)
The opening isn’t present for the first two episodes, because when it is finally introduced it just recycles footage from the first two episodes. The music in the show isn’t awful, but it certainly isn’t a selling point for the show. The art is of the same high quality we’ve come to expect of modern anime but doesn’t do anything exceptional in that regard.
Overall I believe it is a very overrated mediocre show. Whist its premise is fairly original its poorly executed and there’s nothing here that hasn’t been done much better elsewhere.
While I scrolled through the list the title is was caught my eye, “The Devil is A part Timer”. There are many thoughts that came to mind so I decided to please my curiosity. From the start to finish the plot flows in a consistent manner. The characters development is great despite the short amount of episodes that are allotted (13). The animation is great as well as a decent english dubbed version.
Can’t really point out anything bad in particular other than the stereo typical loud tsundere chick.
But all in all, quick and fun just like I like it.
This anime is the one.
While sucky reboots and trashy sequels keep spreading their vice like grip among people who haven’t breathed outside air for a long time, Hataraku Maou Sama is the odd kid in the block. It has a totally new concept which totally works for its genre. While most other stuff still don’t know their true identities after 10 episodes, this anime knows where its comedy lies and executes it very well. It may not send you into hysterical fits of laughter, but rest assured you will be having a loony grin plastered on your face while watching it. The best word to describe it will be ‘Delightful’. And it has a pretty decent story as well. Being 11 episodes only it will be a short journey though. But at least its a memorable one.
Characters make or break a show. HMS has great characters with their own idiosyncrasies and attitude. From the Lucifer who turns into a NEET to our own hero who turns from being a apathetic dark lord to a guy who works at Mc Ronalds. Yeah you read it right. This makes up for interesting situations which never fail to amuse.
Should you watch it? Yeah. Once in a while you need an anime like this to clear your mind and relax
7: Uchouten Kazoku
English: The Eccentric Family
MAL Score: 7.87
Kyoto has been populated by groups of tanuki and tengu for years, living alongside humans who are oblivious to the existence of these creatures. Yasaburou Shimogamo is the third son of an influential tanuki family who spends his carefree days taking care of an old tengu, observing humans through his ability to shapeshift, and dealing with the mysterious woman named Benten.
Behind the peace and tranquility, however, is a painful memory from long ago as Yasaburou’s father, head of the tanuki community, was killed and eaten by a group of humans known as the Friday Fellows. Uchouten Kazoku follows the trials and tribulations of the Shimogamo brothers as they struggle to avoid their own grisly demise while coming ever closer to unraveling the truth behind their father’s death.
From P.A. Works comes forth a new anime this summer. Based on a novel written by Tomihiko Morimi (The Tatemi Galaxy), Uchoten Kazoku takes the setting to Kyoto with an eccentric family. Why is the family eccentric? Perhaps one of the reason is that none of them are not actually human. Rather, they are unique or more specifically categorized as tanuki. The series details the family, and in particular one child by the name of Yasaburō Shimogamo – the main character and the third son of the Shimogamo.
To start off, the setting of the show takes place in Kyoto. As such, expect an old fashioned and traditional city in a modern life setting. There’s the Japanese like atmosphere but combines that with elements of fantasy. That’s because the characters of the show are tanuki; Japanese raccoon dog beings native to Japan. But in this story, we have this child named Yasaburo Shimogamo who stars as the main character. He has the ability to shape-shift and plays on a gender bender role in the some of the episodes. Even when we first meet him, he is in the clothes and body of a girl. Oddly enough, Yasaburo plays the role of an ordinary boy with abnormal powers. We also find out that exactly how he lives his daily lives ranging from observing human behavior, engaging in extended conversations with others, and even to warming his butt. Now, that is abnormal.
It’s hard to be original these days in the anime industry. Many ideas have been explored but I find this show to be quite refreshing. It takes the Kyoto setting and transform it into an urban fantasy without violence, shounen battles, or a guy being the hero to save the day. Rather, we have dynamic character relationships with the eccentric family being a center of the plot. As for the plot itself, the majority of the series takes on an approach similar to a narrative. Yasaburo is the main character so naturally, we get to see his life from his point of view. The relationships he has with the other family and characters are explored throughout the series. Among one of these relationship that is most noticeable involves with Benten, a member of Friday Fellows. This relationship can be described as very peculiar as maybe on the lines of love/hate. From the surface, we can assume that Yasaburo has a crush on Benten even from the very beginning. On the other hand, Benten is a woman with a mischievous personality and hard to read. Most of the time, viewers will have a hard time figuring out what she’s thinking. In one particular moment, she teases that Yasaburo will be her dinner all the while putting on a poker-like face with a noticeable ‘smile’.
The show explores the eccentric family so naturally, we get to see their backgrounds as well as their past stories. Some of these stories could spawn emotions especially later on when some truth is revealed regarding Yaichirou and his generation. Perhaps most importantly though is how the characters deal with revelations. Eccentric Family takes on the approach of sadness and presents in a way that seems to be more natural. It’s obvious that there are moments when characters wishes something that has happened never happened. However, it’s too late now to change anything. Instead, the characters moves forward and accepts the truth but with a silent tone.
As with most family goes, there’s also fun and comedy as well. Tomhiko Morimi’s Tatemi Galaxy had plenty of comedy presented in an absurd yet very entertaining way. As for this show, it similarly has that style of comedy but presents it in a more sensational way. Yasaburo indeed has character relationships with many of the characters, some more striking than others such as Benten. On the comedy side though, Akadama is perhaps the guy that makes up one half of that duo with Yasaburo. The silliness can also be traced with the family origins in regards to their shapeshifting abilities. Yasaburo can shapeshift and takes form of a girl effectively making him a trap. But more figuratively, he likes to do so especially when visiting Akadama as a way of teasing. Speaking of Akadama, he also sometimes denies what’s really there. It’s silly in the way of comedy rather than being forced. There’s no random scenes of awkwardness in terms of compromising positions to present its comedy. Instead, it’s natural and fun. Now, that is effective comedy.
If we talk about dialogues though, this show has what it takes. The dialogues in this series can be taken in as impressive in the way of its style. The words being spoken can be taken with both a sense of realism and also fantasy. It also mixes in the a sort of complexity as family origins are explored that details to their generations. As such, viewers should absorb and take these dialogues for granted as they can be important to recall later on. Finally, the dialogues has a sense of maturity to it. At times, it might come out as silly but its presentation makes it dramatic to listen to.
The term ‘fantasy’ spells out many ideas. In recent years, anime series have taken on the fantasy to the virtual world, to ghost haunted schools, or to a dark age when Titans are the dominance of its land. However, Uchoten Kazoku takes on the fantasy theme and conveys it in a more traditional way. The tanuki is just one prominent example relating to traditional Japanese folktale based on its raccoons possessing the ability to shapeshift. In such legends, the tanuki uses such ability to cause mischief. This folktale legend can be seen as parallel to this series in the case of Yasaburo. Then, there’s also Benten whose character spells out mischievous all over her face. There are also other mystical creatures such as youkai and tengu.
Though the show has an impressive stance and presentation, there are sometimes I scratch my head and wondering what’s really going on. The drama around the show sometimes also becomes almost overdramatic and focuses too much on Yasaburo. Additionally, there’s a certain lack of diversity in terms of its mythological creatures. Along with that, some of purpose relating to the characters are also vague as a narrative often explores them in concrete details. In this case, narrative takes on a more textbook approach where we sometimes have to go deeper with what Yasaburo sees the modern world as. Finally, there’s bits of fan service showing in the case of Benten as a form of tease. Heh, maybe she’ just a femme fatale or something but good luck reading her. She’s not a textbook with an answer key.
Uchoten Kazoku is adapted from P.A. Works. As a production studio, fans should be aware of their works by now. Their most recent project, Red Data Girl also takes on some Japanese traditional themes and transformed it into anime form in modern era. As for this series, P.A. Works once again puts their talents at work. It does look a bit different though with the character designs looking more simple with nothing breathtaking. The raccoons of the show has an innocence to them while Benten is designed with a mischievous figure. Masayuki Yoshihara’s direction of the series also takes on that narrative style so some characters talking might give them a more direct way of speaking; sometimes as if conveying to the audience of their feelings. The backgrounds looks interesting enough though to convey the modern setting of a Japanese folktale lore.
A less noticeable factor of the series could be the soundtrack. As far as music goes, Uchoten Kazoku takes on a natural style of tone with its smooth OST. Yoshiaki Fujisawa coordinates the music and makes it calm to listen to but at the times forgotten since the dialogues and comedy dominates the music base. The OP song also presents an odd feature of an opening while the ED song (“Qué Será, Será) has a more catchy tone. But for all else being said, I give praise to Yasaburo’s VA Takahiro Sakurai for voicing the main character. With over a decade of experience, we can clearly see a talent in his character as Yasaburo as whether being a guy or a girl. Additionally, Benten’s VA Mamiko Noto gives her character that mischievous tone of voice.
Overall, I would describe this series as fascinating in the sense of its narrative. It’s not every day where we see raccoons running around in a human community. But more importantly, we can see a main character’s point of view in a modern Japanese city. The dialogues spoken in this series may be difficult at times to interpret or absorb. However, make no mistake as they tie in with a lot of the themes together. As one of the underrated series, I definitely recommend giving Uchoten Kazoku a try especially if you’re a fan of comedy-drama or if you’ve previously enjoyed The Tatemi Galaxy. It’s a tale of family fun, storytelling, relationships, and brilliance.
The introduction now complete, the opening theme plays.
And with that, the frenetically paced Uchouten Kazoku is now over. As if to drag the show back down to earth, his younger brother appears and bestows upon our main character that which is most dreaded by every magical shape-shifting bohemian, a responsibility—and one from his mother, no less! It quickly becomes apparent that although he neglected to make mention of this in the introduction, he is in fact the third of the four sons of a once-prestigious and close-knit family of tanuki. Although you might suspect, due to the now-conspicuous absence of this little bit of important information in his introduction or simply just due to his nature, that he is somehow resentful of this, he in fact makes no real effort to escape from these bonds. And so we have settled into the basic premise of this series.
Though not without frequent bursts of excitement, this is now a much slower show and its many strengths begin to reveal themselves to the viewer. With its vivid reds and yellows that perfectly capture the fall season, saturated yet earthy greens, and fantastic nighttime blues, this show likely has the best color palette of any anime from 2013. (The doubtful are invited to consider episode 6, titled “Taking in Fall Colors,” which is about just that: taking in fall colors.) Combined with the excellent way that texture is used in the visuals of this show, this makes for amazing backgrounds; as the viewer may have already noticed during the introduction, Uchouten Kazoku’s Kyoto is an inspired city of lively streets, fanciful props, and amazing interiors. Also worth noting is the way that the animators expressively use the body language of the whimsically designed and deceptively minimal characters. For an obvious example of this, you could watch the way that Yasaburou moves even after taking a female form in the first episode, although it’s really something that deserves your attention throughout the entire series.
The strongest aspect of all, however, is the writing, and as such Uchouten Kazoku features an amazing cast of characters. While Yasaburou doesn’t completely embrace his familial obligations—certainly not to the degree of the eldest Shimogamo brother—his relationships with his immediate kin are shown early on to be his most significant and enduring ties and as they should be, they are all great characters, from the eldest—the comically severe Yaichirou, to the youngest—the endearing Yashirou. But the best non-Yasaburou member of the Shimogamo family might just be the unnamed matriarch, who plays many roles over the course of the series but is always a fun character due both her quirkiness and her naturally likable demeanor. All of the main characters are given the development that they deserve, and Uchouten Kazoku deserves credit for doing so in such a way that it feels like part of a natural progression where the viewer is increasingly drawn into the lives of its characters. Although this can be mostly attributed to the thoughtful way in which the story progresses, some credit should be given to the production for the excellent way in which all of the flashback scenes were executed. Flashbacks can easily feel tacked-on and tacky, especially when silly effects, bad transitions, and other such missteps are involved, but the flashbacks in Uchouten Kazoku are not only well-integrated, but also executed to a standard that is higher than much of the rest of the show, lending them emotional impact and narrative strength. The main characters aren’t the only fun and interesting ones, however, as almost any given supporting character from the scheming Ebisugawa brothers to the perpetually grumpy Akadama-sensei has the ability to steal the spotlight for entire scenes. Both the writing and the production deserve to share the credit here, as the supporting characters are not only written in a way that makes them instantly likeable, but are depicted on screen in a lively and colorful way that is on par with the main cast. (If you’ve been keeping count, you may have noticed that I’ve neglected to mention one of the four brothers. Well, he’s currently a frog in a well and for the purposes of this review, there isn’t too much more that I should say about that, but I suppose that it should be noted that he is both one of the funniest and most interesting characters.)
Arguably even more impressive than it’s cast, however, is the way that the it can effortlessly evoke meaning from absurdity. For example, I did not expect to truly feel bad for a frog in a well—that is to not just have a meaningless emotional response due to some cheap puppy-kicking, but to actually really truly feel bad for a frog in a well. Though Uchouten Kazoku presents itself as a slice of life comedy with whimsical supernatural elements, it flexes its storytelling muscles in a big way on an episode-to-episode basis, so is not only thematically rich, but crafts a meaningful emotional narrative over the course of its thirteen episodes. The key to this is perhaps the way that elements of the story are quietly and thoughtfully built up over the course of the slice of life portions of each episode, leading to catharsis much more naturally than is obvious to the viewer.
I want to finish by talking about yet one more important character that I’ve intentionally avoided even making a passing reference to thus far, and that is the cryptically beautiful figure who is now only referred to by the name of the god Benten. Though she makes appearances as early as the very first episode—the world of Uchouten Kazoku is a small one after all—she remains an enigma for much of the series. This is largely due to the fact that as much is said about Benten by the other characters in the show than is said by Benten herself, which leads me to why I chose only now to bring her up: Benten frequently serves as the focal point of all of the strongest elements of this series. Captivatingly beautiful to almost every character in the show, the impassioned moments that she inspires are many (but not all) of the most powerful scenes of the series. But Benten isn’t just your archetypal muse character who sits around looking pretty while legitimately interesting characters swarm around her and do legitimately interesting things. She herself has a hand in almost every single major plot event of the series and is furthermore the main actor in, or at least an active participant of, many of the best scenes, so while her appearances are sometimes infrequent, they are always memorable. The best aspects of Uchouten Kazoku just seem to become even more apparent whenever Benten is involved. Indeed, everything from the quality of the writing to the quiet strength of the soundtrack and the ability of P.A. Works to deliver sublime visuals seems to be on display during moments like late in episode 3 when Benten waves her fan, and as if on-command, everything immediately comes together to create one of the best scenes of the entire show.
As something with no significant flaws that come to mind, I wholeheartedly recommend Uchouten Kazoku to anyone whose interest is even slightly piqued by this review. Though often restrained in its pacing and contemplative in tone, the show is much more engaging than you might think. Even if you think that you will find it difficult to appreciate the writing or the humor, P.A. Works does a great job of creating an immersive experience for the viewer with the superbly-crafted setting and soundtrack lending the series strong atmospheric qualities as well. Just watch it—I’m sure that you won’t be lacking in things to appreciate.
This was actually based on a novel by Tomihiko Morimi which is the story of a family, of a certain peculiar family at that, cause the members of this family aren’t human. This is a story of a “Tanuki” family. Early on our protagonist tells us about the world he lives in, a fictional version of modern Kyoto, where Tanuki, Tengu & Humans co-habit, humans are obviously at the head of the food chain, and Tengu’s are creatures that can fly. So what are Tanuki’s? They are shape-shifting raccoon dogs (bet you didn’t see that one coming). This is the story of four brothers of a tanuki family , their mothers & their friends; the head of the family that is their father was eaten by a group of human called “Friday Fellows” who eat tanuki every year as a tradition in their year end bash. I know this seems confusing so far, but believe me under this weird exterior there is a really beautiful story. We get to observe the life of this family through the eye of one of the brother’s, our main character Yasaburo. We get to know this beautifully imagined fantasy world, face the challenges you have to face by being a shape-shifting tanuki, and get to know the truth behind how the head of the Shimogamo family really died.
From the small little funny bits like Yasaburo warming his butt (or else he will catch could); to his weird shape-shifting practices; to all the allegory about an actual loving family-life, the nature of humans & the corruption in our political circle now-a-days everything is written in a almost flawless way. There is layer upon layer of details on every scene & intelligent dialogues throughout the show.
The story is almost flawless in what it tries to achieve, it gets 9 out of 10 from me.
The characters are so meticulously imagined by the writer that it really shows the amount of dedication & care he really gave his work. From the responsible yet too much trying older brother Yaichiro, to the carefree yet guilt ridden Yajiro, to the “most idiotic of the blood” Yasaburo, to the timid and shy Yashirou all the brothers are so well developed characters. There is their loving mother (who is one of the most realistic mother figures I have seen in an anime); the mysterious & unpredictable Benten (who you will be constantly wondering about, if you should love her or hate her); their angry & irritable sensei Prof. Akadama; the loveable Kaisei; and many other artistically written characters.
Most of the characters are so well written & well developed that is really unique in this times cause now-a-days most of the animes have 90% generic characters (even some good ones do lack in this department).
It gets another 9 out of 10.
This anime also features very unique art, all the character designs are delicate and drawn with style, the backgrounds are colorful, all in all it does portray the wacky & weird image we get from the story quite nicely. Occasionally there are some scenes which are a bit flawed or feels out of place but overall the art & animations fits the nature of the theme that the writer tries to convey almost perfectly.
It gets 8.5 out of 10.
The opening theme is “Uchouten Jinsei” by milktubIt & the ending theme is “Qué Será, Será” by fhána,. I really like the opening song which fits nicely with the sense of wackiness this anime first tries to establish in its viewers, I get where the ending song is coming from, it was definitely aiming to get in touch with the other side of the story that was the beauty of it but I don’t think the song does add that much on the total experience. It might seem a bit unusual but I liked the sound effects used in the actual anime much better than the actual opening and ending theme, there is a bit of keyboard (or other instrument) piece in some of the intense sequences which is quite beautiful, and the other bits used on emotion sequences were quite exceptional to me too.
The sound gets on the whole solid 9 out of 10.
This is the kind of anime that reminds me of why I am still sticking with this genre of entertainment. Just when the anime world is filled with generic hero fights endlessly to save the world or a girl or closet pervert hero gets caught in between lots of big breasted & scantily clothed females if you really look hard enough you find gems like this. This kinds of stories rejuvenates the believer in me (on a side note it also makes me sad that I don’t know Japanese, or I could have read the original book).
This is a must watch anime & one of the best of the season and of 2013. Don’t waste your time reading this review just go watch it.
Overall score –
9 out of 10.
6: Zetsuen no Tempest
English: Blast of Tempest
MAL Score: 7.96
Yoshino Takigawa, an ordinary teenager, is secretly dating his best friend Mahiro’s younger sister. But when his girlfriend Aika mysteriously dies, Mahiro disappears, vowing to find the one responsible and make them pay for murdering his beloved sister. Yoshino continues his life as usual and has not heard from Mahiro in a month—until he is confronted by a strange girl who holds him at gunpoint, and his best friend arrives in the nick of time to save him.
Yoshino learns that Mahiro has enlisted the help of a witch named Hakaze Kusaribe to find Aika’s killer and of the existence of an entity known as the “Tree of Exodus.” The witch’s brother selfishly desires to make use of its power, in spite of the impending peril to the world. However, Hakaze is banished to a deserted island, and it is now up to Yoshino and Mahiro to help her save the world, while inching ever closer to the truth behind Aika’s death.
Nothing could say more about Blast of Tempest than Shakespeare’s The Tempest which is heavily referenced throughout the series. Blast of Tempest is a story about overcoming entrapment in the past, both figuratively and literally.
One thing that can be said about Blast of Tempest is that it follows a logical premise that manages to feel legitimately inspired despite its fair share of twists. Even though the story involves magic, the series defines a strong logical framework that both empowers and entraps its characters.
Above all, our character’s personal history is a major factor in the series. It drives Mahiro on a vengeful path to determine who killed his sister and weighs down Yoshino to the point of near-detachment. It is only when these characters are able to accept fate and focus that they are able to allow a tragic event to become the means to a better end (saving the world). Moreover, past as a general influence is extremely well-realized. Events in the past, including Hakaze’s imprisonment, Aika’s death, and even further back to the formation of the Tree of Exodus as a means to end the Tree of Genesis’s purpose in resetting humanity are central to the plot.
Furthermore, the notion of order and chaos is thematically prevalent in the series. Even though the Tree of Genesis represents order, it is only with the chaos represented by the Tree of Exodus that humanity can thrive and even exist. Despite the resurgence of crime and inequality after the dissolution of the Tree of Genesis, it is easy to understand the necessity in the action and why the order imposed by the Tree of Genesis would eventually deem all of humanity unrighteous.
The only major flaw to Blast of Tempest‘s story is that it tends to use its characters as if they are actors in a play (perhaps intentionally). Each character plays his part, often without question. This is extremely noticeable in Aika’s casual acceptance of her fate despite what clearly would have been a difficult decision – but this may actually speak more to her character than to the show’s tendency to have its actors fill a role.
Character development is very important in Blast of Tempest – and all of its main characters, Hakaze, Yoshino, Mahiro and Aika, are a strong basis to the show’s central themes despite their differing personas. What enforces their strength is their intelligence – even in Mahiro’s case – the characters carefully and cleverly plan their actions.
Hakaze is a strong female lead that is open and direct, while sometimes being too upfront and occasionally becoming distracted by desire. What defines Hakaze the most is that, despite her attunement to the Tree of Genesis, she is far from unquestioning. Her actions are often fueled by her desire to seek her own path, even with opposition or without knowing the consequences. It makes her into a character nearly embracing chaos despite the order surrounding her – which accentuates her foil in Aika.
Aika, though appearing frail, is strong to a fault. Her character embraces the ideology of Exodus far too unconditionally which is but testament to her acceptance with being an actress in a play. She often quotes Hamlet and The Tempest because she feels that her only goals have already been previously scripted and she must play to those ideals.
Mahiro, on the other hand, represents another extreme of chaos with his absolute path of vengeance. His early ambitions are simply to avenge the death of Aika, but this actually drives him to greatness because of her involvement in much more crucial matters. When he is freed from this path, his goal has actually become to enact a plan to save the world. Mahiro is a renegade without being overly reckless and ambitious to a point where he is not clouded.
Yoshino, for a large majority of the show, is very detached. Aika’s death had an opposing effect on him in that he nearly lost desire to function after her passing. Even though he is tied down by her loss, he thinks clearly and keeps Mahiro in check when he is pushing himself too far. It’s important to note that Yoshino is the last character to resolve his past as a lesson in history, because he is too entrapped by it. Hakaze’s confessions to him cause him to break because he is not ready to continue his life until all others’ problems have been resolved.
Blast of Tempest is breathtaking visually and its usage of classical pieces in its soundtrack is excellently done. By now, this is what we expect from BONES, so it isn’t too unbelievable that this show lives up to BONES’s capability to generate quality in its production value. Particularly of note are the show’s excellent action scenes that accentuate brilliant animation along with well-utilized classical music.
While Blast of Tempest occasionally falls short of absolute excellence in its willingness to allow its characters to fill roles, it presents a story of past entanglements that is very well-realized and non-contradictory with a cast that synergizes their differing viewpoints.
And it’s a shame because Zetsuen no Tempest had so much potential, but it falls flat on its face instead. But let’s talk about the good of this show first. The art and animation are top notch. Studio Bones pulled no punches when it came to the gorgeous animation and character designs. The battles are fast, fluid, and intense, going hand in hand with the spectacular and vivid wheel of colors that enhance the magical effects. The character designs are stylish and unique, with no two characters looking too much alike. Another small little detail that was well done was the character’s clothing. Each character’s various clothing looks like something straight out of a teen fashion magazine; very funky and stylish. Small artistic details are also added in the character’s hair and accessories. If I were rating this anime solely based on its art and animation, it would easily score a nine at the very least. Unfortunately, I did not, and I won’t.
Now on to the not-so-good of Zetsuen no Tempest, which is basically everything else. Perhaps the weakest aspect of the show is its story. The story starts out with Hakaze Kusaribe, the princess of a clan of mages, contacting Fuwa Mahiro to help her extinguish an uprising instigated by her followers. Left stranded on an island by said followers, they can only communicate through magic. Hakaze promises to help Mahiro find his sister’s killer in exchange for his help. Mahiro’s friend, Takigawa Yoshino comes along for the ride, and together the three aim to prevent the Kusaribe clan from awakening the tree of Exodus, which would subsequently bring destruction to the entire world.
The entire story pays homage to Shakespeare’s works, namely The Tempest and Hamlet. For some reason, the story feels it needs to remind you of this quite frequently, as it seems every few minutes someone is throwing out a Shakespeare quote. There’s no subtlety in its delivery, and the quotes have little meaning to the plot or the characters. It seems they simply threw in several quotes in order to make the script seemed more grand and classy. Instead, it ended up making the entire anime sound incredibly pretentious. It could be argued that the two differing plays were being quoted to signal that this anime could either have a happy or tragic ending, leaving the viewer to wonder in anticipation. But not only is that grasping at straws, it gives the writers more credit than they probably deserve.
Now to be fair, the first half of the series was pretty good. It was standing on shaky ground but it was still quite good. It may have been standard shonen anime fare “save the world with magical powers, stop the bad guys” but it had an interesting enough twist to keep it afloat. The characters were interesting; they had clear cut motivations that at least made some sense. The plot moved about at a comfortable pace with just enough action and character development shimmied into each episode. The rules of the universe made sense. All that was completely ruined by its mess of a second half.
The plot begins to contradict the rules it established in its first half. It makes no effort to even make sense of Hakaze’s ability to time travel for a second and third time. It presents a ridiculous plot twist that makes even less sense and gives a sort of barbaric edge to Aika’s character that the other characters don’t even bat an eye at. And worst of all, romance is shoehorned in for the sake of throwing in some aspects of a corny school love comedy. Hakaze even alludes to this in a hilarious 4th wall breaking internal monologue.
Perhaps one of the most disappointing aspects of the show is the degradation of its characters. Yes that’s right, the very characters that made the show go backwards as it drags on. Perhaps the character that does it the most is Hakaze Kusaribe. She is initially presented as a strong heroine, with an arrogant edge that is backed up by her standing as the most powerful mage in the clan. She is cunning and unflinching, yet kind and caring when she needs to be. But of course that is all negated when she falls in love.
Yes, LOVE! She becomes clumsy, indecisive, and silly at the first hints of love. Her initial goal was to prevent the destruction of the world and take control of her clan once again. But when she falls in love, she leaves the fate of her clan in the hands of the guy who betrayed her and sent her to an island to die. All so she could travel freely with her love interest. Later, she wants to save the world simply for her love. To say anything else about her silly love driven mindset would mean spoilers, so to be vague, pay attention to what she says when she travels across time a second time. It is so unbelievably silly, bordering on completely idiotic. She goes from a strong heroine to someone whose sole reason for existing and acting is for her love.
Maybe it wouldn’t be that bad it we had some substantial buildup to the relationship, coupled with proof of an established and long-lasting bond that could never be broken. That, and if her feelings were actually reciprocated. Then it would be quite romantic and heroic that Hakaze would do anything for her love. But instead, her actions are based on a silly schoolgirl crush (that quite literally springs out of nowhere) and nothing more, making her actions and motivations seem incredibly idiotic.
Fuwa Mahiro and Takigawa Yoshino are perfect foils, making for a very interesting relationship between the two heroes. They get a significant amount of development in the first half of the show through a series of flashbacks, some of which involve Aika. Brash and arrogant Mahiro is the brawn of their duo, while the manipulative and analytical Yoshino is the brains. Their relationship is one of the most interesting ones of the series. How two young men who are so different from each other could end up cooperating so willingly and becoming the best of friends is a real mystery. But their actions in the second half become a bit odd to say the least. Not only that, but they show little emotion when finding out the truth behind Aika’s death, despite the fact that they are the most important people to her. In fact, their lack of emotion is prevalent even in the first half. They are just normal high school boys, not hardened soldiers. Yet their reactions to the destruction of their home certainly don’t give any hints to that.
Then there is Fuwa Aika, one of the most confusing characters. She’s already dead by the beginning of the series, yet still plays an important role in the story. She’s the motivation for Yoshino and Mahiro’s actions and appears in numerous flashbacks. Her character is described in the anime as having a “horrible personality.” That’s not even the half of it. Her development at the tail end of the series hints at a facet of her personality that is far more barbaric, border lining on psychotic. The rest of the side characters are mostly just there for decoration. They are lively personalities to either spice things up or be used as a convenient plot device to move the story along.
Now don’t get me wrong, Zetsuen no Tempest is not wholly unwatchable. There is plenty of enjoyment to be had watching this series, especially during the first half. It’s just too bad that Bones screwed up the story and characters so hard during the second half that it irredeemably sours the entire series. The character’s motivations during the second half make little to no sense. And trying to piece together why the characters are doing what they’re doing gives way to the realization that these characters are acting like total idiots. The plot twist during the second half was also ridiculous, giving the viewer little justification for WHY things had to be this way. Not to mention the implausibility of the situation based purely on the rules set by the anime.
Zetsuen no Tempest is a great watch if you turn off your brain and just enjoy it for what it is: Your “only very slightly above average until the second half of the show” shonen anime. Anybody looking for anything more won’t get much enjoyment out of this anime.
Let me go into detail…
Story: The story was put together in a great yet questionable way. There were many parts of the anime that could be related to the famous works of Shakespeare. With plot twists that would leave you confused, the story was never boring. The twisted tale of love, hate, revenge and a touch of magic was most definitely satisfying especially how the ending wrapped up the entire story. I sincerely wish that they would make a sequel.
Art: The art was satisfying, it clearly showed details in the magic shields and barriers. They point that stood out the most for me were the eyes. The characters eyes showed their emotions so clearly that they sent shivers down my spine, how they would dull or brighten depending on the emotions being conveyed.
Sound: The music chosen for this anime was…. Fabulous. The violin solos with the varying volumes matched the pace of the show and the suspense in the best fashion. The opening and endings weren’t boring and they definitely didn’t reveal a lot about the story. The upbeat openings shows the action and the more aggressive emotions in the show whereas the slower themes in the endings portrays the more negative and deeper feelings.
Character: Gosh, all of the characters were so perfect. They each played a huge role in the story but I think I should be more specific. Takigawa Yoshino is my favorite character, he is so mysterious and he definitely is a major character. He is referred as Horatio in some parts of the anime. His tale of not being able to grieve for the one he loves is heart breaking, how he shows great deduction skills and how he seems so innocent is so twisted and yet it fits the story perfectly. Fuwa Mahiro is the rich and feared character. His feelings played a large role, I find his motives very amusing throughout the plot. Yoshino and Mahiro are very… different characters compared to the cliches that show up nowadays. When you expect them to do something, they do the complete opposite. But what scares and surprises me the most is the lack of response from the two of them, no matter what they can always appear calm.
Overall, I ranked this anime a 9/10. Although I would say that it’s closer to a 9.5/10. XD
This is my first review, so I hope I did well…
5: 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.
4: Nagi no Asu kara
English: A Lull in the Sea
MAL Score: 8.03
Long ago, all humans lived beneath the sea. However, some people preferred the surface and abandoned living underwater permanently. As a consequence, they were stripped of their god-given protection called “Ena” which allowed them to breathe underwater. Over time, the rift between the denizens of the sea and of the surface widened, although contact between the two peoples still existed.
Nagi no Asu kara follows the story of Hikari Sakishima and Manaka Mukaido, along with their childhood friends Chisaki Hiradaira and Kaname Isaki, who are forced to leave the sea and attend a school on the surface. There, the group also meets Tsumugu Kihara, a fellow student and fisherman who loves the sea.
Hikari and his friends’ lives are bound to change as they have to deal with the deep-seated hatred and discrimination between the people of sea and of the surface, the storms in their personal lives, as well as an impending tempest which may spell doom for all who dwell on the surface.
Nagi no Asukara (or Nagi-Asu for short) takes place in a fantasy world where there exist two different subspecies of humans. In this story, people originally came from the ocean, however over time there were ones who started crawling up on land as well to see what lay above the surface of the water. Now, ages later, the population has been split completely into land people and sea people, and they generally live quite isolated from each other.
The story follows a circle of childhood friends from the sea, living in an underwater village called Shioshishio. For various reasons their local middle school closed down, and they had no choice but to transfer schools… to one above the surface. Trying to adapt to a life on land is not an easy thing, as they constantly have to keep themselves wet in order to not dry out their Ena; the protective shell given to the sea people by the Sea God, which is what enables them to live and breathe underwater in the first place. Furthermore, there is substantial discrimination and tension between the land people and the sea people which keeps raising new hurdles for the group of friends.
There are numerous areas that the plot revolves around over the course of time. There is the diplomatic relationship between the two groups of people, the mysterious supernatural aspects concerning the Sea God and Ena, and last but not least Nagi-Asu has some of the most complicated love drama I’ve ever come across in anime. However fear not, because Nagi no Asukara is an exceedingly rare case of romance done right.
You see, unlike 99% of all romance anime out there, Nagi-Asu is actually unpredictable. Normally you barely have to watch five minutes of the first episode of an anime TV-series in order to know with almost complete certainty which couplings will end up taking place before the end (unless there turns out to be no development at all, which is even worse), but not this time.
For one, the main character cast of Nagi-Asu is rather large as well as evenly divided in gender. There is also no one that really can be called a protagonist in this series; Hikari probably gets the most screen time but I wouldn’t really go as far as to call him a “lead” character. Point being that it never really feels like anyone has any innate “advantage” when it comes to love rivalry simply due to the concept of plot armour, because they all appear to be on fairly even grounds from start to finish. Above all though, if you would draw up all the characters and their various crushes in a relationship graph, you would very quickly realize that there are just way too many arrows… and there is no obvious nor optimal solution in sight. Hence, I honestly didn’t know how any of this would turn out until very close to the end of the entire series, and that is something extraordinarily rare in anime (which in itself is a pretty sad realization for the sake of the anime industry).
Anyway, all the love drama aside, the character development in Nagi no Asukara is fantastic. Each and every character feels like he/she actually serves a purpose, and adds something crucial to the bigger picture. The anime covers a quite large timespan and there is plenty of opportunity to see how everyone matures and changes over the course of the story. All the members of the main character cast have very specific and detailed personalities and depth behind them, and you never get the feeling that any of them are any less important than the other. I guess the best way to explain it is that the supernatural aspects aside, there is a constant sense of realism when it comes to the characterization in Nagi-Asu and it just kept getting better and better the longer it went because of it.
Oh the burden of not having an 11/10 rating.
If there is one thing you will realize within the first few minutes of the very first episode, it is that the visuals of Nagi-Asu are simply out of this world phenomenal. I’m not talking as much about the facial expressions etcetera although those are certainly very good as well, but this category is all about the environments. Everything involving the sea in this anime is breathtaking. Absolutely stunning. The underwater world and its submerged town has all kinds of marine creatures swimming around everywhere in perfect detail, and the lighting coming through the ocean surface (which works sort of like the sky in this case) and how it refracts with the water looked almost futuristic at times. P.A. Works really outdid themselves this time around.
That is not to say that the surface world is that much less impressively looking in any way, as the animation quality of this show is just all-round top notch. I don’t really have much to say about it however other than the fact that it is really solid throughout; it’s just that it kind of gets outshined simply by how gorgeous the water world of Nagi no Asukara is. I really cannot praise it enough.
Anything starring Hanazawa Kana is always an immediate potential winner in my book, but she’s not exactly the only factor to take into account regarding the audio of Nagi no Asukara. As far as the voice acting goes, I think pretty much everyone really lived out their characters’ roles as good as you could possibly ask for. While there was no one character that really stood out for me as being above the others in this regard, the amount of feeling that was put into the voice acting should definitely not be understated, and consequently I think it was a really good performance by the seiyuu cast in general.
Regarding the soundtrack… this part is actually pretty hard to comment on. The reason for this is that the music of Nagi-Asu is generally pretty quiet. It doesn’t have any sort of epic OST or catchy/emotional music; rather it goes with a generally ambient theme that tries to up-play the atmosphere of the anime in general as well as its key scenes. As far as that goal goes, I think it does its job very well, but on the flipside it also results in the individual tracks not being very memorable as they’re pretty much only good alongside the show itself and not as something you would ever listen to on its own in a music playlist. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s simply the way it works.
The various OP/ED themes would probably all fall into the category of “good, not great” to me; originally I wasn’t too fond of them but they kind of grew on me over time as the show kept getting more and more emotional.
Overall I feel that the music of Nagi-Asu was mostly intended as a supporting aspect for other categories of the show rather than something intended to be great on its own. It’s not the most common way of approach but if that was indeed the producers’ goal then I think it was executed fairly satisfactory.
This show took up almost all the spare time I had available over the course of the three days it took me to marathon it. Normally that is not something I manage to do quite as much anymore, at least not for anime of this type of genre, but in the case of Nagi no Asukara I really could not stop watching it. It has this constant drive of making you want to know more, both regarding what is going to happen to the characters in focus, but also regarding the entire population of the two human subspecies and the world itself. It is extremely immersive and has a huge sense of realism to it that makes it really hard to not get absorbed by it. Also, like I mentioned earlier, it is less predictable than most anime series out there so you can never take what is going to happen next for granted.
Nagi no Asukara is a series for people seeking feels and beautiful landscapes. It utilizes environments you normally never get to see in anime and it does so in style. It once again showcases that a seemingly stereotypical concept can be extremely successful when you add one or two twists to it on a very basic level, as well as boost it with very high production values. It also makes you care, not just for the main characters but for everyone and everything in it as the scope of Nagi no Asukara is unusually large.
This anime made me bask in its beauty as well as sob silently. It went above and beyond all my expectations and now I have to consider it as one of the best I’ve seen in ages. A gem not quite like any other.
It was crap from start to end, they took a nice idea about a fantasy world that could totally become decent and turned it into the most senseless idiocy about “love”, a kid’s fairytale with no goal whatsoever.
The best ideas such as enviroment and history were completely skipped and left unexplained, the setting under the sea could become absolutely awesome and they botched it, because instead of adjusting it to the situation they simply stuffed a copy of a normal village on the bottom of an ocean with no change at all. They even have stairs. They drink broth. I just don’t understand what was the point of such a forced setting.
There are loads of things that I don’t understand, but just to say a few: why in the world do people from the sea and from the shore hate each other so much if they don’t differ among each other in the slightest? They have the exact same culture and habits, they eat the same stuff, they even put the same designs on curtains; Why the hell should salt fall from the sky? I’m fine with fantasy but you could at least try to come up with some kind of explanation; Did someone tell those guys that they didn’t have to go as far as to make every possible pairing? There are fanfictions for that; Just where did the other students of the sea school go? That’s kind of creepy, they simply melted away, right?
Oh, and yes, I totally agree that the series did a 180 turn. The characters visibly leveled up in annoyance.
The ending was the best part of them all, it just wrapped things up as uncomprehensible as they were and gave it all that sickly sweet taste that dulls every black hole in the plot to a triviality.
The dialogues were awkward, trite and embarrassing to listen to.
When I first saw the description for Nagi No Asukara I really didn’t know what to expect. The synopsis didn’t really give off much of an idea of what this show was going to be like. So thinking that Nagi no Asukara would be another cheesy romantic comedy. I began watching with low expectations. Little did I know that what I was about to watch would be one of the most enjoyable slice of life anime I have seen in a long time.
A long time ago people lived and flourished in the sea. But one day some of the sea people wanted to live in the land, and thus they moved to the land and away from the sea. The story revolves around 4 middle school students who are forced to attend a school on land after their school in the sea village closes. Many problems such as adapting to new environments and dificulties making friends follow.
The story presents itself as a slice of life in the beginning with the main focus on problems the main characters have on the surface. Now for some people the pacing in the first half might be a bit slow, but There is good reason for that. As a character driven anime, Nagi No Asukara has to focus on its characters a lot and flesh them out properly, and Nagi No Asukara does just that. The show uses a lot of its time developing its characters and making sure they feel more like actual people rather than flat characters that you care little about. Was it worth it? Definitely.
But don’t be fooled. Nagi No Asukara doesn’t always stay a fun, light slice of life. The mood changes dramatically darker in the second half. The show takes a turn from slice of life to being more dramatic, and this is where Nagi No Asukara falls short on. Many slice of life romances that try to implement drama in their plot tend to be overly melodramatic, and this also seems to be the problem with Nagi No Asukara. Nagi No Asukara’s second half is chocked full of drama. From unrequited love to arguing. The show sometimes becomes quite frustrating in the dramatic parts. Many parts felt uncomfortably lengthened because of the melodrama and how the characters are so unwilling to talk and make up after an argument. Now although to me this wasn’t a major problem. It still dampened from the experience as a whole.
Story isn’t the only thing Nagi No Asukara focuses on.The animation of Nagi No Asukara is top-notch, with animation that rivals even The big studios like Kyoto animation The show looks absolutely gorgeous. The backgrounds were created with such detail that it felt like I was watching an art gallery. Character designs were also very appealing and detailed. Seriously, Nagi No Asukara’s art is definitely some of the best I’ve ever seen in the anime industry. I’m not exaggerating at all.
The sound of Nagi no Asukara is also paid much attention on. “lull ~Soshite Bokura wa~” by Ray is a great first opening that fits the slice of life aspect of the show perfectly. The second opening “ebb and flow” also by Ray has a more serious tone to it and is also a great song to listen to. ( I have already listened to it 20 times). The soundtrack also doesn’t disappoint. Pretty much every track and tune fits the mood well. Nagi no Yanagi also does a great job on the ending song.The first ending song “Aqua Terrarium”, is a calming song that fits the show very well. The second ending song “Mitsuba no Musubime” is also a very good song that fits with the second half very well.
As a character driven show, the characters are the aspects that make or break the series, and I can honestly say that Nagi No Asukara has quite the cast. The main cast consists of 5 characters. The crybaby Manaka Mukaido, the hotheaded Hikari Sakishima, the calm and collected Kihara Tsumugu, beautiful and caring Hiradaira Chisaki, and the handsome Isaki Kaname. Now at first the characters felt very stereotypical. Hikari is the main character that gets mad at many things and gets the viewers pissed off because of how much a jerk he can be. Manaka felt like those characters that were made to be cute and cater to the audience. Tsumugu was the smart one in the show that would preach life lessons to the other characters. Kaname was the handsome guy, and Chisaki is that kind girl who also joins in on the love triangle. As you can see. The cast doesn’t seem to be very likable or original in the beginning. What P.A works does an extraordinary job on though, is putting a serious amount of depth to the characters and developing them immensely over the course of the show.The characters develop dramatically and feel way more alive throughout the show. As you get to learn more about the characters through the show. You end up feeling way more connected to the characters.They turn into characters that you actually care about. Not second dimensional characters that you forget about in a few weeks, but characters that really make an impression on you.But that’s not the end. There are two more main characters added through the show. Shiodome Miuna and Sayu Hisanuma. Although they only receive development in later parts of the show. They recieve a lot of development through the series and although they might not get as much depth as the other characters. I ended up caring for them just as much as the main cast.Another very interesting part of the show is that Nagi No Asukara has one of the biggest and most complicated love webs I have seen in a while. Almost every important character in the show loves someone else. And watching this web unfold was truly an enjoyable experience. As I watched the characters grow up and see how they coped with their unrequited love. I began to root for their happiness from the bottoms of my heart. The characters truly made an impact to me, and it was a bit sad for me to finish the show.
Nagi No Asukara isn’t for everyone. It’s slow pacing in the beginning and it’s focus on the characters are enough to scare off people who have little patience and want immediate action . But for people who are patient enough. Nagi no Asukara is a show that will deliver. With its beautiful atmosphere, great characters, and a very interesting story. Nagi No Asukara is that gem in the rough that should definitely be watched by fans of romance and slice of life.
3: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
English: Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
Japanese: マギ The labyrinth of magic
MAL Score: 8.04
Dispersed around the world, there are several bizarre labyrinths hiding incredible treasures within them. These mysterious places, known as “Dungeons,” are said to be the work of Magi, a class of rare magicians, who also help people build their empires by guiding them to a dungeon. Djinns, supernatural beings that rule over the labyrinths, grant successful conquerors access to their immense power and choose them as potential king candidates to rule the world.
Having spent life in isolation, Aladdin, a kind and young magician, is eager to explore the world upon finally leaving his home behind. He begins his journey only accompanied by his mentor Ugo—a djinn that Aladdin can summon with his flute. However, Aladdin soon becomes friends with the courageous Alibaba Saluja after causing the destruction of a local merchant’s supply cart. In order to pay for the damages, Alibaba suggests that they attempt to conquer the nearest dungeon, taking the first step in an epic adventure that will decide the fate of the world itself.
Thankfully, Magi does this.
Story: (9/10) With a setting based on Arabian Nights, you can expect (or at least hope for), a gripping narrative. Thankfully, Magi is structured so that the focus on the two main protagonists (Alibaba and Aladdin) is well orchestrated, and has a unique vibe to it. Through this, the story can become very dark and gripping, while not losing the narrative. What differentiates this from other shounen is the political aspect. As a king, you must reign. But how will you do it? Through this question the different nations and factions can interact in a believable environment, without it ever feeling like the author is asking you to pretend they would do that.
Art: (8/10) Most shounens typically fall under long broadcasting widths. While this allows for a developed story, the art tends to suffer long-term. Thankfully the animators have cut the show into a one season arc, while providing room to adapt more chapters if need be. For this reason, the art is well developed. Backgrounds are detailed and varied, with character models being round and developed. There are few jagged edges apparent, which helps realism. The battle scenes don’t suffer with still shots (too much), and motion does not degrade the animation. It stays fluid throughout, with the exception of the comedy scenes. Through these, the show takes a different animation style. While humorous in a way, it detracts from the overall value. I don’t see the joke through their expressions, but rather, through the goofy way they’re drawn.
Sound: (9/10) One of Magi’s strong points. Both openings provide a gateway into Arabia, with a melody and vocalist that resemble the middle eastern style. It opens the door to the show, making the transition to background music worthwhile. With this, you experience a variety of festival soundtracks, battle hymns, and adventure tunes. The depth and well execution of sound makes for a more enjoyable watch. This is followed by the endings which slightly devalue the soundtrack. While not bad, they don’t carry the show to the end. Had they been chosen better, the desire to continue watching would have been more apparent.
Characters: (10/10) The characters in a show must be well rounded for the plot to work. No matter how great a set piece, it won’t work without strong protagonists. And Magi delivers. Alibabba is a naive individual with to much idealism. This pushes the plot forward. Aladdin is a childish yet strangely deep character. His character shifts add emotion to the story. Morgiana is the strong, shackled female who can offer great moments through her actions. This trio has a well-blended bond that works. Their conversations kept me through the show, eager to see how they will handle future situations. The background characters, of which there are to many to name, are stunning. They have unique personalities, and offer believable lines that push the narrative further. Each new individual can hold their own as a main character, and you can care for each one of them. They’re so developed you almost want to root for the bad guy.
Enjoyment (9/10) I spent a week watching this show to prepare for the second season. After finishing, I was impatient waiting for season 2. This show was well worth the time put in, and will absolutely have a lasting effect on your view of how a shounen should be.
Overall: (9/10) Magi is a show that should be watched, for it offers a well developed plot that’s backed by great sound, art, and characters. For those into shounen, this’ll be a guaranteed favorite. For those wanting to get into the genre, it’s a good starting point. And for those opposed of the genre, you’re missing out.
Magi (also known as Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic as its full title) is a manga written by Shinobu Ohtaka. The series takes place in an universe that has has desert artwork scattered all around. As such, its theme relates to the classical One Thousand and One Nights and its collections. It feels like a classic honestly with its settings and atmosphere. From the beginning, we quickly meet all three of the main protagonists in the series. It doesn’t take long for the action and drama to pick up its pace as in the first few episodes already explores some of the cruelty (such as slavery), the dungeons, and monstrosity that exists in the Magi universe.
The series is packed with both a lighthearted and action style mood as the episodes progresses. One of the things that we see is the interesting and bro-like relationship between the two main characters – Aladdin and Alibaba. Although not related, they have a close bond and a brotherly relationship in which the two often looks out after one another. The two travels together in their quests and adventures . It’s a fantasy adventure that gives off that old school like feeling as they explore the world of Magi.
Although not one-hundred percent compatible, the duo has similar personalities. Both Aladdin and Alibaba shares a personality of wanting to explore the world as well as having an initiative to help others in need. They put others above themselves and always constantly looks after each others’ well being. The relationship between the two is very fun to watch given their lighthearted interactions and how they conquer obstacles along the way. Additionally, the duo are very loyal and seeks ways to form bonds with others whether through words or their actions.
However, this doesn’t always last.
For some reason, the series breaks off its trials for a bit later on. The two goes off of their directions and seemingly begins their own tales. From there on, the duo seems to become independent of their own journeys as they explore their own worlds. It seems to be more character focused rather than a story by this point and things start to slow down. Additionally, what continues on seems to have little influence on the duo’s journey and adventures. That and the fact in which their adventures gets off its tracks with no intertwined effect on one another seems to make a few frown on some die hard fans’ faces.
Luckily, there’s still another character that brings on entertainment to Magi. Her name is Morgania and she’s one tough girl with an even tougher childhood.
Joining the duo later on, Morgania (Mor) is a young 14 years old girl who always had a tough childhood. Forced into slavery and with little freedom, we see her struggles in the world of Magi. Prior to her liberation, her personality exists opposite of the dynamic duo that we are already familiar with. Her cold personality reflects on the cruelty of what she already been through. It makes us feel sorry for her as a child and how she came to be. Yet, later on, we do see more of her caring side. In fact, Morgania even begins risking her own life to protect others in need and putting herself above others. It’s proven that Morgania has forged a strong friendship with Alibaba and Aladdin and they are possibly the most important people in her life.
Other characters in the series also has a way of setting themselves from the others. Most of their names (including the main protagonists) are based off One Thousand and One Nights along with some of its settings and themes. There are the many tribes with their leaders and prominent members such as Sinbad and Judal. They play their roles and given their status and power are considered respected as well as feared throughout the Magi world.
The magic part of the series also takes in every episode of course. The magic theme of the series involves the power of the djinns that comes along from the users’ metal vessels. Other terms related to magic include rukh, magoi, dungeon capturer, and magi itself. It’s hard to say that these themes all tie together well by they do go hand in hand. In fact, most of Magi has a desert like setting unlike our modern civilization with fancy cars, technology, and architecture. As a matter of fact, it’s portrayed in that fantasy like setting with its old school like backgrounds.
As magi is considered the title, it is also considered a respectful term known by its name. We clearly know and see that Aladdin is a magi with his powers of being able to summon Ugo, a blue muscular like familiar that fights on his behalf. Yet at the same time, it seems that Aladdin also lacks the precise knowledge of how to perfect his skills especially later on against an antagonist. It is by this time we know that there is so much mystery that meets the eye of being what a magi is all about. Yet, with the help of his dear friends, Aladdin may unlock those mysteries.
The series’ action is portrayed as being part of the shounen style. It involves the characters powering up, making speeches in the middle of fights, and trying to show off what they can do. To be honest, it is quite generic and some of the same cliched action scenes are forced in many ways. For example, the battle between Aladdin and another fellow magi later on starts one-sided. Yet later on, it turns around the tide and has our main protagonist Aladdin do “what is right and stop him”. The action also seems to be forced as well such as the powering up and dynamic entrances from some of the characters. Whether entering in or exiting out, it seems to be forced and lacks true action.
The artwork design of the series is natural and sophisticated. Because it is based off One Thousand and One Nights and some of its themes, we can expect the desert like settings and their sequences employed further with the usage of magic. Most if not all of the characters are dressed in ways that are old fashioned and suited to the Sahara like backgrounds. The forest, desert, and architecture adapts an old school style that is natural and straight to the point. It doesn’t try to stand out above the others in the artwork development. In fact, its visuals are focused and fluid that fits with each other.
In terms of soundtrack, Hiromi Kikuta (Black Rock Shooter, Scrapped Princess) employs his skills in orchestrating the OST. Some of the soundtracks has that classic Arabian rhythms while other times pulls its course together with its full throttle pacing. This is especially true during scenes involving based chased at night time or when there are crucial moments of conflict. Shiro Sagisu does a similar job with his music as well with its appealing scores. The opening song, “V.I.P” by SID catches the viewers’ attention with the way it is orchestrated by presenting the montage of its characters as well as some of the action going on. Oh and let’s not forget about the all-star cast coming together. Although generic, it is appealing and classic.
All in all, Magi is a classic. It is a fantasy adventure that brings back the old school feeling with its cast of characters, its themes, style, story telling, and visual artworks. The division of the duo in later episodes may catch viewers off balance but it can still be appealing when we see more of the character backgrounds of our heroes. The trio in fact becomes a pivotal point in the series as they explore the world they never thought would come across. With magic, they can do almost anything but with friends and what they believe in, they become the next big thing. Whether Magi is the next big thing is hard to say but the adventure of Alibaba, Aladdin, and Morgania has come a long way.
Story/Setting/Combat depth – Ok, so i´m not only reviewing the story and world here but the combat depth too, because i think that it´s an important part on any battle anime.
The story is set in an alternate recreation of the ancient Old World with several regions and nations having some resemblances with real-life counterparts from that time. In this world, all living beings possess an essence known as Rukh and when they die, this essence returns to the huge flow (also known as “guidance”) of Rukh that gives life to all subsequent beings in an eternal cycle of rebirth called “Fate”. Once a person is overcome with sadness, anger and hopelessness, their Rukh turns into a corrupted, unstable, black-colored Rukh that deviates from the main guidance in a process known as “Fall into Depravity”.
There are also several magic castles full of treasures and traps known as “Dungeons” and each of them is the lair of a powerful magic being, a Djinn. Individuals that manage to overcome the trials of a Dungeon and earn the allegiance of its Djinn are known as Dungeon Capturers, gaining the ability to use its powers infused in a personal item of them known as “Metal Vessel” and create less potent “Household Vessels” for their companions as well.
People can use the Rukh in their bodies to create an energy known as Magoi ( kinda like chakra in naruto ) to power their magical weapons and abilities. This energy must be used with care, as despite the fact that an individual’s magoi can be restored with feeding and rest, once fully exhausted it provokes their death. Among those that can perform magic with their own Magoi there is a rare class of magicians known as Magi, that can also use Magoi from the Rukh around them, greatly increasing their capabilities. A Magi usually chooses Dungeon Capturers to offer guidance and protection making of them their King Vessels. There are several nations in history that were founded or improved by the rule of such individuals.
So the story of magi starts out really simple but as the anime progresses it keeps evolving and adding important and nice stuff. This is the story about a young boy by the name of Aladdin and his adventures around the world of magi. Like many other series he becomes friends with many people, 2 of them are Alibaba and Morgiana, and so the 3 of them become the main characters.
The story is mostly about war between empires/countries. Where Aladdin enters in all this is that he is a magi, a beeing that acording to legends chooses his king to control the world. Throughout the story we learn that there is more than 1 magi and that they are not on the same side so that only means 1 thing, war. There is a dark organization too called the Al Thamen that are trying to screw up the world and that side up with the empire aladdin and his friends are fighting.
Easily the thing i like the most about magi, there is enough depth here to the point you have to google some definitions.
Most of the fodders use normal weapons without any special abilities, but the main weapon of all people here is Magoi, it works out like chakra from naruto, each person has their own reserve and only magi can use the magoi from the rukh around them.
There is the dungeon capturers too, people that successfully pass a dungeon can keep in their control the djinn of that dungeon. The djinn enters into a metal and the capturer can use that djinn´s power. For example, if a djinn´s ability is fire, that person can attack with fire. But that´s not only it, thats the basic. As time passes and you became better with your metal vessal you can use an ability called Djinn Equip, by using that your metal vessal turns into the djinn´s weapon and your ability ( fire in this case ) becomes even better. Djinn equip has diferent levels, at first you can only use the djinn´s weapon but later on you can even cover your whole body with armours and stuff. You can only maintain this ability as long as your magoi reserves let you. Oh and one more thing, if the Djinn capturer is a magi he can summon the djinn in battle ( this is exclusive of magis ).
Household Vessels are objects (weapons, jewelry, accessories, etc) that hold importance to the Household Members of a Dungeon Capturer. Like for example, if my djinn type is fire my household member will have an ability connected with fire. ( Household vessels are not as strong as the djinn equip ( exclusive to dungeon capturers)).
There is magicians too that can manipulate their rukh and create a type of magic ( healing, heat, water, gravity etc ), with that they can create many abilities.
Im only 25 episodes in ( 1st season ) and there is a ton of combat depth, im sure there is many many more things 🙂
Very colourful, there isn´t much to be said here.
Go to youtube and see for yourself.
Not good enough to deserve a better score, like always the japanese voices are great but there is a lack of better osts.
Aladdin – Like i said above, a young magi boy that is traveling the world and making many friends ( sorta like luffy ) he is your typical shounen protagonist which in my opinion is a bit to mainstream but whatever.
Alibaba – Aladdin´s friend and main character, he is a really great character and his personality develops really well and you learn about his backstory.
Morgiana – Aladdin´s friend and main character, she, like alibaba in terms of personality develops a lot too. She belongs to a tribe called Fanalis, Fanalis are a really strong type of tribe with power that can crush rocks.
All the other characters are really good in design but as not very much developed ( maybe because its only 25 episodes, i dont know ).
I can´t really say much more without spoiling it, it´s better if you watch.
2: 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.
1: Shingeki no Kyojin
English: Attack on Titan
MAL Score: 8.51
Centuries ago, mankind was slaughtered to near extinction by monstrous humanoid creatures called titans, forcing humans to hide in fear behind enormous concentric walls. What makes these giants truly terrifying is that their taste for human flesh is not born out of hunger but what appears to be out of pleasure. To ensure their survival, the remnants of humanity began living within defensive barriers, resulting in one hundred years without a single titan encounter. However, that fragile calm is soon shattered when a colossal titan manages to breach the supposedly impregnable outer wall, reigniting the fight for survival against the man-eating abominations.
After witnessing a horrific personal loss at the hands of the invading creatures, Eren Yeager dedicates his life to their eradication by enlisting into the Survey Corps, an elite military unit that combats the merciless humanoids outside the protection of the walls. Based on Hajime Isayama’s award-winning manga, Shingeki no Kyojin follows Eren, along with his adopted sister Mikasa Ackerman and his childhood friend Armin Arlert, as they join the brutal war against the titans and race to discover a way of defeating them before the last walls are breached.
The story is one of the most captivating stories I’ve ever seen. 100 years prior to the start of the anime, humanity has been on the bridge of extinction due to the monstrous humanoid Titans that devour humans. Now, present day in the anime, the remaining small population of mankind lives confined within 3 “heavenly” walls that are so tall and sturdy that even the titans can’t break in. The most outward wall was named, Wall Maria, the middle wall was named Wall Rose, and the most outward wall named Wall Sina. Unfortunately for mankind, a colossal titan, one that is even bigger than the 50 meter heavenly walls, breaks Wall Maria, allowing the other titans to rampage the city, thus leading to another massacre of mankind. During this massacre, our main characters, Eren Yeager and Mikasa Ackerman watch in horror as a horrifying titan rips their mother’s head off, then gobbles her up whole. Vowing that he’d one day avenge mankind and exterminate all the titans, Eren Yeager trains to become a survey corp, brave heroic soldiers who go outside the walls, into the plains in order to fight the titans. But we soon find out, that Eren is much more special than he seems, not only is he a brave warrior, but he’s also something else that could be the key to humanity’s survival, but could also be humanity’s destruction.
My 3-word thoughts on the anime: Epic, Dynamic, Masterpiece. The suspense build-up was absolutely amazing, yet there was still room for improvement; that shows just how epic this anime can get. The anime not only includes epic fights, but lots of dialogue, and for those of you that hate dialogue, I feel sorry for you people whom only watch for action. The anime includes lots of other things as well: there’s lots of half-hearted, hilarious scenes, as well as sad, tragic scenes. The anime certainly has a good amount of gore, and will break your heart frequently (if you get attached to the characters). Many characters end up getting gobbled up mercilessly while trying to protect humanity in ways that are quite *shivers*. Have I teared up in the anime? As a matter of fact, I have.
Characters was another area (alongside every area) that was Shingeki’s strongpoint. There’s a diverse variety of characters that fight for humanity for all different reasons. There’s trust, friendship, along with betrayals, and pains. There’s comedy relief among many characters, especially Sasha “Potato Girl” Blouse. There are characters that people can definitely relate with, such as Armin Arlert, who wants to do the right thing and protect his friends, but can’t seem to do much because of fear. Fear is something that haunts us all, and prevents us from doing things in life. Another character that people can somewhat relate with is Annie Leonhardt, who fights alongside humanity, yet fights opposed to humanity. What does that mean? Watch the anime. Why is she doing this? Because of her past scars, “scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real” (watch to find out more). There were too many characters to development fully, but certainly the main characters were developed to their max. Levi is certainly a fan-favorite character, because of the fact that he’s cool, overpowered, badass, kind-in-the-heart, smart, straight-to-the-point, and most of all, hilarious with all his neat-freakiness. The main character, Eren Yeager is strong-hearted, and “special”, but he’s still not strong enough to defeat the titans. How he develops is one of the most interesting things, in this interesting-things-packed anime.
The art and music can be described in one word: WOW! The art drawings were absolutely stunning! From the characters/titans to the setting of the story to all the equipment used in battle. The characters all had a unique aspect to them. The settings of the anime were beautiful. The cities, and walls looked realistic, the plains that characters dreamed of seeing made me want to run outside to see for myself how beautiful nature really is, and how humans under appreciate the naturality of nature. The 3-D gear was something that really caught my eye, and will certainly catch other people’s eyes as well. A new form of action that’s never been seen before. The characters would literally fly from rooftop to rooftop slicing their swords at the titans at high-speeds that keep the viewers eyes locked onto the screen at all times. The soundtrack in the anime was epic as shit. The openings speak for themselves, they do the anime justice. The openings were epic and certainly set the mood of what was to come from the anime. “They’re the prey, and we are the hunters!” The rest of the soundtrack in the anime was okayasgduyasgda AMAZING. How can one describe how amazing those German OSTs were. They fit in perfectly with the epicness of the anime, and certianly added tons of suspense to the 3-D maneuver gear action.
Of course, I may be over-thinking things, but the anime certainly included some themes while creating this masterpiece of an anime. The aspect of being confined in an area, doing the same daily routine every day. People seek to be free, and to seek adventure. Watch for this. Another theme that the anime incorporated was that of the cycle of life. Humans, we steal animals away from their families, we kill them, we eat them. What’s so different from us, and the titans? The feelings of not being at the top of the food chain… Anyways, if you haven’t already watched this anime and you’re reading this review, then you’ve clearly been living under a rock all this time, and I definitely encourage you to watch this show even if it isn’t your style of anime.
In this anime there are no heroes! There are not brave men, without fear, that kill all the wicked. Here there are people who are fighting against their own fear and that sometimes they make it and sometimes not. The enemies aren’t the giants !Although the anime does not say from where they come from and I won’t do spoilers, it’s repeated several times that the enemies are the human beings with their fear (who have surrendered to the giants without doing anything, ignoring and accepting to live like cattle) and the walls! But no one notices that because it would be too challenging to make two questions and wondering: “Why the walls ? Shouldn’t they be their salvation?” and get an answer.
The fact that many people aren’t well characterized, and that physically are not very different from each other isn’t a coincidence .. Isayama is putting on the same level all human beings, he is saying that we are all like that guy who shoots himself alone after he surrendered to fear, that we are all as Vernam (who during the attack fled from Trost ), that there is some of us who is better than others, but that we all live under the same fears, and even if we react differently, we act according to substantially the same nature. It still tells us that we might be the protagonists of our life, choosing our destiny, but only if we are ready to go beyond the stereotypes and mindsets that others impose to us, only if only if we work with all our strength. Because living by what others tell us, from what they show us, isn’t to live, but survive!
And in addition to all the various points of reflection that SNK has to offer (and there are many, not just those listed ), there is a plot full of twists and turns, the suspense. In short, it is a masterpiece.
Then, if you are used to an anime where the bad guys magically becomes good after a lesson or in which the characters acquire super powers from nothing or from old men who appearing in their minds… Well, ok …… that … that’s original and profound ……..
(Hope my english was not so bad) 🙂
In the 90s, Dragon Ball Z broke the mainstream walls while Neon Genesis Evangelion opened the doors to the now indispensable late-night anime slots in Japan.
In the 2000s, Fullmetal Alchemist marked the peak of manga-to-anime adaptations while Code Geass & Death Note headed the class of those who introduced the new anti-hero genre.
And now, in 2013, Attack on Titan has shaken the industry once again.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 5 months, you should at least know what the story is about, and for the sake of staying spoiler free, I’m not going into details on the plot.
Before I wrote this review, I wrote a different piece moments after watching the first episode stating that Attack on Titan had all the potential to become a landmark anime, knowing very little of how true that statement would turn out to be.
I have watched anime ever since I can remember. I have seen the very best and the worst that this industry has to offer. And I, like most of you, am very familiar with the relationship of manga-anime adaptation, which is the case of Attack on Titan. It is because of such experience and knowledge that I am able to say with so much confidence that Attack on Titan is the best anime series ever produced from any standpoint, at least, in the last decade.
Attack on Titan is such a well-done product that it has all the key strong points we all dream every series could have. By this I mean the story, characters, animation, OST, opening/ending sequences, art, directing, narrative, character development, and, most importantly, the “it” factor. These are all present with “A grade” production values.
First of all, I want to start with the OST. Simply put, Attack on Titan’s soundtrack rivals that of Rurouni Kenshin and Evangelion. Period. Don’t misunderstand, they are not similar by any means, they are simply equally as masterful. Check on the internet the impressions left by fans about the first soundtrack. And if you still don’t believe me, tweet Hideo Kojima (creator of Metal Gear series) and ask his take on it.
The OST is extremely important in this show because it allows you to feel the many epic moments that dwell in this 25 episode marvel. This is where the directing and narrative play a big role. For those of you who have seen Death Note (same director), you will feel an extra feeling of similarity with Attack on Titan, as the show relies heavily on its intense emotional scenes which you most certainly will feel the first 2 minutes of episode #1.
It is in these scenes where the golden cast of characters shine. I cannot stress enough how unique the characters are. You could say they are the cream of the many accolades that Attack on Titan has. I’m still amazed by the quality of voice actors that just seem to just pop out in this show. The voices of so many main characters from hit series come together in Attack on Titan to help provide that epic feeling you start to get once episode #1 ends. Note I emphasize the voice acting because it’s part of the anime but, obviously, not of the manga.
Another key strong point is the work and effort put on the OP/ED sequences. If you’ve come this far in my review then you most likely understand when I say that Openings and Ending sequences are crucial. They provide that extra excitement to the show. It’s definitely something not all anime series take seriously. Fortunately, Wit Studio took them seriously, and then came “Guren no Yumiya”. The second opening, “Jiyuu no Tsubasa” is outstanding and marvelous in its own way and the second ending, “great escape”, fuels that adrenaline rush of excitement you will get after those killing cliffhangers. Having said that, the first OP, “Guren no Yumiya”, is simply epic. If there was ever something to describe as epic, it would be this OP. I am certain that as of today, it is the greatest anime opening ever. I’m amazed by the amount of attention it got on the internet and the hundreds of parodies derived from it. It was simply a treat to our eyes. The song. The animation in the opening. The sync between the two. Epic.
You won’t be skipping that opening.
In addition, an animation production is never as close to perfection without the animation and art being top class. Now, Attack on Titan has astonishing art, to the point where you are amazed of how far animation has come. The scenes where there is sunlight will leave you speechless. The animation, unlike the other aspects, is where some disagree. The only thing I have to say is I was extremely impressed throughout the whole show until I saw a certain scene in episode #11 where the 3D maneuver gear was used, and I was stunned. I was simply stunned. Then, of course, later episodes also take it to a whole new level, but you’re probably gonna be used to that quality of greatness by then.
That’s how ridiculously good Attack on Titan is.
Now, like the characters, the story is mostly work of the manga’s author. This includes character development, which I believe is the key to the success and extreme popularity of the characters. Also, the story maybe the most original aspect of this series. Nothing you have seen before is in this show. Nothing. Much like EVA, Attack on Titan gives you a world of “dystopia”, on-edge, and uncertainty, so full of potential that just when you think you have it figured it out, it turns around and leaves you speechless.
Oh, that will happen to you for the first time in episode #5. Guaranteed.
Finally, even IF all these characteristics of an anime series are top notch, it won’t amount to its potential if it doesn’t have that “IT” factor. Some series have the “IT” factor without having all of these production values. They tend have 3 or 4 at most. Those become popular because they give out that feeling of “amazing”. Gintama, the greatest gag series ever, comes to mind. Its anime doesn’t have overwhelming OST, or eye popping animation; it does have A class characters and A class story (among others), but that “IT” factor takes it to another level. Now, imagine having practically everything an anime series has to offer in A class value while also having that “IT” factor. Extremely rare. Eva rare. FMA rare. Attack on Titan is part of that elite group. This is why its popularity rose to highs only few series reach.
This is the first time I have ever written a detailed review of an anime series. I did it because this one deserves it. It’s The anime series of my adult era. I can now relate to those anime fans who watched Evangelion almost 20 years ago. They knew they had something special, just like we do now with Attack on Titan.
In conclusion, Attack on Titan is, of course, like MS Gundam, DBZ, EVA, FMA, Geass, and Death Note, not perfect. Like any other piece of greatness it does have its negatives. Having said that, when you add up the good and the bad, you end up with a landmark anime series that is currently shaking the industry with its mesmerizing, sensational, emotional, intense, and inspiring first season. Just imagine the wait and the hype for season 2.
What kind of effect will Attack on Titan have on the anime/manga industry we love? Only time will tell…
In the meantime, this is simply the best anime series in the last 15 years. Enjoy.
Exquisite beyond words.
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Shingeki no Kyojin
2. Magi: The Kingdom of Magic
3. Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic
4. Nagi no Asu kara
5. Log Horizon
6. Zetsuen no Tempest
7. Uchouten Kazoku
8. Hataraku Maou-sama!
9. Kyousou Giga (TV)
10. Kyoukai no Kanata