They’re the best Anime that 2019 has to offer! We counts down the best anime to come out this year, including the likes of Kemurikusa (TV), Date A Live III, One Punch Man 2nd Season, and more!
10: Kemurikusa (TV)
MAL Score: 7.07
A few young girls with strange powers and a tree that has grown through a railcar cling onto life in a desolate land, searching for its last reservoirs of water. Their routine struggle to survive is interrupted by the arrival of Wakaba, a boy with no memory beyond his own name.
The girls and their new companion commit to a perilous journey across seas of burning red fog—all in order to find what they need to sustain themselves on the more distant, dangerous islands swarming with robotic bugs. Their ultimate fate will be decided by their own strength, along with Wakaba’s curious ability to understand the Kemurikusa: mysterious glowing leaves with wondrous powers. Besides the girls, Wakaba, and the hordes of ravenous bugs, the Kemurikusa are the last sparks of life surviving in this land. How did things end up this way? Why are there so many empty buildings with no one to live in them? Wakaba and the girls lack the answers to these questions, which means the truth can only be found within the Kemurikusa.
[A Seriously Underrated Show]
From the studio and creator that brought us Kemono Friends comes their latest show: Kemurikusa. This original show is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi that hooks the viewers with its slow revealing mysteries and excellent world-building, dynamic character interactions, wide set pieces, and great soundtracks. The 3DCG may take some adjustment and getting used to, but it’s not necessarily awful. In short, anybody that’s familiar with Tatsuki’s work should watch this anime.
And also, did you know that Kemurikusa translates to “smoke grass”, “smoke plant”, or “smoke weed”. Yep, this is literally Winter 2019’s dankest anime. Thank you, Tatsuki.
Synopsis: A trio of red-haired sisters, living in a post-apocalyptic world overwhelmed by a red fog, must fight against red robotic ‘bugs’, while searching for water and other resources. One day, the sisters find a large source of water and encountered a “human” named Wakaba; an encounter that would forever change their lives.
For a show that has a short and simple synopsis, the story is more complex than that. There are many unanswered questions regarding our main characters and the world they live in. Some questions include: where do all the red bugs come from, what is a “Kemurikusa” leaf and what does it do, who is Wakaba, what happened to the world and how did the destruction occur, who is the first human, where did the blue walls come from, what are blacked out words in the memory leaf, etc. These question will not be answered in the first episode nor the second, but rather over many episodes. And the show does an amazing job at revealing these answers and truths.
Each episode reveals a tiny bit about the world and its characters through dialogue, visual, and audio context. Some examples include: robotic ‘bugs’ come in various shapes and sizes and can be good or bad, Kemurikusa have many powers with multiple usage, the world is divided into several large islands, etc. There are also many different locations, such as abandoned office buildings, amusement parks, the “Sky Bridge”, villages, railway tracks and stations, etc, and they are stunning to look at; the world-building is well done and throughly explored. With the help of Wakaba’s curious nature, these areas, the nature of the Kemurikusa leaves, and several main characters are also explored. All of this combined makes Kemurikusa a very intriguing and engaging anime.
Upon viewing the first episode it should be no surprise that this show uses 3D character models, which I believe is good, with CGI animations. Now, usage of 3DCG in anime has mostly gotten a bad reputation, mainly the art style could appear strange or the animations could be stiff and janky.
This show, in my opinion, doesn’t have a bad or strange art style, in fact, its usage of lighting and color are amazing, for example, 1) a stale gray and black world is lightened up with bright colors of red and green with the occasional blue and yellow, and 2) when a character or bug ‘dies’ their body deteriorates into glowing leaves and drifts away. Both examples highlight how beautiful colors and lighting effects can have on a show. Now, the composition is fantastic; the use of abandoned villages and tall office buildings, ruin houses, decaying trees and vegetation, etc, are all framed and shot to provide a sense of desolation and passing of time. It’s haunting and intriguing.
The show’s animations are sometimes smooth and fluid, and other times they are stiff and janky. The fight animations and choreography are okay and not very exciting, thankfully, they are brief and few in numbers. Also, there is the occasional still images that provide context for what is happening on screen. Overall, the animations and art are good.
The voice acting is hit-and-miss with Rin’s and Ritsu’s voices being the most standout and noteworthy, while Wakaba’s and Rina’s voices are too high pitched and somewhat annoying. Wakaba’s voice is most annoying when he’s saying his favorite catchphrases, such as “So Interesting!”, “Wow!”, or “I see!”, and when he’s being ‘too curious’ about everything that surrounds him. Rina’s voice, on the other hand, is just too high pitched and tries too hard to be the typical loli character. However these complaints are very minor and negligible after a few episodes.
The sound design is pretty good. Its opening song titled “KEMURIKUSA” by nano features heavy drums, multiple guitars, a piano, and the singer rocking it out to our characters walking in various settings and fighting the red bugs. The ending song titled “INDETERMINATE UNIVERSE” by Yuuyu is your standard J-Pop that features background images showing our characters connected to a red-string and when some characters die, they deteriorate into glowing leaves and drift away. The endings’ background images heavily implies whether our main characters are die or alive, this is a disturbing and interesting way to reveal answers. Both songs are great and well worth listening too. The background music is also pretty good as it sets the perfect mood and tension.
The show heavily revolves around its central characters, i.e., Rin (tsundere), Rina (Loli), Ritsu (cat girl), and Wakaba (“human”), to drive the narrative and progress the story. Moreover, there are many moments of character interactions, which enhances the development of our characters. Along with our central characters, we have some secondary “characters”: Midori-chan (Kemurikusa tree), Ai-chan (Kemurikusa fish), Shiro (beeping Roomba bots), and the mysterious “dead” sisters (Ryo, Ryoku, and Riku). These secondary characters play a vital role in progressing the story and strengthening the development of our main characters.
Our main male character, Wakaba, is unique in that he can sense and detect “warm spots” through the thick red fog. These warm spots can be anything related to the red bugs, or red trunk and tree branches. He talks a lot in a high pitched voice and is very curious about everything that surrounds him. This is both good and bad. It’s good because we, the viewers, learn more about the world, the Kemurikusa powers, the red bugs, and who the characters are. In general just about everything. On other hand, it gets annoying and somewhat tiresome after awhile. Still, he’s nice, kind and willing to help the sisters whenever they need it.
Our trio of red-haired heroines, namely Rin, Rina, and Ritsu, are sisters who are not normal humans, i.e., they drink copious amounts of water, they use Kemurikusa leaves for numerous activities throughout their lives, they jump and leap further than normal humans, and they emit a bright glow when fighting the red bugs. Rin is a self-determined, serious, and tough girl, who has a reverse ponytail and white scarf. Rina is a short, energetic, and exuberant girl, who has the ability to make multiple clones of herself, eats many types of metal, and wears maid clothing. Ritsu is a soft-spoken and caring girl, who always appears tired and has cat ears; she also controls a Kemurikusa tree named Midori-chan, and uses it to scout for enemies or for transportation.
From its simplistic and short synopsis to its robotic and apocalyptic setting to its trio of red-haired heroines with masked background details. Everything seems to be shrouded in obscurity. But, like most series, not everything will be explained in the first or even second episode. It takes time. And this series is no different, it slowly and methodically reveal answers and truths over the course of the series. This coupled with its excellent world building hooks the viewers in wanting to learn more about the story and setting. Accompanying the setting and story is the good sound design, mainly its rocking opening and ending song. Additionally, while its art and animations, at times, appear janky, its composition and lighting are outstanding. The character interactions are frequent and provide many moments of character development, still some characters like Wakaba can be somewhat annoying. Overall, though, this series provides entertainment in the form of a slow-revealing mystery, great soundtracks, stunning compositions and lighting, and proper character development. A good series in my opinion.
There’s a TLDR at the end, dw.
Art: Let’s get this straight immediately: this is by far (I mean it) the worst looking anime I’ve ever had the displeasure to watch. It looks more like Foodfight than an actual anime, the characters look awful, the animation is frankly appalling, to put it mildly. It looks like a high school student project more so than anything else, I cannot find a single redeeming factor artistically, other than a random “oh that looks cute” which isn’t exactly a high wall to climb.
It is at its best when everyone is still and talking as little as possible, while the action scenes are pure unadultered junk, they’re so bad you’ll start to wonder if you’re watching a parody rather than a show taking itself seriously.
Sound: It doesn’t help that the voice acting direction is dreadful, too, and that almost all voice actors range from ear-bleeding bad to just mediocre. I’m extremely thankful that Mikako Komatsu is Rin’s voice as she’s the only one that didn’t immediately annoy me while talking. In fact, I don’t know how her agent blackmailed her into voice acting for this series but I’m glad he did. She’s by far the only one that can bring her wax-looking character to life and the only one that is actually able to convey different emotions (imagine that) rather than droning on in the same tone, whatever happens.
I found Wakaba’s (the guy) seiyuu to be particularly irritating, the only emotion that you’ll get out of him is mild surprise or childish interest for something. Whether he’s eating, walking or someone’s dying, the tone of his voice is always the bloody same.
Sound design and mixing is frankly poor too, things you’d expect to make LOUD sounds don’t have any at all, you’d think it was a glitch of some sort. Rin in the last episode gets an arm and a leg cut off (don’t worry, they’ll grow back 20 seconds later) and you’ll be wondering how did that happen since there was NO sound at all that even remotely suggested it.
Music is ok but nothing exciting at all.
Characters: oh boy. If you want an assortment of archetypes you’ll get them here.
Lolis with blackboard-scratching high pitched voices? Check.
Cute robot sidekick? Check.
Stupid boy with a heart of gold? Check.
It’s uncanny. If I’m honest though, I didn’t find the characters all that offensive. There’s nothing new or surprising about them at all but they don’t milk their archetype to death like you’d expect from an anime of this kind.
You’d expect me to write more about them but there really isn’t more to it than that. They’re not developed much if at all and even when they are, there isn’t anything eye-opening, rather just confirmations of behaviours that were already apparent.
Story: This is the only part of the anime that I’d give a pass to. We’re in this world where there is basically one enemy, a red fog that takes control of robots (called mushi, although I preferred the ones from mushishi) which then proceed to kill any living thing. Kemurikusa, these different-looking (and different-acting) leaves, are pretty much the hearts of almost all characters, who are obviously trying to survive and then, logically, destroy whatever is causing this red fog to occur. In this journey (well, right at the end of it) there’ll be also a clear explanation for pretty much everything that lead to this situation (granted, there’s a lot of painstaking stupidity in those explanations but whatever). The concept of kemurikusa is not one that I’d heard of or read about before watching this show so it was nice and interesting. It would have been far more interesting if it had been explored more but that would have meant more episodes and my eyes and ears can only take so much. The very end is extremely convenient, blandly clichée-d and phoned in but again, for this kind of anime I wasn’t expecting anything more so I’m fairly happy with it. Be aware that there are A TON of huge plotholes in it so don’t stop asking “wait what” or “wait why”, just take it in stride and move on.
Enjoyment: I know I pretty much panned this show to hell and back and I do stand behind everything I said. Still, I found myself enjoying it quite a bit, although I can’t really point at a single reason why. Kemurikusa won’t waste your time, won’t drag its feet and it doesn’t try to do things that it knows it won’t be able to pull off (well, most of the time anyway). It’s a nice journey and one that has a very obvious ending but thanks to its relative brevity, it’s a journey that can be worth undertaking, if this anime resonates with you.
TLDR: watch the first 2 episodes, if you can stand the art and the characters, it’s all uphill from there. If you can’t, you’re not losing out on anything special at all.
After the success of Kemono Friends, we all thought the sky was the limit. But thanks to corporate greed, Tatsuki was kicked to the curb when they thought his usefulness had ended. Following this incident was a massive social media outcry from not only Japan, but around the world. Despite the hardship,Tatsuki and Studio Yaoyorozu picked themselves back up and went to work to tell another compelling story. This time, with an entire fandom in tow.
Kemurikusa is a brand new series by Tatsuki and animated by Studio Yaoyorozu. It’s set in a dystopian world following the sisters Rin, Ritsu, and Rina. I have to preemptively say, there are a large amount of similarities to the first season of Kemono Friends. Obviously because they both share the same director, but it’s something worth pointing out. This time around the story is much darker and bleaker than Kemono Friends. The characters are constantly trying to survive as they attempt to find water and fight off Red Bugs. They come upon a mysterious person named Wakaba, who may very well help them find the paradise they’ve longed for.
The characters are the first thing I want to touch on. I found this cast of characters delightful and a joy to see them interact with one another. Tatsuki is incredibly good at making adorable, likable characters. They contrast very well with the dark, mysterious, and dystopian backdrop. And again, like Kemono Friends, the characters have a synergistic relationship with one another. The sisters have special powers and are able to fight the Red Bugs, while Wakaba is both intelligent and is able to think outside the box thanks in part to his insatiable curiosity. This relationship works so well because it allows everyone to be useful, and no one is left to irrelevancy. Rin is serious is always on the lookout for the enemy, Ristu is motherly and kind, Rina is goofy, innocent, and childlike, and finally Wakaba is easy going, sometimes air-headed, and easily frightened. It’s a nice mix of personalities that you are quickly charmed by. Seeing these cute, endearing characters struggle in this twisted world only made you cheer for them more.
Continuing on the story itself, it’s a story of survival and trying to find a better life with the ones you love. The plot strings you along the entire time as there are numerous mysterious elements that keep you hooked. This is another aspect Tatsuki is very good at; his stories never lack mystique. How did the world get this way? Where did everyone go? What’s the story behind the mysterious, yet powerful Kemurikusa leaves? Because of the survival element, tension was consistently present. The characters’ lives were constantly in danger as they walked into the unknown; be it from fighting off Red Bugs or running out of water.
I did however, find myself bored a handful of times. At least one or two times an episode it’s nothing but showing the characters walking and getting around difficult terrain. While it is interesting to see the world unfold in front of us, I just couldn’t shake my feeling of boredom at times.
There are a number of things that I don’t feel as though they were explained well enough, which left me feeling a little disappointed. However, the entire story is contained in the 12 episodes. Which to me, is a breath of fresh air. There always seems to be room for a sequel nowadays, but this resolves the entire story from beginning to end which gives you a feeling of fulfillment and completeness.
Visually, this was a big step up from Kemono Friends. Studio Yaoyorozu now has more experience, and it shows, but this may have also got more funding behind it as well. While it still retains the simple looking animation, the character designs are attractive and the animation is much smoother and more intricate. However, the animation still looks rough at times and at best it’s only middle of the road, at least for industry standards. I think what helps set it apart is the art style, which is cute and round. It’s basically becoming iconic at this point.
As for backgrounds, it was filled with crumbling buildings and structures, empty cars filling some streets while others are completely barren. You’ll see a variety of structures like an amusement park, a residential district, an industrial district and more. What happened to what appears to be this once great society? Tatsuki uses this to his advantage as a “show, don’t tell” technique that he did so well in Kemono Friends.
The music wasn’t anything to write home about. It served it’s purpose as I don’t have anything particularly positive or negative to say about it. And from what I can tell of the voice acting, it was great. Everyone had a distinct and innocent sound to them that I just loved.
It’s been a long road for Tatsuki since the end of Kemono Friends. But I can happily say he has another winner on his hands. At the time of this review, volume 1 of Kemurikusa has sold 15,000 units. Kemurikusa is an interesting world with a great cast of characters. The story leaves you with a sense of satisfaction and is an overall enjoyable experience. While it does lag behind in couple of key aspects, Kemurikusa is still a memorable show that I found myself loving by the time episode 12 rolled around.
After the way he was treated, it’s terrific to see a director like Tatsuki land back on his feet with Kemurikusa. His blending of cute and dark along with a twist of mystery, Tatsuki has found a successful formula that works, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the future.
9: Date A Live III
English: Date A Live III
Japanese: デート ア ライブⅢ
MAL Score: 7.16
Shidou Itsuka carries on with his quest for Ratatoskr in finding Spirits and trying to seal their powers, all while maintaining his relationships with the ones he had already sealed. Moreover, as new Spirits appear, he must undergo more complicated trials—all to put a stop to further disasters as he discovers more about the Spirits’ origin.
I’ll be a straightforward here. I only advise watching Date a Live Season III if you are absolutely curious about the continuation of this franchise. Regardless if you’ve read the light novel or an anime only viewer, this show requires knowledge from the previous season for a watchable experience. With that being said, there’s little to really praise about the show together when you see what they’ve set on the table.
Even before this aired, some red flags are raised regarding the technical elements of the show. The production quality from the previews seems to have taken a nose dive to hell. While the first episode made improvements compared to the online pre-air, the visual quality overall is at best be described as subpar. At worst, the third season would be a fine example of a plastic broken art piece. However, I am willing to look over this since Date a Live has never been known for its art style. It’s the standard generic harem with a cast of characters who all fall for the main protagonist eventually. The catch is that the show’s premise adheres to such genre with its dating elements.
Date a Live III returns with the familiar formula of main protagonist Shido Itsuka as he helps to seal Spirits into his body with a kiss. The new season introduces Natsumi, the seventh spirit who actually has two forms – a child and young adult. The first few episodes has her play mind games against Shido and his friends. Similar to previous seasons, she puts Shido’s life on a rollercoaster of drama. However, I felt like the first arc became more and more idiotic with each passing episode. Let’s start with Natsumi herself. She is an attention seeker and seems to throw fits like a child would when things don’t go her way. In her adult form, she’s prone to jealousy with pride and a bit of ego. To put it simply, she’s an irritating character to deal with. It doesn’t take long for Shido to realize this either with the childish games she puts them through. By the time this arc ended, I felt nothing for Natsumi and she became yet another harem member in Shido’s collection. Except in her case, she’s an annoying little bitch.
Then, the second half of the show aired. Unlike Natsumi’s arc, the second arc adapts a more serious and emotional tone. The show takes a dive into Origami’s past while also reintroducing a popular character from the previous seasons. Oh yes, remember Origami? She’s the girl that has been trying to seduce Shido at every chance she gets. However, we see a side of Origami that people may not be used to. From this season, she shows a corrupted side of her character. She forsakes her friends while even attacking Shido as an enemy. There’s actually a more complex reason why she wants to change her past but the execution fails to live up to my expectations. Sure, there’s emotional content but the show never managed to convince me to like Origami as a character. Regardless what timeline she is in, Origami exposes the weakness of the main cast as a character who relies on others too much. In particular, Shido is someone she confides her emotions in although I never felt the two had a strong connection. Even compared to relationships with others like Tohka, she always felt like a background character. That being said, I don’t really want to devalue all the characters. The main cast returns with their mainstream personalities. While there’s not much character development, it’s still fun to watch their goofy interactions with Shido. It’s a harem after all and every girl wants their chance to be with him. The amount of witty dialogues and humor remains in the show that occasionally can draw out a few laughs. But be aware, you may quickly find most of it to be a snoozefest.
If the third season really wanted to redeem itself, it could have taken risks to try something different. Instead, it still relied on its usual gimmicks while focusing on a character that I never put faith into. Here’s a season that I can’t recommend and it’s a real shame. Because really, I wanted Date a Live to be something more special. Instead, it came out as a garbage harem that can be best described as atrocious.
This review is coming from someone who actually enjoyed the Date A Live series quite a bit, especially the “semi-canon” film back in 2015. So when I first heard about the series getting a third season, I was quite elated, to say the least. However, not too long after, I received the unsettling news of the original studio that handled the previous two seasons and the OVAs, Production IMS, undergoing bankruptcy and shutting down permanently, and thus the project was handed off to JC Staff. At the time, the studio wasn’t exactly a hot topic of controversy or debate, so I didn’t think too much of it. Unfortunately, the issues befalling the studio have started to become more apparent in the season of Fall 2018, especially during the production of the third season of Toaru Majutsu No Index. Needless to say, regardless of whatever the financial and business reasons and so-called justifications as to why the studio is currently conducting itself as of recently, it is not a good enough excuse to brush off what has obviously has become a contagious disease known as “JC Staph Infection”.
(May or may not have some spoilers*)
By now, anyone who watched or plans to watch this show should already know the common drill with how the story goes. A seemingly ordinary young man, Shido Itsuka, encounters and befriends beings called “Spirits”, and in order to stop them from wrecking havoc on Tenguu City, his home, he must make them fall in love with him and then seal their powers with a kiss. In the process, those Spirits become his best friends and allies and also part of the self-inserted harem.
The premises of the show are quite generic but not necessarily bad at all, especially with how the previous seasons depicted certain scenes and moments as fleeting moments of emotion and beauty. However, this was absolutely not the case here with Season 3. While I try to handle animation quality and story quality separately, this is one of those cases where both seem linked to each other in a bad way. So when the animation quality dropped, so did the course and depiction of the storyline.
The immediate problem I already have is how certain scenes shift so suddenly and without a proper sort of siegeway between them. Because of the entire lack of buildup between events and arcs, the scenes that are supposed to be the important chunks of the story…..just feel abstract and soulless. There is no sense of anything emotionally invested at all, not even with the most important arc of the season, the Tobiichi Origami arc. While I can’t really apply problems in terms of something like world-building, there are obvious plot holes and unwarranted plot devices throughout the story. While such occurrences are not exactly rare with most anime adaptations, Date A Live’s case during this particular season grew far too problematic.
For one particular example, during the Origami Arc, Shido, having travelled back to the past to try to undo the changing of history, seemingly dies in the act of protecting a younger Origami; however, the very next scene shows him alive and well in a brand new timeline. Regardless of whether the source material contained an answer or not, there seemed to be no clear-cut explanation as to why a brand new timeline was made, much less as to how Shido isn’t dead or even erased from existence due to the possible time paradox. Additionally, the rest of the Spirits somehow regain their memories from the old timeline without much consequence. The fact that the arc relied on an often mishandled plot element known as time travel can stir up unwarranted plot devices like that. Even then, if the production crew implemented genuine emotional investment into many of the events, instead of just forcing it down our throats, such “deux ex machina” foolery would be honestly easier to overlook in at least at face value.
Oh boy, one of my favorite parts of the review, breaking down the focused characters.’
Since this is a sequel, I don’t think I really need to talk too much about the cast that took to the sidelines for this season. The main focus here are the two characters with the two primary arcs: Natsumi and Origami.
Natsumi, in my honest opinion, is a very unlikeable character, even when she “turned a new leaf” due to Shido’s action. She is extremely childish, and is extremely self-loathing of her original petite form. She perceives everything in a negative light, including herself. Unwilling to accept this feeling of worthlessness, she took on a more physically mature-looking form to perceive herself as the perfect image of what she wanted to be. However, she is really just wanting attention, praising, acknowledgment, and recognition. The problem is that the show fails to depict her in a way where we can have at least some sort of sympathy of her, but instead, due to aforementioned plot holes, she comes off as more of a bipolar, bratty, complaining, and nosy child that only wants to cause trouble for everyone else just because she doesn’t feel confident about the image of her true self. If someone I become associated with does something along the lines of what Natsumi did during her arc, I would kick him or her out of the house almost instantaneously. Even after she was sealed by Shido, her mischievous, annoying personality is still there…just not as willing to cause unneeded trouble now, because she simply became a bench player from then on for the next arcs like all the other characters.
Origami is a primary character from way back in season 1 that I was able to put up with for the most part, up until her segment came up here this season. What I regret now is not immediately realizing that Origami had not gotten over her desire for revenge against the Spirits, even though she has allied with them on a number of occasions. Instead, she started having a growing, self-conceited desire to obtain more power, which caused her to join the villainous group of DEM and later on obtain a Sephira Crystal to become a Spirit herself. Her reasonings for her questionable acts are more immature and unwarranted than Shinji Ikari’s reasonings to not “get in the f***ing robot”. It became all too laughable when she finally realized that she became the very monster that she had always hated since the day she swore revenge for her parents in the old timeline. Her feelings of insecurity finally reaches a breaking point when she herself became the killer of her own parents in yet another (you guessed it) “well-played” case of time paradox. She then just literally loses all her emotions and became very much mentally dead as an Inverted Spirit. By now, all of us should realize that all of these foolery caused by her during her arc would be completely prevented if her deep-rooted naivety, glossed over by her serious looking expressions, didn’t cause to her to turn to the frigging DEM, of all groups. If she opened up her eyes more and tried to look at the bright side of things or even try to think about forgiveness seriously for once, regardless of what happened back then (which is now irrelevant due to the now changed timeline), she would’ve obtained something that would qualify as ACTUAL character development. Everything about her just felt absolutely wasted in her segment, in my personal opinion. I feel like if she did need to become a Spirit, such an event should’ve been set up with a totally different situation.
As for the other characters, I already stated before: they’re just mostly benchwarmers, saved for Kurumi. She actually contributed to the Origami Arc….by starting the whole time travel thing. Ugh, great. Well, at least she was sort of a saving grace in terms of enjoyment value if you’re a Kurumi fan.
From the very get-go, even with re-release of the first episode, the animation was immediately something I find hard to bear on a psychological level. In contrast to what the previous installment of the series had, the characters just feel very “off”. What I received was just a discombobulation of still frames and cheaply drawn movements that made the characters look like they’re from some goofy low-budget parody show. This bombardment of slideshows consequently downplayed numerous important scenes, including the fights, and it almost hindered the ability to drive home any sort of emotional investment for even the casual viewer. It’s almost as bad as the crapfest from the second season of TG:Re. I don’t think I really need to revisit the situation regarding JC Staff, as like I stated earlier, there’s no good enough excuse to show us such a poorly made high school project.
As for the soundtracks, they’re not exactly bad, but pretty meh compared to the previous seasons. While it was nice to hear some of the old soundtracks, it wasn’t really enough to make us ignore how awkward the majority of the scenes are visually displayed. The voice acting here is pretty mediocre; it really feels like the seiyuus are just rushing their lines as the show zips through different scenes without much of a proper transition between them. I can only fathom how depressed they are as they realize how poor the show’s quality became while they read off from the scripts.
Needless to say, watching the show felt like a chore, which made me really depressed as this was part of a series that I really enjoyed, even though it’s not a particular personal favorite. I did not want to drop this show because my mindset as a completionist kept giving me this false hope that the show will turn around. However, a part of me is resigned to the virtue I follow: “for every good or great show, try to watch at least a bad one to balance out your experience.” So I stuck with it until the end, but boy it was a pain train to behold. While I did get some sort of kick out of scenes like Natsumi trying to seduce Shido or Kurumi making her reappearance, I don’t get much else outside of the heavy shelling of my PC from the agonizing display of still frames and laughable overplayed voice acting.
Date A Live III was a tragic case of a sequel being handled by the wrong people, though it definitely isn’t the only one for sure. If you didn’t really enjoy the previous seasons for some reason, I’ll highly advise you to avoid this trash at all costs. If you’re like me and actually did enjoy the previous installments, though, prepare yourself for lots of cringe and agony as you watch a near perfect example of how to NOT handle a sequel season. Or you can just nope out and completely avoid the torture chamber that I went through.
Needless to say, this atrocity will inevitably reflect badly on JC Staff, and while I’d hope they’ll learn from their mistakes eventually, it’ll be quite a long while until the day we stop shaking our heads in disappointment when we hear the news “JC Staff will take over for production of this show/season”.
NO, to production woes, the J.C.Staff that could do no wrong, proceeded to trash this series! Where are you ENGI???
I’ll admit, being a long-time DAL fan ever since its inception in 2013 has its benefits and drawbacks. For one, we get a fairly generic harem story and action that was somewhat interesting and intriguing for its time, its lineup of character Spirits and the MC harem “Master” that is Shido Itsuki, that left us wanting for more of them ever since Season 2’s end in 2014. But finally, and with a very long wait, the original LN writer Koushi Tachibana has green-lit Season 3 for long-time fans like us to once again, MILK on the success that is the past 2 seasons. AND…you all saw how that fared out in 3 months. And that’s a massive disappointment.
*Spoilers be warned*
Let’s start with the story, which continues the events from past DAL series into Volumes 8 to 12 of the Light Novel: The 7th and 8th Spirits Natsumi and the resurrected Tobiichi Origami in her Spirit form, along with the (rushed and story-squished) Itsuka Disaster arc. For the majority of the series, we go through the life and happenings of the transformation queen that is Natsumi, being able to shapeshift into people with almost perfect results. And this time, Shido is left with a very daunting task of finding out Natsumi’s real intentions while covering her true chibi-kid form (which makes her embarrassed and is a real pain-in-the-butt), at the expense of using Tohka and Co. and exterminating them should Shido fail to solve her puzzle. Everything totally felt like how the main series was intended to be, and that’s always very welcome.
Next, new revelations about the friend-cum-enemy Tobiichi Origami, whom for the longest time that we’ve been searching her long-awaited answers since the start of Season 1: The reasoning behind her hatred for Spirits. And this arc being animated is a true taste of the “how many questions” we all have at the end of both seasons, finally giving us the action-solutions and resolution to Origami’s antagonistic purposes, with her history being rewritten at long last, for the better. Last but not least, the Itsuka Disaster arc, where in true DAL fashion, Shido does not become the initiator, but becomes the instigated for the girls to date him! Of course, trouble ensues but as always the girls will do anything to save his life *kisses*.
Once again, open hearts, open minds: The story is a love/hate relationship with those of us who grew up with this series, so whether you love or hate it, I respect all opinions.
The characters, or should I mention, the NEW ones brought forth to this season: Natsumi, Origami’s new Spirit form and of course the mysterious Spirit that is Phantom. Natsumi, aside from her Halloween costume, she is a force to be reckoned with, with her shapeshifting disguises into people similar being the standout that really causes a whole lot of issues. Once she is brought down to her tsundere loli form, she is pretty much like Yoshino in terms of care and sensitivity. With Origami’s position this time, she is finally vindicated of her past that has her holding back for very long, siding with DEM Industries all the while until this issue is resolved. Good for you Origami! And Phantom’s presence which we didn’t see a lot of, that is sadly left for another time to pursue more information about her (in the future…?). Of course, Tohka and Co. still acts like their usual selves.
The elephant in the room, you’ve guessed it, is the art and animation, which by all accounts, factoring in both Season 1 and 2, is the worst looking of them all. With the relevant production studio changes (AIC Plus+ for Season 1, the recently-bankrupt Production IMS for Season 2), it’s no surprise that this is an (industry-wide) issue, but honestly I didn’t find the average art-animation combi to be off-putting, at least not by a mile. With J.C.Staff however, even before the anime aired, the PV and posters were the red flags that long-time fans were trashing it, saying: “This isn’t the DAL that I remember!” And…it doesn;t get any better than this. Character models have that superifical J.C.Staff generic model, instead of the ever-so-memorable DAL aesthetics. Art and animation is decent, but action scenes were rife with mediocrity all around, with many people were complaining that this series took a turn for the worse with overall animation, and my opinions are no different. Sure, ENGI came back to help out with the production woes that J.C.Staff faced (that’s evident on the episodes he worked on if you checked the ED credits), but overall, it definitely left a very sour taste in my mouth.
Music-wise, I’m very glad and happy that the all-female group “sweet ARMS” is back once again to deliver another stellar song, titled “I Swear” (by the moon and the stars and the sky…oops sorry, wrong song!). Probably out of the 3 OP songs in the series, this may just be my favourite “sweet ARMS” song yet, with Season 1’s “Date A Live” in 2nd place. Such a heartwarming and cute, small action-pumping song. New and upcoming female artist Eri Yamazaki shows her new song for the ED, and it’s also quite good (as expected from Shichisei no Subaru’s ED song). OST wise, it’s largely the same assortment of tracks from previous series to stoke nostalgia, and it works for the better.
Production woes aside, as predictable and obvious as much as past seasons are, this is still a somewhat worthy (but worse) sequel entry to the series, with the story still holding up just as decent with many hiccups in the storytelling. But, apologies to long-time DAL fans both old and new, this isn’t recommended unless it’s for the story alone. Pass this up.
Now if only there was ever a chance of a Season 4 (which is highly unlikely), we the audience highly implore the future production staff: “Please get the series QC-checked first before showing it to us!”
8: One Punch Man 2nd Season
MAL Score: 7.43
In the wake of defeating Boros and his mighty army, Saitama has returned to his unremarkable everyday life in Z-City. However, unbeknownst to him, the number of monsters appearing is still continuously on the rise, putting a strain on the Hero Association’s resources. Their top executives decide on the bold move of recruiting hoodlums in order to help in their battle. But during the first meeting with these potential newcomers, a mysterious man calling himself Garou makes his appearance. Claiming to be a monster, he starts mercilessly attacking the crowd.
The mysterious Garou continues his rampage against the Hero Association, crushing every hero he encounters. He turns out to be the legendary martial artist Silverfang’s best former disciple and seems driven by unknown motives. Regardless, this beast of a man seems unstoppable. Intrigued by this puzzling new foe and with an insatiable thirst for money, Saitama decides to seize the opportunity and joins the interesting martial arts competition.
As the tournament commences and Garou continues his rampage, a new great menace reveals itself, threatening the entire human world. Could this finally be the earth-shattering catastrophe predicted by the great seer Madame Shibabawa?
Well for starters, there’s the change in the staff. Director Shingo Natsume left this season and responsibilities were handed to Chikara Sakurai. One of their previous project was Majimoji Rurumo, a show that probably most people has forgotten by now. One Punch Man has already established itself beyond the anime medium and with a growing popularity, it tries to aim higher. However, fans coming into this season shouldn’t have any high expectations especially if we take a look at the promotional material. While the key visual doesn’t turn heads away, the preview will. With the J.C. Staff in charge of this sequel, this raised a lot of red flags. In respect, the animation quality severely suffers in quality. Rather than a sharp, crisp quality animation with stylish aesthetics, we get static-like power point slides. Maybe I’m exaggerating a bit but this second season’s quality is easy to point fingers to. Unfortunately, it seems J.C. Staff couldn’t handle the job of making this into a sensation again. They already have their hands full with a lot of projects this year after all.
Storytelling itself doesn’t improve much either if we talk about the main plot. Again, I really wish I could say the opposite but this sequel proves itself to be a tragedy. From the rushing of certain content to underwhelming delivery of some of the important fights, I felt no impact from this season at all. Zero. Early on the in season, we also meet Fubuki (Blizzard) who leads the B-Class hero group. At first, I was ecstatic to finally see her gain some relevance. However, the fight between her and Saitama passed like a flash. There’s almost no charisma besides Saitama’s heroic speech and attitude. Even on a comedy level, it didn’t draw much popcorn entertainment. Similarly, many of the dialogues this season sounds very scripted. As a manga reader, I wanted to see much more than characters speaking their lines. What I got instead is just words and words coming out in a desaturated manner. Saitama is still the bald caped hero with unstoppable power. The first season captured the magic of his character while this sequel didn’t move the needle. What I mean is Saitama’s fight against adversaries this season isn’t even near the caliber as the previous season.
But it’s not always fair to compare the previous season with this continuation, right? Truth to be told, season 1 did set the bar high. Known for its visual dynamics and ONE’s creative writing, One Punch Man has always done all it could to be its own special series. Here, it’s lost the fire. People made memes out of One Punch Man because it was comically entertaining in a genuine way. Here, there’s worthy made besides weak impressions. Even the hero hunter Garou didn’t make much of an impact. As a foil character to Saitama, I expected his personality to be a bright flair. However, Garou ended up being someone that I forgot easily. Perhaps it’s because the overall directing of the show as several events takes place at once this season. There’s the fighting tournament involving various heroes, the invasion of the monsters, and Saitama living his day as usual as a hero. The joke of being one punched is far over after we’ve seen it so many times. The monsters themselves are hardly worth writing home about. To be honest, does any antagonist this season even contain an ounce of charisma compared to Boros? That fight from season 1 was legendary.
On the hero side, we do have some characters making reappearances. Names like Genos, Metal Bat, and Tatsumaki are a few I’m sure fans remember. Unfortunately, their roles this season has degenerated to little value. New faces like Suiryu brings in some excitement although he can hardly carry this season. In fact, the Super Fight Tournament arc felt like one big talent show of weirdos gathering together. I didn’t feel the stakes were impactful nor did the results feel satisfying. I mean, the show is One Punch Man. Who else is going to dominate this tournament?
Oh how the mighty of fallen is the easiest way to describe One Punch Man Season 2. The first season was a juggernaut that exceeded expectations. Fans still embrace what became a blockbuster. It’s 2019 now and we’ll have people talking again One Punch Man again. Unfortunately, people will quote more from the manga than recommending this sequel. Trust me, One Punch Man Second Season is a mistake. A grave mistake.
The second season of One Punch Man is a miserable fall from grace, with a quadruple whammy of circumstances contextualizing the gravity of the show’s failures. It’s a sequel to one of the most well-animated mainstream anime of all time, released over 3 years later. On top of that, this franchise’s counterpart, Mob Psycho 100, got adapted for a second season that practically pushed the boundaries of current TV anime 3 months before this season came out. Combined with the awful feel and presentation of this new season, that set of circumstances becomes the world’s nastiest measuring stick. Sadly, the inability to live up to any decent set of expectations isn’t unexpected when you look at all the writing on the wall. The stiff and barely animated trailers, the off artwork, and the fact that production switched over to J.C. Staff all should have told you this was doomed to fail. The worst part is I can’t even blame the people involved, as they simply didn’t have the time, physical capacity, or resources to pull together an acceptable product. It’s a cruel joke, and a herculean task for director Chikara Sakurai and team to be burdened with.
This isn’t to say that that this season would have been great if Madhouse or the original team took over. Boogiepop 2019 was animated by the same team and studio as One Punch Man Season 1 and it didn’t look that good. It was plagued with terrible artwork and redesigns, and a sheer lack of the atmosphere that both its source material and the 2000 anime bathed in, thanks to the removal of the rustic color palette for a generic one. Madhouse also animated the Overlord anime trilogy, which is littered with repulsive CGI and artwork that I’m not a fan of. The two shows they produced this season are a powerpoint presentation baseball anime and a show no one likes that apparently also suffers from hideous CGI, so it’s safe to say there’s no way they’d fix this on a visual level. Maybe the color palette wouldn’t be so unpleasant but that’s about it. Hell, I’m not even sure that studio could fix how drab this season feels, since everything feels so floaty, awkward, and self-serious. The jokes, the excessive monologuing, the terrible attempts at emotional beats, and the mind-shattering attempts at retroactively downplaying the threat of the first season’s climax are all downright surreal.
When it comes to the jokes, there’s none of the exaggeration or punchy energy to them that was present in season 1, and the lack of comedic facial expressions only adds to how limp and awkward the delivery is this season. The deadpan humor is also weakened by the stumbling, borderline lifeless presentation. I can honestly count on one hand the number of times I even chuckled in any given episode, barring maybe episode 3. On top of that, despite Saitama still one-punching overconfident bad guys in this season –i.e the main gimmick/punchline of the first season– we don’t get to see him OHKO anyone on-screen even once until the finale. Perhaps they thought saving it up for a grand climax was a good idea, but all things considered, it’s just not worth it.
Getting back to the other issues at hand, one of the strangest criticisms I’ve ever had to lay out is that moments that seem to have happened simultaneously like the encounter between Genos and Speed-o’-Sound Sonic and the encounter between Saitama and Fubuki in episode 2 turn out to not happen simultaneously. This isn’t the first time that time becomes a liability in the show but detailing the other instance in the second half would get into some head-scratching spoilers. Another strange issue is how some episodes just end abruptly, as if they had no idea where and how to stop an episode. For a more traditional complaint, the pacing in this show is abysmal. Once the main arc of the season kicks in around episode 3, the pacing slows down to a crawl for several episodes before blitzing through everything in episode 7. The weirdest part about this is how apparently this adaptation has been burning through chapters like Sonic speeds through stages, making the sense of fatigue and whiplash all the more dizzying. No matter what, things just happen with no time to really establish anything or allow the audience to breathe and let things sink in. This, along with lifeless direction and lackluster character writing, makes it so there’s almost never any weight or impact to the big and intense moments that permeate the bulk of the season, adding to the vicious cycle of everything and nothing happening as events simply cycle through one another for no apparent reason. It’s issues like this that remind me why even in season 1, OPM was never good at being a serious narrative, let alone shuffling between parody and serious shounen.
That said, the overarching narrative of this season isn’t necessarily bad on its own. In theory, showing how the hero organization is now yet another corporation that cares more about the safety of its executives than those who work for them, and how it, Suiryu, and Garou are all foils to the heroic traits Saitama values and finds fun in, are good ideas. On top of that, the narrative genuinely gets interesting towards the last leg of the show. It’s just that everything gets tremendously bogged down by terrible presentation, hollow characterization (which we’ll get to), and a sense that vital moments are actively missing from otherwise solid character arcs and plotlines. Even worse, this season’s bloated, badly paced, and watered-down arc is all setup for a third season, so all of that arc fatigue meant nothing.
Speaking of nothing, there’s the gigantic cast of characters for this season. The characters all feel stale, including Saitama, the most entertaining character from the first season. He’s no longer this disgruntled guy who wants some respect for the hard work he put into his fun superhero craft, nor is he someone constantly wishing to fight someone strong because he hates how he can just one-shot everyone. The first scene of episode 1 tries to pretend that he still deals with the former issue, but make it past that and you’ll see that’s not the case. As for the latter problem, it’s no longer this drive that’s been eating away at him due to how disappointed he is all the time. Instead, he just casually wants stronger opponents, so he enters a tournament of martial artists, where he meets a foil of his now watered-down need to fight strong opponents. They don’t justify any of this either, so it creates this disconnect between season 1 Saitama and season 2 Saitama. They try diving back into the issue in episode 9, but they should have further demonstrated how empty he was feeling beforehand, as this episode cements that he’s not just bored, he’s practically lost and depressed. It feels like prior to tackling this issue, they wanted to give Saitama a flat arc, where people grow around him. They didn’t do a good job, for reasons mentioned prior. Another reason this doesn’t work is that the rest of the characters are incredibly one-note and eager to monologue about their baggage at the drop of a hat. Several of these monologues are intrusive and redundant as well, so the sheer abundance of them becomes grating, especially early on when they’re at their most prevalent. You know it’s bad when the one-off heroes and villains have more personality and presence to them than important side characters like King and Fubuki. Secondary and tertiary characters were never one of season 1’s strengths, but this is just lousy!
We do at least have a somewhat entertaining villain, that being Garou. However, when everything around him is so dull and when the action and presentation is as bad as it is, his intimidation and fun factor are somewhat diminished. Additionally, despite him actively going out of his way to kill both heroes and villains in his first scene and siding with the monsters who kill heroes and everyone else alike, he doesn’t kill anyone in subsequent fights. They don’t even try to justify this inconsistency. He does have some decent scenes and he does work as a warped foil of everything Saitama stands for, so despite the glaring inconsistency mentioned earlier, he’s still the best character in this show full of lifeless side characters for whatever that’s worth. On top of that, his arc to become stronger is probably the only compelling piece of writing in the show. He’s not the only foil for Saitama, as Suiryu from the god-awful tournament arc is like a more selfish, less dangerous version of him. His main difference is that he wants an easy life with his strength, and we actually see a decent arc come from him halfway into the series. The show gets to a point where I sometimes almost root for him and Garou because almost everyone else in this show is so unlikable. Practically everyone in this show is either a blank sheet or a total prick, sometimes both! Apart from a few side characters in episode 11, the only notable exception is Metal Bat, and that’s literally because of one scene at a sushi bar with like two funny jokes. Yes, they wanna show that heroes aren’t all morally sound because Garou has to have a point, but that doesn’t mean we need Saitama’s foils to be the only ones with any layered writing behind them. One last issue regarding characters is that even the world around them has none of the vibrancy and personality than in season 1. None of the one-offs are as funny or vivid as the disgruntled alien crew from the end of season 1. What a shame.
Another positive aspect of the first season was the music. The OP was a thrill ride and the admittedly overplayed OST was filled with incredibly memorable tracks that accentuated the hype and emotionally satisfying feel the show aimed for. None of these return for this second season (barring that one time they remixed one of the OG season’s tracks in episode 5), and in their place lies a bunch of boring background tracks (save for one or two of them) and a mediocre opening that doesn’t even remotely capture any of the excitement or aggressiveness it shoots for. The visuals are somehow even more lifeless in the OP than in the show too, which almost never happens. The ED is also grating to listen to thanks to the vocals, and it’s even worse than season 1’s lackluster ED. The part that stings the most is that the composer for this season was Makoto Miyazaki, the same guy who did the last season’s music. What happened?
Above all else, this show’s most controversial aspect is its visuals. By the standards of season one, the standards of the manga, the standards of both seasons of the franchise’s counterpart Mob Psycho 100, the standards of an action anime, and even anime in general, the visuals of One Punch Man Season 2 are terrible. There’s about as little animation as your current non-action seasonal or a long-running slideshow like Yugioh Duel Monsters, and almost no visual flair to compensate, with loads of panning shots, and badly edited quick cuts which make some of the fight scenes simultaneously as unstimulating as the rest of the show, and more incomprehensible than the most badly edited fight scenes from SAO and Fate/Apocrypha. Episode 7’s fights are the worst by far, with constant character model mishaps, extreme usage of bad, looping ghosting afterimages to simulate characters attacking rapidly, frame rate-killing camera movements, and CGI objects that also kill the frame rate. Even the best fights are barely above your average Fairy Tail GIF-fests, and your average fight in this show is just that but undetailed and incomplete. There are occasional, freakish drawing mishaps even outside of the fight scenes, such as the sequence where Saitama’s head is shaped like a lightbulb during a camera rotation in episode 1, or the entirety of Saitama’s conversation with King in episode 9. That alone is inexcusable, especially when this anime is 90% panning shots filled with stock assets as is! It’s even worse here where the artwork tends to be incredibly rough and badly drawn, especially with the characters’ faces and the close-up shots with inconsistent outlining, especially in episode 1. Practically every episode has a unique, outstandingly awful visual blunder to notice, and the few well-animated cuts in the show, primarily towards the final third of the series, can’t make up for that.
The strange charcoal coloring of Genos’s metal frame doesn’t even feel like it fits with the rest of the drawing of the character, and not only is it inconsistent with his season 1 frame, it constantly changes from scene to scene in the first two episodes with no rhyme or reason. As of episode 3, it seems like they’ve settled on what he should look like again before changing it one more time in another repair late into the second half, but that should have been done in the character design phase, not after production of certain episodes has ended. You can’t use the excuse of him getting all those repairs and new parts since he did the same in season 1 while looking consistent. The show doesn’t justify this itself, so neither should you. Back to the issue of charcoal-esque metal feeling out of place on the characters they’re attached to, as it applies to another returning character, Speed-o’-Sound Sonic, and other pieces of metal like Metal Bat’s…bat. This raises another issue with the show as a whole: the coloring in this season feels off. This season has a darker and more off-putting color palette than before, and along with some of the colors they used, it makes the show generally awkward and strangely bleak to look at. Even if the show somehow was animated beautifully, the color palette alone makes this show aesthetically displeasing to me. It’s a shame considering how good the returning character designs are, since now they just look off, regardless of if they’re on-model or not. Still, along with the interiors and entire buildings comprised of terrible CG assets, all of these issues make it so there can almost never be a scene that genuinely feels great to look at. Even the incredibly few moments of fluid animation suffer from most of these issues. The Blu-rays may mitigate some of these issues to an extent, but the problems are too deep-rooted for blu-ray touch-ups to truly fix.
This isn’t even a question of failing to live up to the stellar animation quality and overall visuals of the first season; this is a case of visuals that are just plain bad. It doesn’t take an animation snob to look at this and go “wow this looks wrong” or “this feels off”. No one should be grateful that a studio forced a bunch of overworked, under-scheduled staff members –including a director with almost no prior directorial experience– to make this show. It’s not a gift, it’s a product, and a badly produced one at that. The production is so bad that the proofreader for this review had an absolute ball with the visuals, often pointing out several awful aspects and moments even I didn’t even notice. Sure, it’s no Berserk 2016/17 or Hand Shakers franchise, but that doesn’t mean we should bend over backwards just because this is a continuation of a show most of us like. As much as it hurts to say, I’m glad that this hate train started simply because it shows that even despite the pushback against this movement, we can still put our foot down on what is and isn’t an acceptable product. It shouldn’t take 3 episodes for us to see a fight with acceptable animation quality or a single cool shot, nor should it take until episode 9 for them to even attempt any interesting techniques. It also shouldn’t need up to 5 animation directors working on an episode like with episodes 2 (or 15 in the case of episode 8). That just proves this show was poorly managed, badly scheduled, and doomed to fail.
This really is the anime equivalent to Anthem and Mass Effect: Andromeda, isn’t it?
The second season of One Punch Man is the end product of mismanagement and production issues emblematic of the dismal state of the industry. This show was practically destined to fail when given to a studio that’s been spreading their teams thin through 2-5+ projects a season and having well-documented scheduling issues for the past 3 years. I can’t imagine what the team must have gone through, trying their damndest to live up to the show’s monumental expectations with such little time, staffing, or resources. It’s crushing to think that when OPM 1 came out 3 years ago, people jumped on the hype train, and now with season 2, people are jumping on the hate train. Hell, as someone who only kind of liked season 1, that’s the main reason I watched this season. While the first season functioned as the fun blockbuster anime it wanted to be, this second season was unable to truly be what it wanted to be. Honestly, it’s more depressing than hateful, and it didn’t have to be this way. That’s the anime industry for you, where blood, sweat, and tears are soaked up by cash that get put into the next season’s 5 isekai shows. One Punch Man 2 is a casualty of the industry we’re encouraged to support, and the worst part is people are ok with this.
Written and edited by: CodeBlazeFate
Proofread by: Peregrine
This review will cover 3 main points explaining why I personally found this series to be complete bollocks. These are 1) Comedy 2) Directing, and 3) Art.
1) The comedy doesn’t deliver due to poor comedic timing. It’s a hollow, near dead version of what it used to be. Scenes end before they reach their climax. Nothing shines or stands above the rest. The content is never pushed to its limit or even tried to. There is no pinnacle to be found as the show is flat like the chest of those countless loli tsunderes J.C. Staff is most famous for. It’s like the entire thing has been made without any vision, possibly by someone who never thought there was anything fun about this series to begin with.
Season 1 played around with its comedy, waited for the right moment and even pushed the overall comedic resolution to its utmost limit. It was the type of content that constantly showed respect to its audience, and this was done to an extent that made it very easy to respect it back. After all, making a series about a dude who — most of the time — wins everything with a one punch is a risky move which could only ever work if there’s a perfect harmony and the strongest merits are polished. And that was done and achieved. With this 2nd season, the presentation is bad, the execution is worse, and its overall form is, at best, like a parody of its predecessor; The punch is still there, but it doesn’t have any impact.
2) Immersion is the key, and it’s best achieved by atmosphere because with atmosphere comes awe, and awe is something that limits disbelief and gives us the basis that is needed to forgive all sort of flaws, problems and questionable choices any series contains and does. Experiencing the gar-like awe this series is famous for and getting into the show at all has been hard, if not impossible. Action comedy series (and visual comedy alike) tend to be on par with blockbuster action by default. They in generally are build around empty and soulless ideas that don’t have much good things going on. This weakness needs to be countered to create this so called “genuine entertainment” that has minimum amount of annoying problems that ruin the fun. This is typically done with written details (such as oneliners or unique characteristics), audio directing, and visual execution that solely exist to make the series seem better than it would otherwise be. I.e. value is placed on details to carry the otherwise lacking content. This job is what the director is supposed to do. But OPM S2 did nothing to fight against its own flaws, rather, it only created more of them, poisoning its own core.
Audio choices, audio directing and directing itself are some of the most important things when it comes to turning mediocrities into something outstanding. But it isn’t there. Rather than playing around with the mood and teasing the audience by making us wait — or alternatively doing the opposite by throwing in some ridiculously energetic beats — the series is more like “let’s get this over with” and then they do. End of story. It promises to reward the viewer but never does. No real value is given to any scene or moment with the comedy (like mentioned earlier) and the same thing applies with the story board, the action scenes, the visuals, and music choices and seiyuu work. To get completely serious here, nearly every scene could be used as a material for Every Frame a Painting videos as an example of the unpreferred way to do shit.
Perhaps the best example of all of this are the first 8,5 minutes of episode 09 which are so poorly made I doubt anyone who gets into film school, but hasn’t even taken any lectures yet could manage to do worse job even if they tried to. Heck, I doubt there are even many graduates who could purposely achieve this level of awful. Pay attention to the lackluster sound mixing, monotonous voice acting, the near complete absence of SFX and note the music choice that would be tagged as (mellow piano) in hearing impaired subs. Perfect mood for a scene where some incredibly socially awkward dude tries to kiss his crush with whom he has never spoken with, right? Guess again! It’s the most badass fight scene in the first half of this arc! And this is only the audio we’re speaking of. What the actual krukk? Talk about failed delivery. Life of an art house visionary, I tell you. This can hardly be called “directing”, rather, it seems like a serial production process for products that should’ve been buried deep under ground and sealed away in cement. Tho a better example of how awful the SFX is is a fight scene from episode 11 where the sounds of landing punches were most likely created by someone repeatedly hitting church organs with a wet sock.
3) Art. When we asked for “loyal adaptation”, no one meant “keep the webcomic art as it is”, but that’s all we’ve got. MadHouse’s art and animation cannot be overhyped. One Punch Man is the single best animated action anime that has yet been made, one may disagree but not change my mind. I saw it 4 times, own it on blu-ray and it looks glorious, visually one of the best things that are called anime, especially when looking into modern productions. Season 2 is a generic J.C. Staff production where still artwork flows around the screen, cheap effects and camera tricks are trying to create the illusion of animation and movement; Even the most basic scenes are done with voice-over narration to ensure there is no need to even animate mouth movements; If there is a way to save money and time, it’s chosen every single time; Character models are only few steps away from sanic-tier, purposely terribly drawn memes; The color pallet is not only bland, but inconsistent to a point that the episodes could have as well been made by completely different teams who never shared any data between each other. Just compare the colors of episodes 3 and 4. Let me repeat what was said in the opening paragraph: low production can be forgiven, but One Punch Man 2nd Season’s production is a heartless piece of industrial waste, anime that has not known love or passion.
What J.C. Staff is doing here is despicable as it’s making their creation seem like an attempt to use this entire medium as an investment platform. Minimum effort and risk to ensure profit. The ultimate safety route. “We missed out Bitcoin so let’s see if this can cash us some.” I guess that’s why they couldn’t even color metals properly since those aren’t gold or silver. This is the furthest from a work of passion, driven by creed alone. Saitama is not “ok” anymore like in the meme, rather, it’s a full turn around with a K.O. (sorry, I just had to put this here somewhere)
When series comes with such obvious and serious issues, I don’t think there is any real reason to go in depth with the story and characters because OPM S02 is fundamentally so broken that no amount of pros falling under these categories could fix it. I will only talk about them briefly. Keep in mind that the technical aspects of the en the entertainment value of its story and characters — and ultimately they are just an inferior version of the re-drawn manga, which I personally recommend reading instead of watching this anime — but since they are a part of this anime and not an entity that can be completely taken out of context, and considering this review is not aimed for the manga, you will face criticism that is only relevant to the anime. + This anime is not 100% loyal to canon anyway.
The story type changes during this season. The monster of the week formula is put in the background when new type of elements and side-plots are expanding the verse and moving the main focus from Saitama to other characters. At first, the series seems to be quite lost when the storyboard is all over the place, introducing characters at episodic speed and following wide range of different pov’s in each, offering fights that don’t seem to have real substantial value and showing monsters that are partially making the entire idea for the series seem old and outdated. It takes over half of the entire run time before the story finally tightens up, the supposed build-up phase concludes and the filler-ish feel of the past events start seem significant. Most of this run time is used to make the viewer understand the characters better and see what type of people they are, the actual means used to achieve all of this being secondary. Despite everything there is to criticize, the characters are not a missed shot. Fubuki is strengthening her role as the best girl for anime only watchers, King especially is portrayed to be an actual real human, and Garou “The Hero Hunter” is shown to be an actually very well-thought out villain. With mild issues in the storyboard (and major in their execution, of course), the story knows where it is headed and majorly improves towards the end. From these departments, the series seems bearable even under its massive problems listed above. There definitely was room for improvement from these departments, too, but even so, at least they managed to make watching this series more tolerable.
7: Psycho-Pass 3
Japanese: PSYCHO-PASS サイコパス 3
MAL Score: 7.49
Thanks to the Sibyl System, the mental states of society can now be measured on a numerical scale. Using these “crime coefficients,” a culprit can be apprehended before they ever commit a crime. But is it a perfect system? For Inspectors Kei Mikhail Ignatov and Arata Shindou, that remains to be seen, as their career with the Public Safety Bureau’s Crime Investigation Department has only just begun.
Shindou and Ignatov are assigned to investigate the crash of a ship carrying immigrants, but they begin to suspect that it was no mere accident. Meanwhile, a mysterious group called Bifrost is observing them from the shadows, but they aren’t the only ones who have taken an interest in the two new Inspectors…
I expected to, much like the second season, for it to try and explore the themes set out by the first season at the base of Psycho Pass’ world. Instead, we have a plot centered around the introduction of a completely new entity, Bifrost, that contradicts the position Sybil appeared to have when Urobuchi.
I expected it to remain grounded in the world set out by the previous seasons, but, after 8 double-length episodes, Arata still appears to come up just short of clairvoyance, the perfect control of the Sybil System is contradicted by the existance of intentional gaps in it’s control, and the politics of Sybil controlled Japan, which were previously stated to be a sham, are suddenly an institution with actual power and influence, and all changes going unadressed.
I expected the main characters from the previous season to be a constant presence in order to continue their stories. Instead, Shimotsuki appears to have undergone significant development almost entirely offscreen, and, for the longest time, Ginoza, Akane, and Kogami occasionally show up as barely a cameo, mostly to hint at further developments.
I also found the plot overall harder to follow than when Makishima discoursed at length on philosophy and Sci-fi references for several minutes at a time. That might have to do with having to wrap my head around the inconsistencies in world building. The characters of season 3 can spend several minutes discussing the implications of a political elections and just leave me scratching my head, wondering why, under the totalitarian control of Sybil, that would be important.
As a minor gripe, I wish we had seen the Dominators being used more often, but I guess that’s a symptom of the smaller presence of the Sybil System in the world of Season 3. We did get some nice looking fist fights, but it’s jarring for the inspectors, representatives and arbiters of Sybil’s ultimate will, to have to engage in punch ups when any intent to beat an inspector to death should cloud one’s hue enough for them to be justifiably used. I’m not sure we even saw the non-lethal paralyzer being used at all.
In short, I doubt I’ll be back to this series. My expectations were low, but the contradictions in worldbuilding, the lack of a concrete continuation of anything set by the previous seasons, and a complete lack of any conclusion amount to a complete lack of justification for the existence of another entry to the series. Considering the way the last episode felt, the post-credits scene, and the name of the next movie indicating that it might be a prequel, everything just make me feel like the intent here is to slap the Psycho Pass name on an unrelated sci-fi detective series rather than continuing what made it interesting back in 2012.
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SPOILERS
The first thing I would like to mention happens to be the characterization between the 2 new main characters. It becomes fairly obvious within the first episode and even before it if the viewer watched the sinners of the system movies for Psycho-Pass, which I highly recommend one does before they watch this season, that there would be a fairly large time skip involved. One thing I did not expect however was that Akane Tsunemori would be entirely replaced as the main character by 2 new inspectors, Shindou and Ignatov. At first, I was apprehensive about getting a new set of lead characters especially since the movies hyped Kougami returning to the cast, however the 2 new characters grew on me over time. They both had great chemistry on screen, good backstories on why they joined the bureau, and their decision to partner up despite the Sybil System recommending otherwise was definitely a nice touch. There were some things I did not like such as Shindou having what appears to be borderline magical powers in recreating people’s actions and decision making and having superhuman reflexes that greatly surpass any human shown in the series thus far. However even though flaws like this existed I managed to get past my initial apprehension, and it was definitely worth it, if you are looking for strong leads with great chemistry taking over our favorite sci fi cop drama anime then you will definitely be pleased with the 2 new inspectors.
Something else the show excelled at was amazing fight choreography, all the fight scenes were incredibly fluid and the hand to hand fight choreography is definitely some of the best I have seen out of 100s of action anime. At times the fight choreography does get ridiculous, for example the characters try fighting an actual combat robot hand to hand even though their dominators should have a lethal decomposer mode and the show also has scenes where characters choose to fight hand to hand over using the paralyzer mode. Despite this the fight scenes were so good it makes it possible to not question the decision making of the characters and to overlook this bad writing during those scenes.
In regard to the sound track and music of the series, the openings of Psycho-Pass have always delivered, and this season is no exception. The OP consisted of a great song, with excellent foreshadowing visuals that that I am sure any fan pf the original Psycho-Pass would be satisfied by. Some other noteworthy aspects were careful reuse of the old soundtrack specifically when Kougami finally showed up in the show really had a strong impact. The sound is definitely a high 8 and lives up to the original series entirely.
One other thing that improved was how the side characters and antagonists were dealt with, most of the notable side characters got a decent amount of screen time, some new characters were fleshed out fairly thoroughly with the help of the sinners of the system movies and most of them got their time in the spotlight. Although the characters in the show do lack the depth of the characters in the first season, especially since there was no strong antagonist like the first season, the new antagonists and cases were still fairly easy to watch and made for a strong cop show.
As far as the story is concerned the lack of a truly strong antagonist really getting the viewer to question the system was definitely something that this show lacked, although the current organization opposing Sybil is interesting, there aren’t any particular noteworthy characters representing them. Season 1 was great because the audience was rooting for the antagonist at times and really growing to despise the system yet at the same time at the very end of the show understanding why Akane chose to preserve the system and relating it to the necessary security state many people in real life live in. This season did have moments throughout every episode where characters questioned why the system worked the way it did and if it was fair, but overall the entire show was focused on suppressing the enemies of the system and not really taking a serious look at flaws of the system itself like the predecessor seasons did. Most of the antagonists were clearly bad people who lacked any good reasons on why they are causing problems, there wasn’t any focus on the system oppressing them, in fact most of them were high up in the system. Near the end of the season there were antagonists who were acting for the greater good to some extent but the means they took were not only to extreme, they were straight up bad ideas that wouldn’t have been effective, the antagonist in the first season had considerably better ideas. The story overall is still good and definitely flowed better than most of season 2 however it still pales in comparison to season 1, right now the series is a good sci fi action show, but it is no longer a philosophical thought provoking series filled with flawed characters and ideas of justice like the original.
Production IG has outdone themselves with the art and animation of the series, the backgrounds of the city were spectacular to look at and really built up the sci fi atmosphere. All the detailed touches to the streets, buildings, waterfront, food stalls, hotel lobbies, and everything else in the background really immerses the viewer in this futuristic world that is both an exciting wonderland and at the same time a terrifying view on a society plagued by an all encompassing and dominating police state. As mentioned earlier the fight choreography and animation were great and despite the longer episodes on a weekly release schedule the animation quality remained strong throughout. Fans of the series can look forward to good visuals, good fights, fluid animation, and a variety of interesting looking characters.
Overall these improvements do vastly improve the show for the viewer in comparison to season 2, however it stills pales in comparison to season 1. If you are a big fan of this series then it is a must watch, but if you are not then it is essentially a regular solid sci fi action show, so if that isn’t really what you want to watch then you may not be into this. I would give this show a score of 8/10 as it was something that is quite enjoyable to watch, and it did not fail at delivering any important technical quality.
After the enormous emptiness that excellent villain Makishima Shougo left us and that great first season of PP, we finally have an acceptable sequel that tries to bring new things, new characters and similar airs, but not the same. Although of course we will always miss our dear and handsome Kougami, right? Well, at least in my case if I love it too much.
I generally liked how it was carried out this season, without making the mistakes of the second, without using protagonists of the previous season for a long time and using new protagonists, it has allowed the story to develop acceptably, something that the second season failed to start with the villain that without offending was and felt like a cheap copy of the first villain or at least I felt that, and I think a good percentage too, without demeriting the good things that the second season has, that there are.
Also something to note is that each episode at the beginning has excellent fighting scenes and animated choreographies with incredible quality, and those scenes are in almost every episode. It’s great and more considering that it lasts twice as much as the rest of the animes per week, 50 minutes per episode which was a surprise.
I can criticize things, such as the small participing of the old protagonists although I liked it, felt this somewhat forced, there are also many loose ends from the beginning, events that occurred off-screen that keep the viewer’s doubt at all times, especially when dealing with Akane Tsunemori.
The series comes to feel somewhat episodic at certain times and very detective with various cases that do not stop feeling a bit like “Normal Cases” can be said that there are too many sub-plots developing in Psycho-Pass 3, remembering the anarchist Makishima in the entire first season of Psycho-Pass, this was touches more philosophical themes, not at all compared to the most detective theme the series has had since its second season.
Here we are presented to Bifrost a criminal and clandestine organization that operates through this indirect gambling game for elitists to gain and power in the shadow of Sybil and the change of social paradigms. Makishima instead wanted to demolish social foundations and “faced Sybil” head on. However, the plots of past characters converge with that of the new ones to reach a climax, I love these kinds of stories, they do not stagnate with only one protagonist throughout the story and they explore the rest of the characters in depth to create tangles and secluded frames that are focused at the end for one thing in common.
As a personal point, I want to write about Mika’s character, I didn’t like Mika much in Psycho-Pass 2 but she’s quickly become such an amazing and funny character starting in the first Sinners of the System OVA & continuing strong throughout Psycho-Pass 3. Definitely one of more entertaining characters.
As for the animation and the OST are excellent, if there is something that stands out a lot in PP, it’s this incredible soundtrack which is always at the top, and as I said before its animation and especially its fight scenes are very remarkable.
Finally, I think that Psycho-Pass 3 despite having twice as many minutes per episode, needed more chapters to be able to elaborate a story at 100% conditions.
6: Carole & Tuesday
MAL Score: 7.91
It has been 50 years since mankind began its migration to the terraformed Mars, where they live in comfort due to advancements in AI. Carole lives in the metropolis of Alba City, working part-time by day and playing keyboard by night. Tuesday has run away from her home in Hershell City to escape the grip of her wealthy family, and instead hopes to pursue music with her acoustic guitar.
After a fateful encounter, the two decide to perform music together. Up against the AI singers that dominate the music world, the two of them believe that together they can convey their feelings through their songs. Will hard work and luck be enough for the duo to create the biggest miracle that Mars has ever seen?
But behind these seven minutes is the journey that set it all in motion.
Carole & Tuesday is a tale steeped in the past, now set in the gleaming terraformed future of Mars. The story of rags-to-riches between a pair of talented women: Tuesday, who sneaks away from her wealthy sheltered lifestyle and takes a train to the big city, and Carol, an ex-refugee and orphan constantly looking for work with no clear direction in her life. In their world, music has been studied, dissected and repackaged to perfection through the use of artificial intelligence; the popular human artists now acting as merely fronts for the artistry. They both feel isolated and melancholy, needing some way to express it. In this, the two have a fateful encounter as Carol plays piano atop a bridge. She hums along to the music, but Tuesday insists she can hear the meaning of her song despite the lack of words. Carole and Tuesday, two musicians from radically different socioeconomic backgrounds, are able to understand each from through their music.
Considering the nature of this series being centred around music, the anime puts a lot of attention towards the music incorporated within the show. Carole & Tuesday holds some clear similarities with other works by director Shinichiro Watanabe; not only does he use a variety of diverse character designs and art styles, but here he employs different genres of music and artists to coincide with the Western accessibility of the show in general. Flying Lotus, Alison Wonderland and Denzel Curry and just some of the names associated with this project. Most importantly, the music acts as a natural means for development between the two leads. When the two begin playing together, the flaws in their sessions are apparent: they aren’t in tune with each other, Tuesday is a step behind Carole and both continually have to restart the song. The session is a work in progress, but once they start finding their rhythm, it’s as if their souls have slowly begun to intertwine. Their unity, passion and emotional release creates a world of their own, free from the gloomy feeling around them.
The worldbuilding details constantly echo the technology-driven culture of today, giving it a sense of believability amidst the more fantastical elements. Instagram, Google and YouTube are all featured in some way during the duo’s attempt to break into the music industry, before eventually entering a talent competition that parodies the likes of The Voice and American Idol. This is where the most diverse musical genres of the series are showcased, from a profane barbershop quartet number to an operatic hip hop hybrid piece that really shows the range of musical styles present in the show. While the pacing is slowed down significantly for this purpose, it also introduces an antagonist to the pair in Angela, a model turned singer on her own journey that acts as a clear juxtaposition with Carole and Tuesday. Unlike the lead duo, Angela embraces the influence of artificial intelligence and is pushed as the industry’s next big star, however her struggles are as real as the two protagonists. Angela as a former child star carries her own share of baggage whilst being used as a puppet of the industry and given no creative control over her art. But she is passionate about her career and has to work tirelessly in order to stay relevant. She provides an insight into what can happen when business takes priority over pleasure.
All of the contrasting styles and motivations serve as foils to the stripped-down singer-songwriter ability of the titular duo, representing the traditional side of music with warmth and authenticity that cannot be replicated. At least, that is what the intention was with each of their performances. But the series only achieves this in theory. Their opponents in the talent show seek to treat music as a commodity first and foremost in contrast to Carole and Tuesday, who want to deliver a more intimate experience with their songs as down-to-earth musicians. Except that the music they play seems counter-intuitive, coming across as the kind of melodramatic pop that would not be difficult to find nowadays. It might not be surprising to see how the judges love the pair whose music you would expect to find in every talent show in the last decade, but consider how the series is trying to, in a sense, rehabilitate music, with some of the most generic pop tunes of our time. Lyrically the song also come across poorly, with the melodies and rhythm having to compensate for instances of laundry being used as a metaphor for example. The song writing here speaks volumes about Tuesday’s lack of life experience to draw from, yet they are still showered with overwhelming praise after each and every one of their performances.
As the series continues, there’s a concerning lack of character development going forward for a character-driven show such as Carole & Tuesday. The characterization starts off strong with establishing the differences in both leads, before the script changes to emphasize the commonalities between them and more nuance is added to their actions. However, their bond as a whole feels unnatural, as they become such close friends after a short amount of time and their bond is never challenged going forward. Chemistry between main characters, especially in dramas, tends to grow little by little through each of their interactions with each other. Because of this, viewers are able to see their relationship develop gradually for themselves, thus coming across more naturally. This does not happen with Carole and Tuesday. Instead the two are shown to be great off the get-go, putting on good to excellent performances together that garner high praise from well-known artists. There is hardly a struggle they face that is shown in their journey. Add to that how predictable and light-hearted the tone of the series is, Carole and Tuesday feel more like avatars than their own characters for the remainder of the show.
From the offset Carole & Tuesday, despite its shortcomings as a music drama, was based around the two leads coming together and making a name for themselves in the music industry. But after the talent show, the narrative begins to shed more of a light on their backgrounds: Carole’s friends who are refugees and, more importantly, Tuesday’s family ties to politics. This is where the story transitions from the tale of two women chasing their passions in an age of AI-produced music to an allegory of current-day American politics that takes itself seriously. Politics in an anime is not an inherent issue and make no mistake, Carole & Tuesday wanted to be a socially conscious series from the beginning. But the sudden change in plot and focus causes most of the key events that occur to feel forced and inorganic, not to mention even more predictable than before. The execution is clumsy at best and incompetent at worst; it imitates the United States’ immigration policy yet holds a childlike perception of the debate that would only lead to more dissention. The show portrays it as simply a societal bad mood without any further nuance to the discussion, to where the audience is never told why Earth has refugees coming to Mars in the first place. The story becomes so concerned with being a social commentary on the world today that it does not bother to justify the political actions that happen within the story.
And regardless of how much the story has shifted, the anime continues to revolve around Carole and Tuesday. The two musicians who at first strived to be a success in the music scene have had their journey side-tracked by the overt political agenda that, coincidentally, renders their previous journey obsolete. The AI-produced music that initially acted as a commentary on how pop music panders to the trends of today instead of creating something “meaningful” is tossed aside. The sub-plots unresolved from the talent show remains unresolved. Instead the series takes the overly-idealistic route that coming together and singing an inspirational song has the power to change the world, with music’s power lying in the ability to make one’s own voice heard. Only a vague solution to the real-world crisis the show intended to reflect. There’s an air of cynicism to the series that feels crafted out of naivete, which is certainly odd when Shinichiro Watanabe’s name is at the helm of the project. For an esteemed director as himself, it feels as if he was phoning it in here, not overly concerned with how the show ended up looking. Obviously, external factors like scheduling and budget play a larger part than ever trying to gauge effort from a director, but comparing Carole & Tuesday to his previous work (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Space Dandy, etc.) should highlight how underwhelming this most recent project is.
Carole & Tuesday was ultimately a tale in two parts: the first enamoured in the original journey of its two protagonists, their pursuit of passion acting as a love letter to the art of music. While meandering in parts and feeling a tad bloated, it’s hard to deny the show had a genuine love of the craft on display. But its second half was burdened with misguided ambition, aiming to encompass every angle of drama the series holds without regard for their impact on the writing as a whole. Unwilling to commit on its initial story and core values, we can only imagine what could have been a true moment of bliss.
Carole—who’s the black one by the way, I swear to god that was a trap on purpose—and Tuesday are two young girls down on their luck, a broke street girl and a runaway rich girl respectively, who discover each other through their music and decide to live by their fate and continue their humble craft together, only to soon be swept away by their own untapped well of talent and take the world by storm. It’s a pretty cliche setup as far as western media is concerned, but it’s unique in the context of anime and not inherently bad. However, everything about it is executed messily or more often outright awfully.
The show is criminally soulless. The voice actresses don’t sing their own songs and, including all the side characters you meet along the way, are always switched with quote-unquote professional vocalists during every musical number. Even if you like the show and characters, you’ll be immersed only until the singing begins, and then you’ll have to sit there for two and a half minutes while two english vocalists who don’t sound even remotely similar to Carole or Tuesday’s Japanese voice actresses take over, and the Japanese animators who don’t understand english vowel sounds or mouth movements completely fail to match the english lyrics to the mouth animation making the disconnect even worse and ruining the experience for anyone who isn’t both blind AND deaf. And even that is only concerning Carole and Tuesday’s english vocalist. Wait till you see some of the side performers I mentioned, like Pyotr for example, who’s this pre teen Instagram Celebrity who purposefully sounds like 2010 Justin Bieber as some kind of hackneyed joke only to suddenly develop a low-pitched, full-toned man’s voice when singing. And it gets more and more criminal as it goes on. I mean, they bring in Megumi Hayashibara in this one episode, and the replacement vocalist for her silky, dulcet voice is the full, powerful voice of a black woman! The animation production behind the performances—and the entire show for that matter—is terrible as well. You’ll see something like Crystal’s sequence in episode six which has a minimum of ELEVEN OFF-MODEL FRAMES, you’ll see something like GGK’s sequence in episode nine where the character’s entire costume is colored via a still image filling, or you’ll see something like Pyotr’s sequence in episode eight which is just fully, unabashedly rotoscoped. For such a gargantuan joke, this show isn’t even funny. As if I needed to tell you, all the instruments are CG, and if I had a dollar for every time Tuesday’s horrendous digital white outline shading clipped though the 3DCG shading of her guitar, I could personally fund someone to hand draw this entire laughingstock of a train wreck myself. Speaking of character shading, the characters’ hands are all CG too, and the director clearly had no fucking clue how to integrate this well, which itself is generously assuming they even could integrate it well given the PS2 graphics quality of all the CGI. When the shot composition is just the hands on the instruments, it’s acceptable. You know, it’s just ugly CG. Nothing new about that. But when they try to have a character’s entire body in the shot connecting the CG hands to the hand drawn arms, it’s laughable.
And I didn’t mean to so quickly brush over the rotoscoping in this show, seeing as it’s easily the production’s biggest, most fatal vice. As of episode twenty three, eighty four point seven three percent of all performance sequences, by my own counting, are rotoscoped, and this is not including the two scenes in the show rotoscoped for character animation totally separated from music. Bones’ 20th Anniversary Production, ladies and gentleman, this is it. And if you’re holding onto the hope the few hand-drawn performances are animated by Yutaka Nakamura or something like the legendary Viva All dance sequence from Space☆Dandy, you’re lying to yourself. No, no, no sweet summer child. Don’t you know the second anime original My Hero Academia movie is coming out this year?! They gotta chain that poor, weary soul to a chair so he can animate some more lifeless, mindlessly directed pieces of sakuga littered with speed lines and even off-model frames, for which his genga is getting more and more scribbly. And mind you, the show is well aware the hopeless mice animating the few hand-drawn performance sequences in the show aren’t worth their salt at all, because they only let them do it for the nobody filler characters and let the digital camera do the heavy lifting for the characters who actually matter. Every. Single. Performance. Of Carole and Tuesday, the losers who are supposed to be the main heroines of this god awful excuse for an anime, are fully rotoscoped. I’m not even kidding, and I urge you to go visit the cringe comedy image gallery from this show I’ve personally compiled and posted on my profile because a significant amount of those abhorrent screenshots are from these ROTOSCOPED scenes. Like, Jesus Christ, people, are you not already rotoscoping this?! IS IT THAT HARD TO TRACE A FUCKING PICTURE SOME DIGITAL CAMERA ALREADY DREW FOR YOU, you untalented swine?!?!? And forget the rotoscoping, honestly, because the rest of the show is immeasurably worse. Even having just taken the week off between seasons, they had to delay episode fifteen a week back, no surprise given episode fourteen was one of the ugliest episodes of TV anime I’ve finished in recent memory without dropping the show immediately afterwards, but still utterly disgraceful. The show’s background art is some of the ugliest I’ve ever seen—forget about how generic, choppily colored, blatantly overlapped, and abundantly digital they are—simply because of the fact the characters don’t even look like they belong on said backgrounds at all. There wasn’t a single person animating this farce who knew a single thing about depth of field, so even the endless scenes of our cast of wholly uncharismatic washouts droning on with their conversations look like garbage even though the only thing needing actual animation on screen is their mouth movements since they look like they’re FLOATING ABOVE THEIR SEATS! And god knows the bodily proportions are never even remotely anatomically accurate. I remind you this is Bones’ 20th Anniversary Production, so happy fucking anniversary.
I keep wanting to roll on to my next complaint without elaborating on the sheer depth of each element’s individual failure. Since the show sure didn’t, I’ve got to give some attention to those side characters I mentioned, because everyone outside the main rival is a literal, in context joke. The show is so eager to construct worthless tournament arcs and challenges, but every single artist Carole and Tuesday face off against is a walking meme. The cold open of the show reveals Carole and Tuesday are, indeed, going to become an international phenomenon, but for half the show they’re treated like little babies with no talent, all potential who need to do as they’re told and respect the greats, but they’re being told this by a bunch of old losers out of their prime whilst the only young people on the same level as the girls are, again, ALWAYS blown off as joke characters who were never even a competitor to begin with. I mean, in the one proper tournament arc the show blithers to set up, the initial audition itself displays no one but idiots the judges all unanimously scoff at. You leave the scene wondering why you even watched it, seeing as it set up no potential challengers and only managed to make fun of black people, Indian people, Chinese people, and European people in the span of literally seventy two seconds. I remind you this is the same so-called competition in which our girls really had to give their all against such staunch competition as a trio of black transgender women—or at least male crossdressers—who come on stage only to sing the lyrics, in English, as follows:
-Holy shit, oh fucker.
-Son of a bitch, what the hell?
-Oh, motherfucker, goddamn bullshit, holy shit.
-Oh, holy shit, bullshit, goddamn motherfucker. (Motherfucker.)
-Oh, fucking bastard, goddamn fucking shit. (Oh, fucking shit.)
-Son of a motherfucking bitch. (Oh, shit.)
I’m sorry, but if there’s a joke here, I’m not getting it. I’m not five years old like whatever loser wrote this disgrace, and I’m not going to giggle just because someone says a naughty word, and moreover, HOW DID THESE ASSHOLES EVEN GET PAST THE AUDITION WE JUST SAW WHERE THE JUDGES DISMISSED PEOPLE SEEMINGLY JUST FOR HAVING FOREIGN ACCENTS?!?!??!?
Which is a great segue into this show’s delightful writing, because if you thought this show’s nauseating audio/visual presentation was all it had to worry about, you’ve got another thing coming. The writing behind it all is equally, stupefyingly abysmal.
The character writing is downright infuriating and made me—for lack of a better term—rage quit certain episodes which I had to pause and come back to just to stay calm and away from objects I might’ve hurt myself with. I seriously forgot what it was like to get so vehemently angry at another person. For example, in consideration of Tuesday’s status as a runaway teenager, Carole asks, “Are you okay being on camera?” ARE YOU OKAY BEING ON CAMERA?! Bitch, you FILMED YOURSELVES and uploaded it to the internet to get famous and went out of your own way to make an Instagram account with pictures of both your faces, TAKEN PERSONALLY BY YOU, to attempt to build your fanbase. There is such an overwhelming sea of lines which should be totally nonchalant throwaway piece of dialogue which end up breaking a character or the entire eternal logic of the narrative like a twig. There’s this other time they meet this musical legend guy, and his backstory is he was in love with this other guy, he died, and the future legend consequentially “lost the ability to sing.” He then SUNG SONGS and GOT FAMOUS SINGING, became beloved, and only then did his fans’ support allow him to “find the strength to continue singing.” But you just got famous by singing…RIGHT?! There’s so many lines that contradict themselves, WITHIN themselves. Or like this other, other time when the girls muse over their rival, Angela, having a larger social media presence than themselves, “Ehh!? Look how many follows she has!” What happened to her being famous worldwide—actually no—solar-system-wide as a model before even holding a microphone? Did the show just forget a main character’s backstory, BECAUSE I SURE DIDN’T! Or like this other, other, other time when Gus, Carole & Tuesday’s manager and quote-unquote comic relief character, suddenly starts categorically claiming everyone from Texas—yes, the actual state of Texas in actual America—is populated entirely by wild western cowboys in, I remind you, THE MIDDLE OF THE SPACE AGE. I must say though, as someone from Texas myself, all I could think of whilst first attempting to process the ridiculousness of that scene was, yup, this fat deadbeat cuck whose wife left him for a woman is most certainly from the good ol’ Lone Star State. God, this show made me sick. Or like this other, other, other, other time when Carole, an orphaned refugee, finally gets to meet her father who tracked her down after seeing her on TV after he inserted himself into the story by buying a ticket to Mars, FROM EARTH, after just having got out of his SEVENTEEN YEAR PRISON SENTENCE. Or like this other, other, other, other, other time the squad is brought in by this music guru to…I don’t even know, honestly, but this guy invites them over, and given his enigmatic social perception, Carole decides to ask, “Um, are all those rumors true? Like, that you’ll die if you’re exposed to sunlight?” Good question, except she asks this while THEY’RE STANDING IN A FUCKING AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHAHAHA OH MY GOD A FUCKING GREENHOUSE!!!!
Now, we were about to wind down here, but I must discuss this show’s attempt at theming. At this point, this review has been nothing but taking candy from a baby. This show obviously wasn’t trying, because how on Earth could you ever turn out this product if you were, so my railing on it just came off as being vain. Luckily, the show really tries on a single front, its themes, and while I could’ve spent this time steepening the mountain of scripting flaws from the last paragraph like the fact the character Roddy finds Carole and Tuesday’s exact location from their Instagram in episode two in exactly eighteen seconds documented on screen, remarking how careless they were for not disabling that functionality, yet Tuesday’s mother and brother with infinite funds and a later established information gathering network can’t find their runaway family member for the life of them for five whole episodes, I think taking the time for this is necessary so this review actually has a sense of back and forth. Carole & Tuesday does entertain a disproportionally large number of ideas, but again, it’s all vapid surface level bullshit trying to distract you from the fact anything else your attention could possible fixate on is uglier than roadkill and worse written than Sword Art Online. The one concept they tried to make meaningful, genuinely, was their copy of the Cowboy Bebop universe. For those of you who forgot (or for those of you who haven’t even seen Cowboy Bebop), the Earth has suffered from a cataclysmic event ruining the landscape almost entirely and sending whatever factions of the populace with the means to other planets. But really only Mars, Venus, and the Moon, since technology has advanced that far, but not far enough to leave the solar system. The difference, however, is in Cowboy Bebop the racial denominations left behind on Earth were those you’d realistically expect to have been. They weren’t a specific race or ethnicity, it was just a vague mix of third-world citizens, like Eastern Europeans, Central Asians, Southeast Asians, and Africans who would’ve been too numerous for international powers to reach out to when evacuating the planet in a real world crisis scenario. Ed’s last name wasn’t Williams, or Johnson, or Brown, or Jackson, or Davis, it was Wong Hau Pepelu Tivrusky IV. There’s a reason that name contains a comically ridiculous amount of ancestries, as well as a reason my example names were the Google search results for “most common black last names in America.” It’s because in Carole & Tuesday the people left behind on Earth are SPECIFICALLY—and as far as the show lets us know—EXCLUSIVELY first-world cultured black people. Yes, that’s insurmountably retarded given black people’s relative population spread and resource wealth on the planet in today’s present age—forget the future age of this show—but most importantly this contrivance serves as the foundation to one of the most backwards attempts at sociopolitical thematic commentary in the anime medium. So, Earth is screwed along with its apparently entirely first-world cultured black populace who—and this is real fuckin’ important—the show insists on explicitly calling “refugees” at all times despite its technically incorrect denotative implications, and the stage is thusly set for Valerie Simmons. Valerie is the upstart Martian presidential candidate whose big, bold idea to change the pace of society is to ban any and all “refugees” from Earth from entering Mars under all circumstances since they’re perceived as lower class, under educated, uncivilized, and a general pollution to Martian society, and her supporters are exclusively white skinned, blue eyed, blonde haired people who show their support for Valerie’s campaign and patriotism towards their state by dawning bright red hats with the candidate’s slogan on them—OKAY YOU SEE WHERE THIS IS GOIN’ YET?! Seeing as we’ve already taken the liberty to excuse the dumbass contrivances behind this farce, this should be all fine and dandy until you learn all of Valerie’s blatantly racist and classist political propositions were orchestrated behind the scenes by Jerry, the legendarily infamous political advisor, and Valerie herself actually has a heart of gold, is a strict but ultimately loving mother, and was largely manipulated by Jerry into her current level of corruption. Um, WHAT?! Why instate such astronomically feigned plot devices like asserting all of Mars is united peacefully under a single governing body, use such politically charged and inflammatory labels as “refugees” even when the word isn’t even logically applicable since the migration in question is not involuntary, and paint such racially suggestive portrayals as making one hundred percent of the discriminated blacks targeted exclusively by whites to concoct such a boldfaced Donald Trump parallel only to turn around and assert that very same parallel is a totally upstanding person?! Is Carole & Tuesday trying to tell me the sex offender running my country is actually a totally chill guy I just have the wrong idea of being sat ignorantly behind a TV screen EVEN THOUGH WOMEN HAVE BEEN ACCUSING THE GUY OF TOUCHING THEM SINCE BEFORE HALF THIS SHOW’S VIEWERSHIP WAS EVEN BORN!?!?!?!?!???!?!?
I contemplated censoring my hatred towards this show considerably for this review, seeing as an obtusely negative review may come across as being toxic and bad for the community, but after coming to terms with the fact saying anything other than exactly what I did would’ve been outright dishonest, I realized this was the only way I could’ve gone forward in good conscious. Carole & Tuesday is just that bad and with that few redeeming qualities. The bits and pieces of Watanabe’s personal direction were nice if quaint like the laundry mat scene, but he was Chief Director, which for those of you who don’t know, is effectively an oversight producer who audits the actual directors’ work, so any personally directed scenes from the man himself were few, far between, and hard to appreciate or even identify given just how ugly the show looks on a second to second basis. I honestly don’t blame him at all for distancing himself from the production as much as possible though. MAPPA busted their asses back in 2012 to bring he and Yoko Kanno’s vision to life in Kids on the Slope—talk about actually innovating on and bringing to life rotoscoped artwork and being a show about instrumentation with actually good musical numbers—and seeing the horrendous work Bones was doing this time around probably did little more than kill any and all motivation he could’ve had going in, as it most certainly killed any and all motivation I had to put myself through any one more god damn second of it too.
Thank you for reading, and I’d like to kindly invite you to visit the aforementioned Carole & Tuesday cringe comedy image gallery I’ve posted on my profile. I’m hosting it on catbox dot moe if you’d like the download, but I had to remove the link I had posted here. Speaking of which, shoutout to everyone who reported this review such that the mods had to contact me about censorship and editorial. Thanks for your engagement, if not your love.
The first time we see Carole and Tuesday is two characters with different backgrounds and personalities. It’s easy to get the image of these two girls into your head as the main characters thanks to their contrasting images. Carole has a cool, rebellious type of look while Tuesday is designed with more feminine delicacy and innocence. On-screen, both characters displays a remarkable amount of realism, characteristics that can be easily relatable in our society. First, there’s Carole Stanley, an orphan with keyboard skills and somewhat of a rebellious attitude. Working various part-time jobs, she’s a common type folk you can probably encounter easily on the streets. On the other hand, we also meet Tuesday Simmons, a timid rich girl with talent of singing and the guitar. After running away from home and into the city, it’s where she encounters Tuesday and their incredible journey begins.
This is a character driven story, one that tells what humans can do when they put their minds into making their dreams into a reality. From the start, both Carole and Tuesday display remarkable potential for their skills although with a lack of experience in a professional environment, they need to push themselves. The first few episodes both shows and tells of their character personalities. Carole is the confident one who isn’t afraid to speak of her mind. Tuesday is the timid girl of this pair and for her to work in a professional environment would require commitment and discipline. The character chemistry is surprisingly compatible given their contrasting looks and personalities. Throughout the story, both characters come to learn and understand each other as part of the youth experience. Let’s face it, they’re young and have a long journey of life ahead of them. Making a career in the music industry will probably be one of the biggest challenges in their lives. They’d have overcome the fear of anxiety, build a strong audience, and promote themselves to be world-class superstars. Not to mention, being in public also requires supreme self-confidence, something that Tuesday need to realize and accept. Early in the show, both girls also get into trouble and having to run away to avoid consequences. The truth is that they don’t really know how the adult world works. It’s part of the reality of this show that performs so well. Honestly, the more I watched Carole and Tuesday, the more I felt attached to this anime. There’s even a feeling of nostalgia when you realize how inexperienced both girls are when dealing with adults and this new world they decided to step into. Thanks to their share of love and passion in music, Carole and Tuesday builds a great amount of trust and bond in their relationship.
Thankfully, both characters evolve as they face obstacles. From dealing with the pressure of competition to harassment from a stalking fan, Carole and Tuesday shows that they have what it takes to be in the business. Their personality shows change too as Carole matures into a more sensible person while Tuesday displays a growing confidence in herself. It’s the type of character evolution that makes this anime worth investing into. Growing up is not easy after all in our own society when we have to make decisions ourselves. Carole and Tuesday learns that when making decisions, there’s usually a risk and they have to face the challenge head on. They also have to realize the impact it would make for their lives. Welcome to reality, girls.
Being a music entertainment industry also has its competitive atmosphere. Meet Angela Carpenter, a former child model who wants to make a name for herself in the music business. With strong self-confidence and talent, Angela becomes a foil to the main characters. She exhibits a great deal amount of charisma and comes into industry with a focused sense of commitment. Some of the early comments Angela makes in the show suggests that she wants to truly prove herself although her words often come across as intimidating. In fact, during one of the competitions, she mocks Carole and Tuesday of their music. Even after the competition, Angela doesn’t seem to truly accept Carole and Tuesday as equals or friends. To me, a character like Angela represents the type in anime that protagonists must overcome or at least earn their respect from. She’s a type of realistic character that you may have encountered in your life. Indeed, the anime unravels colorful personalities of different people. It’s the type of personalities that garners an audience and create the sensation of a competitive environment.
Outside of the two main cast, the show does put some value into characters such as Gus Goldman. While he may be overlooked at times, it’s characters like Gus who makes an important asset for Carole and Tuesday. Without him, their careers would not have been possible. Introduced later in the story, Flora is a character that is a source of inspiration for Tuesday. Indeed, music artists are usually influenced by others and it should come across as no surprise that’s also the case in this anime. Unfortunately, the anime doesn’t put enough emphasis on the others such as Cybelle, Dahlia (Angela’s agent), Tao, or even the judges. Most of the contestants are forgettable although it’s easy to say the Mermaid Sisters made an explosive impression when they dropped the F-bomb.
Perhaps the most prominent element in Carole & Tuesday is the music and songs. From the very beginning, the show consistently manages to craft consistency with its soundtracks. With 24 episodes, the show featured many different songs ranging from its OP and ED themes to the various stage performances. I’m not going to list them all but the first album consists of at least 20 different tracks by various musicians. The first OP song “Kiss Me” contains a coming of age feel that brings the reality of characters growing up and is no doubt one of my favorite in the series. When it comes to the character performances on stage, every song artist or group brings their unique talent. The choreography combined with the visual elements is nothing less than spellbinding creativity. Carole and Tuesday’s talent also synchronizes perfectly to bring the best out of each other during their performances.
Honestly, you don’t need to be a music nerd to enjoy Carole & Tuesday. The experience of watching this show can easily be felt by what the staff wanted you to see. They managed to capture the essence of the music industry and make it as real as it can be. And while the show contains plenty of drama, there’s also room for comedy and joy. Music is a source of empowerment that draws people to feel and can even change lives. Carole and Tuesday is a duo with lives connected by their passion and love of music. We can learn more from them in this anime, even if you don’t agree with their choices. Honestly, Carole & Tuesday is so much more than just an anime.
5: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet
English: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet
Japanese: 機動戦士ガンダム THE ORIGIN 前夜 赤い彗星
MAL Score: 8.10
What was the tragedy that decided the fates of Char Aznable, the man later nicknamed the “Red Comet” as an ace pilot of the Zeon forces, and his sister Sayla Mass?
The two siblings’ journeys, brought on by the sudden death of their father Zeon Zum Deikun who was a leader of the Spacenoids, are depicted in the four episodes of “Chronicle of Char and Sayla.”
The Zabi family who seize control of Side 3 and lead the Principality of Zeon, the early days of many renowned Zeon ace pilots who later fight in the One Year War, the secrets of mobile suit development, conflicts with the Earth Federation Forces, and the road leading to the outbreak of war—all will be revealed.
(Source: Official Website)
Note: A re-edited TV version of the six OVAs released from 2015 through 2018.
The animation in this series is literally movie quality. Sunrise dumped a lot of money into the animation because they knew UC fans would eat it up and buy the model kits (They were right). The line work on all of the characters is sharp and consistent, and adeptly adapts Yasuhiko-sensei’s art style. There are a wide variety of backgrounds, all of which are vivid and detailed. All of the mobile suits are done up in conspicuous CG which looks fantastic. It lends these classic MS designs a sense of fierceness and rigidity that could only be inferred due to the soft, bubbly animation of the original anime. The colors used in the animation are somewhat drab, which also keeps The Origin from looking as candy coated as some of the original.
The soundtrack is every bit as grand as the scale of the One Year War. The crisp orchestration expertly conveys the tone of each scene, with infrequent guitars and synthesizers to spice things up. The opening and ending songs added to the TV version are hit or miss for me, some of them put me to sleep but a few left a good impression. I was especially taken with the first ending theme and its powerful refrain, as well as the final opening theme which is a remake of the classic Gundam song “Beyond the Time.” I don’t think I’ll be defaulting to this new version any time soon, but I appreciate that they did remake it to include in this release.
According to Gundam Wiki, The Origin anime adapts volumes 5 to 7 of the manga, with Yasuhiko-sensei on board as the writer to aid in adapting his pages to the screen. It fleshes out the backstory of the One Year War, several characters from the original series, and most of all Char. We see Char’s development from childhood all the way to the beginning of the original Gundam series. I think The Origin honestly does a pretty believable job setting up his character for the most part, but some plot points are needlessly contrived or depict Char doing extravagantly badass things just because he’s Char. However, that did not hinder my enjoyment of it, and I still think this serves as a fine backstory even though it was not written by series creator Yoshiyuki Tomino himself.
Compared to the OVAs, Advent of the Red Comet is a much quicker watch. There are almost 100 minutes of footage from the OVA that have been omitted from the TV version. Add on the fact that the OVA has viewers sit through a cumulative 30 minutes of recaps, and the TV version saves a pretty significant amount of time. The team that recut the OVA did well picking what to omit, because you still receive the entire main plot. The OVAs go out of their way to show tons of little details and character interactions which nearly amount to fan service, so you will miss out on some things watching this version. Being that it follows the main character growing up over so few episodes, the story pace is fairly unique for a TV anime. Finally, the new opening and ending sequences are all nice to look at, with the final opening standing out in my mind as far better than the rest.
So who should watch Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet? I can safely recommend this to any fans of the original Gundam anime or the UC timeline. I might even go so far as to suggest it as an entry point into the franchise to be followed by the original, because the OVA version is loaded with extras that can’t be as fully appreciated without seeing the older series first. If you happen to watch this before the original Gundam then reach out and let me know; I would be very curious what the experience is like.
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin is one of my favorite anime of the decade. It is a prequel done exceptionally well, and it is easily one of the best installments in the franchise. While it did have some stumbles, its growth as an OVA series over the course of its three-year run is one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had with an anime in years. It is one of the most compelling space operas and political anime I’ve seen, and it exemplifies a sense of wonder and charm that few in this franchise can match. As such, you can imagine my worry when this adaptation was expecting a TV re-edit. I knew that no matter what, it would still be a good show and perhaps a more accessible way for certain fans to get into the series, but I also expected it to hinder the material with unfortunate removals and jarring edits. That’s exactly what happened and then some, though that isn’t enough to make this a bad series.
This is going to be a more critical look at how this TV version handles the material, rather than a review of everything we were presented, as I already did that with the review of the OVA which ended last year. As such, this review may sound more negative than the score would imply. The core narrative and feel of Gundam Origin is stellar enough that a good adaptation of such material almost inherently warrants a high rating. It’s just that Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet provides several inconveniences and removals that make this supposedly more accessible rendition serviceable at best.
The first problem this series has is its pacing and how the OVAs and by extension, the manga, were not designed with TV pacing in mind. This is most noticeable in how episodes end, often resulting in cliffhangers that feel limp instead of enticing, as these endings are generally abrupt, resulting in no fanfare or impact. The pacing also highlights how disconnected certain scenes tend to be. Some of it comes down to simple removals and awkward edits like when a scene in episode 5 goes from Char laughing when Garma tries to befriend him to an explosive mock battle that comes out of nowhere. Other instances are simply due to how rushed the pacing of some of the weaker episodes of the OVA –namely 1 and 4– were. Truncating that even further makes the first and fifth episodes of this TV version feel like a series of disconnected scenes happening in rapid succession. Each episode of the OVA had a natural and visible through-line to them, and it sometimes took a while for them to reach their strides. Even when the pacing felt abrupt, it somehow still felt deliberate. It no longer feels deliberate when the true Char Aznable that our protagonist eventually takes the identity of only gets three scenes in episode 4, has an important scene demonstrating the rift between him and his family get cut down heavily, and then dies at the end of that same episode as opposed to having more of a presence in the second OVA episode before dying in the third. It also doesn’t feel deliberate when they further truncate the most rushed plot point in all of Gundam Origin, that being the relationship between Dozle and Zenna from the military academy.
Noticeable cuts include the removal of Amuro’s interaction with his father and some interactions with Frau Bow. However, the one I’m going to be focusing on as it’s one of the more detrimental alterations is the removal of how Astraea’s house arrest was partially motivated by the house owner’s jealousy. We know it was mainly done under Zabi orders but removing this detail while keeping the scene in instead of just altering it to make it solely an act made by the Zabis feels wrong. This makes it so the scene of the owner of the house bitterly reminding Astraea of how her husband sometimes used these chambers for his influential thought feel needless. Knowing where Zeon Zum Daikun, Char’s father, sometimes thought of his speeches wasn’t the important part. What was important was highlighting how Astraea was never an intellectual partner for him and what that meant for both her and the owner who resented her. Chalk this one up to a nitpick but it’s omissions like this and the aforementioned scenes with the original Char that cause the characters to lose some of their vibrancy when the cast of characters was perhaps the most defining aspect of Gundam Origin. The main cast is largely as wonderful as ever but a lot of the side characters a tad hung to dry this time around. It isn’t as egregious as the general pacing and scene sequence issues, but it emphasizes how this version is about rushing to get to the meat of the story regardless of how tactlessly it may do so. Then again, at least it didn’t play a scene twice halfway into episode 3 like Unicorn Re:0096 did when the people involved thought keeping both the end of the first OVA episode and the beginning of the second one was a good idea.
The only things left to cover are the opening and ending themes, as well as a few thoughts regarding the audiovisuals in general. The OVA boasts a fair amount of terrible environmental CGI, so the removal of several scenes for the TV version means the removal of some of said CGI. The rest of the CGI outside of the first episode still ranges from good to downright stellar, with the mechs being particularly great in several instances. The direction is mostly kept intact and along with the crisp animation and expressive character designs, it leaves the series looking gorgeous. The dub retains the same level of quality as the dub of the OVA, so much so that they may have just been ripped straight from that. If not, then the rerecording must have been impressive.
The music is still well-composed, with a few particularly incredible tracks such as the main theme of the OVA and the remix that plays when Char launches into the battle of Loum later into the series. The OPs performed by LUNA SEA are generally good, although visually the first two are nothing more than spoiler-filled montages. The first OP, “Higher and Higher” is easily my least favorite, though things only pick up with the more inspiring second OP, “Hisoubi”, which sports the feeling of a folk tale. The final OP, which is a cover of “Beyond the Time” from the film Char’s Counterattack, is my favorite opening of the year, with a sense of pride and finality matched only by the visuals, which present the current state of affairs with incredible transitions before whisking us away to the original Mobile Suit Gundam from 1979 and returning to the events of this TV edit from 2019. I can’t even begin to do justice to how much this works at celebrating 40 years of Gundam far more than the show itself does. As for the ED themes, almost none of them are particularly worth mentioning in my eyes aside from the colorful visuals in the second ED, as I don’t particularly care for the first two and I only find the third one to be a decent song. The only one I genuinely like is the ED that plays in the final episode, that being a somber song known as “Hikari no Hate” by SUGIZO by Aina The End (BiSH). The final OP and the later EDs provide the only bits of genuinely new content in this show, though since you can simply look them up elsewhere, they don’t necessarily provide much of any real advantage for this version of the series.
I won’t lie when I say I am disappointed with this TV re-edit. That isn’t to say I didn’t enjoy it, especially given how spectacular Gundam Origin tends to be. However, there were times where I was actively bored or annoyed by the handling of certain episodes, which was never the case with the OVA. I expected some of the pacing and editing issues presented here considering they needed to adapt from a more theatrical OVA format to a more controlled and limiting television format. However, even considering that, sometimes this show failed to properly do even that material justice, like with the first and fifth episodes. Certain characters feel particularly left out to dry compared to previous iterations of this story, and the pacing occasionally leaves the show feeling like a series of disconnected sequences. Often times, episodes end without the final scene having any impact or even feeling like a proper conclusion to an episode. It’s even worse when said episodes include a scene that feels like the proper end to an episode occurs long before the actual end, and they work much better than the limp cliffhangers and conclusions the show gives us. On top of that, most of the faster-paced moments and certain plot points that already felt rushed were condensed even further. It leaves the pacing feeling a lot more awkward and disjointed than before. I see no benefit to separating the contents of the episodes in and of itself, but the way they truncated and edited them only puts this version at a further disadvantage.
Some may consider most of these nitpicks, but even then, these issues snowball into a substantially inferior experience. Some may not even notice these faults, however, especially if they haven’t seen the OVA or read the manga. Hell, some may even prefer the more truncated version as it allows for binging or digesting the material at a slower pace of 22 minutes a day compared to 55-95 minutes a day or what have you. It’s their choice, honestly. Even a mediocre retelling of wonderful material still leads to a good show. As for me, I’ll stick to the OVA and begin wondering if manga fans had similar feelings regarding it to what I felt here.
Written and Edited by: CodeBlazeFate
Proofread by: Peregrine
Mobile Suites Gundam: The Origin is first and foremost a powerful human story. It is also a war and politics epic. Of course, at the same time, it is a gundam show.
Char Aznable is a rich character. And Gundam: The Origin shows why. The Origin follows the trajectory of Char’s life from his early youth to the establishment of his fame as the ace pilot of Zeon. Along that trajectory, Char’s life started in one of the most privileged families, then thrown by external forces to the worst bottom, and later climbed back to moments of glory. In his childhood, Char saw his father murdered and had his family torn apart in midst of political intrigues. He had to fend off assassination attempts while in exile. Nevertheless, he grew up intelligent, strong, sensitive, but also bearing a sense of deep hatred. My English is not sufficient to depict the heart-wrenching and absorbing stories of Char’s early life. But Gundam: The Origin is.
Gundam: The Origin takes the care to develop the personalities and growths of Char with as much care in moments of thrill as in mundane details — how he consoles his sister Artesia upon the news of their father’s death when he was barely elder; how he stays firm at the last sight of their mother, when he understood it was the last sight; how he became aggressive with a spy upon hearing his mother’s death. Those moments make you relate and root for Char. And the experience is enhanced by solid voice casting. In that moment Char is angry with a spy, his voice is angry. In the moments Char is calm but also cold, his voice is gentle but aloof and also masculine.
Char is not the only one The Origin excels at depicting and voice casting. Dozle and the Black-Tri sound like the muscular men they are on screen with their coarse voice and swift intonation. Artesia’s voice cast has a nice gradient of pitch change — from childish to mature — as she grew more confident and independent in the series. The Origin offers a cast of characters each with their convictions and vices, virtues and flaws. For example, the monologue of Dozle vowing to protect his wife Zenna, while seemingly lacking in intellectualism in his choice of words, strikes at the core of wars in metaphoric terms. I enjoyed how Kycilia is shown to have conflicting traits — honorable at times, cruel and bloody at times; ruthless and efficient at times, soft and gentle at times. The Origin (and to an extent the original ’79 Gundam series) does not shy away from having characters who are conflicted internally — just as how in real life humans are. The Origin also does not shy away from showing nuances in politics: from Gilren’s zeal to Degwin’s moderation, from riots on the street level to backroom negotiations. From yet a different perspective, in anime terms, Char is shown to be extraordinarily talented yet he does not come off feeling OP in a contrived way. That showcases the strength of the series.
With strengths come relative weaknesses. The character pool of Gundam: The Origin is on the bloated side. Its ties to the seminal Mobile Suite Gundam in 79′ blesses The Origin with an abundance of attention, and with it funding and production quality, but also curses it with unique restrictions. The Origin has to make connections to all major characters in the 79’s Mobile Suite Gundam. The characters on the Federation side, however, are less connected to Char’s early life. They are thus spared less time to develop, which only adds to the feel of disjointedness. The flaws in the 79’s original haunt The Origin. The group of civilians fighting as well as professionals left so big of a plot hole that only proper developments for all of them can do justice. The same can be said of Ramba Ral and Black Tri-star on the Zeon side who in the original were only 2-dimensional mini-bosses for Amuro Ray to practice on. I love what is done. Still, with 13 episodes, The Origin does not have the time to develop them all. And if it did, the disconnect can still remain an issue. Having said all the above, it is a paragraph of equal length to critique the weakness in characters of The Origin as to praise its strength. In actuality, the strengths easily eclipse the weaknesses.
The elephant in the room is, of course, the gundam. Gundam: The Origin is somewhat focused on mechas just like the other gundam series. That is not a vice to me. I think it is ok to assume and accept some elements of fantasy as long as the fictional universe comes with a rule set: in which fantasy elements blend with real world physics and social interactions to create something believable. So I have criticisms in that regard. Since war and mecha make a focal topic, quality and precision is called for. Impractical as they are, I can ignore the (lack of) rationale on having arms, legs, sensors in a “head”, etc on mobile suits. I can ignore the impracticality of directed energy weapons against armored targets (along with their inexplicable colors). I still need other believable elements of warfare in order to not laugh at what is supposed to be a politics and war epic. In other words, realism inspires immersion. There needs to be enough realism to support immersion. In some places, Gundam took particular care with realism in combat and succeeded. In others, not so much. For example, I appreciate the depiction of spaceship turret mechanisms and ammo racks based on battleships of WWII — it later helped to explain why Char is able to take out warships quickly with precision shots. I appreciate the depiction on battle formation — although scant, recon rotation, the effects of Minkowski particles — although also scant, the normal suites, the actions of the auxiliary thrusters, etc. They all played a role in building up the intensity of battles and the sense of realism in operating in space, which is a theme of the series. Nevertheless, certain things are wrong: spaceships do not sink; there is no deflection shooting in space; HEAT warheads need to raise elevation in flight and then drop on to MBTs in order to kill them; accelerating with Zaku does not create airflow in the cockpit; particle cannons do not have recoils; Ortega’s Zaku flies backward relative to thruster direction when killing Revil’s flagship; etc. Most disappointing though is the way the revolutionary strengths of Zaku is foreshadowed. And that’s done by one thing only: [pointing to guncannon, Tem Ray shakingly said] this is not the Mobile Suits of Dr Minkowski! “Boss A is super strong. Because A is 10x stronger than B!” Why? No why. How? No how. So there we are back to kindergarten. _Not_ the politics and war epic we can immerse in.
The real underlying reason is, supposedly, Zaku’s Minovsky reactor has much higher output — both in energy and in the quantities of Minovsky particles produced. (The series should clarify this for itself — not through me.) The thrusters of mobile suits are supposed to use Minkowsky particles. Hence the enhanced mobility. Minovsky particles absorb/deflect radar and other electromagnetic waves. Thus guided weapons are useless in battles of the Gundam world. That explains the kind of warfare we see in Battle of Loum. Shying away from technical details creates serious plot holes. The Origin did spend time on technical aspects of warfare. It just all went to Tem Ray mumbling nothingness. So that is a failure of the series. Also, even after excusing the omission on Minovsky particles, it is not excusable how imprecise AA fires are without explanations and how fighters of the Federation fleet seemed to have done nothing. They resemble plot armor too much and thus hurt immersion. For full disclosure, actions of Federation fighters are cut away in the TV series from the original OVA series.
That brings to the next topic, which is editing. My above complaint with fighter scenes, among with a rare few others, are the only issues with the TV cut. In all other places, the TV cut adds to the fluidity of the series. For example, while Garma can certainly be meek, insecure and driven by emotions at times. He nevertheless was able to follow Char in military academy exams. Garma is shown by the series to have true abilities and he works hard for it. I am glad the TV version cut away the numerous flicking hair scenes of Garma. Being superficial and infantile to such an extent would undermine the narrative with Garma. So the TV version did away with them. Along with other edits, the cuts propelled the series to a different level.
A quick note on sound. I watched the series through Crunchyroll. And boi that site sucks in so many ways. (I pay a yearly subscription so I have the right to complain.) It completely butchers the audio track. For example, remember episode 10 when Char heads out with his Zaku? (Ignore his waving clothes, ofc. That’s silly.) The drum beat sounds like a toddler’s murmur with the Crunchyroll version. If you just came from Crunchyroll, you probably didn’t know there are drum beats. With that in mind, I have found the BGM in Gundam: The Origin mediocre. By all means, I have no quarrel with Takayuki Hattori’s compositions. To the contrary, I revere him as a composer. I particularly enjoy the use of brass in the series’ compositions. Brass, along with other orchestral instruments, sound.. a bit old… but in a good way that adds to the feel of politics and war epic and it feels like a nod to the series’ long and lasting history. What I do have complain with is that the soundtracks do not seem to organically interact with the scenes much. Without access to the alternative, I am really not sure if Crunchyroll is the only one to blame.
All in all, I loved the series. I loved the human stories. I enjoyed the sense of scale. I liked the subtleties that the series did not shy away from depicting — be it in personalities, in politics or in warfare. Although it being a war focused series, I do wish for more attention to details in combat and warfare. If only The Origin can continue into an alternate version of the original Mobile Suit Gundam in ’79.
To Gundam haters: this series is worth your time. With a bit of open mind and willingness judge a series by its content, you won’t find the feature of mechas a burden. To Gundam fans: re-joice, Gundam: The Origin is a treat. More likely than not you will find it the best Gundam series — and I say that with classics like 08th in mind. Gundam: The Origin brings new depths to the whole UC universe. Enjoy the show.
4: Kanata no Astra
English: Astra Lost in Space
MAL Score: 8.12
In the year 2063, space travel is feasible and commercially available. As the cheerful Aries Spring arrives at the spaceport to attend a camp on the distant planet McPa, her purse is suddenly snatched by a reckless thief. Luckily, the athletic Kanata Hoshijima is able to retrieve it for her, and Aries soon discovers that he is among the group of teenagers who will be traveling with her on the excursion as team B-5.
Upon arriving at their campsite, the group’s trip takes a turn for the worse when a strange sphere of black light sucks them into the vast reaches of outer space. Stranded with seemingly no hope, they find an abandoned ship nearby that provides them with the means to return home. However, they soon discover that they are not as close to their campsite as they initially thought, but are in fact thousands of light-years away from home.
With this realization, the nine members must cautiously manage their resources, maintain their strength, and unite as one to conquer the darkness of space together. While the reason behind their trip’s sudden obstruction remains unknown, they nevertheless embark on the treacherous voyage back home aboard their new ship, the Astra.
The first two minutes of Astra: Lost in Space are by far the best in the entire show.
A girl floats helplessly in deep space, spinning in circles at a nauseating speed. Nothing is in sight aside for hundreds upon thousands of blinding stars streaming across pitch-black space. The execution is amazing; it is tense, the fear written across the girl’s face makes you feel a genuine sense of danger. Those two minutes hooked me. Suddenly, a hand reaches out from dizzying light. Then the only exceptional scene in the show ended. Astra could have been a great sci-fi thriller, if only they hadn’t made every possible mistake when writing science fiction. It’s surprising that so few people have pointed out the obvious plot holes, leaps in logic, retcons, contrivances, and lazy writing.
Kanata no Astra could have been written in one of two ways: They could have made it a realistic survival story and focused on the characters’ struggle to work together as a team. Or it could have been a fun comedy/slice-of-life with hints of romance. Both could work together with moderation—but unfortunately, the writers did not know this. Instead, the story is a hackneyed blend of each with disastrous tonal issues and stupidly hamfisted writing. My hopes for a tense survival story were crushed within an episode; NO ONE IS EVER IN DANGER. Everyone has plot armor, everyone. At the start, all of the characters are sent to deep space by a wormhole, yet they are all unharmed. Friendship and plot conveniences are all these kids need to survive alone in deep space. There’s always an implication of danger, whether it be a group member getting separated, or a heated argument—but Astra never takes it too far. It is always clear that everyone will always be safe, draining all tension from the show. There is only ONE time when someone is physically harmed, but it only happens because of their stupidity, undercutting the potential shock factor the scene wanted to have.
Astra knows how to raise the stakes, and it’s so frustrating because it chooses not to. At the start, the crew is worried about starving to death due to limited food/storage space. The premise is great, they need to fly to each planet to collect resources. Somehow food shortage is never an issue for the crew, they always seem to have an abundance of food or just enough. Establishing that the ship has limited space leads us to think there might be a shortage, causing conflict later on, however this never happens. Why did the writers point this out? To make you think there would be stakes when in truth they were never there. There are other avenues for tension in the show, all of which are written horribly. Whenever the group becomes suspicious of a traitor in their midst, they fight for about a minute at most. Aries just suggests they have a snacktime to forget about any issues the group is facing at the moment, and everyone always goes along with it. Afraid that one of your friends might kill you in your sleep? Snacktime~! Occasionally I appreciated how braindead Aries was; she added some levity among the awful writing, but I won’t confuse so-bad-it’s-good for truly good entertainment.
Nearly every episode begins with a major tonal shift. They all have a very similar formula: a life-threatening crisis in the previous episode followed by a drastic shift to the crew being excited to explore a new planet. As if they forgot the last one they explored ‘nearly’ killed them, they always make the same naive mistake. They have a fun time on each new planet (at first). It’s all so goddamn predictable. You know if they have fun on an alien planet, they’re more likely to be in danger. The comedy is very trite and unfunny because the whole cast is very archetypal, they have next to no chemistry with each other. Rinse, repeat. In an attempt to fix the monotonous planet-of-the-week plot, traitors are added at random with increasingly baffling reasons. From the second episode, the cracks were already showing; everyone who knew this train was about to derail prepared themselves, and it never stopped flying off the rails (I will analyze the downward spiral later on). Making the awful plotting worse is the adaptation’s rushed pacing, each episode has at least on montage to bridge each chapter. Sometimes (especially in the second half) the chapter will change mid-episode; rather than developing their friendships they skip straight to the part when everyone is friends.
The character designs are so generic, as are all of their archetypal personalities. Even Kanata, the character with the most development can be summed up with two words, hero complex. For the female characters, after they get a development episode, they’re relegated to fanservice vehicles. Surprisingly there is a boatload of fanservice; the girls have pretty huge tits and the directing suffers from what I call “talking boob syndrome”. The camera awkwardly fixates on a girl’s breasts as she speaks, then it slowly pans up to her face. It’s bizarre seeing so much blatant pandering in a supposed space exploration story. Fanservice first, humanized character second. With colorful art but lackluster design, it’s understandable why people weren’t all that interested in Astra initially. The CGI spaceship that looks hilariously stupid without the whooshing plane stock sound effects. Now and then, there is one truly song that builds tension excellently, until you realize what you’re seeing play out is pretty dumb. Otherwise, the production offers nothing noteworthy, no sakuga, forgettable OP/ED, decent voice work, boring directing.
If you like being treated like an idiot, Astra will not disappoint you. Letterboxing during scenes taking place in the past, name tags used to introduce the cast. Astra takes place in a futuristic society because that’s when the writers decided kids can go to space camp commercially. All of the world-building comes from lazy exposition dumps too. And that lazy writing extends to the dialogue as well. Rather than giving dialogue relevant to each character, one or two are picked at random to narrate exactly what is happening. We have eyes, we can see for ourselves. It’s an excuse Astra frequently to give characters lines so that we don’t forget about them. Along with this, characters get to make really bad jokes and say pointless comments to let us know they still exist. Individually these seem like minor issues, but to me when there are so many of them I can’t ignore it. This show is targeted at the same age range as the cast of kids, however, kids are young, not morons.
There is a lot of mystery baiting in this show. They kept piling one mystery onto the next as if they forgot about the previous one right away. It worked to keep me interested. First, they don’t know where the wormhole came from, then there’s a traitor! I’ll give credit where it’s due, Astra always escalates its twists. The mysteries become increasingly illogical, making the rest of the story seem stupider in retrospect, but at least it wasn’t boring. Before getting into the spoilers, this is your only chance to learn the singular defining trait of the nine characters.
Kanata: He can get his way out of any situation. He is a decathlete, or in other words a superhero, dark past and all. Like I said before, hero complex the character.
Aries: Braindead. I hoped there was some twist to explain why she was so stupid, but there isn’t. She really is that dumb. She needs to be told that she is in love before she realizes it herself. But she has a photographic memory so it’s ok. That’ll probably be a relevant detail in at least one scene.
Zack: 200 IQ Genius… or so he says. Other than that his personality is equivalent to a box of rocks. I’m going to mention him a ton because he’s essentially a walking plot device.
Quitterie: Her character arc peaks in episode 3, afterward she… offers some supportive comments and occupy space in the background. Rather than passively commenting on things, she yells and screams annoyingly.
Ulgar: He’s edgy, antisocial, and he’s got a gun.
Charce: A man with secrets… He’s a traitor, no a double agent, no! A triple agent!!
Yunhua: “Um I’m not good at anything, sorry.” *Cuts hair* “My depression is cured!”
Funicia: Cinnamon roll that does nothing. Who needs character development when you can emotionally manipulate the audience? She has a creepy hand puppet for some reason… Quitterie’s adopted sister.
Luca: A man who looks like a girl, but secretly has tits.
*Analysis of each episode*
1st Episode: Group of nine kids go to space camp, then they are eaten by a wormhole and sent into deep space! The whole plot is predicated wormholes that can appear at the press of a button. Somehow the first wormhole just stays still until everyone begins panicking. Even if we believe wormholes can appear anywhere, it shouldn’t be able to change speed as if it can think. Once they get to space, they find a spaceship! This is never explained, ever! Somehow Zack knows they are 5,000 miles away. No one questions this because haven’t you heard? This kid has 200 IQ!
2nd Episode: Funicia (the toddler on the team) is separated from the group because of her stupidity, then Kanata has to save her with superhuman strength. We have no reason to care, so we get some development moments before the drama. The kid was an orphan rejected by her sister, how sad, but this adds nothing to her character. She loves her sister anyways, all sugar and no spice. Then she’s suddenly in danger! A little girl in danger is what evokes shock and fear in the viewer, no development necessary! Emotional manipulation at its finest. Later on Zack makes a food flavor measuring device at some point, I don’t think I need to explain how stupid this is. At the end of the second episode, it was revealed that someone destroyed the communication device that already didn’t work, and so now there is kind of a witch hunt for the traitor.
3rd Episode: “So one of us is a traitor? Let’s have snacks!!” Then everyone miraculously forgets about the traitor mystery, and just like that, we’re all back to normal. Except! A bird comes out of absolutely nowhere, and if they don’t stop it they will all die! This is the tension this episode hinges on, caused by an unexplained plot contrivance, and it resolves anticlimactically. Ultimately, Zack didn’t realize he was flying too close to the planet, which led to the danger in the first place. Zack is a supergenius, and with his big brain, he managed to put the ship into a planet’s orbit while enjoying snacks and fighting with the crew. By the time he realized this idiotic mistake the ship only had nine minutes before it would crash land on the planet’s surface. THIS GUY IS A TRAINED SPACE PILOT. How the hell does anyone believe this crap?
4th Episode: On the next planet-of-the-week, the group had fun riding chocobos and shitting on Yunhua, the emo girl. She is fat-shamed, called ugly, useless, and she contributes nothing but brooding angst. Then she runs away, leaving a scribbled goodbye note, which forced everyone to go look for her. Suddenly a giant plant releases spores that cause a slow death. Thankfully they’re all wearing their spacesuits—except they aren’t. Even though they wore protection the first time they explored the planet, all of them chose to go out onto outside totally vulnerable. Genius.
Kanata discovers that the poisoning can be cured by magic mushrooms. So to find them he comes up with a brilliant plan. He takes off his helmet and poisons himself. Of course, the plant only reveals itself to those who need it… At this point, I was far past the point where I could take this show seriously. I couldn’t tell if Astra was trying to be Sci-Fi or some kind of spiritual fantasy. Eventually, the whole cast almost died, but Yunhua saved them… by singing? Well, not really, Kanata saved the day again. So Yunhua nearly got them all killed than did nothing but sit around and sing… I would have sung too if the show ended right there. This is the last time she is ‘relevant’ in the plot—if you can even call it that.
5th Episode: Beach episode, IN SPACE! Rom-com shenanigans start here to fill time, it goes nowhere interesting, at least this episode shows us what’s happening back on their home planet. Under two months and a majority of the parents (including a politician) agreed to declare their kids as deceased. Even Aries’ mother who’s against their plan just gives in easily. It takes 10 years for missing people to be declared dead in the US. It is baffling to think this didn’t raise red flags with anyone on their home planet. 50 days people!
“If there’s a traitor I don’t know who it could be!” -Luca
*Ulgar points a gun at his head*
6th Episode: Luca revealed he is intersex to prevent Ulgar from killing him, alrighty then. This twist got me interested in Luca, you don’t see representation like this every day. Unfortunately, like any character development, it is surface level and forgotten immediately after the episode. Ulgar reveals his backstory, which makes the adult characters seem even more like cartoon villains. Right after he’s done, a tsunami hits, it’s so blatantly contrived to strengthen their bonds. They (of course) survive, cue montage with rom-com shenanigans between Ulgar and Luca, ok I’m tired of this episode already.
7th Episode: Charce confesses his true identity, which we later find out is entirely fabricated. The only purpose of the flashback to Charce’s (fake) past was to fill half the episode runtime and make it extra shocking when he reveals his true identity. The second half sees the cast crash land on a desolate planet, they bitch and moan about being trapped forever. Aboard the ship is only one cryosleep pod per spaceship containing a woman. Even though the spaceships accommodate ten or so people, all of them only have one cryosleep chamber… Yep, makes sense to me.
8th Episode: Nothing noteworthy happened in this episode, lots of filler. At the end of the episode, it’s revealed Funicia and Quitterie are clones because luckily the ship has a DNA testing mechanism. Quitterie and Funicia look identical! But no one has commented on it up until now. Not even Quitterie considered they might be related.
9th Episode: This is where Astra jumps the shark. It is revealed that all of the kids are clones of their parents. There a law passed on their planet to prevent cloning, so the parents sent the kids to space to die. This explains a few things, like why they were sent to deep space and the evilness of the parents, but it creates more questions. If this planet has such a large clone problem that they need a law for it, this shouldn’t be the first time we’re hearing the word clone. Did you want to think about the implications of this twist? Too bad! Here’s another one! The kids are not from Earth, apparently, but another planet called Astra. This is also the name of their spaceship, yet no one commented on it beforehand.
10th Episode: The woman who they coincidentally found alive on a random planet (god knows how she got there) happened to be an info dispenser! She revealed that the artificial wormhole was created to emigrate from Earth to Astra after it had been struck by a meteor. Thousands of wormholes were used to safely move the entire population to a new planet… but this brings up an important question. If Earth had this kind of technological capability, why couldn’t they just open one big wormhole to send the meteor into deep space? She offhandedly mentioned that this was probably the reason why they found a spaceship. It is never explained why the kids appeared right next to the ship, the Earth’s circumference is 25 thousand miles, there is no logical explanation for this coincidence, it’s just another gaping plot hole. Moreover, guns were banned and religion was abolished. As long as there is pain, suffering, and death, religion and the belief in God will never disappear, to think otherwise is unbelievably braindead. God, I hate this show.
Later on, Kanata discusses who the traitor is with Aries (offscreen), she uses her photographic memory to see Charce was the one who activated the first wormhole. Then the entire group does a bait and switch, trapping Charce into a confession. It would have been a clever twist, but we were shown none of the buildups. Somehow all of them knew Charce was the traitor. The show left out tons of information for no reason other than surprising us.
11th Episode: Charce recounted his life as a clone of a king and his destiny, emotionally abused all his life. Once the anti-clone law was created, he was sent to kill all of the space camp clones and die with them. Why did he choose to carry out the king’s orders? How did the king become involved with the evil parents? Why does a medieval kingdom exist in a communist futuristic society? The king forced his daughter Seria to be cloned too, she refused but he did so against her will. She named her clone Aries because of course, she did. After Aries escaped with a surrogate mother, Seria refused again to be cloned. For some reason, the king just didn’t clone her again. I have no fucking clue why Charce made up the story that Seria was his childhood friend in episode seven, there was no reason whatsoever. Charce said that he only kept everyone alive to save Aries, yet he let her get absorbed by the wormhole on the first planet…
*Kanata raises his arm towards wormhole to protect Charce*
“Stay back or else!”
*Wormhole eats arm*
“AHH, MY ARM!!”
12th Episode: In the end, the kids spend a lot of time crying and then they go back home. There is a very long montage of mostly Kanata getting awards, a new arm, and another spaceship. The ending is everything you expect, overly optimistic, and anticlimactic. The kids become celebrities; billboard models, commercial actors, world-renowned performers, and heroes to be interviewed by News channels. Everyone gets a Hollywood style logic bending happy ending shown in rushed as hell montages. Finale done. Roll credits. Cue the applause and tears. Thank you and goodnight.
Kanata no Astra falls victim to one big misconception I’ve noticed in anime. The belief that anime made for a younger audience must be dumbed down. Kids are young, not stupid. This is show is incredibly cliched, generic, and filled with lazy writing. Any ‘development’ the characters had was predictable, simplistic, and all of it was contrived. All of them were defined by candy-colored hair and their struggle to be edgier, stupider, or louder than each other. Initially, I was excited to see what direction it would take… at least I can’t say I wasn’t entertained. Astra: Lost in Space is like watching a garbage truck crash and burn, the awful stench will linger as it lowers the community’s expectations for what a good Sci-fi mystery is.
Kanata no Astra (Kanata: Lost in Space) is set in a time when the aforementioned things have become possible. Science has advanced so much that teenagers are going to other planets simply as a mundane school trip. A group of high-schoolers from such a futuristic world are visiting a nearby planet called McPa as a camp. Of course though, after arriving on planet McPa, things don’t go as planned for them as they’re sucked into a mysterious black orb that transports them into space but luckily for them, they somehow manage to find an abandoned spaceship in the middle of outer space. The spaceship would then become their means of travel as they jump from one planet to another in hopes of surviving and getting back to their home planet together.
What Kanata no Astra excels at is showing us the raw emotions of teenagers as they battle their way through the harsh conditions of the various planets that they stop by on their way. The feelings of hopelessness, betrayal, anger, joy and relief are portrayed extremely realistically amongst the characters. Add in a bit of drama around the circumstances surrounding their situation and you’ve got a highly entertaining anime that’s so underrated that it hurts.
The endless depths of space can be daunting and that’s exactly what Kanata no Astra tries to present to its viewers. As the characters begin to overcome this fear, new predicaments emerge. The mystery about the black orb that got them there, the lack of trust between them as well as the different problems that they face through their journey binds the characters and develops them into a team capable of surviving in space on their own.
One of the best things that Kanata no Astra has done is developed each and every one of the crew. They’ve all gotten mini-arcs of sorts where they’re faced with problems of their own and begin to realize what they truly are and their reason for existing. The execution of this is impressive because these arcs don’t just start and end in an episode or two; they have their time to take shape. The face of the show is most certainly Kanata Hoshijima, the titular character however. He’s first introduced as a cheerful character who’ll do almost anything to help others even if they might not want it. This is a reason of annoyance for a few, but as they get to know him and his past better, they begin to support him for what he’s done for them. Then we have Aries Spring, the secondary protagonist and a girl whose stolen purse is retrieved by Kanata in the first episode. They instantly strike up as they’re both caring and cheerful as well as selfless.
Next we have Quitterie Raffaeli, the irritable blonde whose outspoken nature doesn’t allow her to make too many friends, and Zack Walker, one of Quitterie’s only friends at the beginning who’s a genius at almost everything he does. His calm demeanor in the face of hopelessness manages to save the crew more times than one. The rest of the cast includes Charce Lacroix, the charismatic and dependable guy, Ulgar Zweig, the quiet one who’s at odds with everyone else because of his ill-tempered nature, Yunhua Lu, an extremely shy girl who thinks she’s the source of everyone’s problems, Luca Esposito and Quitterie’s adopted younger sister, Funicia Raffaeli. The way all these youngsters deal with their personal problems and change in order to work together is the central narrative of the show.
Now, having spoken so positively about the show, there are a couple elements that do cause an issue. Firstly, the pacing in the second half of the show feels rushed. I wasn’t aware that the source was completed so I didn’t actually think that this series would reach its conclusion in just 12 episodes. Granted, it’s more akin to 14 episodes since the first and the last episode both are an hour long. Still though, the part towards the end did feel slightly rushed as even until episode 9, I still felt that there could be a lot of content remaining. The second issue could be a sort of spoiler so I’ll only say that this series won’t make you “sad”.
The art and animation of the show are both impressive. The characters have pretty distinctive designs and the scenes with outer space and the different planets are all drawn beautifully. The animation is fairly fluid, and I didn’t find myself complaining about it in any of the 12 episodes. The soundtrack is pretty unremarkable to be honest although the voice acting is on point. As I’ve mentioned a few times in this review, this show depends upon character emotions and their interactions, and the Voice Actors do a pretty good job in both of these aspects.
I’d certainly recommend this show and would encourage you to give it a try. It’s got an extended first episode of 48 minutes and that’d probably be enough for you to check if you’d like it or not. For me, I immensely enjoyed Kanata no Astra and certainly would’ve liked for it to have a few more episodes.
It’s not too often these days when we get an anime adaptation based on a manga that have already been completed. Mangaka Kenta Shinohara (best known for his work with Sket Dance) began the series in 2016 as part of the Shounen Jump+ lineup. The series itself was not very popular but did eventually win the price of the 12th Manga Tashiou award. Consisting of 5 volumes, it seems a single cour adaptation of 12 episodes would make this run smooth. Or does it?
Actually, the first episode premiere is a 1 hour long special and makes a strong impression to showcase the premise of the story. We meet a group of students from Caird High School before they soon get caught by a mysterious entity. The conflict evolves as these students are tossed into an unknown orbit and they resolve to return home. Along the way, you can expect this journey to bring together a lot of survival themes, character bonding, and startling revelations. But from the beginning, it’s also important to establish the principal cast. That’s why we have Kanata Hoshijima, the main male protagonist and captain of the Astra vessel. With a strong head attitude and determination, he stands as a capable leader with a dream of exploring the universe. What draws audience into his character also relies on how he can command his crew and achieve his goal. It seems every episode, the show tests the crew to tackle new challenges like an open world game. In essence, the show itself deals with space exploration while getting the audience to understand its characters.
The remaining crew members consists of a balanced range of personalities. Among them is Aries Spring, the airheaded pinkhead who brings in a peculiar curiosity. Now, you’d think a show like this may feel depressing at times because of the premise. However, Aries brings together a sense of cherry energy and hope for the crew. She’s essentially the type that anyone can get along with. This is contrast to cooler and more levelheaded characters such as Ulgar Zweig or Zack Walker. Others such as Charce Lacroix and Yun-Hua Lu sparks a great interest in their characters because of their background stories and origins. The only characters that feels less exciting are the Raffaelli siblings. You can be the judge but to me, both of these girls brings little value to the overall story. If you remove either one, there’s little loss to brood over. That being said, I do think the cast is well balanced. As the space adventure venture deeper into the depths of the universe, there’s evident character bonding with great importance.
In fact, character bonds is one of the most important elements in this show. In later episodes, Kanata realizes what the crew has in common about their parents. It’s a sad revelation and in truth, there’s many other secrets hidden from the crew and audience. While the show is not a mystery, it definitely sparks curiosity for the audience to see what will be discovered. Each planet they encounter puts their lives at risk as they venture into the unknown. Thankfully, the show keeps its space adventure refreshing as the crew encounters a colorful amount of planets. There are planets with strange wildlife such as Vilavurs, Shummoor with its otherworldly plants, or even a paradise with beaches such as Arispade. Hell, the show is very open to its exploration content that it sometimes feels like playing a video game. It feels immersive as if you’re there with the crew. If you played games like No Man’s Sky before, this may trigger some familiarity.
Thankfully, the anime has its own main story that runs much deeper than just the crew returning to their home. A word of warning though. Be prepared for character drama. There’s an unsettling amount of them that builds more and more with each episode. Some characters even begins to show their true colors. An elephant in the room also remains with the fact the true gender of Luca Esposito. It may not a big deal for some people but I can easily bet that the character can be somewhat a source of controversy. And finally, do be aware that the show retains a degree of realism despite all the sci-fi elements. When we meet Paulina Levinskaya later in the story, she reveals how fragile lives can be as the only survivor of her crew. It brings together the question if these students may or may not end up in her situation. I mean, the chances of death in this show is quite real considering all the factors. But unlike a video game, these characters only have one life and there’s no chance to restart over.
Lerche as a studio takes on Kanata no Astra as their first project with major sci-fi elements. Combining with the story about space exploration, there’s actually a lot to expect when you see the facts. One of the more noticeable visual context is the letterbox format that makes each episode run like a mini-movie. This is especially true for the first episode that feels more like watching a movie than your standard television. Visually, it works for this particular show as it highlights the videographic imagery of the backgrounds. There’s a lot of open world planets and this format makes them stand out with stunning effects. The alien planets shows a great deal of colorful variety and I applaud the staff for giving each of them a form of uniqueness. Character designs are also molded with care similar to the manga. Finally, I’m surprised at how much human expressions are shown throughout the show. With the harsh and dangerous journey, there’s many signs of character struggles that are shown in the faces of the cast.
Kanata no Astra is a show that I believe can be described as a ‘dark horse’ of the year. It didn’t get mainstream attention compared to some other anime but manages to capture what science fiction is about. With its sci-fi elements and odyssey of obstacles, every episode brings something new to the table. Even if you’re not a big fan of character drama, the show still works together as a fictional adventure. Did I mention, it’s one that is complete without worrying about a ‘what if’ ending? See, that’s the beauty of a show based on a complete manga. And as a space adventure, you can believe this anime is the real deal.
3: Senki Zesshou Symphogear XV
MAL Score: 8.19
Humanity is finally confronted with the threat of the Custodians—the ancient, sentient species held responsible for cursing humanity to speak different languages thousands of years ago. The Symphogear wielders—Hibiki Tachibana, Tsubasa Kazanari, Chris Yukine, Maria Cadenzavna Eve, Kirika Akatsuki, and Shirabe Tsukuyomi—are sent to the Antarctic in order to retrieve an ancient relic. After securing it and rescuing the scientific staff present there from a Coffin, the automated defense mechanism protecting it, the relic is given to American researchers due to international agreements.
The criminal organization Noble Red, a remnant of the previously fought Bavarian Illuminati, starts targeting the relic. Will the Symphogear wielders and their supporting organization S.O.N.G. be able to foil the plans of the organizations conspiring against them?
Meteoroid falling, burning, and disappear, then…
In the distance, that day when the star became music…
Believe in justice and hold a determination to fist.
By shedding many tears, the reality you face is
Create a history, with a light God could not know.
What is Symphogear? For the longest time I’ve never bothered engaging myself in this franchise. I never understood what is was, and I was naturally repulsed by all things mecha. Now that the series is having its final season and its a dry season, I decided to finally give in and give Symphogear a try from the very beginning.
I wondered how have I missed out on the Anime of the Decade all these years.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect watching the very first episode knowing absolutely nothing about the franchise. The show toyed with my emotions so much in that opening setpiece. When Kanade bit it I thought would be a grimdark Madoka ripoff ended up being one of the most life-affirming shows out there. A stunning display of idiocy and action that is both charming and captivating. It’s confident in its strengths and parades its weaknesses proudly, a show that is both all style and all substance.
But most of all, it’s a true roller coaster of emotions, and I don’t use that term lightly. I laughed, I cried, I got frustrated at the ineptitude and stupidity of both the characters and the creators, but most of all, I loved. When the curse of Balal fell in place, songs still managed to bridge that gap and connect us all together.
The one emotion the series never fails to deliver is Hype. The surge of adrenaline and endorphins and all those chemicals in your brain whenever something awesome is happening onscreen is a rare treat in most other anime, but a constant occurrence in this series. The hype does occasionally fail to deliver, the heightened expectations can sometimes be too much, but still, when you hear Hibiki scream DATOSHITEMOOOOOO, you know she means business and join her in song.
And those songs are precisely what keeps Symphogear in the minds of many all this while. I’m not an idol anime person, I despise most idol anime and yet. And yet. The moment I hard Gyakko no Flugel for the first time right there on the idol concert, I was enthralled. I knew that regardless of how the series turned out, it would have great music. Covering many genres, the series has a diverse palette of songs ranging from Hibiki’s celtic rock to Tsubasa’s enka-inspired tracks, there’s no shortage of variety. Yes there are songs that don’t work well, but the ones that resonate far outweigh the occasional crap Ignite remix or whatever. XV is no exception to this, and, this is a rarity coming from me with regards to this series, but I actually fully enjoyed the OPs AND the EDs this time round.
The plot and story are fairly typical, but they feel like they belong in a JRPG. Every beat you’d expect is there, mini boss, dungeons, rivals, all those stuff. It’s not particularly fantastic, but it works well. Not surprising seeing as Kaneko was a JRPG writer.
More specifically for XV, XV is mainly about redemption. Not just about the characters, but also in a meta sense. I certainly have had my gripes with GX and AXZ being particularly weak, but XV comes along and somehow redeems them both in my eyes and I just can’t hate them anymore.
Symphogear has to be taken in as a complete package. It truly is more than the sum of its parts. Looking back, yes I can agree on all the flaws (some major) the series has had. Yet in spite of it all, across 7 years and 5 seasons. It’s why I ultimately decided in awarding it with one of my rare 9s. Something this special, this inspirational, this long-lasting is truly an experience to behold. For better for worse, it is the definitive anime that represents the 2010s. It may not have ended in the way I wanted, and it may not have that one kiss I was looking for, but it filled the hole in my heart, and with it ending, the gaping wound in my soul may never heal.
Maybe, for now at least, I can say that the series ended with dignity. It wasn’t perverted into a zombie franchise like Madoka or Fate, nor did it stumble hard in its final moments and is struggling to reclaim its past glory like Nanoha. It has its shortcomings, but thinking back, the journey to the end has been a satisfying romp throughout.
So what is Symphogear? It is a mecha-mahou shoujo-idol hybrid anime. It is Mizuki Nana’s autobiography. It is an anime about fisting. It is 5 seasons and 7 years long and has captivated the hearts of many.
But most importantly, it is Believing in the Song of your Heart.
Symphogear is a series that’s not for everyone. In the words of ANN’s Nick Creamer, it’s “a singing idol mecha yuri romcom battle melodrama with JoJo’s sense of irreverence and a lot of fanservice,” and that amalgamation is no doubt going to scare some people off. But considering that this is a review of the show’s fifth season, I’m assuming that everyone reading doesn’t need to be convinced that this combination is actually the coolest thing ever. And given that, rather than asking how Symphogear compares to other anime, I think the more important question is how XV stacks up against the other seasons of Symphogear.
So then, what are the makings of a good Symphogear season? Through careful research, I’ve narrowed it down to three factors: coolness, escalation, and gayness. As a series, Symphogear is constantly punching past the limits of its internal plausibility, and it gets away with it because it does so confidently and with style. And somehow, it manages to continue to top itself with each consecutive season. And most importantly, it does all this without ever losing sight of its emotional core. I think the best seasons of this show are the ones that have maximized these elements, so let’s see how XV compares.
In regards to our first criterion, Symphogear has never been cooler. XV is the final season of this franchise, and the Symphogear Project team didn’t pull any of their punches to make sure that it got the ending it deserved. There’s a tangible passion behind every moment; the transformation and fight scenes are the franchise’s best, and basically every other episode was stunning enough to be the finale of a lesser show. What’s more, there’s a lot of fanservice in the form of callbacks to favorite characters from previous seasons, which helps to cement that this really is the end.
Managing escalation can be difficult after five seasons. It’s important to continue to raise the stakes so that there’s still tension as to whether our heroes can prevail, but after you’ve already punched God, it’s really hard to do that without moving too far into the realm of abstraction. Fortunately, XV’s writers understand that even when it seems like you’ve reached the top, it’s still possible to escalate past that by changing the focus to more personal conflicts. Like sure, the fate of the world is on the line again this season, but Hibiki is fighting to save something far more important: her wife.
Through all of the twists and turns that this series has gone through, the one constant has always been the bond between Hibiki and Miku. Despite that, Miku has far too often been relegated to the sidelines in past seasons, so I’m glad that the final season was created with this relationship at its core. These two have been through too much over the course of this series, and I hope they’ll have the chance to be happy together after everything is over. They’re so soft.
So Symphogear XV succeeds in all of the criteria I put out at the beginning of what constitutes a good Symphogear, but honestly, those are all arbitrary and don’t really matter. I could spend the rest of my life identifying factors and trying to explain why those are what make Symphogear work, but I think its essence is one that ultimately escapes explanation. It’s not a perfect series, but it’s one that is always unabashedly itself, and at max volume. It’s brought so much joy to both fans and staff alike, and though I’m sad to see it go, I’m also so happy that it even existed in the first place. Symphogear will always be special.
That phrase, every time I hear that damn phrase in hibiki’s annoying voice I just wanna take a gun load it with explosive bullets and shoot myself. After torturing myself through 65 episodes it finally comes to an end. It should be obvious I am not a fan of this series. With that said I do think this is the best season yet.
However it’s still by no means a good series. Throughout all the bs plot devices and cringy twists that they throw at you that seem to come out of nowhere it’s hard to find anything good in this series. I will say the music is good, and the transformation scenes are amazing to watch and fun as hell. One of the main reasons I did not like this series or any of the series in general is because I knew nothing was gonna happen of importance. The only time I was actually hyped was when hibiki’s arm was gonna be bitten off, but then she just regrows another one. Even in this series, Carol’s minions make a cameo to help her out, they were just used to stir up hype and be used as fodder for Carol to make it to were she had to be. Many things like this happen throughout the series of convenient bs that just appears outa nowhere.
I will say the main reason I liked this season better was because of the villains. This time they weren’t overpowered at the start and then through the power of the series ending the main character end up beating them at the end because they need to. They were weak. They were getting whooped by the main characters. When they did lose or win it made sense, and seeing them grow in the series was really fun to watch. Beside that though everything else was still really bad. The plot twists were not exciting everything just felt dull and bland.
When it comes to the characters I can’t say I like them at all. Especially Hibiki, though I did like Maria and Kirika at the very least. They were all one dimensional, stereotypical, and boring. I don’t wanna shit on them to much mainly because I care to little for them anyways to want to do that.
In conclusion, there was really nothing of value I found while watching the 65 episodes this series has. There are a few good merits this series has but it was not worth the watch. If you can make it past season one and enjoy it I think you will honestly love this series, so give it a try if you haven’t already, you’ll either hate it or love it.
2: Dr. Stone
English: Dr. Stone
MAL Score: 8.31
After five years of harboring unspoken feelings, high-schooler Taiju Ooki is finally ready to confess his love to Yuzuriha Ogawa. Just when Taiju begins his confession however, a blinding green light strikes the Earth and petrifies mankind around the world—turning every single human into stone.
Several millennia later, Taiju awakens to find the modern world completely nonexistent, as nature has flourished in the years humanity stood still. Among a stone world of statues, Taiju encounters one other living human: his science-loving friend Senkuu, who has been active for a few months. Taiju learns that Senkuu has developed a grand scheme—to launch the complete revival of civilization with science. Taiju’s brawn and Senkuu’s brains combine to forge a formidable partnership, and they soon uncover a method to revive those petrified.
However, Senkuu’s master plan is threatened when his ideologies are challenged by those who awaken. All the while, the reason for mankind’s petrification remains unknown.
The setting of the show is so intriguing that you’ll get sucked right in: Earth has been petrified; turned to stone by a mysterious light that suddenly encompasses the globe. Not one person on the planet is left standing. However, petrification doesn’t mean death. These people are still well and truly alive, but they can’t move, can’t speak, can’t think? Well, there’s one person who’s still maintained his ability to think and through his steely determination, breaks his petrification. I’m talking about none other than the protagonist: Senkuu.
Now, Dr. Stone is a show that you’ll only fully appreciate if you can give a pass to its ridiculous science fiction stuff. A lot of what it portrays in terms of science is correct, however, the way the characters achieve it is fairly exaggerated. That’s all down to the genius of Senkuu. He’s a supercomputer in the skin of a human. Senkuu is a guy made by mixing all of the most brilliant brains to ever exist in the real world. He’s just ten billion times smarter.
The main focus of Dr. Stone is showcasing the brilliance of Senkuu and his little science team that he manages to gather. The gang of characters that he befriends all have their different goals and personalities. His initial encounters with them are not always on friendly terms but one of the things that’s good to watch about this anime is how these characters work together with an aim to form the kingdom of Science – Senkuu’s ultimate objective. Most of the inventions of the team wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation and expertise of each individual and this, in my opinion, is one of the major standout points in the show.
The story starts off with Taiju finally deciding to confess his feelings to the girl he’s loved for all his life. But, just like all great things, this does not come to pass. Right before his confession, the world is petrified. Along with Senkuu, Taiju is one of the few characters who partially maintained his ability to think, and that was largely thanks to his overwhelming love for Yuzuriha. He’s a hardheaded character (in both senses) who’s a perfect foil for Senkuu’s genius. He does most of the physical stuff which Senkuu isn’t great at, and their partnership together is what helps them overcome their greatest enemy.
Speaking of the enemy, that would be Tsukasa Shishio: the strongest person in the show thus far. He is another example of the exaggerations in the show as he’s shown to be powerful enough to kill lions with a single punch. His petrification is cured by Senkuu when he found himself in a perilous situation. However, the two soon find themselves to have totally opposite goals. Their rivalry is a great example of what Dr. Stone is about: brains vs brawns. We don’t see too much of Tsukasa after the initial few episodes but I do expect him to play a major part in the upcoming seasons.
The fiery Kohaku is the first of the many characters of the “new generation” that Senkuu encounters in his quest. She’s a fiery girl who’s one of the best fighters in this prehistoric world and one whose story I particularly enjoyed. Then there’s Chrome, the yang to Senkuu’s yin; a science user who’s shunned as a sorcerer as people find his interests weird. I personally think that Asagiri Gen, one of the characters introduced a bit later in the first half of the season, is one of the best in the show. I won’t go into details about him because almost anything I say about him would be more than some minor spoilers.
The art of Dr. Stone is great with extremely detailed backgrounds and character designs, but the animation does leave some question marks at times. It’s not that it’s bad, but you can certainly ask for something better, especially for a show that’s garnered this much popularity. There are times when stills are overutilized while the “chibi animations” were somewhat overused. That said, I can’t fault the overall art quality, although I fully expect and hope for this aspect of the show to be improved upon in the second season.
Unlike the animation, I have very little to complain about in the sound department. The OST has a variety of different tracks for various situations and their placement is pretty much spot on. I felt the voice actors too did a great job of mixing comedy along with the more serious stuff. The balance between the two adds a lot to the overall experience of the show. The first opening was good, but I think the second opening truly set the tone for the rest of the episode. I never really got bored of listening to it every episode and the visuals during the OP were perfectly directed.
Dr. Stone is definitely going to irk a few people due to its approach to the sci-fi genre and the way it’s handled. It has divided opinions over the last few months and I can understand where some of the negative opinions may stem from, but it covers up for it in spectacular fashion. But if you can ignore that, you’re in for a hell of a ride and an amazing watch. It kept me wanting more after every episode and I watched it as soon as possible most weeks during its run. Its transition from comedy, which is better than most pure comedy anime out there, to a darker tone whenever required was one of the highlights for me. Overall, Dr. Stone was a great source of entertainment, and definitely one of my favorite anime of the year.
Dr. Stone is an anime that took itself too seriously, and not serious enough — at the same time!
It did this by highlighting the ‘cool’ aspects of science (through Senku’s re-engineering of past inventions), via methods that were beyond human capability. Sure. Humans can grow their own antibiotic (penicillium) through the natural molding process of bread; in fact, this was taken advantage of in ancient Egypt. But is it reasonable for one man to memorize the entire process of producing a sulfa antibiotic, and creating the various instruments necessary in doing so?
Seems rather absurd.
But what’s more unbelievable than these absurd scientific feats, is Senku’s eccentric personality. Actually, everyone’s personality is turned up to an eleven on the ridiculous scale (Taiju would probably be around 3,700). This wouldn’t be a problem if said characters were funny, yet their personalities are anything but. Starting with the man of science himself, Senku, he has an encyclopedic knowledge of all scientific inventions (actually, he puts encyclopedias to shame with their dearth of information). Senku offsets his profound cognitive abilities with an edginess that redefines the trope itself. Essentially, think of Senku as an extreme version of Light Yagami. But where Death Note succeeds in providing an engaging, thought-provoking plot, Dr. Stone is as fake as Matsuda’s girlfriend (forever alone!).
Even bad anime have one character that can make the show, somewhat, bearable. That is not the case for Dr. Stone. (Google) Chrome’s inane antics and exaggerated facial expressions would normally be sufficient to categorize him as the worst character of the show; however, Taiju’s tomfoolery is second to none (although, Ginrou’s cognitive bêtise was something to behold — so many awful characters). Moving on from the comedically impoverished lot, Shishiou is the token evil dude who is bent on world domination. Instead of a personality, he perform epic physical feats like punching a lion or snatching a bird in mid-flight (dude thinks he’s a f—kn’ falcon). Kohaku is your basic action-girl, and Yuzuriha is just that…m-minus the action, meaning: she’s just a girl (hard to believe, I know).
The amount of posing in Dr. Stone puts runway models to shame. Every time Senku inspires Chrome — which seems to be at least once per episode — they overly dramatize the situation to make it look like the two are going to save the world. Incidentally, this tone matched numerous events, particularly the tournament for Ruri’s hand in marriage. The staff conveyed a sense of urgency in winning the tournament, but zapped all tension away when “liquid hot” Magma lost in the second round. Also, the tournament itself was a travesty of bland fights, mismanaged pacing, and excessive stupidity.
Dr. Stone sort of had an interesting concept (turning everyone into stone), but it quickly dissolved into bat shit. The isekai-ish plot, along with the MMORPG style of acquiring new items was a stark reminder that Dr. Stone was a video game masquerading as an anime, meaning: we all got played.
The year is 5738, and the entire human population was petrified in stone three millennia ago. Three thousand years in the future, one kid awakens. He isn’t your typical kid. He’s Senku, and he’s ten billion percent smarter than the average high school student. Now that civilization has regressed to the stone age, and the world needs a hero. Senku embarks on a journey to rebuild civilization with his knowledge of science.
First of all, if you are expecting a grand story about reconstructing the 21st century within twenty-four episodes, you will be disappointed. I initially assumed this would be a dystopian action-adventure—it’s not; this is an edutainment comedy about science. I understand why this direction frustrated a lot of people. The trailers and promotional material were misleading. Unfortunately, this led to people harshly nitpicking it. It blows my mind that people have said the writing is shallow, without redeeming value and lacking focus. This series successfully uses an unreliable narrator; this gives it a sense of unpredictability. Anything can happen. It’s exhilarating. I’m not going to pretend like this anime is perfect, but it’s way better than some would lead you to believe.
In truth, this show is about Senku: The prideful genius who makes it his job to help everyone through science. Senku is overconfident to a fault. He prides himself on being ten billion percent logical, and he likes to think he’ll always be right. Honestly, he makes his fair share of mistakes. He might be able to make a high-speed wagon in a couple of minutes, but don’t expect it not to fall apart the first time he rides it. Seeing the show from his perspective is fantastic. He’s not another overpowered blank-slate isekai protagonist who gets pushed through the story by coincidence. The story’s direction is unpredictable because Senku is a force of nature. His encyclopedic knowledge of science is his main advantage. He’s not invincible, he makes impactful decisions, and he makes mistakes. Much of the time, he has a utilitarian motive behind any of his kind actions. If he needs a lot of manpower, he baits villagers with ramen, with hard labor as their payment. It was always funny seeing the different ways he would trick people into doing what he wanted.
In this show, a life or death situation lies on whether or not Senku can create Coca-Cola from scratch. It does not attempt to hide how ridiculous it is. At the same time, it will also detail how to make cola with science. Once they have all parts of the latest science scheme working, we get a quick montage of it in action. He explains each scientific idea comprehensively before everyone begins working. It’s all said in simple terms so the audience can follow along. I’ll be honest; I don’t know much about science. I slept through biology, chemistry, and physics. Somehow Dr. Stone got me to love science. Senyu taught me science can solve every problem. Like all good edutainment programs, the teachings are seamlessly weaved into the story.
The main characters are so likable—not just for their personalities and chemistry—because they have personal goals and senses of humor. The writers make sure to give each member of the science squad a considerate amount of development. For some of them, it’s only a few minutes shoved in-between arcs, but their growth is visible throughout the rest of the show. I’ve said all I needed to say about Senku—he’s the heart of the show. He has a subdued personality; even admitting he prefers not to show much emotion, but the show always subtly clues us in to how he’s truly feeling. One of his pals, Kohaku, is entirely the opposite: She’s a spirited girl who takes no shit.
On the other hand, his partner Chrome is another avid science fan, but he’s more relatable because he isn’t quite a super genius. He made a great deuteragonist, but I missed the original side characters Taiju and Yuzuihara. They’re a pleasant enough duo even though they’re only in a couple of episodes. I wish the story occasionally cut to their perspective. In the beginning, it’s exciting watching Senku and Taiju trying to survive in the stone age. In a life or death situation, they revive the strongest man they can find, Tsukasa. With his revival, the antagonist enters the show. I’ve seen people criticize Tsukasa and say he’s a weak villain, and I can’t help but disagree. His goal for the stone world is to give everyone equal opportunity; no one will pay taxes; no one will own anything in simpler terms, libertarianism. To achieve his dream for the stone world, he endeavors to kill every petrified adult. He wants only to revive the strongest youth he can find, or the “pure-hearted youth,” as he hypocritically calls them.
The first arc is an action-packed battle of wits, hunting for food, running from lions, creating the cure for humanity, friends reunite after thousands of years, the goddamn world ends. It’s kind of epic. It’s entirely unlike the bulk of the story, which is fine. It was an unexpected but welcome change of pace. I came for the exhilarating premise; I stayed for Senku and his band of goofy science trailblazers. When watching Dr. Stone weekly, my biggest problem was the slow pacing of the main plotlines. After rewatching the entire show, the progression didn’t bother me as much. Even if it looks like the show forgot about your favorite character—don’t worry—they’ll be back.
Dr. Stone thoughtfully uses reincorporation in its narrative to hint at future plot points, new characters and foreshadow meaningful twists. In one of the early episodes, someone mentioned a specific electronic he missed from the old world; as Senku progresses science, he reflects on that conversation nostalgically and endeavors to make that same electronic. It seemed so insignificant at first, yet it became a central plot point later on. One of my favorite characters, Gen, the magician, is subtly mentioned in a book long before being introduced. Another clue sprinkled throughout is the modern pop culture references, which contrast with the archaic society. There’s a pretty awesome in-story explanation for the villagers to use derivatives of modern Japanese. I have to give props to the writer for making someone from the stone age say “meme” without ruining the timeline.
These small victories might not seem like much on their own, but together it shows great foresight from the author. Senku’s occasional unforeseen scientific solution comes to life satisfyingly—surprising both the audience and the other characters. Like any engaging twist, Senku’s science is never contrived; every twist left me in awe. I could always look back and see the clues the writer creatively laid out. If the writer weren’t just as brilliant as Senku, then he would not work. Thankfully, he is, and that’s why Senku’s a great protagonist. You could argue there’s a lot of unexplained science in this series. I’d say it’s not bad. There’s no concrete explanation for the stone epidemic, and that’s fine. I don’t know science. I know stories. As long as the science stays consistent with its own internal logic, I think it has succeeded, and Dr. Stone does.
The humor is over-the-top but well-executed. It relies entirely on comedic timing and the presentation. Thankfully the editing in Dr. Stone is top-notch. Every part of the audiovisual production works in unison. The BGM, openings, and endings were all superb—this is the best soundtrack I’ve heard all year. Each background song is deftly synced up with scene transitions and set pieces. Jokes land with boisterous sound effects—absurd facial expressions pop-up on the screen, lined-up perfectly with the punchline. I understand why people have criticized the comedy for being idiotic. And they’re right. All of these characters are either idiots or socially inept. If you don’t like them, you’ll hate the comedy aspects. The jokes mainly rely on the character chemistry and, fantastic directing aside, I think they have hilarious chemistry. Other than the stellar character artwork (warning: some of the female faces are borderline Lovecraftian horrors), the backgrounds are consistently beautiful. TMS Entertainment continues to provide great still art; however, the longer the show went on, the more animation hiccups I noticed.
Dr. Stone gets heavily scrutinized for its plot progression, pacing, and dumb characters. Some of the criticism is fair, but much of it underserved. I consider myself pretty critical, and I enjoyed this show way more than I thought I would. The amount of research put into the science blew me away. The way it entertained me while teaching me felt so nostalgic. I grew up on edutainment, like Bill Nye The Science Guy and Magic Schoolbus. This anime follows in their footsteps, but for an older audience.
I never expected I would love these characters so much. I’m looking forward to their science shenanigans next season. It took humanity two million years to crawl out of the stone age to the modern era. Thankfully, it only took twenty-four weeks for people to realize Dr. Stone is a great anime.
1: Yakusoku no Neverland
English: The Promised Neverland
MAL Score: 8.58
Surrounded by a forest and a gated entrance, the Grace Field House is inhabited by orphans happily living together as one big family, looked after by their “Mama,” Isabella. Although they are required to take tests daily, the children are free to spend their time as they see fit, usually playing outside, as long as they do not venture too far from the orphanage—a rule they are expected to follow no matter what. However, all good times must come to an end, as every few months, a child is adopted and sent to live with their new family, never to be heard from again.
However, the three oldest siblings have their suspicions about what is actually happening at the orphanage, and they are about to discover the cruel fate that awaits the children living at Grace Field, including the twisted nature of their beloved Mama.
Thriller, horror, psychological and mystery. These 4 along with some genres I guess makes excellent shows not only in the anime industry but also in other platforms. This is because of there uniqueness. There outtake of the story is unique with uncommon sceneries, settings, characters, plot and conflict. This Winter 2019 anime season, we were introduced into the world of “The Promised Neverland”. A world where if you are a healthy young blood, you will never like this world. You will never hope that you will be a main character of some parallel world or something. With kids being the main characters of the story, you thought this will be your typical “slice of life” drama or comedy things that you enjoy. But it turns out, not every show that have little children as the main character can always be light hearted. It can also become your worst nightmare.
The story of “The Promised Neverland” starts off with little kids in the Grace Field House, which is an orphanage. The three eldest of the family of children are Ray, Norman and Emma. The three of them are seen as talented, skillful, agile and intelligent base on what we see on the episode. From Hide and Seek to playing Tag, this two excels on physicality. They are seen as big brothers (Ray and Norman) and big sister (Emma) to other kids. Of course, these three will not take care of the children all by themselves right? The main caretaker is their “Mom” in the orphanage. She is your typical mother-like figure who loves her children so much and admire them. Everyone seems happy. Everyone is having fun. “Mom” loves her job. Children love her back. Ray, Emma and Norman are having a normal life until a departure of a friend came to play. A girl named “Connie” was about to depart or leave the orphanage because so-called “parents” are now going to take care of her. It was a joyous moment. Everyone was happy for her to leave and finally have a family. Then of course she left something behind and Emma and Norman proceeds to give it to her back to the gate. The night was really dark and a tragedy will happen. What Emma and Norman saw was not a family reunion. It was a murder, done by supernatural beings a.k.a “demons” from the “outer” world. Turns out that Emma, Ray, Norman and every single living child in the orphanage are “livestocks”, caged in an orphanage surrounded with walls and vegetation. This drastic change of tone and mood of the atmosphere was overwhelmingly good. Plot twist on every episode synchronizing the characters’ goals whether to escape or not. The Promised Neverland story is really unique among any other winter 2019 anime this season. It provides us a fresh idea of escaping one’s position whether it is physically or mentally. It also delivers well with the plot twist making us audience grasp for more until the next episode and the plot twists are not just there to make us say “Wow okay”. It is there because it connects to the story of the anime. It is there to not only surprise us viewers but also provide us the ongoing intake and pattern of the story without affecting the overall goal of it. In the end, The Promised Neverland is a type of anime where you must get involve to with its unique capability of placing plot twists on each scenes and an intensifying story. With each season having different types of genre but less/few mystery and thriller, The Promised Neverland is a great anime to start-off the year and it is a masterpiece.
In the first episode of the anime, the joyful atmosphere made the personality of the three characters especially Norman and Emma. Norman is the master strategist and the one who admires Emma. Emma which is the girl who never backs down no matter what and have more physical capabilities than Norman and Ray. Ray, on the other hand have that gloomy tone (edgy one which makes sense because his hair looks like Sasuke) but he is also a master strategist like Norman. All of them looks normally fine and happy tho in the first few minutes of the episodes. As the plot twist came along, character development and their change started to appear. They became more fierce, deceiving and strong. Not to mention, Gilda and (character) as well. These kids were the highlight of the show and it was enjoyable and thrilling to watch them get over with the trials Mama and Sister Conney (who is a vital character that presented the possibility of children coming from the orphanage/House). All of these characters contributed to one of the best anime this season to come out ever.
After I watched some few episodes of the anime, I can’t help not to read the manga as manga readers kept on telling how good the manga is. Comparing the art of the anime and manga, they are the same on my perspective. The anime captured the thrill, chilly atmosphere and the characters expression to every situation that they fall within. The shock factor of the characters, the cries, the demons, everything was intense with the art at played and it synchronizes with the music as well. Overall the art was good for the shock factor. It is not your best art but it fits the theme. Of course I have to mention the backgrounds of the OP and ED as they both define implicitly how dark or thrilling Promised Neverland is and they did it well.
Ohhh boyyy the opening is really a hit on my ears. The OP’s song and transition with the background art depicting how events can turn unfold without explicitly showing it is just excellent on the sound. The excitement, the rush to the chorus, the saxophone on the starting of the OP, it is all perfect. I have to worth mentioning the ED as well because it is a good one (but the OP is better). Aside from the songs, the background music whenever I chilling moment comes really goes through my spine and felt the chills. It captures well to the scene and makes the scene more thrilling. Overall, sound is perfectly played on this anime.
Overall thoughts and Enjoyment:
The Promised Neverland are one of the anime I am so engaged to watch on. It is mostly because of its engaging story. It captivates you to watch it more with its shock factor and plot twists on every scene. It makes me or you question “What is going to happen next?!” and once you get to know it, disappointment is not really there. Instead you will be fascinated how the author played out the scenes all correlating to the main conflict of the story. Hence, The Promised Neverland is a must-see show for those who wants to watch a thrilling anime that has no cliche or whatsoever. It is a fresh intake from the anime this Winter 2019 season and it is really really really enjoyable to watch.
It’s been literally years since I felt the need to give out any 10s to an anime TV-series, but in the case of Neverland I knew from the start that as long as they don’t mess it up, it would be worthy of it for sure. The first arc of the manga was simply brilliant after all, and the anime which covers it is not too different.
Horror is a genre which generally does not work very well in anime for the simple reason that it’s very difficult to make cartoons straight-up scary. However, they can still be creepy and eerie, and that’s one of the areas in which Neverland excels. It has one of those truly great opening episodes that immediately hook you, starting off showcasing the wonderful and cheerful orphanage of Grace Field filled with children who spend their youths in complete happiness… until the rather shocking truth of the whole situation is revealed at the end of the first episode and at that point it’s almost impossible to not be immediately captivated by what the story has to offer. I won’t reveal anything about what that truth actually is though, and I would highly recommend you try to avoid getting spoiled by it before watching if it is somehow possible.
At its heart, Neverland is mainly a mystery and a thriller though, as our main characters Emma, Norman and Ray try to investigate the secrets of the mansion which they live in and start to plot an elaborate plan to escape it along with the other kids that live there, all without attracting attention from the eyes of the ones opposing them. The direction is quite simply superb, both in terms of making the viewers feel engaged in the main characters’ situation and to be wanting to cheer for them, but also in terms of slowly unwrapping the mystery in a way which is not too quick, eventually resulting in an incredibly satisfying finale. The main characters are all quite intelligent but in very different ways, with Emma being the cheerful and strong-willed one whereas Norman and Ray are more scheming and unpredictable, but for totally different motivations.
The production value is also excellent. The art and animation across the board is always on point, the opening theme is pretty kickass and the voice acting does an adequate job of breathing life into the characters. I think in particular Morohoshi Sumire’s performance as Emma is quite commendable in that aspect.
Overall I think Neverland is a fantastic anime in terms of story, direction and the ability to immediately get you hooked an invested into the show. As a result it’s a show I would highly recommend to anyone that enjoys well thought-out thrillers and mysteries.
To add to that, we’ve now also gotten confirmation that a second season is in the works for 2020 so the joyride isn’t stopping anytime soon. However, I should at least mention as a manga reader that the quality of the story does in fact drop a decent amount after the first arc and it takes a considerable amount of time before it recovers to a similar level as it had in the beginning. Thus I would not expect the second season to be as good as the first one, but still definitely worth watching at least. Or if you’ve been hooked enough on the story by now to be unwilling to wait that long, well then the manga always lies around the corner if you want to give it a shot.
Well this was unexpected. A horror anime getting a lot of attention and praise by viewing public? This is truly a rare sight indeed. But seriously, the hype for this series before airing and its first couple of episodes was reaching really high levels and talked about a lot by the anime community. But the question is, how does this anime hold up with the horror greats of anime, can it stand in the upper echelon of horror anime like Monster, Parasyte and Higurashi? Or is this series a victim of its own hype?
Well I’m about to tell you. Sit back, relax and…hold on. Wait, what’s going on outside. Oh god. OH GOD! MRS TWEETY! THE CHILDREN ARE REVOLTING! Quickly, got to finish this sentence up. I present to you the anime review for The Promised Neverland. Lets Begin shall we?
Ok. Now that’s settled, lets begin with the story.
Welcome to Grace Field House. An orphanage run by the lovely caretaker of the house Isabella, aka “Mama.” The children of the house enjoy there time here. They are well fed, educated well and have fun free time playing tag. They can have this luxury by obeying two simple rules. Not to go over the fence and not to go past the gate in front of the house. Of course, the children will get adopted and will have to say goodbye to their friends. Three of the children, Emma, Norman and Ray are the brightest and eldest of the children, and they, along with the others, enjoy their time at the orphanage. However on one day. One of the children, Connie, is adopted but has forgotten her beloved rabbit teddy. So Emma and Norman decide to give it to her before she leaves. They go past the gate to deliver the bunny, only to realise that Connie is dead and in fact the children of the orphanage are livestock to Daemons and Mama is involved with it. Knowing this truth, Emma, Norman and Ray must plan to escape the orphanage with everyone before they are all lambs to the slaughter.
What makes this show scary is the fact that we have an innate motive to make sure children are safe, for they do not know the dangers of the real world. So when the children find out the truth, you fear for them. You fear for their lives for they are innocent and didn’t deserve this fate. You want to see them safe and you constantly hold your breath to see if they are okay. You want them to live. By showing us their fate, you know the dangers that they are in. The show however, does leave mysteries for us to think about and find out later on; giving us something to look forward to and something to fear as we uncover the truth as to why these events are happening and why security is almost non-existent. While not every question is answered, some of them are answered and we are left to theorise about the others.
Now this show really does like to build things up, build to this great escape plan to get everyone out of the orphanage and it does build things very well. The suspense in this show is enough to drive anyone mad with the eagerness to find out what happens next. That is mainly because the pacing and knowing what and when to reveal things is very well executed in order to keep you on your toes. Knowing when it is a right time to scare you, make you feel uncomfortable and uneasy and knowing when to give you relief. It toys with your emotions to keep you on edge. But if it keeps building up, then it needs a payoff, otherwise what is the point? While it does cut it a bit close, it does pay off in the final episodes of this season.
The trio of Emma, Norman and Ray make up our main characters. They all compliment each other in some way with their personalities being different and flawed. Emma has a lively personality and is very thoughtful of others, but she is also the most naive out of the three and doesn’t know when to stop. Norman is the level headed one, as well as being very calm and collective, but has a soft spot for Emma so he normally agrees for what she does. Ray is the rational and critical one of the group, but is not willing to take too many risks that could very well danger his friends. So these three compliment each other well as they cover their flaws and when they put their minds together, they can do great things. Yet while they do have the mindset and intelligence of an adult due to their education, they are still children. While they are smart, they are still naive to the dangers of the outside world and the setbacks that could be in place when their plans don’t work they way they intended. Giving us some realisation of the age of our characters and that they still have some things to learn. The rest of the children are just faces with names with the exception of some but they act as a nice reminder of what Emma, Norman and Ray are fighting for. To make sure to change these sweet, innocent children’s’ fate and give them a better future.
Their main obstacle of course is the deceptive, cunning and well prepared caretaker of the house, Isabella. And MY WORD she is terrifying. More terrifying than the daemons. What makes her terrifying though is her intelligence. She always seems to be prepared as to what the main characters are going to do next. She is able to easily predict their moves and get constant information on their actions, almost as like she has dealt with this sort of thing before. She never really worries and manages to keep a calm demeanour. It is the fact she never worries about the kids escaping leaves the viewer questions and adds to the mystery of where they are. We question why she is calm, why is she not doing anything, why is she not quelling the escape plan immediately. To give them false hope maybe? Or does she already know they have no chance of escaping. She won’t simply ship them out to quell the problem, she would rather try to break their spirits to keep them in place. She would even add a wild card into the mix in the form of Sister Krone, a loud, loving, but bats**t crazy assistant to Isabella; yet is she in a alliance with Isabella? Again, she is a wild card into the mix to give the children another ally or another enemy?
Cloverworks takes the reign for the animation in this series. A roughly 1 year old studio that has done the animation for shows like Bunny Girl Senpai and the anime adaptation of Persona 5. So I din’t really know what to expect. Well I’m glad to say that the animation for The Promised Neverland is damn good. What makes it good though, are two main things. The first main thing is the character motions are fluid. There is a lack of really noticeable frame by frame motion as they move naturally when they run or when they are in fear. The fluidity is very good.
The other main point are the facial expressions. They are really expressive in this series, especially when the children are scared as their shrunk pupils, their tensed up faces and subtle movements make them generally scared of the situation. But other faces like Isabella’s many calm and scheming faces or Krone’s many terrifying expressions that would make even the faces in Higurashi wince a little. It adds to the horror because its visually scary. You are getting scared or unnerved by something simple yet unnerving at the same time.
The soundtrack is not prominent in this series. Often times, it is just silence as we just hear the characters voices and their footsteps on either grass or wooden floorboards. Often times for the better as we just need to hear these sounds to make us feel tense as we know someone or something is coming. The ost only plays when it needs to be played to amplify a scene and when it does, oh boy does it amplify a scene. The soundtrack can be really menacing at times as it likes to escalate the fear factor of the scene to make you quiver in fear. It is definitely a great addition to a scene and the fact they are used only sparingly makes it much better.
Then there is the opening. Without a doubt the best opening of this season. Don’t argue me on this, it is very clear that “Touch Off” by UVERworld is the best opening this season. The lyrics, the animation and the pace of the opening are brilliant. But what seals it is the symbolism in this opening. The use of puzzle pieces to symbolise the pieces of the plan, as well as the red string burning to ash to symbolise that they will not be tied to the strings of fate and will run to break out of their fate. It is used so well and matches the pace of the song. Speaking of the song, it is weird that the simple sounds of “Nanananananananana” would be so catchy. Well when used correctly it can be. So in summary, song great, animation great, pace great, symbolism great. Simply put, it’s a fantastic opening.
The ending sequences are pretty standard IMO. It uses symbolism and imagery as well to set a tone. And the songs used in these endings are also great. It helps cap off a great OST that this series provides. I didn’t skip them as I enjoyed them, but they didn’t wow me.
So the question I asked earlier was that does the Promised Neverland stand in the upper echelon of other horror anime? Well if it wasn’t obvious by now, it does. The Promised Neverland is a fantastic anime with a gripping plot, likeable characters, a terrifying villain, great animation, a cleverly used OST and the best opening this season. I’m glad The Promised Neverland turned out as good as it did. Horror anime is something difficult to get right. Even last year, only one horror anime managed to get horror right IMO and that was Happy Sugar Life. Yet The Promised Neverland gets it right immediately. The horror in this series is unnerving, suspenseful, tense and terrifying while also incorporating Shonun elements to improve the tension of a scene. It knows it can’t be scary all of the time, but knows it has to build to it and to not use it frequently so it doesn’t lose its impact.
I looked forward to every Thursday night waiting for the next episode to become available, which means its doing something right. It is without a doubt one of the best horror anime I’ve watched. A defining anime in a very good Winter Season of anime. And just maybe, it will still be considered by the end of the year to be one of the best anime of 2019. So yeah, just go watch it if you haven’t. And the fact we still have more to come leaves me really excited to see what happens next.
My Personal Enjoyment: 10/10
Overall score: 9.6/10 Recommendation: Go f***ing watch it
Did YOUR favorite anime make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!
1. Yakusoku no Neverland
2. Dr. Stone
3. Senki Zesshou Symphogear XV
4. Kanata no Astra
5. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin – Advent of the Red Comet
6. Carole & Tuesday
7. Psycho-Pass 3
8. One Punch Man 2nd Season
9. Date A Live III
10. Kemurikusa (TV)